How Did They Do It?

I know…I know!  I didn’t post at all while J & J were gone on their trip.  I just couldn’t!  By the time I got in from evening chores, I was so tired that I couldn’t even lift my computer up.  Dramatic huh?  Well, it is the truth!  I used to watch Little House on the Prairie all the time.  To be quite honest, I STILL love to watch it and we own the ENTIRE series.  First of all, I wanted my name to be Laura instead of Lori and secondly, I wanted to live back then….it seemed like such a romantic adventure and I loved the idea of owning land and be somewhat self-sufficient.

Well, I still like all of that and I STILL wish my name was Laura.  However, I have to tell you that I am developing a pretty strong appreciation and admiration for those that lived that pioneer lifestyle over a hundred years ago.  You’ve heard the saying, “They just don’t make ’em like they used to.”  That saying kept repeating over and over in my head while the guys were gone and I was once again reminded that I’m not as “tough” or as “prepared for anything” as I like to think I am.

I am surrounded by people who have lived this type of lifestyle their entire lives and think nothing of the hard work, the stresses of weather changes, broken machinery and sick animals AND they hold a full-time job as well.  As you know, it is very hard for a small farmer to make it these days due to big corporations taking over various aspects of farming and the food industry.  Yet, these people are out every day before sunrise checking on their animals, doing chores and THEN going off to a “real” job.  HA!  Farming and ranching couldn’t be any more real.

Let me bring you up to speed just a minute.  Kind of a review.  I spent alot of time with my mom’s side of the family while I was growing up.  They are a hearty type and the vast majority of them were or are involved in farming and ranching in some way.  Many of them were also educators.  I used to love listening in on conversations between all the great aunts and uncles about their pursuits in both areas.  I guess you could say it was influential.  However, I had NO idea how hard they worked in either area.  So, for years I have been involved in arts and education and of course, have experienced the fact that teachers, good teachers that is, are and always will be underpaid.  You see, teaching is not a job that you leave when you walk out of the school for the day.  Oh no!  There are always lesson plans to write, papers to grade, and studying to do in order to be that “living textbook” that inspires the students you are privileged to teach.  SO, if you were to try and figure out exactly what a teacher makes per hour of teaching, their pay might look “ok”, but if you REALLY look at the hours that it takes to teach, they are making pennies on the dollar per hour.

BUT, I did NOT know that farming and ranching was exactly the same way.  John and I have talked about living that type of lifestyle ever since we met in college.  Now, we are experiencing it in a full-time way for the very first time.  Yes, I know this ranch is not ours….we are managing it and developing it in an agreement with the current owner who desperately wanted to move back to Kentucky to breed and raise show horses.  BUT, still we are treating it as if it were our own and working it the same way.  So, I guess you could say we are experiencing the reality of our dream for the first time.

So, with J & J gone on their trip, I experienced the reality alone for the first time as well.  Remember when Caroline Ingalls would dutifully kiss Charles goodbye as he drove off on a trip to deliver wood from the mill.  Then, she and the girls would scurry around doing all the outside barn and animal chores, and then cook dinner, see to the girls, AND THEN we would see her knitting by the fire at night.  Okay, I have a question.  HOW DID THEY DO THAT?  I only had one child at home and only seven horses to take care of and I still struggled.

Sure, I got off to a great start……but as the week wore on….and little things started “going wrong” and I realized what a GIANT learning curve I’m on, I will admit that I got a bit “under the pile”. Let me give you some examples.

According to my husband, if I would just lead one of the more dominant horses out of the barn and into the designated pasture that one harder to handle horse would just follow me. (IF you have been reading this blog, I bet you could name that horse.  YEP!  FARRAH!)  SO, I took his advice and began leading Lace to the pasture thinking that Farrah would follow.  Oh no!  She decided that this was a great time to throw caution to the wind.  Fortunately the entire property is fenced in… if you had driven by the house that morning, you would have noticed Farrah grazing in the FRONT YARD.  Eventually, by the afternoon, she was ready to join the other horses in their pursuit of the free choice hay we had put in the pasture. One challenge down….but a few more to come!

Then, there was the whole going out to the barn and loafing shed for the late night check on all the animals.  Oh my……I finally figured out that if I rode the six wheeler and left it close to the back door, I could turn on its lights and ride it to the barn and pasture instead of walking out there amidst all the night noises and howling coyotes.  What a great idea!  EXCEPT, that when I was the furthest away from the house the six wheeler just quit and wouldn’t turn back on.  Thus, I had to get off, see if I could figure out what the problem was (yeah..what are the chances of that?) and then, walk back to the house in the pitch dark AND the night noises.  I couldn’t reach the door fast enough but I made myself WALK…I mean what kind of “pioneer” would RUN to get inside when there was nothing REALLY wrong.  Sheesh!

Then, two nights later, I’m in the barn and bringing all the “kiddos” in for evening feeding.  The two young horses got into it over who the food belonged to and FARRAH, that’s right FARRAH, walked away from their communication with kick to the inside of one of her front legs.  At first it didn’t seem like a big deal.  She limped for a couple minutes and then seemed fine.  But, when I came back out later, I noticed some blood and realized that the kick had left her with a puncture wound on the inside of that knee.  Great…NOW, I had to clean that wound….and if you remember, Farrah is a one year old with the attitude of a human two year old.  SO, I waited until our sweet trainer came to the barn that night and together we tried to clean Farrah’s wound up while she reared and stomped and would NOT cooperate.  Now THAT was fun!  We did the best we could and still didn’t think it was anything major….and in truth, it really wasn’t.

BUT, the next morning when I came out for morning chores her knee was all swollen and I realized then I really couldn’t do for her what needed to be done and I was having trouble reaching John who was in and out of cell service.  Eventually, we connected and he called the vets who came out early afternoon.  I cannot tell you how much better I felt when even THEY had to sedate Farrah to get that wound cleaned out and drained.  Maybe I wasn’t so inept afterall.  Well, truthfully, with Farrah I was but at least I know when I’m outmatched and outwitted and know enough to call in the “professional”.  The next few days made me so nervous as I watched to see how that wound was doing but long story short, all is well with her and I survived yet another adventure.

And then, there was Oscar.  Oscar is our sweet Australian Shepherd who thinks he needs to herd everything and if not given a job to do, finds mischief to get into.  Somehow, he managed to totally destroy the dog door and kept getting out at all hours of the day and night.  Thus, we tried bringing him in from the mudroom and putting him in the laundry only to hear him whine ALL night. Then we tried barracading the door and the back door to keep him in and it would take him approximately an hour to figure out how to break through and get outside again.  SO, we finally brought him in and put him in the sunroom.  This meant that everytime I turned my back, Oscar would be up on the white furniture so I dug through things and found old blankets and covered the furniture because frankly, I did not have the energy to fight with the dog anymore.  HA!  SO, you see my creativity was useful for SOMETHING!

When J&J finally got home, I basically went to pieces in John’s arms.  I had been SO worried about doing something wrong or NOT doing something right, that I had gotten myself all worked up…….but I had gotten through it.  Jared was such a help.  He is great with the horses that I’m not so great at and can blanket any of them with so much cooperation out of them, I can’t even recognize the horse.  BUT, I have said all of that to say this.  I do not know how people a hundred years or more ago, did it.  Can you imagine those “well-bred” ladies from the east coast on the wagon trains and then setting up house with no help at all.  I have so much respect for them…but no wonder they tried to bring a few books and “luxuries” with them to stay feeling a bit civilized.  It was their strong wills and their strong backs that have helped to make this country what we enjoy today.  I’m so thankful for them…..and their pioneering and enterprising spirit.

Here I am thinking tha tI have had some “adventures” and my adventures could probably be compared to city life back then.  NO running water….they carried the water to the animals.  No inside “facilities”….they went out in all types of weather to a wooden outhouse if that.  No electricity, no large OR small appliances.  I can’t even imagine.

Well, alot has happened SINCE J & J got back from their trip…..and that will be the fodder of other blog entries.  To be honest, I just haven’t been able to blog much lately with all that has been going on.  However, I do find it therapeutic to blog even if no one is reading it….so, I will continue.  We now have a steer for Jordan’s 4H project and in my mind I have named him Blackie….which is the cardinal sin…since he will be dinner on someone’s table next summer.  We have two milk goats coming a week from tomorrow for Jared’s 4H project and one of them is expected to kid in March…which means we will be out in the snow watching that birth.  We now have eight horses here….four of which are boarders and THAT is an adventure all in and of itself and of course, we have started, just STARTED to experience winter here at this new locale.  So, I can’t keep silent for too long…there is too much to talk about.

Tomorrow is thanksgiving.  So many things to be thankful for.  However, as I got up this morning a bit overwhelmed with some circumstances, I began to think of those that have gone before us and what they have endured and the price that they have paid….and I was overwhelmed with gratitude and thankful for them and what they have provided for all of us today………farm and city “folk” alike.

Happy Thanksgiving!




2 thoughts on “How Did They Do It?

  1. You’re a trooper! Just so you know, I read EVERY blog post & look forward to them during my “me” time…

  2. Just wanted you to know that I’m reading your entries. So fun! May the LORD bless all your efforts!

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