Life on the farm

I’m not certain how this will affect my ability to write a daily article, but I have taken a job as a farmhand. I still have resumes floating about, and one small company has offered a part time position I may still take in addition to the farm, but this will be my vocation.

My Grandfather had a farm, after he retired from his position as superintendent of schools he built a little place on a lake and was largely self sufficient. He raised Black Angus cows, and had a few acres of vegetables. He and my Grandmother would trade with their neighbors, I don’t think they purchased many food items at the grocery store.

I took a different route, actually several different routes, but I have always loved working with plants and animals. I have had wonderful gardens and canned my own vegetables. I worked as an Animal Control officer for at least a decade, and had run ins with a variety of livestock and even exotic animals in addition to every imaginable blend of dog breeds. For the last fifteen years or so my career has involved wearing a tie every day and being an “electronics whisperer”. This will be a change.

The folks at Cherry Grove Farm, right down the road, are willing to pay me to work with their animals and be a “farm hand”. Being that money comes in handy once in a while, I’ll be spending my days there.

Cherry Grove Farm is “organic”. That is, their pastures, from which the cows and sheep graze, are certified organic. I always thought that any carbon based life form was organic, but words have drifted into different meanings. They don’t sell milk, they make cheeses, and have an interesting cheese maker who makes some unusual varieties. The whey is fed to their pigs. They also have chickens and sheep, and they’re starting some bees, six hives so far. In addition to the livestock and farm work, they also have a pond which is stocked with bass, for “catch and release” fishing (employees only). There’s a clowder (herd) of feral cats, some of which can be approached, which keep out the rodents.

I am just not capable of getting up at 0300 to milk the cows, but I’ll be there for the afternoon milking. The heat and hot water comes from a huge wood burning heater, so I’ll have the opportunity to cut up trees and split wood. All sorts of manly activities involving chain saws and axes. I’ll be building fences (coyotes are getting chickens, mostly because the chickens escape from their their area), driving a little bulldozer thing, feeding all the animals (including calves which receive cows milk in big bottles with funny nipples for a few months after birth), and all the little chores which keep a farm going. There’s talk of a “petting zoo”, with retired animals that are more sociable, and maybe a pony and an alpaca from a neighboring farm. That might be too much fun.

I know it will be physically difficult, but I’m looking forward to it immensely. I can get back to the land, and I don’t need to cut my hair.

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3 comments on “Life on the farm

  1. Mari Collier says:

    This is amusing. I can see all the people yakking on about the land, the earth, etc. My father was an Iowa farmer. He could pick up a handful of soil, smell it, run it through his fingers, and tell you exactly what type of soil it was, what it needed or didn’t need. He loved coming up with a handful of black soil and say this is good soil. My three brothers ran away from the farm as fast as they could. Arising at 3:00 a.m. for cows, harvests, or any other reason was not on their agenda. My mother would arise at the same hour for harvesting. I’ll never forget the tubs and buckets of spinach awaiting me one morning. I’d been out until 2:00 a.m. At 6:30 she woke me asking, “Are you going to sleep all day when there is work to do?” My allergies precluded any life on the farm. We were still partially organic. There’s nothing like mucking out a barn after the winter months of the horses and cattle being inside. That went on the fields to enrich them. No, you don’t want anymore of a description than that. Rock picking was another back-breaking operation. After the snows & spring rains, some fields would be loaded with rocks pushed up from below. I’ve stacked bales of hay in a hot, humid barn. No, I’m not going into the other intense, work-filled necessities, other than to say I’ve seen city people retreat with redden faces and holding their stomach while I described the process. Even the visiting nurse (when I had a broken femur a few years ago) turned a funny shade of red when I told her I had grown up with no bathroom in the house and described how we “bathed” and took care of necessities in the winter when I answered her questions.

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  2. Circe says:

    Blake,
    May your life back on the farm suit you well 🙂 I will see you there! Cherry Grove Farms is a wonderful place, and I stop there once a month or so, sometimes with a friend. Life on the farm, though my parents have one in Somerset County, is unfamiliar to me because I did not grow up there. Our small, non-diverse farm is farmed by a proper farmer on a tractor. My father was a professor of electrical engineering (not the farmer, though his father was a midwestern livestockman.) However, one of my sons is about to start university as an agriculture major, so ours may become a family farm in the true sense of the meaning one day.

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  3. […] surgical instrument repair, copier technician, and pizza delivery, but nothing really fit. I took the job at the farm, and a week later they told me they were cutting back. I started cold calling companies, and […]

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