FARMING WITHOUT PANTS – Life as a Prissy, Middle-Aged Farming Woman
My name is Cindy Aldrich and I am an alpaca farmer. I’m writing this blog to share my experiences on the farm. My husband Wayne and I have owned and bred alpacas for over ten years now. Prior to that, we had no experience with any type of agricultural effort. We’ve gone from being “babes in the woods” to running a farm with 37 happy and healthy critters. There’s a picture of us at the head of this post. It’s a couple years old, but we still look about the same.
Why “Farming Without Pants”? Well, I live my life and do all my work in a skirt. I’m not comfortable in pants – don’t like ‘em, won’t wear ‘em. I only own one pair of scrub pants that I wear when I’m working the beehive. I won’t tolerate chipped nail polish and I put on lipstick before I go down to the barns.
You may have deduced, almost at once, that I am a huge priss. I never expected to be on a farm. My friends and family never expected me to be on a farm. My husband also never expected me to be on a farm. My Dad still talks about the time I wore three-inch heels to his company picnic. So why am I farming? What can I say? I saw a picture of alpacas in a magazine in 1997 and something popped in my brain. We researched it for YEARS, first to be sure that people like us with no farming background could raise livestock so they would thrive, and also to make sure that it wasn’t just some temporary weirdness that invaded my brain and would cause me to get into something I would one day rue. But raising and caring for alpacas seems to fit in with my temperament. I have indeed done some things that I never thought I would do – some delightful and many disgusting. But one does what one must when one must, and I believe I am a more well-rounded person for it. And my animals are the better for it, too.
It took me a long time to write this initial entry. I’ve gone from, “I will write something that will astound the whole world and change it for the better!” to “I will write something that, perhaps, will entertain and educate people!” to “I will write something!” One tailors one’s expectations to fit one’s reality, does not one?
So, what can I say about farming that has not already been said? It’s stimulating! It’s boring! Something new happens every day! The drudgery is crushing! It’s peaceful! It’s nerve-wracking! It’s all of these things rolled together every day. Sort of like life in general.
There’s so much to do every day on a working farm. I look back at my previous life in a little house in the ‘burbs on 1/3 acre and wonder, “What did I do with all my time back then?” I always thought I was busy, and I always felt that I was busy, but there’s no way my life then compares to my life now.
Dear Reader, is there anything you’d like to know about us, or our farm, or our animals? I’d like to blog on a weekly basis, time and events permitting.
I expect my posts may contain some sarcasm and maybe a little hyperbole – that’s kind of how I roll as a storyteller – but here’s a story of something that happened to me in September that is completely, entirely true. I posted this tale on one of my alpaca chat sites and now I’m sharing it with you:
THE SAGA OF THE SNAKE
Many have heard me boasting from time to time about how I’ve never seen a snake on my property. Well, after September 28, 2012, if I say it again you can call me a lying liar.
I was painting in the barn that fine morning and around 10:30 I went up to the house to get another painting tray. I proceed back down to the drive and suddenly see, about ten feet in front of me, a black snake. A BIG black snake. He’s stretched over almost the entire width of the drive.
So I do what any sensible person would do – I stop in my tracks, drop everything I am carrying and start screaming at the top of my lungs, “WAYNE!!!! HELP!!! WAYNE!!!! SNAKE!!! HELP ME!!!! SNAAAAAAAKE!!!!” Wayne doesn’t hear me – he’s in the barn and the fans are on. Makes no difference to me – I keep on yowling.
At this point Mr. Snake does something incredibly hostile – he moves his head.
Picture, if you will, an object that moves faster than the speed of light. Put that object on crack and you’ll have a rough idea of my run into the house.
I dialed Wayne on his cell phone (as well as I could when I was shaking like an earthquake) and told him – well, yelled to him – that I had seen a snake. His first question was, “Where are you?” “I’m in the house – the SNAKE is ON THE DRIVEWAY – WAHHHHH…” Wayne says, “I’m coming right up.” “Be careful – he’s on the drive between the barn and the fiber shanty – WAAAAHHHHH….”
By the time Wayne gets to the house I’m wailing like a banshee and breathing into a paper bag. Seriously. How attractive. Wayne reports that there was no snake to be seen. Of course. Mr. Snake won’t reveal his presence to my ally.
So I wail a bit and after a while it ratchets down to pathetic mewling. What to do now? There is painting to be finished in the barn. Like they used to say to James Brown, “You gotta go back out there, man.”
So I have a little nip and ask Wayne to drive me down to the barn. On the drive down, I see a shovel propped against the fence between the fiber shanty and the barn. I start howling all over again, “You were going to kill him for me! I love you! I LOVE YOOOOOUU!!!” Wayne deserves props for not having me committed right then and there.
Anyway, I did finish the painting in the barn, but I drove up and down there for a while. Mr. Snake has not shown himself again – although that’s probably because he’s all curled up warm and snug and hibernating and planning his next foray into my sphere, the wretch.
As I close, I want to stipulate that I DO realize that the black snake is The Farmer’s Friend, and it’s probably a good thing we did not neutralize him. He’s welcome to eat all of my mice that he wants – as long as he does it by telepathy, from someone else’s property.
That is all….