My parents always wanted a farm. They both grew up with large families in old, two-story houses in those kinds of neighborhoods you only see on TV in the early afternoon or early morning. But they cherished that kind of childhood and really wanted it for us. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way and by the time we finally had a real home it happened to be a double-wide in one of the less gentrified communities in Florida.
Those kinds of towns are easy to find. Generally when they have more pawn shops and liquor stores than they do grocery stores or schools you’ll know you’ve found one.
In any case, they were determined that me and my brothers would have the kind of old-fashioned farmhouse upbringing they had pictured in their heads so, once we moved in we did what all good neighbors do upon entering a new community.
Built a big ass fence and didn’t leave the yard.
It was during this period that I started to come to realize I’m not much for manual labor. Not to say I’m lazy or anything; but I’m lazy. So those first several months, while they were hard on everyone looking back; I felt that they were especially difficult for me since I was a lazy, self-centered preteen.
By the time all the renovations were complete our home had a fairly large front and back yard, filled with citrus trees as well as two small ponds and a chicken coop that doubled as a laundry room.
The next day, they managed to locate a farmers market and came home with: 25 chickens, 2 ducks, 2 geese and two turkeys.
I was ecstatic.
I love small animals and slowly learned that yes, most fowl are completely idiotic; but still very sweet. Except ducks and geese. Both of those types of animals seem to have been built out of rage and sexual assault.
It wasn’t long after we got our animals that the neighborhood children on our street began pestering their own families for ducks and such for themselves. Being exactly the kind of responsible parents you would expect them to be, they acquiesced to their children’s demands and purchased their own livestock, albeit without the same level of preparation we did.
Within a year of us moving into this community our street looked like a country road in Kazakhstan, with ducks, geese, chickens and I think at one point even a goat (no one knew who it belonged to; it just showed up one day.) roaming the streets.
To the credit of the animals we owned, they started to display a talent at organizing all these disparate creatures together into one cohesive unit at our home. The residents of the community were fine with this considering they didn’t want the damned things to begin with. So, by the time our foray into trailer park farming ended we had a menagerie of animals. There was a school bus that actually altered it’s route just so the kids riding home could see what amounted to a petting zoo. Those were good times, but like all things they couldn’t last.
So much so that we couldn’t afford to feed them and ourselves. Which led to a very rational choice on our part. One day, we rounded up all the animals and in our front lawn began to put down the majority of them. We started in the early morning, fully expecting to be done in time; but did not count on how hard it is to chase and capture 80+ farm animals. But, we managed to get it done. We were just wrapping up with the last chicken when the school bus made it’s turn onto our street.
My Dad, quickly switched gears. Loosening the tie on the chickens neck and scooting it along to go play with the rabbits. He waved at the children and motioned for us to do the same.
This was actually so much worse.
You see, it’s bad enough if you’re young to see someone ending another creatures life. It’s a completely different matter to see; as a child a grown man wearing overalls with a white shirt, both of which stained with blood waving an axe while smiling as his three children just stare at you.
I don’t think we wound up trying farming again. It turned out it was just as hard on my parents as it was us to put down a large amount of animals we had raised ourselves (even though from the beginning, we knew this was what we would do) we could actually not even bring ourselves to eat them (with the exception of one of the turkeys. We have hearts, but come on; this was right before Thanksgiving. Those damned things are expensive.) so we donated all of them, plucked and cleaned to local homeless shelters as well as needy families in the area so they could eat. As for that chicken, we named it Lucky and it lived a long and full life. Dying of natural causes. We gave her a proper burial and she is still there today.
I have no idea what happened to that goat.