I love living on the farm. We moved out of our apartment for many reasons, but going back to the farm might well have been the biggest one. Its a highly romanticized concept, and I will admit that there are some dream like qualities to where we live. But there are also things that smack you in the face and teach you about life in a harsh way, but yet are still somehow beautiful. So, for better for worse, here are five truths about farm life:
- Animals are dirty. Remember all those movies here the horses are running and they're all clean and shiny. I call shenanigans! My horse, Libby, is lovely, and was a national champion in 2007. Currently she is covered in an inch of dirt, burs (I keep brushing them out, and her pretty silky mane lasts 10 seconds before she goes to find more), and has chin hairs that rival the men of Duck Dynasty. Oh, and getting them clean gets you very dirty. In other words, you can be clean or your horse can, but you need to pick one.
- You are NEVER on your on schedule. I know, you think farmers work for themselves. Actually, we work for mother nature. Hay must be dried for several days without rain before it can be baled, cows go into labor at 2am during a thunderstorm and the horses escape when you are late for work. We adjust.
- Animals die and we move on quickly. I love my animals. My first horse died a few years ago, and it was a very sad day on our farm. But life and death are both a part of farm living, and we have very short term grief. A couple of weeks ago our barn cat became very ill, and we put her down without much thought for other treatments. We don't spend money on animals without fairly solid outcomes. Call us cold, but that is the reality. She was a very loved barn cat, but she was still a cat, not a person. It was sad to bury her, but there is also some joy in knowing that we will be able to give another stray a home, just like we done with her. Additionally, we don't tend to dwell on death. The horses still need to be fed and the garden still has to be tended, no matter how sad we are.
- Everyone knows how to do a little of everything, everyone pitches in, but not everyone is a master of everything. I can fix a fence, throw a hay bale, and take care of a horse with a cut leg. My husband can patch a pair of pants, calm a spooked horse, scrub water buckets and cook. However, although we can both do these things, it turns out much better if we flip those respective lists.
- If you dress nicely to go to work off the farm, you have two sets of clothing. My teaching clothes and my farm clothes rarely cross paths. Barbed wire gashes, grass stains and threadbare knees don't seem to be accepted at most office jobs.