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Who does this alone?

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  • Who does this alone?

    And how????

    My husband is away on business, which leaves me juggling all the farm stuff. I didn't think it'd be bad - and it really isn't - but the little things... like sudden torential rain as soon as I pull in the drive with a truck bed full of hay... that make me want to throw my hands in the air.

    I know there's some independent ladies on this forum flying solo with full-time jobs, kids, and farms. Any tips? Any humor to share?
    "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

  • #2
    I did it alone for years, with a full-time job, travel for work, and long commute, and got pretty burned out.

    My key tip is to always set things up to be easy on yourself next time. Keep the fuel cans full and the truck topped off. Go ahead and hook up the implement you're going to use tomorrow and make sure you have everything you need before you knock off for the evening. Go ahead and unload the feed, rather than putting it off until tomorrow. Put your tools away, so you know where to look the next time you need them.

    Because I can pretty guarentee that if you don't, you WILL have an emergency or have to do something in a rush and you WILL be cursing yourself if all the ducks aren't in a row to make it run smoothly. Murphy dictates that the one time the truck is full of hay and needs fuel is when you'll need it to make a run to the vet cliinic.
    ---------------------------

    Comment


    • #3
      While I don't do the farming alone, my advice would be to really pay attention to preventive maintenance and don't allow problems to occur that could have been avoided.

      For instance, don't wait until the horses break the fence down and ruin the neighbor's garden to buy that new fence charger and hook it up. Or don't wait until the stall door falls off the hinges at feeding time and horses are backed up 4 deep in the aisle to fix that bent wheel.

      When you notice something not looking right, take the time to fix it NOW. You will save yourself SO MUCH heartache in the long run!

      And take the time to really look ahead. If you're going to be hauling a truck load of hay, check the weather radar before you leave to pick it up. If there's a band of weather headed your direction, make sure the shed is opened up and a spot cleared out to drive the truck into as soon as you get home.

      Try to always think ahead to all the worst possible scenarios so you can be prepared ahead of time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Ok, I had to come back and add some humor.

        A few years ago, we had failed to look ahead and fix a problem before it became a problem. Our very back fence at the end of the property was not hot. Getting it hot would require us to bury a ground wire, or build another connecting fence. We just didn't want to take the time and money to do it.

        So......my Arab mare had figured out she could scoot between the bottom two rails without much trouble. Almost every morning I would go outside to do chores, and she would be asleep on the lawn under the apple tree. She never left the yard so I wasn't in a terrible hurry to get the fence hot.

        But one morning I went out early and she was in the hay field eating alfalfa along with a small herd of deer. She was in their herd like she was one of them. I walked out into the hay field and whistled to her. She looked, the deer looked, then the deer flagged their tails and trotted off toward the woods. So she flagged her tail and trotted off right with them! The deer and the Arab - tails over their backs - disapeared into the woods.

        OMG I was in a panic. I could see her just following them down the deer trail, across the highway, getting killed by a car. I was running toward the woods calling her, when she came galloping back out of the woods and ran to the barn. She must have realized she was with the wrong herd.

        After that incident, we got the fence HOT!

        The things you see when you live in the country with your horses.

        Comment


        • #5
          I am 6 years into my Solo Farm Journey & doing pretty good IMHO

          I relocated from a lifetime of Major City Living to my 5ac farmette.
          Aside from some time spent as a working student, my horsecare skills were all book-learned & osmosis from boarding barns.

          I have learned when you HAVE TO do something, you figure out how to do it in the least painful & easiest way.
          Or you pay someone who has the knowledge/equipment to do it for you.
          I am doing things I never dreamed I was capable of.
          Maybe they are done less than perfectly by the Book, but they work.

          And when I make (one of many) mistakes it is a Learning Experience and I do not repeat the error in inverse ratio to how much trouble it caused me
          Case in point: take hose off frost-free hydrant before temps dip below freezing.

          I put up with a quirky, Opinionated Old Party hayguy because his price is nearly 50% less than the local dealer and includes delivery & stacking.
          So I hold my breath when he drives his wagon through my indoor so his helper can stack hay in my barn.
          I rake flat the godawful ruts he leaves in the sand & close my eyes as his truck pulls through the 12' aisle to outside.
          And -worst of all - try to keep from fainting when I come home from work to find my hay delivered & stacked as that means OOP has had to secure my horses - who are loose in the paddock surrounding the barn.
          He is 78yo and I do not want to have to tell his wife he was trampled delivering my hay.
          I also do not want him to have to replace a loose horse.

          And I try to mentally plan for the day when I am no longer able to heft the 55# bales, manage a full wheelbarrow or unload the 50# bags of grain myself.
          Hire a kid - as I did not have any myself? Or????
          So I do a Mental Scarlett O'Hara and think "Fiddle-dee-dee, I'll deal with that another day"
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

          Comment


          • #6
            Auventera Two--that's hilarious! Talk about a moment to have a camera handy

            I have 2 kids, 6 horses, and a full time job and I'm busy every single second of every day.

            BUT I have my hubby home all of the time (I'm the one who travels, thankfully!). I too admire women (or men, for that matter) who do it all on their own. On occaision my husband will stay in town late for a work meeting and I scramble trying to get everything taken care of. I don't know how he does it while I'm gone!

            My favorite was the time I decided to mow the front pasture while he was in town late. I got halfway through the pasture when the mower just died (ran out of gas). I have no idea which fuel (diesel vs regular gas) is in which can in the shop, so I was too scared to refill. He walked into the door a few hours later and asked why the mower was in the pasture. I answered, "I decided that it could use a little turnout." The joke was on me, though, when he just nodded like that was something I would really do and walked out to go put it away. Ouch. It's rough when your spouse thinks you're one of "those" crazy horse people
            __________________________________
            Flying F Sport Horses
            Horses in the NW

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Too funny about the Arab!!

              The hay turned into a mini chain event, but nothing that couldn't be handled. I have no shed yet - barn construction is set to begin next week. We were not supposed to get rain either, just one of those lovely freak Houston summer downpours that disappears as fast as it appears. I threw a blanket over the bed of the truck to mitigate water damage. Because our hay trailer is in the (muddy, water-logged) pasture, which contained the horse, who is more than happy to channel Houdini, I dragged the hay into the front of the garage instead. The bales weigh almost 2/3 of me, and my drive has a very steep incline just before the garage so... yeah. But I got them in there! The next morning, I needed to get our little tractor out of the garage, but damn if there wasn't hay in the way. He'd only been gone a day, btw, when I put myself in that predicament.

              I've also been meaning to trim hooves, but I lose my daylight between the commute home from work, getting the kids from daycare, and dinner. My mother-in-law came in yesterday to rescue me, which is good because my contractor just informed me they want to pour slab this week... so maresy has to go to her temporary digs not next week but TODAY! I'll be running home from work early to buy feed, trim, and get her packed and moved, so they can start framing up the slab tomorrow. So much for planning ahead on that one.

              "I decided that it could use a little turnout."
              LMAO!!
              Last edited by Aggie4Bar; Jul. 14, 2010, 11:22 AM.
              "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with pp- prepare for the unexpected. I always (ok- almost always!) stock up on everything as soon as I realize I'm in need. I finish mowing- I refill tractor and mower. Then go to gas station and refill all the cans right away.

                Feed- I always fill the feed bin every night so I don't have to take the time in the morning as I'm rushing to get kid ready, horses/dogs fed, and off to work.

                I do stalls at night after kid in bed (7-8pm). I set up hay/water for the next day as well.

                If I see a low tire, tool out of place, broken fence board, etc - I take care of it right away. Otherwise, I'll forget about it until it's too late.

                Be proactive instead of reactive!

                Comment


                • #9
                  My husband is super handy with tools, tractors, and generally fixing stuff, but he has NO interest in doing anything with the horses. So I arranged the horse-care part of the place to be as efficient and simple as possible. I can do morning feed/check on my way to work in under three minutes. Evening feed, stalls/paddock cleaning takes less than half an hour. Big chores wait until my days or half-days off.

                  The best advice I could give would be to embrace flexibility and to plan ahead. Rain expected? Don't haul in the hay that day. Mowing needs to be done but the mower isn't hooked up? (one job I simply can't master) Make sure "somebody" hooks it up before they leave. Forgot to get the mower hooked up? Well, the mowing will have to wait. Bad, bad snowstorm on the way and the snowblower isn't yet on the tractor? I've called ahead and found someone to do emergency plowing "just in case".

                  One common denominator that really seems to muck things up is THE WEATHER. I feel like an old lady doing it, but I'm fanatical about checking the weather if I've got big farm chores planned for the week.
                  Click here before you buy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My DH retired this past year from his job that took him on the road quite a bit, not to mention when here his office was 60 miles away. So that left me handling the day to day farm stuff myself.

                    The only time I had a big problem was when some straight winds destroied my Home Depot metal shed, bolted to pallets with about 50 bales of hay. Said shed was pushed up against a pasture fence with a portion blowing like an opening and shutting door, the doors were flying around the pasture and I had horses galloping in the field from the attacking monster The winds were blowing so hard, I physically did not have the strength to do anything with the shed. My friendly strong farmer came and helped me secure it with a rope and pull it off the fence. I'm also sure I was quite a site trying to wrangle the doors from the field since every gust was a struggle to keep my balance
                    Epona Farm
                    Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, it's hard!!

                      My now ex hubby left me a year ago w/my 23 acre farmette and no tractor. It's hard and a lotta work w/4 horses. It's a love/hate thing. I swore to be gone before there's another winter after this last one and our 3 ft of snow at one time storm. Sat down in the snow one night and just bawled my eyes out. But there are sooooo many pluses too. I never thought I was capable of this. I think there are farmettes that are more "single gal friendly" than mine. Maybe smaller, newer, better located but I sorely need a mans touch for those things I can't do that need doin'. Farmette for sale now so this too will end. IMHO it really depends on your motivation and what you get out of it for yourself.

                      BTW, I am now the Queen of the Redneck Fence Repair!!! Duct tape, baling twine and scrap wood is your friend!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were solo on my farmette.

                        I have a husband. I do 100% of all the outside work here including what many consider typical husband work such as snow removal, garbage/trips to the dump, cleaning gutters, vehicle maintainance and repair, anything requiring power tools or tractors, etc.

                        Once in a while Mr Blue feels bad and wants to help. And that usually takes me anywhere from an entire day to up to a week to fix whatever it was he "helped" with. He's a bit of a Dr Destructo...he tries to help sometimes because he worries I'm wearing myself out. And breaks stuff. Or gets annoyed when he doesn't know how to do something, how to work a power tool or that something was a lot harder than he thought it was. Then the problem becomes "We're selling this place! Nobody could do this stuff without hiring help!" No sweetie...love you dearly but I *am* doing all this stuff without hired help.

                        Only time it bothers me is when he goes on a rant about how stupid the _____ (insert power tool here) is because it doesn't work/broke and no way is he buying a new one/part. Yes you are dear. Or when he looks at our property and asks peevishly, "Why don't we have flower borders and landscaping like the place up the street does?" as he looks at me suspiciously as if I've been slacking off. Ummm, because they have 3 full time staff and an annual income of 7 figures? Not to mention that my place is darned cute and very well maintained.

                        So yup, you can do this. And yup, there will be times you get frustrated like when it downpours on your just purchased hay. Just keep a tarp handy for next time. First drops hit the windshield or ground, drag the tarp out of the back of the truck, toss over hay and tie down quick. Voila! Dry hay! Power tools are your friends...not many women have strong enough hands/grip/arms to do some of the normal barn repairs or chores without the help of a good contractor grade power tool. I have more fun shopping in home depot than I do a jewelry store!

                        And keep a sense of humor. Last time Mr Blue asked about why we didn't have perfectly manicured flower beds lining the drive and barn was when I was sitting on a rock watching the manure pile with the paintball rifle; I was waiting to help the badger that moved in there decide to move out again. (dumping manure gets tricky when a territorial badger moves inot your manure pile) As he walked away...THUNK! He turned around and said, "Did you just shoot at me?" Me: (I hit the tree next to him)
                        He did this then this but then finally did this and shaking his head as he walked back to the house called over his shoulder, "Maybe some day we'll get you some hired help."
                        You jump in the saddle,
                        Hold onto the bridle!
                        Jump in the line!
                        ...Belefonte

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I try to do it alone, but dammit, there are just some jobs that are impossible for one. I have discovered that she who can hook the horse trailer first try every time and can back said trailer all over the yard or back a quarter mile or more away from a water hole on the almost roads cannot back a tractor to hook up something especially the stupid gryo mower -I just cannot do it for some reason. I no longer have to handle hay because I get round bales delivered and put inside, so that job is nothing; biggest part is dealing with the netting. I do my own snow removal and sometimes have to sort out my cousin's yard as well, and do all the mowing here except for the hay land, and all the mowing that needs to be done in the fields. I also cultivate the sloughs and several other tasks. Cousin and I are pretty dependant on each other for help with regular farm work, so I get him to do the stuff I can't - like hooking up the stupid mower. When you have a lot of acreage to deal with, you find more tasks that require two people and sometimes more - harvest involves cousin, Mrs cousin, me and a hired man, it just cannot be done with fewer people. But around the yard, I am alone, not that there is a huge amount but it gets done. I do my own fence repairs but this summer, if it every dries, there is going to be some rebuilding, another 2 person job, three people if I can get another set of hands would make it go even faster. About the only job I will not try is something that requires me to climb a ladder...that ain't gonna happen.
                          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                          Member: Incredible Invisbles

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I probably don't qualify for this thread since my property is small, my house is fairly new and in good repair, and I do have a tractor -- and now I am down to two horses, so that's nowhere near the workload some of you have. But I'm a widow and am doing it alone. Sometimes I question whether or not I can continue, but most of the time it's a joy.

                            Don't get me wrong. I definitely have my moments when I think I'm too old for this, or when something else breaks, and I'm scrambling to fix it or find someone who can, or, like last week when my favorite horse was cast in his stall and couldn't get up and it was 5 a.m. and I had to make a panicked phone call to a neighbor for help because I simply couldn't do it myself.

                            Only to have to make the decision to have him put down, and then handle all the details and the aftermath, alone. Sometimes it feels like it's just too much. And maybe in a few years I'll decide it IS too much, but I'm grateful for the chance at this time in my life to be healthy, and have happy horses snoozing in the sun in my back yard.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              THIS !!!!

                              Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
                              Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were solo on my farmette.

                              I have a husband. I do 100% of all the outside work here including what many consider typical husband work such as snow removal, garbage/trips to the dump, cleaning gutters, vehicle maintainance and repair, anything requiring power tools or tractors, etc.

                              Once in a while Mr Blue feels bad and wants to help. And that usually takes me anywhere from an entire day to up to a week to fix whatever it was he "helped" with. He's a bit of a Dr Destructo...he tries to help sometimes because he worries I'm wearing myself out. And breaks stuff. Or gets annoyed when he doesn't know how to do something, how to work a power tool or that something was a lot harder than he thought it was. Then the problem becomes "We're selling this place! Nobody could do this stuff without hiring help!" No sweetie...love you dearly but I *am* doing all this stuff without hired help.

                              Only time it bothers me is when he goes on a rant about how stupid the _____ (insert power tool here) is because it doesn't work/broke and no way is he buying a new one/part. Yes you are dear. Or when he looks at our property and asks peevishly, "Why don't we have flower borders and landscaping like the place up the street does?" as he looks at me suspiciously as if I've been slacking off. Ummm, because they have 3 full time staff and an annual income of 7 figures? Not to mention that my place is darned cute and very well maintained.

                              So yup, you can do this. And yup, there will be times you get frustrated like when it downpours on your just purchased hay. Just keep a tarp handy for next time. First drops hit the windshield or ground, drag the tarp out of the back of the truck, toss over hay and tie down quick. Voila! Dry hay! Power tools are your friends...not many women have strong enough hands/grip/arms to do some of the normal barn repairs or chores without the help of a good contractor grade power tool. I have more fun shopping in home depot than I do a jewelry store!

                              And keep a sense of humor. Last time Mr Blue asked about why we didn't have perfectly manicured flower beds lining the drive and barn was when I was sitting on a rock watching the manure pile with the paintball rifle; I was waiting to help the badger that moved in there decide to move out again. (dumping manure gets tricky when a territorial badger moves inot your manure pile) As he walked away...THUNK! He turned around and said, "Did you just shoot at me?" Me: (I hit the tree next to him)
                              He did this then this but then finally did this and shaking his head as he walked back to the house called over his shoulder, "Maybe some day we'll get you some hired help."
                              This ~ but it's Mr. Zu instead of Mr. Blue must be long, lost full brothers Mr. Zu decided to move a water tank late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Instead of just using human power he decides to push it BUT by reaching over the fence with the front loader ~ not only did he knock down the fence but the water hydrant -- he says "I think you need to call the plumber..." and that's how the fight started
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                One of the things that cracks me up is how "check the weather" keeps coming up. People who don't have farms think having an obsession with The Weather Channel is weird.

                                I actually pay a bit more than the going rate for hay because I want to keep my hay guy happy. When we had a drought a few years back, my normal hay people told me they weren't going to sell any until the price went even higher into winter. This guy came through and sold me his entire harvest off the wagon. I figure it's worth paying top dollar and some beer if he'll make exactly what I want and have it stacked in the barn (for free) if I don't make it home from work in time to unload.

                                The most recent funny story that comes to mind was the time my farrier was injured and I had to get someone else to trim hooves. The substitute farrier had a very high opinion of his own horsemanship, breaking and training abilities, and talked nonstop about how great he was with horses. My guys are usually very well-behaved for the farrier, but this time they were absolutely horrible. They knocked this guy all over the place, and the whole time he was getting dragged around he lectured me about his amazing horse handling skillz and how nobody handles horses as well as he does yadda yadda yadda. I managed not to laugh, but it was difficult. Ah, a legend in his own mind...
                                ---------------------------

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The joke in my now ex-relationship was that I was the man and woman of the relationship. I did all the inside stuff, cooking, cleaning taking care of the kid, and then all of the outside chores as well, which I gotta say I enjoyed the latter much more!

                                  So while I do have a BF, we do not live together and I am still doing it on my own, but it isn't a big deal to me.
                                  I learned from my mom when I was quite young, so if she can change tractor oil, or chainsaw fallen trees so can I!

                                  There have been great tips on here, my fav bieng: fill the tractor up before you start mowing or harrowing because I can gaurantee you that it will run out of gas in the farthest corner of your pasture!!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Mr. Me doesn't help around outside very much, either, and appears to be related to Mr.s Blu and Zu (he's fantastic at destruction, not so much construction or clean-up). What he does that is invaluable, though, is help with the kids when he gets home, so I can go to the barn and get the other chores done. It's tough to manage it all yourself, but in the last two years I've done things I never would have imagined I could do: built a chicken coop, put up fencing and gates, plowed feet and feet of snow... all the while recovering from a 10lb. bundle of joy that left me with no abs.

                                    The posters above have it right - plan ahead, don't procrastinate, keep it simple, be informed (whether it's the weather or the tools you'll need, etc.) - I will add one more, and that is have a couple of neighbors on hand that will help you. It's a real score if they also have horses, so they will have an idea of what to do in an emergency, too. I don't have a tractor, but a struggling dairy neighbor likes the extra money from helping me when I need it. He also helped bury my poor pony yesterday when I lost her - I couldn't have done it myself.

                                    The last little piece of advice I have for you is that when it's getting above your head and you're tired, but still have a lot more to do, stop and scritch your horse. Find the magic spot and get the satisfaction of making that horse smile. Or, just take a nice long whiff of the mane. It does wonders for your psyche when you remember why you're doing all of this.

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                                    • #19
                                      I run a 20 acre boarding, teaching, training facility and my husband was called up 2 months ago with the Coast Guard to go fight the oil spill. I have no help and do it ALL by myself, mowing, fixing fence, other repairs, feeding, barnwork, lessons, riding greenies (I do have an assistant that rides a few days a week, but that is all she does). It has been HARROWING! Hard enough when he is here! Luckily he is returning this weekend before I lose my sanity!!! AND have had several horseshows including the big 5 day state 4-H show I had to do last week!
                                      www.shawneeacres.net

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                                      • #20
                                        Definitely agree on making friends of either neighbors or the local handy man type person. There will be some jobs or repairs that will require more than one person with 2 hands.

                                        And sometimes it's the dumbest simple thing that requires more than one person. I found that out one time I went to tension my flex fence. The spools require one set of hands to roll the thing tighter and hold the flex fence tight while 2 more hands pull out the drop pins and put them in new holes. No way one person would do it that I could figure out.

                                        Or a really stuck vehicle sometimes require someone in the truck and someone on the tractor to get it out with a chain.

                                        I do find that doing all the chores around here also means that I do more than normal baking and/or making huge portions of certain meals. That I then hand out as bribes and thank you gifts for when a neighbor helps out. One neighbor has really been invaluable, although only required once in a blue moon for help. He has the HUGE tractors...a dozer and a backhoe. Construction sized. Sometimes we'll trade off jobs with either one because his big machines can't get through his own woods and my 33 hp can or else a job is too big for my little tractor and we use his big machines. Just recently out of the blue his wife left him and their kids. Poor man, I've been helping out keeping an eye out for his kids this summer while he works (they're 15 and 17 so don't require constant care) and helping his teen daughter with girly stuff and dropping off home cooked meals. Nicest guy ever too.

                                        And my other neighbor is a single middle aged woman with 8 horses and the same tractor I have. I do small upkeep things on her tractor for her so she doesn't spend a small fortune for the dealerships mechanics for stuff like fluid or filter changes.

                                        Pitching in with the neighbors when needed helps a whole lot later on.

                                        Although one other thing to watch out for being solo is riding, etc. If you get injured have the cell phone with you and someone nearby to call after you call 911. Just as a precaution. Stay safe first!

                                        WildBlue...my non-horsie friends and relatives all think I'm insane with the constant weather checking too! Not only am I checking it online and the radar of where rain/storms might be but I also have a weather radio thing I listen to often. And my outside temp gauge also beeps when there's a storm nearby. Weather is a major obsession!
                                        You jump in the saddle,
                                        Hold onto the bridle!
                                        Jump in the line!
                                        ...Belefonte

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