That’s what I should call it, but have you ever tried to herd turkeys? There is nothing run-of-the-mill about herding turkeys once they’ve escaped from the barn.
On a day when I had the privilege of helping top out buildings*, there was one barn door that just wouldn’t stay on its hinge leaving a gap as we made our rounds through the building. It was through that gap that nine turkeys made their grand getaway.
The thing about turkeys though is that they are not very intelligent and tend to run wild in every direction before making their way back to where they started.
In the case of these nine runaways, they hovered around the outside of the barn because they could hear their buddies inside. Unfortunately for me, they huddled about half way down the barn, and I had to deftly sneak up behind them and shoo them to the other end of the range house. Once we made our haphazard way back to the other end of the building, these fugitives found safety being back in the flock.
When March rolled around, it was time for the kids to select pigs for their 4-H Fair Projects. As I am not a huge fan of pigs, I left the duty of pig shopping to Hubby. I sent Hubby and our three minions to pick out pigs with potential to show well and provide ample entertainment and responsibility for the kiddos. I figured they would bring home four, maybe five, hogs, because only two of our kiddos are old enough to show at the fair, and we can only eat so much pork. I was wrong.
Hubby and the minions returned with SEVEN pigs!!!
Two of the pigs were a “Good deal” because Farmer Joe (our piglet supplier) threw in the runts for free.
Any farmer worth their weight in salt keeps quality conditions for their animals in the forefront of their agrarian efforts. There is a lot that goes into protecting and maintaining the range houses for our turkeys. One of the stinkiest tasks is topping-out the buildings. This process entails driving through the building with a tractor and litter machine. The litter machine sifts through the sawdust shavings on the floor and separates out the waste. The waste that is removed from the buildings makes terrific fertilizer, as it is completely natural and environmentally friendly. Once all of the waste is removed, we add fresh sawdust using a spreader bed. This allows the building to stay drier and healthier.
My job in the process of topping-out buildings is to open and close the doors as Hubby drives the tractor in and out of the barn, and to walk in front of the tractor shooing the turkeys out of the way. It may sound easy, but it’s NOT!
On a recent topping-out experience, Hubby yelled at me, “Don’t let me run you over!”
Well, as a I love my husband very much, I was somewhat terrified that he believed I had the power to stop over three tons of tractor and litter machine while he was in the driver’s seat. I guess the fact that he was the driver should have instantly solidified my trust in the process, but I was still leery. To make things worse, turkeys are stupid birds.
Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)
When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.
The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.
The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.
When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.
As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.
This may seem like an unusual question, but in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a chore or task that we don’t relate with someone else. While I mop, I am usually mentally cussing my family for being so messy, but before the floor is dry I almost always think of Mary Scott.
Who is Mary Scott?
Well, Mary was a shift manager at the Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager.
Mary was a tough manager because she did not appreciate horseplay, slacking off, or sneaking bites of cookie dough toppings that weren’t paid for. She appreciated a job well done and sought to provide quality customer service to each customer that came through the door. She also really liked making the Blizzards thick enough to turn upside down each time one was ordered.
Many of my co-workers did not like the job of cleaning the dinning room at the end of the night. I didn’t mind it because it was easier to get clean than the hamburger grease in the kitchen. Sweeping, wiping down tables and doors, bathroom supply checks, and mopping the floor were easy enough tasks to get done so I could get out of there at the end of my shift. One night, Mary watched me mop around the last tables and the floor in front of the soda fountains. I asked if everything was okay. She smiled and said she really liked when I or my sister closed the front because it would be done right. “You girls know how to work. That’s for sure,” she added.
I don’t know why her words have stuck with me, but each time I lug a mop and bucket to clean a floor, I remember the pride I felt in her compliment. Her words also inspired me to always do the best job I could. I wanted to be the person who did a job right. Sometimes I was tempted to cut corners in my cleaning, like my colleagues having water fights in the back, but Mary’s words always caused me to be someone she could count on.
While it may be winter and there aren’t a lot of crops in our fields now, we are reaping the benefits of last year’s hay season and the work of grain farmers from across the country. Long days and late nights produced a tremendous amount of hay to be stored in our barns last summer. As the grass has frozen and dried up this winter, the cattle and horses have been able to continue to grow and find comfort in those bales. The turkeys and calves are able to eat and develop thanks to the feed made from the harvest of American fields. We aren’t growing crops or animals; we are creating a place for them to flourish in spite of winter’s harshness.
Farmers aren’t the only ones creating places for people and things to produce. We all are creators of environments that allow for safety and growth. We are all cultivators of children, pets, food, products, and emotions. Each and everyone has a hand in growing something.
After surviving Christmas week and gearing up for a highly anticipated New Year’s, I thought it would be a good idea to share something that has given me tremendous hope… well, 12,000 things that have given me tremendous hope to be exact.
We welcomed a new flock of turkeys last week, and I am so very grateful for the opportunity to continue growing quality turkey and beef for American consumers. The chance to continue our farming tradition is not something we take lightly. I hope everyone out there has the ability to be grateful for their means of contributing to our communities and having purpose that keeps them moving.
For today, I encourage you to reflect on the chances you can take. Let opportunity and gratitude be the foundation for making great things happen.
I guess you could say I am grateful for opportunity this week because I am embracing two new ventures with Intentergy. First, I am starting a Monday’s Message video series with my new YouTube Channel. Please give my video a watch and let me know what you think or let me know if you have any suggestions for upcoming Monday Messages.
Second, I am starting a feature called “From the Farmer’s Table.” I plan to use this feature to share recipes from my own kitchen. This week I am beginning a three part series on ways to make turkey. We eat A LOT of turkey here on the farm and I’m sharing our 30 favorite ways to fry, bake, grill, or crockpot turkey. I’ve cleverly called the series “Turkey 30 Ways.” I hope you will try and enjoy the recipes. Let me know how they turn out!
With Thanksgiving in the forefront of our focus, reminding ourselves that there is always, always, always something to be grateful for is important. Not only because we have many blessings in our lives, but because we can also be positive reminders for others. We have the opportunity to help them remember they have much to be thankful for.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read Intentergy! I hope you know that your support is something I am sincerely grateful for. Please comment and let me know for what you are most grateful or how you help others remember to be thankful.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Putting a video of myself out there is terrifying. Thank you for being here for me!
Tonight, before going to bed, millions of Americans will turn their clocks back one hour to fall back from Daylight Saving Time (DST) to Standard Time.
Until recently, I believed Daylight Saving Time was created to benefit farmers. I also believed that DST began in October. I was wrong. It turns out I am not alone in my misconceptions.
I attempted an informal survey of local farmers and friends via text, Facebook, and Twitter. The survey included one question: “Yes or No – Do you believe daylight savings time is beneficial to farmers?”
In place of simple “Yes” or “No,” I received a myriad of responses about the value of farmers and the long hours they put in, commentary on challenges of farming while also working other jobs, and personal stories about impacts the time change made on farming experiences. (I was so very grateful for everyone’s responses but felt like I lit a fire in folks. That was not my intent. I just wanted to know how many believed the same thing I did.)
Most believe that Daylight Saving Time is intended to help farmers because they are the ones up before the sun and often working long into the night baling hay, caring for animals, and harvesting crops. My entire life I believed that I did not like Daylight Saving Time. The truth is that I do not like Standard Time and the practice of changing time.
The results of my informal (and completely non-political) survey reflected that most believed and felt the same.
2020, a year that has stopped hearts, businesses, and social gatherings, has failed to prevent the world from turning, plants from blooming, kids from growing, and changes from coming.
I haven’t liked the anxiety and animosity that have grown the past 10 months, but I have found comfort in the predictability of continuing to raise a family and run our farm. Even the “I hate homework” meltdowns are something to relish because it means my child started learning something at school, and I only have to assist with the reinforcement lessons. I’m not the homeschool headmistress.
Watching our fall calves frolic in the fields brings added joy to our lives because it means we are still growing and producing. That’s what farms are supposed to do. Everything hasn’t stopped.
The dirty laundry continues to drive me crazy. Dishes continue to not wash themselves. The empty milk just constantly finds its way back into my refrigerator (apparently NO ONE in my family EVER takes the last drink). Everything hasn’t stopped.