Whither thou mowest, I will mow.
We’ve had a jammed packed couple of days here on the farm. Today began with yet another 7:00 wake up call from our local postman. Even though Geoff is the chicken baby daddy, it seems like I’m always the one who is able to make it out of bed to answer the phone. To recap, in the past four days we’ve had two 7:00 AM wake up calls from the USPS, we’ve made two special trips into Liberty to pick up three boxes full of mailed-alive poultry. Our farm is now legit as we can officially claim to be the raisers of black australorp and white rock chickens. Geoff was pretty clever and he arranged to have them color-coded. The white rock chickens are the eating variety, known in the farming business as broilers. The black australorps are laying hens, meaning, they are a bunch of fine feathered ladies who will give us eggs for the next two to three years. That means mild attachment and nicknames are appropriate with the australorps. I’m trying to neither get attached to nor create clever and endearing nicknames for the white rocks. They are not long for this world. Fortunately, today marked the arrival of our guinea fowl. They are cute, tiny, and will grow into some beautiful blue protectors of the manse. Guinea fowl eat ticks and mosquitoes, they alert you to danger (or to your Amish neighbor coming up the drive), and, my favorite quality, they do choreographed dancing. Don’t Google that last bit, because you won’t find anything about it. I am just pretty sure in my gut that the guinea fowl are like a precision military drill team. They already walk with purpose and sleep in formation, so I’m pretty certain when it comes time they will start steppin’.
Also today, we got our turkeys, who I will also not grow attached to, as they are also for the eating. However, in the past eight hours I have learned a lot about them. The most important thing I’ve learned is that all heritage breeds of turkey have drag queen names. Consider the following: Black Spanish, Royal Palm, Blue Slate, Midget White, Standard Bronze, Narragansett, and Hidden Rocks Bedazzled Crotch. Okay, I made up the last one, but all of the rest are real turkey breeds and legitimate contenders for drag queen names.
In addition to making clever observations (and pivotal new scientific findings) about poultry, I have also had my hands full in a variety of other arenas.
I have been trying, really really hard, to get a teaching job. This has been the most discouraging job hunt imaginable. I have spent three days and driven over 300 miles and in that time I have made contact with multiple districts who in total service approximately the same amount of students as half of the school district I worked in previously. Geoff is really enjoying being “self-employed”, but it has hit me hard. I burst into tears while sipping my frozen margarita at Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant’s 15% off night. (The three Mexican restaurants in town have conveniently divided the week up so that if one wanted, one could visit a different Mexican restaurant on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and receive 15% off.) Thursday night is Garcia’s night. So I am blubbering in the booth because earlier in the day (after me driving to 5 different counties looking for work) we went to open a bank account at one of the local banks. Bankers are very curious about where your money comes from, so they ask nosy questions like, “Who is your employer?” and “What is your job title?” Geoff boldly and confidently answered, “Self-employed,” and, “rancher.” When my turn came my heart broke, my guts churned, and I whimpered, “Self-employed,” and, “rancher.” It’s not that I don’t want to be self-employed or a rancher, because I do. But I feel like to really call yourself “self-employed” you have to have someone paying you for some sort of good or service. So far we have spent a ton of money and been paid zero. As the accountant for our firm I find this discouraging. More than that, as someone who has worked in some capacity her entire adult life (including three modest but fun jobs during college), and as someone who had a career that she was very proud of and willingly gave up, I just felt empty inside not being able to say who I worked for, to point to a boss who respects me, colleagues who appreciate me, students who I love, and an insurance card that is valid for more than the next month and say this is who I am, this is what I do. On the bright side (the side that doesn’t involve crying in public or feeling like you lost your identity), all of these feelings and emotions are why Geoff and I started out on this great adventure. And the fact that I am struggling more with the transition is natural. If we had chosen to make our new life in New York City, I would already have a job, I would already have made friends, picked two favorite bagel shops (a first string and a back up), and gallivanted all over town smiling. Geoff would be the one experiencing culture shock. He would be the fish out of water. So since I chose the water, I will buck up and press on. But, in my heart I will always be a teacher (even if I can’t get a job), and saying anything else to a nosy banker will never feel quite right. Fortunately, I have never minded wearing multiple hats, so teacher, rancher, marketing director, payroll department, chief safety officer, and whatever else comes along will all find their way into my new identity.
Before I close this post out for tonight, I would like to send a shout out to the Bluegrass state for their efficient and simple drivers licensing process. All you do is get in your classy, newly-acquired, 1997 Cheverolet 1500 pick-up truck, pull out of your driveway and head the 12 miles into town (on the way helping your husband find his wallet and other personal property and demanding that it is time for him to have a fanny pack surgically committed to his body because how many times can we look for that wallet, or that phone, or that epipen?), then you walk into the historic landmark courthouse and ask the sheriff’s deputy, who you recognize from the day six months before that you bought your farm and he spoke with you in the bank, where to get a drivers license. He politely directs you to the “new courthouse” directly behind the old one. You pass guiltlessly through the metal detector, and when your husband’s steel-toed work boots set off the alarm, he too passes through guiltlessly because the security guard said, “Steel toed boots, huh?” That’s it, no wand? No pat down? No further investigation, just the belief that this blue-eyed, ginger farmer couldn’t mean any catastrophic harm at the courthouse. Being from Texas I anticipated long lines, a stinky waiting area, several “pre-waiting areas” to give a false sense of movement and efficiency, but no. We walked up to a window that said driver’s licenses, we asked for drivers licenses, we were directed to a room where we told a nice lady our names and addresses, showed two forms of ID, took pictures, registered to vote and donate organs, and were then presented with our actual, real drivers licenses. No carrying around a dinky little paper license for two weeks while the real one was made at NASA and then shipped to us. It was done in a flash. In an instant my Texas identity was shredded and I was a full-fledged Kentuckian. Although tempted, I did not cry in this moment. I saved my crying for Garcia’s.
A word about today’s title. I have broken yet another expensive piece of farm equipment. Since the high today was 78, I decided to be a champ and volunteer to do the mowing. We have about 6 to 10 acres that must be mowed every two weeks or the property turns in to a jungle and we start re-enacting Apocalypse Now. Geoff gave me a quick tutorial on how to drive the mower without dying, and then I was off. Although it was not a thing of beauty to watch, I did a serviceable job. After finishing the first major milestone—the driveway, I began the part around the house. In a single move I somehow flattened the tire and got the mower stuck at a dangerous angel. I turned off the mower, called for Geoff, and heard nothing. I then began my search on foot, still nothing. It soon became clear that Geoff was at the far end of the property. Rather than telling the hilarious story of me running out to Geoff and getting assistance, I will summarize—the mower was leaking gas everywhere, Geoff used his super-human strength to lift the mower off the road, I had to make a three point turn in the truck and almost took out the fence, Geoff wrangled me into helping build a chicken coup since I couldn’t mow, and I dug a French drain. All in a days work. Farmerlady–destroying things and digging holes, one day at a time.