Thursday, January 16, 2014

My sick addiction.

I’m pretty sure that livestock is a drug.
Seriously, it has to be an undiagnosed opiate of some sort. There is no other explanation for why it was -35 freaking degrees and I was wandering around outside with three pairs of pants, two jackets, and a pair of coveralls on; feeding with a smile under my balaclava (ultra cool ninja mask). I was kind of horrified when I realized that I couldn’t wait to go check the cows. I’m sick, sick, sick I tell ya.
Or maybe I just wanted to practice my ninja skillz. WHA-CHA! The deluxe winter Lauren action figure comes with hay throwing motion and ice chopping axe! KII-AII!
Or perhaps  it was because I would throw the good alfalfa hay down to the cows from the barn loft and I was distracted by the cold thinking: “I wonder if this is the bovine version of manna from heaven?”
It really goes to show that it takes all kinds. I am pretty sure that someone out there would think feeding a bunch of dirty old cows in the freezing cold with snow up to their knees is hell, while I kinda think feeding a herd of black beauties in the muffled quiet that only comes during the pristine white world of winter is heaven on Earth.

 PS: I am really hoping God get’s it, or I will have to get really used to that cold layer of hell…

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is why I drink.

We all have those days. The ones where Murphy’s law rears its ugly head and everything that can go wrong, does. But there are some days where things don’t just go wrong. There are some days where incidents stack up like flapjacks and then someone actually hid dynamite in that stack and just as you think you have it under control because you rock at deep breathing exercises everything explodes into a sticky gooey mess. You know what seems to encourage that to happen? Livestock…
Don’t get me wrong, the critters are what gets me out of bed in the morning and I love them; but when the wind chills are heading towards -35 I really just want everyone to cooperate. Would that be too much to ask? Would it? Would it!
We haven’t had much FRIGID weather in southern Illinois. The last time it was this miserable I wasn’t even born. Winter is always a pain in the butt. It brings challenges like frozen water troughs and blown breakers. Frigid winters bring even more fun like frozen water lines, horses kicking each other away from the bale rings, horses and cows consuming twice as much hay as they would otherwise, being afraid that the chickens will freeze despite their two heat lamps, or my personal favorite: getting so cold that the trough heaters freeze over and you have to chop holes in the lake with an axe like a freaking lumberjack. But I handled all that. I was a hay throwing, trough hacking fiend. I got this. *insert cool chin tilt*
Sure. I’m half frozen and bundled in so many layers of pants that I can’t bend my knees. But I got this. I’m a farmer damnit. I will rise to each challenge with grace and dignity and love for all of my charges. I will throw hay to the cows like a queen on parade tossing flowers to her people. I will sit on the frozen lake patiently blowing on the extension cords trying to thaw them enough to be able to unplug one heater and replace it with another with the poise of an ancient priestess breathing life into a flame. I will handle the horses deciding to join the cow herds with calm and compassion…
Hahaha. Yeah. Right. I was good ‘til the horses part. When Dandy decided he wanted to go on walkabout away from the HUGE horse pasture (with its own hay mind you) into the small pasture where we winter the cows. I lost my calm and went into a rage. I turned just in time to see him. The lanky palomino gelding wandered through the fence. I leapt from the tractor like a super hero. My ankles ached with the impact of the frozen ground despite the thick cover of snow. I ran after him, screaming like a mad woman. I had to get him back on the horse side of the fence before he enticed his fellows to tag along. The horses chase the cows away from the hay sometimes, and that was dangerous in the cold. He could not be allowed to live with the cows.
I don’t know if you know this, but believe it or not; chasing, screaming, and cursing at the top of your lungs is not a good way to catch a horse that has decided to be a cow. He ran. His eyes rolled back in his head with fear and I grabbed a clod of what I am going to pretend was dirt and lobbed it at him. It missed, and didn’t redirect him back towards the horses like I had hoped. He ran further into the cow herd and the other horses flooded into the cow pasture as if I had loosed the gates of hell. I grabbed a tree branch, slipping and sliding on the snow and cow pies. I tried valiantly to dissuade the horses. It didn’t work. They saw the crazy lady with the big stick and scattered like ashes on the wind. I threw the branch at Dreamer. She gave me a go to hell look as it sailed past her and ran straight for the safety of a group of cows.
Not only did frustration weep out of my eyes in angry tears that quickly froze to my eye lashes, but it spewed forth from my mouth like a waterfall. Whoever came up with the expression “cursing like a drunken sailor” has clearly never been around a farmer with uncooperative livestock. The words coming out of my mouth were not only anatomically impossible and incredibly descriptive of the mental states of all the horses; they were also creatively drenched in matriarchal slander.
I cursed so much, that the horses wouldn’t even come close to me when I went back later with a grain bucket. Pause a second and let that sink in. I had a grain bucket. That normally elicits a response that the Pied Piper would be proud to have. Still, they would not come near me.
Maybe I should take up yoga, or vodka. Definitely vodka.