Yesterday was my first day on the farm. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Well, this is probably going to kill me, however if it doesn’t, then I’ll have one hell of tale to tell… and maybe I’ll be stronger.
I cannot remember the last time I’ve worked this hard. It’s cold and rainy. There’s massive snow just a few miles away up in the Sierras, and it’s storming everywhere. Farm life is not going to be easy. I knew that, of course, but I didn’t know that as well as I do now.
I shoveled, or I should say, forked one of the cows’ barnyard. It was full of cow shit, mud, and wet hay. I had to get it all out so that we could replace it with fresh dry hay. That barn might look small from the outside, but it can hold plenty of cow shit and mud.
Then I cleaned out wet hay and alfalfa from outside the main barn, where the cows are milked one at a time every single day, and where they keep the young ones. You cannot mix the dry hay & alfalfa with the wet stuff. The wetness will spread and mold will grow. I took all the remaining dry hay inside the main barn. Then next I went to the chicken coup which also houses ducks, geese, and a couple of turkeys, and started forking the wet hay and top soil to drag it in the wheelbarrow and spread it on what is to become the potato garden. When that’s done, we’ll have to till the land.
Folks, that’s a lot of lifting.
I’ll have to finish that project later. I did more of it for another hour today–my second day on the farm–however both Pattie & Alex asked me not to work this morning because it was so wet. I did get to watch Pattie milk the cows, which was real cool. Actually, I watched her milk one cow, out of three. I felt like I was in the way a bit. I’ll have to get over that.
Last night, the vet said something that stuck with me: “It’s all about reproduction. Constant reproduction. That’s how you keep the farm open, and pay the bills.” Animals give us their lives so that we can live better. That’s the harsh reality of the farm, and as a meat-eater, and cheese-lover, I have got to accept this.
Yesterday, I did about four hours of work, and it kicked my ass. My muscles were aching so much that I could not fall asleep. Finally, around midnight, I popped three Tylenols. That seemed to have done the trick. I was up again at 5 this morning, ready for another day, though I ended up only working one hour today.
Pattie and Alex are the farmers. They run the show. Alex is an amazing cook, and prepared me some great lunch. He’s Ukrainian, and his English isn’t the best, however my Russian is even worse–as in I don’t speak any Russian–so English it is. Pattie and Alex speak a sort of Russian-English blend that only they can understand. Neither their Russian or English speaking friends understand them. This is probably how new languages are started. At my family house we speak Frenglish. I know plenty of people who speak Spanglish…
Last night, the farm’s veterinarian came over to say hello, and we ate around the table. Alex was running errands, however Pattie’s son was visiting from LA. Pattie and Alex take care of the farm, and both of Pattie’s sisters live there, as well as Alex’s mother, fresh from Ukraine. There’s a young couple who live in a tiny house on the property as well. Lots of folks, basically.
Alex made so much food for lunch yesterday, that I could barely eat again last night. However, I set some aside for this morning.
After lunch, I got back in my RV, took a shower, dried myself, put on dry clothes took a large shot of Vitamin C, and felt like I was about to crumble right there and then. Pattie invited me to hang out with them and Shaky the chicken–Shaky gets two gulps of red wine every day, she’s the house pet chicken, and if she doesn’t get her daily dose of wine, she gets very upset.
If this work doesn’t kill me, I’ll come out of it with a brand new respect for farmers and ranchers everywhere. Pattie & Alex are nice folks, and some of the hardest working people I’ve come in contact with in a long time. I’m looking forward to working for them for a while, and learn something new. Happy New Year everybody!
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