Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

I just remembered.

Posted on | December 1, 2011 | 3 Comments

My last post might have left the impression that I have gotten lazy.  In honor of the many hard working farmers and parents in my community I figured I should correct that idea.  So I sat in the window seat, watching the birds at the birdfeeder, soaking in some warm sunlight, sipping a hot chocolate, and thought really, really hard about what I’ve been up to lately.  And I remembered that the hose broke once and had to be cut, mended and reattached.  Which was stressful.  Because I could only work in short bursts inbetween petting the new fluffy headed chickens that we traded one of the kids for (By kids I mean, baby goats.  Not children.  Because children are worth way more than some cool chickens.  Well, most of the time.)  This counts toward farm work.

Also, I took the kids (by kids I mean, children.  Not baby goats.  Please try to follow along here.) back to the local river to try crossing it while the water was low.  Which counts toward parenting work.  And only sounds simple and easy.  In reality, it involves a plethora of educational constructs and character development including but not limited to the following:

1. Spatial thinking. By studying the arrangement of rocks, can you determine a safe path across to the other side?  Consider distance between rocks (a 6 year old’s leg span isn’t going to reach as far as a 12 year old’s leg span) as well as ability of anyone over age 30 to to extend to full leg span without pulling a thigh muscle (we all know who that is).

2.  Balance and coordination. Is one’s balance greater when standing at full height or when crouched with an extra hand placed on the ground?  If one discovered it was easier to balance with one’s hand hand touching the ground would one share that info with one’s brother or let him continue blithely along upright until he fell and busted his knee?

3.  Hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion. If one is forced to step off the rocks, is it worse to wade into fast moving, shallow water?

Or slow deep water?

And does this count as slow and deep or shallow and fast?

Just so you’re not up all night wondering how this turned out, I can tell you that the conclusion is all types of river water have slippery, moss covered rocks underneath so don’t bother trying to distinguish between scenarios.  You’re going down, my friend.

4.  Pain tolerance. Is age or personality a greater determinant in pain tolerance (i.e will the 8 year old handle a slip and fall better than the 12 year old)?  Is it easier to keep from crying when you scrape 4 inches of skin off your elbow if your children are watching?  Why does shouting cuss words immediately make you feel better?

5.  Animal behaviors. Is the best way to convince a dog to cross the water by leading the way, murmuring encouraging words, or dragging her by the leash, screaming hysterically that she needs to catch up before she pulls both of you into the water?  Does the dog’s hesitancy to participate in this activity indicate how foolhardy it is?  Are dogs smarter than humans?

6.  Philosophy. Does kharma really exist?  If not, why would one make it half way across the river without a mishap and only when one is raising one’s arms in shameless victory (mocking one’s siblings with their already scraped shins and soaking wet shoes), overbalance, fall backwards, and strike the back of one’s head on a boulder?  Is it good luck or by the grace of God that this only results in a bump on the back of the head instead of a concussion or a cervical spine injury?

7.  Emotional fortitude. What if after all the hard work and injuries to get across the river, you discover that it wasn’t worth it?  As a matter of fact, it looks just like the side you came from.  Even worse, there’s not actually a trail on the other side and the only way to get back to a trail is to CROSS THE RIVER AGAIN!

8.  Risk and value assessment. Determine whether the experience of crossing the river had any added benefit or increased enjoyment when compared to the casual stroll down the river trail.  Ponder the concepts of adrenalin junkies, extreme sports, and wilderness excursions versus nature observation, peaceful contemplation, and personal safety.

9.  Animal identification. Try to remember whether it’s an opossum or a raccoon that leaves a 5 toed foot print in the mud.  Move quietly enough down the trail that you can get a good glimpse of the heron fishing in the shallows instead of scaring him off.  Let everyone peek through the camera when it’s on zoom to determine if that turtle sunning on a log is a painted turtle or a snapper.  Ooh and aah at the sight of an osprey suddenly diving into the water  from a large oak on the other bank and then peeling away with empty talons.

And, most important of all, I taught them the golden rule of exploring nature:

10.  If you pack it in, pack it out. Whether it’s empty water bottles, gum wrappers, or a 6 year old whose legs are just too tired to make it back to the car.

See?  I am incredibly busy.  The public school system would have needed 3 teacher work days just to plan that many lessons.  Besides, I’m saving my real stamina for when the water hoses to the barn freeze.  And I have to haul bucket after bucket of water from the mud room sink out to the animals.  While trying to decide how many gallons of water are really needed per pound of goat and how much will just get spoiled by the ducks dabbling in it.  Physically and mentally exhausting.  So I intend to enjoy fall as long as it lasts.  Which won’t be long considering the kids (by kids I mean, well, you can probably figure out which ones I’m talking about now) brought home a Countdown to Christmas coloring sheet.  My days are numbered.  Literally.


3 Responses to “I just remembered.”

  1. Kim Irene
    December 2nd, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    I’ve missed you BUT it was worth the wait….the last setence in 4. did it for me. Thanks for making my day a whole lot happier.

  2. Thomas Karabanoff
    December 2nd, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    That was awesome, I truly enjoyed your perspective on fall and the “kids”. We have chickens, goats, horses and dogs, two gardens and three kids (real kids). This month the dogs and goats now have their own “kids”, so we grew exponentionally within two weeks. My favorite part of my weekend is watching my daughters ride and argue with their horses!! The country life, and science lessons and skills the kids learn everyday will eventually serve them well, to grow and survive. Even if the “zombies” really do show up!!! Hugs and Happy Holidays, TJK Weatherford, TX

  3. Kelsie
    December 10th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

    OMGosh that is so funny…I might be tempted some days to swap my kid (the human one) for some of those oh so adorable chickens….I can also see why it is hard to get anything done with them around, I would have to go play with them also.

    As for crossing the river…SO funny and so many lessons learnt…Thank you for sharing your adventure so we will not be tempted to try this ourselves.

    BTW sorry you are not getting more eggs, being in FL our temps do not get so cold that they really go off the lay because of it…OH they will go off of the lay, but rarely because of the cold.

    Blessings Kelsie

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