While my blog title may bring to mind the catchy tune by the Barenaked Ladies, this isn’t about them.
Even though I am Canadian by birth and therefore can lay some sort of claim to the band.
I even saw them once and have the T-shirt to prove it!
No, this blog is about the week I have had and how everything can change in such a short amount of time.
One week ago I was back in Bismarck, North Dakota, home of the hubby and most of our horses and fields of hay that needed to be cut.
Its that time of year.
New Neighbor has been a nuisance this year, pestering Alistair about getting his field cut and baled even though the man knows nothing about farming.
(If you recall last summer’s blog about the baling event he also knows nothing about hard work and sweat and how to get a job done.)
Putting up hay isn’t something you can teach in a 15-minute discussion.
Running our expensive tractor and using Howard’s hay bine and figuring out what to do when & if things go wrong while listening to weather reports and checking weather websites and watching the skies to know when to cut and how long to leave the grass on the ground before baling is something of an art form.
It takes years to learn and try to perfect the skills so you have working equipment and dry (but not hot) hay bales to load into your barn for winter.
In the end, we didn’t cut our hay. The weather timing wasn’t right with Alistair’s work schedule and New Neighbor still had no clue how to do anything.
Howard also wouldn’t let NN use the hay bine.
But Howard, an exceptional neighbor, cut his field and we stayed in Bismarck an extra day and helped him and his wife and a friend haul bales in the hot summer sun.
Many hands make for light work.
Even little girl hands like my own are useful.
I got to be the stacker.
Meaning I got to ride on the flatbed trailer like a surfer on a giant surfboard along the bumps and corners and sudden brakes, stacking the bales in neat, tidy, tight rows while the men tossed them up at me.
The men get to do the heaving of the bales and the negotiating of the nice trucks into and out of the barns.
Howard has a bale elevator which makes for a better day for your back. We all stacked the trailer loads of hay and then drank water or nibbled popsicles and wondered where New Neighbor was while we debated the merits of a Toyota pickup in terms of guts and glory and talked about their daughter and her baby in Texas and didn’t talk about the daughter they lost and we watched Howard get the baler going again & again after dropping a bale.
And then we would go get another load.
Its the kind of work that you sort of enjoy because you are really earning a glass or two of wine later and you know you’re helping out and your neighbors really appreciate it and you are using just about every muscle you have in the blazing hot sun.
Its the kind of sweat that you would get if you sat in a sauna fully clothed for a few hours.
Its the kind of tradition that you don’t celebrate or plan ahead for because you really don’t know what the weather will do or if you will be in Montana or North Dakota or how many people will show up to help and its just something that needs to be done.
I’m so glad we were there to help.
Even if I could feel every muscle in my body for days afterwards.
Its not Pretty Girl work.
Its not sparkly.
Its not something you look forward to.
You just do it because its the right thing to do (which NN obviously didn’t get… he was tinkering around in his garden when we drove up our driveway after 3 hours of hauling bales.)
But then we played in our garden, which has been fantastic this year given the amount of moisture Bismarck has had.
It has been trampled and crushed by torrential rains and incredible winds twice this year and has withstood frost at least once.
Not everything survived but Alistair replanted when he could and shrugged his shoulders when he couldn’t.
We enjoyed some yummy meals and continue to do so with the produce we brought back to Montana.
With all of the animal changes going on at the Fyfe Farm we didn’t need someone to stay overnight because I brought all 3 dogs with me.
Even blind, little Loki.
She lived in and visited our home there throughout all of her life and it always amazes me how she remembers how to navigate inside and outside of the house.
They travelled well with me and even though Cleo is mostly deaf she would look up at me from the passenger seat if my singing became too… well… I don’t what it was but it was “too” something given the square-face look she gave me.
But what is a woman of the 80s & 90s supposed to do when Four Non Blondes are belting out What’s Going On?
And we’re back to Montana and more changes occurred.
Or, had to be made.
Cooper wasn’t having any fun anymore and it was time to say goodbye.
How did we know?
She didn’t vocalize or try to get into the office anymore. Her weight loss was profound.
She got out of the cat bed when Boomer joined her and laid off by herself in a corner of the kitchen.
She wasn’t going out on the deck with the others in the mornings and that was maybe what clinched it for me.
I laid our 20-something year old companion in her Daddy’s lap and sedated her as she softly purred.
And we remembered all of the special things about our short-haired, all-black, clawless wonder who found us in 1997.
How she would wrap both arms around your neck when you picked her up.
How she smacked the bejeezus out of me when I joined Alistair in ND after the 2 of them had bonded for a month.
How she groomed a terrible open wound on his hand he earned from trying to hold a crazy mare back with a rope.
And how she truly, deeply loved Oscar and wailed for 3 months after we said goodbye to him.
Her peaceful presence is missed and our numbers are dwindling.
Its not easy.
Its not sparkly.
Its not something we wanted to do.
But its our deal with the animals- donate your reproductive organs at the door and get along and we will give you the best life we know how, with ample food, special treatments, voices, accents, dances, cuddles and kisses.
As good as we can for as long as we can.
And more things change around the farm on a daily basis and we know we have some more sadness to handle up ahead.
But not just yet.
I have visited the Everything Changes theme before and I think more and more it is why we live our lives in Fyfe Style.
We make the most of every morning together and enjoy the heck out of our days, our animal companions, our golf game, our friendships, our garden and each other.
We work hard so that we can play hard.
Because you don’t always know what’s up ahead and we want to be able to look back and remember the wonderful times together- not the things we didn’t do, or the words that were never said.
We want to help our neighbors and love our homes and land and be good people who do good things.
Even if it isn’t pretty.
Or it isn’t sparkly.
Or maybe its challenging and difficult and sometimes it makes us cry.
RIP, Cooper. We’re glad you’re back with Oscar.