Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

It’s That Time

Posted on | May 4, 2010 | 5 Comments

When it’s over 70 degrees at 6am, I know it’s time.  Finally.

Summer is here.  It’s time to wash the goat coat and pack it away.

You might call yours a barn coat.  And, officially, that’s what it is.  The coat actually spends as much time carrying chickens under a fleecy sleeve and pinning the sheep down for a hoof trim as it does cuddling goat kids during their morning bottle.  The Great Pyrenees does try to leave his mark with swaths of 5 inch long white hairs.  And the pony has been known to wipe green alfalfa pellet mouth foam on it from time to time.  But since the goats are the most odiferous of our farm critters, they leave the most lasting impression.

Hence, the comments when I drive the kids down to meet the school bus after the morning milking:

“Mom, can you crack the window, please?  You smell like goat.”

Or when people enter the mudroom and pass the coat rack:

“What smells like a goat in here?”

Of course, my favorite is:

“Is there a goat in your pocket or have you been wearing that barn coat all winter long without washing it?”

The answer is:  Yes, I have been wearing it all winter.  Without washing it.  I just can’t afford to spare it for the time it takes to wash.  Frigid mornings require it’s fluffy, fleecy warmth while dumping and refilling frozen water buckets.  Even in the afternoons the hood is necessary to cut the chill of the wind while hauling wheelbarrows of dirty bedding to the garden for spring compost.  By evening feeding time, I need the pockets to carry the flashlight in case it turns dark before I finish up.

That is what I’ll miss most of all during summer.  Oh, those wonderful, voluminous pockets.  Filled to the brim with scissors for cutting hay bale twine, extra gate clips to replace those that drop into drifts of fall leaves, wire cutters to instantly clip the sharp edges that dare to scratch you as you go about your business, and even a treat or two for a pony that endures an afternoon bareback ride from Little or a livestock guardian dog who walks away from the egg laid within his reach instead of eating it.  Wherever you are on the farm, whatever you need, the goat coat carries it in (hairy, stinky) style.

Without the pockets of my winter goat coat, I will have to switch to the free tool aprons from Lowe’s to carry my supplies.  Which are handy, but just not as comforting as slipping into the goat coat’s fragrant folds.  What?  You didn’t know Lowe’s gave away free aprons?  Sure, they do.  The second and fourth Saturday of every month they host a free kids building workshop.  Every kid gets a free tool apron and goggles to wear during construction.  If you have four kids (like me) and you go at least once a month because you think you should never turn down a chance for someone to entertain your children for free (like me) and you’re not embarrassed to wear a kids tool apron tied around your waist during summer farm chores (like me), then it’s an opportunity to amass an impressive tool apron stockpile (like me).  That way when one apron gets a hole in the bottom where your poultry staples will slip through or the pocket dividers unravel, leaving you with a gaping pouch that drops eggs out as soon as you collect them, you can just replace it with another one.   Aren’t corporate marketing tactics wonderful?  I am still trying to think up a way to use all those goggles.  Hmmmm, when do we need eye protection around here……….?

Luna, a.k.a "The Tongue"

Anyway, although the washing of the goat coat is bittersweet, it does usher in one of my other favorite clothing items.  The summer farming flip flops.  I know it defies all legitimate safety concerns–snakes in the leaf debris, hooves stomping on your instep, chickens pecking at your pedicure, but, oh,  the delicious freedom!  No more socks, no more shoelaces, no more heavy mud boots.  I guess every season has its benefits.  Some are just better downwind. 😉


5 Responses to “It’s That Time”

  1. Emily Lyons
    May 4th, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    Look forward each week to a new entry! Always enjoy your humor and style of writing!
    And FREE is always good! (says the soon to be mom of 4!)

  2. va_grown
    May 4th, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    I have a blaze orange hooded sweatshirt that’s the same. That giant pocket in the front that can hold anything, the hood, and big enough to fit over several layers if necessary…and I always claim that it’s more reassuring to the animals if it smells familiar so I don’t have to wash it too much…I do wear my boot all year though. They look particularlly fashionable with capris! 🙂

  3. Tanya
    May 5th, 2010 @ 4:50 am

    Love it-Once again! Did you ever win the writing contest? You should have.

  4. Kim watson
    May 5th, 2010 @ 6:53 am

    Ah, yes! Mine I call the dog coat for many of the same reasons. The pockets are littered with remnants of horse treats, dog cookies, kleenex lint for the morning cold nose runs, a cough drop so worn that you can’t get the paper off if you needed to at gunpoint. Ah I’m gonna miss it til fall.

  5. Sandybee
    May 6th, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    As a Kinder teacher, I wore aprons all the time. The pocket had mysterious things inside them and the kids would sit quietly while I very slowly pulled something out. Sometimes I could stretch that out for 10 minutes while I gathered my wits for the next activity.

    Good story!

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