The Three-armed Farmer

With all the advances science has made, it astounds me that no one has come up with a formula to allow us to grow an additional arm.

While I’m sure mothers, schoolteachers, and perhaps your occasional construction worker rues the fact that they only have two arms, I am here to tell you that for a farmer this limitation is a serious liability.


You are holding feed bowl up out of reach while opening a gate and fending off 3 goats and a jumping sheep with your hips.
You are trying to repair a fence board that “someone” busted, and you’ve got to hold the 8 foot board in place with a shoulder whilst reaching down for the power drill, fishing in your pocket for the screws, and keeping a nosy goat at bay with a leg extended.
You are holding a duck who needs medication in one arm, trying to open the tube of medicine in the other, and leaning forward and spitting (yes, I said spitting – it’s a very effective defense, as goats hate to get wet) out towards the goat who thinks that the medicine is edible.

The list of reasons we need three arms is endless, and I’ll be happy to compile suggestions to post on the web site so we can submit the suggestion to NIH or one of those human genetics labs.

Now, one farmlady naughtily suggested that three-armedness might lead to entire new areas of specialization in the pornography industry and great financial gain…. I’m not even going there.

Anyhow, I guess I’ve always looked at the need for three arms with a bit of a negative slant (“dammit, why don’t I have three arms”), which is probably why God hasn’t granted me the wish. But tonight I discovered the real reason you need three arms.

About 2 months ago I brought home an emaciated, scabby, downtrodden dog from a shearing job I was doing in southern Maryland. I named him Toby. Toby is a brown dog. The farmer on whose property he was hanging out said “yep, I don’t think he’ll make it through another winter”, which of course clinched it for me to bring him here. Toby has no mean bone in his body, despite the obvious evidence that he has been beaten. His medical problems, while numerous, have thus far not proven insurmountable (lyme disease, a nasty staph infection on his skin, ear mites, tapeworms, and overall hideous malnutrition). He eats 5 times a day, has gained 5 pounds (he still needs to gain at least 10-15 more), and has won the hearts of our local vet and the dog acupuncturist we see regularly. He’s finally started coming up to me and putting his chin in my lap. Now, when he walks around the farm with the other dogs his ears are now pricked up instead of droopy, and he looks around with interest instead of skulking around like he doesn’t really belong.

I suppose rehabilitation is not for everyone. You get to be pretty focused on the small successes (“wow, that scab is healing up really great there, boy”, and “no vomiting today”). It’s a bit gritty. But what is so neat is when you see the light come back into their eyes. Tonight, for the very first time, Toby played. I heard suspicious noises coming from the kitchen, and went out to find him and Ti-gba wrestling joyfully. Then all three dogs gathered in my tiny office, and I had an arm around Toby, and another around Ti-gba, and then Derry needed an arm, and then Ti-gba needed that arm back — and I realized, I really do need three arms: one for each dog.

Till next time,

Farmer Anne
Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3
A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats