Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finding the Balance


It would be interesting to take a poll to see how many of those small 'farmers' out there have to hold down a full time job to pay the mortgage. I do. I am a creative and hard working 50+ year old woman. My job pays well and includes excellent benefits. I work 40-45 hours a week. Add another 8 hours for commute time, semi-weekly trips to The Feed Barn, before or after work, or on weekends if the weather is not cooperative. I get up around 6 am. I have one cup of coffee, feed the cats, prepare formula and feed my kids, milk a doe or two, feed them, and send them to their appropriate places for the day. Loose the chickens after their night of confinement. SOMETIMES I have time for a ½ hour of exercise before my shower and preparations for work. Breakfast? I take that to the office to eat. I arrive home around 6 pm. That leaves just enough time in the evenings to prepare a healthy meal for Rick and me, clean up (maybe), and head to the barn. I have to bottle feed kids, milk one or two does, give the does hay and fresh water and separate them for the night. The bucks need to be brought in from the wooded hill, separated, given hay and fresh water, and locked up in their barn for the night. I have a "herding broom."  It is an old corn broom with a sturdy handle that is used very effectively as a tool to herd goats. They don't like the broom, so on occasion, they try to eat the straw at the end. It is about half eaten now, but it still works :) I also have to round up the chickens, making sure they are all accounted for. Bribery helps, here. If I am lucky (and organized) it is now around 7:30 pm. Just enough time to feed Lucy the Pig, the three dogs, the barn cats, and oh no, do some watering! Our summers are hot and dry here, so watering is essential. We intend to install an automatic watering system to help us with this chore, but it is pretty far down the list of “Things To Do.” Sometimes I am watering until darkness falls. GOD FORBID we should have an illness or injury to address. Weekends are for catch up chores~ weeding the veggie garden, cleaning the barn, CLEANING THE HOUSE, trimming hooves~we do those when time allows.

So how do I find balance in this chaos? How do I find time to prune the roses, say nothing about smelling them? I have learned to love my routine. I enjoy relaxing while holding formula bottles for two hungry kids. Their hungry cries of greeting “MAAAA!” make me smile instead of aggravating me. Goats are sociable creatures, not too demanding, and will tolerate some deviation from their routine. When I am busy at work, I can’t think about the farm. As soon as I am in my truck, I stop thinking about work, it’s all about the farm then. When I am rounding up those crazy chickens for the night, it is certainly comical, and I laugh while chasing down Houdini the Rooster. He is the Rooster. In his chicken mind, he should wait until all the hens have returned to their hen house before he enters. However, he is not able to count, so he doesn’t know that the last barred rock has already entered, or that Red Hen was the first to arrive. So when I have counted beaks, it is TIME for him to come in. He requires persuading. I think he enjoys the ritual as much as I do.  He is a sweet rooster, and never gives me any trouble, never flogs me or acts aggressively in any way.  He has three inch spurs.

"Don't make me get the broom..."


  1. Or - Zen and the art of goat herding. No easy feat to fit all that in and still find time to write about it, and captivatingly I might add. Thanks, as always, for sharing your insights, wisdom and a slice of life at FiddleSong Farm!

  2. Mercy! I'm tired just from reading about your busy days! I won't complain ever again. I've just visited your art site once again and I love your work! Thanks for sharing!

  3. You just described my life to a "t." It's so good to know there are others out there successfully traveling this path!