Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Meaning of "Chores"

When I was ten, I had chores to do before we indulged in any fun stuff. In the evening there was a dog to be fed and supper dishes to either wash or dry. In the morning we made our beds and picked up our dirty clothes. On Saturdays, the tasks varied on whether or not dad was in one of his All-Men-On-Deck phases where he thought he'd help mom out by getting us kids to clean the whole house. He'd start us at about 7:30 am, assigning "KP Duty", bathroom tasks, floor mopping, etc...

By 9:00 am he'd lose his ambition or his temper, someone would get swatted, someone else would be crying and mom would kick us all out and clean up the big mess my father started.

Chores. What a hassle.

Now, my life revolves around farm chores. On a typical day our livestock chores consists of: milking two cows and washing up all the equipment, feeding and watering the cows, steers, horse, dogs, cats, pigs, ducks and chickens, plus the little things like collecting eggs, moving steers and horse and cows to new pastures, checking fences, and weed wacking under fences. If all goes well  it takes about two hours twice a day to get it all done.

In between livestock chores we have household and garden chores. But that's another post.

 Sometimes, having livestock chores to do is good. For example when we're at a particularly insipid event and we are more than ready to go. I wish we could stay, this is so much fun, but you know, we have chores to do. Sometimes having chores to do is not so good. Like when it's really cold, or wet, or like this week, super hot.

Today it hit 97 F. and the heat index was 105 F. There was virtually no breeze. Chores then take on a different focus, one of keeping livestock alive.

We worry most about our young stock like our ducklings and chicks.  With our pond almost dried up (we haven't had rain for over two weeks) we keep numerous pans and trays filled with water near the trees where these little guys hide out. Below, two of our grandchildren are checking on this feathered flock.

The three feeder pigs are also a concern as pigs don't sweat. I water them 4-5 times a day when it gets over 90 degrees, since they have a tendency to dump their water and bathe in it. I also fill a small water hole for them to get into but our well is only 100 feet deep so I have to be careful not to run it dry. I love our Red Wattles and their pretty auburn coats.

Pigs love to be sprayed with water as well.

The dogs find shade wherever and today our Great Pyrenees was struggling and panting heavily. She was not happy with me when I hosed her down as well, but a mad dog is better than a dead dog. Wait. Maybe not. Poor Old Yeller.

Image result for Old yeller the rapid dog

Mucca (on left) and Liz hide out under the apple trees and drink a ton of water on hot day. Like the nurse I am, I often watch them pee to make sure their urine is not too concentrated and that they are drinking enough...or rather than I am filling their rubber water tub enough. On hot days their milk production will also suffer.

Ennis, handles the heat well. Even with lots of shade trees to get under I'll see her at the end of her pasture rolling about in the dust. If she gets low on water she'll whinny at me when I come out of the Looney Bin. her feet get dry and cracked though so I'll get the area around her water tub, muddy, so while drinking with her mouth her hooves can soak up some moisture too.

These deep cracks in the earth demonstrate how far we have to go still in terms of returning organic material to our neglected soils. Healthy soils can withstand drought times supporting plant life that slows erosion. We figure another 3-4 years and our soils will be mostly there.

Our three remaining steers  are also old enough to handle heat as long as they too get regular refills of cold water. On our old farm where we had so many more livestock, we had automatic waterers. Now, with our stricter budget, the only automatic waterer we have...

is me and the old man.

POSTNOTE: An hour after writing this post, it started to rain here. Hallelujah!


  1. I'm reading 'A Gathering Light' by Jennifer Donnelly at the moment, and it often makes me think of you. You've probably read it, but if you haven't, I recommend!

  2. Hooray for small mercies. I love it when rain finally arrives. Those large cracks are a natural design, so when the rain does come, the water goes deep into the ground, through the cracks. Once the moisture returns, they'll close up. It's a sign of compaction or high clay content.

    But you both sound like you're onto improving the soils. It's hard starting from nothing, especially once you've had it good before. But the upside is, you have less animals to manage, so less worry. I'm glad you're diligent on their requirements in the heat. It was bad here last year, up to 113F, and we were fortunate not to lose any chickens, guinea pigs or cat. But we made sure to keep the water up too.

  3. I feel for the animals in this heat. I'll bet you are dragging a lot of hoses around! Glad to hear it rained for you - was it enough to saturate the ground? Your horse is beautiful! -Jenn

    1. I do drag hoses around and I'd like to think it helps with my arm muscles. We did get 6/10 of an inch and now its quite humid. Oh well. WE'RE STILL VERY HAPPY ABOUT THE RAIN.

  4. this kind of heat in june is just wrong. glad you got rain. we had a short heavy downpour yesterday. i'll take what i can get!

    1. More on the way for us in Illinois today (Wed)I hope it comes slow and steady like last night.

  5. Terribly hot here too this week. Glad everyone is doing well. A spray down with the hose sounds like a really good idea.

  6. Hot in NH as well, but then we don't have animals and crops to be concerned with, justbourselves. Hope you do get more of that much needed rain...and soon, Donna.


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