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5 chickens and 2 goats eating grass and leaves on pasture vanhoveln farm cedar rapids iowa

Farm Note 15: Putting Out Fires

If there ‘s one thing I’ve learned about farming- and I use that term very loosely here- it’s that there’s no getting ahead. It’s just putting out one fire after the next, trying to put on your own oxygen mask while helping everyone else with theirs.

This week it felt like the whole damn farm burned down. It was one emergency after another, followed by a meltdown from a child and another emergency. Thankfully, we had a weekend with nothing but church on the schedule, glorious weather, and a couple bottles of wine. So, pour yourself a glass and laugh (or cry) along with me.

brown goat with corn husks in red pen on vnahoveln farm cedar rapids iowa

Emergency #1: Saturday I noticed a bright pink lump between the hooves on Coco’s front left foot (Did you know that goats have 2 hooves per foot, making their entire foot what’s called a “cloven hoof“. Thank you, Wikipedia!). And she seemed to favor that foot a bit when she jumped down from the porch the day before. A quick search led me to believe it was something called hoof rot (Thank you, Google). Thankfully, it’s treated quickly and easily with an ointment that I bought online (Thank you, Amazon!).

After the longest-ever two-day delivery it finally arrives. I drop everything, grab the bottle and run to the goat pen, terrified that the lump is going to have turned into this giant oozy mess in the two days it took the Hoof & Heel to arrive. I examine Coco’s hoof. The bump is still there, but now it’s dirty and brown from walking on it, and it looks a little loose, almost like it’s dangling from the fur between the hooves. Gingerly, I reach down to touch it and realize it’s a PIECE OF BUBBLE GUM stuck in the fur.

Crisis averted, for Coco and me. The kids, on the other hand, are banned from chewing gum for the rest of their lives.

cute tabby kitten with brown eyes in a grassy field on vanhoveln farm center point iowa

Emergency #2: Littlest Kitten didn’t come home one night. We found her the next morning stuck in the crotch of a tree, about 12 feet up. Of course, the tree was on the bank of the creek, making it nearly impossible to safely get a ladder there, and wrapped in poison ivy branches. I truly considered calling the fire department and seeing if they would bring their giant ladder and get her down. They’re big and strong. Let them deal with poison ivy rashes and ice-cold water.

Eventually, I moved a bunch of rocks to make a somewhat stable place to balance the ladder (oh, hey, OSHA) and held it in place while Olivia climbed it (oh, hey, DCFS) to coax the cat down with a can of food. No one fell, no one got a rash from the poison ivy, and no kittens were harmed in the making of this story. Though maybe she should have.

Emergency #3: Arrive home at 5:00pm after being gone the whole day to find that goats have escaped from their pen. Corral them back home and watch. Have an answer in 5 minutes: they jump from the roof of their house inside the pen to the top of the newly-stacked bales of hay outside their pen. Cool. Spend 30 minutes re-stacking 25 bales of hay on the far side of the pen. Show up late to my 6:30 appointment, because who plans an extra half-hour into their day to deal with naughty goats?!?

black chicken with shiny feathers on a sunny day on the farm in center point iowa

After all that, the weekend home catching up with boring chores like washing windows and organizing the garage was exactly what I needed. Today I’m raising my coffee mug and making a toast to predictable days and cooperative animals. Cheers!

For more of the daily chaos Follow us on Insta or Facebook. Or if you’re in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Corridor, stop on in, but no bubble gum allowed.

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