Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An update on the Sweetie Pie

As we were driving in the car yesterday, my six year old daughter said, “Mama, a lot of people have been asking me if Sweetums has had her baby yet.” My daughter keeps a pretty full social calendar around town, so she interacts with quite a few adults who enjoy my column. I laughed, and thought, “If Sweetums only knew how wildly popular she has become…” Well, she has not had her baby yet, but I am pretty sure we are on the home stretch. I’m not an expert in the area of animal husbandry … (did anyone notice that I just used the phrase animal husbandry?) but from what I can tell, Sweetums has a pretty full and almost dropped udder. This is a noticeable change from all the other days of her life where you almost had to look up underneath her belly to see if her udder was there! In addition, she is doing the late-stages-of-pregnancy-waddle. Now, I am an expert in this area! Having had three kids myself, there is that time as you are nearing your due date where you walk like someone who is in pain. You walk like someone who doesn’t want to be walking. You walk slow and deliberate. You waddle. Well, Sweetums is demonstrating all of the above. Her belly is looking much more round and low. Folks, I think I have finally come to believe that she is actually pregnant! (The farmer-husband is rolling his eyes and shaking his head in the I-told-you-so way)
When we were discussing all of these recent developments the other day, the same daughter asked, “Will we have to help her have the baby?” Again, being the non-expert that I am in all things livestock related, I said, “Oh no honey, she’ll probably have the baby in the middle of the night when no one even knows what is happening. We’ll wake up one morning and her calf will be right beside her.” Farmer-husband nodded in agreement with this, so I knew that answer was accurate (whew! This is of great relief since this sounded pretty easy to me and would require absolutely no effort on my part). Of course the thoughts came flooding into my head of the worst case scenario type of situations. What if we did have to help her? What if the calf is sick? What if Sweetums doesn’t take to the calf? What if the goats butt in where they don’t belong and cause trouble? What if? What if? Oh brother! Once again I realize, this undertaking of a family milk cow is not for the faint of heart. But nothing about country life is! I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I remember the snake incident in the chicken coop and my valiant efforts in dealing with him. I remember all the bottle feedings to the goats and cows and the medicine administration that I handled with flying colors. I remember raising the chickens from babies with the heat lamp. I whisper softly to myself, “You can do this Tracie. You’ve got this. You’re brave. You are the farmer’s wife.” I open my eyes and see farmer-husband who always knows what to do in an emergency situation. Thank goodness for him! So will it be tomorrow, or a few more weeks? Don’t know for sure, so I better get my milking stool ready. Wait…. I’ve never milked a cow before!

I just can't really do the belly justice here

Ummm...Sweet Grass, please...can you just move a little to the right?!

Can I get an expert's opinion here? Is this a partially dropped udder or what?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Plan B

I am a list maker.

A pros and cons weigher-outer.

A worst case scenerio planner.

A friend of mine calls it being "overly responsible"...

I like to call it conscientious.

Sometimes life just doesn't pan out the way you want it to. Sometimes there are rabbit trails you never knew you'd chase, detours you never thought were up ahead, and even road blocks that cause you to turn around in a complete 180 and go back from whence you came. And by golly, I'm going to have a plan amidst the chaos of these types of life dilemmas.

The farm didn't have an especially great year in 2009. We didn't have an especially bad year, just, ya know- mediocre. And that is fine, no worries, no regrets, but in keeping with who I am, I had a split-second thought of ... What if one day the farm goes belly-up and we need to find another way to pay the bills---what if this happens over night and we HAVE NO PLAN.... (chances of this happening over night with no warning are slim to none of course, but alas, the "overly responsible" part of me is playing out) So I drill the farmer-husband with questions of what his plan B is for life, you know, in the rare instance stated above. What would he do? Where would he want to go? What if he couldn't farm here ever again for another day in his entire life ever forever and ever amen? He looked at me, trying to figure out why I was so insistent on getting an answer to this right this very second...then he remembered who he married, and answered me.

His plan B is to either pick up and move to another location and start from scratch on another farm...(this didn't really satisfy my question, but that is just me again so I made him come up with something else) OR go into the private sector and become a consultant. OK, that works. Words like 'private sector' and 'consulting' are vague enough to describe a real job that would pay bills, right?

And what about my plan B? Oh, I thought you'd never ask. I of course will go back to making fried dough and scooping ice cream like I did the summer of '97 in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire at a little place on the strip called Dough Express. Now that my friends is a viable profession. Couple that with consulting in the private sector and we have ourselves a plan B, baby.

Crossing 'Make a Plan B' off my list as we speak.

Change of Pace

We have unofficially entered the time of year when the Fulford farmers take their “break”. I say unofficially because we are in the months that the break usually happens, but due to unforeseen weather patterns that we experienced this harvest season, the bell hasn’t rung yet to let the poor guys out of work! But this is still our only time to go on a family trip, and we have been using it.

Since we live in the country, we seem to be pulled into the city for our vacation time. This really excites the bumpkin children because there are things in the city that are quite appealing to them that don’t exist at home. The city is a funny place for me, though. Six lanes of traffic are enough to make my knuckles white, and I’m not even the one behind the wheel! My version of a city is Tallahassee and compared to the other “big cities” of Florida, it is probably the smallest. But it is my big city, and so it is my reference point for all other cities that I visit. I have pretty much made up my mind that it is about as big as I can handle.

One of our recent trips was to Jacksonville for a family wedding. We were able to stay with a friend who happens to live in the tallest condominium building in downtown Jacksonville. The bumpkin kids kept referring to it as her hotel room, since they had never known anyone who lived in a condo before. My daughter asked us before we got there, “Do they not have very much money? Is that why they live in a building?” I let her figure out the answer to that one. When we got up to the condo and went in and walked around, the poor little thing’s eyes about popped out of her head. She kept saying, “WOW! This place is NICE!” And it was. I was immediately struck by the view from the 19th floor. During the day, you look out on a river, bridges, building after building, highways, neighborhoods, and a vast expanse of sky. At night, the lights of the city are glowing so bright you never need a nightlight! You can see cars driving, the lights of the buildings, and the lights of the bridge.

I took the kids to a local park during our visit, because that is where city kids play. My little bumpkins are used to running free not only in their own yard, but also at the Jefferson County Rec Park. So when the car doors opened, they bolted from the car and through the parking lot into the park! I had to chase them down and bring them into a family huddle. My first words, without even thinking, were, “Kids-we are not in Monticello anymore!” I went on to explain to them the rules they must be aware of now that they are not used to. I had to be on my full guard of where they were at all times because there were many entrances and side walks they could wander down. All the faces at the park were new to us and we knew no one there.

The views of the city are completely opposite of my views from my front windows. During the day, I see a pasture, fields, and wide open spaces. At night, I can’t see a thing because the darkness is so dark. But the stars are so many and so bright! When my kids are at home, they climb fences, feed livestock, run the dirt roads, and know how to watch out for tractors. I can read a book and relax while they are engaged in those types of activities. But when they are at a city park, I am on high alert!

When we returned home, the cats had left us several dead rodents and even their first bird right on our door step. This time, my first words without even thinking, were, “Kids-we aren’t in the city anymore!” No, we were at home-home in the country. And boy did it feel good!