Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Not So Spring Break.

Posted on | April 5, 2012 | 11 Comments

The natives are restless.  Officially they are on spring break.  But it is not exactly the laying-on-the-beach, pier fishing, and soft ice cream cone break they were dreaming of.  Not even close.

The Other Half, my father, and Middle have been determinedly working to complete the water line trench to the garden.

They will not be stopped.  Not by cut telephone lines.  Or by leaving a hole under the garden fence for the guineas to escape through.  Not even by a boulder as big as a Volkswagen beetle which almost resulted in a tractor rollover.  No, they will not be stopped.  They even dug holes for the magnolia trees I got for my birthday.

Cutting the line to the invisible fence in the process.  Let’s hope they finish before they find an active electric line to cut.

Big has been assigned to projects at my parent’s house.  I believe shelves in the shed and sides for the car port are on the agenda over there.  Off he goes with his tool belt and supplies each day.  Although he did spend a day making me a new milk bench for the barn.

It is so handy when they are old enough for carpentry work.  Makes all that post-birth recovery time worth it.  Well, almost.  When he gets his license so he can run back the Redbox movies before we rack up another night’s fees it will be worth it.

The less skilled worker, Little, was assigned to pulling up oak trees sprouts form the mulched areas of the yard.  Little was confused when I told him to check the mulched areas.

“You mean, the playground?” he asked.

“No,” I said.  “The mulched areas in the center of the rock walls.”

“Rock walls?”

Oh, right.  We keep meaning to make rock walls out of the single layer of rocks thrown in a circle and kicked around by the kids and dogs.  And I haven’t actually mulched those areas.  I mean, I throw the leaves in there in the fall, and I think about ordering a dump truck of mulch, but do you know how much they charge for a dump truck full of mulch??  It’s chopped trees, people.  In any case, the kids don’t have the imagination that I do.  This doesn’t look like a rock wall enclosing a mulched area to them.

But once I clarified for him, Little dutifully spent time yanking up all the oak tree wannabes.

He and Middle also spent a day gathering chopped wood from around the property and stacking it in the woodshed.  (We tend to chop it where we find it.  That’s the Royal “We.”  The Other Half chops wood.  I complain about piles of it all over the property.)  They did a lovely job.

And as soon as they finished, The Other Half picked up a fresh pile of wood from a friend’s house and dumped it by the greenhouse.  Because nothing makes you feel the satisfaction in a job well done like having to do it all over again.

Pretty did not escape the work detail.  She bleached the walls of the hallways and the stairwell to remove months worth of dirty handprints and muddy dog tail swipes.  She even painted over the scuff marks on the stair treads.  Holy whiteness, Batman!!!!

She was the primary bottle feeder of the lambs.  Since having to heat bottles in response to crying babies all day and night was giving me PTSD.

And she gave C.C. a thorough grooming and makeover, including a fresh haircut.  Oh, um, you look….marvelous, C.C.

As livestock manager, she was also tasked with the usual spring poultry and waterfowl hoopla.  Blackbeard’s eggs turned out to be rotten (she missed a night during cold temperatures, perhaps?) so she had to be distracted and her eggs replaced.  We gave her a few duck eggs that had been abandoned but were only a couple days old as well as 5 Ameraucana eggs.  She settled right back down with a few disgusted hisses at us.

Cookie Dough chose a ridiculous place to nest so Pretty spent an afternoon rearranging cattle panes around the hay roll so that she could still brood but the grazing animals couldn’t reach her.

And silly Emmie was trying to brood on plastic Easter eggs.  So she was given a few of Cookie Dough’s eggs and the rest of the nest filled with chicken eggs.  As  long as a duck hatches out a few ducklings, she’ll be happy and come off the nest.  The chicks will hatch out early and as they do we’ll put them in the brooder room.  The first hatches of the season are always a bit chaotic and require more micromanagement than those later in the season.

Guineas had to be captured and corralled in the back pen to be divided among friends.  The flock has gotten too large and the neighbors have taken to ceaseless complaining about the noise.   The same neighbors that burn trash so that we have to hide in the house to avoid toxic plastic fumes and jacklight deer in the woods and target shoot at all hours of the day and night, but whatever.

We kept 4 free ranging guineas and there are 4 more contained in the garden.  Pretty had to help in these capture campaigns as I have a nasty habit of screaming, dropping to ground, and covering my face with my hands when the guineas start flapping around.  It’s a disgraceful weakness, I know.  I must have seen The Birds at a sensitive time in my childhood.

Speaking of me, I was busy bringing out the summer clothes, perusing hand me downs, and getting winter clothes back in the shed.  Piles were made to be given to friends, dropped off at Goodwill, and used for rags.

After multiple attempts and splashing gallons of water onto the floor, I mastered the art of using a water siphon to vacuum the gravel in the fish tank. Which then meant several days of gradually sucking up dirty water and replacing it with clean so that the fish wouldn’t be shocked by their clean tank.  I’m not so sure why I should be concerned about shocking them since they don’t hesitate to shock me when I am siphoning by rubbing their slimy sides against my arm or trying to suck on me with their fish lips.

I mowed the lawn (Oh my, isn’t “lawn” a beautiful word?  We haven’t had a “lawn” for years!!!) as well as the garden paths and the property by the road.  And I didn’t even run out of gas until I was on the last strip of land next to the neighbor’s house.  So I didn’t refill and finish.  Wonder how many deer ticks he’ll get in that strip of long grass.  Ticks he wouldn’t get if it was patrolled by guineas.  Imagine that.

In addition, I was acting pharmacist for all spring break ailments.  After Little’s eyes swelled shut due to pollen he was started on a regime of eye drops, nasal mist, and prescription allergy medication.  Plus cream for eczema.  Pretty was on a round of Prednisone after she developed poison ivy on her face which the pediatrician believes resulted from hugging the livestock guardian dog all the time.  Especially after he’s been running through poison ivy down by the pond.  Captain, one of the buck kids, was started on Corid since he’s had loose stool for a few days and it might be a run of coccidiosis.  Poor Daisy, the barn cat, was getting arnica drops after she wandered into the back yard and was grabbed up and shaken hard by one of the dogs before escaping to a tree.  And I was on a dose of Valacyclovir and pain meds for an outbreak of shingles.  I even missed a couple days of work.  Which delighted my co-workers to no end.  They made sure to call me, text me, and email me repeatedly to see how my “herpes” was doing.  People who work in the medical field can be so obnoxious crude insensitive sometimes.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Plus it makes him lash out at his siblings, I bet.  And mouth off to his mother, probably.  So to keep my kids from Jack’s fate, we’ve decided to see a matinee.   We’ve loaded up on Easter candy in all our hidden pockets and pouches as well as Dixie cups so we can share a refillable drink.  I don’t have any plans for dinner as by that time we’ll all be laying on the couch moaning that next time we are not going to eat so much candy and popcorn or guzzle 5 liters of soda. (Please.  Of course, we will.  We need to get our $6.75 each worth!).  So, thank you The Lorax, for salvaging Spring Break.

Beach, we’ll see you on the Do Nothing Day at school next month.  Excuse me, I mean Early Release Day—when they take attendance, start feeding the kids lunch at 9am, and them put them on the bus back home by 11am.  Have the ice cream cones ready!


11 Responses to “Not So Spring Break.”

  1. Chai Chai
    April 5th, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    Oh what I would give for someone to dig trenches for electricity and water to be piped in to my animal quarters.

    I think the neighbors will miss the guineas once the tick population explodes exponentially. I’m thinking that keeping only four may be too few as guineas tend to get killed off during the summer breading season.

  2. lin
    April 5th, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    Sheesh, I’m exhausted just from reading all that!! Can’t imagine getting it all done!! 🙂

  3. Judy
    April 5th, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

    I had to laugh. At least we’re not the only ones who see Spring Break as ‘child labor week’. Actually, my husband refers to it as “Spring Training for Summer Labor Camp”. This year, we only redid 75% of our indoor plumbing. Last year we gutted and remodeled the kitchen… oh the fun we have on spring break!!

  4. Sherry Herry
    April 6th, 2012 @ 3:54 am

    if you are looking to give away some of your guineas, i’ll take some. I always have plenty of ticks to feed them. Please let me know.

  5. Lynda
    April 6th, 2012 @ 5:12 am

    Oh what I wouldn’t give for a few of your guineas! I have one left and she stands at the back fence looking into the neighbors pasture calling something that sounds for all the world like, “Come back, come back, come back…”

    Seriously, Lynda

  6. Tanya
    April 6th, 2012 @ 5:53 am

    I want your hand me downs.. We may be the city mouse to your country mouse, but we are not above hand me downs!

  7. Chai Chai
    April 6th, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

    Looking back on my previous comment I think it is the flour that gets the guineas during “breading” season, it is almost as dangerous as breeding season.

  8. Annabelle
    April 6th, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

    right on! do you know about GI soother from I use it every year on kids that get “loose” I mix the powder into balls with slippery elm bark powder and raw honey. It works within hours!

  9. Kim
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:06 am

    Hm. And there’s me thinking spraying Genetian Violet on chickens nether regions on my Easter break was hard! Catching them was the hard part, the spraying was easy once I controlled the legs, wings, beak, screeching…… You would think they were ostriches, not chooks :O) I am a drama queen.

  10. magpie
    April 8th, 2012 @ 11:56 am

    right. i too am exhausted. gah. there is something to be said for a desk job. sometimes anyway.

  11. Lisa D
    April 8th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    You do more home sick for a week than I do in a year! I’m going to make my kids read this one…

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