Baby and the Farm: It’s No Place for a Germaphobe

Our farm is messy. It was messy before our daughter was born, and will probably be messy for years to come. Our chickens wander the gardens at their leisure, the goats manage to find holes in the fencing, and not a day goes by where hay and straw aren’t tracked into the house. How would we manage bringing a baby into this chaos? Not only do we have every day human germs to battle, but also pig, sheep, and donkey microorganisms that are festering just beneath the surface.

Like most new parents, we have the obligatory cabinet full of hand sanitizer. We have hand wipes, nose wipes, pacifier wipes, wipes for disinfecting – we have millions of wipes. But six months in, they all sit in a drawer, rarely used, slowly drying up to show their displeasure.  The jugs of sanitizer are still used, but so infrequently, the gel solidifies in the pump.

When a pacifier falls to the ground, it’s usually just dusted off and placed back into a waiting open mouth.  Mind you, this isn’t always the case. Should we be in the barn, and should a chicken step on it before recovery, it will be sent to the sanitizer for a thorough cleaning. Slobbery chins are more commonly wiped with t-shirt sleeves then bibs. And a dog lick on the face isn’t considered a transmission of the plague from canine to baby as it once was.

Germs are everywhere, whether you live on a farm or not. In our house, they might just be a little more accessible. Cats love to bat around pacifiers and toys. Dogs are delusional and think every stuffed animal was brought into the house for their sole pleasure. Babies love to grab anything interesting within sight and shove it in their mouths. Between the slobber, hair, and outside microbes that are trampled into our house on a daily basis, it’s a wonder any of us are alive.

Sometimes, I like to philosophize while watering the tomatoes. Would a mother be more cautious? Does having two fathers, subconsciously at least, suggest one should be stronger and learn to toughen up? Did I just make gross assumptions about masculinity!? It’s a rabbit hole. But at least the tomatoes are completely watered. It’s pretty easy to overanalyze almost anything. And as gay fathers we probably don’t do it any more or less than heterosexual or single parents, but we may concentrate on different things.

I remember meeting a toddler once who would just sit down on the ground and start eating dirt. Just pile it in until caught. Then he would move to another location and start shoveling it in again.  We also have friends who jump for the wipes anytime a pacifier pops out of their baby’s mouth. Extremes exist everywhere. And so we’ve settled for the middle; we’ll shake cat hair of the pacifier with little trepidation, but scare that bossy chicken away that tries to perch on the car seat handle. One of those wipes might even materialize to clean off the handle.

Posted by Andrew Kohn

Andrew Kohn lives with his husband and 2 kids in Columbus, Ohio. He has written for government, non-government, and private organizations including The White House.


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