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What’s Been Going on at The Farm?

Written by: Bobbie
July 9, 2012


Fred, B O'Toole, Bobbie, SuheilyWell, it has been an interesting month since I last wrote. Busy! A cold! These are just two of the excuses.

My knee is getting better all the time. I’m no longer in the pain that started this whole episode, however, I’m still not walking as well as I should be. My therapist, Dr. Russo, a local chiropractor that specializes in sports injuries, has finally headed me in the right direction. He boards his dog Jake here and came one weekend and spotted me walking with a yucky, throw-my-leg limp. The next week when I went to see him he gave me walking lessons. I raise my knee and put my foot down like a Ninja sneaking through the woods. Kick the knee out then heel to toe.  Before all that he has been working to reduce the inflammation which made a big difference but I had gotten in the limping habit. Boy is that hard to break! But I’m on the way. He has me doing squats too. I hold on the the stair spindles and lower my self, hold for a five seconds then push up with my legs. He says I have to lean back and keep my back straight. “Now just pretend your camping out and going to the bathroom. If you lean forward, you’ll pee on your feet.” How’s that for a mental image?

Suheily, our intern from the University of Puerto Rico, has been here and we’ve been giving inoculations, weighing goats and sheep, cleaning water troughs, checking minerals, loading sold sheep and putting up temporary net fences around the kudzu patches at O’Toole’s Herb Farm in Madison. Then there is all the record keeping. We’ll be giving the second round of inoculations this week and weighing all the young rams again to see how much they are growing. They need to be good size by mid-August and we are depending on the lush pasture to make that happen. Suheily has pitched in and prepared us some of her favorite dishes from home.

Siggy guarding his dishWe have to check and feed the guardian dogs everyday too but there is so much grass and forage now since the rain that the goats and sheep are not being given any other supplement. They try to get at the dog food but these dogs do not share. Ben, Woody and Siggy all lay down with their paws around their feed bowl and bark at anything that comes close. They keep the guineas and chickens at bay too. We feed them as it cools down in the evening and the guineas hang close trying to sneak a treat. Doesn’t happen but it keeps the guineas busy while we work at getting all the young chicks back in the pen.

They, the chicks, have figured out that I’m the one that gives them table scraps and other goodies like bugs we find under rocks so they’ll follow me anywhere. It gets had to walk with 50 plus chicks clustered around my legs. We let a hen set on some guinea eggs and now we have some keets (baby guineas) out in the mix also. Who has to watch TV to be entertained! Every night is like a circus around here.  Oh, yes, we are trying to hatch some peacock/peahen eggs in the incubator. Fred is really excited about that succeeding. We’ll talk about the ducks and how they slop around and dirty their water some other time.

Rhett giving the kids a hayrideTwo groups of children from Leon County came for visits this last month also. Over 50 each day. We give them hayrides and they swing on Phony Pony as just part of the fun. There are always goats and lambs to pet and the big dogs to impress them. Their favorite is always the chickens. It is so exciting to watch 75 to 80 hens, roosters, chicks, guineas and keets run from their coop and look for a handout from the visitors. There is a lot of squealing and hopping all around. That’s just the chaperones with their bejeweled sandals and painted toes!

The children are excited too but patiently wait their turn to toss chicken treats and to have their picture taken holding a rooster if they can catch him. All in all, it is a fun day for everyone and introduces many children and adults to life on a farm.  It is easy to tell the real city folk. Their first question is “Do you have any bug spray?” The next comment is usually “Oh, children, watch where you’re stepping.”  The kids really do get to run and play and even get a little dirty. But rest assured, they all get their hands sanitized before they leave. Not like my summer fun of unsupervised swimming, sunburns, bare feet, stubbed toes, scabs on the knee – back when washing my hands before supper seemed to be enough.