July 30, 2020
The irony of perfect moments is they must be surrounded by the imperfect to be recognized.
It is the periodic perfect moment that keeps us inspired on the farm. They remind us that chaos can be kept at bay for moments in time. Like good weather, the perfect event is only appreciated in contrast to that which is not, which is plenty! This sunrise couldn't help catching my attention. We see so many that are beautiful, and each one inspires. That is part of the gift, to find perfection in what one beholds; like looking into the face of one's spouse and always finding more love to fathom. The rising sun offers infinite beauty, as did this one in particular. Such moments beheld are a form of fleeting but substantive worship.
To the imperfect, we spent an exasperating amount of time last week, in 90-degree-heat, dealing with water problems. An aged float wouldn't shut off, so finally had to be replaced, a rubber hose that connects the underground water line to the bottom of the watering tub decided to die gradually, by splitting under pressure at each end on three different occasions. The pump in the pump-house decided to over-heat, swelling the PVC and creating a massive leak.
Each event seemed to happen at night, so it wasn't discovered until morning, during which time lots of water had run out of the cistern or had run endlessly under pressure from the county. We eventually received an automated message from the local water company that we seemed to be consuming an abnormal amount of water compared to months past... So, this was our chaos, out of which we gradually worked our way. Clark patiently and persistently dealt with hoses and floats, while I dealt with the plumber.
The plumber diagnosed that one reason the pump may be heating up is there are too many right-angle turns too close to it. So he reduced four turns to two, and installed a metal section to handle any heat that may arise. When I saw the redesigned and straightened outflow, it seemed a perfect moment had arrived! This hardly competes with a sunrise, granted, but it felt darn close after a week's struggle with delivery of water.
As below, these shining cows and those full sheep, belly deep in clover against the blue sky, catch one's breath, in wonder. These moments are sweet drinks before returning to ordinary tasks of moving beeves across the farm or putting nets up for sheep.
This morning Clark brought the herd to the barn from a far corner of the farm so he, Mike, and I could sort calves from cows, after their ten months of nursing and mothering. New calves are in gestation and the cows need to dry up and rest before the next round of birthing, which begins in 45 days at the earliest. So, we are practicing fence-line weaning, where calves are put on one side of a woven-wire fence and cows on the other. They can smell and see each other, but can't nurse. Cows are given hay, so they dry up more quickly, while calves continue to receive fresh pasture. Calves receive a new break of grass each day, taking them further and further away from the cows. The two groups typically call out to each other for two to three days, and then lose interest. At that point, we take the cows back to pasture to resume their grazing routine.
They have been apart for almost 8 hours now, and the silence between the two groups is striking. Very little bawling, which is unusual. One guess is the calves came through the winter in better condition than previous winters, because our hay was kept under new roof, thus resulting in higher nutrition for them. They are thus even more mature than in years past, and are even more ready for weaning. Most calves are weaned at five months. That we do so for ten is of extra benefit to calves.
The health of the cows, the size of the calves, the ready flow of the animals through our facilities, and the seamless teamwork with two very fine people made for a perfect moment this morning.
The heat of the past few weeks and the lack of rain are creating stress. We drove through the wetlands and noticed leaves on a young pin oak beginning to curl. We also noted cracks in the ground due to a bare spot.
Where grass has been trampled, providing mulch, moisture is retained and grass continues to grow, though more slowly. You can see how green our pastures are looking despite the heat.
Last week Susan grew restless, so she delivered us to Asia Minor for Persian lamb shanks. What a feat. This repast included: Fatoosh - cucumber and tomato salad; grilled zucchini on swiss chard with feta cheese; cold beet salad with pistachios, orange vinaigrette, and goat's cheese; saffron rice; and for dessert, almond cake, peaches, blueberries, and whipped cream... Now that was perfection, which we savored for more than a moment!
You can order lamb shanks here and be on your way to Persia by the week's end. Persian food includes mildly sweet spices, and is absolutely delicious. This recipe for Persian Lamb Shanks came from the New York Times.
May your next moment be perfect.