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.