A little-known fact…

As everyone knows, (or doesn’t, as I suspect is the case) ducks just love climbing on top of compost heaps and having a look around. Or just ‘heaps’ in general.

If this is something with which you are already acquainted, I apologise for beating you over the head with a dead turkey – as the old expression goes – but I just thought there might be a few of you out there that didn’t know about this curious and humourous duck behaviour and might also be interested in learning more about it.

Now, it could be just WooHoo ducks that love climbing up on top of compost heaps and having a look around. It is true that a brief Google search netted me precisely ONE photo of ducks on a compost heap – and they weren’t even at the top having a look around – so maybe this is a peculiar trait to the ducks who live here. Or, alternatively, it may be that there are just so many compost heaps around the farm here that the ducks have no choice but to climb to the top and have a look around.

duck on a compost heap

Now you know. And next time you drive by a farm, take a look and see if you can catch a glimpse of a duck on top of a compost heap. It’s pretty funny. Almost as funny as geckos.

 

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Geckos are funny.

Here we go again.

Spring has sprung and a new year here at the Mutton Monologues begins (hopefully!).

All apologies to the hundreds(!) of loyal readers for a year missed and opportunities squandered, but life does have a way of standing in it’s own way. So it goes.

So, geckos…

…they’re pretty funny.

gecko

One dropped on my head the other night. Guess it slipped.

But soon I’ll return to the land of frozen wastes and snow boots from the la-la land that is Mexico, and the apocryphal stories, the biting witticisms, and insightful insights will begin anew.

Hold on campers, here we go again.

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Birth Announcement

Okay, while perhaps premature, and perhaps even in violation of the age-old adage that one should never count one’s chicks before they’re a few days old – or am I confusing something here? – I would like to announce the most recent additions to WooHoo Farm: four new baby chicks hatched by one of our own hens!!

Now, I understand. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “So what’s the big deal?! That’s what chickens do! Get a grip Andrew.”

Well, let me provide a little context. Last week was a stressful week, full of maimed animals; and even a few dead ones. Nothing major, but definitely a shitty way to begin one’s day…pulling squished chickens out of a coop before breakfast. Unpleasant to say the least. It seemed as though every day a new calamity awaited me at the barn. And now, everywhere I look, I see dead chicks. Every lump on the ground, every twig even remotely resembling a chicken foot fills me with a moment of anxiety. Anyways, I won’t go into too much detail, but let it stand on record that I was (and maybe still am) beginning to go a little loopy.

But Sunday morning, out of the chicken coop came four little chicks, newborn and adorable, with their proud mama. How do I know she was proud? I don’t. I rather doubt chickens experience the same rich emotional life as humans, but she was definitely a mama, and they were her babies. What a breath of fresh air. The cycle of life, so long stalled on the death end of things finally swung around and gave us some new life.

There is something magical in the arrival of new life on the farm, and such a welcome relief from all the death that is now so much part of our lives. They are hope and the possibility of a future all rolled into four tiny little bodies. And even if they don’t all make it – as is all-too likely – they are a most welcome addition to the farm.

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Ladies and Gentle-fowl

It is a point of popular opinion that chickens are rather dumb creatures, and while I may or may not agree with that assessment – kinda depending on the day – it is a fact that a good cockerel is more than anything a gentleman…er, or fowl.

Every morning I open the door to the chicken coop and every morning as the ladies scramble out over each other, clamouring for the precious grain they’ve been thinking about all night, Alec Baldwin – the rooster! – saunters out, surveys the situation, eyes me learily as if to confirm for himself every morning anew that I have no designs upon his charges and only after all his ladies have begun eating, does he take his own turn. He doesn’t push them out of the way or impose himself, but instead just sits back and makes sure the hens are happy, healthy, and ready for his reproductive advances. Now, there have been occasions when I’ve had to scold Alec for not having all the ladies back at the coop in time for dinner, but in general he takes his role very seriously.

Which is a good thing…because otherwise, were he to prove nothing but a lay-about lout, he may just end up in the soup pot. He has clearly seen the future, and he wants nothing to do with it!

 

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It just got worse!

Today, it’s freezing rain!

My lord.

I understand snow. And rain. But freezing rain? I don’t get it. How can anyone reconcile a benevolent God with freezing rain? It just doesn’t make sense.

freezing rain

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A Winter Wonderland.

It snowed today. It’s the middle of April for god’s sake!!

Ontario stinks.

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The Great Bread Conspiracy; and the impending Robot Wars

So, on this the inaugural 2013 installation of the Monologues, I thought I would discuss and hopefully bring deserved attention to a great scandal that has so far escaped  the popular acclaim that other notable conspiracies such as the JFK assassination or the Moon landing seem to garner; although I would argue it is of equal, if not greater import.

Ever thought about making your own bread? Ever actually followed through with that threat?

If you have, and the thought of doing so again strikes terror into you, or, as is most likely baking breadthe case, you haven’t, and yet still the thought strikes terror into you cowardly soul, you’re not alone. There is a pronounced cultural fear of making your own bread – or panohestiaphobia as it is known in more learned circles – and it is not a natural condition. We have been taught to fear bread-making. We’ve been told that we need machines to make bread, and hell, if you need a machine to make something, it must be difficult…best leave it to the professionals!! Kneading bread?! Are you crazy?! I’ve heard that’s real hard!

If you don’t believe me, why don’t you make you’re own bread?! Huh?!

Is it any coincidence that we’ve become such a fat and unhealthy society? Probably. But that’s sorta beside the point.

There’s a conspiracy afoot my friends, a conspiracy that runs deep through our society, and has as its source the beastly Bakers’ Syndicate, or BS for short. Much the same way as paris peace conferencethe Brotherhood of Pasta Enthusiasts, Enjoyers, and above-all Producers (otherwise known as BoPeeP) conspired together back in 1919 at the Paris PeePs Conference to punish the Germans for starting the First World War… no wait, wrong conference… conspired together to make pasta something you buy rather than make, the fix’s been in. Indeed, both the BS and BoPeeP have managed to baffle, confuse, and dumfound the general public into believing that products – the very basis of human sustenance! – containing just three or four basic ingredients are difficult to make for ourselves.

Pie crusts, cookie dough, and now microwavable bacon strips; we’ve been turned into a bunch of nincompoops who are too dumb to do anything for ourselves.

robot attackIt’s incredible! And something must be done about it. What’ll we do when the robots attack and we can’t even make our own bread, or pasta? We’ll starve, that’s what. And the robots will win. You don’t want that, do you? No one wants the robots to win. Except other robots. And they’re our enemies so we don’t care what they think.

Now admittedly, the first loaf of bread made by my own hands mere days ago was not the greatest bread I’ve ever eaten in the whole wide world, but it didn’t totally suck either. It was altogether completely palatable. High praise I say, high praise indeed.

It was far easier to do than I had imagined it would be and practice makes perfect. So go on, try.

Try again. For the impending Robot Wars.

And maybe just one more time. Think of the children dammit! They’ll need to eat.

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In the Battle of the Sexes, Ladies 1 Males 0!

So, on a whim, for a lark it seems, Greg decided he’d like to get all roosters for our last batch of meat birds. On the surface, and to the un-initiated like us, not a crazy decision. I mean, the hatchery offers them so really how bad could it be?! And they grow faster and bigger than the ladies. It all seems to make sense.

And yet, as we are discovering with our cou nu chickens, gender – contrary to some who naked neckmight have it that sex-specific traits are merely cultural and learned – is a big deal when it comes to animals. On a farm, there are very few male animals, and there are very good reasons for this! Male animals are dicks! Real assholes! The ladies all perch up nice and safe, out of reach in the evenings while the males battle it out below them.

Walking into the meat bird coop in the morning, the damn SoB’s just start pecking at my feet. Really?!? That’s your first reaction to a giant walking into a room? Run up to him, peck his feet!? Unbelievable. Not entirely convinced of that as a successful survival strategy, but hell, what do I know? Right?

Have you ever been up close and personal with a bull? Rather unpleasant creatures; bent on our destruction. How about a ram? Huge balls and consequently a particularly testy disposition. The common fix is of course castration. I will not engage in this practice…at least not yet, that’s for sure. So, consequently, we will have to ‘dispose of’, to use rather more delicate language than is probably necessary, any and all males that make it through to almost-maturity.angry bull

It’s a shame though. It’s the male birds that have all the great plumage and colours. It’s the bulls and rams that have the best and most attractive horns and manes. Male ducks however…just straight up anti-social and ill-tempered. Nothing redeeming there.

So, in the great battle of the sexes taking place on farms and in backyards everywhere, it seems that the more passive and gentle ways of the fairer sex are by far the best way to stay alive. Aggression has no place on a farm and so is controlled either through the surgeons knife or the sharp blow of the axe. Harsh but true.

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Another Bad Day

Today was a bad day. Today I killed a goat. Well, not exactly. I did not kill the goat, per se. But I did pick him up from the goat enclosure, carry him to the truck, drive him to the “spa” (yes, that’s the local euphemism for the slaughterhouse, or as the French – and so by extension, us colonials – call it, the abattoir), and finally coaxed him out into the waiting arms of his killers. He knew something was up and so he didn’t exit very willingly.

He was a pretty cute goat. But he had to go. I guess.

goat-anatomy-ABGA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg said that this ‘felt more like killing for killing sake’, what with no bacon to look forward to! Misu said that this would be the cutest animal she will have potentially eaten at some point in the future! Mazy asked if I liked goat? And dad? Mom? Ember? Harp? And Ember just sorta muttered something half-way intelligible but not really…but we all agreed that it definitely sounded like it could have been something deep and meaningful if only she’d had a better grasp and command of the English language…any language really.

He had to go. We keep telling ourselves ‘he had to go’. And we got him to kill him. Just to see if goat was maybe something we wanted to raise. The motto of WooHoo Farm being, of course, “If you don’t want it, fine! We’ll eat it ourselves.” And so we couldn’t in good conscience go around telling everybody to piss off if they didn’t like what we had to offer if we weren’t actually going to eat it ourselves. This boy goat was meat from the get-go. And boy goats stink, apparently. And are aggressive – of this I have experience being chased by a billy goat when I was but a wee lad. I would have had no trouble driving that stupid goat to the ‘spa’. No trouble at all.

But this little guy never chased nobody. Though I did catch him trying to hump one of his sisters once.

I drove him there anyway. Then I had a short chat with the owner of the place about the strange van Greg insists is a viable farm vehicle, though pulling a plow may not happen as he had so earnestly hoped, and then I drove back home. All this before 9 o’clock in the morning.

I got home, had an indeterminate number of tequila shots with Greg, and then went to work.

Moral being that no matter how bad your day, Tequila can always help.

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A Farmer’s Creed

Why is it that this life has called, and still does call out to me?

Why do I feel drawn to living what might be considered a not-so-lucrative or desirable lifestyle?

I’ve given a lot of thought as to why it is that I’ve decided to try my hand at farming over this past few months. I know in my heart what it is that is driving me to choose this life over any other but have never quite been able to put words to those impulses.

I ran into this the other day where I work…

The Farmer’s Creed

I believe a man’s greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows
this more abundantly than farming.

I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person’s character.

I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest
and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.

I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in ways money can’t buy.

I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in
no other way.

I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways.

I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, and the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feels the pride that springs from their shared experience.

I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it; an honor that does not come to all men.

I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow man, and by this standard I fear no judgement.

I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he’s lived.

I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.

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