Life of a Farm Boy

As I was flipping through photos, I was struck by what a great life farming provides. Sure it is hard work and dirty, but there is no better place to grow up in my opinion.

I always knew that I enjoyed the farm life, but wasn’t sure if I was an anomaly. There is a 12 and 13 year age gap between my youngest brothers and myself. This has allowed me to really take in what it is like growing up on a farm. I’m thoroughly convinced  that we are incredibly blessed to live this life.

Recently, a woman visiting the farm mentioned that this was her daughter’s dream. I mulled that over. My reality was her dream. Wow! How lucky am I? How lucky are my brothers?

Living on a farm can be inconvenient, dirty, and hard. Going on vacation means finding someone to feed the stock. After a ball game on Saturday, we return to make fence repairs, medicate animals, or clean barns out. By a young age, we kids know and have experienced the miracle of life and the woes of death. Everyday is a go outside day (sometimes it is just a matter of how fast can we feed).

BUT, living on a farm is… well, just scroll through the photos. It is the life of my brothers. It is the life of farm boys.

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Into the Woods: Litter Hunting

A walk in the woods typically involves peace, beautiful sights, birds, trees, and maybe a deer. That was not the case for us today. Mom’s 4-H club, WHEP, took a romp in the woods; however, it wasn’t what you might think.

DSC_0116Big Sweep is an initiative in our county where groups collect trash along waterways, and records what is picked up too. For years, WHEP 4-H club has participated in this initiative. We are on our second location (we ran out of trash to pick up in the first area). Last year we started “litter hunting” at a boat ramp along the Neuse River. We thought last year held some interesting finds–a swimming pool– but this year took the cake.

We ended up finding 3 televisions, 1 recliners, a ton of carpet, a nightstand, 12 deer skeletons, like a thousand bottles, a lawn chair, and a host of other things.

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All in all, we collected a grand total of 720 pounds of trash!! Can you believe that?!

Everyone was such good sports too. The kids actually loved hunting for litter and seeing what they could find. Into the woods they would go, and run out, excited about the virtual living room set they just found.

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There was definitely a lot of gross stuff, but in the midst of the trash, there was still God’s beauty. It just needed a little (or rather big) sweep.

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The Fort

The boys have wanted a fort for quite sometime, and these past few weeks their dream came true. I am amazed at what my dad can engineer all by himself. Using a lot of stuff that we already had (telephone poles, pallets, windows, and tin) as well as a few bought items (plywood). It took a couple of Saturdays and nights after work to get it done, but the end product is fabulous! Two-stories of handmade awesomeness. The boys have padlocked the door, so only they may enter, decorated with chairs, a table they made, and a rug. Upstairs, they have drug cots up to sleep in once it ever gets cool enough. On days they spend in there, you can see them hauling a cooler full of ice and drinks with them.

It is a special thing built by all, engineered by dad, wished for by the boys, and where imagination runs rampant. It is “The Fort.”

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Giant Jenga and a Farm Visit

One of my favorite things to do is share agriculture with others (I’m sure it is in no way obvious), especially kids. This past week, we had a passel of kids come out and visit the farm, and it was a blast!

Mom’s 4-H club came out for their end of the year party. We had a ton of games for them to play like giant Jenga, lawn Twister, Kerplunk, giant tic-tac-toe, corn hole, washer toss, horseshoes, pick-up sticks, and even a fossil dig! We also set up an archery station and hay ride. While it was a lot of work making all of the games, it was also a lot of fun. We went through a ton of spray paint and hot glue. We also may or may not have used chainsaws, battled mosquitoes, and gotten sunburnt while preparing for the big day. It looked great in the end, if I do say so myself.

The games were ready, but we were inviting the group to a farm. It only makes sense to introduce them to a bit of farm life. We penned up a few of the more friendly animals and the babies for the kids (and parents) to interact with. Minus Dodger, all the animals behaved. Dodger was nice to the people, but he has jealousy issues and did not want to share the attention. Since he decided to be a bully to the other animals, I tied him up outside the pen beside me.

The day ended up being a great success. Some of the kids had never been on a farm before, so that was really special to have them experience farm life. I watched some kids walk into the pen, very hesitant and somewhat nervous, but by the end of the day, they were going in there and catching the goats all on their own. They cracked up at the goats nibbling their clothes and even fed the animals treats. Many questions were asked, and it was so fun to answer them. Garrett even brought pigs from his farm to let the kids see and touch. All in all, the kids were able to interact with a donkey, goats, sheep, and pigs.

I think it is so important to share agriculture and farm life with others. When only 2% of the population live on farms, many do not get to experience what it is like. Sure, they didn’t learn what it is like to shovel manure, give shots, or trim hooves, but they did get to have a hands-on experience with livestock and learn a bit too. To me, that is what it is all about. Take a look at some more pictures from the day, and if anyone wants to come back out, especially to learn the dirty side of farming, then come on!

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Name Game and Babies

Every animal (minus the poultry) that has come on our farm has been named. For over a decade, I took the lead in naming everything. I even had a name book and have frequented baby naming sites solely for the purposes of naming animals. Some of my favorite names have been London, Cairo, and Fancy. Some of the more unique ones have been Technical Difficulties (he was always causing issues) and Slim Jim. Naming an animal was always thought out, and often times, they would go days without a name just to make sure their name matched their personality. It is one of my favorite parts of having livestock; however, my job has begun to be taken over by my little brothers recently. That is a tough pill to swallow.

It isn’t that I necessarily mind that they are naming the animals (I make sure I get a few to name), but it is more what they are naming them. The latest twin goats that were born are just an example.

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Lady had her first set of kids this week–two big girls (11 and 8 pounds). They are really beautiful, and I was quite excited about how they looked. I felt that they should have pretty names, but Isaac and Gideon wanted to name them. I was ok with this and was hoping I could throw some good names they liked out there. I was wrong.

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Mud Pie is on the left and Tres is on the right

 

I found the babies and called for the boys to come out and come look. The following conversation ensued:

Isaac: “Lady! Look how pretty your babies are. Aren’t you a good momma? Risa, Lady is my show goat, that means I name the babies right?”

Me: “Lady is yours but the buck is mine.”

Isaac: “That’s true. Can I still name them?”

Me: “We will talk about different names, but you can name them.”

Gideon: “Tres! We should name that one Tres. That is the number 3 in Spanish right?”

Me: “Let’s just wait until tomorrow to name them that way we can think on it.”

The next day while we were feeding, Isaac and Gideon came riding up on the golfcart saying “How are Tres and Mud doing?”

Me: “Who and who?”

Gideon: “That’s their names–Tres and Mud.”

All I could think was dear heavens, I’m going to have pretty little does named after wet dirt and the other after a foreign number 3.

Me: “Ummm… well… I was thinking since the mom is named Lady, we could do something like Duchess.”

Grandma: “What about Maddie and Tae? They are country singer girls that were on TV.”

Gideon: “No, no, Tres. Her name is Tres.”

Isaac: “How about Mud Pie?”

Me: “Why Mud?”

Isaac: “Her face looks like mud to me.”

Me: “Alright…”

Later I went in the house and told Mom: “I need a hug. I have baby goats named after Spanish 3 and mud.”

She laughed.

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Mud Pie has a brown spot on her booty
Mud Pie has a brown spot on her booty

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So, yes, I swallowed the pill, stepped down from my position as namer and relinquished the reigns to an 8 and 10 year old. I’ve had a good run (I’m still adamant that I get to name things; I just have to share, and the boys are good with this), and at least I could name some of the babies this year. Speaking of those guys, here are some updated pictures of all the little ones. They are growing super fast.

Miracle is such a big girl now
Miracle is such a big girl now

 

If we let Miracle out, she likes to run around with the boys.
If we let Miracle out, she likes to run around with the boys.
She even thinks she is big enough to drive
She even thinks she is big enough to drive
Cash man is a stud, even though Miracle is out growing him
Cash man is a stud, even though Miracle is out growing him
Lilly is the diva of the group. She is prissy, loves to climb, and knows she is special.
Lilly is the diva of the group. She is prissy, loves to climb, and knows she is special.
Grover has to belly crawl to nurse from mom these days. He will be weaned before too long.
Grover has to belly crawl to nurse from mom these days. He will be weaned before too long.

Moonlight illusions–Meet our newest addition

When you live on a farm, there is always something new and a surprise around every corner. I feel like I shouldn’t be surprised when the unexpected happens, but I always am. It is one of the reasons I love living on a farm. No “one day” is the same. Last night, at 1:30 am, once again, I was surprised.

I had just finished painting my nails and watching a movie with Mom, while I finished up some homework (multitasking at its finest). Miracle still needed to be fed her last bottle of the night, so Mom got the bottles ready. She said that she would feed Miracle since my nails were wet, but asked if I would walk with her (keep in mind it is 1:30 am). At this point, let me give you a visual. I am in sweatpants, and my brother’s oversized Croc shoes. Mom is still in church clothes and bedroom shoes. We didn’t bring a flashlight, and Mom was confused as to why I was bringing her down a back way to the goat pen. Quite the picture right?

As we bent down to give Miracle her bottle, I looked to my left in the pen beside us. I started squealing. There in the dark, glowed a new baby goat. Not just any goat, but our Angora’s baby!

Note: In 2009, I bought 2 angora goats as a start in my fiber herd (Angora goats have long locks of fiber called mohair). We went all the way to West Virginia to get them. Many years ago, one died, but my other one has stuck around. She is quite the awkward goat, losing one horn a couple of years ago, and has stretched out skin. She has been very susceptible to parasites over the years, and has come back where most goats wouldn’t. She often has patchy hair, and always looks like a misfit, but she’s tough and quirky.

I ran to the house (as fast as the too big Crocs would allow me) and grabbed a flashlight from Alec’s room. He woke up, and I told him Angora had a baby! Then I left. I ran back outside to see a snow white baby goat standing beside the Angora. I almost peed on myself because I was so excited. I checked to see if it was a doe or buck, and it was a little girl. That made me squeal all over again. Mom is still incredulous as to what is happening, thinking it had to be Cash, Miracle’s brother that got into the other pen. Nope. It is a brand new baby.illy

We began forming a plan to get the new momma and baby situated for the night. We wrestled drop cords, and hung a heat lamp in a shelter. Keep in mind, Mom is still in a dress trying to do this stuff, and I’m slightly hyper. Finally, we got it all situated. We led the pair into the shelter and started to trim the Angora’s fiber so the baby could find the teats. The baby was so spunky, but was still having a hard time locating where to nurse. She went from the chest to the butt and back again. Finally, with a little direction, we saw her nurse. At this point, Angora was quite fed up with us and wanted us out. At 2 am, we decided that they would be fine, and we needed to go to bed. The goats were fine, but my nails were a bit worse for the wear. I don’t know why I even try.

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This morning, Mom and baby were doing great. The baby is already running and jumping. I don’t think I’ve ever had one hit the ground with such spunk before. Angora is being a terrific mom too! We are still in the naming process, but are leaning towards Lunar Illusion and calling her Lilly or just plain Illusion and calling her Illy or Lucy. I’ll let you know.

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I’m sure by now you think I am a crazy person for squealing and getting so excited. What you don’t know, is that for 5 years, the Angora has been in with various bucks, and never bred. Not only this, but 7 years is super old for a goat, so the chance of her catching now, of all times, is incredible. We honestly thought our eyes were playing tricks on us in the moonlight, but no, it wasn’t an illusion. We now have a Boergora goat (Boer/Angora cross).

Wonders never cease to amaze here at Countryview Farms. I’m still in awe over what happened and how spunky she is. Miracle isn’t the only miracle around here anymore!

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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Farm Day

The other night, the family and I watched Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and today, I felt like I was in that movie just a bit.

20150216_193432I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised today happened the way it did. I mean it is Monday. In the midst of the string of events, I found myself laughing, though. I think I laughed because it felt better than to cry. I hope you too, may laugh at the events that follow during the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Farm Day.

Turn on the heat…

Currently all my reasons for living in the South in terms of weather have been shot to pieces. It is below freezing, and all water troughs have 2 inches of ice. That means that we are chopping ice with an ax and supplying heat lamps and knee high bedding for everyone. Farm chores can be rough in warm temperatures. They become a bit more difficult when Jack Frost is biting you. However, I will say that cleaning frozen pig poop, is a bit less messy than normal.

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Surprise!

North Carolina is in one of the coldest weeks of the year, and of course, Lulu decides she wants to have babies during this unusual cold snap. As we went to feed the older group of goats, we were greeted by the sound of bleats from two kids. Lu had kidded sometime during the early morning hours, birthing a girl and a boy.

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While she had done a good job drying them off, they were still understandably cold. We quickly set up a heat lamp andpiled thick bedding in an individual shelter for the new mom and babies. This was easier said than done though. Finagling drop cords and cleaning hulk sized cob webs were in order. We also had to weigh the babies and put iodine on their umbilical cords. We use iodine to prevent any infection or the potential navel ill disease. They weighed 9.5 pounds each, which is a good size for baby goats.

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However, even with a good body weight, the little girl was weak and was not terribly interested in nursing. Throughout the day, we kept checking on her… in the midst of other “exciting” events.

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After lunch, I went back outside to check on the little ones. When I stepped out of the door, I heard water… a lot of it. I started looking around, thinking that one of the sheep was having one heck of a pee break. Sadly, we were not that fortunate. There at the barn, was a regular Niagara Falls.

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The pipeline had burst with the cold temperatures, despite being insulated. I ran out there in my slippers, but quickly traded those in for muck boots when I saw how deep the water was. I called Daddy to ask him which valve I should turn to cut the water off. The valve was under water, though, and I couldn’t see it. I got a bucket and began to bail the water out, but it refilled faster than I was emptying. Dad told me to run to the front yard and cut off the whole property’s water. This finally stopped the water. I called Mom to tell her that she had no water at the house, but I had things under control. I ran back to the barn to start bailing water again. Finally, I found the valve. My hands were blue and frozen from being in the water, and now the valve was stuck. I found pliers and used those. After breaking the tab on the valve, I finally got it turned off just as Alec and Papa drove up to help.

I left them to investigate the split pipe, while I went to hang another heat lamp for the goats. Where one crisis ends, another begins…

The Mailbox Murder

As I was walking back to the barn, I heard a BOOM! I heard Papa yell that a guy had just taken out our mailbox. Two farmers who were hauling large pieces of equipment had just passed our house and clipped our mailbox. I asked Alec to go and talk to them. When he approached them, he asked if their equipment was OK. They said it was. Alec then told them that they did a number on our mailbox. They looked past him and looked wide-eyed at the damage. They didn’t even know it had happened. One of the farmers went on his way, while the other came back to investigate the damage. He believed that the other guy had done it, but paid us for the damage anyway. He jokingly told Alec that if he heard of a commotion in Harnett County, he knew it was about him trying to get his money back from the other guy. Oh lanta!

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Seeing Stars

Sometime during trying to tend to the new babies, Mom and Grandma were breaking ice in another pasture. Somehow the sheep got out and Grandma went to chasing them. Mom is asking Grandma to stop chasing the sheep, telling the dog to get the sheep, and trying to keep the rogue little buck inside the pasture as he rams the gate. After much chasing, the sheep finally were returned to where they belonged. As Mom was fastening the gate, the buck rams the gate one last hard time. The gate hits Mom in the head, and she literally saw stars. It was just one more aspect of the day.

On the Brink

After a nice dinner of taco soup, I went to check on the kids another time. Lulu and the little boy looked fine, but the little girl was not doing good. In fact, I thought she was dead when I got there. Even though, she was in the shelter and in the rays of the heat lamp, she was so cold. I decided to carry her in the house. Honestly, I didn’t expect her to even make it from outside to the house, but she did. I started warming her up with a hair dryer and towels. Her internal temperature would not rise, though. Daddy and I decided to tube feed her, in hopes of A) getting some nourishment in her and B) get some warmth to her insides.

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After accomplishing that feat, we ran a warm bath in the sink for her. This did the most good in warming her up, and she actually started to kick a bit. All of a sudden though, she seemed to stop breathing and became non-responsive. We thought we had lost her. Taking her out of the sink, we wrapped her in a towel, only to have her take another deep breath. She was still alive. Currently, she is sitting in my bathroom with a heater on her, sleeping. I have low expectations of her living through the night, but so far she keeps proving me wrong.

Ice, Ice Baby

Now, as I sit at the kitchen table, looking at the end of this Monday, the ice is coming down outside. All the animals are tucked neatly in their bedding and heat lamps, and I am exhausted. Despite it being a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Farm Day, I am thankful for moments of laughter, the teamwork exhibited by my family, and a warm home. In the end, some days on the farm are hard, and others are fun, but they are all worth it. I’m sure we will all look back and laugh at this crazy day.

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