Monday, October 30, 2006

The Glamour of Farm Life...or...Don't Lick Your Lips

I am here to dispell any misconceptions you may have about farm life. I was in the Farm Supply Store the other day and looked at some of those glossy! come my farm doesn't look like that? Do they have a staff of 50 whose only job is clean up? The yard, barnyard and the areas around all the outbuilidings had been mowed - all at the same time! I saw no evidence of children - except for those $1,000+ cedar swing sets....sort of made the tire swing that hangs from the Catawba tree in the front yard look a little tacky!

The picnic area was not a picnic table under the afore mentioned Catawba tree but a beautiful outdoor dining set under a gorgeous gazebo....that sat 12! (And where were all the spider webs and bird nests that would have filled all those nooks and crannies in that gazebo were it on my farm?)

All the animals looked like they had gone to make-up in the green room before the photo shoot....not a one had poop or mud on their fact I didn't see one cow pie in any of the pictures...How do they do that? Do you think they are air brushing them out? No weeds around the apple trees...and they were ALL beautifully pruned....and the gardens....just picture Martha Stewart.....she had to be involved some how.......

We have had lots of classes and workshops here on the farm, and people have always commented on how clean it looked...not the typical farm junk laying around...and we work hard to keep it that way....but....our farm and farm animals have NEVER looked like that....everything was so perfect it was almost spooky!

Lest you fall asleep with these visions in your head tonight...let me share with you what life was like on the farm this afternoon....welcome to a total REALITY CHECK!

After taking a little assessment this weekend of what had happened around the farm while I was away....I realized that a lot can "go to pot" if you are gone for 6 weeks! The greenhouse had weeds in it larger than me - thistles no less....most of the plants that were left are we need to spend an afternoon out there cleaning out, smashing the black widows that love to live in the nooks and crannies, get the shade cloth down and plant a few boxes with lettuce and spinach for the winter....but that went on a list for another day.

We have started putting the garden to bed but right now it is a tangled mess of weeds - amazing what happens in a few short weeks - we had been doing such a good job this year at keeping up with things but 6 weeks without care - except to harvest - has left it in terrible where did I plant that lavender? Another chore for the list.

I took one look at the milking parlor and declared it a national disaster needed immediate attention! Throughout the year we periodically pressure wash the milking area. We hose it down after milking each morning and evening (at least we are SUPPOSED too!) I decided that would be my main afternoon was warm today, a little over I wanted to get a thorough cleaning in before the cold weather hit - I hate to wash it in cold weather.

This is a messy job....everything seemed to be filthy....and my lovely son, who knew I was doing this today, left Nora's droppings from this morning for me (Well, I knew you were going to be pressure washing so I didn't think I needed to spend an hour hosing it down!). Our milking parlor is not a closed room - it is in the barn but is open on both has a cement floor and a raised cement platform for the cows. It also holds a wooden milking stand for our goats, a cabinet for keeping meds, towels, trimmers and such, and locking trash cans that store the grain.

I started at one end of the parlor (closest to the goats) and worked my way towards the entry door. I forgot how LOUD the pressure washer is - I made a mental note to get some ear plugs to keep in the cabinet for next time. What was that mess all over the outside of the cabinet....certainly my boys hadn't been spraying each other with milk....not my children....ahem....thankfully it came off whatever it was.

By this time the ceiling is dripping and I forgot a hat...yuck! I call Elijah (actually scream at the top of my lungs so he can hear me over this machine) and ask him to get me a hat and continue on....I get a scrub brush and douse the milking stand with Clorox clean up and tackle it - evidently it has been used by every banty in the county for some late night meetings.....the evidence was unmistakable (and deep).....serves me right for drying the does off early this year....

I let the stand sit for a moment and tackled the trash, for those of you who have never used a pressure washer...just think of a very high powered stream of water hitting something a few feet from it hits your intended target it knocks the dirt off and bounces right back at you - showering you with a fine spray (or sometimes not so fine) of water...mingled with whatever was on your target....where is that hat???

Back to the goat stand - the Clorox helped and the pressure washer is removing the evidence....and I am now wearing much of that evidence.....from head to toe....and Elijah arrives with the hat!

I am almost done now - just down to Nora's area....with all the lovely remains of the morning. The pressure washer makes quick work of that and coats me with more of that bovine tainted spray....

As I get the milking parlor put back together it is time for the evening milking....I asked Jeremy to make sure Nora wiped her feet before she went in but evidently he has not taken the time to train her to do that....he actually looked at me oddly....

I haul the trash over to the trash cans noticing that the cold has not been cold enough - all of the grassy areas need to be mowed doesn't look too bad but it won't make the cover of a glossy magazine....I glance down at myself and realize I won't make the cover either....I'm covered with poopy water from a variety of animals...and am longing for a hot shower....but, as I gaze across our pond field, I see that there is a cow out...again....drop everything - grab some boys and go chase the cow back into the field....fix the portable fence where it was down...head back home.

Now I can head to the shower....oh!....gotta fix some dinner for these hungry boys who worked all afternoon repairing fence in the goat field and building a much needed gate...and every bone in my body is telling me to stop moving....especially one of my heels (plantar fasciitis)....Jeremy offers to fix the boys sandwiches for dinner and I gratefully accept. I'm tired...but it is a good feeling to know that we made a dent in the list of things that needed to be done.

Isn't it like the hold up unattainable, air brushed images of perfection so that we never feel like we can measure up - real women don't look like that....neither do real farms. We must keep our eyes on the Father, be good stewards of what He so graciously gives us, set realistic goals....and be willing to work hard each day to achieve His purposes.

So...the lesson for the day is that when you get your farm....don't expect it to look like the won't...or if you get it that way it won't stay that way long...unless you hire that crew of 50, or perhaps Martha herself....oh....and when you are pressure washing your milking parlor....or other poopy places.....don't lick your lips!


  1. Cheri,

    I wish I could have seen your "fun" yesterday!! It would have been well worth the drive! By the way, your farm ALWAYS looks great. Everytime I come home from your place, I start a massive cleaning project on our own. Enjoy our last day of nice weather!


  2. Amen and Amen!!!! My son even says that whoever wrote that song... "Life on the farm is kind of laid back..." never lived on a farm.

  3. Thanks Julie, I'll invite you next time - you can hold the trash cans so they don't roll around as I wash them :) Bring a hat....

    Marci, your son is absolutely right....I've never worked so hard or so much in all my life! Nor enjoyed it so thoroughly!


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