As the population of animals on the farm decreases, we find ourselves experiencing the peculiar sensation of stillness. This is new to me, at least, for having habitually strived for ever greater horizons. It is hard to forsake ingrained patterns of busyness, but the art of life is knowing when to change lanes. So, here we are changing from the frenetic to the calm.
How is it going? Well, the silence is deafening! I keep looking around for my crew, all of the noble animals, the incessant repairs that demand one to be useful, and the relentless but rewarding schedule of supplying markets every weekend. It is hard to forgo familiar daily, addictive rushes of adrenalin required for so much activity. Despite our symptoms of withdrawal, the strange sensation of relaxation being imposed is welcome.
Within this obtrusive silence we are starting to hear new sounds. The sounds and sights of nature grow more apparent. We are hearing owls hoot and watching Cardinals and Mourning Doves hatch. And we have more time for each other. Susan just spent a number of days in the hospital, and to be able to sit with her, without distraction, for eight hours a day was a blessing. She left behind her gall-bladder, as a token of appreciation for services rendered.
We never really seem to experience true stillness. Our heads are always filled with one noise or another. Like sounds from the radio, some noise is more suited for one moment over another. We are looking forward to learning what sounds will fill the growing quietude.
We are far from totally idle, however. Out wetland crew continues its careful work. Pictured above is a Swamp White Oak seedling, guarded by our swamp dog, Sale, flourishing amongst the cereal rye. The rye will soon melt to the ground and 44,000 seedling will stand above its golden carpet. One matter we ponder is whether the thatch of the rye will inhibit seeds of grasses and forbs we spread this past winter from emerging. The seeds are hard and durable, so that is not likely.
Annie Proulx, who wrote The Shipping News, has an affinity for ecosystems, and wrote a very good article about wetlands, in the July 4 issue of The New Yorker. She reviews the history of the Great Black Swamp of northwestern Ohio. It was drained in the late 1800's to reveal the richest agricultural land in the world, with layers of peat twenty feet deep. Today its fertility has been exhausted and is supplied by synthetic fertilizers derived from fossil fuels. Those fertilizers wash into Lake Erie, killing aquatic eco-sytems. The heartening news is the Black Swamp Conservancy now owns 21,000 acres, which it is reclaiming. It would be worth a trip to visit that nearby site.
We are learning about flerds, blending of a flock and a herd. We have put our remaining 10 beeves in with 40 ewes. So far, they are not integrating much. I understand they eventually will, as our one whether did with his guardian beeves.
We did not mix the two groups in the past, because of the complexity of their being on different calendars for birthing and the challenge of sorting one group out while the other stayed in. We continue to learn about the fascinating topic of animal behavior.
The recent wind storm, with gusts up to 60 mph, brought down quite a few trees, one of which was a beautiful walnut and the other this cherry, both into pastures. Wilted cherry leaves are toxic to cattle, so we had to be expeditious in removing this. Here my saw is stuck, darn it. But slight uplift with forks of the tractor freed it readily. With a few select cuts of trunk and limbs, I was able to balance long sections of the tree on the forks, and dump them over the fence into the woods. The storm also blew our trailer off its stand, breaking the foot of the stand.
One activity ahead for stillness is generating several more volumes of A Farmer's Almanac, to include the rest of our newsletters. If you would like to participate in this venture, would you share with me why you like reading our newsletter and why you would recommend it to others or whatever you want to say. We can include that statement as testimonial in our new editions.
Rather than go the typical route, and invite luminaries in the field to read a draft of the book, and then fabricate statements about it which they haven't actually read, it would be more convincing, from my view, to include statements from regular readers of the newsletters. I am not sure where these statements would go, probably on the covers as well as inside. Many of you have done this already, so no need to repeat the effort. But if you have not, and would like to, we certainly welcome your thoughts. Thank you for this.
Here Roma Meatballs coupled with macaroni and cheese provided a hearty dinner to the momentary bachelor after a day at the hospital.
We wander in new-found stillness.
Below, we have Mekong Pho, with Mekong Meatballs, rice noodles, and cilantro, for the recovering patient.