Fanax: the Mycenaean term for "king"; pronounced "wanax". The funny initial letter, "F", is called digamma and shows up in Archaic Greek epigraphy (papyrus and tablet writings). The sound, if not the letter form, and its linguistic equivalent initially show up in the heiroglyphic writings (Linear B) of Bronze Age Greece both at Pylos, in the far west of Greece (Peloponnese), and at Knossos in north central Crete, the funny "F". Specifically, digamma shows up in the Greek of Homer's Iliad with the word "F"anax, but there it's a "rough breathing" in the form "(h)anax", where the term is linked to an important individual at Pylos. In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, the F continues in this aspirant, or "h" sound, form at the beginning of many Greek words.

Entries for month: October 2006

farm chores

October 01, 2006 ·

OK, so we belong to a local farm co-op here in the Indian Hill area (the ritzy bit of town to our east). Generally, we try to limit our work commitment to 1 weekend a month, but this weekend followed last weekend in awful succession. Brutally tiring, especially two weekends in a row.

So, the goal is to allow the farmer or farmers (the full-time staff devoted to animal care) to have weekends off, since they often are driving in some distance from the country to the 'burbs to take care of the animals at Turner Farm. Bonnie, the lady who owns the place, loves animals and knows how to care for them, but due to a stroke 10 or 20 years ago, she just isn't physically capable of doing the work herself. We commit to work a few hours a week, we pay a seasonal fee, and then we get a bunch of meat products from the farm. Organic lamb, pork, chicken, and eggs, so it's a good deal. Rather than working odd hours here and there, the animals really just need to be tended morning and evening (breakfast and dinner, essentially), so by doing one weekend, we're effectively doing 4 sets of chores = 1 month's work in a single shot. This year we set aside a lot of time for Alaska, then Sue took the kids to New York for 2 weeks, and then I went to Boise 2 weekends ago, so we got compressed into September pretty badly.

Up at 7:00, to the farm by 8:00 or 8:15. Luckily, it's only about a 15-minute drive, but it's a rough schedule to kick the kids out of bed and get everyone out the door that early on both weekend mornings. Feed and water the draft horses and the donkey, and administer and medicines or other treatments they may need, water the sheep and check on them for illness or injury as they lie hidden among the trees in the far corner of the pasture (always the far corner of the pasture), feed and water the chickens being raised for slaughter (about 80 or so), feed and water 3 sets of laying hens, feed and water the hog and sows, feed and water the sow with piglets (there is usually a set), and feed and water the dogs. Usually there are special rules for the equines, somebody's hurt or somebody needs meds, and usually we're checking on a pregnant sow or newly farrowed piglets. In addition, we often have to haul 50-pound sacks of grain for various critters from a storage area to the feed bin area.

So, this was the Sunday of back-to-back weekends, and the owner just fired the animal farmer, the cowboy, on Thursday or so. In other words, we were beat to begin with, and the animals were not in terribly great shape. Meat chickens, for instance, had no food and no water yesterday morning. Took 5 full 5-gallon buckets of feed to fill their troughs, when a normal feeding time is 2 buckets.

This weekend, my routine was

  1. Get the donkey from the front pasture, making sure that the draft horses don't follow her, although they want to and they each out-weigh me by about 1,000 pounds.
  2. Take the donkey all the way across the front lots to the stable washroom, tie her up, and then slip her front hoof into a soaking boot full of hot water and Epsom salts, to help ease a case of stone bruise (a painfully split and tender hoof). This is supposed to be done for 20 minutes, but the boot is made for a draft hoof (about 5-6 inches in diameter) and a donkey hoof is about 2 inches in diameter. She doesn't like the boot on her leg, and it's too big to stay on ... so it's a constant struggle.
  3. Meanwhile, start soaking the beet pulp in hot water, which forms the base for the horse food.
  4. When the donkey is done, let her into a middle pasture, since she's too fat and doesn't get any food, beyond the grass she gets to eat all day and night.
  5. Mix the horses' meds (different for each horse) with the beet pulp and alfalfa pellets and molassas and corn oil, and haul it back to the front pasture. Chain up each horse, so they don't fight over the food, and give each one the proper mix.
  6. Go get the hose and pull it down to the trough and fill it, if necessary. Coil the hose all back when the waterer is full.
  7. Go down and check on the sow and her 9 new piglets, born Thursday night and Friday morning.  Find the dead one buried in all the straw (sow broke his leg and then laid on him, poor little guy), dig a good hole in the hard clay of the forest, and bury him.  Fill up the water buckets and check the feed.
  8. When the horses finish eating, let them all off-line, go get the donkey and let her back in, and then take the feed bowls back to the stable.

Meanwhile, Sue was

  1. Feed the dogs, trying to get them to take their pills wrapped in lard and buried in the food.
  2. Measuring out feed for the hog and the sows and the large piglets, haul it all down to their various sties and mix their food with water. Fill a self-serve feeder for the large piglets and make sure it hasn't got all gunked up from them rooting around in it.
  3. Fish out the hog's feed trough from the large wallow where they like to drag it, and fill it with fresh food.
  4. Check the laying hens, in 2 different houses, check for eggs, fill the waterers, which means dragging them out to the nearest taps and back, and fill the feed troughs.
  5. Check the meat chickens, pulling over a hose to fill all the waterers and hauling several bags or buckets of feed into the lot to fill all the troughs.
  6. Do a walk-through of the sheepfold to do a visual check on their health. Fill the water trough, if necessary, pulling over a hose and recoiling when done.

In addiition, there is a 3rd house of laying hens, not yet mature enough to lay any eggs, that we check on the way out, filling troughs and waterers.

Basically, we're so friggin' tired now!


Tags: family

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