Honestly, it was just one of those days. One of those days where random and crazy stuff happened. Completely normal start to the day. My parents were spending time with my brother and his kids in Denver, so we were tasked to watch the farm and animals for the week. No problem.
First thing on our list was to put up the electric fence for Zeppelin and his hens. Zeppelin and the resident rooster, Prancer, were not getting along. That’s putting it nicely. They had been fighting since they met a few days prior. So, we decided to try an electric fence hoping they would eventually see beak to beak.
Fence up and working. On to the next task.
The next task was hilling the potatoes. Hilling simply means piling dirt on top of growing potatoes so we produce more potatoes under the ground. Matt had constructed this small piece of wooden machinery which we intended to pull behind our Bush Hog. It was sitting in the asparagus patch as he had manually pulled it to hill up the asparagus a little bit. We loaded it into the back of the Bush Hog and started driving. I was holding the long handle up to help keep it steady. As we left Plot 1 on our way to Snake Butte (where we have the potatoes), the handle jerked back. I thought the wind had caught it, but the force was fairly aggressive. Then we heard wood cracking, something popping, and the hilling contraption broke and fell backwards out of the Bush Hog.
We turned around and realized what we’d done. The line of electric fence which stretches above the entry to the garden, so we can get in and out with the Bush Hog, was not quite high enough for the handle I was so carefully holding. We’d just broken the electric fence as well as our hilling contraption. Lovely.
Matt was able to fix the contraption much easier than we thought and we were off again. Once at Snake Butte, he started shallow-tilling the potatoes to loosen the soil for hilling. We have reduced our tilling by about 85% in the last couple years as to increase the worms in our soil and help keep it healthy. That means we do almost all of it by hand. On rare occasion, we use the tiller, but keep it as shallow as possible to cause minimal disturbance to the worms.
So Matt was tilling away and I was just kind of waiting. And then I heard something. It sounded like a chicken, but it was making a noise I’d never witnessed before. We were across a small gully from the chickens, so I walked over to try and get a better look. The afternoon sun was hitting my eyes making it difficult to see the chicken coop. I was finally able to focus and I saw what was making the noise. Prancer and Zeppelin were trying to fight through the electric fence, but Prancer’s foot got stuck in the fence. Shit! Shit! Shit!
I started running toward the Bush Hog. I hate running, but I ran until I reached it. Matt happened to be watching me when I turned and started going. Initially, he thought I’d seen a snake…thus Snake Butte. But when I kept running, he knew something was wrong. He met me at the Bush Hog and helped me unload the hilling contraption. I drove through the gully and over to the chicken house as fast as I could.
I jumped out and ran over the fence. I could see poor Prancer’s body jolting with each shock. He was paralyzed with fear. I knelt down and said “Ok, buddy. I’m going to get you out of this.” And I grabbed him. Now, some of you reading this have realized my error while others have not. When you grab a rooster that is attached to, and being shocked by, an electric fence, the shock goes through you. I held onto him for two shocks before I literally yelled at myself “Turn off the fence, you idiot!”
Fence off, I went back and grabbed Prancer. I untangled his foot and carried him over to his coop. His heart was beating so fast. I held and pet him until he calmed down. And then all at once, he got out of my lap and went to scratching in the dirt. Prancer and I learned a very valuable lesson about electric fence that day. Neither one of us has touched it since and I am happy to report that we no longer use the fence because after that incident, Prancer and Zeppelin miraculously started getting along!
Back at Snake Butte, Matt had just finished tilling. We got the contraption attached to the Bush Hog and Matt started to drive along the rows. I immediately yelled at him to stop as the contraption veered off course and was swiftly decapitating the potatoes! Ok, it’s not going to work this way. Matt suggested he could pull it. Um, I don’t think so. Each row of potatoes is 500 feet long and we have 5 rows, so probably not. After about 25 feet of pulling, he agreed with me. We finally decided to manually hill them with another tool we had. A lot more time and arm muscle used, but no more decapitated potatoes.
Once back at the main garden, I went to Carlos for a drink of water. I should explain. Carlos is our 1977 camper which we bought this year from a friend and currently have parked near the garden so we can take an afternoon nap, make a snack, plan our next task, or spend the night. My parents’ house is only 100 feet away, but Carlos is our bit of private space. Our “tiny house”.
Anyway, I walked over to Carlos and noticed the side door was open. I thought “Oh crap, there are going to be cats camped out on the bed”. I walked in and we saw each other at the same time. One of the few truly feral cats had made his way into Carlos. When he saw me, he flipped out, running to the front of the camper and trying to jump out the windshield, twice. The he tried, again twice, to jump out the passenger window. I managed to move away from the door and was willing him to run out the same way he came in. He finally did just that and I got a glimpse of something on his back. “What was that? Did that cat just poop himself out of fear?” I didn’t smell anything. Then I saw it. Well, actually I didn’t see it. The fly tape that had previously been hanging from the rear view mirror was missing. Awesome. Now, there’s a feral cat running around with fly tape on its back.
Can this day be over already? Yes.
P.S. As a side note for any of you that are wondering, I did see the feral cat a couple days later and no fly tape. So, he’s good to go again.