I was sitting on the back porch gazing at the dusk colors of burnt orange and gold the other evening. It was a beautiful spring night, the trees are just beginning to bud, white and yellow daffodils are in full bloom and my animals are fighting each other for the tiny sprouts of green grass trying to find life and sunshine.
As I’m watching the horses and dunkay shove each other away from the struggling blades of green, my mind floated back to 5 years ago when Chad (super farmer) and I thought it would be fun to start a little farm, with no experience and deceiving thoughts of “I’m sure it will be easy, how hard could it be”??!!
We found a cute, already established farm and started off with two Llamas (FREE), Sweetie and Violet. We had seen llamas before and even got close to one once. Therefore we had enough experience to begin with two huge animals who don’t like to be touched, are shy around humans and keep a good distance between you and them
Sweetie and Violet were ‘mini llamas’ so instead of being 6 feet tall, they were only 5 ½’. Piece of cake! Our two full grown Llamas came with ‘royalty’ papers and a guide book that was close to an inch thick, filled with the do’s and don’ts of raising your own llamas for fun or profit. I read the book in 20 minutes and absorbed nothing! I wasn’t familiar with farm language yet and didn’t know anything about shearing every summer and clipping feet every 5 to 6 months so I underlined all that important farm stuff and handed it over to my soon to be named, Super Farmer, husband. He frowned at me as he flipped though pages of all my underling and pink high lights as I pointed to all the important stuff like ‘They Must be Sheared’ and No Dogs Should Ever Be Allowed Near Them’…which worried me since we have a small pack of hounds.
Chad and I learned quickly what llamas liked and what they hated, which is almost everything. We gained the trust of Sweetie who now gives kisses and have come to be experts on our girls. We enjoy Sweetie and Violet and are expecting our first set of ‘llama babies’ to be born late this summer! I’m glad we started this adventure together with Llamas! We have learned allot about farming and a new kind of commitment to animals and to each other as we do ‘rock-paper-scissors’ to see who is going out in the middle of a blizzard to feed, water and chase! Being a farmer is fun and satisfying! Especially when I can relax on my antique wicker rocking chair with a frosty glass of raspberry tea, shouting to Super Farmer who is out in the pasture with more animals than he can count on his fingers and toes, that Sparky is chasing the goat again, “GO SAVE HER!
I had to go into town for a spell and on the way home, I noticed that not one snow flake was falling in Laporte. BUT….the closer I got to my house off of Waverly Rd, the snow started to lightly fall. By the time I got home, there was an angry snow storm in full swing. I swear there is an evil plan to dump snow over our farm just to make me miserable along with cranky animals!! And just for your info (as if you all didn’t know this already) guess who is standing at the gate in all this snow staring at the house??!! Yep, the mountain goat who was fed before I went into town 3 hours ago! Sheesh, you would think her feet would be frozen!
My farrier, Mike is brave guy! He comes out in the bitter cold to spend time with my horses and Dunkay who run as soon as they see his truck pull up. Mike means trimmed hooves, something all farm animals dread, especially the goats. They know Mike, his truck and his tools. Sierra and Dillon hide behind the barn until all is clear of any signs of ‘The Hoof Man‘..
While Mike was pulling and tugging on Sparky’s back leg he told me a funny story about Miss Piggy, a 300 pound pot belly pig that was raised inside an English woman’s home from the time she was 5 lb piglet to an oversized and spoiled Sow.
Mikes story (with my help)….
Years ago, Mike was called to a small farm just south of Addie Acres to trim the feet of a pot belly pig named Miss Piggy. Mrs. Brackston came from England and spoke in a heavy English accent. Her husband of 40+ years was a drunk so she adopted a tiny pink piglet for companionship, naming her Miss Piggy . Mrs. Brackston raised her little girl inside the house giving her the princess treatment and full run of their humble home nestled in the middle of dense woods . Miss Piggy was potty trained like a dog and would oink at the back door to be let out. Well the farmer who trimmed Miss Piggy’s hooves retired and gave her Mikes phone number. Later that week, Mike and his father ventured out to do what they believed would be an easy foot job! Not to be! Mrs Brackston answered the door in an outdated flowered night jacket, hair in curlers, a cigarette dangling from her bright red lipstick mouth. She greeted them in her heavy accent, forcing both men to turn their heads in her direction trying to understand her words. She escorted them into a dimly lit living room where they found Miss Piggy laying on a brand new tan with blue stripes couch watching TV. As Mike and his dad approached Miss Piggy, she jumped off the couch and ran to the back of the smoke filled house, squealing all the way. All three chased the scared animal into the master bedroom, doing circles around the un-kept bed until they cornered her in the closet. Miss Piggy does not like to have her feet touched and wasn’t about to let two strange men anywhere near her! She barreled through the middle of the human blockage, pushing her frantic mother down onto the wood floor. She ran into the kitchen knocking over a table or two along the way sending magazines and ashtrays flying through the air, pooping and screaming as she went. Mrs Brackston was very upset and tried to coax the now shivering pig that was still relieving herself on the floor to come snuggle into her outstretched arms. Miss Piggy wanted nothing to do with her or anyone else and waddled back to the couch, slipping out of Mikes attempted grasp as she quickly shoved past him. The pig now has her 300lb body on the very top of the couch, still relieving herself in fear! Both men lunged at her and was able to grab onto Miss Piggy as her mother yelled out encouraging words through tears trying to calm the pig. Mike held her down as his dad hurriedly trimmed each foot without making them bleed. The frightened pig yelled so loud that they wrapped a fuzzy wool blanket around her head to help muffle the unbearable squealing! After what seemed like an hour, her feet were finally manicured. The exhausted men collapsed on the couch, staying away from the fresh brown and yellow stains. Miss Piggy ran into the spare bedroom where her bed was kept and buried herself under her teddy bear blanket. Mrs Brackston was pleased at the outcome, praising them for a job well done as she causally mopped up after her baby. She promised that next time, she will give Miss Piggy a full bottle of beer to help her sleep through the next trimming. Mike said it didn’t work. When they came back 6 months later, the drunk pig jumped off the couch weaving it’s way into the master bedroom closet relieving herself along the way. His dad refused to go back with him after that and Mike was forced to struggle with Miss Piggy alone as Mrs Brackston cried out her anguished words of encouragement to a panicking pig for the next 3 or 4 years
They all wait at the door waiting for freedom!
On a warm summer weekend we had a garage sale. We would advertise all over town that Addie Acres was having another sale, encouraging folks that they are welcome to bring their youngsters to the farm to see the llamas and pet the fat little goat who likes to hug. It seems like every time we opened the doors, we would get people showing up to offer us FREE animals. This time it was free… chickens. This young couple were down on their luck, moving in with her parents but mom didn’t want noisy chickens to reside in her backyard. They were hoping that we would adopt their pets. They sweetened the deal by not only giving us these chicks, they were also throwing in a nice big cage, food dishes and corn grain! All that FREE stuff! I said, yes before Chad could blink an eye! These chickens were still young, mostly fluff and you couldn’t tell what they were yet. Unfortunately 5 out of the 8 chicks were Bantam’s. They are small chickens with big attitudes… little man syndrome. Of course 4 of those little terrors turned out to be roosters. They hung out together, attacked together and bossed every animal in the barn even at the risk of being stomped. We nicked named them the 4 Horsemen. Bantams are very pretty, they have long tail feathers’ with many different colors. These 4 guys traveled together…the gang. They didn’t like to sleep, eat or hang with the flock. We would watch them strut around the yard, chasing bunnies or sleeping under a bush. The Horsemen also didn’t care that much for humans and after giving Lucifer the axe a few months before, we weren’t up to letting roosters chase us in our own backyard again! Especially annoying little birds that were no bigger than our Chihuahua. We let them know early on that we the people, control the food and showed them where we kept the axe. The gang kept to themselves that first year and although they were a pain by pecking at our ankles we let them stay just so we could watch their antics with the other animals. The Horseman loved the cats and were not afraid of them. The kitties on the other hand despised those irritating birds. Those ankle tall roosters would chase the cats, pecking at their behinds or stealing their kibbles. The kitties sat high up on the hay bales to keep distance between them. Once in awhile you could hear the battle between the Horsemen and a couple of cats….loud squawks and high pitched meows. They also annoyed the goats. The gang was always sneaking into Dillon and Sierra’s pen, hanging out pecking at the goat grain. Once they were in, the goats were not allowed back inside with out a fight. We would chase the pest out so the goats could go to bed. The Llamas didn’t care for the gang and left them alone. Our dogs however loved them! If a pooch got out, he went straight for one of the Bantams! Cody our golden retriever enjoyed a good chase and these roosters were perfect exercise. Those chickens would split up running in circles or ducking under a barrel. Cody was in heaven! He went from one to the other, mouth open wide, tongue hanging, a few feathers stuck in his teeth. As much as I wouldn’t have cared, I never let him grab a Horsemen. But I did allow Cody to put the fear of dog in them! If they were acting up, I opened the door and let a dog or two out to put them back in their place. After a couple of years the gang started to get mean, following in Lucifer’s footsteps. They started to attack the children who stopped by to pet the animals so they ended up in the freezer. I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. Chad cooked them up one night and served them at a family gathering. I heard they were tough and not very tasty which didn’t surprise me at all. I enjoyed them for a short period and can honestly say, I will never allow Bantam chickens to rule the farm again, unless MAYBE they’re free!