Tag Archives: Sarit

A Day In The Life: Tales From The Farm

At night, one of the barn dwellers (we suspect Nicole the calf) turned on the faucet flooding the gutters. Sarit and I spent about three hours shoveling water, wet hay and shit into about eight wheelbarrows before the gutters began to dry up.

Gutters prevent flooding and also serve to collect animal waste.

After lunch I fed the lambs, Squirt (#174), #508 and #55. Squirt’s mother rejected him and he has been bottle fed from birth. The other two lambs are fed for supplementary purposes. You can’t help but feel awe struck when these curly, white haired snowflakes recognize your shape and the sound of your voice and run up to the fence, “baaa, baaa, baaa.” Roughly translating to, “I know you ran out of formula and had to go to the store to get more because your delivery failed but I am so, so hungry!”  While #55 has a mother, he hasn’t gained much in size and this was his first time with a bottle. His initial alarm dissipated after a few drops of warm milk and he cooperated for about half the bottle. The rest went in the fridge to be used at next feeding.

Lambs reveling in the sunshine.

Weeding the hoop house was next on the list. There’s an actual list and we try to stick to it but that rarely works. I was thankful to have my gloves as I dug underneath grass stalks to pull out foot long white roots. I experimented with several weeding positions: bending from the back, on my knees, on my knees and elbows, bending from the knees, sitting on the edge of the wood foundation plank, and squatting while reaching over to rows further away.

Weeds from the hoop house.

Growing up in the hoop house.

After a few hours it was time to get the milk house organized. The milk house is where the food is prepared for the customers and the market. Freezers, styrofoam coolers, woven baskets, egg and strawberry cartons are just some of the things you’ll find. I went into the house before five to start dinner which gave me some time to do evening chores. What are chores, you ask?

Mix one cup lambs milk formula with two cups of lukewarm water. Reheat any leftover lamb milk from previous feeding. Combine and use a funnel to fill two bottles. Feed #508 and #174. Throw down two bales of first cut hay for the cows, four bales of second cut, rowan, for the sheep, a couple of flakes for Michael, the horse, if he’s staying in and a third of a bale for the sheep indoors. Get ready two buckets of grain for the sheep outside, a scoop for the sheep inside. Three scoops of grain and a bucket of water or milk for the pigs. Fill the water tub outside with the hose, two more buckets for the sheep and the lambs inside. Take the hose out of the outdoor tub, unscrew from the faucet. Fill the troughs with grain and water the chicks. One scoop of grain for the chickens on each side and milk or water in their watering tubs. Clean out the gutters where the cows shit.  Take the wheelbarrow out to the compost. Turn off the lights. Roll down the plastic in the hoophouse.You’re done!

I usually seriously consider taking a shower before dinner but that most often turns into after dinner, which then becomes the following morning. Before I know it, falling asleep at 8:48PM seems like the best thing to do next.

Letting Go Of Pickled Vegetables

Lamb #55 was scrawny. His fur was black from sheep urinating on him as he tried to steal their milk. I thought he was a fighter. He ran around with the lambs in the pen and didn’t need to be bottle fed and separated like #174 and #57. After a few weeks it became clear his health was dwindling. He kicked like a wild thing and refused to eat when bottle fed. He was put in the pen with #174 and #57. One afternoon, I walked in to feed the three lambs. At this point we had several sheep that had recently given birth along with their lambs in the same pen. My eyes couldn’t spot #55. I was frantic knowing he was underneath one of the enormous sheep with their wool heaving hot at their fat sides. Finally, I saw his hooves. I ran over and forced her off the helpless lamb. His neck looked broken, he wasn’t moving, his sides didn’t seem to be rising with breath. I thought he was dead but I wasn’t sure. I had to reach over and feel his body. My hands trembled as I palpated his limp body, piss stained fur, eyes closed. I remembered his eyes, a beautiful blue. He was still alive. I tried to stand him up to feed him. His neck would fall over and he couldn’t stand. I fed him as much as I could and moved him to an empty pen. Later in the day, he was walking.

“#55’s dead,” said Jen after morning chores the following day. I didn’t want to go into the barn to see his dead body. I already saw it. I already touched it. I choked back the tears as I washed my breakfast dishes.

Letting go was harder than I thought.

Sarit was raving over Jen’s pickles and fermented salad. “Anna doesn’t like pickled things because they remind her of her childhood,” Jen roared. We all laughed. It was funny and true. Pickled pickles, tomatoes, salads and cabbage remind me of being force fed these salty, watery vegetables as a child. I associate them with a darker past, growing up poor in a home with an alcoholic parent. I don’t get flashbacks as I cruise past jars of Vlasick. I simply don’t reach for them. It’s not that I haven’t let go. But maybe it is.

My stuff packed in boxes and my bike with the front wheel off in the back seat, I was on my way to Vermont after a hasty fall-in-love-and-move-to-another-state-for-a-man-I-barely-know decision. Six hours into the ride I found out he just got out of six year relationship two months before meeting me. Those two months have turned into nearly a year. Yet I still cringe inside at reminders of his past with another woman. I still haven’t been able to let go – not even of his past.

In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert, a Psychology professor at Harvard University, writes about the human ability to ponder the future. He also points out our utter failure to correctly conjure up what is to come. His book isn’t a self help memoir but a scientific explanation for the short comings of our incredible brains and our infallible drive to predict what and who will make us happy, even if we’ve failed to do so time and time again in the past.

The past may seem like a valuable resource but really, unless it’s an acquired skill like kayaking or skateboarding, it probably isn’t. Even so, I’m finding out it’s hard to let go.