I’m Just Saying: ‘Farm living is the life for me…’

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 14, 2018

As I trudged out the door each morning to the gym — I’m sorry, I mean, to the barn — this past week, I tried mightily to stay motivated.

I’m certainly not alone — anyone who farms or cares for livestock knows it doesn’t matter if you have the flu, a bad back or got little sleep: you’ve got to feed, clean, milk, clean…and as everyone in the upstate who experienced our 10 inches of snow knows, simply walking through it is tiring. Pushing a wheelbarrow (actually dragging it, backwards) laden with soaked manure was darned impossible.

I managed to clean two of the barn’s five stalls, muscling the thing 100 feet to the pile, before the third attempt ended up turning the whole barrow over just outside the barn and the horses, contentedly munching their hay, were subjected to my turning the air blue with frustration.

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“I can’t do it,” I texted Paul, like a defeated mountain climber, trying to return to base camp. “I need help. I’m not going to make it.”

“I was just about to come out,” he texted back.

With Paul taking over, hauling the load like a pack-mule, I didn’t even try connecting the hose and instead, began carrying the ten 5-gallon buckets to the hot water spigot, scrubbing them clean, refilling and carrying back, so that the horses could dunk their hay in them and make them slimy all over again.

This is my chosen lifestyle, by the way. No one is holding a gun to my head.

My agent tried very hard to convince me to buy a condo in Marina Del Rey 20 years ago.

But noooo: Green Acres is the place to be! Farm living is the life for me! Land spreading out so far and wide, when I agreed to do this my brain cells must’ve died…

Because this past week kicked my butt and, as I heaved with all my weight against a gate stuck fast by a drift of snow, I chuckled inwardly at the woman I’d recently chatted with after a recent comedy concert.

“So you take care of your own farm?” she asked, genuinely surprised. “I thought you had people to do all that stuff for you.”

People, I smiled grimly at the thought. Which people would those be? And what a crap career choice they’d made!

“Oh, Jeeves, bring the tractor round the front, will you? Madam would like to hook up the spreader.”

By Wednesday, the mess was beginning to thaw and I could do the majority of the work on my own. Well into my second hour of labor, I was carrying two dirty, nearly frozen buckets of water when I tripped over something hidden beneath the snow and ended up on my knees, my lap and gloved hands drenched.

The thought of trudging back to the house to change was less appealing than just getting on with it and dispiritedly, I finished the stalls, swept clean the aisle and now, my hands quite numb, turned for the house and a pot of scalding coffee.

Perhaps it was time to rethink keeping horses at home. Maybe it was time to board them out, downsize…

As I took my first tentative steps back into the snow, slick with a hard crust from the night’s plummeting temperatures, I turned my gaze from the treacherous path before me to the eastern sky and caught my breath.

Like the most vibrant of watercolors, the sky was aflame with pink and gold — the kind of sunrise that only comes with winter mornings when the skies are clear as glass and all is impossibly still. Like an ethereal halo, it clung above the tree line before spreading its delicate fingers over my head, turning the snow cloaked fields a sparkling, shell pink.

“All those poor people,” I thought, standing hunched against the cold and shoving my stiffly frozen hands deeper into the soaked pockets of my coveralls. “All those poor, poor people still in their warm beds and missing all this.”