The Farm Front

Things have been rather exciting on the farm front.

The beautiful new barn that replaced the huge 110-year-old, previously restored, heritage bank barn that was completely demolished by last year’s hurricane has finally sprung to life, fulfilling the purpose that it was carefully designed to so do. It now has some interesting livestock sheltered within its protective two-storey walls.

It all started off when my son, addicted as I to the love of animals, lugged home a tiny, premature heifer calf that was doomed to die in the mud of an after-rain neighbour’s barnyard, by abandonment of a too young mother. The pressures of modern-day farming leave little time for the necessary TLC.

Candy, the calf, in her new, enlarged pen, is doing very well. But up here, news on the local grapevine travels almost as fast as e-mail, so while I was in the local feed store picking up scratch grain for the dozen young pullets, donated to me from another source for my future free-range egg supply, I was paged. The voice on the phone explained that the second lamb had just been dropped by a ewe that failed to recognize the twins as hers. They would have to be bottle-fed. My questioning glance at my son was silently answered by him asking the clerk at the desk if they had any colostrum for lambs.

The twins were male and female, but the little male, being dropped two hours previous to his sister, having been left unattended by its mother, was shivering cold, wet and covered in the mucus of afterbirth, when we picked them up, and though his desire to live, under the provided heat lamp, was very strong, he was claimed by pneumonia the second day. But his sister, whom we have dubbed “Lamb Chops,” on her two-hour feeding schedule, has bleated her way into every heart that happens to drop in to see her.

A very short meanwhile later, the immediate following Friday to be exact, my son looked at me once again, in his usual abrupt yet indirect approach, stating that there may be a truck coming, tonight around eight, with some animals. Further discussion revealed that the decision of his offer was to be made by a concerned, out of work, far-sighted, young farmer facing a feed shortage for his animals before the winter was out. My son had offered some of our excess hay to feed his animals in exchange for the animals he found necessary to downsize.

The diesel truck puttered into our yard, hauling a horse trailer, which was backed up to the huge overhead door. Down the gangplank pranced a beautiful black standard-bred mare, in the whereabouts of seven years old and fully buggy trained. Shortly thereafter, a cute, stubborn, untrained donkey, with an obvious mind of his own, was dragged down the loading ramp – definitely not yet halter trained and yet to celebrate his second birthday.

But it didn’t end there. When the second divider was shifted from its place, out grunted a trio of “bacon in the makin’“ – known as what I believed to be three approximately 30-pound, black as your boot, short-snouted, stocky Berkshire porkers – sporting irregular white stripes on their faces;  definitely a quantity of disqualifying qualities dispelling them being presented as the proverbial “three little pigs.” Their qualities lie in their succulence after having crossed over the butcher’s block.

Thankfully, the trailer became empty, for we had species-specific stalls yet to erect, and I am officially out of column space, so I’ll tell you more about them as I get to know their qualms, quirks and idiosyncrasies a little better. Could you perhaps help me out with appropriate names for each of them?


Barrie Hopkins