As far as I can tell, the list of things it takes in order to leave the farm includes (but is not limited to): 1 tractor to plow the driveway, 2 hours dedicated strictly to opening and closing the barn doors to get to said tractor, 4 hours of farm chores, 23 gallons of water hauled from house to barn, 2 sad donkey faces, 8 eggs, 1 pie crust, 3 bales of hay hauled down from the loft, 3 full loads of dishes in the dishwasher, a massive shoulder bruise, all of the swear words I know, and one very brave, very tolerant mother (which is to say… mine.)
When I look back at the last few months, the big question looming over my head is, why the hell aren’t you getting anything done? Then I spend a weekend prepping to leave the farm it becomes real clear what I’m doing with a lot of my time… shoveling shit. And also about a dozen other things that have become so integrated into my daily routine that I don’t even count them as “work” until I’m leaving the farm for a few days and I have to do all of those things at once.
On top of cramming a few extra days worth of chores into one weekend, I also have to admit that over the last few weeks– since right around the time I was laid up with The Fever to End All Fevers– I’ve started to fall behind on what can only be described as, ah, the general upkeep of life. Like… I’ve now missed garbage collection day five weeks in a row. And the dish situation? Let’s just say I know things are getting desperate when I’m using my measuring cup as a soup bowl.
Yep. The state of things around here was… what would you call this? A huge effing disaster? Yeah. Basically. So, I knew that every waking moment of my weekend was going to be devoted to digging myself out of this mess and getting things in order so that I could leave the farm in good shape.
Here’s how I thought this would go: I needed to get to Tractor Supply, but there were some huge snow drifts in my driveway, but I thought, no problem, I’ll just get the neighbors tractor out of my barn, plow the driveway real quick, and maybe spend a couple of minutes mucking out the barn stall while I’ve got the tractor out. Couple of hours tops. Right?
In real life, which differed significantly from how I saw this going in my head, looked a little like this…
To start, I spent a good thirty-minutes shoveling out one barn doors to get it open.
You know what that looks like? Wishful thinking. There’s no way that was clear enough for the door to budge even an inch. So then there was a lot of ice chipping and swearing and a brief moment where I considered just ramming the thing with the tractor and knocking the entire door down.
Instead, I managed to force the doors open just enough so that I could wedge by body in-between them for leverage.
And then there was this…
It took about an hour, but finally, THE TRACTOR WAS FREE!
My elation at this point lasted about 100 yards, until I got to the pasture gate, which looked like this…
Ah. Okay. So more shoveling then? More shoveling then.
Yeah. I don’t know. That idea didn’t work for shit and I ended up carefully easing the tractor up to the gate and using the bucket to lift the bolts.
This entire time the donkeys are looking at me with what can only be described as the equine version of “WTF?”
We were about three hours into the day now and while I felt like I’d scaled some mountain-sized challenges, I hadn’t even begun the work I set out to do.
Which actually consisted of even more shoveling. But instead of snow, now I got to shovel shit. And, not just shit, frozen shit. Let me be clear, I don’t mind shit-shoveling as a general farm-related activity. In fact, I rather enjoy watching my compost pile grow to an impressive size. However, using a pitchfork to gouge tiny pieces of frozen manure out of the stall one by one? Not on my list of all-time favorite activities.
It was taking forever, and the donkeys– who are usually cool hanging out outside the barn until I’m done– were like, “Are you effing crazy, lady? It’s way too cold out here for this.” The three of us were tripping all over each other and I was afraid someone (me) was going to get a donkey hoof to a kneecap, and then I had a brilliant idea…
Opened the gate and gave them free range of the barn. You can clearly see by their expressions that they know they are doing something that they aren’t usually allowed to do.
After another hour, four cubes of pine shavings, and a bale of straw, the stall was looking far more cozy. I was, however, getting short on time to make my run to Tractor Supply for, well, supplies.
No worries though, right? All I had to do was put the tractor back in the barn, close the door, jump in my truck and head in to town.
You know how this is going to go down…
Would. Not. Budge.
Which doesn’t even make sense because I ALREADY OPENED IT. Right? But I guess in my struggle to open the door a lot of snow and ice got packed in the track it slides on. So, yay. First, I broke the snow shovel trying to chip the ice out.
Then I resorted to using my bare fingers to try and clear the track.
If we were going to pinpoint the moment in the day where I completely lost my shit and started stomping around, kicking snow, and swearing? This would be it.
Once I get the temper tantrum out of my system though, then I start to get creative. Like combining-a-tractor-and-a-winch kind of creative.
This was one of my better ideas of the day, actually. I mean, it ripped the handle of the door and even dented the angle-iron of the door frame…
BUT IT WORKED.
With the tractor tucked safely away, I headed to tractor supply, specifically to buy a large heated trough for the barn. I’d been filling a 5 gallon heated bucket with water in the morning and evening, but I really didn’t want my mom to have to haul ten gallons of water across my icy yard to the barn in -10 degree weather.
So… an upgrade.
Then I spent another hour hauling 20 gallons of water from the house to the barn to fill it.
And while I’d made considerable progress on getting the animals set up for my extended absence, during the five hours I was working outside, I started to have another concern… the snow wasn’t stopping. The snow wasn’t stopping and my mother with her tiny little Chevy Cavalier was going to drive up to the farm to take care of the animals, get snowed in, and probably starve to death.
Because that’s a rational fear. Particularly from someone whose refrigerator looks like this…
Um. So I’ve been doing things in kind of a rush lately, and since the Nugs have had a heat light on them in the below-zero weather, they’ve been laying more eggs than usual as well. Which I have apparently been shoving into every nook and cranny in the fridge for the last, ah, week(s)?
I did what any logical person would do at a time like this. Baked my mom a quiche.
And, after a few more hours of dishes, dishes, and more dishes (which was a nice break from shoveling, shoveling, and more shoveling) I actually found my kitchen counter.
The last act of the weekend was saying a big Thank You to my mom, by drawing her her own tiny planet. With all the farm animals, of course…
And a care package that included a not-insignificant amount of alcohol. Because honestly, when it comes to life on the farm? Sometimes you need it.