I watched my Angus heifers breathe deeply into the earth as they grazed this afternoon. The chickens ran to the fence line the moment they heard me pull up my boots, but the cows remained content in their hypnotic zone, focused on what was directly in their view, expressing a dedication to the present. I find myself engaging in a simliar season; in a trance of life - giving and recieving, exploring and learning, bringing it all inward and breathing deeply back into the earth, just as my heifers do, so naturally. I realized that the longer I live with our animals, the more I understand myself through them. I find similarities because we are not so separate now. These two years of geniunely learning each other and sharing the same land, elements and schedule, has unified us. The relationship bewteen us and our farm now resembles a marriage. We bought it, we even slid a shiny new ring on it, yet we were still not promised a fruitful relationship. It takes time and patience to cultivate a true understanding. I have learned that both earth and animals require a tedious courtship, which I strive to temper with perserverance, faith and admiration.
January gave us at least one hundred pounds of juicy tomatoes, in every size and color imaginable. In February, we hatched out our fourth group of baby chickens ( in an incubator this time). It was a magical sight to witness, though we all agree that no warm plastic box can compare to a broody mother hen. Wallace and Grommit, our Berkshire pigs, were harvested shortly after and somehow we can almost see the bottom of our deep freezer. I quickly decided that words on eating our home raised pigs would never do them justice, so we invited family and friends ( strangers too!) to taste our love, labor and memories over many weekend meals. In March, Dane started to assemble her own salads with our gardens provisions and we learned together how to braid yellow onions. We welcomed several baby rabbits to life on our farm and laid some to rest in our compost, while new mothers learned how to care for their young. Volunteer Blue Hubbard squash came and went in April, providing us with the best bird feeders. We picked our first peaches in June and declared it time to cover the garden beds in order to solarize and put our minds into harvesting our heifer. We visited family in July and got lost in a neighborhood with beautiful poplar trees and perfect yards. For a second, I sampled a taste of the simple ease in those small yards and sidewalks. I became thirsty for it in a way. Then, subconsciously, I looked for goats, cows and chickens in their yard ( of course there were none, we were in the city! ). Inside I laughed, grasping a new meaning of our farm and animals. Outside of their purpose to provide us with food, each and every animal is a symbol of our love and a monument of our family. Just like the trimmed hedges and bursting azaleas in those yards, our animals are a testament of what we have become and what is important to us. They ground us in times of uncertainty and remind us of who, what and why we are.
You see, just like any marriage I have been tempted by the world outside of what we have built. In between the highlights of seven months, I have fallen in and out of love with the sacrifices involved a thousand times. But what consistently flows through the ups and the downs is the promise we have made to honor life - our lives and the lives of our land and animals. August has marked another year around the sun for both Dane and me. My gift was a minature Jersey calf that will arrive on our farm next week. I cannot wait to open my heart to another life that will in time, represent who we are and remind us that what is important is right here, at our fingertips.
PHOTO BY // Rose Martin
Everything is vibrant and green here - a kind of Spring for other parts of the country. When I'm not tending to the garden and animals, I'm inside canning every tomato in sight!
pictured: purple cabbages growing / dane learns to share / lentil, oat and more chicken feed / my sweetheart / a thousand tomatoes / making water ropes / bunnylicious / best tomato salad / rosemary in knots