Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

A Tale of Two Cities (Plus the Country).

Posted on | November 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

Sometimes the party never ends.  Or at least it doesn’t end until the kids are so exhausted that they put themselves to bed and the adults are too exhausted to care if the kids brushed their teeth or not.  As a matter of fact, the adults are so tired that they just open a new toothbrush out of the upstairs toothbrush stash rather than make one more trip down the stairs to get a toothbrush out of the luggage that they meant to carry up but didn’t.  That’s tired, people.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that this party practically spanned the entire globe.  Or at least most of the state.  Well, three areas of the state.  Definitely 150 mile radius.  We almost had to make arrangements for farm sitting.  Which means we were almost too far away and too busy partying to make it home for the milking.  That’s a party, people.

We started partying where the party started many years ago.  The little college city where we first became friends.  You’ve met my friend, T before.  This time she drove into the city for Homecoming and staked a place at the local brewery where she and I watched many, many college games together.  Also where The Other Half and I had our first date.  She actually commandeered the party room where The Other Half and I hosted our rehearsal dinner.  She did this by turning her 4 year old loose in the room and letting him burn off steam by racing back and forth from wall to wall.  Then she let the baby throw half-chewed chips all over the floor.  By the time I arrived the waitress had closed the privacy doors (apparently, there was a baby-almost-falling-down-the-staircase-into-the-downstairs-bar-area incident) and conceded the party room without even suggesting an extra fee.  When I appeared at the hostess stand and said I had a friend waiting for me, they eyeballed my 4 kids (still fighting over who got to put the money in the parking meter) and knew immediately where I was supposed to be.

“Excellent work,” I told T as I strolled in and admired the expansive room, carpeted floor, and large screen television broadcasting the game.  We may not be 20 years old anymore, but we can still take over a room when we enter it.  We just use different methods.  Changing your game is the solution to growing old gracefully, people.

“We’re going to need more chips, a bunch of pizzas, and some more pale ale,” I told the waitress as my older kids started to pull out chairs and the younger ones joined in the foot races.  Then we settled in to catch up.

Catching up is a sacred ritual.  It involves rehashing everything that has happened since you saw each other last, reminiscing about your past adventures, and planning your future rendezvous.  Plus, on this occasion, it involved sympathizing over our other friend, K, who was actually at the football game with her 2 kids and 6 month old baby.  In the stands with a 6 month old baby.  Gag.

She did have her husband and her extended family with her.  Which is worth something.  But it’s not sprawled in the party room, sipping pale ale and eating pizza, with a bathroom right down the hallway, and older kids to escort the younger kids to the bathroom no matter how many times they needed to go.  So inbetween pints, we shook our heads sadly on her behalf.  “Poor K,” we murmured.  And then we laughed, threw some more chips on the floor for the baby, and ordered another pizza.

When the game was almost over, we headed for the local kids museum to meet up with K and her crew.  Breweries are fun for kids, but building blocks at the kids museum are probably more appropriate fun.  The kids got right into construction mode when we got there.

And when K finally made it out of the stands, through the crowds, and across campus to the kids museum we got to catch up with her, too.  We took a quick picture with all 3 of us and our “babies”.  Please note that one of us started and finished having her kids a lot earlier than the others.  One of the ladies in this picture will not be getting up during the night with an infant when she is in her 40’s.  Ha, ha.  I win.

It was good to see K’s husband, too.  The 3 of us are used to traveling without our husbands as their careers are not always family friendly and K’s military husband has been deployed on and off for their entire marriage.  But on this occasion they had just recently moved closer than they’ve been to us in years and he just settled into a new job at the Capitol.  I was impressed that he managed to get away.  Although if you’ve been following the national news, if you are career military and working in DC, it was a good weekend to get away.  I’m just sayin’.

Eventually he decided to go get a cup of coffee while we sat chatting about nursing and potty training and children’s heights in the 90th percentile.  I mean, he tried to relate to us a few times—he started talking about the disappointing 2 point win over our team in the game. I smiled politely and blinked at him.  At no point during the game was I concerned about the score.  I mean, it’s homecoming whether we win or not, right?  Later, he told us about his hope to do an open ocean swim in Hawaii.  I have nothing to say to that.  I cannot relate to extreme exercise of any kind.  Especially one that involves sharks and/or jelly fish.  But I think we got along pretty well considering that the last time I saw him he and K were just announcing their engagement.  And we all met up at a fancy restaurant where we had drinks at the bar while waiting an hour for our table.  Too bad we didn’t know that trick about throwing crackers around or having toddler races to immediately get a table in the back room back then.  Eh.  Live and learn, people, live and learn.

After we closed down the kids museum, we added more money to our meters, and headed out for coffee and ice cream.  My kids find city ways to be fascinating.  For them paying to park, pushing the pedestrian buttons at crosswalks, staying out of the way of the buses (those suckers run someone down at least once a month), and enjoying the hippie street musicians while avoiding the homeless asking for beer money is like a big party game.  Throw in the drunk college kids stumbling around, the half-dressed sorority girls, and the offensive lyrics blaring from car stereos at stoplights and it’s like an R rated movie coming to life.  And they know I don’t have enough hands to cover all their eyes and ears at once.  At least one of them is going to get to see a keg stand before we make it home.  Especially since the kids museum is in a strip mall that shares a parking lot with one of the dormitories.  What is it that city planners do?  Apparently it doesn’t involve planning to put the kids museum as far away from the dormitory parking lots filled with drunken tailgaters as possible.  Go figure.

Once the game traffic cleared out, K and her husband left to meet some friends for a nice dinner, and T headed back to our house in the country with us where the only things stumbling into the road were the deer.  In the country we have to rely on simple things for entertainment.  Luckily, The Other Half returned from the woods in time to provide some comic relief.

As well as a dress up opportunity.

And playing with the baby laugh was good for quite a while, too.  He has a great high five.

And an infectious laugh.  Which I don’t really know how to insert into this post.  So a video clip will have to do.


Just when we were getting bored, The Other Half rushed inside and said, “Guess what?  The deputies are at the neighbor’s house and he just took a shot at them.  They’re on the PA telling him to put down his weapon right now.”

Then the people who live next to that neighbor arrived, telling us the deputies had barricaded the road to their house and they needed a place to hang out until the neighbor was safely in custody.  So we sat at the kitchen table, sipping drinks, and catching up with them.  It was a different kind of catching up.  We rehashed all the crazy antics the neighbor had been up to since we saw each other last, reminisced over the days when he had a job instead of a meth habit, and made future escape plans in case of emergency.  Welcome to Saturday night in the country.

I think T handled it all with grace and aplomb.  Considering the last surprise visitor she had at her house was Michael Jordan.  He was playing golf on the golf course in her back yard when the neighborhood kids flagged him down for pictures.  Really.

Michael Jordan.  Booooring.

By the time the flashing lights and sirens cleared out, it was bedtime for everyone.  Because the party wasn’t over yet.

First thing in the morning, G was up to test his enthusiasm for farming.  Apparently, he’d been telling his family and classmates that he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up.  And we’ve got lots of job training opportunities for that.  So when the first rooster crows woke him up, it was out to do the chores.

There were chickens to feed….

….and eggs to collect….

….as well as learning the old school method for gathering eggs when you forget to bring out the egg basket.

He fed the goats….

….and forked hay for the sheep.  Don’t tell Tina she’s a goat and not one of the sheep.  She and the lambs were bottle fed together and so she thinks she’s one of them.  I fully expect her to get in line when the shearing starts.

Then the pony gets her grain.  Don’t tell the farrier we are still giving her grain.  Last time he was here, he called her fat.  I think “obese” was the actual word that he used.  He said it right in front of her.  Called her “obese” like if she wasn’t even standing there.  I’m re-evaluating his services.  Because do I really want  a man willing to throw that word around when visiting my farm?? Do I?

G got the milking done….

….emptied the water trough and refilled it with fresh water….

….and then it was finally time to let out the baby goats to nurse.  They swarmed out to find their momma, pausing briefly to pose for pictures.

Except one goat kid was missing.  And when we entered the kidding barn, we found that Prim, one of the goat kids, had died during the night.  It looked like bloat, which is odd because the kids are offered free access grain from the time they are 3 weeks old and get separated from their mother at night.  But the swollen belly and foamy nose were pretty indicative that was what happened.  G stood in the doorway, looking confused.

“Is it dead?” he asked.

“Yep,”  I replied, gathering up the kid.  “Sometimes it happens.  Just part of farming.”

“Sometimes babies die, ” agreed Little.

“Huh.  Prim died,”  said Middle and then he went back to throwing acorns.

G watched us going about our business and followed me to Sacrifice Stump where I left the kid for the foxes or coyotes.  I doubt he had ever seen death handled with such stoicism.  He looked a bit shell shocked by the time we were ready to head in with the milk bucket.  Either he was worried that we were inhuman robots or he was afraid Bruno was about to eat him.  He does have a dog at home.  But it’s a chihuahua. So hard to say what was bothering him the most.

Pretty was the only one that flinched when we came in with the news that Prim had died.

“Of course it was Prim, ” she muttered disconsolately.  “It’s always the friendliest ones that die.”

I was actually thinking it’s usually the valuable livestock that dies.  As a polled female, Prim would have brought the highest price when the kids were sold.  But Pretty was right.  It’s always the chicken that  lets you scoop her up and rides sweetly on your shoulder that gets eaten when a dog gets loose.  Or the goat kid that comes up to visiting children to be petted instead of racing away frantically that bloats up and dies.  I’m not sure if it’s karmic reinforcement of the old adage that “only the good die young” or an indication that extreme domesticity is located on the chromosome carrying weak genes.  Either way, if a goat kid was going to die, “May the odds be ever in your favor” did not hold true for Prim.

With the farm managed for the day, we packed up and headed off to the next city.  Since the schools were closed (again) we had planned a fun day and overnight stay at a huge indoor waterpark close to T’s house.  By huge, I mean HUGE.

With a huge bucket that dumps on those willing to stand underneath.

With lots of fun slides.

As well as slides that were unnecessarily steep, dark, and scary.  Don’t be fooled by the cute pink and yellow checks.  The Tornado was awful enough to make me scream every time I went down it with the kids.

Based on the kids’ laughter I think my fear on the Tornado was one of the kids’ favorite parts of the whole adventure.  Way to show the love, people, way to show the love.

Thank goodness, the baby had to sleep on occasion. So I took a turn watching him and sent T off to explore the rides for a while.

This is why people started living in villages.  So that everyone got a turn watching the baby and everyone got a turn riding the waterslides.  Either that or group protection from tigers.  Something like that.  Regardless, everyone got their turn on all the rides.  And then some.  After 2 days of water-logged fun, we finally said our goodbyes and headed to our separate homes.  But not before stopping out front to knock on the great plastic wolf.

Because my partner at work, who doesn’t have children yet, was just as horrified as me when he heard we were planning a trip to the waterpark.  For different reasons, of course.  I was appalled at the thought of a vacation spent walking around a hotel in my swim suit.  He was appalled at the thought of my family spending time in a crowded, tacky, overpriced theme park.  He told me that he had stopped by the waterpark once and that in addition to its fake lodge appearance there was a huge fake wolf outside.  When he knocked on it, he discovered it was just hollow plastic!  So knock, knock, N.  May you enjoy your upcoming years of tacky, hollow, overpriced kid-fun theme parks.  That is, if you survive getting up at night with an infant when you’re in your 40’s 😉

So that’s how it done, people.  2 cities and 1 exciting night in the country.  All in 3 days. Until we were way too tired to worry about teeth brushing.  And being worried about having to ride the Tornado again was replaced with worrying about getting some fresh hay in before the next rain.  Back to the grind.  In my barn clothes instead of my swimsuit.  Thank goodness!


One Response to “A Tale of Two Cities (Plus the Country).”

  1. Katherine
    November 16th, 2012 @ 6:02 am

    Wow, that sounds like awesome fun! Except for Prim. I’m very sorry to hear about Prim. As for meth-neighbor, does this mean he’s effectively gone for good?

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