Written by Shana Thornhill Tuesday, 16 October 2012 14:02
There’s always something you need on a farm. It starts out small, with the simple things. It’s a given that you’ll always need feed of one sort or another.
One day you go out to do chores and think, “I really need some new gloves. These are all crusty and have holes in them.”
Of course, thinking about holes reminds you that you should probably get some new wool socks before it gets cold, because your old ones have holes too. (Yeah, you can darn the ones you have, but a fall-back pair would be nice, wouldn’t it?)
While you’re thinking about your feet, you realize that you’ve almost worn through the backs of your boots. Hmm, thinking about boots makes you recall The Pitchfork of Doom. You’ve been meaning to replace that bent up old thing for over a year now. If you’re going to get new boots, you’d better get a new pitchfork that hasn’t tasted blood before.
So here you are, stumbling around in worn out boots, holey socks and crusty gloves on your way to the chicken coop.
The egg business is going well, you think. Actually, you’re having trouble keeping up with demand. So what do you need? More chickens! But wait...it’s too late in the season to start brooding any chicks. Ordering started pullets from a hatchery is going to break the bank.
Luckily your friend, Dawn, tells you about the poultry auction in Yoder. So off the two of you charge, because she needs more too. (I’m beginning to think chickens are like crack—you can never have enough!)
What an experience! Your peepers perceive a plethora of poultry prodigiously packed in pens pending purchase. Perfect!
Punk hairdos and piercings blend oddly well with the Amish and Mennonite bonnets, caps, hats and sober dress. After all, we’re all here because of a mutual appreciation.
You and Dawn carefully check the lots for sale and figure out what you’ll bid on. Of course, you (having never participated in an auction before) are a little at sea, but at least you know what you’re looking for, and Dawn can give you some tips on technique. Good thing too, because you were afraid to scratch your nose, and it got itchier the more you thought about it.
At last, you win your bids for much less than you thought. You wish your truck had more room because you saw some others you really wanted. Of course, you didn’t bring enough cages for them anyway, so it’s a moot point. Not to mention the fact that if you would have brought that goat home, your husband would have killed you.
Now you’ve got those chickens home. Where are you going to put them? Good thing you convinced your wonderful husband to build an annex onto the main coop, and it’s almost done. That was another need, by the way. Now you need more feeders and waterers, but you can get those when you get feed.
Sighing with pleasure on a beautiful day, you happen to walk past the tractor. Allis is a good old girl, but you wonder how much longer she’s going to last, or if you can find a three-point hitch for her.
Now you’re starting to cross the border from needfulness into wantfulness. It sure would be nice to have a new(er) tractor, you think.
Your eyes travel, and you see the barn in all of its dilapidated glory. Now you’re thinking about how long it has until it falls down, hopefully not on a tractor you own, let alone the horses or barn kitties. If it fell on that raccoon that likes to live under it, you’d be OK with that.
Then you get to drive a four-wheeler. You’re zipping along down the road, your knees in the breeze, feeling the wind in your hair and laughing from the sheer joy of it (at least until you swallow a bug). This is too much fun! You need one of these.
Your trusty brain steps in to give you all the reasons that you really do need one: hauling firewood, towing the little trailer with compost or branches, toting those feed bags back and forth, checking fence lines (yeah, most of yours are rotten posts with snarls of barbed wire buried in crabgrass, but you could still check them), moving chicken tractors.... See? The kids love to go for rides with you, too. You need one, right?
Maybe those crusty gloves could last one more year. Maybe you can get better at darning socks. Maybe the boots and the pitchfork could work out a peace treaty. You’ll encourage your chickens every step of the way so they lay more (or in some cases, put on more meat) and you’ll do a better job of marketing your terrific home raised eggs and meat.
New thermal socks: $10. Eleven chickens from the auction: $71. Exhilaration and utility: priceless.