Shoveling it

Today, I mucked out a barn.

Back a few months ago when I dreamed of myself doing this, I woke in utter disbelief that such could EVER be true. I mean, this is ME we're talking about. But today, it was. I actually volunteered.

See, through one of the random blogs that I follow-- maybe it was one about urban homesteading, or no-- maybe that one about sustainability and farms or, well, maybe one of my "tiny house" blogs-- anyway, I found a link to this one Family Farm. And discovered that they need volunteers, and they give you a whole talk-and-tour to get you familiar with the farm and the jobs that need doing.

And I thought-- Hey. I want to create a mini homestead/garden/farm someday when I've paid off my debts and have enough money to buy a bit of south-slope land... Maybe I should get a better idea of what I'm getting into. Maybe I should find out what it's REALLY like to have an organic garden and some goats and chickens and sheep, etc.

So today was Orientation Day for volunteers at the Family Farm. I love it out there. It really reaffirmed that what I want is attainable, and that I'd be happy having it. It also reaffirmed something I already knew-- Goats like me. I mean, these were just generally friendly goats and all, but... seriously. Goats like me.

It took two hours to meet all the creatures and see all the watering buckets/troughs/etc that need regular cleaning and filling (one of the four approved jobs for volunteers on the farm-- mucking out the three barns, the chicken coops, and the mini barn that houses Waldo is another). Then, since I did drive a whole hour to GET there, I decided I had time to muck out one of the barns. And I did have time. What I didn't have was stamina.

So the biggest, stinkiest, most-in-need-of-mucking barn has three sections. I did the biggest one. And I couldn't do any more. In fact, I'm really glad my blister didn't get a blister. I'm even MORE glad I thought to bring my work gloves. And I'm glad I didn't fall asleep on the drive home from the farm. Since I was the one driving. But seriously, I was that worn out. Muck is heavy.

And did you know that fresh farm eggs that are unwashed last longer, and don't need refrigeration? If you wash them, you have to pay attention to which is warmer-- the water or the egg. Because the egg shell is actually really porous, and bad bacteria go toward the warmest thing-- so you want a cold egg and warm water to wash it in. I have a whole yummy dozen washed farm-fresh eggs in my fridge right now. They're making me very happy. Because every time I remember I've got these awesome fresh Family Farm eggs to cook with, I also remember how awesome my day was today while I was AT the Family Farm. Happy-Happy.

I've got some researching to do for the Family Farm from home, and I think I'll try to make it out there again in a couple three weeks to do something slightly less intense like watering the chickens or something. I'm definitely going back. I want more eggs, for one thing. And I'm definitely sleeping well tonight. Just as soon as I rinse out my nose with something that doesn't smell like the month-old backside of a male goat. Apparently, the male goats stink more than the females. Made perfect sense to me.

And when I get my own land, I'm starting with vegetables. And herbs. And a couple of fruit trees. And maybe a few chickens. But nothing that requires mucking. Or castrating. And I learned that I need to add an "egg-cleaning station" to my dream home design. And probably a small barn to store all my gardening equipment, my spare bales of hay, my chickens, my wheelbarrows, and the muck I buy from my neighbors once or twice a year.

sigh... Who knew bliss would smell like THAT?!

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