RISING SUN - I saw this graph on Facebook the other day, shared by a female farmer I follow.
The line graph was titled ‘The Journey of a Farmer.’ It all starts with ‘This is the best idea EVER!’ and follows with a dramatic spike down to ‘I can’t do this.’ Both feelings I had at the start of our journey into this little farm paradise situation. Luckily, the graph spikes back up to ‘Look at me go!’ and then back down to the low point I found myself at the other day with ‘Who’s stupid idea was this?’
I was having a particularly frustrating day with the change in weather, damp hay, and pushy animals. It seemed like everyone was in a rush and feeling rather bossy about getting their morning rations. If you think kids yelling “MOM! MOM! MOM,” is overwhelming, try adding in five screaming young pigs, two jumping dogs, and a pair of bellowing Jersey steers calling out to you while you try to navigate deep snow with buckets full of water, because of course the hose was frozen too.
Part of me felt like telling them all where to go that morning and abandoning chores all together. But, I had a commitment to all of these critters to fulfill as the only adult home that morning, so I trudged on.
When I finally got to the littlest pigs of them all, my Kune Kune (the same breed of pig as my fellow columnist Jane’s Lousia!) Nibbler and her runty mutt sister Bumble Bee, I immediately noticed something wasn’t right. Nibbler, although eager as the next pig, was raspy and wheezing, sounding like she been smoking two packs a day and wanted to ask me for a light, instead of pig kibble.
It seems as though the delicate little piglet had developed a respiratory illness. Luckily, it didn’t seem to dampen her spirits or her appetite. But like any parent, I became increasingly concerned as the day wore on. I anxiously awaited Chasca’s return from ice fishing so we could scurry to the farm store for medication. Another side effect of the pandemic being a hesitation to drag my kids into any store unless absolutely necessary.
He finally arrived, and daylight was burning. I had long since made my list of supplies and was ready to roll.
The friendly retail workers were eager to point me in the correct direction of the LA-200 I needed.
Next came the challenge of selecting the right needle and plunger for the job, in a sea of different gauges and gadgets. Luckily, good old Google came to the rescue when my more livestock expert cousin didn’t answer her phone.
When we got home it was already dark, but I rushed inside and switched out of my leggings and good coat into my cotton chore coat and jeans and began prepping for my patient. I read the instructions on the bottle and felt confidence in my dosage.
All my supplies prepped, I asked Chasca to come out with me to provide me with some moral support. Because, really, who wants to go out alone in the dark and cold with a bowl full of Ivermectin spiked oatmeal to give a pig shot? Alas though, Chasca had already shed his burdensome work clothes for the day and was leaning into comfort time. He offered me up words of encouragement as I scrunched my face in his obvious rejection. “You’re a farmer now, you can do anything.” I felt slightly lifted by this, even if I didn’t believe it entirely at that moment.
So I slipped on my chore boots and set off across the yard to the pig pasture. I managed to crawl through the fence, guided by my headlamp, without dropping anything or getting struck by the extremely hot wire. Hearing the crunch of my boots on the snow rustled up all the porkers, in hopes of a midnight snack. The family of the big pigs gathered round the fence of Nibblers enclosure, grunting with jealousy as I sat down the tray of steaming oatmeal. The wheezy little black blob of a pig lumbered out of her hay mound home and without hesitation dove in snout first into the goods.
I had already decided I would deploy with my cousin called ‘The Drive By Method’ of administering the shot, rather than trying to hold her fat little sausage body while pricking her.
“Just get them face down in some grub and do a drive by. Quick and easy!” the cousin assured me. So in between smacks and wheezes that is just what I did. I slammed in the needle, pushed down the plunger and before she had time to squeal the act was done. She scuttled around her pen slightly offended but not enough so to abandon the delicious offering I left her.
Right away I felt the next spike in the line graph wash over me, “I am a master farmer!” And I proudly walked into the house, trying to act casual as I told him the deed was done.The story ends happily, as I can report the next day when we went out to build the pair of little pigs a new bigger abode that Nibbler already seemed to be making an improvement. Their new house turned out great, and all is well once more on our little farmstead.