The Gentleman Farmer’s Hiatus

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The Gentleman Farmer’s Hiatus

Nov 21, 2021

If any of you are up-to-date on the stories of Gentleman Farmer, I think you will agree that he is quite the character and that life on the farm leads to some rather entertaining, at times astonishing tales.

So, of course when Gentleman Farmer asked if I could care for the animals as he traveled last week – I JUMPED at the chance. You see, I’ve essentially been an animal lover since I was born. Even to the point that I would put caterpillars in the gas tank of my Barbie Jeep and drive them around the yard, (don’t worry none were harmed, they just came out a bit dizzy). All this to say, I’ve certainly raised and interacted with my fair share of wild little creatures. However, two animals that I’ve never reared up myself are goats and chickens, which happen to be Gentleman Farmers current specialty.

As his departure date drew closer Gentleman Farmer debriefed me on the animals’ names, care instructions for the hens, roosters, and goats, and told me generally what to expect. “Don’t panic if Angie gets out”, he said. “She’s the one who likes to escape, just shake the feed bucket and she will come back to you.” As soon as he mentioned this I fully expected to be chasing his goat down Greenbriar Road every morning. To my delighted surprise the goats were pretty easy. All three loved eating seeds out of my hand and the biggest problem I had was worrying if they saved any for the roosters. It was heartwarming to watch them grazing peacefully at the back of the lot in the mornings, only to come bleating and running as they saw me with fresh hay and feed.

The chickens I had cared for a few times over the summer and therefore thought I knew what I was getting into. For the most part I was right, letting the girls out in the morning is always a treat- watching them chirp and run around pecking up bits of food, seeing them take big gulps of water or follow me around because I’m still carrying the empty feed bucket. Locking them up at night is even simpler in the winter as they all are roosting by 6pm.

One night however, as I pulled up to the coop I could hear desperate chirping and see something fluttering into the sides of the enclosure. I had been warned that on occasion birds got into the pen to eat the leftover feed and weren’t able to get out on their own, sometimes getting themselves hung in the wire and dying. I immediately rushed into the pen and saw the bird was a mourning dove, a very common species in North America that can be easily recognized by its soft long coo-ing sounds. I left the gate open and tried to usher the bird to the exit, but it appeared to already be exhausted from flying around for who knows how long with no foreseeable way out. The tired creature hopped along the ground, stopping several times to take heavy breaths. I told my partner Shane who came with me to close up, “I think I’m gonna have to catch her and bring her out.” (Looking back now it’s likely that she was a he, but anyway) After a couple failed attempts, I spoke gently to the dove and slowly reached down to scoop him up. As I held this wild bird in my hands, I could feel his heart beating rapidly against my skin and of course hurriedly asked Shane to snap a photo. It isn’t often that the average person is able to have such an intimate moment with the living creation around them. Or at least it isn’t often that we take the time to slow down and really take the chance to experience moments like these.

So, there are two takeaways from my story today. 1) If your friends or neighbors ask you to care for their farm animals, always say yes if you are able-you won’t regret it. 2) Make sure you take the time to deeply breathe in the cold air, watch the sunset, maybe save a bird–and know that you are a crucial part of the revolving universe around you.

Written By: Hannah, The Gentlewoman Farmer

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