Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Last week we enjoyed a wonderful visit from our friends from Virginia; in the midst of which was not-so-welcome visit from the cows on the front lawn!

Remember way back at the beginning of our adventure here, when I had to find that place inside myself to be all that I could be and jump into the fire of farm life? You know, the time when all the cows were on the lawn and the fence was broken and I was the only adult in town? Well, they did it again.

Things are tough if you're an herbivore in Texas right now. We had almost no rain this fall, so there is almost nothing growing. Because of that, the demand for hay has been so intense that the prices have skyrocketed, and now, most of our suppliers are completely out. They long ago sold their own hay, and have been bringing it in from other areas, but even that supply has dwindled. So everyone is hungry.

We had one uneaten round bale left, and it was in the field next to our house. I thought the cattle still had a bale up on the hill, but I was wrong. There I was, squatting on the floor in front of my health books trying to figure out if I should worry that my son's temperature was 104.5 for the second day, when our friend Ben, who had been sitting in the front yard writing, popped his head in to say "Patti, there's a cow in the yard." Sure enough. {{sigh}}

Did I mention we moved the driveway and no longer have a gate between the road and the yard?

I went in the house to find the tractor key and call Stephen to ask him a question and discovered the phone was dead. By the time I got back out, there were 4 cows in the yard. To my chagrin, they had broken through the area I had "fixed" a year and a half ago.

I got the hay loaded onto the tractor, and drove it into the goat pen. The cows started to follow but then realized there was hay aplenty left on the ground where the bale had been. So after parking the tractor, I walked back, bringing the dogs, and after two passes, we managed to get two of the cows to go back through the spot they had broken, and two into the goat pen. I'm so glad Ben was there to help me with the gates! Since Farmer Boy was stuck in bed with that fever, The Princess would have been my only assistant, and while she is a great farm girl, she is only 4, and it's a lot to ask when there's a 1500 pound animal bearing down on you.

Anyway, we moved the hay over to the cow pasture and the two cows in the goat pen followed. Ben got to drive the tractor back, and his daughter even had a little ride. Then we had to fix the fence. Thankfully, I know a LOT more about fencing now than I did 18 months ago, so we were actually able to fix it in a way that should hold. The whole thing is going to be replaced in the not-so-distant future, thankfully.

So the cows were returned to their rightful place. Later Ben fixed the phone line (have I mentioned how THANKFUL I was to have him here?). Farmer Boy ended up running a fever for five days; the entire time our friends were here, poor thing.

We had other misadventures... horses trying to eat old disgusting hay from the chicken coop, goats and sheep in an infinite loop in the shop (I'd get one out and another would come in), a major temper tantrum and meltdown by yours truly in said shop (at least the only ones who heard were the goats and sheep). Pretty much the usual ups and downs of farm life around here.

I was totally spoiled by Ben's wife, Esther, who kept the kitchen gorgeous the whole time they were here (no mean feat, as I am not a tidy cook). Because the boy was sick, things weren't really normal (whatever that means), but he was able to do some school a few of the days, and The Princess especially enjoyed having another little girl around with whom to play and share her school activities.

All in all it was a great week, not just despite, but maybe even because of the unexpected.