The clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life

Witness the clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life, the sometimes-harmonic, sometimes-cacophonic combination of the silence and the noise all around, and the heroes and the helpless within.
Welcome to my little corner of The Mighty Interwebs, where it is not likely you will find anything profound (or even very interesting), but where you will find all manner of random. Life is a kaleidoscope of the weird and the wonderful, the awesome and the awful, the blessings and the bizarre, and the collision between them is what you just might stumble upon here if you stick around. Grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me if you dare.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mellie Milk Maid

Once upon a time, there was a silly girl who thought she both wanted to live a farmer's life and was capable of living it. She had a "real job" she enjoyed well enough, an office job, working with and for some really fine people, but entertained illusions of self-sufficiency and bringing the pages of Mother Earth News to life. When these really fine people planned a two-week vacation Far Away From Home and asked her to farmsit for them, she was happy - and even excited - to agree. It would be manageable and fun! There was a cow to milk twice daily, a pen full of steers to feed, two coops of chickens to care for, and a garden to be tended, along with the various and assorted tasks that accompanied those more-major responsibilities.

The days ran together in a long series of rain and exhaustion. As the days wore on, the silly girl's enthusiasm was washed away.

The rolled oats in the feed bin ran out after three days, but the milk cow still needed to be fed grain or she would stop producing milk. The steers still needed to be fed grain so they would be fattened up nicely when slaughtering time rolled around. The silly girl's boss offered to return home early, but the silly girl asked for instruction so she could solve the problem and her boss could enjoy a much-needed vacation. Instructions were given and understood and followed, and the silly girl learned to operate a piece of farm machinery to roll oats and the feed supply for the milk cow and the steers was replenished. The silly girl was able to continue lugging many 5-gallon pails of rolled oats to the steer pen each day and to coax the milk cow to stand more-or-less still while being milked.

The rain continued to fall and the garden became a bog and the barnyard became a mire. The silly girl had prepared for her time as a farm hand by purchasing a pair of rubber boots. They were delightful, with a whimsical pattern on them. They were a far cry from the ugly orange-soled black boots of her childhood. Very sadly, the silly girl's fun new boots were more for fashion than function, and one gave up the ghost early on in the silly girl's farm adventure. The entire back of one boot split completely open when the silly girl was in the steer pen more than halfway up to her knees in cow poo. Now the silly girl had to deal with the mire inside her boots as well as outside, and she was not impressed.

The muddy mucky garden was so sloppy that the silly girl almost got stuck in it each time she tried to cut asparagus or rhubarb or pick lettuce. Somehow, she managed to collect nearly 15 pounds of rhubarb and freeze it for later use. The silly girl tried to keep up with the weeding, but luckily the near-constant rain limited the amount of sunlight and heat that reached the ground, so the weeds were not as rampant as they could have been. Some of her forays into the garden were more successful than others, and the silly girl eventually found herself laden down with several pounds of fresh asparagus and lettuce and tomatoes and beet leaves, and carefully ignored the other vegetables growing and not really in need of much care. It was enough to have to process the vegetables that the silly girl would actually eat without worrying about the ones she wouldn't even cook for someone else.

More rain fell, and the silly girl thought she was going to have to build an ark to make it through the two weeks of her adventure.

The silly girl carried buckets of slops to the 8 laying hens and collected 6 or 7 eggs from them each day. The silly girl didn't mind the laying hens so much, but then one of them chose to lay an egg almost on her foot. That bothered the silly girl; she really didn't need to see that. But in spite of that indiscretion, that coop of birds was not so bad. Crossing over to the other coop was real penance, however. There were several dozen birds nearing butcher weight, with no brain worth mentioning between all of them. The silly girl hated going into that coop. These chickens acted like they were starving, and attacked the silly girl every time she came in to feed them. There's a look that those white chickens that farmers raise for butchering get, almost a blood lust. Their beady red eyes nearly pop right out of their ugly little heads while they cock their neck at an optimal angle for aiming their beak at someone's foot. Oh, how the silly girl hate hate hated those chickens!

Had she actually built an ark, it is doubtful the silly girl would have loaded any pairs of chickens onto it to save them from the flood.

So much rain fell that the phone lines got water-logged. Apparently the phone lines in Alberta are set up such that they will dial 911 when they are disconnected by anything other than a designated authority. The silly girl learned about this feature when the RCMP showed up one evening. Because the silly girl was just a housesitter and farm hand, the policemen had to check the whole house to make sure there was no emergency. The silly girl was happy to let him, but then was too paranoid to sleep that night in the house. The phone line was kaput, and if an emergency were to happen, the silly girl would have no way to call for help. So the silly girl stayed awake that night listening for any suspicious sound and ready with a kitchen knife to defend the farm from bands of marauders. No marauders showed up, and the silly girl only had an exhausted self to show for her perception of bravery.

The sky continued to open and the ground was completely saturated until no more water could soak in. 

Since the silly girl couldn't spend time outside and remain dry, she spent her evenings skimming cream off some 30 gallons of milk and making butter and cheeses and yogurt, which she will need years to use up.

The silly girl only had one run-in with the police during her farm hand adventure. She was sad that they didn't return 5 days later when one of the horrid chickens had died and her method of solving the problem was to chuck it into the bush. The dog retrieved the dead chicken, played with it for a while, and then deposited it on the yard. The dead chicken stunk, and the silly girl found it gross and disgusting in every way, but she couldn't deal with it again. She would have given nearly anything to have a policeman come and take it away. Even better would have been the entire removal of the offensive chicken coop, but even the silly girl's imagination has limits.

The rain eventually stopped. The real farmers came home. The silly girl took her broken rubber boots and her cheese and her rhubarb, and left the farm. She also took with her the knowledge that she was not really cut out for all the elements of this kind of farm life, and intends to use this knowledge to live happily ever after.

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