Chore Time

Nothing this exciting has happened over the past few days, but I wanted to share an old email from 2008 that I sent to my friend Jan about my trip to the farm…

It is now just before nine and we have been doing chores for the last 6 or so hours (normally it would take under 2 for sure). We started by going out and tagging some calves and moving them around in and out of barns. And then I was told the tractor broke down and we had to feed bales with the horses. So, first, we have to get the horses harnessed. Which means also tying up another one who would cause trouble when the other two are hooked up. While Dad is doing that, Mom and I chop away at ice with an ax to try and get a gate out that has frozen to the ground. We are told that we have to get it out b/c there is simply no other way and no other place for the bale to go except the place this fence is blocking. Eventually, after about 45 minutes, we get it. The horses are also hooked up by this time. I go up to the house to get a sweater b/c it’s starting to cool off (After all, I’ve already been outside for an hour and we haven’t even started chores yet!) and wait on the steps for what I’m told should be only mere moments before they will be passing by to get me in the sled. 10 minutes later, there it is.
We have this contraption. It’s like a mini sleigh and there’s a series of chains and hooks. It’s hard to explain, but basically, you put a big hook in the bale and hook the chain to this mini-sleigh and start to pray. We fed 7 bales tonight and had to hook bales up at least 14 times because they kept falling off. It’s pretty touch and go whether the bale will stay on this little sleigh. Oh, and did I mention Dad is taking this opportunity to break in one of the horses because the one he usually uses is way too pregnant to be pulling? This horse (Jack) couldn’t back up to save his life. And wouldn’t you know it? We have to back up into where the bales are piled every single time. We think it may be because his name is too close to the word “back” so doesn’t understand what we want him to do. And he’s new to the pulling game, so Jessie has had to pull all the weight and push and pull him around. After the first 4 or so bales, she’s getting exhausted and just stops randomly for no reason at all. Oh, and of course there are copious amounts of swearing and exasperated sighs and death looks between Mom, Dad, and myself.
Once we actually get the bale to stay on the mini-sleigh, we take it down to the barnyard and choose a place to put it. There was much discussion about which pen they were going in and what colour the gate was that led to said pen. We have to cut the twine off the bale once we get it off the sleigh and I managed to break the knife. Some poor cow is going to step on a blade one of these days. And of course the only time the horses actually want to go is when Dad and I are busy getting the bale untied and pushing a feeder over top of it and Mom is left to hold onto them. Sometimes, we’d almost get where we needed to be and we’d hit a particularly big bump and we’d lose the bale and have to hook it up again, which of course whoever was doing it could never do it quick enough or tight enough, or basically just right enough. These moments are also full of loving curses and near-slaps, and if there were divorce papers ready to sign, I’m almost certain Mom and Dad would both sign them in these moments.
But, at the end of it all, we brush down the horses, laugh and joke about it already being tomorrow morning, blame farts on various animals (My mom farts a lot. She’d be really happy if she knew I shared that with you all), and hope to Christ the tractor gets fixed tomorrow.

The best part is, we got to do it all over again the next day, except my almost 80-year old grandmother was with us. On the sleigh. That added a new element of fun.

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