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Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Farmers escape

As you read this, we are gone. Our daughter and her husband are holding down the farm, so to speak. I truly love the 200 acres we have here along the Kemptville Creek, with its uncontested sunsets, lovable farm animals and comforts of home. But I just wanted to get away for a week, to a lake. I could live on a campsite for a week or even longer but the Farmer…not so much. So I went on Kijiji and rented a cottage.
We are hosting family and friends, a few at a time, in a big two-storey cedar cottage near Portland on the Big Rideau. The scent of warm cedar surrounds you as you walk up onto the porch. Just the words “Big Rideau” make me think of my dad and all the boating we did there. His handwriting is still on the charts that mark safe passage through the waterways. He has marked good spots to swim and stop for lunch – he wasn’t really into fishing. The Farmer will have to find the fishing holes on his own. I am going to be spending my time reading a few good books, taking long walks and swimming / floating in the lake.
It’s not easy to leave a farm for a week, especially when you have dependent farm animals. At the moment, the cows pretty much take care of themselves, as long as the water is running. They have access to four pasture fields and I think the hay is plentiful. Our ten calves spend their days huddled together for their afternoon nap in a kindergarten circle, guarded by one assigned cow. Or they spend their energy playing King of the Castle on the manure hill. Someone has to walk over to the barn once a day, however, just to ensure that water fountain is still operational. If it isn’t, they need barrels filled with the garden hose, twice a day. If you step into the barnyard with the bull, however, you must carry a big stick. I left that in the care and feeding instructions.
The cats can last a few days in the house before they need their food and water refilled but the outdoor barn cats need to be fed every day. If we leave too much food outside, we might attract unwanted company, like a skunk. Or a raccoon. Or a BEAR.
Cody, our 16-year-old, geriatric Gordon Setter, needs to be fed at least once a day, and checked carefully to ensure he has not spilled all his water and tangled his chain in his long fur. I mean, honestly. He’s hopeless.
Chelsea, the suspicious, yappy sheepdog, needs to be fed by a man. And it should be a man she knows quite well. She is not fond of women, children or strangers. Anastasia has discovered this fact the hard way, about seven years ago. She was still in highschool at the time. Always the first one out of bed and therefore the first one ready to go in the morning, Annie had a little extra time on her hands so she offered to feed the sheepdog.
Off she went to the barn, cup of kibble in her hand. As she squatted down to dump the kibble into Chelsea’s bowl, she turned and looked the little dog in the eye. Then, in her high-pitched, teenaged girl voice, she said, “there you go Chelsea! Eat it all up!”
Chelsea, being accustomed only to the Farmer, had never heard anything quite like it. She was also confused as to why Anastasia was lingering between her and the food bowl. The Farmer usually delivers the food, pats the dog on the head and walks away. I guess she suddenly felt threatened, and trapped, so she snapped. She flew at Anastasia, teeth bared, and if it wasn’t for the huge pouf of hair extensions that Annie had attached to her head in a ponytail, there would have been an injury, for sure. She never offered to feed that “crazy-ass sheepdog” again.
Now, fast forward 7 years and our little Annie is pregnant with her first child. She won’t be allowed to lift the chick feed bags on her own, even though she is more than able, so Andrew will be doing most of the work. It’s just as well, because knowing Annie she will encounter the one chicken who takes offence to her greeting or mannerisms and decides to peck her in the leg.

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