08 December 2008

It's 4am...

Hillary Clinton's "3am phone call" ad has been on my mind all morning. What follows is The Yeoman Farmer December 8th version of that ad. I'll leave it to my readers to determine how good of an advertisement this is for "buying that idyllic little place in the country":

It's 4:06am and Mrs Yeoman Farmer and the Yeoman Farm Children are safe and asleep. But there's a Border Collie in the barn with the livestock, and he's barking. The Yeoman Farmer awakens, and listens. It's just the normal "Hey, I think I might have heard something" bark, so TYF rolls over and tries to go back to sleep.

Two minutes later, the bark changes to one of challenge and alarm. TYF is now wide awake, and thinking too hard about the barn to go back to sleep any time soon. He throws on some clothes, loads a .45 auto pistol, finds the high-powered flashlight (grateful he remembered to fully charge it last week), and heads to the barn to investigate.

Heaving open the half-frozen barn door, TYF is immediately met by a wriggling and energetic border collie. He braces himself, then flips on the lights and gives the barn a quick scan. And sees...nothing but livestock and barn cats. Pistol in one hand, and pistol-grip flashlight in the other, he investigates the deepest darkest corners and rafters of the barn. And sees...nothing. Followed by the dog, he circles the barn and illuminates the surrounding fields. Whatever had been in or around the barn seems to have vanished into the frozen winter air.

The livestock had seemed hungry, so he stashes the pistol and the flashlight in a car, then returns to the barn to get an early start on morning chores. He brings a couple of bales down from the hayloft for the sheep and the goats, smashes the ice on their water tanks, and puts some grain out for the chickens and ducks. He then pets the dog, tells him he's a good boy, secures the barn, and returns to the house.

Pistol and flashlight are unloaded and checked and put away. The Yeoman Farmer undresses and crawls back into bed. As he tries to get sleepy, he remembers that December 8th is a Holy Day of Obligation, and Mass isn't until the evening. And the kids will be sleeping in because they get the day off of school. With the animals all fed and safe and happy, and a light day at work, TYF decides he will sleep in, too.

And ignore any additional barking the border collie might feel like doing. Because it's now 4:30am, and all the Yeoman Farm Children are still safe and asleep. Does anyone really want to go back out to that frozen barn again before daybreak?


Anonymous said...

The dog has now demonstrated to the sheep that he can summon you to feed them. (Being sheep, they won't remember all of the times you've fed them without the dog summoning you.) It will never stop. Soon, the dog will be in the olive oil import business and barking with a Mediterranean accent. After that . . . 4 legs good. JD

TYF said...

LOL. I'm thinking "Gary Larson meets George Orwell."

And am I ever glad Mrs Yeoman Farmer insisted we never raise pigs. Or else I'd need to get out there and butcher Squeeler tonight.

Danby said...

Please don't mention pigs. This summer, after 20 years in the country without ever once even entertaining the notion of pigs, we finally wound up with some.

Our friend who runs a local goat dairy wound up with 4 piglets when her neighbor's sow died. She fed them goat milk till they were 4 weeks old, then called us. What can I say, they were cheap (<$20 each)and well started weaners. Pigs grow fast, and the economy looks very bad, and my employer is being purchased by another, larger company next week. I like bacon.

So we bought them. What a mistake. Of course regular field fence won't keep them in. I put them in the 2nd goat pen and ran an electric wire at 4" and 2' from the ground. I figured that ought to keep them in. Well, it would if they had the brains God gave a chicken.

The two sowlings are smart enough to avoid the electric fence. The boars are not. One digs under the fence, screaming the whole while at the pain in his back while he roots. The other CHEWS on the electric wire! Screaming the whole time, naturally. I've had to repair it 4 times.

Payday tomorrow, time to go buy $200 in hog panels to try to keep them in.

TYF said...

Danby - Exactly the reason Mrs Yeoman Farmer has insisted we not get pigs. (That, and she doesn't like pork as much as other meats.) Sorry to hear about what you've had to put up with, but am glad to get confirmation from someone who's been in the front lines.

Sheep aren't that tough to fence. Goats are considerably harder. I can't imagine trying to contain hogs (especially because we've been trying to avoid electric fencing).

No wonder commercial hog "farms" look so much like concentration camps.

Danby said...

We've never had pigs because I was educated at my mothers knee with stories of her uncle's pig "farm" in Nebraska. One of her cousins was killed by the pigs when she passed out while feeding.

Pigs are enormously hard to fence, they are mightily strong, and consider digging not just a pleasant hobby, but a driving concern. One of my neighbors has a pig house floored with 2x6 tongue and groove planing. She has to replace it every year. They will literally break the 2x6s trying to get under them.

I've been told by other pig men in the area to just knuckle in and pour some concrete, It's the only thing that really works.

Electric fences are great, but not good enough to work alone. They are more of a re-enforcer for other kinds of fencing. Most animals will respect them, but some will challenge, particularly goats and pigs. Sheep have so much insulation that they have to be trained to the fence right after shearing. And at breeding time, an electric fence might as well not be there. You also have to check them everyday for shorts to ground. Once any part of an electric fence is shorted, the entire fences is just a strand of wire.

The plus side is that an electric fence can keep the right animals (mostly cows and horses) fenced in for about $50/acre. A portable fence will cost twice that, but you can move it around to suit your needs, for example, for rotational grazing. Field fence doesn't come close.