Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Posted on | March 17, 2010 | 6 Comments

Some people say the phrase “Blood, sweat, and tears” originated with Winston Churchill.  That may be true because it certainly wasn’t stated by a farmer.  Any farmer worth her vegetable patch would have defined her tasks as “Blood, curses, sweat, and tears.”  Statesmen may have to be politically correct, but out here in the country, in front of the cows and the corn, we let ‘er rip.  And if you haven’t dropped the F bomb in a while then you haven’t had a tractor stall over a yellow jacket nest.  Or watched the neighbor’s dog exit the chicken coop with your favorite laying hen in his teeth.  Or had a wind storm topple the tomato cages, snapping those luscious plants off at the base.  I could go on and on but I just noticed that the damn goats have flipped over their fricking water trough, making one hell of a mud pit in front of the barn.  I’ll be back as soon as I kick their mischievous little asses.  (See how that happens?)

Anyhoo….

While installing the fence last week, we bled every time the barbed wire caught in our hands.  Then we bled some more as we worked our way through the briars and wild blackberry along the treeline.  We cried every time we missed the poultry staple and mashed our fingers with the hammer.  Then again when the the field fencing ran out, requiring us to wrestle a new 2 ton roll of fencing through the thickest part of the underbrush.  (OK, I cried.  The kids just stood over me, patting my shoulder and giving each other “the glance” over my head.  “The glance” indicates that they recognize no one else’s mother weeps over poultry staples and field fencing and that they’re sure to discuss this matter as adults in therapy.)

We sweated because, well, wouldn’t you sweat if you had to alternate between picking thorns from your flesh and hammering your own digits?  I would think so.  And, of course, I cursed sporadically throughout the entire process.  It was actually a bit like “Blood, curse, tears, curse, sweat, blood, curse, curse, tears, blood, and sweat.”  I’m an original like that.  Not everyone can be me (and aren’t you glad!).

When the fence was finished, we lay, exhausted, on the pond dam and began the twisted but oddly cathartic process of comparing injuries.  It was hard to beat Middle’s black eye which he got from the golf ball he found in the leaves and bounced off tree trunks until he eventually caught it with his eye socket instead of his hand.  However, since bouncing golf balls off tree trunks is not an integral part of fence building we decided he was disqualified.  Sometimes flashy just isn’t the way to go.  Pretty had a 3 inch thorn buried in her calf like a scythe that would require tweezers for extraction.  I had a decent puncture wound in my tricep from falling against the pointed end of a broken cedar limb.  Big, alas, had nothing to show.  He spread his arms and twisted his body from side to side.  “Look”, he cried, “I don’t have single scratch on me!”  What a shame.  Now he was stuck with only the satisfaction of a job well done.  A pathetic prize compared to scabs and scars.

Of course, we shouldn’t have underestimated him.  Big hates to lose.  So the next morning he awoke with a poison ivy rash all over his face and his, um, nether regions.   Although the rest of us started scratching our own poison ivy break outs a few days later, we couldn’t compete with his emergency trip to the dermatologist and need for prescription medicine.  Jeez.  There’s wining and then there’s just plain showing off.  Maybe it should be “Blood, curses, sweat, tears, and a $30 co-pay.”

© Stevie Taylor 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

6 Responses to “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”

  1. Terry
    March 17th, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

    Um, just a small point but if you have goats, why do you still have briars? Aren’t they doing their job?I swear by the goat electric fencing that’s easily moveable. I let them clear the nasty stuff before I get near it :)

  2. admin
    March 17th, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

    Unfortunately, I only have 4 goats on 4 acres. They do clear a lot of the brambles, but prefer to do most of their work close to the barn. The brambles on the perimeter are generally ignored. This is a shame b/c someone told me if they ate the poison ivy (which is also on the perimeter) and we drank the their milk, it might help boost my son’s immunity to poison ivy (he has terrible reactions). I think I would have to walk their lazy butts down to the poison ivy!!!

  3. Tanya Lam
    March 18th, 2010 @ 7:04 am

    So funny that your friends know goats well enough to tell you how to avoid poison ivy. I could give you advice about oatmeal baths and calamine lotion, but you probably were told that while you were paying your $30 co-pay!

  4. forensicfarmgirl
    March 18th, 2010 @ 7:43 am

    I sooooo COMPLETELY feel your pain!

    sheri

  5. Tamsen
    March 18th, 2010 @ 8:53 am

    I thought I was the lone curser and glad to know I am in good company. I’m always dropping the F-bomb at my high powered city law firm, and glad to know that I am not alone (although there are no other cussing farmers here at work).

    Last week I cleared the trees on the big pasture and waited and waited and waited, until I couldn’t wait anymore, dropped my pants behind a bush and peed like a race horse. I was in such a rush, I did this with my gloves ON and got poison ivy ALL OVER my little butt. Now my COW is blogging about it to EVERYone. F***!

    (see http://thecanadianfamilycow.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=maribel for her blog)

  6. Sandybee
    March 19th, 2010 @ 10:32 am

    I live in the suburbs. Of San Diego. I live in a house with a miniscule back yard. Miniscule! Most of the back yard is either bricked or decked. We’re doing our part for water conservation. My husband waters and weeds the little patch of earth that is there. Last weekend we had planned to go glamping in our trailer in the mountains. ‘We can’t go,’ he says to me. ‘Why ever not?’ I ask. ‘I’ve got a nasty case of poison oak. I can’t sit down.’ From working in the brick/decked backyard? Here in San Diego? And it’s where? OMG. I never thought it possible.

    You have an absolute gift for story telling. I have read through all your archives and have thoroughly enjoyed all your stories. My sides were aching and tears streaming on some of them. Keep them coming!

    Sandybee

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