I Should Have Stayed in Bed

Now that Melissa’s headaches are better (Yeah, surgery!), she’s been able to get a fulltime job for the first time in many, many years. She’s locating underground utility lines, and loves it, even though she’s clawing her way up the steep learning curve, and there are days when we both wish she were home during the day. It’s now my job to feed the pregnant sheep, the llamas, the big steers, the little steers, the chickens, and the ducks.

Yesterday it’s rainy, so the ground is slippery muck, since we haven’t had enough sun and warmth to help the grass grow. Tucker (the llama) stands in the wrong place waiting to be fed. Taking pity on him because he can’t figure out where to go, I bring his food to him. He knocks it out of my hands and into the water trough below, getting both of us wet. What a mess. I finally lead him into the barn where he’s supposed to go in the first place.

I feed the four steers (each about 600 pounds?) in a long wooden trough. For a year there has been no sign that the two part-Holstein brothers are actually related. But they’ve recently begun ganging up on the two Jerseys (the world’s bovine pacifists) and knocking them away from the feeder. Now I call them the Twins, ’cause they’re colluding to get all the corn.

I foil them by making two huge piles, one for the Twins, one for the Pacifists, and that’s been working. But yesterday the Jerseys step back and won’t eat. This means I must scoop up their food so the Twins won’t eat it.

Time to feed Chachi, who’s in with the ram, Inigo Montoya. Inigo’s become a problem—he’s lost his fear of us, and loves to charge. It really races your pulse to have a 200-pound beast lower his head and charge you. Our friend Drew told us last month that he throws a bucket of cold water in the face of a problem ram to surprise him.

So I’m having trouble keeping Inigo away from Chachi’s food (we’ve tried many things—too long to go into). I decide today’s the day for the water treatment, so I tramp back to the pen with a bucket of water straight out of the well, 280 feet below ground. It’s COLD water. Inigo hops toward me, aggressive as hell.

“You want some of this?” I say with a snarl, then I fling water at him.

He’s very surprised…to see that I’ve missed him entirely and instead drenched myself. Turns out flinging the water up isn’t that effective.

Okay, now I’m mad. I wipe the water off my glasses, squeeze out my scarf, then focus. This time I really nail him with the water. He shakes his head and staggers away, stunned.

Unfortunately, he comes back 30 seconds later. “You’re gonna have to do worse than that, b*tch.”


Then later that morning I let the little calves out for their walkabout. I return 90 minutes later with their bottles, and they’re very willing to come into the barn. (Have I mentioned that Little #2 hasn’t learned that it’s quite inappropriate to stick his nose in other people’s ‘business’?)  So I’m trying to put the big bottle, heavy with milk, into Little #3 bottle holder, and he’s sucking on my gloves and making things difficult.

I’m bending over a low gate trying to do this, when Little #2 and his nose begin a fairly vigorous assault on my ‘business.’ I start laughing. Because my hands are busy with the bottle, I can’t fight off Little #2’s insistent nose.

Let me just say…

Please, people, remember that we’re professionals. Do not try this at home.

6 thoughts on “I Should Have Stayed in Bed

  1. This had me laughing because I had to do a similar thing when I was a kid! We had a coil of water hose in the barn and when I went in there to do any chores dad told me I was to carry that hose with me and spray our buck when he would come towards me. It worked, but he was hilarious since when he would see me dragging the hose around he would just stand in the corner stamping his foot at me LOL. I never told dad that the reason he was like that is because we taunted him when we were kids, we’d wave a jacket at him until he got mad and then we’d run like hell and climb the big concrete horse tank LOL, I just love your stories, brings back so many memories. So glad Melissa has found relief for her headaches, you will be skilled and quick with all those chores in no time!

  2. OMG, wiping the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard. Sorry, but the flinging of the first bucket of cold water got to me.

    I’m stealing moments out of my day to read “Sheepish.” I don’t ever remember laughing through the ENTIRE first chapter of a book before. I tried to read it out loud to Papa Pea and Chicken Mama which was quite the tricky business since it’s hard to laugh and read at the same time.

  3. Of course Papa Pea never did the whole ‘touching the fence’ thing, right?

    Today I snuck Chachi out of the pen while Inigo was distracted, so I didn’t have to risk getting all wet. Sheesh. How long have I been farming?

  4. Gotta admit it’s usually me (with my short legs) that comes in contact with the three foot high electric fence we have around the poultry yard. Trying to step over it with a water bucket often results in a very shocking experience I don’t forget for a while or water dumped down my leg.

    Seems like no matter how long you’re at it, there will always be more snow, mud, ice and different animal’s personalities to deal with.

    You gotta admit all your hassles make wonderful fodder for your blog and books! Keep your adventures comin’!

  5. When my brother was a young bicycling hooligan, he had to bike past more than one yard populated by an aggressive dog. He fashioned a duct-tape holster on his bike handlebars and loaded up a squirtgun with hot chili oil. It only took most dogs one or two blasts in the face before they decided to stop bothering him. I wonder how Chachi would react if you treated him to a squirt of that!

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