How To Get Out of Weddings

Weddings, ugh. For some reason, uncomfortable dress clothes, sappy songs, and awkward small talk appeal to otherwise rational women, my wife included. She actually smiles when an envelope brings tidings of forthcoming nuptials. Of course, the invitation inside also requests the honor of our presence, by which it really means her presence. I know the  bride-to-be just put my name on the invitation to be polite. And sometimes they don’t even waste the gold-foil ink printing my name–they just put Mr. and Mrs. Natalie Bishop. 

So forget feeding the world: the best reason to own cows is to get out of weddings. I hate to  spill the beans, but cattle prices have been in the dumpster for years now. Economically speaking,  we’d all be better off donating our cows to PETA and letting them foot the bill for hay. Currently,  the only advantage to keeping cows is a man (or woman if so inclined) can accidentally leave a  gate open. Thus, an hour before the union of two dear friends, really slight acquaintances if we’re  being honest, a prized heifer can get loose and need wrangling. And a loose cow emergency trumps attendance at weddings. Just don’t overplay the loose cow card, or else your significant other will suspect something’s up and ask you to repair the pasture fence, and repairing fences is tedious work best procrastinated. 

Unfortunately, many bridal magazines have caught on to the fact that men hate weddings and are now advising readers to get hitched in barns to re-attract the missing male demographic. Recently, I attended one of these barn weddings. Here’s my firsthand report: Still, ugh. 

First, it was definitely not a working barn. I never caught the slightest waft of manure or  saw the first mouse. Second, there were no wasp nests anywhere or yellow jackets hiding in old  hay bales. Third, the barn was absent dust-filled cobwebs and, in fact, dust. The barn was spotless.  It had fluorescent lights and stainless-steel fixtures. It was the first barn I’ve seen that could double  as an operating room. Sadly, that bride probably spent a fortune hoping for a true-to-life barn  experience and left with a white dress unsoiled. In a real barn, nothing attracts grease, oil, or grime faster than white clothes. 

So, brides, if you’re seeking an authentic barn wedding, please feel free to contact me to tour our venue featuring a barn built in 1940 and many dilapidated out-buildings. For a meager  upcharge, you can meet the raccoon living in the hayloft. For a small intimate wedding, the old  smokehouse accommodates eight people and a hundred mice. 

Right now, I have widespread availability, though this is liable to change once word gets out about the affordability of my authentic venue. In fact, you could probably rent our whole  facility for a fraction of those fancy barn venues, so long as you remember to feed the cows and  empty the mouse traps.

Our Facilities

When Pigs Fly and A Farmer Exercises

In a clear indication of how behind the times our society is, pot belly pigs bear the weight of an unattainable standard. Really, it’s a double standard if you ask me. While most farmers spend years working on a respectable pot belly to drape over their belt buckle and show off at the sale barn, pot belly pigs can’t get a cloven hoof in the arena door. Try bringing a pot belly pig to the sale barn, and you’ll be laughed out of the unloading line. 

Our local small animal sale rules: Pot bellies get no respect.

I know the pain this causes because of an enlightening and thoroughly delightful conversation I had with an aspiring pot belly. I made its acquaintance quite by surprise, one day after work, on my daily “run” (in an effort to postpone the looming heart attack, I sometimes lift my feet repeatedly, in a pattern indicative of briskly shuffling penguin). My route takes me past the sale barn, up a tortuous hill, to a long dirt road that dissects a crop field. The field has a small patch of trees beside the road. On the day of my encounter with the pot belly, I noticed a truck with a gooseneck livestock trailer parked beside that clump of trees. “That’s strange,” I thought, “I wonder if they’re broke down.” 

But no sooner than I thought that, the truck began moving, whipped the trailer around, and started barrelling toward me. I always give a little wave to oncoming vehicles, but the farmer didn’t even throw up the obligatory “how ya doing” index finger. He just kept boogying down the road, leaving me running in a cloud of dust. “Strange,” I thought. 

A few minutes later, I made it to the trees where the farmer had been parked. Out of nowhere, I heard a voice, low and gruff with a thick Bronx accent:“Hey, you, can I get some directions?” I stopped running, looked around, but didn’t see anyone. 

“Yeah, you, runner boy,” the voice said, “over here, down low.” 

“Holy smokes!” I said, staring at a creature emerging from the woods. It was short and stout, with a low center of gravity. 

“What? You never seen a pot belly pig before?” 

“No, I mean, you, you’re a…” I stammered. 

“You humans are all alike,” said the pig, with an offended grunt. It shook it’s stubby little snout in disappointment and then started sniffing the ground, stopping every so often to root around for some unseen delectable. I stood in awe, speechless until a few words finally welled up from my throat, “but, but, you’re a…”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m a pot belly pig, already covered that. You know those yahoos at the sale barn had never seen a pot belly pig either. They wouldn’t let me strut my stuff across the arena floor, and I got modeling offers from Versace and Tommy Hilfiger. Then that good for nothing, sorry excuse for a farmer just abandoned me out here in the middle of nowhere and didn’t even say goodbye.”

“No, I mean, I’ve raised lots of pigs before,” I said, “but you’re a talking pig. I mean, I’ve never talked to a pig before.”

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” said the pig, “Imagine that–a farmer who has never talked to a pig before. Never thought I’d see the day. Now if you can quit yapping and point me in the direction of the Charlotte airport, this pig’s gotta catch a flight to New York City for a fashion show.”

I gave the pig directions. It turned and trotted off to Charlotte. Meanwhile, I started running the other way and wondered if I had just experienced the mysterious condition called a runner’s high.

My morning on the farm…..

I love days where I get to spend a little extra time on the farm, before the other responsibilities of my day start knocking on my door. This morning was particularly nice, as the horrid wind had stopped, the sun had come out, and Mini was in one of his rare good moods. Since it was so nice….I decided to share.

Decked out in my farm gear, which translates to Stephen’s sweat pants and coat, old shoes, and armed with two buckets.

Out to the chicken pasture I go to let out the tribe, gather any eggs, fill up the feeder and waterer.

The chickens run to their favorite morning spot by the barn to dust bath. I’ve actually caught Mini in a rare moment of relaxation – the boy never cuts loose.

While the chickens enjoy the sun, I climb up into the barn loft to get some fresh hay for the nesting boxes.

Taking a short cut through the horse corral, I manage to step in a big pile of poop.

Which reminds me that I can’t leave out the chicken’s buddies, Cody and Jill.

So far we’ve had a two egg morning…..thanks to Josephine and Pearla

Chickens are as happy as ever…..piled up and enjoying the morning.

This is what mornings on the farm are like – chickens, eggs, poop, hay, dirt. All the nice things that, despite being dusty and outside, make you feel real clean.

~ Natalie