Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | April 15, 2015 | 1 Comment

Occasionally, taking care of the farm is like walking hand in hand with a friend.  The connection is strong and comfortable and its overwhelming power is inexplicable.

Despite my worries over the late start of the greenhouse, the seedlings are flourishing.  They won’t all be ready to go in the garden by the last frost date in our area, which is today (which is also the tax date in case you need to stop reading this and go to the post office to postmark something).  But even the smallest ones should be big enough to put out the first week of May.  Which is fine since the smallest ones are the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs and they prefer warmer May temperatures anyway.  A couple weeks of temperatures in the 70’s-80 during the day and 60’s at night gave the seeds a jump start and even allowed me to just leave the greenhouse door open most of the time.  So the annoying task of opening the door or vents during warm daytime hours and closing them for chilly nights was limited to just a few days.  Apparently, a late start was exactly what was called for this year.

Since my gardening was stymied by waiting for the seedlings, I spent a day cleaning out the koi pond.  This is usually a gruesome task, worsened by bitter children assistants, therefore, it is usually delayed until it can’t be avoided any longer.  But with a sump pump borrowed from my dad I managed the task by myself in just a few hours.  The children assistants were only responsible for the slippery job of transferring the koi back to the clean pond by hand.  The koi cannot be put back by net (which is how I remove them) because the net invariably carries muck and mud back into the clean water.  The koi cannot be put back by hand by me because that involves an alarming amount of screaming, dropping, and cursing and, possibly, traumatic brain injury to dropped fish.  The children considered the fish transfer a fair trade for avoiding hauling buckets of disgusting water out of the pond by hand for an entire afternoon.

Oddly enough, the day after the pond was clean and fresh, the Venus fly trap turned brown and wilted in the kitchen window.  We rushed it to its summer location at the edge of the koi pond and those same 80 degree temperatures that were the speed-growing the seedlings in the greenhouse returned the Venus fly trap to it’s lush green existence in just a day.  So hand-feeding the Venus fly trap its meal worms is done until next winter.  (Let us all give thanks for small mercies.)

This is synchronicity, people.  It cannot be forced.  It cannot be faked.  It just happens.

But it gets better.

We headed off to a flock swap last weekend with one of the baby goats and a pair of Silver Laced Wyandotte chickens.  The Wyandotte pair came out of the chicks we ordered in October.  One of the “pullets” turned out to be a rooster and had to go.  Since no one ever wants to buy a rooster we decided to pair him with one of the Silver Laced Wyandotte hens and sell them together.  It was a long shot, but it was the first flock swap hosted by the local Tractor Supply and so we figured anything could happen.  We ran into a few good friends at the swap, including one that was….you are not going to believe this….looking for a rooster. And not just any rooster.  Specifically, a Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster.

Yep, my friend got up that Saturday morning and came to the flock swap with the slim hope of finding someone selling a nice, healthy, young Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster.  And there was one sitting in a crate next to my van, crowing away.  How is that possible?  Synchronicity, people.  Synchronicity.  I sold him the rooster and took my hen right back home.  Since I didn’t really want to sell her anyway.

But we didn’t sell the baby goat at the flock swap.  Nope.  Instead we met some people who wanted to buy 2 goats. So we all came back to the farm and sold them that baby goat plus the last remaining doeling of the season.  And then we dropped off the buckling with his new owner.  He already had a home to go to, but was just staying here until the doelings sold.  By afternoon all the goat kids from this season were sold and gone.  I was glad to see them go and the barn returned to the usual calm and quiet.  But I knew it would mean milking twice a day and the farm fridge overstocked with goat milk.

Good thing that we came in the house to find a phone message from a woman selling piglets.  We’d been looking for spring piglets for a couple months but last year’s bout of PEV resulted in a lot fewer pigs on the market.  This woman had 4 piglets left and those piglets cost exactly the amount of cash I had folded in my pocket from the sale of the goat kids.  Exact same amount. I figured those piglets would gobble up the extra goat milk so that we wouldn’t have to buy a lot of grain and we’d keep the farm fridge from overflowing.  So we went and picked up the piglets.  The Other Half was disappointed I didn’t successfully barter down the piglet price.  You don’t argue with synchronicity, people.  No arguing.

Once we had Wilbur, Jeff, Petunia, and Miss piggy set up in the old chicken pasture, turning over the compost pile, I spent some time carrying pitchforks of discarded hay out to the dog house.  The last batch of hay we bought was too weedy, even for the goats.  Every day, the goats, sheep, and pony left a large pile of rejected straw-like Johnson grass at the base of the hay gate.  Which would have been annoying.  Except that those weeds made excellent bedding in the new doghouse The Other Half built last fall.  Gradually the dirt floor was sinking beneath a soft, dry layer of hay that none of the ruminants were tempted to eat.  Nothing gets wasted, everything has its place, when synchronicity is at work on the farm.  And that soft bedding was needed for….well, you’ll find out soon enough.

I thought our run was finally over and everything was getting out of synch when all that sun and heat made the spring crops in the garden start to bolt.  I spent a day cutting the spinach almost all the way back to the ground to stop it from blooming, but I knew it was lost cause if the warmth continued.  I also figured I had missed the small window of opportunity for tossing out grass seed in the front and back yard.  If the grass seed doesn’t go out before May, it doesn’t stand a chance.  Unless you water it and fertilize it and baby it.  Um, no thanks.

The day after I cut back the spinach, the rain started.  The temperatures dropped into the 60’s and the 7 day forecast showed rain showers for the next week.  I laughed out loud when I saw it.  As soon as the morning barn chores were over, I gathered up some scraps of welded wire fencing, the wire clippers, and some zip ties.  I planned to catch the the rooster and clip his wings to keep him from leading the hens into the front yard by flying over the fence.  The welded wire was to seal up any other small holes the chickens might squeeze through.  Then I could spread grass seed.  I grabbed a barn sweatshirt out of the dryer in case I got chilly.  By the time I had finished the back yard and started throwing seed in the front, the the spotty showers turned into a steady drizzle.  Good thing the sweatshirt I grabbed was my red one.  The one with the hoodie to protect my delicate hairstyle from the rain (hah!).  The only sweatshirt that I own with a hoodie.  And it just happened to be the sweatshirt I pulled out of the dryer, without even looking.  I know, right?

Synchronicity.  No one knows whens it’s coming.  Never can tell when it’s gonna end.  Ride it, people.  Ride it as far as it goes…..


One Response to “Synchronicity.”

  1. Rose
    April 16th, 2015 @ 1:09 pm

    Be careful though – Synchronicity is often tempered by a large dose of bullshittery, in which everything goes to pot in a hurry. I try not to revel in my synchronicity on my farm because usually every good thing is followed by several episodes of BS that make me regret feeling smug about my mad farming skilz.

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