My day began with morning chores which, this time of year, involve little more than opening the door to the layer house and making sure that all is well in the pastures. Having had my fill of morning coffee, I planned to begin clearing ground for the meat birds which are now three-weeks-old and ready to be moved from the brooder house and on to pasture. The area I had in mind was covered in orchard grass to my waist and would need to be cleared to allow for placement of shelter, feed, and water for the birds. As I made my way to the barn I looked up into a beautiful blue sky filled with broken clouds. It beckoned and, though I tried, could not ignore its siren call. I walked up hill through pastures now overgrown for lack of occupants. There was a light breeze and laden seed heads swayed like seaweed subject to the ebb and flow of a changing tide. The seemingly solid interface between sky and the ground beneath me made me a bit uncertain about where my foot falls would land. I walked slowly and breathed in the deep color and pattern of the sky above. It was beautiful, the air was crisp and clear. I photographed the sky and the surrounding hillsides. I lay down and shot the grass in silhouette. I paused, and as I circled back toward responsibility I walked past a construction we used, in years now past, to chain the cows. When one raises bovines, there are times when you simply have to get your hands on them. Whether you’re trying to diagnose a medical condition, treating an ailment, or simply judging condition, you need a way to steady the animal so that you can attend to its needs. Asking bovines to stand still, unrestrained, and in open pasture is a waste of time for they will not. Larger operations might employ a corral, shut, squeeze, and a head gate for this purpose. Since we never rose to the level a large operation we trained the cows to stand at chain. Each of our animals had a stout neck chain to which we attached a number of identification tags. Those chains had a dual purpose however. We would, from time-to-time, call the animals with the promise of a rare treat of grain. We would put the grain in bowls below the attachment points (drop chains) along the larger chain which spanned the posts you see in the image. Once an animal put its head down to feed we would attached the drop chain (complete with a panic snap which allowed for quick release in an emergency), and this would anchor the individual. Using this method we could set eight or ten animals at the same time. Anyway, framing this installation with the beautiful sky and pastures made the bitter of this bittersweet recollection a little less so. Walking the fields amidst the color, currents of warm air, and the distant bird songs and vocalizations of young lambs brought to mind some recent, and powerful, words of my friend, Seonaid, at breathofgreenair. In a post entitled Skye sized Room she said,
… Sometimes we have to get lost in order to find our true neglected nature. There is room here on the edge of Skye to lose yourself in nature and to recover your centre. To let go of your preconceptions about yourself and your edges, and to come back into contact with your deep potential. From here can come the fresh vibrant growth, of a life rediscovered, of a self reconnected. We all need the room to find ourselves and to re-centre within our busy lives. This is my room, what does yours look like?
My answer to Seonaid’s rhetorical question is shown in the image to the left. In response to her post I wrote … You have, in your short post (replete with stunning, moving, images) given the complete rationale for why it is everyone needs to know nature. It explains why nature is important. Why we should work to preserve, protect, and love it. I wonder why it is that many of us have to learn or be reminded of this? The image on the right was first posted here in October of 2012. In contrast to the first post, I do not think this one was functional but was set with rope and plantings for artistic affect. It was taken in Crescent City, California in 2010 when Joanna and I were away from the farm for an entire week to attend the wedding of a very dear friend in Seattle. To say that Sarah is dear to us is an understatement, forgive me. Her association with Pairodox began one day when, at work, she plainly asked, You live on a farm, don’t you? From that simple and most innocent of introductions, our family came to know a very special person. In the best tradition of give-and-take Sarah learned from us and we learned much from her in the bargain. We shared hard work, good meals, and deep thoughts, while all the time having fun and enjoying company. Sarah eventually left the area to define herself in her own way. We miss her. Seeing the seaside post from California reminds me of those times which made the bitter of this bittersweet recollection a little less so. Isn’t it funny how our minds work?