I’m considering this little website our farm door to the world. If you were standing on our doorstep, I would ask if you wanted to kick off your boots or shoes and come on in. Then you’d be offered a glass of tea or another beverage of your liking. So please kick off your shoes, grab a cup of hot coffee or a glass of iced tea and stay a while. We’ll be sharing a little bit about our farm, our family and our way of life. You might also find some recipes here from time to time or perspective and insight as to what we are thinking.
It’s officially spring, and the farm really comes to life. I love that first week when the pastures turn from brown and scruffy to that spring green, showing the first signs of new growth and new life. As the sun sets later, the evenings bring new fun as we all play until the sun goes down.
And on the farm, there’s never any shortage of work that needs to be done. We approach projects in stages. We’ve started a number of projects from planting our garden (with the help of Charley and Henry) and planting pollinator habitat around our ponds. These projects are not one-and-done. They require care and attention throughout the summber months, be it in the form of weeding and watering or in fixing fence to keep the cows out.
On Sunday, Feb. 14, and Valentine’s Day of course, the temperature here in Montgomery City was a blistering 0 degrees without factoring in the wind chill.
We knew it was a cold one and have all the right gear. My husband and I did what any logical parent does in this kind of weather; we turned on a movie for the boys and after putting on our overalls, boots and many layers, headed out the door.
WHEW! I could feel the moisture on my face freeze as that first gust hit.
After entering the barn, we discovered the tractor would not start and the gear shift was frozen. The shift stick freezes easily and that’s pretty common for this tractor but having it not start is rare. I turned to my trusty propane heater and placed it near the tractor to help thaw things. We added another propane heater near the engine and let them run for a while.
Then it was off to cutting ice so everyone had access to water. With a pickaxe in hand and the heater cranked on high, we drove around and slung away. Us vs. the ice, feeling a sense of accomplishment when the ice gave way and we could chisel out holes the perfect size for their noses.
It was good to get back to the house and warm up to a few cups of coffee. Skip a few hours and few trips back out to the barn and it became apparent the tractor was not thawing. We put a tarp around it but with all the holes, it wasn’t holding in the heat. At 5 o’clock, I headed to Orchelns and invested in some new tarps.
At 11:30 p.m., we finally had the tractor running. We proceeded to open up the haybarn to load up the bales. I got one bale on the front spikes and was backing in to pick up a second. I couldn’t quite get angled right to pick up that last bale but in a hurry tried to push it in.
What proceeded was the cracking of metal as a heavy duty bolt snapped and a ball joint was dislodged. This resulted in lots of cursing and instead of being able to make one trip to get hay to the cows, it meant two. Couple that with the fact we weren’t sure if our tractor would run the next day and so we wanted to get extra hay nearby.
Mike gritted it out and made three of the four trips in a cabless tractor after midnight with the wind blowing, snow coming down and it was getting colder by the hour. As I followed him in the car for safety reasons, I thought to myself:
“Any normal person is tucked away in bed right now, or at the very least watching a late night show in their PJs. This is crazy! Life without cows would be much easier … summers by the pool and not fixing fence or mowing pastures, early mornings spent playing games with the boys and not having to worry about getting outside to do chores. Why do we do this? We either love it that much or are just plain crazy.”
By 1 a.m., all our cows had hay and we finally took our overalls off and crawled into bed.
Well, after gritting it out and asking myself some tough questions in the process, I can say “we LOVE it that much.” There’s a peace that comes when you’re outside and taking care of God’s creatures. It’s a life we love and one we want our boys to know. It’s more than just a job. It’s a calling, it’s a love and that’s why we have GRIT (Grace in Rough and Inexplicable Times) … but in those moments that call for GRIT, grace is not the picture and that’s why there’s not another one for this post.
During the past seven days, we’ve had well over 3 inches of rain. This makes doing chores about like participating in a Tough Mudder — we’re up and down on the tractor taking hay where it needs to be and carrying buckets of feed so the heifers have proper nutrition. By the time we are done, we have mud-spattered faces and mud up to our knees. Even the tractor got stuck, and we had to call in reinforcement to pull us out.
Meanwhile, schools and learning centers are closed in an effort to stymie COVID-19, which means Charley and Henry are in full on play mode. When it’s not raining, we are making the most of our outdoor time and trying to get our electric fence operable. Charley now knows what a HOT fence is but I’m afraid Henry will learn the hard way.
So if we’re not outside, we’re playing “farm” inside with cows, hay bales, cattle chutes and all. And while I was laying there blocking access to the bin full of toy animals, Henry says “Excuse me, Mom.” I didn’t catch it the first time and then he said it again. I was pleasantly surprised as I was not aware he knew this phrase.
Little moments like this make me cherish and thankful for the extra time with the boys and Mike during these uncertain times. We’ve not slowed down but we just don’t have as many things pulling us away, or maybe we now have an excuse to say “no.”
I know this won’t last long, although it might seem so. For now, I’m enjoying the “social isolation” and soaking up the laughs and giggles with these two littles. In the end, we’re all happy and counting our blessings.