Marking this day as significant because it is the last full day of summer, I’d have to mark it, at least the first half, as unusually brutal as well.
As you know Dear Reader, this is our big state fair time and we are always involved in some way, Bet more so than I or Dirt. She is gone again this year for the full 17 days; Dirt and I are doing the work of three people. And since livestock makes noise and soil and produce do not, I’ve been mostly caring for the livestock and Dirt is doing Dirt things like bringing in the firewood to keep his girls warm this winter.
So back to why today has been unusually brutal. I got up to milk the goats, readied my area, went to get the grain from the hay barn and wham, caught a yellow jacket, maybe a wasp, right in the eye. Two stings, or a sting and a bite, on the lower eyelid. Hot diggity durn, it hurts.
Immediately went to Walmart with Dirt for hornet and wasp spray so that we could enter through the door to get grain and hay for the animals and birds. Figured I deserved a cup of coffee made by someone else. While waiting to be served, endured the other customer’s endless forty-mile-long order, seriously people it is ultimately just a cup of coffee, skip the jargon and intricate details, enjoy the coffee more than the folderol. My cup of Joe was excellent, so on to Walmart.
What goes well with a great cup of coffee? What is sweet and bready and sometimes gooey? Yup, I craved and caved for a wally-donut. It must be the foods I’ve eaten when I go down to the fair, it was impossible to resist temptation no matter what I told myself about how much faster I would heal from the jacket sting if I didn’t eat any crap and went home to really good healing foods and herbs. MMM, common sense lost that battle big time. Lost Dirt in the Wally-mart while deciding on donuts, found him again after several fast paced turns ‘round the store, pumping all this venom filled blood around in my body cannot be good. Nearly give Dirt up for his having a heart-attack on isle 44b when he popped up at the end of a checker line ready to go. Whew.
Came home and sat in the car while Dirt rolled down the window just enough to spray the nest from the inside of the car. Something rather psychologically damaging to see the jackets flying at you full speed, even if the window does stop them. Self torture.
Thought I would feign the damsel-in-distress routine and have Dirt get the grain as not all of the jacket were killed. He said he would. But the goats bellering and I agreed that he was taking his sweet time at it. So I went out to get it myself. I stood twenty feet away from the door watching the remaining colonist angrily fly back and forth, mostly right in front of the doorway. Ducking and swaying my body like I was in second grade again playing double Dutch jump rope and calculating the best time to HIT IT. Yeah, that best time just wasn’t comin’ and I just kept swaying and recalculating.
Dirt musta spotted me from the kitchen window while making his breakfast and had a surge of man stuff, ‘cuz he wandered on out to see how many jackets were still alive. Wow, that many huh.
Oddly enough, with him daring to stand a bit closer to the nest than I was and in between it and the doorway, I suddenly felt brave enough to HIT IT. In in a flash and scooping grain like no one’s business into the only two buckets I grabbed, I quickly surmised that putting chick food down one side of one bucket and regular poultry food for the grown-ups down the other side of the same bucket was a perfectly acceptable practice. Done. Out I zipped, only finally stopping about fifty feet from the doorway.
Fed the turkey mommas and babies first so no escaping livestock could et into a waiting bucket of poultry food and muttered about the moms who need to dump the grain on the grass, grrr.
Then I arrived at one pen and there a little fella was sitting in the corner and could barely ambulate to the feed pan. I scooped him up tucked him in my pocket so that I could retrieve the other turkey children and mother who took advantage of the unmanned door I left to do my Good Samaritan deed.
So the Momma goats waited some more while I ran the little poult into the house, grabbing a cardboard box on my way in, mixed up sugar and really warm water, put it in a plastic canning-jar lid, ignoring that I would be scolding Dirt or Bet if they were about to use said lid for ill-intended purpose, set the box, poult and sugarwater on my bedroom window ledge where it was warm because I , yes, turned on my one electric source of heat in the house the night before.
Returned out to do the milking before udder explosion occurred. Struggled as usual, (but not really as bad as some days have been lately) with the momma goats. Got them milked, fed the pigs and went back inside the farmhouse to whine to no one about how freaking bad my eye now hurts!
Dirt had fed himself breakfast and had re-headed outside. I assumed (uh-huh) that he would see that I hadn’t released any of the animals to the outside for their daily grazing. I could have waited in the barn for the goats to finish their grain and the pigs to finish their now milk soaked grain. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to go inside and writhe in pain and throw a pity party for myself. I figured Mister Notice-Every-Little-Thing-That-Lanny-Doesn’t-Do-Just-Right would see what I had left undone, take pity on me and my swelling reddening eye and just do it.
After quite a bit I was bored with my party, so I went out to enjoy the last summer day of sunshine, for tomorrow it rains and it rains big. And what to my wundering eyes, (make that, eye,) should appear? But four little goats, a heifer, three pigs and momma goats too, still in their barn stalls.
Small group by small group, I released them and lead them on their way out to greener pastures, only to stop in the middle of the duty to Dirt’s exclaiming about a deceased kitten. Durn dogs. So I stopped a bit to morn a kitten that had, just but moments before, been licking up the milk out of the strip pan. Grrr. Sometimes those naughty naughty dogs and their naughty naughty ways when they get one another all stirred up. Poor, poor little kitty.
So finally out everyone goes. Oh wait. Only three little goats are out with the heifer and the three little pigs. I hear the missing one back in the barn, oh lookie there, it isn’t the one that usually causes frustration, how nice they’ve traded positions on trouble making. Back to the barn, ah yes, there he is, stuck in the little crawl space they’ve made into the back of the roof high hay stack. Why can’t he get out the way he went in? Because while stealing the winter hay, he has eaten past the baling twine and managed to wrap it around his foot and, ah lookie, his head. Grr.
Borrow a pocket knife from Dirt, you know I no longer carry one in my pocket Dear Reader, not since we had to pull the commode from the bathroom to retrieve my garden marking-pen that I lost out of a pocket. Cut the little bugger loose and asked Dirt if he would extend the board blocking their way into the hay stack.
You see, our barn is an old log barn, built at the turn of the last century and it is sinking and when it sinks farther and farther into the earth, it opens new passageways for the things we like to call livestock. Grrr. But alas, the response received from the Farmer Man was, “I hate those goats, you’re the one that insists we have them, I’m not fixing it.”
Ahh yes, if we compiled the list of things that at one time or another out of frustration and disgust, that Dirt claimed was only here on the farm because I wanted it over his sensibility, we would be farming… air. Well maybe lawn as well. Maybe.
Ah the first half of the last day of summer. It pretty much sums up how summer has gone here at the farm. One success, followed by several unsuccesses. Times that seem to be trying our resolve to be good little farmers and good, kind, little Christians and produce decent food for others and ourselves.
So it is lookin’ like I’m ready for that season change after all. Change. I embrace change. You know Dear Reader, I love autumn aka fall, but I am always reluctant to give up summer. I think it is because I love autumn so much that I don’t want to miss it with my head down in work.
Summer is always a busy time, if not a busy and trying time, right on the heals of spring not only on the calendar but on the typically busy column. But since we are now committed and sinking further into growing fresh food year ‘round, I’m finding that no season is a less busy season than any of the others. All things must be enjoyed and admired as work gets done and appropriate rest is taken. This will only become more and more necessary as we further embrace living within the seasons as opposed to living with the supermarket close at hand and heart.