Monday, August 29, 2011

What a Farm Day!

Today was a true farm day. First thing this morning I took our 2 LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) – pups, really – Hans & Franz, to be neutered at the Claiborne County Animal Shelter. I also took Ember, our outdoor cat, but they couldn’t spay here because it turns out that she is very pregnant. I have mixed feelings about that. It is heartwarming to watch her take care of her kittens. She is a good mama. But the last thing we need is more kittens.

FYI – cats can start having kittens when they are 6 months old. Their gestation is only 9 weeks and they tend to get pregnant before or right after they wean the current litter. And they talk about rabbits… If she has her kittens in the next couple days, I am making a reservation for the October 11th spay & neuter clinic.

On the way home from the animal shelter, I stopped at the fairgrounds to enter 2 knit items in the fair. I’ve never entered anything in a fair before. I’ve admired the displays but it never occurred to me to enter until this year when a friend encouraged me to. It was fun to get a “sneak peek” at the entries. There were lots of vegetables, canned goods, flowers, baked goods, and handmade items. I don’t care if I win. It’s just fun to be part of the local festivities.

This afternoon, Ryan and I stopped at Rigsby’s, our local Hunting & Fishing store, so I could talk to the owner about buying a handgun. I’ve never owned a gun. In fact, I never even shot one until last December when we went to the shooting range with my father-in-law. He let us shoot a rifle and 2 handguns. I’m proud to say that I hit the bulls-eye a couple times.

I plan to get a concealed weapons permit. It’s not that I particularly feel like I need a gun. I think I’m embracing my inner redneck and I’ll feel safer knowing how to use one in case I ever need it.

From Rigsby’s we headed out to put up hay, but we had to stop at the vet’s office along the way to drop off a sick kitten. He was an outdoor cat and had diarrhea. Unfortunately, he had to be put down. He had a badly impacted colon.

For the benefit of my readers who are not farmers, putting up hay means we went to the farmer’s field, picked up 189 bales of hay (it took us 3 trips), stacked them on the trailer, brought them back to the barn and unloaded them. It’s the WORST farm job ever! By the time you’re done, you’re hot, sweaty, tired and ITCHY from all the hay dust. It gets everywhere – and I do mean EVERYWHERE!

Fortunately, I am usually the driver. That means I don’t get nearly as tired, dirty or sweaty as the guys doing the grunt work. Today I did just enough heaving lifting to be truly thankful for a shower.

After our first load of hay, I ran back to the animal shelter to pick up the pups and locked them in our bathroom so they don’t get too rambunctious or dirty. You’d never know that they’d had surgery, though. They are happy as ever.

That's when I noticed a bunch of tiny bugs crawling on the wall in our back hall. I don't know where they came from - a feed bag maybe - but I grabbed the bug spray and took care of those little buggers in a flash.

So now we’re done with our work, I am freshly showered and sitting on the couch writing this post. We treated ourselves to ice cream on the way home after the last load. It was a yummy ending to a productive day!

Monday, August 22, 2011

After the Flood

It’s been 2 months since the flood. A lot of people have asked me recently if things have returned to normal. I’m really not quite sure how to answer them. We have a regular routine so, in a sense, things are normal. Or maybe I should say, stable.

One of the things I’m learning is that it takes a long time to recuperate from a flood. Immediately after the flood, Brett took a week off work and we took care of the things that had to be done immediately: moving the live animals, disposing of the dead animals, getting the wet hay out of the barn & deworming the animals. It doesn’t sound like much, but it took the whole week.

We still have a lot of cleanup to do and it saddens me every time I drive by our pastures. What once held our goats is now an overgrown mess. But we are making a little progress.

Last weekend, Brett, Ryan and a family friend were working on the barnyard fence. They deconstructed it and now it is ready to reconstruct. You see, the fence is down but it is still attached to the fence posts. Before it can be rebuilt, it has to be torn off the posts. Not an easy job.

We qualify for a grant through the NRCS to pay part of the cost of restoring the fencing and watering systems. The grant will cover about $4,600, which we are VERY thankful for. However, the total cost of the fencing and watering systems was around $30,000, about half of which was covered by grants. Since we can reuse a lot of the materials, our cost should be substantially lower to rebuild – especially if we can do a lot of the work ourselves.

A couple of weeks before the flood, I was encouraged because it seemed like things were finally coming together on the farm and we would soon be reaping the rewards of our hard work. Now it feels like everything has come to a screeching halt. Projects that I had planned to have done by now are still not started because we’ve been dealing with flood stuff. The ironic thing is that we’ve not gotten much flood cleanup done either. Aside from the barnyard work last weekend, it feels like we’ve gotten nothing significant accomplished in the past 8 weeks, yet we’ve been busy.

Friends have come to our aid and we’ve gotten things done. I think the problem is that there is so much to do, that the work ahead overshadows the work that’s been done.

It’s been hard to ask for help. It’s very humbling to ask for help and I’ve struggled with whether I should even ask. We’ve not had damage to our home like so many others have, and our damage does not severely impact our daily lives. And I don’t like feeling in debt to others. I’d much rather be the helper than the helpee.

I hate that this post sounds so depressing. But this blog is about life on our farm and this is part of our life. In spite of it all, I love this life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I heard this song on the radio the other day and it encouraged me. God is always there to help us through the tough times. You can listen to the song at here.

MATTHEW WEST - "STRONG ENOUGH" LYRICS
You must, You must think I’m strong
To give me what I’m going through
Well forgive me, forgive me if I’m wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up, I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t You cover me?
Lord, right now I’m asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For the both of us

Well maybe, maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up
‘Cause when I’m finally, finally at rock bottom
Well that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up, I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t You cover me?
Lord, right now I’m asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For the both of us

‘Cause I’m broken
Down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to the one thing
You are God
And You are strong when I am weak
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be strong enough
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be
Strong enough, strong enough
Oh yeah

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up, I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t You cover me?
Lord, right now I’m asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For the both of us