Tuesday, May 17, 2011

grass stains

You got to walk a special walk in my chicken yard. If you don't you might sick a chicken under foot. When you strut out there with a 50-pound bag over your shoulder they know what's inside and they clammer all around you. Wings flapping, beaks chirping, you'd think you were carrying a sack of meal worms and not cracked corn and mash. You can't step down, and don't you dare stomp. You got to shuffle. Feeding 30+ chickens here at Cold Antler takes some serious dance moves. You slide your feet just a half inch over the ground and push them forward, gently (but swiftly) removing the hoards from the path. Kind of like the old steam trains pushed cattle out of the way with their shovel front ends. You do this and no one—omelet and roaster alike—is worse for the wear.

The chicken shuffle is one trick of the trade. There are other moves you have to pick up to keep time around here. There's the grain-bucket two-step with the pony, and the field-fence break dance over the meta rail. You have to hold a bucket a certain way when carrying sweet feed into the sheep pen or they will jump up and dive right into it head first, pushing you to the ground in the process (I know this well). So instead of just strolling in like a chump, you march in the pen like a 1920's movie-script prison warden, all purpose and bravado. You got to carry that bucket with the same son-of-a-bitching swagger Jasper gets when someone ovine gets to close to his pile of hay. He glides like a lion, swishes his tail with his ears are pinned back. Body language is universal between all animals, human and otherwise.

They know when I will pitch a fit or scratch their backs.
I know the same looks in them.

Tonight between chores I grilled burgers on my little black charcoal grill and mowed the lawn. First real mowing of the season and when it was done I was covered in grass stains and sweat. The farm looked like someone switched it out with a golf course while I was unloading garden soil from the back of the truck. Taking it all in from the bed of the pickup I beamed with pride. Talk about instant gratification. Mowing the lawn is a zen koan crushed into PBR cans. Amen.

When the work was done, I leashed up Jazz and Annie for a short night walk. It was almost dark, the slightest bit of blue left in the overcast sky. If it was a normal summer day you would have called the clouds above us thunderheads, but the mild rainy week here just meant they were...well, clouds. No storm was coming, but it looked like an angry teenager painted the sky. From just a little down the road the farmhouse looked make believe. Behind it, far away on the hillside white spots the size of my pinky nail were lambs. My lambs. Animals that knew of one home: my farm. I say that not to boast, but out of near disbelief at the fact there are living creatures in this world who only know of Cold Antler Farm as their entire world. A little over a year ago this was nothing but a pipe dream and today it's grass stains and sweat. Watching from this lower viewpoint down the hill, my farm house looked so huge. 1100 square feet have never looked that big to anyone else in the world before. I tried to gasp, tried to say a small prayer, but was interrupted by a slam poet. I caught a yellow flash out of the corner of my eyes. A firefly? Could I be that lucky? Can the world be that beautiful all at once on Tuesday?

I'm not sure. I think it was the house lights caught in my glasses. But my heart stopped and a smile so wide it needed a tailgate spread across my lips. Summer is here.

And so am I.

27 Comments:

Blogger Robbie Grey said...

Very nicely written. I especially loved;

"Talk about instant gratification. Mowing the lawn in a zen koan crushed into PBR cans. Amen."

That sounded like something straight out of a William Elliot Whitmore song. Lovely.

May 17, 2011 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Very lovely. I kinda wish it was summer here (and I like cool weather) - just for the garden. It's been in the mid-40s the last few nights... in mid-May... in GEORGIA. I have no idea what's going on.

May 17, 2011 at 9:46 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

Unfortunately I don't have your flair for words. All I can think of is very nice, very nice. I was there with you for a moment.

May 17, 2011 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger J. said...

Jenna, your way with words never disappoints...not to mention you paint the scenery around you so beautifully with them as well. Thank you...I just feel like sighing and saying, "Ahh..." :)

May 17, 2011 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

I can't believe that your farm is only 1100 square feet -- my city lot is 7500 square feet. I expect you must mean at least 11,000???

May 17, 2011 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Glad to read that the rain stopped for a while!

May 17, 2011 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Ruth @ Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

I can see your view as you write. I love it. I am feeling the same about our twin lambs this year. Their momma met their daddy here and 6 months later, they arrived. We are the first humans they've ever seen and it is incredible to me. Enjoy! You deserve it!

May 17, 2011 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Reading your post was as relaxing as if I had lived it myself. Thanks again for sharing your life.

May 17, 2011 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Heather Ann said...

Oh that dance! I know it so well! And I was so proud of my swift maneuverings between corrals, over and under fences.

I miss it. but we've got an offer in on three and a half acres, it wont be long now!

May 18, 2011 at 12:51 AM  
Blogger L said...

Well said, simple pleasures!

May 18, 2011 at 12:53 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

Another beautiful picture made with words. Thanks

May 18, 2011 at 5:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

The house is 1100 feet, the farm is 6.5 acres

May 18, 2011 at 5:38 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

Eloquently put. Enjoy your lil' piece o' paradise. You've more than earned it...

May 18, 2011 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

So beautifully written, I can see it all in my mind. I'm glad that you actually take a minute to step back and take it all in and enjoy it. You worked so hard for it.

May 18, 2011 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Fawn said...

Best.Line.Ever:
"Mowing the lawn is a zen koan crushed into PBR cans. Amen."

May 18, 2011 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Eva said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 18, 2011 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

Absolutely beautiful.

May 18, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

Just reread your post and see that the HOUSE is 1100 -- that is about the size of mine -- and a great size.

May 18, 2011 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

Beautiful writing! (as usual)

May 18, 2011 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Sage said...

Beautiful words, Jenna! I hope I get to see your farm in the summer sunshine. I bet it's glorious!

May 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Jo.King said...

Lucky, to have seen a firefly so early in the season! For me, summer doesn't begin until I call my dad in DC to announce the first firefly sighting. Your post brought a smile, even if my summer hasn't officially started yet.

May 18, 2011 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Love the way you show us in words what is all around you, it makes this Wed. even brighter :) thank you...glad your happy~

May 18, 2011 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

One of your most lyrical posts...and I have read them ALL.

May 18, 2011 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Jenna, as usual a lovely post. I love mowing my lawn with my rotary mower-it is total meditation for me and the smell of the grass is so delicious! Happy almost summer-Karen from CT

May 18, 2011 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Erin Leigh said...

I loved this!

May 19, 2011 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

This post is poetry. Thank you for doing what you do and writing it down for the rest of us!

May 20, 2011 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Love your descriptions. I feel the same way after cutting my yard.

May 20, 2011 at 8:08 PM  

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