Important Advice: Don’t Drink and Farm
The Farmer was gone hunting a few weeks ago, so I was in charge, always a heady time because I get to wear so many hats.
A few days into my solo farming career, I woke up and put on my Writing Hat, writing an hour before feeding myself and the dogs. Then I donned my Chore Hat and went outside to feed the chickens, etc. Back inside I put the Writer Hat on again. Late morning I jammed on my Maintenance Hat, and using a two-wheeled dollie, dragged my ugly gray four-drawer file cabinet (empty) out the back door, through the yard, up the driveway, and into the shed, where I spray painted it burgundy. Some of the paint actually made it onto the cabinet.
Then after lunch I switched back to Chore Hat and hopped on the 4-wheeler to move the sheep to fresh pasture. (In fall in MN the term ‘fresh’ is relative…it’s not succulent new grass, but mostly the older stuff the sheep turned their cute little noses up at the last time through that pasture.)
Then back to the house to find my Editor’s Hat, working for a few hours helping other writers improve their manuscripts. Then I had time to put on my Self-Pity Hat and watch a DVD because I was still feeling the effects of a sinus infection.
While under the influence of the Self-Pity Hat, I decided I needed a treat. No candy in the house that I could find (At my request, M hides it, then doles it out a piece at a time), but we had some wine.
First let me say that I understand excess drinking is a serious problem. I might drink 1-2 glasses of wine in a month, so please don’t think I’m out here chugging down gallons of Boone’s Farm every day.
(I drank to excess once in college, and that was enough. My roommate and I held a wapatoulie party: Take one clean waste basket, line it with a clean trash bag, then everyone brings a bottle of something and pours it in. This is just as bad an idea as it sounds. Luckily we’d used my roommate’s waste basket because I spent the night sitting on the edge of my bed hugging my own.)
But here I was, alone all week, a bit lonely, so I opened a bottle of wine and drank a glass. It was good, so I drank another. Also good. Unbelievably, and uncharacteristically, I then consumed a THIRD glass. Three glasses in about 45 minutes….ah…bad idea.
Now it was dark, so I had to put on the Chore Hat and close up the barns, feeding cats, ducks, and cattle. The ground seemed a bit unstable as I headed out, but I was fine. I started with the shed, and was suddenly fascinated with the four homing pigeons living up in the rafters (long story.) Instead of finding them irritating, I thought they were a lovely white, and I spent lots of time standing beneath them, enjoying their sweet cooing.
I turned out the lights and headed for the little barn, amazed that the ground could undulate so without an earthquake. In the little barn I talked to the chickens, collected their eggs, and told them what a marvel I thought these little orbs were. The chickens, all perched for the night, clucked nervously at the chatting fool below them.
Then I turned my attention to the four steers, and grew nostalgic. “Just six months ago you little guys were small enough to pick up. I fed you from a bottle. I taught you how to drink from a bucket.” I went on and on about how big they were now (450 pounds) and how much they’d grown. I walked through the pen, scratching heads, patting flanks, hugging heads, gushing a bit over how great they looked. Imagine a 14-year-old boy trapped in a room with a great-aunt he hasn’t seen for a few years….this was the look on the faces of the four steers.
Then I climbed up into the hay mow. I fed the cats (we feed them up there so the chickens can’t get to their food.) I tossed hay down through the hole in the floor for the cattle below. Then I returned to the ladder and looked down.
This was when it hit me: perhaps those three glasses hadn’t been such a good idea. To get down, I had to grasp the handles on the pole, step down onto the first rung of the ladder, walk my hands down the pole, grab the ladder with one hand and pull the door closed above me with the other. I stared down the hole. One misstep and I’d end up in a rumpled heap on the hard ground. Not only would I hurt myself, but I’d startle the cattle.
I donned my Instant Sobriety Hat, took a deep breath, and got myself down safely without hurting myself or scaring anyone. So the ending to this story is sort of anticlimactic, but that’s okay. One doesn’t need to be grievously injured to learn a lesson.
The next night, I skipped the wine altogether, and wore my Sober Hat out to do chores.
The first night Melissa was back, it was her job to close up the barns, so I uncorked a bottle of wine and poured myself a glass.
“Hey, can I have a glass?” she asked as she was pulling on her boots.
I snorted. “I can’t believe you. Don’t know you know it’s a bad idea to drink and farm?”