Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Our first few days on the farm...

I wanted to share a bit about our first farm experiences. We moved from a very large, busy, noisy city in Florida to Tennessee almost 7 years ago. We moved in early January so this time of year I tend to think back to our beginnings here.

We rented a large truck and moved ourselves. At that time our boys ages were 16, 8, 5 and a babe in arms not yet walking. The house had been empty and neglected for about 4 years. We rented a hotel room until we could get the house cleaned and the beds set up. Essentially, we unloaded everything we could as quickly as we could and my husband and oldest boy went back for the rest of the stuff. This was our first mistake! A man should never leave a city woman with 3 small children on a farm without explaining some basic farm facts!

I found myself alone (no other adult) in a small hotel room with 3 kids and a dog. Our days went something like this: Get everyone up, nurse the baby, bundle up (a new experience for us Floridians!) and head to the house. Get to the house, nurse the baby, get the 8 year old to watch the baby and the 5 year old and then I commenced to cleaning. Nurse the baby, bundle up, go get lunch, come back , nurse the baby, everyone down on a sheet for a nap, start cleaning again. Everyone up, nurse the baby, give him back to the 8 year old and try to clean some more. Bundle back up, leave the house, get dinner, nurse the baby and everyone into bed. Needless to say the progress in cleaning was very slow and by nightfall I was exhausted. In our ignorance at the time, we lived off of fast food - now we never touch it. I recommend reading Fast Food Nation to find out why - it WILL change your life....you have been warned!

This routine went on for days while we waited for Daddy to come back! Imagine my delight one afternoon when the 5 year old called me (my head was inside kitchen cabinets cleaning!) to come see the furry animal on our driveway wall. I was excited! Our first contact with nature! I came running to the sliding glass door that looks out towards our driveway...there it sat....on the wall...it was HUGE...but what was it? It took me a moment to grasp the fact that I was looking at a very big, real life RAT!!!! ACCCKKKK! We have RATS!!!! I bet this thing weighed 20 lbs! I smacked the door and this thing took off for the barn! I was ready to burn the barn to the ground with all of its evil inhabitants!!! This was NOT what I had envisioned...how could I let the boys go outside with giant rats waiting to carry them off? Would God have sent us here? Did we hear incorrectly? City life was looking pretty good!

Well, that was the end of cleaning for that day. We bundled back up and I decided to find a town somewhere and get some real food while I debated moving back to the city. We found we were about 18 miles from the nearest town so we headed out. I called my husband to tell him about the unwelcome inhabitants of the barn. He laughed...he actually laughed....this was hard for me to understand since there was NOTHING funny about giant rats. He explained that this was normal (NORMAL???) and that a few barn cats would take care of the problem. Cats? This rat was twice as big as any cat I had ever seen....besides...I am allergic to cats! And where was I to find cats? Is there a cat store? I had never even thought of shopping for cats but I was ready to purchase an army of them.

After a good nights sleep (who am I kidding? with 3 boys and a contraband dog in a hotel room with cement beds?), I felt prepared to go back to the house...on the way the 5 year old asks if rats live in the house too...HORRORS...that thought had never crossed my mind! Arriving at the house, I locked the boys in the van and grabbed a downed tree limb - I searched the house - every nook of it looking for rats - it appeared safe so the boys were allowed to come back in....I diligently prayed that if there were rats they would not appear until my husband returned the next day.

We were in the middle of our routine when we heard the WEIRDEST noise - we all dropped what we were doing and looked at each other trying to figure it out...it sounded like anguished screaming of some exotic animal. Our little poodle was going nuts, barking, running and trying to get out the door. The noise was getting closer and louder. It was a noise I had never heard before, and I spent years as a kid watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (yes! I know I just dated myself!).

I gathered all the boys and put them behind me (where did I put that tree limb?). I peeked out the window....I was shocked....I didn't know what they were....but they were ugly!!!! And apparently very angry.....(I was, at this point, packing our bags and moving back to Florida in my mind - what was God thinking sending us into this horrible place? How could my husband leave us here with no weapon to defend ourselves?). How could I get everyone safely to the van?

Tomorrow I will post pictures of these strange animals that were surrounding us and screaming at the top of their lungs...


  1. The picture. The picture. Please post the picture. I must know what these strange animals were....... :-)

    Nice story. I have a horrifying rat story of my own that I will tell one day.

  2. Okay, Its way pass tomorrow and still no picture. You must realize that peoples lives have been put on hold waiting for these pictures. Get on with it now, I've got laundry and a house to clean, but can't bear to move from the computer until I've seen these strange animals...:)

  3. I'm loving this story. I've done a ton of things in my life that went work, nurse the baby, catch the toddler, feed the preschooler, nurse the baby, work.... :-)

    I loved Fast Food Nation. I also really liked Don't Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock, the Supersize Me guy.

    Waiting to see the picture.

  4. Loved your story as well-can't wait to see the pictures!!

  5. Moles, voles... (They sure are ugly)...?

    I have a rat that has eluded capture for the better part of two months. I barrowed a trap off my father, but to no avail, some have suggested poisoning the wretched thing, but I can not do that. It's become somewhat of a 'challenge' issue with me. Needless to say my wife will remain "out" if the basement until capture.........I figure if I don't get him by spring he'll seek "greener pastures". We'll see.....

  6. I'm anxiously waiting to see what these things were! This reminds me of something that happened after I was first married. I had always lived in the country, but hadn't been around farm animals much. I was outside across the fence from our horse when we suddenly heard this strange noise off in the distance. It was kind of a long HAAAAAAAAAAW, HAAAAAAAAAAW! I'd never heard any animals like it at home and wondered what manner of creature it could be. Even the horse turned to look toward the strange sound. I described it to my husband later and found the answer...it was our neighbor calling his cows!

  7. Eek, that was quite the experience! You changed not only locations, populations but also climates.

    On the rats, get dogs. Cats won't handle big rats and other pests like coon, foxes, coyotes, etc. Our guardian dogs are excellent mousers, I've seen one dog snarf down fourteen mice in half an hour while I was doing chores and stiring up the field mice and voles. The dogs also kill off other small and large pests, guard the livestock, children and us and do herding. I wouldn't try to homestead without a working dog or two.

  8. Hi Walter!
    Thanks for the help on proof reading! I can't believe I never noticed...

    We do have 3 Pyrs but they live with our goats - when we can keep them in!

    I'd love to have a livestock/guardian that didn't always want to run off and wander about for a day or so...any suggestions?
    We have a German Shepherd who is a wonderful dog and another mutt who might turn into a wonderful dog???

    The cats have done a decent job - they love to follow the tractor when we are tilling - they take care of all those nests we disturb. I haven't seen a rat for a long time - except every now and then in a trap. We then feed them to the kitties :)

  9. Chickens love mice and rats too. As to the do that won't do a walk-about but does the guarding, I wonder if that is an inate trait that is part and parcel. Most of ours all go through a period when they tend to take walk-abouts. They grow out of it around age three or so. Until then I keep a close eye and hook them when they aren't supervised. That way they are still able to be with the animals. Once they get past that stage it is wonderful because then they can become free roaming guardians. I wish I knew of a sure way to train that.

  10. Love your story! I also have a story about my "city girl" mother encountering a rat and going in the house to get her glock (yes, I know, overkill doesn't even describe it) and shooting the rat, and it falling to the ground John Wayne style. Post the pictures, post the pictures!


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