Friday, February 26, 2010

The Difference between a Country Place and a Farmhouse

Isn't a farmhouse just a house on a farm? or for that matter a house in the country?

Looking around our home the other day, it occurred to me that there is a big difference between a farmhouse and any other type of house.

Country places are well-groomed, nicely decorated and picturesque. While we have our great views, well-worked gardens, we also have chore boots in our utility room, along with the essential coveralls, hats and coats that are permanently perfumed by the barn. But the deciding factor was this......

A farmhouse just isn't a farmhouse without milk replacer in the kitchen!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MUD Season

What happens when ALL that snow (over six feet this season!) starts to melt? We start "MUD Season". Sticky, squishy, slippery MUD!

I don't mind mud. The moisture is SO welcome, after a number of "dry" winters. But, I don't particularly like the slipping and sliding when feeding the animals.

I can't decide which is worse....feeding the chickens or the sheep. Tom says the chickens, as they are his responsibility. It is like mud soup in their pen. It almost sucks your boots off your feet. But, chickens are little and flighty.

The sheep are around 150 to 200 pounds, and totally convinced that this well may be their very last meal, so they all crowd in to eat. Oh, and did I mention that they're woolly and cling to my legs like velcro? MY vote for worst mud feeding detail is definitely the sheep! So far, I have not fallen in the muck. I suppose then I would complain about the mud.

But, MUD season is a vital part of the year. We have to have the moisture to get the water table to the proper level. Otherwise, all the old-timers start worrying about the "d" word (drought) come summer. Believe me, slopping around in the mud is MUCH more desirable than surviving a drought in an agricultural community!

I just need a pair of boots that doesn't leak!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Pet" Lambs

The term "pet lamb" conjures mental images of little Bo-Peep walking her pet through the park on a string. So, when one of the old-timers told me that his family always had "pet lambs", I must admit I did a doubletake.

Old Mr. H was talking about farming, country living and a number of other things when he remarked "oh, we will always have a few pet lambs". hmmm, I didn't want to appear truly ignorant, so I nodded and let him continue, desperately hoping I could figure out from context WHAT he was talking about! Later, his daughter made it clear as she began filling the baby bottles for the orphan lambs in the barn. I should have known, I walked past bags of milk replacer on the way in the house.

It seems that "in the old days", the bottle lambs were a project for the children. There are always one or two lambs that need some type of supplementation. Either they're orphaned, or the mother can't feed them all (as in the case of triplets). I am certain since the children were involved, the lambs did become some type of pet.

With our daughters grown, we no longer have the "pet lamb feeders". So, I end up with at least one lamb a year that thinks I am its mother. This year it is one of triplets. She was born on a cold, cold day....and was possibly the tiniest lamb I ever saw. A tougher person may have put her down. But she was a fighter from the moment she hit the air, so I felt she needed a chance.

She came to the house inside my jacket, and was tucked in next to the woodstove. At about 4 pounds, she didn't have the body mass to stay warm for any amount of time alone. She learned to drink a bottle and is becoming quite demanding.

Watching her grow, having her depend on my care, it is quite easy to see how she could become a "pet lamb". Fact is, she's a farm animal...she has a place and a purpose in life. A piece of life advice from Dad from years gone by and something to remember!

A lot can be learned from "pet lambs". They are a lesson in responsibility, care, dependence and perhaps empathy. An acceptance of the monotonous and mundane without constant complain would be another lesson to learn. Yes, all good lessons for children. Maybe I needed a refresher course this cold and snowy February.

There are more than a few lessons to learn in the sheep shed!

Now, off to feed the baby....