My personal choice is neutering male lambs and cutting off their tails.
But one real stinker I saw in Germany involved double-handling (or triple?) cow manure for making fuel bricks.
Before the snow falls, a big pit is dug right in front of the barn. All winter, the men shovel and haul the cow poo into this pit. Must have been at least 2 tonnes of it. Come spring when the snow melts, the manure is hauled out of the pit and spread onto a bare patch of ground. The men tamp down the poo and let it dry. Then, using wooden spades with the flat end sharpened, the poo is cut into 10-inch “tiles” and flipped over to allow the underside to dry. Drying takes the whole of summer, resulting in tiles with the consistency of weak particle board. It burns pretty well, but I’m not sure it’s a healthy practice, especially in winter.
At what point in history do you think we invented robot livestock?
This is an unchanged reality of farming. If you’re working with a large group of animals, you’re going to have to deal with all those natural elements. Doesn’t matter if it’s 3000BC, 1350, or 2020. If you have a herd of livestock, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of shit. And you’re going to be doing things like neutering and cutting off tails and burning off horns (which was my personal least favorite).
I’m in agreement, no job worse than disudding kids and castrating. Even butchering somehow isn’t as bad as the first thing you do is kill the animal as quickly and painlessly as possible, and then it’s just a meat chore.
I’m not looking forward to spring-cleaning the chicken coop that much either.
Gotta say those manure-fuel bricks do sound archaic though.
Incinerating dead chickens. When you have thousands, it’s not unusual to lose a few every week. We put them in a big trash can and covered them with lime. When the can started getting full they went into the incinerator. Castrating calves didn’t bug me that much, maybe because we only had a herd of 15-20 and the births were spread out.
I came to hate working with tobacco more than anything when I started thinking about how many people it killed. My parents actually respected my view, and let me not work with tobacco and concentrate on the other chores.
Fence repair used to be my least favorite farm chore. My gf’s horses have plenty of pasture to eat, but one gap in the fence and they’re heading for that greener grass. It should be a one person job, but stretching wire while simultaneously hammering a staple is asking for problems. As a two person job, someone is always in the other’s way. Plus, fence failures always seem to occur when it’s cold/sleeting/windy.
Then, last year my gf got a huge bonus at work, so she had a fence crew come in and totally replace every inch of fencing. All new posts, new rails where it is split rail, new high tension wire. It’s a thing of beauty.
I was hoping to hear about childhood chores. I assume children don’t dock tails.
The divide between rural and urban has never seemed larger.
The question I have is… why are you burning it? For heat? Isn’t there some way to dispose of it so you don’t have to smell it burning?
I am aware that people used to burn dung for fuel. It’s basically free. But I cannot imagine actually doing that when there is any sort of alternative. I would happily spend money on gas or firewood (chopping down the trees myself if I had to, with my weak arms and total lack of training) than burn dung for fuel.
We chop up trees that fall or are threatening to fall, but rarely use our fireplace, instead we create big burn piles in our pasture. This weekend we lit two piles. It’s an all day chore to man the fires, watching for problems and pushing the piles inward.
Our manure is composted. We then use it to top dress planting beds, fill in holes, etc. Composted horse manure is amazing stuff.
In the Frisian islands of Germany, and maybe some other coastal islands, you have settlers who fish and raise dairy cattle. There’s hardly any wood for fuel and building; just rolling grass and thatching plants in the hills away from the coast. A lot of these islands are developing seaside resorts these days and native farmers there might eventually give up their traditional lifestyles. Was there in 2003.
Most things on a farm are about birth, death and sex, and where there’s muck there’s brass.
Marking lambs or calves was no biggie and we did thousands each year. As kids we’d be helping Dad from 9 or 10 I guess. But it’s a seasonal job for us rather than a chore.
Most of the chores were mundane but livestock need to be fed, animal husbandry needs to be done, the stock get sick and treated and sometime still die, or get sold for slaughter, or end up on the dinner table. But all manner of farm chores that I did and my nieces and nephews do give my city based kids the horrors.
The most unpleasant task around the farm was treating flystruck sheep.
I used to live in a house in a rural area, which is to say, zoned county, so we paid cheaper taxes, but didn’t get to vote in mayoral elections, and could have as many pets as we wanted. (Limit of 3 dogs, & I forget how many cats, but there was a limit, without a kennel or vet license).
Had a lot of lawn to mow, had to prune trees, clear sumps, prime pumps every so often, haul recycling, because we didn’t have pick-up, and such. Plus all the usual stuff of house-owning, and I bitched and moaned about it.
Now I live in an apartment in the city. 1 dog, 1 cat, but no mowing, no pruning, and if anything breaks, I make one phone call, and someone is there in two hours.
Geez, I would live in a cardboard box before I’d castrate something.
When I was a teenager, a neighbor’s cow gave birth and her entire uterus prolapsed. Neighbor called the vet, who worked on the cow for a while before deciding he needed the help of someone with skinnier arms than the neighbor.
Neighbor drove over and asked my mom if I could lend a hand. What I had to do was take off my shirt and shove my hand/arm up to my shoulder into the cow’s vagina while the vet sutured her vulva nearly closed, leaving just enough room for my arm.
Yep, fence repair. Last year, we did some repairs after a tree fell, smashing part of the fence. We also built a new one to section off part of the pasture. And we learned a lot of it from YouTube! Blood, sweat, and tears…especially blood.
My brother had a small pig farm. When I was in high school, he called me to ask me to come over and help him out. He had a new bunch of piglets, and it was time to castrate them. My job was to lift the (male) piglets up by the back legs, hold them upside down, and spread their legs, while he sprayed disinfectant and yielded the scalpel. It was loud, smelly, and disgusting; the little piglets didn’t seem to like it one bit! I was around only a few times to help out; I think his wife was the normal helper, but she was pregnant at the time.
Removing egg layers to ship to the Campbell’s soup factory.
Egg laying hens are housed in massively long barns with automated feed/water delivery and egg removal systems. These barns are built with a dug out/basement section below where a skid-steer can go in and clean out the massive amount of shit.
When the hens are done laying, people have to go in, remove the from their cages (legs first), hand them down the line of people to openings to the basement below. Folks down there grab the hens and put them in rolling carts that are then loaded onto semis.
The entire process is disgusting, but the folks down below are literally continually rained on with shit from the thousands of agitated hens above.
I did a ton of disgusting ag work growing up, and this one easily takes the cake. Slopping out pig or cattle stalls in the spring when they are filled with foot plus deep anaerobic manure that is so strong smelling with ammonia is a walk in the park in comparison.
There is a scene in Napoleon Dynamite where they are working on an egg ranch and they are disgusted at the egg in the OJ…that would’ve been the best part of the day for us.