Often when people, especially kids, come over or hear about our little farm they say we are so lucky. They would love to have goats or chickens etc. While there are a lot of things that are really, really fun about the way we live, and I wouldn't trade it for a simpler life, there is a major down side. In the picture above you can see one of them. Animal houses (pens) that need to be cleaned. Cleaning means digging out load after load of poo and gross bedding. The pile up top is what we got out just two pens, about 25 cart loads. And since we have no mechanical way to clean the pens until we come across a heap of money, every scoop came out with a pitch fork powered by us. In the winter it is not possible to clean anything because it is all frozen so the muck just keeps getting higher and higher. The pen on the bottom is the new, clean birthing suite for the baby goats we are expecting any minute now. Even though the snow here has been melted for a few weeks and we have temps in the high 60's part of this pen was still frozen. The white on the floor is barn lime to absorb moisture which has now been swept up and it is full of beautiful, golden, sweet smelling straw. Cleaning pens is just one of the not so fun jobs. Other yucky things are doing chores when it is dark and below zero (actually any temp below freezing is miserable). Carrying water because it is too cold to have the outside water hooked up. In the summer when then mosquitoes and flies are thick enough to form a cloud. When we are sick or get home late and chores are still waiting for us. They can't be put off until the next day no matter what. Not being able to leave overnight with out first finding someone reliable to come in and take care of things. Staying up to the wee hours of the morning, or setting an alarm for every few hours, to take care of a sick or birthing animal. Butchering or when one of the animals die. Death is just a given on a farm but that doesn't mean we don't feel sadder than sad and streams of tears have not fallen. Tonight we are sad about a chicken, Speckly, that died this afternoon, she was almost five years old. She is going to the great beyond in a Nike shoe box coffin with a goodbye note written on the inside.
And that is a glimpse at the flip side of our lucky life :o)