Weird Things Farmers Do

It’s more than a job.

There are certain occupations that demand a lifestyle approach.

Take missionaries, for example. They sell all of their earthly possessions, move to a distant location, learn a new language, and adapt to an entirely foreign culture to fulfill their roles.

Politicians, foreign ambassadors, professional athletes, pastors, health and fitness professionals, and business owners all fit into this category as well. (I’m sure there are others.) For these folks, all of their lifestyle choices revolve around their profession. These aren’t 9 to 5 gigs.

Artists create striking color palettes on Wednesday night dinner plates. Songwriters jot down lyrics on the backs of envelopes in morning traffic. English majors correct their spouse’s grammar and point out misspelled words on business signage (which their spouses REALLY appreciate, says Andy 😉 ).

Farming, likewise, is more lifestyle than occupation.

There’s really no clocking out at night. You can’t leave your work at work when your work is at home. Like when a sheep gets its head stuck in a fence and you have to abandon your project to see what all the baaaa-ing is about. Or a calf goes down with bloat at 10pm in two feet of snow on the coldest night of the year. Or one of your kids doesn’t latch the chicken gate properly before school and you have to chase after all of the hens that are now roaming freely about the yard.

I’m speaking hypothetically, of course.  😉

So it becomes an all-consuming part of your life, which you don’t mind because you really love what you do. It’s not a lifestyle you can maintain long-term if you don’t love it.

We often laugh at the strange ways we find to incorporate farming even into our free time. So we put together this list of quirky habits of ours that will hopefully make you laugh and more likely  pity the fools who do this by choice.

1) Because we love hard labor so much, we make our work weeks six days long instead of five. On Saturdays, the whole family pitches in to shovel out the chicken coop, funnel animals onto the trailer to move them to a new pasture, build a new housing contraption for livestock, or drive six hours one way to pick up breeding stock for our sheep flock.

2) We make Sunday afternoons about farming too. At the kids’ request, we drive around the farm equipment parking lot next door to the church looking at all the tools that would be so handy to have around. We look through our car windows to see what’s new and what we hope to purchase next.

3) When we take day trips to nearby tourist destinations, we’re always sure to make it educational for our farming endeavors. We’ll hit the local livestock auction, take note of the breed of horses pulling the Amish buggies, observe meat prices at the grocery store, and check out the local farmer’s market.

4) For entertainment, we listen to audiobooks from other farmers and watch animal care series on TV featuring rural veterinarians. We’ve put a few of their techniques to use in our own barn. Multi-purpose entertainment.

5) After nightfall is the best time to get important work done, so we wait until it’s really late and really dark to move large pieces of equipment around in small spaces. It’s really good for our marriage.

6) We also believe that ample communication is necessary for a healthy marriage. So we often stay up late into the night talking about heritage pig breeds and whether or not we should farrow our own.

7) We set aside large areas of storage for the boxes of old seed catalogs that we can’t bear to throw away because of the beautiful pictures of gardens and flowers that we want to be growing. The seed storage area sits adjacent.

8) Because we love washing dozens of eggs every night and paying higher electric bills for the extra refrigerator we keep for their storage, we find a way to incorporate eggs into every possible rendition of mealtime throughout the year. We scramble, fry, devil, bake, boil, chop, and beat eggs into casseroles and sandwiches and skillets and cookies and salads. And what do we bring to the Memorial Day picnic? You guessed it: the deviled variety.

9) Summer travel plans are not coordinated around cheap deals or work schedules, but in anticipation of when the tomatoes will ripen and how many jars of salsa we’ll be canning that year.

10) We don’t believe it’s possible to have too many farm animals. So we also bring them into the house. We put pictures of sheep on our walls, use statues of cows as bookends, wear socks made of sheep wool, feature our favorite animals on our phone’s wallpaper, and design a mudroom that could house a sickly lamb if needed.

11) For a couples getaway, Andy and I are considering a conference in Virginia on regenerative farming practices.

12) We order canning lids in bulk.

13) Trips to the local greenhouse in spring are very long affairs. We’ll traverse every aisle twice and debate the question of how many pepper varieties are too many. We’ll pack out the back of the SUV and drive home smarting from the price tag but regretting the plants we left behind.

14) Saturday night outings will always include a trip to either the local farm supply or hardware store. We joke with the kids: Which one will it be THIS weekend?!

15) Our kids wish that for once we could just eat donuts for breakfast like their friends. Instead, they have to eat bacon, eggs, and hash browns again. What a drag.

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