The Continuing Adventures of Tim, Yuppie Turned Farmerboy

by admin on October 27, 2008

Originally published in 1997.

This is an ongoing Chronicle of Tim, the computer weenie Yuppie turned Yupneck. As many of you acquainted with Tim know, he was born into this world a naked, but intellectually endowed baby destined for Yuppiehood like most of his Boomer generation. However, God and Jeanne had other plans for him and at the age of 36, Tim has begun the slow transformation to maybe not quite “redneck” but certainly something in-between, like Yupneck. What follows is a documentation of the ruralization of Tim …..

It was a peculiar looking barn. Nothing grandiose about it but rather utilitarian in appearance. It sides were faded and paint peeling and its sole door hung precariously at a broken angle. “Aha!,” cried Tim, “A simple project for me to repair.” And he purposed himself to repair the door’s hinges so that the pathetic door hung with some dignity. The barn, however, held deep, malicious secrets which slowly revealed themselves to Tim as each layer of repair progressed. The hinges hid a rotted door frame which hid a rotted sill plate which hid deteriorating cinder blocks. What started out as a simple repair of the hinges evolved into a renovation of the entire one side of the barn which now sports a rather beautiful door. Lesson Number One learned regarding Farm Life : There is no such thing as a simple repair project.

Later in the spring, the horses, having watched Tim repair their barn (often to the point of standing looking over his shoulder as he crouched by the foundation), decided that since he loved working on it so much that they would give him more fun repair projects so it was decided that they would kick out the cinder blocks by the stalls. They were so successful at it that the entire side of the barn became structurally unsound. Tim was not amused. Lesson Number Two: Farm animals wreck havoc on farm structures and repair is a never ending process.

Speaking of horses, Tim became adept at unloading 500 pounds of grain without losing any sacks to marauding horses who would sneak up to the pick-up truck and carry off 50 pound sacks. Tim was further inducted into equine management when Teddy reared straight up in Trigger fashion while Tim was holding him for the farrier. This, unfortunately, sealed Teddy’s fate as a horse unsuitable for a farm with kids on it.

Later in the spring. it was decided that since we have a pond of sorts it would be nice if we could see it. Thus began the Project To Clear The Fences. Jeanne cut rusted old barbed wire with loppers and Tim waged war with chainsaw in hand to fell the biggest saplings and reserved his pent-up savagery by using his tractor bushhog to decimate everything else. Screams of maniacal glee were heard over the drone of the tractor engine. Lesson Number Three: Tractors are fun. And tractors with bushhogs are even more fun. (Bushhog, by the way, is the generic name given to very, very large mowers pulled by tractors.)

As spring progressed, it became obvious that our main crop in the pastures was weeds. Big weeds. Weeds that were so numerous and large that they looked like the invading armies of Ghengis Khan. Tim valiantly went to war and mowed down huge swaths of the dreaded enemy with his trusty bush hog. Since he was still learning how to handle this powerful tool, he often raised the tractor hydraulics too high to lift the bushhog to clear some obstruction and invariably he caused the rotating arm of the bushhog to clatter noisily against the frame. What should have been peaceful sounds of a bushhog destroying vast quantities of vegetative matter was often punctuated by the sounds of GRRRRRRRONNNKKK as Tim once again, to the amusement of his good ol’ boy neighbors, lifted the bushhog too high. Man, what a rookie.

Thus began Tim’s love affair with his humble Ford 8-N tractor. He lusted not for the mega tractors our neighbors drive with their enclosed cabins, heat and a/c, stereo sound systems. His little chugger was good enough for him.

With so much land for their use, Jeanne began lusting terribly for much bigger gardens. However, gardening is not Tim the Computer Weenie’s “Thing” so Jeanne had to devise ways to appeal to his budding rurality in order to get Tim convinced that a garden is a must-have item. Using subtle husband training techniques which often earned Jeanne the coveted title of Domestic Goddess by her friends, Jeanne hypnotically suggested to Tim that growing your own food is a Manly Thing thus triggering his very latent “Me caveman, must provide food for family” instincts. It worked and five raised garden beds were born. (Hehehehe, just wait til Tim sees what Jeanne has in store for him this spring – mega garden!)

On Mother’s Day, Jeanne planned to take her mother-in-law to a local goat farm as a way to please her since Ginny loved goats. This turned out to be a major turning point in the farm life of High Places Farm because Ginny couldn’t control herself in the presence of over 40 of the cutest little goats you ever saw and she bought herself a Mother’s Day gift of a registered and very pregnant Pygmy doe named Laura Lu. We had left the menfolk repairing the gas grill and in their intensity, never noticed how long we were gone for. Surprise! Surprise! We brought home a goat! As is typical to men, they looked upon this new acquisition with eyes that barely hid the mental calculations of how many new projects this will spawn and silent questioning as to how much a thing this small can cost.

Fortunately, earlier in the spring, Tim had fenced in the backyard for Harry and our two ducks, Saltine and Triscuit. So, in went the goat to join the Yorkshire Terrier and the Blue Swedish ducks. It was discovered quite quickly though that goats are little escape artists and thus a new project was instantly birthed – repair that opening by the gate so the goat can’t squeeze through it. Later in the week, Tim moved an extra doghouse we had into the backyard so the goat had some sort of a little “barn”. And then began the pregnancy watch.

On Father’s Day Eve, Jeanne noticed that the goat was not coming when called to get a treat so she checked out the situation to discover the doe in the “barn” with a huge bubble out her butt. Quietly sneaking over to Tim’s office window where he was blithely engaged in Yuppie computer work, Jeanne whispered to him , “Goat,” and that was all the clue Yupneck Man needed. Springing out if his chair and with flashlight in hand, he bounded out of the house to assist as midwife to the now laboring goat. Placing half of his body into the “barn”, Tim assisted in birthing both Fritzi and Mitzi by removing the amniotic sack from their noses (under Jeanne’s direction since his transformation to full Yupneck status had not transpired). This action undoubtedly saved the first baby who was ignored due to the impending arrival of the second baby rather quickly. However, midwifery was the extent to which Tim would go in regards to medical supervision of the farm animals and it was left to Jeanne to trim goat hooves, give shots and generally supervise all animal management.

With an increased population of goats, a new project was born…fence in a proper goat pen. This was later referred to as the “Project From Hell” because it was done in the hottest part of summer and Tim was sorely challenged. It turned out later that Tim had a thyroid problem which required medication otherwise he was in a state of constant exhaustion.

However, prior to the goat Project From Hell, Jeanne had unexpectedly brought home 41 chicks from the Southern States Co-op. She had only planned on getting ten layer chicks to start our egg laying flock but the co-op had been the recipient of a mis-mailed batch of chicks. Hundreds of chicks. The store was giving them away free lest they die so Jeanne greedily took as many as she could fit into a cardboard box. Of course, she was counting on Tim’s love of projects to help her situate these cute little balls of fluff properly. A heat lamp and several feet of chicken wire making a small corral in the workshop was sufficient to house the little peeps for the first month of their life but living conditions started getting crowded as the little balls of fluff became gawky blobs of emerging pin feathers. It was time for drastic changes in environment. We had always planned on making a chicken tractor (a mobile pen which gets moved every day as opposed to a coop) but Tim was having problems figuring this one out. Friends to the rescue! The Avanzatos came and helped Tim build an 8X8 tractor in a single day. We loaded all the chicks into the new pen and peace and harmony reigned. Lesson Number Four: Happy chickens “sing”.

However, the Avanzatos had good/bad news. Most of those 41 chicks were not egg layers but rather broilers. Meat birds. Uh oh. We hadn’t bargained on meat birds. That means we have to slaughter them. Graciously the Avanzatos offered to help us out by letting us bring our chickens to their farm the next time they were slaughtering broilers and they would show us how to do so. Yeeehaaw, we are really getting rural now! At the appointed day, we showed up in force – one Yupneck, his wife, three kids and 30 chickens. Rolling up our sleeves , we dove right in to the ruthless task of killing, gutting and cleaning chickens. The Avanzatos slit throats, dipped in hot water and operated the chicken picker but Tim cut off heads and legs, Jeanne gutted, Abby cleaned remaining pin feathers, Nathaniel checked to see that the lungs were removed properly and Emma transferred cleaned birds to a large trough filled with ice to cool them. Our freezer now bulges with chicken.

Part of the duties of a Yupneck is to be chief taste tester to all State Fair cooking contests your wife happens to enter. This was a sacrifice Tim was willing to make and he valiantly tried to swallow Jeanne’s Spam-Apple Stew, later to be affectionately dubbed “Spew”, only to inform her that this dish was the absolute worst thing Jeanne had ever made in the entire history of their marriage. Lesson Five: Nothing cooked with Spam tastes good. Jeanne’s Apple-Raspberry Pie was a great hit with the family but not with the judges. Lesson Six: Yuppie city judges know nothing about good eating even if it walked up and smacked them in the face.

Late in summer, we couldn’t control our urge to inflict new and interesting projects upon ourselves so we succumbed and bought the little house and 1 acre next to our house. Being that the house was a good 40 years old and had been a rental unit for the last 10 years, it needed lots of paint, new light fixtures and new bathroom vanity. Somehow Tim and Jeanne squeezed this new set of projects into their already crowded schedule in order to welcome new tenants in October.

Fall of 1997 was also remembered for “The Day Dean Smith Announced His Retirement”. When the news came over the radio, Tim all but crashed the car hushing everyone up and trying to adjust the volume to listen. Amazing how men think they can drive down a road with their left ear plastered to the stereo speakers. After the news, Tim launched into a rather emotional eulogy of Dean Smith as if he was a recently deceased dignitary. Jeanne listened with the patient fascination of those studying peculiar civilizations and was ready to break out the black armbands which Tim would have worn with pride and appropriate depressed decorum. Now commonly heard by radio basketball announcers are solemn testimonies of where they were and what they were doing the moment they heard of Dean Smith’a (genuflect, genuflect) impending retirement. Firmly planted in Tim’s mind is that exact time, date and place he and his fellow co-workers bent with saddened ears to listen to Dean Smith’s retirement speech.

A soon to be learned Rural Lesson was that “If you have a bumper, they will come.” “They” being deer, of course. December proved to be “Bumper Buck”, “Dodge the Doe” or “Smear the Deer” Month for the family as Jeanne hit one on December 8th and Tim nailed his on the 14th. Jeanne had just taken the kids Christmas shopping for Tim and about 1/2 mile from home, saw a deer on the side of the road in the headlights. “Oh, look another deer!,” she cried when the animal did a 180 degree turn and ran smack in front of the van. KA-BLAM! Loud crunchy noises and flying debris everywhere. Deer went spinning like a top off to the left of the van and kids were having hysterical fits (Emma was oblivious since she was all the way in the back seat and really didn’t see what was going on). Drove home and got Tim who went back with Jeanne to mercy kill the dying deer. Of course, Tim and I stood over the dying animal pondering how we could get venison burgers out of it thus confirming to ourselves that indeed we were on the path to enlightened ruraldom by not disdaining free food miraculously supplied to us by an encounter with a vehicle. Three bullets to the head and the animal was out of her misery (Lesson Eight: .22 bullets bounce off of deer skulls even at point blank range.) . Tim then huffed and puffed and dragged the carcass off the side of the road and into some trees so we wouldn’t be treated to the sight of bleached deer bones on our trips to Wal-Mart for the next six months.

Upon debriefing with the kids afterwards, we discovered that what caused them so much emotional turmoil was that they thought the crunchy noises and the flying debris was the deer as if the animal has exploded into a bazillion pieces upon impact. “No, no, darlings, that was the grill of the Ford van crunching and pieces of it that you saw. Go look at the front end of the van (which 2/3rds of it was missing entirely).” $1400 in repairs and 10 days with no vehicle all due to a 50 pound animal gives new meaning to the name FORD (Fatal Obstacle for Retarded Deer).

Tim’s chance at being a vehicle-armed adult came six days later when he bopped one also about a half mile from home. This time we were not about to let another one go to waste so we tossed it into the pick-up truck with every intention of gutting, skinning and butchering the thing even though we had no idea what we were doing. Jeanne knew how to gut chickens and butcher rabbits but a deer was a whole other matter. But by now, Tim had been firmly inculcated with ruralness and he was not going to waste food no matter what so with single-minded obsession, he began the process of deer butchering while Jeanne was inside calling everyone they knew to ask about deer gutting. Finally Jeanne was able to snag a neighbor to help them. While Nathaniel was intent on watching every gory detail, the girls refused to even step from the house until Mr. Blackley arrived because “He knows what he is doing and Daddy doesn’t.”.

With Mr. Blackley’s presence firmly established on the property, the girls also crowded round to watch the transformation from cute Bambi to dressed out carcass. Appropriate “Yuks!” and nose holding accompanied the guts spilling into the wheelbarrow but all in all, the kids were intensely fascinated as Mommy pointed out various anatomical structures while Tim carved, hacked, peeled and sawed under Mr. Blackley’s directions. The kids can now proudly tell you that a fresh diaphragm has shimmering rainbow colors on it.

Tim, clearly tapping his ancient Caveman roots, uttered the command, “Fix me deer meat for dinner, Woman!”, to which Jeanne gamely struggled to prepare, having no clue how to even cut up the huge pieces of meat. What issued forth from the kitchen were back loin roasts sprinkled with Dale’s Seasoning sauce per the advice of a friend. Grunting with primal pleasure, Tim consumed vast quantities of venison as Jeanne pondered the mystery of why men love to eat that which they have killed.

And so ends Tim’s Year of Rural Living. Stay tuned for next year’s report as Tim learns even more rural skills and encounters new and different projects like “sheep” and “pig”. “Tim, you do remember that I want to get a pig next year, right? Think delicious, savory sausage, dear.”

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