We are only halfway joking when we say that Mr. Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law*) lives someplace on our farm. It is so amazing how many ways things can go so terribly wrong on a farm. It would be almost funny if it were not my life. Just when we think we’ve seen every possible frustrating scenario, another one pops up. Yes, indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.
We’ve learned that there are certain things, though, that we can do to increase the likelihood that Mr. Murphy will make an appearance. For some reason, some activities on the farm just seem to beckon him.
1. Spend a lot of money on an animal.
Whether it is a prize-winning registered bull or a fancy pants show chicken, the fastest way to get Mr. Murphy to make an appearance is to buy an animal for way too much money, convincing yourself that the animal will pay its way in just a couple of years. Look out. That animal will be marked for life.
2. Spend a ton of money at the vet’s for an animal.
Any time we take our animals to the vet for anything more than a minor procedure, Mr. Murphy does his thing. He has a cruel streak and pushes those sweet kitties or precious puppies out into the street in front of garbage trucks.
3. Fall madly in love with an animal.
The sweetest cow I ever owned lasted only a year here on the farm. I still miss Lady. She came from a commercial dairy and had perfect manners. Halter training her was a dream. She always stood quietly no matter what I did with her. She even would pick up her feet for me to check them. Poor Lady.
However, we’ve also found that the reverse is true. The meanest, most insane cows are also the longest lived. I guess Mr. Murphy can’t get close enough to them to put a curse on the meanies.
4. Name an animal.
My daughter got two chicks at the feed mill a few weeks back. The feed mill lady asked her what she planned on naming them. My daughter replied that we never name chickens. Any time we’ve named a chicken, it has died very quickly.
5. Do all of the above.
If you are foolish enough to do all four of the above listed items for the same animal, well, you may as well go outdoors and start digging a big hole. You are going to need it.
6. Cut hay.
We joke that if we are in the middle of a record-breaking drought, all my husband has to do is cut 40 acres of hay, and it will rain. Last Sunday, the forecast said very low chances of rain for the next four days. He cut the alfalfa. By Monday, there was 50 percent chance. Tuesday afternoon, it started raining.
7. Have plans for a Saturday evening.
Since my husband works a full-time job, we frequently dedicate our Saturdays for farm projects. We do know that anytime we have plans for a Saturday evening, everything will go terribly. We spent two hours Saturday afternoon trying to get one stupid shear bolt out of the bush hog. It doesn’t matter how simple the job “should” be, if we have plans on a Saturday evening, nothing will be easy.
8. Get all dressed up for a fancy occasion.
Mr. Murphy does not like seeing farm wives in things like high heels, pearls or glittery jewelry. He gets a kick out of ruining suit pants and staining spotless white blouses. And he really finds it amusing to watch dressed-up people chasing and wrestling sheep, calves and misbehaving dogs.
9. Have an elective surgery scheduled.
We actually named a calf Ms. Murphy. My husband had an elective surgery scheduled. A calf was due any day. We hoped that it would be born before the surgery. As we drove down the driveway to the surgical center, my husband looked at the enormous, pregnant cow. “I bet she has that calf today.” Sure enough, when we got back to the farm, there was a calf … one that needed to be weighed and tagged by a guy who wasn’t supposed to lift anything for a week.
We love living on a farm, but you really have to have a sense of humor and a flexible life outlook. It also helps to have a decent balance in your savings account and good health insurance. Some years are harder than others, but you just kind of have to roll with it and stay as positive as possible. It does make for good storytelling though!
*Murphy’s Law is the universal truth that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.