I spent most of my Labor Day afternoon mucking this stall, giving him some fresh straw for bedding. With the three days of rain coming our way, clean, dry bedding seems important. It's what I would want. He walked back to his paddock without much fuss. He's getting used to his routines and used to me. Someday I will ride that pony. Today, I just flushed his toilet.
I have a little cornish hen in the oven over a bed of new potatoes. If you read this blog for some time, you know them as well as I. I thought a homegrown chicken dinner was fitting for Labor Day. Alongside it: watermelon from the farm down the road, and raspberries over vanilla Greek yogurt for dessert. A feast! And a savory, warm meal of meat and potatoes on a rainy night post a day of farm work. This is comfort pornography to me.
It's comforts like this that best explain why I do this, why I live this life. I am a junky for hard work followed by hard respite. But not just any work or any respite. I love working outdoors, with animals (sometimes in service to them) to grow and raise the food and music I will enjoy when the work is over. This is timeless, in our blood. Not one of us doesn't have an agrarian back in their pedigrees. It was simply how our culture became. So to spend a day in a light rain, dripping with sweat, shoveling horse shit into a wheel barrow in hopes that some day I will harness that pony to a log chain or cart: this to me is good work. This is joy paid for up front, emotional insurance.
I can take the work. (Hell, I'm a sadist for it.) I know after that stall is clean I will walk Jasper into it, hand him a little grain, fill his canvas hay feeder, and pour clean well water into his trough. He will have his every need met. He ran across a pasture, chomped apples, worked with me, and now has his bed and breakfast waiting for him post room service. Same goes for the rabbits, the sheep, the chickens—all of them are fed, watered, with warm dry places to call home tonight. When I go inside to rest, it is only knowing I did right by these animals. An unspoken agreement of mutual dependency sings.
When I sit in my farmhouse—even without anyone to share dinner with—I feel so secured and calm by this work. Sometimes, quite honestly, it is the only thing that makes me feel safe. Between my anxieties and a world and economy falling apart, this 6.5 acres cares for me. It stands up to blizzards and hurricanes. It holds fireplaces and warm dogs. It is worth all of it.
The meal I will eat tonight was known as a chick and a seed. It took months to get here, from people I know and do not know. I know myself and Ben Shaw, who raised and processed the bird, and how much work we both did. But what about the people who bagged those seed potatoes? What about the workers at the Hatchery who shipped that cornish? What about the folks who made that hoe, who sold it to me? There is a chain so endless, even in backyard-produced foods, and you don't have to be a religious person to be in awe, or grateful, or say an honest grace because this meal tonight, is a miracle. This day of Labor, is a celebration.
You grow food and you're forever. A part of past, future, life and death. You are sore, and tired, and to wake up without a kinked back or aching hips might require an hour of yoga before bed, but that's okay.
I hope all of you had a wonderful and safe holiday.