on that day
Thursday, May 12th
So this is how it goes: after work I pull into the farm's driveway and let Gibson out. He pees, stares at chickens, and noodles around and when his series of dog tasks are over with, I send him inside and turn to my pasture. I unplug the electric and hop the fence. The sheep all bleat and carry on, expecting grain and attention. Sal struts right up like he belongs on the top of some 4-H trophy, coated in gold. I tell them the newest gossip from the office as we walk up the hill together. "Roger got a promotion!" I beam, "We got a brand new coffee machine, and I think it's top shelf." and so on. When we get to the gate Jasper stand on the other side. I open it and call my pony to my side, and he walks over to me. I throw an arm around his neck and tell him in a soft voice, "Hold still, son, we'll get them together"
As the sheep dart and run into the big gated pasture I look at Jasper and say at a shout, "Let's Get 'Em!" and I run at a sprint towards the grazing sheep. Jasper rears up and runs beside me. Together we're a brace of border collies off on an outrun to gather a flock. But the pony and I don't gather anything, we just chase the sheep a little and watch the lambs fly. They are so damn fast I think some of them can teleport. Within a few laps we're both beat and I tell my horse he's a superhero and then go fetch him his hay and fresh water. By the time I am outside the fence his neck is down and grazing too. He is not on a mission of sheep torture, just joshing. I laugh and grab the metal scoop.
By the time farm chores are done it is nearly dark. I had a solo cook out tonight, just a few burgers and iced tea. While they simmered in the little charcoal grill I ran the push mower around the front long. I love it. Even in the dark grass I watched the blades whip through the grass like a a hot knife in butter. I have a gas-mower but don't really feel the need to use it yet. Using the push mower means a little more effort and slower pace: but it is so pleasing to use I just do one part of the lawn a night. I am over the need for a lawn that looks like a golf course. I'm going for more of something along the lines of a one-cow afternoon pass.
This is how I get it all done: the farm, the job, the writing career. I combine my nervous nature with constant work. There is very little down time here. Even at an end-of-day cook out rabbits are fed between flipping burgers and water buckets are filled and carried to sheep and pony troughs. I do not sleep in on weekends. I do not stay out late on Friday nights. From the minute I get home till 9 PM I am a constant tornado of tasks and beasts. I slop buckets of water, race with ponies, collect eggs, check on mated rabbits, and plan a quick dinner from whatever I think is in the fridge or larder. I manage things in small spurts, keeping a log in my head of how the farm is working and what needs what. Then I throw a load of laundry in, turn on the dishwasher, and know that clothes won't be thrown in the dryer or dishes put away until morning. It's all done in stages, in order of importance. The ship runs tight enough that if I wanted to skip out a few hours no one would go hungry or thirsty or wither away: but I certainly can't leave the farm for a weekend jaunt to New York City. Someday, maybe. It's just a matter of planning and finding a sucker who wants to share this little world with me, but till then I say no thank you to Dairy animals and bottle-fed babes.
Mostly, running a farm alone is love. You put it first, and you learn to make due when the ghosts of perfection run off, and you sleep less. Along the way you make good friends, miss your mom and dad, and wake up with a border collie nuzzled into your chest. You dream about love, and take notes on turkey diseases, and you split your mind wide open to let in all the experiences and folks who hike on by.
Enough word magics. I'm going outside to play my fiddle on the porch. Some time soon fireflies will join me. On that day I'll sing.