April 2, 2012 — Catawba River District Voices

Yesterday, while sitting amidst my strawberry plants, weeding and checking their growth, some of the straw started shaking and out jumped a rather large brown toad.  It startled me, but aside from a gasp, I did not scream. Amazing huh!? Actually it is, if you knew how far I’d come with my animal phobia. My mother gets a kick out of our farm life – not just the way everyone works together around here and the variety of animals and plants we nurture, but also because of her memories of my childhood.

One spring morning when I was around 3 years old, Mom heard a scream coming from the backyard. This was the type of scream that mothers know instinctively is a danger scream. Running outside and looking to rescue me from a vicious dog or snarly cat, Mom spotted me terrified on the top of a picnic table. No, it wasn’t some form of blood-thirsty animal that paralyzed me. My menace was a cute, little robin that was hopping along the ground. I suppose I thought it was going to peck me to death.

Growing up, animals were never my “thing,” so moving onto a farm and choosing to tend some was a big deal. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned over the years.

Chickens are fun, especially when they are chicks. Once they start pecking, you just have to “outsmart” them.  One thing to remember – never wear flip-flops around chickens if you have painted toenails. They look too much like little cherries, and you’ll get pecked (I know this from experience).

I’ve loved working with our goats.  We’ve been with them through quite a few births and I milked my favorite goat, Hope, for many years until we had to put her down a few seasons ago.  If you have food, goats will be your best friend … until the food is gone. Then they ignore you. The larger animals posed more of a challenge to me. Eventually it helped to realize that every set of cows we got would have different personalities. Some were skittish the whole time they were on our farm; some curious; others very social. Knowing how they would react to various events helped me to be more comfortable around them.

The newest addition to our farm is all mine. Chris can’t believe I have them and the kids think it’s just weird.  I’m trying out vermicomposting … so I’m raising worms.  They’re in a container in my pantry, but everyone’s complaining so I guess I’ll have to move them to another location. Good grief … it’s not like they’re some killer robins.