Tuesday, November 18, 2008

in our dark

When I come home from work the farm is dark. I pull into the driveway and the only light is the glow of the chicken coop and the small solar lights that circle the sheep pen. When I get out of the car the only sounds are the dinner bleats from the flock and the occasional coo from the roosting birds. There are no streetlights, or lamp posts, and if it's cloudy like tonight: no stars either. So it's dark. Which is fine.

I go into the cabin, take out the dogs, and then when everyone's empty we come inside for their kibble dinner. While they chow down, I change from my work clothes into my farm clothes and light a fire in the fireplace. I do this to warm up the joint, and because I like the way it looks to see and smell smoke coming from the chimney while I'm bringing hay to the sheep or collecting the day's egg deposits. There is something correct about being outside moving after so much time indoors sitting still. Wearing my father's old red and black plaid coat, I go about farm work with cold breath in my face. I think it might snow tonight.

There is something very special about smelling woodsmoke in the dark of a moonless Vermont night with hay in your arms. There's no particular virtue in it. It won't shake the ground or even make me smile. But it is special. If I could describe that better to you, I would. I can't.

I think I'll need to sell the sheep, exchange them for some dogbroke ones. I need to talk to my friend Shelli about how she wants to work it all out, but I can't train a young herding dog on angry sheep. I think it's the only recourse in my current, limited situation. I'll wait till spring when the flock can go right on someone's pasture. That seems like the sensible way to go about this, and bring in some border collie ewes who won't kill my Sarah.

It's not fair to have the clueless leading the blind leading the blind and violent. If you could follow that you may have been reading my blog too long.


Blogger Mare said...

I understand...Sometimes you've got to do things you don't want to, but it is for the best of the rest. I love the smell of wood burning too, especially on a really cold day/night. And hay is one of my favorite smells too.

November 19, 2008 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger The Old Man and His Dog said...

Nice blog "clueless". I haven't been reading it half as long as I wish I had.

I too love the smell of the smoke. I can remember being the only one in high school who had clothes that smelled like a wood stove every day in the fall and winter. We had a franklin stove in the den and I wold be there every day as long as it was burning. I used to got out and cut fallen trees with my father every weekend, load up the wood in the ole station wagon, take it home, cut it up and split it. I remember hating my father for making me do it every weekend. Now I look back on it as some of the best times of my teen years.

November 19, 2008 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It must be a universal feeling, I was just feeling the same way last night here in Ohio.

November 19, 2008 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Mama Pea said...

Ah, but m'dear, it's not being clueless, it's called learning. Don't you see that all these are steps you have to climb on the way to growing and working toward your goals? You are not a person who is merely existing, living a life of quiet desperation and unhappiness, but you are actively working toward a dream. You are DOING IT. Encountering and overcoming these stumbling blocks is a part of the journey. And the reason you will succeed is the fact that you have the common sense and intelligence to recognize any problem you bump into and fix it.

Good gawd, that sounds good (preachy?)! I think I'll follow my own advice and improve MY life. :)

November 19, 2008 at 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since dogs are creatures of routine and habit, I wonder if you might want to exchange them as soon as possible so Sarah doesn't get confused about her role on the farm. Just a thought.

November 20, 2008 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

"There is something very special about smelling woodsmoke in the dark of a moonless Vermont night with hay in your arms"...that sentence took my breath away. Love your blog.

November 20, 2008 at 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the smell of woodsmoke too. It takes me back to so many places. I take a deep breath and when I let it out my tension dissolves away. Our formerly-feral adopted cat loves campfires. The first time he hopped on our laps or got snuggly was outside around the fire. It made me wonder if he had some happy scent association with woodsmoke too!

November 22, 2008 at 2:48 PM  
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