Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just another day on the farm?

A few times a summer, I help my friends, the Shady Sisters, with their plant sales. The setting is their hobby farm in a western suburb of Minneapolis. When we were kids, there were horses, goats, sheep, and chickens on the farm. Now, there are only sheep and chickens. There’s still a large vegetable garden at the main house. The two other homes on the property have the huge flower gardens where the plant sales are hosted.

Yesterday, while Gail and I were helping some folks select plants, a man said there were sheep in the yard. We turned around and saw that the sheep WERE in the garden, happily munching hostas. Gail chased them out of the garden and back into the pasture. I chatted with the man while we waited for Gail to come back. He asked what the sheep were used for. I said, “Well. They get sheared for their wool, and then, . . .” And, before I could finish, he put his hand on my arm and said, “It’s okay. I grew up on a farm, I know what comes next.” Gail had still not returned, so I finished up the sale.

While we were putting the plants in the cart, Gail appeared, exclaiming breathlessly. “I got locked in the barn, and couldn’t get out!” She told us how she went to the barn to get some grain to tempt the sheep into a particular pasture. The doors closed and the bar fell across, locking her in the barn! She found a knife and managed to lift the bar through the crack. In 30 years of living on the farm, she’d never been locked in the barn.

Later in the day, a mother and daughter came through the gardens. Rachel asked if the daughter wanted to see the sheep. The daughter did, and the two girls headed off to see them. I walked through the gardens with the mom when the rooster crowed. She asked if she’d just heard a rooster. I confirmed that she had. She said, “We used to have roosters. They’re in the freezer now because they got too mean.”

Betsy and I went to do chicken chores after dinner. We just had to close the chickens in the coops and gather eggs. When we got to the first coop, the string that raises and lowers the door broke. No biggie. We just re-tied the string. When we got to the second coop, we weren’t expecting to hear “peep, peep, peep.” While Rachel gathered the eggs, we looked around and discovered the dog had gotten a chick and was carrying it around in its mouth! We got the dog to drop the chick, which was understandably traumatized, but not mortally wounded.

While we walked through the pasture on the way back to Gail’s, we talked about the day and decided it was definitely NOT just another day on the farm.

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