As Henry gets older, his desire to help around the farm just increases.  Because he is such an independent and fearless child, his behavior usually results in laughter and awe on my part.  For instance, yesterday I let the horses mow…err…graze on the yard.  Henry, who has recently learned how to climb out of his “enclosure” in the living room, saw the horses through the window, climbed over the child gates, ran into the kitchen and grabbed his cowboy boots.  I’m not sure if he thought he was going riding or if he was just going to round them up, but it was pretty funny none the less.  And yes, I did stop him before he got the boots on.

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This morning it really struck me just how much of a little farm boy Henry is becoming.  Our day started at 6 am when Henry woke up.  Hubby was getting ready for work, so I got Henry changed and dressed.  He got a sippy cup of milk while I made us toast with jam.  Henry also got a sliced banana.  I made myself a cup of coffee. (I’m not much of a breakfast eater)  Hubby left for work at 7, and I went outside to move Henry’s carseat from my car to the farm truck.  I came back inside to Henry squatting, which usually means he has to go potty.  I rush to get him to the toilet, but I was too late.  We sat there for a few minutes, but nothing happened, so we washed his hands (singing Old McDonald), brushed his teeth and rushed out the door.  Thankfully, the truck started right up.  Hubby had actually given the truck a jump earlier that morning and let it run so the battery would charge.  However, it was also very low on gas.  The needle was already in the red and on this truck that usually means you’re already empty.  Hope we make it to the hay guy before it dies on us.

The AC on the truck hasn’t worked for several years, so I had to roll down the windows.  I only put Henry’s window down half way because who knows what he’ll try to throw out of it as we drive down the road.  I need to have my window down all the way anyway because the driver’s side door on the truck only opens from the outside.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled up the windows and turned off the truck just to realize I can’t open the door.  We left the house at 7:30 and got to the hay guy at 7:45.  We were already the third truck in line.  You have to be there by 8 if you want hay. I jumped out of the truck to let the guy know how many bales I needed, to verify the price and to be ready to strap it down once it was loaded.  We made a little small talk (hubby usually gets the hay on Saturdays and the guy recognized the truck) and then I was on my way.  The truck hadn’t run out of gas yet, but I didn’t want to chance it. We headed straight for the gas station.

We were home by 8:30 and I still needed to feed the horses, but I decided to give them hay first.  Horses need something constantly moving through their guts to prevent them from getting colic.  They’ve been out of hay since Sunday night, which is why I had them grazing on the yard yesterday. So, I put Henry in the house and went to go get the tractor.  Now, our tractor is actually parked inside of one of those carport tents with sides.  I cannot tell you how badly we need a barn. Every time I try to back it out of the tent, it gets stuck on one of the tent flaps.  This time was certainly no exception.  To make matters worse, our tractor has a safety feature that shuts the engine off if it’s in gear and there isn’t enough weight in the seat.  This meant that the tractor kept shutting off every time I shifted my weight to try to move the tent flaps.  I finally managed to get the tractor out of the tent, but by this time there is a barefooted toddler standing in the driveway, wanting to ride on the tractor.  Now, I do not advocate letting young children ride on farm equipment; however, it is safer for him to be in the seat with me than running around on the ground, especially once I pick up a large round bale and can no longer see directly in front of me.

So, that is how I ended up with a toddler on my lap as I tried to take the bucket off of the tractor and put the hay spear on, something I had never done before without a toddler in my lap.  It was an interesting experience and I may or may not have destroyed the pallet the hay spear was sitting on.  Hubby makes this look so easy.  Apparently I need more practice.  I did eventually manage to get the spear on and even managed to pick up the hay.  Keep in mind, this is one of those large, round 1000 lb hay bales you may have seen by the side of the road.  I couldn’t see a thing directly in front of me, and I had to maneuver between trees, and I had a toddler in my lap.  We made it up the hill and I got down off the tractor (took it out of gear and put the parking break on) to open the gate to the paddock.  Of course, by this point I had the undivided attention of all five horses and two goats in said paddock.  Before I could get back on the tractor, they were cantering out of the open gate.  Oh well, I’ll round them up after I get the hay unloaded.  I got the tractor through the gate and down to the hay ring.  I almost destroyed the wooden hay ring while unloaded the hay, but was able to catch myself before the hay came completely off the spear.  I even managed to get the hay mostly on the pallet and almost centered in the ring.  Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

So I took the tractor back down to the tent and parked it OUTSIDE of the tent.  I’ll let hubby get that thing back inside when he gets home.  By this point, all five of my horses were eating the one remaining roll of hay that was still in the back of the truck, which I’m supposed to deliver to a friend’s house later tonight.  Still holding a barefooted Henry, I chased the horses off of the hay, then proceed to try to catch them and lead them back to their paddock.  Keep in mind, none of them have halters on.  Luckily, I trained the two lead horses to be led by their manes.  I was able to grab my gelding and lead him back to the paddock.  His mom (the other lead horse) followed him.  One of the other horses was back to munching on the hay in the back of the truck.  She would not lead by her mane.  Henry, who I was still holding, had his key lanyard with him, so I showed him how to put it over the horse’s head, around her neck and lead her with it.  He got a huge kick out of that trick.  I won’t be surprised if I catch him trying it himself in the near future.  Once she was in, the most submissive horse trotted into the paddock after her.  Gotta love herd animals.  That just left my 27 year old mare who can really only be led by her stomach.  I had to walk behind her, kissing, while she slowly grazed her way back to the paddock.  Once she saw the hay, she trotted towards it.  I got them all back in (except the goats), locked the gate (Henry tried to help) and took Henry inside to get shoes and socks on.  It was time to feed and I knew he wouldn’t stay inside for that.  It was about 9.

We went back outside to get the grain together.  Hubby portioned out all of the feed for the week into small Rubbermaid containers, so it’s as easy as pouring the feed into buckets.  Henry went off to look at the chickens while I got everything together.  I forgot something inside, so had to run back in.  I glanced over at Henry.  He was laying face down in the driveway, digging his hands and arms into the loose dirt.  Fantastic.

By the time I came back outside, Henry was in the “feed room.”  He had the Rubbermaid container with one of the horse’s feed in it, which I needed to add herbs to.  It looked like Henry had already been through the box of herbs.  I took the feed container from him and proceeded to measure out the herbs.  At this point, he grabbed my leg and tried to pull me out of the way while saying “I do it.”  It’s amazing how well he can articulate when he wants to.  He gave up and walked away.

I was still getting the feed together when Henry started crying.  I could only imagine what he’d gotten into this time, so I rushed outside.  He’s standing by the ONE section of fence that is electrified.  Apparently he had tried to climb through and got shocked.  Poor little guy was so scared.  I scooped him up, kissed his hands, and told him that some fences bite.  That’s why he shouldn’t climb through them.  He got over it pretty quickly and wanted back down.

I went up the hill to feed while Henry went off to do his own thing.  I tied up all but one of the horses (apparently she didn’t want breakfast) and dumped their grain into their buckets.  I heard splashing and looked around to find Henry playing in a cooler full of dirty rain water.  And he appears to be drinking it.  He had actually found what looked like a baby wipe, was soaking it in the rain water, then sucking the water out of it.  Awesome.  Have I mentioned this is the healthiest kid I’ve ever met?  His green outfit is now black and soaked.  Note to self: bath time immediate following feeding time.  We headed back to the feed buckets to finish feeding the goats and the miniature horses.  The goats had dumped over the stack of feed buckets and were trying to determine which ones still have feed in them.  I chased them off and one of them jumped through the fence into their paddock.  The other decided she didn’t want to go back into the paddock.

Henry usually helps me feed the goats, so I dumped half of the grain into one feeder and gave him the container to dump the grain into another feeder.  The one goat who was in the paddock happily ate from both feeders.  Henry took off running after the loose goat, yelling at her and hitting her with the plastic container.  It may have been one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know why she didn’t just jump through the fence to get away from him (she certainly knows how to jump through the fence to get out).  I fed the miniature horses, then opened the gate to let the loose goat back into the paddock.  By this point, the other goat had emptied both feeders.  Oh well, maybe she’ll learn to go back into her paddock when she’s supposed to.

I left the horses tied up to finish their breakfast and took my dirty, soaked little boy inside for a much needed bath.  It was 10 am.

I can’t say that every morning is like this, but it’s close.  If we aren’t getting hay, we’re going for a run and playing at the park or picking up grain from the feed store.  I probably accomplish more before noon than I do the whole rest of the day.  If I ever tell you that mornings aren’t good for me, this is why.

But the most amazing part is how much Henry already understands.  He’s not even 2 and he already wants to ride the horses and pick out their feet with the hoof pick.  He’ll feed them treats and tries to lead them around.  I didn’t even have my first riding lesson until I was 10.  This kid sees a horse and immediately tries to figure out the best way to climb on its back.  He also likes to drink from the water spigot and eat ripe tomatoes right off the vine.  This is why I want to raise my kids on a farm.  I want them to understand the finer things in life.