I feel I haven’t been forthright about the surge of agrarian in my lifestyle. There are times when, instead of feeling like my morning is one long reading from the book of Psalms, I find myself wondering who is available to watch the kids while I go file for divorce.
And these moments are far more interesting to read about, right sickos?
The root of all problems is that Seth and I acquired lots of animals before we were actually “ready” for them. (preparedness = overrated!) Society could frown upon that, however! If we had waited until we were ‘ready,’ we would be dead or at least elderly. We probably won’t have $50,000 for a new barn and permanent fencing for a few days at least.
So, sans food hoppers, water lines, manure spreaders or hay lofts, we do things six buckets at a time. Whether it’s food, water, shelter — every action is sort of piecemeal and takes a lot of steps (and buckets!) from our back door to the animals. Most of the time this works out just fine. (Thank God Grandma Johnson got Molly that Radioflyer wagon for her birthday, amirite?Multipurpose!) The rest of the time, there is inclement weather.
During storms of wind, rain, hail or ice, things become very precarious as we stake down tarps that cover shelters, we reinforce portable fencing, we try in vain to keep bedding dry, and everybody just sort of buckles down at the mercy of God here on Six Buckets Farm. (Get it?!) Sometimes the air is filled with words like, “Jesus Christ!” (but not in the way you would read about in Matthew) or, “I’m putting everyone on Craiglist,” and other times we say things like “sonofabitch” or ”Shit!” and then Molly follows us around repeating these phrases and then we feel even worse.
But you try to keep your goat’s shelter from blowing away in a hailstorm and then come lecture us about keeping your language clean. Not easy!
Luckily, there is a name for this kind of portable farming, (Seth would know — I think it’s intensive rotational grazing or something? I have no idea. I call it “Celebrating inefficiency”) and it’s becoming very trendy and even people with permanent structures are looking at things like portable electric netting and hoop houses and other things you can manage livestock with for $500 or less.
As Seth says, the whole theory behind the system is that once he animals make a big stinky mess, then you move on to the next patch of untouched land. Kind of like how we settled America. But unlike urban sprawl, eventually, by the time you get back to the first patch, the land has been mowed, tilled and fertilized and is all the better for it.
But damned if it isn’t a lot of maintenance in the meantime.
But we’re getting better. Slowly but surely we’re coming up with the system. Tarps are being replaced by metal roofing. Cattle panels are being reinforced with 2x4s. We’re getting there. Pretty soon, a storm will pop up over the horizon and no one will panic. Maybe everyone will stay dry, even, but in the meantime. We’re here. Smile, everybody.
I actually very much enjoy this work unless the weather is bad, or unless Seth and I have different ideas about how the process should go, or what particular patch of land the animals should be moved to next. If I’m not throwing electric fencing at Seth, then chances are, things are very good.
I’m thinking about creating a Terror Alert chart so that everyone will know whether it is safe to travel to Bangs. You know, for the tourists.
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