Tiny Details About Farm Life


Responding to the recollections a few of us made recently about milking cows in days gone by, Berny remembered how the cats would eat milk-soaked strainer pads after they were discarded and, to use her words, what came out the other end of the cat as a result. I don’t know that I would have remembered that on my own although, being reminded, I certainly do recall it. There are details about life on the farm I would rather forget. But let us all concentrate now and see who can come up with the most esoteric “little thing that counts” about farm life and thus get the honor of being the most genuine farmer of us all.

In keeping with the Christmas season (happy holidays, everyone), several years ago when we cut our Christmas tree, a volunteer in our red cedar fence line, we found a real bird’s nest in it when we got it back to the house. It made a great ornament with three Jordan almonds nestled inside.

Because I have often had to find ways to do farm work without spending money, one of my favorite tiny details of chore time is knowing that animals will eat snow, at least for a few days, if there is no water available. I had a chance to put that nugget of knowledge into practice just recently. Really cold weather came on us so fast that I found my rain barrels at the barn frozen over (no water piped to my barn as well as no electric in the barn, also examples of farming without money). I could have made an extra trip to the house to bring water to the seven hens, but it would have frozen quickly in the near zero temperatures. I filled their plastic dish (homemade out of an empty laundry soap bottle, easy to knock ice out of without damaging it) with snow. You should have seen them gobble away at it and not because they were all that thirsty.  They like snow. They peck it off my boots even when they have plenty of water available. That’s how buffalo on the Great Plains survived winter, isn’t it? Once a farmer from Iowa was visiting and word came from his workers back home that a winter storm had knocked out the electric and no water was available for his barn full of hogs. “Turn them out in the snow,” he instructed over the phone. “That’ll keep them for a couple of days anyway.”

If you have ever had occasion to see the worn ruts of an old horse-drawn wagon trail up a big hill, you might notice that the tracks do not go straight up the hill but more in an S shape, angling one way and then about in the middle of the hill angling back the other way, with maybe a place where the tracks turn completely parallel to the slope. This was not for artistic effect thought it does look artful. It was easier for the horses to angle up the slope with a heavy load than going straight up. Having a place where they could stop, parallel to the slope, to rest without the weight of the load pulling them downhill helped too. Some of Andrew Wyeth’s hillside paintings show such trails authentically, another reason why so many of us country people love his pictures and many urban people don’t. They don’t know what all is going on in them.

Farm boys of yesteryear, and some today, like to go barefoot in summer. But getting the cows to the barn from the pasture at daybreak, one’s feet can get mighty cold in the dew. My father liked to recount how, as a boy, he would stand on the spots in the grass where the cows had slept all night, to warm his feet.

A sign of real teamster skill on the horse-powered farm is to be able to use the end of the rein strap as a fly swatter, and kill horse flies alighting on a horse’s rump.

My cousin tells me how once he was faced with a rock in his field that the frost had finally heaved up to the surface. It was too big to pull out with any machinery he had available. So, again in the spirit of farming without spending money, he dug a hole by hand right beside it and pried the rock over into it. The stone dropped maybe ten inches. “It won’t get back up to plow depth till I’m dead and gone,” he said.

One of our favorite games as children was to race boats down the creek to a preordained finish line. The boats were just sticks of wood but they floated along almost as if they were competing with each other in the current. Even the grandchildren enjoyed this pastime until they discovered computer games.

 Okay, now it’s your turn.


I grew up at the side of a farm , and spent most of my childhood wondering all over on it always avoiding the farmer because I didn’t want to be kicked off, the best thing was the farm dumps which there were 4 of over several acres , whenever us kids wanted anything at all the first thing we thought of was checking those dumps , the dog had enormous cow leg bones for chew toys I decorated my bedroom in old cracked pottery , and the best thing was when my childhood friend married and moved into an old house with no screen windows, she and I headed for the dump pulled old worn out screen grown through with weeds cleaned them up and built frames from scraps of wood we found sewed up the holes and she was happy to have the windows open that summer ! And we were middle class kids growing up in that spoiled time of the 1970’s !!

No childhood farm stories, as all my people “escaped” the farm when they immigrated. But I do remember being told about a great-great Grandfather who trained horses for Kaiser Wilhelm. Perhaps this is the gene that made me long for a farm and livestock of my own.

My siblings and I spent a few weeks with my Uncle’s family in Michigan when I was about twelve. You could actually see the stars at night. I remember the deer that was being dressed hanging in the barn. We fished and bathed in the lake.

I’ve absolutely loved reading everyone’s stories. I should have been born in an earlier time.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone.

When I was around 12 years old, and we were harvesting wheat, I would get the boring job of running wagons up to the “elevator”. Towards the last of a harvested field, wild rabbits would make a run from the standing wheat, and we’d chase them. Hard to believe, but it was possible to eventually catch a rabbit, because it was running in a jungle of wheat stubble, and you could see where it was. Quickly the rabbits would tire and you could actually catch them. Of course, we’d just let them free then. Sure was fun.

I remember my uncle lighting his smokes off the glowing sheet metal stove. I remember my grandmother would go out on Saturday night and catch a young rooster and put it under a wash tub to be butchered for Sundays meal. And My oldest farm memory is being probably 4 or 5 years old and climbing on a stack to cow licks, stored in the barn, finding the cleanest one and licking it myself, must not have hurt me I am still alive at 65. ANd one of my first chores was to draw the water from my grandmothers well, carry the bucket to the house and set it by the sink and make sure there was a ladle near by that was hard work for a little kid

    Bill a funny story my Grandmother used to tell about the water bucket in the kitchen.When she was a youngster back in the early 1900’s the families in the area would all get together at each others places on Saturday nights at each other’s farms and shuck the corn bundles they’d brought to the barns.When they found a red ear they’d have a little drink,after a few red ears one night her Uncle Ben came to the house to get some water and my grandmother’s mother’s name was Fanny. Anyway uncle Ben came in and instead of taking a dipper of water out of the drinking water bucket he got himself a dipper full out of the dishpan after a big drink turned and said “Fanny looks your water’s a little druggy tonight”
    They all got a kick out of that for years my Aunt and I were laughing about it just the other day.

A number of years ago we had a minivan but no pickup truck. the minivan was bought with a small inheritance my wife received and so she was pretty possessive about it.
i needed to get a deacon calf to raise and the dairy farm neighbor lived about 3 miles away. i suggested we use the minivan to transport the calf. my bride questioned that idea but i assured her that the movement of the van would cause the calf to hold his bodily functions until we got home. (of course i knew better but i also knew forgiveness was easier to obtain than permission)
anyhow we arrived at the dairy and as i was loading the calf into the fairly new vehicle (with my wife and young kids) my farming neighbor looked at us, dolefully shook his head and said: “Dan there are just not enough real farmers in the world.” I knew i had arrived in the neighborhood with that remark.
Of course as soon as the van started and moved the poor nervous calf let loose!!! it was a tense ride home. i had to clean the van for two weeks before i could get the smell out enough to satisfy my long suffering help mate.
Another: recently on Facebook one of my nieces posted a photo of her riding a horse at our farm when she was young and commented how meaningful that was to her. it started a long post among the sibling and cousins which made me realize the impact visiting the farm had been for them as city kids when they were younger.
Thanks Gene for all your posts – and thank Carol for putting up with you.

I remember walking in the oat field behind my Grandpa on the binder “helping” set up the bundles into shocks then playing in the chopper box with my older brother and cousin while the oats poured in from the threshing machine. My cousin tried to make me eat a handful of oats and I must of cried because my brother punched him. I must have been about 5 or 6 back then. I now own that threshing machine, a Red River Special.

I recall as a child visiting Grandpa and Grandma’s farm way up north and how the sun would shine into the barn through gaps between the barn boards and how the dust in the air inside the barn would reveal the suns rays. That was fascinating to me.
And how we would run and play in the old meadows way far from the house, but we could always hear the slapping of the screen door from so far away when someone came or went out of the house.
When I grew up some and had kids, we were in a position to have some farm critters so we acquired a small flock of sheep. We had the darndest time getting them into the barn when we needed them there. We could herd them ok into the barnyard and we’d slowly close their escape routes off so they had to go in. But they seemed to find away to get by us. One particularly frustrating session, we had a bright idea: we figured since they were so inclined to not go where we wanted but instead to go where we didn’t want them, we thought why not (pretend to) try to keep them out of the barn and then the sheep will think they are smart and go into the barn. So that’s what we did: we acted like we didn’t want them in the barn and and herded them in the opposite direction. Wouldn’t ya know it, in less then 1 minute we had the sheep in the barn! Who’d a thought?
I like all the stories here.

1) Playing cow pasture baseball with bats my grandpa turned on a lathe cause sotre bought bats cost money. I got hit along side the head from a careless practice bat swing from a :”Friend”, which put a strain on our relationship and gave me a swollen ear and a monstrous headache. Cow pies made usable bases, but we made sure they’ were dry before trying to slide.

2) Also after watching my first combination horse show and rodeo at the local fairgrounds I tried to teach my old ,arthritic, draft, horse mare (my riding horse; well only horse actually) how to perform barrel racing maneuvers around five gallon buckets. I only had a bridle because saddles cost money which there was little of ( the horse was a free gift) so I learned to ride (sort of) bareback. For some reason the old mare became reluctant to let me mount her after our first barrel racing session. Shortly thereafter, I found out why the barrel racing ladies at the rodeo rode on such fancy saddles to which they managed to cling very tightly. My bareback barrel racing rides on the old mare started ending up as practice at flying, or rather falling, while at (what was for her) a full gallop, ( actually a walking pace for a healthy teen-ager) I can’t be sure but I’m sure the old gal would snicker when she observed me encountering terrra firma with a rather loud thump and roll. Of course she would stop to see if I was hurt, or maybe it was just to catch her breath. Now that I’m getting up in years and dealing with arthritic knees myself, I’m very understanding of the old mare’s feelings about barrel racing.

Climbing into the pickup box to shovel the durum wheat into the corners as the combine augur ran a red-gold stream over my knees and thighs (and into my shoes). The wheat was always oddly cool as you put your hand down in the pile, no matter how hot the air temperature. Gathering a handful to chew on as “gum”. (Wish my teeth could do that now!).
Cutting prairie hay from the slough edges and coulees and the never-forgotten scent of wild mint hanging in the air.
Seeing “sun dogs” above and on each side of a rising sun in January. If you saw a faint ring surrounding the sun, you knew it was seriously cold as in -30 or more.

Thanks, Gene. I like this writing, this post. Wonderful.

I’ve always liked how the kids climb on dropped firewood trees, like they’re a magical playground. I like to leave them set for at least a few weeks for this reason. They bounce and hang and play on those things like there is no tomorrow. Better than a store bought jungle-gym in my opinion.

I’m guessing you don’t find many old trails going straight up a hill because, at least in parts of the country where it rains much, the trails would quickly become ravines. In addition to giving the horses a rest, wouldn’t the S curves slow the water working its way down the hill?

One of my favorite things growing up and even now is how Barn Swallows will show up and follow the tractor and rake when I’m raking hay as they circle around the moving equipment catching insects that are stirred up by the rake.They can be quite entertaining.
We heated with firewood (still do) when I was young and before we had chainsaws we used to go to the woods with the AC WD45 and wagon thin out trees with a Bucksaw and an ax for limbing and then load the long lengths on the wagon.Then we’d take them to the cutoff saw in the backyard that was belt powered by a B Allis Chalmers still love the ‘singing’ sound the saw makes.
Sleigh riding was also lots of fun,we’d make a track during the day by driving the Allis Chalmers WD 45 down the hill several times and when the snow froze back up at night we’d have two paralel
tracks to run the sleds.For heat and light we’d burn old tires that we’d collected up over the Summer used to have 30 kids sleigh riding some nights.

Gene, “the littlest thing that counts” actually were words spoken by my (at that time) four year old son Gabe. I had just brought home day old broiler chicks and my son was helping me place them in the brooder. When we were finished Gabe said to the chicks, “Ah you are so cute. I am sorry we will have to kill you but it is OK because we are going to eat you.” I was touched and proud of him. As far as I am concerned my four year old could not have summarized farming (whether animal or plant) and life as a whole any better. He showed compassion, reverence for life, and understanding the “circle of life” that most adults I encounter could not begin to fathom. And as far as being esoteric most people outside of the small farmer (and do I dare say contrary farmer) crowd would have no idea my young son had such a deep essential understanding of life. In fact I learned to not share this particular story with most people after the many aghast reactions and near fainting episodes associated with my telling of this proud moment of my life.

One of my earliest memories is in the low sheep barn, being propped up from behind, with a bottle under one arm, feeding a lamb. I was eye to eye with the lamb, and we were both a little scared, but that started my fascination with my grandparents’ farm.
Other memories: leaning off the back porch, peach juice dripping from our chins. Going wood-cutting with Dad in a 60s Chevy truck (in the late 1970s), bouncing over the fields with a floor-board full of tools and a dog in the cab.
Canning pickles in high summer in Tennessee with no AC. That is forever my definition of Hot.
One year they baled 5 rattlesnakes on the back field, so you had to be careful loading the hay, as some were trapped but alive.

I used to visit an older cousin on his family’s farm. I suppose I was about 4 and he was about 8. Anyway, they had this big old tom turkey that they had not had the heart to butcher one Thanksgiving, and he strutted around with the laying hens looking for all the world (to my 4 year old eyes) like Foghorn Leghorn from the old cartoons. He must have stood four feet all and seemed like a giant to me. My cousin would take me out to the henhouse to gather eggs and lock me in with this “giant rooster”. I remember hiding under the roosts as he was too big to get at me there. I would wait, covered in poo until I could get a chance to squeeze out the little hen door and down the ramp.

I got even though. There was a big black snake that always hung around the rafters of the springhouse. I finally got my chance and shut my cousin in and blocked the door. I remember him hollering all the things he was going to do to me when he got out. Not the motivation I needed.

One of my favorite memories is being in a flatbed wagon while my cousin was combining wheat with the old AC Allcrop 60. When he filled the bin he would auger the wheat in a golden stream into the wagon where it would rain down on my hands and sometimes head. I still can recall the smell of the just harvested grain.
In the winter we sometimes carried water to make ice runway on the hill by the farmhouse. You could really fly down that hill! And down through the swamp and start up the hill on the other side of the swamp. A few times we were able to sled at night if the moon was bright.

    We had a AC 40 then got a 60 but ours had the platform and bagger,don’t think there is
    a hotter or more dusty job than riding one of those combines but oddly enough I always looked forward to combining time.

When I was a little girl on cold mornings I would go out to the barn with my Grandpa when he would milk the cow. I loved how warm it felt being close to them.

A neighbors hen has gone broody in my donkey shelter,. Of course this is December in Vermont, so I put 2 plastic eggs under her. Today I picked her growling self out her box and put a cup of fresh water under her hanging head. She drank after her broody stupor temporarily broke. Then she ate and proceeded to peck at the snow. Not sure if she was eating the snow or eating snow fleas or other tender morsels that live on the snow. She’s back now setting in her box of hay on those plastic eggs.

Learning how to plant an apple tree and my mentor and teacher instructed me to always “dig a five dollar hole for a nickel tree”. Also, since we were planting the orchard near the top of a hill that got quite a bit of wind, we would slant the tree just a little bit to compensate for the for the prevailing wind and the sapling (a whip really) would grow up straight.

a few more little things…
One of the barn cats would come to the barn just before milking time, and (in summer) while he was waiting, he would eat the horseflies off the inside of the window screens. . Sort of a dual-purpose barn cat.
Another memory: buying a dozen culled caged hens, turning them loose on our farm, and watching them shyly explore, find their first bug, and roll in the dust!
Beth’s story of the garter snake in a hay bale reminded me of the time we were baling and a groundhog popped out of his hole just as the baler passed by and scooped him up. The bale-thrower was tossing the bales into the wagon. We tried to locate the bale with the woodchuck but couldn’t find it. Most of that batch of hay was sold, and I always wondered who opened that bale with the surprise inside, the next winter.
And making do with little money meant that we had lots of things made out of jute baler twine. Short ropes, kids’ jump ropes, houseplant hangers (remember the macrame era?), and lots of things were held together this way, enough to write a whole other article…!

I remember how cold my feet got, doing chores in the winter. There were no “good to -40″ boots in those days. Rather than go all the way back to the house to warm up my feet, I’d kick a hole in the actively-composting manure pile and stand in it for a while.
My family had what was a large-sized egg-production flock for those days. In the summer, they were out on range and it was my job to find the nests of the inevitable escapees and collect their eggs every day. When I’d discover a nest I had been missing, there was no way to know how old the eggs in it were, so my brother and I would play catch with them. We’d start off standing close and tossing easy, then move further apart and throw harder – and higher. Eventually an egg would break when caught, ending the game. The one of us that had to go wash egg off was the loser, of course. I vividly remember going for one that plummeted down from a high arc, only to break in my hands, over my head. It was rotten and runny. I had to change my clothes and wash my hair.
My mother had a couple of adventures that we remember. We had one heifer that had not been de-horned, that was kinda temperamental. I think her name was Hortense. One day she charged at my mother, who fortunately ended up between the heifer’s horns, which were stuck for a moment in the side of the barn.
Another day, my mom put her hand into a chicken nest to gather eggs and discovered the nest was occupied by a skunk. She just stood there, immobile, for a long time, till the skunk finally ambled off, to avoid getting sprayed.
Once, when playing hide and seek with some visiting kids, I hid in a tunnel my brother and I had made in the bales of hay in the hay mow. I fell asleep, and didn’t hear everyone calling and calling for me. They were sure glad to see me when I woke up.
Last one: My cousin was three years older than I, and sometimes a tad of a bully. He was chasing me once, in the barnyard, with intent to do my bodily harm if he caught me. He was getting close, but I came up with cousin kryptonite. He was a city kid. I picked up cow manure and began pelting it at him and he was outta there.
Well, one more. My husband and I, as close to 70 as you can get and not be 70 yet, have just taken up homesteading. (I write a homestead newsletter anyone is welcome to receive.) We went to a lovely choral concert last week and I wore the same boots I do chores in, as it was bitterly cold and they are the only warm boots I’ve got. I thought they were clean enough. Nothing to be seen, just some dried stuff in the treads. The concert was wonderful and I’d forgotten all about my boots – till intermission was over and the second half of the concert began. Suddenly, the air was redolent with the scent of goat manure and buck goat. Really, really redolent. I guess the manure had thawed out. My husband whispered ” Keep your feet flat on the floor!” But it didn’t help. All I could do was try to look cultured, like a nice lady who certainly could not be the one responsible for such a stench. The concert was on Saturday night, in a church. I wonder if some whiffs of goat were noticed during the service the next morning.

In April when George Wingert plowed his field that bordered the Falling Spring Creek, it took only two or three passes to start him singing and three or four more for the crows to gather in. The crows, who lived somewhere in the woods behind George’s barn, would appear first at the field’s edge, then above the field, then directly in the field where they would hop along and glean the newly-turned furrows.

My mother claimed the crows’ quick arrival had more to do with George’s singing than with any grubs they found, and maybe that was so. I know the singing found me. Because the moment I heard George’s voice incoming on our side of the creek, I would drop everything and go.

There was a limestone outcropping near the center of George’s field, and that’s where I started. I would settle among the rocks to watch and wait. As the field was rectangular, so the pattern George made with his tractor and plow was rectangular: up, across, back, across. With each complete pass, the pattern grew wider, the smell of the just-turned earth stronger. When the crows dropped in to follow with short flights and bickering, they too went around. And when finally I climbed down from the rocks to join behind the crows, we were four going around—tractor, plow, crows, boy. And as I remember it, so too the sun, the sky, the earth—everything—my entire world seemed going around.

As for George’s singing, his voice easily heard above the tractor, it simply was. In the long flat section of field adjacent his barn, George would leave his seat and sing standing up.

“Then sings my soul my savior God to thee!” he sang, head back, the palm of one hand face-up in the air.

I was seven, eight, maybe nine, and as I listened, ankle-deep in the creek-bottom loam, my soul knew joy, too. Exceeding joy. It’s just that it came with a slight pain in my chest.


Yes. Even for an eight-year-old boy.


Because of joy. In this instance for the first of the plow days; for the field being plowed; for the singing ploughman; for the black crows, who, when I would fling them something (a pebble, a worm) would carom off each others air, snag their prize, and set off for some place I knew I would never know.

That’s why. The “never know” part. . Because a singing ploughman and flung pebbles can never be fully known, see. There is always distance, separation.

Which reminds me just now of a quote I often think of: “We live as we dream…alone.”

Joy into pain, pain into joy–-it’s an old-time habit our hearts never grow tired of.

The little things:
Middle granddaughter standing wide-eyed in the pasture as a flock of geese went over and turning to me to whisper, “Listen, you can hear the sound of them flying!”
Younger brothers and pals “surfing” through the plowed oat field on an old tire tied to the bumper of the pickup. We later discovered a metal fence post sticking up out of the ground at an angle nearly impossible to see, but if tire or kid had connected, there would surely have been a nasty wreck.
Brothers and friends hauling hay; one found a dead garter snake in a bale and threw it at the kid driving the tractor. It hit the back of his neck and snake’s limp body wrapped around his neck. Kid driving the tractor was off the tractor and on the other side of the fence a couple of hundred yards away before you could say “snake!” while the tractor trundled driverless down the field, with the other boys laughing so hard they fell off the hay trailer and had to chase the tractor to the end of the field, where it had become entangled in the fence (it’s amazing my brothers survived to adulthood without my father or their friends assassinating them…).
Sitting on the bumper of the pickup with the grandchildren, watching our first litter of baby pigs born — on Mother’s Day, no less.
Giving my old saddle mare a final hug before we put her down because of her broken pelvis.
Getting up close and personal with the flowers in a patch of moss. They aren’t any bigger than a pencil point in many cases.
Doing things with little money:
Collecting the quilted jelly jars that had metal lids (you covered the jelly with wax under the lid) and using them for drinking glasses.
Planting the cut-off ends of green onions to grow another onion (you can get away with this trick two or three times in most cases, which makes green onions pretty cheap even if you buy the original batch from the store).
Rolling up the string from bags of grain, flour, etc. and saving it to use again.
Making my own air fresheners, cough syrup and herbal teas from herbs that grow on the ranch.

I’m not the farmer around here, I leave that up to my hubby, but only because I’m the one doing the studying. I still have plenty of ideas though 😀 that’s what comes of studying development in rural areas. Anyway, he is always working out ways to make something to avoid paying out and his latest additions were the gate latches made from bits of wood (http://thejourneytosomewhere.blogspot.com/), they work. The hen house behind our alpaca was made from wood given to us, by a wood processing factory that was moving premises and happen to be friends of ours, as is the newer alpaca house. The first one and older looking of the two, is made from trees thinned from our own forest.

By the way Gene, I have to take extreme exception to your monstrous picture at the top of your blog. How can you post such cute pictures of such heinous animals? I may take a while to recover :), especially as we have had some of their darn relations come digging up our land again quite recently. Unfortunately it hasn’t been cold enough for long enough to ensure they stay in the forest and off our grass.

Briefly there are three things I remember quite well growing up.

First was our fishing trips to the local creek about a 1/2 mile walk from the house. Grandma tied a rope to all of us grandkids and then tied the other end to a tree so we could play on a sand bar while she fished. At least none of us drowned!!

Secondly, every summer we picked about 1/4 acre of strawberries, and then wild raspberries and blackberries. Every year I would get covered in chigger bites and swear I would never pick them again. I always had a short memory come the next summer….

Last but not least one summer while putting up small round bales I was atop the hay wagon while going up a hill. Just before we got to the top the back standard broke and every round ball plus me rolled several hundred feet down the hill. Looking back I am amazed I am still alive!

One of the two most unique feelings in the world (at least that I’ve stumbled across) comes from submerging a gloved hand in a mass of honey-bees. Feels almost like your hand is surrounded by a ball of electricity. The other feeling, incidentally, is nearly being struck by lightning, when you can feel a sort of numbing sensation that spreads up your arms from your fingertips gradually until you either move enough to disconnect the circuit, or I suppose, don’t.

I remember when in high school practicing my Latin and French assignments with the book balanced on the milk pail while milking. Once the French book fell into the pail. I cleaned it as best I could, but there were a few pages that I could not get apart after that. I worried about it when I turned the book in at the end of the year, but I didn’t get caught.

My goodness! Where to start….
My father, always looking for a bargain, used to haul six day old calves home in the back of our station wagon. He would put their back halves into a gunny sack (when was the last time I saw one of those?) and drive sixty miles home where the six of us kids would unload it and put it into our makeshift barn, an old converted garage. We would get up early each morning, mix the milk and make bottles and feed those babies until they could eat grain. I wish my grandkids could do that.
One time one of the calves got away from us which resulted in a three hour chase along the river until we finally caught the “little devil”. From that moment until it hit the freezer and was completely consumed we referred to that animal as The Little Devil.
One weekend Dad showed up with a rancher in tow. He had a trailer behind his pick up. We all wondered what we were in store for this time. We soon found out…it was a range steer. Meanest, orneriest animal I’ve ever had misfortune to deal with. I’m sure it’s limited space on our five acres had something to do with that. One day my father was cajoling us because of the antics we had developed in order to get into the fenced area “Daisy” was assigned to. One of us would go to the other end of the field, rattle a bucket full of grain while another two of us would enter the field with the hose to fill her water tub. He thought that was a “chicken” way to do it and set up to show us how it was done.
Waiting for Daisy to look the other way, he sidled through the barb wire and waltzed his way over to the tub with hose in hand looking smugly at all of us lined up along the fence with big eyes waiting for Daisy to notice. He only had the hose barely in the tub and we turned on the water when Daisy caught sight of him. We all started hollering at him to get out and he bravely (stupidly) looked at us with a “nothing to worry about” look.
We watched as Daisy took off at stampede pace toward Dad. He looked up just in time to see her, head down about twenty feet away. He threw the hose down and raced up the nearest cherry tree which we all knew well. He had barely hauled himself up to the first limb when she hit the tree trunk full force.
Once we knew he was safely up the tree we breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at each other knowingly. Dad had gotten the lesson he deserved is what we were secretly thinking.
He was up that tree for a good three hours before Daisy got bored and we were able to cajole her to the other end of the field with the bucket again. She kept a keen eye on her prize though and as soon as his foot hit the ground she was off at a gallop to claim it. He ran like the dickens to get through the fence again and never said a word again about our watering routine.

Fantastic idea! I certainly can’t reasonably qualify as the “most genuine farmer of us all,” but I’ll throw in my contributions, limited though they may be.

Last year we had a batch of piglets that didn’t do so well, and when the mama gilt rejected the last living one we brought her inside to try nursing her back to health. She was touch and go for about a week, before finally succumbing at about the 10 day mark. During that time my daughter, then 6, became quite attached to this piglet (named Dottie for the white spot on her nose), and during her last evening, when my wife and I could tell she wasn’t going to make it, she slept on a bench in the kitchen next to the cardboard box that was Dottie’s bed. There’s not much to prepare a parent for the heartbreak felt when you have to tell your daughter her piglet died.

There’s something hilarious to me in the fact that our cows bellow in a deep, resonant tone, but our bull hollers high-pitched like a prepubescent boy.

We have another bull who this summer was put into our pond paddock with the pond, but for one reason or another he has yet to associate the pond with water, so I have had to water him in a little 3-gallon rubber dish. I now affectionately call him “Dumb-Dumb” instead of Jacob.

I am greatly amused to occasionally see our cows with chicken manure on their backs in the morning, the apparent result of being used as a roost the night before.

The offal from chicken processing usually goes to the pigs, and occasionally there is a piece of intestine that gets hung up on the hot wire. I suppose it makes me (passively?) sadistic to be amused by the pigs biting and subsequently squealing.

Regarding your chickens’ enjoyment of the snow, I have had a different response from mine. Two weekends ago I had to rescue two cockerels who had hunkered down under a bush in the pasture in the evening, only to be trapped by about 8″ of snow overnight. They were unable or at least unwilling to venture out–as were the hens in the coop.

It seems you wanted to say perpendicular, not parallel to the slope.

In the terms of little things I remember one time I wanted to get my sister back for something she did so when she needed some more oats for her horse I took her feed scope and put it in the bottom of the oat barrel and then filled the barrel up so she could not find it.

In the terms of doing things with no money one time I remember my dad was to cheap to hire someone to come and fix our septic pump so he tried to fix it himself. I would rather clean out a barn or dispose of a dead animal any day over doing that again.

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