Hay in my underwear: Two months on the farm

Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010

I grew up under the impression that anywhere south of the Canadian boarder is warm. However, at 7:30 a.m. on a goat farm in Delta County, Colo., there is no warmth to be found.

Courtesy Of Brandon Cole
Courtesy Of Brandon Cole

I stumble from bed into my boots and from there out to the mountain of hay bales and impatient goats awaiting breakfast. It is apparent from their disapproving expressions that I am late.

Sluggishly, I haul several bales from their resting place, and it begins. Prickly needles of alfalfa rain down my legs, into the tops of my boots, wriggling to rest in between my toes. I gather great armfuls of the bristling green mass and lift it over the fence to eager pink noses. I flinch, as it scratches my neck and settles in my ears. By the time my morning chores are done, and I sit down to breakfast, I am resigned to the all-too familiar feeling of hay in my underwear.

Farming is not something we see a lot of in Southeast, Alaska. Some gardening perhaps, and even the occasional horse, but a cow or sheep out to pasture in our temperate rainforest would be exotic. Farming was always mysterious and romantic to me. Now, one month into my internship at Zephyros Farm and Garden, I have learned a thing or two about this glamorous lifestyle. I have spent entire days shoveling manure, made cheese, and had my arm completely inside a goat's uterus. I have forgotten what it is like to be entirely clean, or without the faint aroma of livestock on my clothes. I have fallen behind on my pop culture trivia, and am blissfully unaware of any trendy new fashions.

Last week, we welcomed seventeen new baby goats onto the farm. They were tiny, precious, and covered in slimy placenta. I watched as, one by one, they wobbled to their feet - motivated by the tantalizing udders of their mothers nearby. Having never witnessed a birth before, seventeen in a row was quite the show. In mid-winter, with snow falling all around them, these goats were flying the banner of springtime. Sure enough, each day more sprouts have begun to peak their heads out of the soil, hanging on to the lingering winter sunshine.

In three weeks I will go back to school, where some people have never seen a goat or planted a seed. I will begin to buy milk at the supermarket once more, and I will miss the beautiful layer of cream that I now know is supposed to be on top. My produce will likely come from South America, and my eggs will come in cartons.

For the sake of my roommate, I will likely dispose of all the clothes I have worn in the past month. I will resume once again the life of an up-to-date college sophomore. However, no matter what I am doing in the coming months and years, I doubt I will ever forget the feeling of holding new spring goats, of fresh dirt between my fingers or of hay in my underwear.

• Adrienne Bosworth, 19, is a Juneau resident and sophomore at Quest University Canada. She also works as a farmhand on a goat farm, Zephyros Farm and Garden, in Paonia, Colo.

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