Most of you are probably in a panic because Christmas is only a day or so away. There are never enough hours in the day at this time of year. Listening to Christmas music is one of my favorite ways to try to calm down.
Recently I heard the wonderful English carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and it occurred to me that our farm and the song have several things in common. The first line is “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.” Our farm does not have a partridge in a pear tree, but we have an emu in a horse stall. Her name is Mrs. Emu and she was a Christmas present to me from my husband several years ago. She makes a sound like a kettle drum and loves dog food and grapes.
“On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two turtle doves.” No, we don’t have two turtle doves, but my husband gave me two pygmy goats named Lucky and Gemini about eight years ago. Unfortunately I had to give them to a much younger farmer since I was totally exhausted trying to keep them in a fence.
“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three French hens.” Ours may not have been French hens, but they did lay some of the best brown eggs ever. They too were a present from my husband. He even looked like Santa as he opened up a feed sack to show me the three red hens.
“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four calling birds.” Here at the Smith farm our calling birds look and sound more like pigeons. They were not a present from my husband—they just moved in.
“On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five golden rings.” I’ve only gotten one wedding ring from my true love, but that is just fine with me.
“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six geese a-laying.” Our geese did more chasing than laying. They chased dogs, cats, and people. When the big gander (male goose) came up behind a friend of ours in the barn driveway and bit him on the back of the leg, it didn’t make me think of a Christmas carol at all. The geese were a present from my husband, of course.
“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven swans a-swimming.” Swans happen to be one of the few birds that have not been a present from my husband—maybe he just couldn’t find any, but he did give me seven Indian Runner ducks. We had so much fun watching those ducks. Every morning they would waddle to the creek, spend the day splashing, eating and resting, and then waddle back to the barn in the evening, always in one straight line.
“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight maids a-milking.” These have to be the eight Holstein dairy cows we have left from when we milked. They are retired now and deserve it.
“On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing.”
“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten lords a-leaping.” These have to be the horses and the Longhorns when my husband and son feed them hay in the pasture. It looks like it’s spring and they’ve been in the barn all winter the way they dance and leap around the tractor and wagon.
The Smith farm doesn’t have either eleven pipers piping or twelve drummers drumming, but we certainly have lots of cats and dogs who are very good at making their own noises. So our farm doesn’t have quite all the characters mentioned in the carol. On the other hand, I don’t know what my husband has in mind for me this Christmas. I can only hope that it doesn’t need feeding and watering or have feathers!
Kathy Smith is a farm wife from Wayne Township. She writes for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.