The Bizarro-World Farm Report

      32 Comments on The Bizarro-World Farm Report

I almost felt guilty saying it the first time, but I’ll say it again: my life hasn’t changed much since we entered BizarroWorld. The main difference is that I don’t commute to work two days per week.

If we lived in a townhouse with no yard – which was the case in our California days – I’m sure I’d be suffering a bit of cabin fever by now. But on a six-acre mini-farm? Nope, no cabin fever. Spring has sprung, and the farm doesn’t know or care about social distancing, so the work goes on as usual.

Last November I was just starting to cut up a huuuge tree that fell down in the front yard.

I also had plans to cut down and cut up a tree near the creek that was dying and dropping widow-maker branches now and then.

I’d like to tell you how I took my manly tools and did a manly job of hacking through those trees, but I’d be lying. They’re gone now, but the manliest role I played was writing a check. The crew that cuts our pastures suggested coming out before the first cut of the year and doing the cleanup for us. We agreed.

They cut up the huuuge tree (most of it, anyway) and hauled away the wood.

They cut down the tree that was dropping widow-makers.

They also cut down two more dead or dying trees near the creek and burned the burn-pile of dead twigs and branches we’d been building up.

With all that work done by other people, I lodged a half-hearted complaint with Chareva about not getting enough exercise, especially now that the gym is closed. She’s a loving and sympathetic wife, so she solved my dilemma by assigning me the task of tilling the ground for one of her gardens.

It may not look like a physically demanding task, but keep in mind this is Tennessee. The state’s theme song is Rocky Top for good reason. The tiller is billed as a walk-behind model, but when you’re tilling soil on a hill that’s full of rocks and clay, it’s more of a bucking-jumping-wild-animal model. By the time I finished tilling the little plot of land shown below, I was winded and exhausted. Gym? Who needs a gym?

When Chareva doesn’t have chores for me, I’ve been getting outside for some fresh air and physical activity by working on my golf game.  I’m not playing actual golf, you understand. My nephew Eric (the Older Brother’s Oldest Son) is an avid golfer, and he recently sent me an email describing what it’s like to play actual golf in BizarroWorld, at least where he lives:

  • No concessions, bathrooms, or even clubhouse checkin/pay. Call with credit card or pay online and then show up. They open door, you tell them your name, and then they let you know which person/group you were behind.
  • No golf cart
  • No driving range
  • No removing pins. They turned the cup over so the ball would only go down about an inch in the hole to make it easier (and you wouldn’t remove the pin out of habit) to get the ball out.
  • They even removed the ball washers and bunker rakes

My (ahem) “golf course” looks like this.

I hit balls into the net. I have a contraption called a Swing Caddie SC2000 that reads the speed of the clubhead and the ball and tells me (in a kindly female voice) the carry distance and the total distance. I’m not sure why the manufacturers chose a female voice. Perhaps they tried a male voice originally and found it was making comments like, Seriously, pal, 125 yards with a seven-iron? Does your husband play too?

During non-Bizzaro times, Chareva spends a chunk of her day running the girls to school, to after-school activities, to her aerial silks classes, etc. That’s all gone for now, so she’s been spending extra time in the garden. She’s been using the wood chips she had delivered last year for garden paths.

This is asparagus she planted three years ago. It will be ready to eat this year. (Some of you carnivores out there may want to avert your eyes.)

The BizarroWorld experience reminded us that we bought the farm partly to be less dependent on the industrial food chain. When we had 40-plus chickens laying so many eggs we had to sell most of them, I felt we could get by for a long time if need be.

Well, Rocky Raccoons One through Nine eventually reduced the flock to seven. During the winter months, we even had to (egads!) occasionally buy eggs at Kroger.

We began re-netting and re-securing one of the old chicken yards last spring, then kind of lost our enthusiasm when our dog Coco was killed. But we’re probably one or two weekends’ worth of work from being done. So last week, Chareva bought nine new chicks. They’re called Golden Comets.

They’re currently living in a trough in the basement. Our cat Rascal is a nice, affectionate pet … but he’s a cat. His brain is hard-wired to issue a kill! command when he sees birds. Chareva engineered this high-tech security system to keep him out of the trough.

When they’re bigger and the old chicken yard is fully secure, we’ll move the existing flock to that yard, then put these chicks in the yard where the existing flock lives. At some point, we’ll need to re-secure the other old chicken yard so we can rotate the two flocks among the three yards.

I hope y’all are keeping your sanity out there.  Stay well, my friends.

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32 thoughts on “The Bizarro-World Farm Report

  1. Elenor

    Lovely to hear you’re not suffering too much cabin fever… or muscle atrophy! {wink} Spring is when we start to rebuild soft winter muscles as WELL as chicken yards! Hang in there!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I usually keep the muscles in some sort of shape during the winter by going to the gym. But I believe my last gym workout was a month ago. I’ll need the farm work.

    1. Smgj

      I did too.

      Still farming by proxy…
      (even though my windowsill try to tell me differently.)

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Love it.

      Big-city reporters are pretty much clueless about what life is actually like here in the sticks.

      1. Dianne

        Big-city legislators are also pretty clueless about country life, even though their ability to eat depends on country folk. Glad you have some acreage to roam around in. I don’t, but since I’m basically a hermit things aren’t too bad — yet.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Let’s hope things get back to normal before you find out what your hermit limit is.

        2. Firebird7479

          Big city legislators are clueless about a lot of things. I am fascinated with the tiny home movement as well as homes made of shipping containers…ingenious. Yet the legislators who all talk about Climate Change (TM) are so short sighted about people wanting to reduce their “Carbon footprint” and live off grid that they are making it impossible for these people to park their home on a lot they own or someone’s spare land. Tom could probably do that, and the county would come in and have the home removed. But, at the same time, if someone wanted to park a camper or trailer, there’d be no problem.

          I discussed that option with my brother. Build a tiny home and park it in the driveway or back yard and have the zoning board come in and tell us we can’t do it, or buy a camper and park it. Pretty much the same thing, but two separate responses.

          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            Our area is zoned for one home per five acres. If I added what could be labeled as a residence, I’d be violating that, yes.

            1. Firebird7479

              Crazy thing is, you could probably put a camper on your property and that’d be OK.

            2. Tom Naughton Post author

              Maybe. I don’t recall the details, but what they label a residence has something to do with requiring access to the the septic tanks.

          2. Lori Miller

            It would be even more eco-friendly to just live in the house that’s already there.

            Even trailer parks have rules about what you can park there.

  2. Martin Levac

    Your golf course looks great, Tom! At least it doesn’t have a 12×10 wall behind it full of holes from “technique experiments”. I play golf. Get rid of that fancy electro-gizmo. Set up a target on the net or somewhere, like a bucket or something. Hit that. Nothing like seeing results with your own eyes. Remember, hit the little ball before the big ball. (on a side note, I wrote a ge-nu-i-ne golf lesson, ask me about it)

    Six acres, huh? Big enough to set up a nice little putting green. Maybe even a bunker. You’re not playing actual golf. Pffah! Oh you. Nobody ever not plays actual golf. There’s only two kinds of golfers: Those who get hooked.

    Nice to hear life goes on. Thanks for that, Tom.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I like the gizmo. I pay attention to where the ball hits the net, but the gizmo gives me nice feedback if I’m trying something different. I know without guessing if my swing speed went up or down as a result.

  3. DebC

    Cute little chicks! My nephew and his girlfriend just bought a bunch of chicks, and my nephew’s upcoming project it to build a chicken coop. They also have a big garden and are trying to be more self-sufficient. Of course the chicks are tiny now so egg-laying is a long way down the road. But when they get there I keep hoping they might have some eggs to spare for their auntie. 🙂

  4. Patrick T Peterson

    YES! Great to see you “wasting away” in TN.


    Not bad for a “city boy.”

  5. Don

    A nice bit of sunshine amidst all the gloom and doom. I have a giant asparagus patch that I keep adding to. They will pop up for decades now that you have them going. Bake them in the oven with a little Olive oil and butter and a touch of garlic salt. Yum!!

  6. Firebird7479

    Nice to see you out in the sun, getting some fresh air and Vitamin D despite the warnings of The Anointed telling us this is the worst thing they can do, and man, have they ever proved themselves with this “Pandemic”, which I put in quotes because, after driving around here during rush hour with no traffic, past shopping centers that were bustling 2 weeks ago, and grocery shopping in a supermarket with empty shelves, I would say this is an economic depression.

    At this rate, I’ be up for farm work. All I have for fitness is a chin/push up bar, door straps and a resistance band.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Anyone who believes getting fresh air, sun and exercise on my own land is somehow taking a risk needs to stay sheltered in place and do some serious re-thinking.

      1. j

        Have you seen the movie Demolition Man?
        Funny how what once seemed absurd, and comical even, has become reality. Actually it’s become worse.
        I can appreciate that you have a place where can you can be left unbothered for the most part.
        Hope that’s never taken away or disturbed. But you know, sometimes when a man wants nothing more than to be left in peace, to ignore all the nonsense going on and lead a normal life, well that’s when the “warmongers” come lookin’ for trouble. Or at least that’s what happens in the movies, right?
        Well, I hope that will never be the case anyway.
        Stay safe.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Never saw it, but I may have to watch it as an educational film if the weirdness keeps expanding.

      2. Firebird7479

        Tom, almost 9 million people live here in New Jersey. 44, 000 case. 2,000 deaths. The governor, Pat Murphy, AKA Governor Hitler, just made it illegal to go to your local county or state park, and the beaches are closed. “It’s for your own good.”

        There are people who are truly scared of this. Me? I’m pissed off.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          If we later find out (as I suspect might be the case) that we’d already reached herd immunity by the time the lockdown orders were issued, it will be interesting to watch the fallout.

          1. Firebird7479

            Meanwhile, Governor Hitler just signed an executive order making it mandatory to wear masks in stores. They’d better be handing them out at the front door because I am not buying one. Even if I did, how can I get in the store to buy one if I am not allowed in the store to buy one? The Anointed 🙄

  7. Don Sproles

    If you have acreage and a garden, you have all the gym you need. You really need to invest in a rear-tine tiller though. Those front-tine jobs will hurt you, especially in rocky soil. I live in western arkansas and we have soil that grows rocks too.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yeah, I think we need to invest in a better tiller. This one’s quite a handful in our soil.

  8. Dianne

    Really enjoyed reading this. You are blessed, and doubly blessed in that you know you are blessed.

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