Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

Expect the Unexpected.

Farm life is full of the unexpected. You need a farrier? (The poor donkey’s and their hooves were over-grown.) Give him a call at 10 a.m. and he can be there at 3. The same day. It’s not like the city, where when you call someone, they could maybe make it in 2 weeks. It’s fast action out here. Like they’re sitting and waiting for your call.  After almost 3 years in the country, it’s still unexpected.


The other day, after returning from vacation, I discovered a lamb had scour – it’s a pretty word for massive diarrhea. Treatment begins with clipping away the collection of semi-solid poo that has collected in his fleece. A wiggly one, he moved, I grabbed some fleece to clip, and whoops, cut some of his skin off. To be graphic – right below his anus. It could have been horribly worse. But the day suddenly changed. A call to the vet. A stop to buy some medication. Some application time, and voila, a planned day is spent with the unexpected.

Another time, an event. The need for China and flatware. An unexpected need. So it’s gathered. And placed. Mind you, not an inconvenience, just unexpected. The next planned hour? Postponed.

While life is unexpected, it can be exciting. And troubling. And invigorating. A learning experience. A puzzle. But with 70+ animals, and minimal experience caring for them, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

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H.R.H. Warrior

A Warrior has arrived on the farm. Although I’ve only known him for a few days, I don’t think he has evil intentions. In fact, he seems quite peaceful. He’s about 3 feet tall and welcomes treats laced with molasses. He’s gray, with spots, and has a luxurious mane. His feet are a little rough, though. And doesn’t speak much – unless, of course, he’s responding to an ornery alpaca call every now and again.

526433_533755270012693_2017302344_nOh, and he loves his hay. He is, after all, a mini-horse. What do we, at Orchard House, know about keeping horses – no matter how small? Not much. Don once had a pony. And it ran away to a neighboring farm the first chance it got. And, to be honest, I’m afraid of horses. Recently at the State Fair, Don stood next to a horse that was twice his height. Who takes care of a beast like that? He could eat me. His shoe size was bigger than mine!

Horses are unpredictable. I expect mini-horses to be no different – maybe just a little less unpredictable. If they kick, it won’t be as hard. There’s something very magical about having a kind-of real life My Little Pony prancing through the fields. We’ve got a lot to learn however, and the journey forward will be an interesting one.

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Baking. It can get ugly.

Sometimes things never go right in the kitchen, no matter how hard you try. Off days happen. For instance, I mistakingly bought block butter the other day. I know you can measure amounts on scales and be precise. That’s a lot of work. Instead, I love the age old guess-timate. It worked for the pioneers, so why not me?!


Well, it didn’t work. They make recipes for a reason. And it’s because measurements and proportions are important. If you could just throw a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, stir it all up, and have delicious cookies, you’d be genius. But I don’t think it’s possible. So, I had a bad day. But we pull our selves up by the boot straps, throw out our wretched creations and take another sip of Pinot Grigio. We won’t be deterred.

Cookies can always be purchased.


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The Power Outage of 2013.

Power is a valuable thing. A loaded statement, I know. I’m referring specifically to electric. Without it, we live like our ancestors. And while that’s not a bad thing, it can inconvenience the hell out of you.

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We lost power this past week for about 36 hours. It wasn’t horrible, truth be told. The temperature was so low at night we’d probably have the windows open anyway. The spoiled food gave us a chance to cleanse our refrigerators, and hence our diets, for a new era of healthy living. And because we had so much rain the weeks previous, plants and animals didn’t require any watering – good as the water pump requires electricity. And the generator was broken.

The generator is always broken. It happened during The GREAT Power Outage of 2012. I was alone for a few days. And was pouring oil in the anti-freeze. Whoops. But we finally have someone who seems able to fix all our generators problems. Once the parts have been ordered and installed.

Over this whole experience I noticed one thing – at night, nature can be loud! When temporary pools pop up, it seems frogs don’t hesitate to seize the water. And they cheer for hours (and hours) to show their appreciation to Mother Nature. And then the next night, it’s all over. The noises aren’t bad, they’re just loud. And now, with the electricity back on, I’m hearing the Golden Girls and the frogs are distant memory. And I’m not so sure I’m the better for it.

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You know you’ve been in the country too long…

When today I drove past a flock of chickens too close to the road and I thought to myself, “Get away from the road Copper Marans!”

black copper roo in grass edit

Here’s what’s wrong with that thought – that’s a rare breed of chicken. It’s not a Silkie or  a Rhode Island Red. And truth be told, I was too far away to verify if they were really Copper Marans – but for even that thought to come to my mind suggests I may 1) have spent too much time on chicken websites and 2) have officially earned my farmer badge.

It’s a new day when one acknowledges their truth. I’m coming to terms with mine. While my skills in detecting the latest Burberry pattern may have waned, I can point out a hair sheep with a 3 second stare and can maneuver a flock of ducks to go where I want them. These talents don’t come from a website, but take real world experience. And I guess, if I need to to know the S/S 2013 patterns, I can just Google it.


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