Thursday, August 18, 2011

Being On The Right Side Of God's Plan

Oh my goodness.  That is what I could say over and over again.  It's been 5 hours and I'm still shaky and stomach sick. 

About five thirty this morning we got a phone call.  It was a guy going past our place who called and said that he saw "a lot of cattle on the road, and do you think they are yours'?"

We didn't even hesitate, we got out of bed and ran outside.  I got some sorting sticks as Ron started the truck.  We flew down there and instantly knew it.

They were.

They were surprisingly headed home.  Our friend that called us had told us that he had seen some headlights but didn't see them anymore so that car must have turned around. 

Instantly a sick feeling came over me. 

Ron and I headed down the road a little and D said, "yup, there it is, in the ditch." 


We drove up to it forcing more cows into  the ditch with the pickup.  The van was up on the wheels but all smashed in in the front and I didn't see anybody moving.  I got sicker. 

Then from behind the van a guy comes walking up, white as a ghost.  "I crashed into these cows and some are dead. Are they yours?"

"Yes, are you okay?" We both were in the poor guy's face.

He said he was okay and kept apologizing  about it.  One heifer was dead on contact,. but another was moaning and crying.  The worst thing is we had to leave that poor kid with the wreck, the cows and a flashlight so he could shine oncoming traffic so we could go get the neighbors.  The other guy had taken off for work, he didn't know about the accident. 

Cody ( aka our superboy) was already down  getting the wayward cows back in the alleyway.  The neighbor came with his tractor, one of the cows that we had to shoot was extremely wild and made worse by being hurt.  It took them a good half and hour.  She kept hiding in the corn.

The sheriff came after a while and looked at the grim scene.  He was the nicest guy in the world...I'm glad I voted for him. 

After that we got them all cleared off the road thanks to or wonderful neighbor and his tractor.  Then, I noticed one in the ditch and called back home.  The came to get her, she was the first one we had to shoot. 

The next one was a real bummer.  We came up on her and I noticed that she was the one that would come up to me and eat grape vines  when I fed her.  Black, purple tag 22.  You could tell she was hurt since she was doing the belly crawl through the bean field and back out again.  You have to make some tough choices in our line of work, and since we didn't want to see her not being used, I snuck out there through the ditch grass and temped her, but she was already too hot, meaning that she had already had a fever.  We put her out of her misery and noticed that her back leg was broke in half with just hide hanging it together.  That was really tough on me because she was my bud.

So after all this, and the guy's ride came, I gave him a hug and told him that he was on the "right side" of God's plan.  I told him that he should've been dead or hurt and I was never so happy to see someone walk in my life. 

With that said, this was especially hard on Ron since this is the first time it's has happened and he's fed cattle for a lot of years.  It was hard on both of us because its hard to lose an animal for any reason.  We really take pride in our farm, our care and our love of the animals here.

So...happy trails and hug your family...we are so fortunate and this could have been really ugly. 
Suzanne, Fairchild Farmgirl

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When Your Passion Becomes Your Obsession

I know...who's this Fairchild Farmgirl?  I can't remember her! =)

All kidding aside, this has been such a busy summer.  I know I have tanked on my blog, but I will get it all back and keep you entertained with my daily craziness...I promise!

So how do you do when your passion becomes your obsession?  (You know this is going to be about our grapes didn't you?) 

You know when you're obsessed when your vineyard looks that good and your prized rock flower bed filled with sedum, marigolds, and assorted other flowers looks this bad.

I wince when people come up the driveway.  Although I probably should obsess more about the obstacle course I mean driveway that they have to drive slowly through.  The kids and their toys!

Come on...doesn't this look like more fun than....

THIS????? Yes,  that is a thistle bush.  I repeat, a thistle bush.

Besides, the new family I have (since I don't see my human family anymore) say, "work in the grapes...oh yeah, feed us all the vines.  They're super yummy!"

These are the Marquettes aren't they beautiful?  You can see all the dark clusters in the background.  There's a lot of picking to be done!

This is Jessica who came along with me to take some pictures.  I think she got that apple off the floor.  I think if I make hamburger helper one more time this year my poor kids will throw it at me. 

Remember, I'm an obsessed vinter.

Last picture...the La Cresents.  Aren't they a beautiful sight?  They would be if you were me and faced at least four hours a day in the hot sun, rain, ice and sleet (wait, is that me or the mailman?) anyway, went through grape disease, weeds, crop destroying birds etc.

To have this.


Listen to me!  I am obsessed!
Fairchild Farmgirl.

Helper Teryaki...not the ticket.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When You Own An Unusual Farm Animal

This is Sweetie.

She's a cutie!

She's also too smart for her own good. 

She can open up her gate by pulling the pins on the gate.

I'm wondering if she's part holstien? Holstien owners know what I'm talking about! =)  curiousity is not a good thing!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ten Things The Grapes Have Done To Me

1. Made me an efficient worker.  "I've got a million things to do, and yet I'm out here.  Stupid grapes!"
2. Made me a one else wants to work on them.  At first I thought, 'wow, this is nice," now I   have conversations with grapevines, pigs, cows...anything that will listen. 
3. Made me my best friend...I said I was working out there by myself didnt' I?

4.Made me senile...who the heck told me to plant these grapes anyway? When I get a hold of them...!  Oops that stupid idea came from yours truly.
5. Made me talk about myself in the third person.  Oh, when I find Suzanne (I know where she lives) I WILL GET HER...damn these grapes!
6.  Made me think about stuff. In depth. A lot. I go over the same thing. Again. And. Again.  I now have familiarized myself with the term "going postal".  I've got 5 of the 10 warning signs.

7. Made me a creature of habit.  Wear the tool apron just so.  Listen to the same CD (all summer).  Work on the right side of each row.  Go down the left side after I've finished.  Talk to each vine trunk and tell it what's doing wrong.  Again I don't see D or the kids...=)  Just kidding...I think.  I will have to ask me tomorrow if that's true or not.  I'm sure my BBF will tell me...

Crap, I am going crazy.

8. Made me hear everything.  Who said silence is golden?  I've found through the summer as I'm all alone singing the same song over and over to the pigs that I hear everything. I'm also too social to be by myself. 

Do you know what still drives me nuts though?

"MOM!!! Can I have a cool pop?" Shouted from the house.  Or "MOM!!" Silence. "WHAT?" More silence. "MOM!" Still silent.  I see them on the step from the vineyard I wave, they pretend not to see me as they repeat over and over,  "M-O-M!!!"  So I go all the way up there, and I get this..."Mom, can I have a cool pop?"


9.  Made me not afraid of dead mice anymore.  Or crazy large caterpillars. Now when I step over one that the cats have killed I don't have a canary.  I will be going to get my foot amputated if I step on one however.  Also, I dont' freak when I go to grab leaves to trim and I grab onto a big fat green caterpillar the size of D's finger, and it poops all over me.  I just throw it and do just a small hee-bee-gee-bee dance. 

but most of all...

10.  Made me a bad mom.  I''ll be working on the grapes and Rachel and Grace will walk out to tell me something.  100 degree heat index, one will be in a snow suit and the other in a sweater dress, barn boots and knit tights. 
"MOM!  Jessica has a sucker and I want one too."
"Where did she get a sucker?" As I brush the sweat out of my eyes.
"From the toy box, and I want one.  Can I have it?" Rachel asks as sweat is pouring off her head and beading off her snow suit.
"More like choking on it and it's full of fuzz and dust," says Grace rolling her eyes. 
"WHAT? Where's your older sister?" As I throw my stuff down and start running up to the house,  tripping on a some vine because of the sweat blindness.
"She's not paying attention...she's watchin' Swamp People. We got scared.  Can I have a cool pop?"
"Na-uh!  It's Gator People, and they are baitin' alligators with rags soaked in chicken blood.  Can we do that?" Rachel asked
"Get to the house!" I call over my shoulder as I regain my composure and start running again. 
Damn kids!  I get to the house, every thing's fine and Spongebob is on. 

First thing they say as I run through the door is...
"Can we have a cool pop? It's super hot in here (really in 70 degree AC?) but mom! The little girls have had five!"

Happy trails, and don't do monotonous work alone.  Look what could happen to you.
Fairchild Farmgirl

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Da County Fair

Ah, the Yellow Medicine County Fair.  It was small, but it was fun. 

Did I mention it was soo hot?  It was.  When I had informed (yes informed) D that we were going, he had mentioned something about the opposite of heaven and he wasn't going.

"Well alright...Kara and I will go with the kids!" I huffed off, kids in tow. 

No I didn't.  But I had to make this blog a little more exciting.

We were having a great time.  We saw a little bit of the da polka show in one of the barns.  That was packed with old folks enjoying music. I am also a closet polka listener.  One more thing you didn't know about Fairchild Farmgirl. 

Happy music for happy people. 

We left that and went onto the animal barns.  Do you know what's funny?  We have all the same animals (or most of the same) and they're not ever exciting as when they're at the fair.  My kids looked at cows like they didn't have 450 at home. 

What wonderful creatures those hogs were!  HUH?  There's 30 pigs at home?  Why I've never paid attention!

It was just too funny. 

Then we met up with my favorite friend of all time, Sally.  She was babysitting and had decided to bring the kids to the fair.  So we did more animal barns, etc.

THEN THE RIDES!  All five of them and their operators were just waiting to see which one we would choose. 

As Rachel, Grace and friend Alexis went on the first one, I closed my eyes and told Sally to yell to the carny to get the harness on Rachel's waist and not on her neck. 

Then it was Levi and Abigail to ride next on the fish.  It was a ride that went around in circles and up and down.  I thought Levi was going to puke.  For the 2 minutes that the ride was taking place, my poor little man was expressionless, white and white knuckled.  I thought he'd have kissed the ground when he got off.  Needless to say, he didn't want to go on any of the other four rides.  On the way back to the truck he said, "Mommy, me almost pook!"  Levi speak for "Mommy I almost puked!" =)  Abigail kept saying "Sally!  I'm getting d-i-z-z-y!"

The best by far was when we were in the horse barn.  Abigail was standing by the back of a horse (of course there was a shut gate between them) when the horse across from it gave the loudest whinny. That scared her, but then the horse directly behind her talked back...

"Sally...get me out of here!!!"

Happy trails, and support your local county fair.  There's a lot of good that comes out of it.
Fairchild Farmgirl

Monday, August 1, 2011

Crazy Monday With Ronald Fairchild

You knew it was going to happen didn't you?  Someday, I was going to interview my husband.  I know we all know him as Big D, but to most he's Ron. 

Today I decided to share the funniest thing that had happened to him in a long time. 

Picture it.

Winter last year.  I know, what?  There's a damn heat index of 109 today and I'm making you think winter?  Right now I'm thinking of laying naked in some snow in the winter I'm so hot. 

Okay, yuk...I think I've worked out in the hot sun too long today.

On with the story...take it from here wonderful Big D, I , er, mean Ron:

Hi everybody. Ron here and my story.

It was a cold morning.  Snow up to your waist but all I could do was sweat my butt off.  You see, I had to load hogs that morning by myself.  The kids were off to school and the old lady, (just kidding, if I called her that for real I'd be living in the hog barn) I mean my beautiful pregnant at the time wife, was in the house feeding kids and doing her morning clean up job on the house. 

Has anyone had any experience with range hogs?  By that I mean the hogs that aren't confined...the pasture type what we raise.  When people say hogs are dumb I think they should look in the mirror.  Hogs are unfortunately one of the smartest animals around. 

So back to that morning.  It's 20 degrees and a light snow is falling.  I needed to sort off about 10 hogs and sell them at the hog buying station in Marshall, MN.  It really sucks when you're trying to sort hogs by yourself.  We have two hog pens.  One in the old big barn and a lean to and they like both of them.  So the first object of the game was to get them out of the big barn and close off that pen so they didn't get back in there.  I wanted to get them all in the lean to, close the gate, then get them into the trailer. Seems easy but its not.  Especially when you are dealing with 300 pound hogs...they are stronger than a grown man.  (That means me.)

The first eight went well.  Got them weighed and in the trailer...easy.  Number nine was a pain in the you know what.  But got her in. 

Number ten.  Not good.  I chased him for 45 minutes.  I had to get them to the buyer and that darn thing was wasting time.  Did I mention I'm diabetic and my blood sugar was getting low?  Also no athlete...I can hold my own but she was a bear.  I gave up and went in the house.  Suzanne said she'd give it a try.  Did I mention she was pregnant?  No athlete at the time either (I love you honey).  Wouldn't you know, she went out there with our "hog pail" scraps from the house, and he followed her right into the shed and she shut the gate.  It took her only 5 minutes.  I was happy but mad at that darn pig.

But hogzilla wasn't done with me yet.  Oh no.

After I showered I headed to town with the hogs.  Icy roads, wind and increasing snow the whole way.  Me with the trusty pick up and trailer which both were in need of all new tires.   So I was already on edge.

I finally had gotten down to the station and backed up to unload.  I went in and got the buyer and he went out with me.  We got them in the pen and as we were getting ready to weigh them, (we get them all on a scale and they buyer pays me for the total pounds) when I looked to see that the buyer didn't hook the gate. 

"Damn range hogs!"  The buyer yelled as that jerk and two of her pals that I chased all morning slammed the gate to open it and took off out in the loading area.  We got that gate shut as they were running around the building and trying to go to the next building in the business park but they couldn't get through the snow. 

Where was Suzanne and hog pail?  Also, I thought, 'Are you kidding me?  I thought the one would be dead from running all morning and gasping in that cold air'. 

We chased them for another 1/2 hour before we finally got'em and her compadres back in the building.  I told Chad the buyer that I had my 223 rifle in the pickup and I'd be more than glad to get the job done.  But he said that we'd get it in and he was right.

But I can only imagine what people must have thought as they were driving by watching us chase pigs IN TOWN.

Funny how nobody stopped to help?   

This is where my wife says "happy trails", I say thanks for letting me tell you my story.  Also, if you ever see me chasing after some hogs...stop and help.  I'd really appreciate it.