Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Year on the Farm

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Winter

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my arrival at my little farm in the Ozarks, a place I lovingly call Rock's Roost.   And unless the creeks rise to the point that the whole place is carried off to Oregon County, I will probably roost here for the remainder of my days.

I officially retired and drove away from Luke Air Force Base on February 28th of last year.  Driving back to the Midwest, I encountered snow in the panhandle of Texas where I spent my second night on the road.  From there I made a mad dash to the Kansas City area and enjoyed a couple of snowbound days visiting with Little Olive.   By the time I finally reached my new home, the ground had patches of snow, and the back porch was covered with a dangerous layer of ice - but it was nothing that I couldn't shovel my way through and live with.

Today there are patches of snow on the ground, but the back porch is clear - after my son shoveled and scraped it for me a couple of days ago.   The forecast is for ice and snow beginning this morning, and it sounds like sleet is beginning to ping against my north windows.

Yes, the sleet is definitely starting to come down!

It's been an interesting year at the farm.  I tried raising chickens and still have about half of the ones that I began with.  I have learned that just a dozen faithful hens can keep the egg cupboards overflowing.  I have also learned that chicken feed isn't cheap - or easy to lug around.  My other significant learning is that chickens and all poultry need water every day - no matter how damned cold the weather is!

(Actually, I had a few chickens several years ago in McDonald County and had a running knowledge of just how much trouble they can be.  Chickens can also be a lot of fun.  Mine come in a dead run when they see me leaving the house - always on the lookout for a special handout.  Today they enjoyed some crumbled cornbread!)

I tried raising guineas and turkeys this year and failed miserably at both endeavors - but undoubtedly providing several predators with plenty of nourishment along the way.  Next year I will have a big, growly farm dog to roam the property at night - keeping law and order at The Roost.  Rosie, the little farm dog, came here to live at the beginning of September, and she loves getting out during the day and racing across the big yard - but she is so small that she could fall prey to predators - even a hungry chicken hawk.

My other success, besides the chickens, has been the peacocks.  I started with eight chicks and now have eight young adult birds -two males and six females.  Nick and I have started building them roomier quarters, accommodations that should be ready by the time spring arrives.

I also have the most popular bird feeder around.

I haven't gotten out and met many people since arriving - other than the neighbors.  Folks in the Ozarks are private by nature, and socializing requires effort and determination.  My Wednesday night pinochle group at the Senior Center continues to be my most significant social outlet.

It has taken a bit of effort not to get up in the mornings and feel the need to rush out to the car and head to work, but gradually the other rhythms and routines of farm life have taken the place of work.  I'm slowing down, and I can feel that - but the good news is that I have not completely stopped!

Come see me at The Roost and we'll gather eggs or feed the birds.  Life doesn't get much better than that!

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