This is Banana Cream Pie. He (or she) is the leader of one not-so-mean gang of Soay sheep, heritage pigs and piglets, ducks, geese and chicken running around this place. You see, as it turns out, if you work for a farmer and she thinks you are responsible, you'll get invited to do fun things like farm sit for other local farms. So, for the past week I have had the great pleasure of hanging out with this silly cast of characters, including one Banana Cream Pie.
Last fall Diana recommended me to a friend of hers who operates a very small farm. Her friends was looking for a responsibleperson to tend to her house and farm when out of town. We spoke over the phone last fall, and I expressed my whole-hearted interest in hanging out with her animals while she's away. I was excited. And then I didn't hear from her. For months. I thought the opportunity passed. Then out of the blue I received an e-mail a few weeks back asking for assistance! Yipppeee. Days later I got a very short tour of the chores and an even shorter introduction to the guys and gals (and the hot tub and the 3D TV) before left to my own devices. Now it's muddy muck boots morning and evening for me, sloshing through the previously-frozen landscape.
Twice a day I let the menagerie out and back in to the barns, feed grain and hay, clean and refill waters and herd pigs using carrots. Mainly, I've learned that pigs, and more so piglets, are extremely loud and make terrifying sounds. Geese have a short fuse and will hiss and peck at you with reckless abandon, especially before they are fed. In fact, they don't really care much about you after they've been fed. The sound of ten duck bills pecking grain from a rubber feed bowl could be mistaken for a rapid round of BB gun fire. Duck and goose bills sipping water (sometimes head under water), oddly mimic hard rain on a tin roof. The first time I released the poultry to fresh food and drink, I stopped in my muddy tracks to just listen. It was a beautiful sound for a cold February morning.
This week of watching over the farmette is also an experience in the farm/work balance, a sneak preview. How to put in an hour and a half in the morning, remove the barn smell and get to work on time (a moving target as it is), and back to the farm by feeding time? How does this balance work? How can one be fully invested and engaged in both pursuits simultaneously? I don't think I have the answers yet, but the mud and poop on the bottom of my boot is the best motivation to clickity-clack away at the business plan and maintain the search for a little parcel of our own.