“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Toughest People - Farmers

I just don't know how we did it.
Working in this weather. Outdoors. All hours.
We were one of those tough ones, in our own small way. Our animals were guided in and out of the barn every day, even with temperatures in the teens and ridiculous wind chills.  If the snow was too deep, we had to first make a path with our own bodies to get them out there.
Manure would be chipped away into the wheelbarrow and slogged out through two feet of snow and ice.
Just about every goat was pregnant or lactating, so keeping their condition up took plenty of feed. Twice as much hay and grain would be distributed to keep the animals calories ahead of the cold.
This was kidding season. Singles, twins and triplets were birthed in this weather, dried and cleaned and cuddled in that big ole 1800's, drafty, Pennsylvania bank barn. There was always that dumb twin that had to be held under its mamma's udder till he caught on to suck that teet - for hours! Meanwhile our fingers are splitting from the milk and the cold. Or a nanny with mastitis would have to be milked, usually with a fight, sending us on our cold but well padded behinds on to frozen manure, all in this weather. And we just did it every day, no matter what. And when I was down and out with a blown knee, or we had to be away for a day or a week, our fantastic neighbors Karen or Allison did it. It had to be done everyday, no matter the weather.

You and others have asked if we miss the farm. Of course we do. It was a fantastic ten years. The lessons learned with the goats just make me shake my head to myself. A lot of you that followed the blog back then, know the stories. Stories I couldn't have imagined ten years before and truthfully, did my best to avoid by buying the easiest, mellow goat breed I could find. Nice try!

Who could imagine our "first born" dying in this weather and stupid me trying to use the loader to bury Uno when the ground was frozen solid. I did it though, even though the grave was a bit shallow after two hours of scraping and digging.
Who can forget all those wonderful births and the kids(human) and friends and neighbors that came to share the experience.
But do I miss going out on a day like today where the weather was so cold and windy that Jock doesn't even want to go out to do his business? Heck no! But Jock also is a dog in his fourteenth year and living his retirement as a house pet. He has an excuse. And he hates dog clothes! Me. I'm back to being "soft".
Remember this? So cold the eggs split.
At the same time I find it difficult to complain about the cold as most people seem to be in the Northeast. Sure, all this snow has become tedious, if not a nuisance. However, most of us get to be indoors for our daily lives and just run to a car that usually warms up on our way to the next warm place we are running into to. We don't live in the cold or work in the cold and if we have to be out in the cold, we just have to do what the farmer does - dress for it appropriately.

Last month the power company scheduled some maintenance work which turned out to be a pretty darned cold day, and the sight of all that tan Car-hart fabric brought back so many memories of the Farm Fashion blogs. Memories of those ridiculously cold days where dressing and undressing was a chore of its own. And we did it every winter day because there were animals to care for. No days off or going home early. And at the time, I really think we loved the challenge.

Today I just want to thank all the tough working farmers out there for doing the job they do in this weather, and every day, for you and me.