Our Little Houdinis
By Wendy Boe
Our land can’t sustain cows and pregnant hogs during the winter months. We’ve tried. Our escape artists, American Guinea Hogs, have become quite fond of the cow’s hay to nest in — even though they have their own. Arnold and Alf (our Scottish Highlanders) have rendered the pigs as welfare recipients, and quite annoying, so they migrate elsewhere to get away from them — which leads them miles away from home. What a funny thing. Animals don’t care what time of day it is or what is going on in a person’s life or what the temperature outside is. No matter that it’s my birthday, and we are towns away at a farmer’s market — that was the first time they had had enough of the hog’s shenanigans. The AGHs don’t leave the property like the cows do (and in case you were wondering, cows run fast and can go quite far in a short period of time — unlike hogs). We have built, rebuilt, and triple secured the fencing and housing for our Houdinis, who manage to still find ways to wander freely. So, now we just let them. The only real “harm” they do is to bother the cows.
We spent hours, in the dark, tracking Arnold and Alf to the middle of a field (good thing they leave distinguishing hoof prints in the snow). Thankfully, we live in such a small community, and the neighbors were out helping and one gal said, “Wow, I chose an exciting weekend to come home from college!” When we finally got them home safe, we had to fix the fence they broke through. Mind you, it is -40 degrees outside in the tundra we call home, and it is my birthday, I am spending the night trying to drill the frozen ground to get the fencing secured so our cows don’t decide to take another midnight stroll. Yes, this is now our life. Our friends are nice and toasty indoors on a Saturday night, drinking beers and playing card games, laughing it up, as we chase cows back home.
Sometimes I think the lifestyle we chose is too much. John and I both work as much as we possibly can — which still is never enough. Plus, we also work full-time jobs off of the farm. We started all this for a better quality of food, to be able to eat meat again without feeling ill. Our clean food gives us energy and we have really never felt better. I think about all the healthy changes we’ve made over our six year journey. The irony is that our stress levels are higher than they have ever been. Farming is supposed to be fun! On the other hand, I wonder how bad we would be if we weren’t taking care of ourselves. What if we were still like our friends who spend their free time eating processed foods and drinking alcoholic beverages? We have been there. We were tired of feeling sluggish, worn out and zombie-ish. I do love our chaotic life, even though it is supposed to be simple. We won’t be getting more cows anytime in the near future though.
Photo by Fotolia/Manuel Findeis