Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

I hate flies.

If you know me, you know I hate flies. If you also know me, you know I can find a redeeming quality for almost anything living; even spiders do something. They eat flies! But what do flies do? They live in rotting things, land on delicious foods and defecate all over them. As a good friend told me, they land on animal eyes and suck up the eye juice. There’s nothing cool or hip about that. Today, a llama was covered in flies. I almost threw up.

Once, I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. Well, that’s actually a lie, but Karen Blixen had one. And I’ve been to her house at the foot of the Ngong Hills. And I’ve lived in Africa. It is the one place on earth where I have encountered flies as bold as the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. I almost had a mental breakdown in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. Picture this, Kenya, Spring 2000. I was visiting a Maasai village. The real deal too. No people dressed up for the odd tourist, draining cow blood every half-hour for the amusement of numerous Nikon cameras.

So in this village, after walking into a small hut and viewing life as it really is, we went outside. And it was their they attacked. Eyes, nose, and all uncovered orifices were under siege. Probably, only a few seconds before, these same flies were sucking up the eye juices of our kindly host and her family. I flipped. It was momentary. I gained my composure. But I saw my dark side my friends, the kind of place you go when sabotaging a co-worker or ignoring the restaurant bill when the waitress forgets to charge you for something major. It’s a relief I survived. And apparently, so have the flies.

If you’re outside one day, working in the garden, and hear a high pitched scream from out in the distance, it’s probably me. You may think it’s a coyote, or little girl. But no, it’s me. Running from the flies. Shooing them off the llamas, and spraying them with everything imaginable to end their, what I can only imagine are, miserable lives.

Help, however, is on the way. My fly predators are arriving soon. I started using them last year, my own little hoard of flying monkeys, and they are magical. So small, yet so powerful. The Mary Lou Retton of the barnyard. But we must wait until they arrive. I should have ordered an extra month of them. This no rain business hasn’t helped. Tomorrow, I’ll continue to fight the good fight. I will spray them, swat them, and if large enough, punch them in the face. And I don’t even care if I see Jeff Goldblum asking for help. You shouldn’t have been working with flies in the first place. Serves you ¬†right!

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I’m sleepy.

Whoa, it’s been a busy week! Don’s been gone all week for work. I’ve been helping with FOLK Magazine and the FOLKbarn at the Springfield Antique Extravaganza. We also had guests galore, and there are, of course, the animals. Those pesky things need to eat; twice a day! The dogs have had their fair share of time spent in cages this week. But they’ve also gotten more than their fair share of dog biscuits and sweet kisses at night.

Driving to and from Springfield, Ohio, almost every day this week, I’ve gotten to know the route pretty well. Once you get past Columbus, the scenery is quite beautiful. It’s flat, and there are a lot of old barns. I’m a sucker for old barns. Everyone I enter, I want to own. “Why can’t I have this barn?!” I half-exclaim and half-whimper. I have a theory that there is something of value in every barn in America. Whether it be windows, stalls, flooring, or the outside aesthetic, add them all together and you would have a mega-barn, the barn to house all animals. (That sounds a little Noah-like, but this isn’t an ark; barns need to avoid the flooding!)

Enough about barns. No matter how much I love them! I write only to acknowledge my absence and let you know I’m back. Back to let you know about all the crazy happenings of the farm. Back to let you know that while this farm experience may have started a little over a year ago (the first llamas arrived in January 2011), every day there is something new to learn. Back to tell you this Monday, the alpaca are going to be sheared. Lord help us all! As a hint, there will be some Special K involved. If that doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat, I don’t know what will!

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I’m having troubles…

Yeah, sure, I think I may have ruptured my hernia (or however you speak of such an injury) lifting some heavy pieces of sod the other day. But that’s not the real pain in my side. My greater issue is that I have writer’s block. Something beer usually helps me with, but today my friends, the malt and hops have let me down. I’m lost. Even Pikachu Cat can’t help me. Surely, it’s a sad day when even Pikachu Cat’s powers fall weak.

I trimmed my goats hooves to clear my mind. Or trimmed as many as Don would hold. He gave up after four…poor Marvin will have to be trimmed another day. Bacon and Ms. Piggy were very interested in all the action. Two of the lambs even crawled under the fence to see what all the commotion was. They’re traveling as pack now, those lambs, like an gang of teenagers looking for trouble. Apparently, the small barn has become their local 7-11. My mind is still muddy.

I’m currently watching The Golden Child. Early Eddie Murphy can’t be beat! I’ve also eaten some corned beef. Ught-oh, I feel the juices flowing…Pikachu Cat, you are magical after all! Praise be Japanese anime!



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She has arrived.

Ms. Piggie has arrived. She is short, squat, and has bent feet because her legs can’t support her weight. If you follow politics at all, she would be the Barbara Mikulski of the barnyard. If she were royalty, she would be Queen Victoria, circa 1900. She wheezes when she walks. If she were on TV, she’d be Florida Evans. And to Bacon, at least, she is Dynamite!

She came to the house in a wheel barrel, filled with zucchini, beets, and nasty brown water. But like any bumpy chariot, the ride was short-lived. Ms. Piggie baled, jumping to the ground, deciding, if for a moment, to walk among the ‘people.’ Eventually she stopped walking. It was a struggle to get her to move. Bob Evans did his best from the other side of the fence, barking commands and encouragement like a middle school gym teacher. Her squeals are still talked about by the llamas today.

Once inside the fence, she had some dinner and calmed down. I walked out later to check on her and close up the barn; she was sleeping in the dog house next door to Bacon, who was snuggled up in his own little house. (Yes, we have side-by-side “His-and-Hers” dog houses for the pigs in the barn – in a configuration similar to Ricky and Lucy’s double bed paradise on television.) It was cute.

This morning, we all had cantaloupe, and then explored the flooded barnyard. Right now, Bacon and Ms. Piggie are rolling around in the mud together, noses touching. I don’t know if I should go out there and chaperone them. I guess they’re old enough to make their own decisions. And Bacon is fixed, so there’s no chance of little piglets. Love is in the Orchard House air!

The baby robins have left their nest. The alpaca are happily installed in their new pasture. The baby lambs are frolicking. We may be flooded, but the sun is shining and the grass is green. Ms. Piggie may be living with Bacon now, but she can’t stop humming¬†Bein’ Green in her mind. Never fear Ms. P, we have tons of frogs in the duck pond.


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Medicinal Herbs…Say What?!

Today I bought some Feverfew – good for migraines they say. I don’t have migraines, but it’s a comfort to know should I ever get one, a natural remedy is growing in my garden. While I wait for one, I’m drinking champagne and watching Jeff Lewis mock people who can’t decorate. The dogs are lounging on the floor, the alpacas are eating grass, and I thought a pig was being delivered this afternoon. While she isn’t here yet, it’s technically still the afternoon.

I image Ms. Piggie will come riding up in a Mini convertible. I suspect she’ll have a white scarf covering her head, and be over-accesorized with turquoise jewelry. She’ll smell like Skin-So-Soft, mixed with hay…and mud. We’ve decided to welcome a new member to the family because Bacon is alone. If you’ve been to Orchard House, and seen Bacon “interrupting” the alpaca in their most delicate of moments, you know that Bacon needs something to do with his time.

If she arrives in time, maybe I’ll give her a glass of champers. But she’s better get here quick! We even have “His & Her’s” houses – like separate bedrooms for them. I’m excited to see how they’ll make out – I’m a romantic at heart. And the alpaca are moving to another pasture – free from Bacon’s indiscretions. They’ll sleep in the same barn with the llamas, a mini-South American reunion of sorts – with little lambs running in and out of the barn, leaving the refrigerator doors open, and forgetting to brush their teeth at night.

We’re just one big, happy, semi-dysfunctional family here. Ms. Piggie will surely be a hit with the group. And if not, everyone will be polite to her in person, and just gossip about her behind her haunch. After all, we do have manners on the farm!



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