Sunday, November 15, 2009

backs to the wind

It's been wet, windy, and unseasonably warm here in southern Vermont. The nights are no cooler than 40 degrees and the days are all rain and bluster. The state turned gray and some of my prize pumpkins rotted where they were drying on the once cold porch. Things are changing. I wonder if it's the calm before the real winter hits? Perhaps in a few weeks there will be a coating of ice or snow on this cabin?

While out doing errands I pulled over and snapped this photo of the horses at the Yellow Farmhouse. The small band winters there every year and I pass them and their wooly coats every time I drive down the mountain into town. They all had their backs to the wind and ignored me. I didn't blame them, I felt bad for them. It was a day to be on straw in a barn, not standing in mud in the rain.

I felt bad because I didn't understand yet.

See, yesterday at dusk, while doing my evening chores, something strange happened. It was around 4 and I had just finished refreshing all the bedding in the sheep and goat pens. I wanted my livestock to have a dry, warm, place to retreat on this miserable day. My body was warm from the effort, so to cool down I walked into the chicken coop to collect eggs and re-line the nest boxes with new straw. I was only inside the coop a few minutes. But when I emerged I saw something so peculiar I dropped one of the eggs in my hands. It bounced on the straw at my feet and rolled to the edge of the garden fence.

The farm was veiled in a thick, white mist. It lifted out of nothing and was moving fast across the pasture. At first I thought my glasses had fogged up, so I removed them and wiped the lenses clean, but when I placed them back on my nose it was as I originally saw it. Everything was shrouded over in this white stratus. It smelled clean, not like smoke. There wasn't any smoke around, no chimneys lit nearby—just the fog. The sheep ran into their pen and the goat nickered and I was just stunned by it all. I stood and watched it like a calm ghost was passing by. It sounds creepy, and it was, but it was so beautiful. Then I realized the wind moving the fog was behind me. Like the horses in the field, my back was too the wind too.

Later that night the temperature rose and harder rain came. The mist must have been the hollow getting new air pressure and dealing with the sudden collision of air masses. It's not often people get to watch change happen like that, right in front of them. Usually we just deal with the result: missing out on the beauty of the process. But today I witnessed everything evolving around me. It was magical. A little scary, but magical. And because of this I understood the rain better at night.

You can be scared of what's happening to you, because at first it's so uncomfortable—or you can step back and take it at face value. Had I not chosen a life that forces me to be outside all the time I would have been inside my own shelter, oblivious to the changes around me. I don't want to be a passive character in my own life anymore. I want to watch the big show, even the scary parts. Farming is teaching me more about the world than I ever thought possible. Please don't ever make me turn back to that old life. I don't think I was really alive before. I barely knew the world then. I'm just starting to learn him now.

I watched the fog with my back to the wind and like the horses I didn't want the barn.


Blogger ashley english said...

my entire salivary gland infrastructure just rushed forward in agreement. i'm actually tearing up. i could not concur any more deeply. let's be part and parcel of it, not hidden away. bring on the fog, the rain, the mists, the wonder and splendor. lovely.

November 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Lil'Green Bird said...

Thank you Jenna for your beautiful post. I have just come in from outside having lost my four chickens to wiley fox, your post was timely. Watching the whole bigger picture and experiencing it all is how it is meant to be.... thank you. Beverley

November 15, 2009 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so glad I stumbled upon you...while blog meandering on this beautiful Sunday morning.
What a beautiful scene you painted...I am a little envious.
My husband and I LOVE bluegrass..he plays the banjo and I feed the band.

November 15, 2009 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

This was such a beautiful post. You really have the power to convey, so eloquently, farm life - which is not always so eloquent. But you know, it can be when you look at it with the right eye, and you have that, my dear!

November 15, 2009 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Patsy from Illinois said...

Are you sure it wasn't the breath of angels as they were crossing your farm?

November 15, 2009 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

Amen to that girl...

at first it was blinding when i lifted my head up from the ground and decided to love everything i saw around me, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the scary. but because i refused to look back down and walk on by, the dirty and crazy became just as beautiful as the sun. and i would never turn back.

it isint farming, or living off the land, but i do make a difference in my world. i come home smelling like a decayed yack most days, but i will never turn my back on them again.

so, ....

November 15, 2009 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger bellananda said...

and the goosebumps roll across my skin like the sheets of rain blowing by outside my window. well said, lady.

November 15, 2009 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I live in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area. Last night between 9 and 10 pm my son was driving home from work. We passed a local farm and large field and although it was dark, we saw a wall of fog roll across the two lane city street. My son said, "What is that?!" I said, "It's fog, close to the ground, forming and moving left to right." After thinking a few minutes, I added it might be smoke, but we didn't smell any woodfire, so I'm certain we passed a wall of fog forming and moving left to right as we drove.

For your May 2008 entry about losing plants to frost, this past spring I lost six plants to frost. If you check an almanac, North Carolina has almost year-round growing weather. I usually plant by moon signs. This past May, I think I forgot the moon signs and wondered if forgetting had something to do with planting on a Saturday, then looking Sunday morning and seeing frozen tomato and dill plants set out just the day before. Lost to frost happened to me.

November 15, 2009 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger nancmcp said...

Thanks for the memories and a reminder of how alive I felt on the farm. And the pic of the horses. I forgot they do that!

November 15, 2009 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

so much good stuff in the simple pleasures of life.

November 15, 2009 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Gray Skies said...

This was a lovely post. I so much love your blog. You have a gorgeous writing style that really evokes the beauty and wonder of your way of living. I'm a bit jealous of you :) It's so gutsy that you're running your own farm - it seems like something far too difficult for me to do.

November 15, 2009 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I recently found your blog, although I can't remember now how I came across it. I enjoy reading your posts and especially loved this one. I also liked the picture of the sleddogs sleeping on the couch!

November 15, 2009 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger MXQ said...

WOnderful post!

I felt (wished?) that I was there....

November 16, 2009 at 2:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, this is the most beautiful post I have read in some time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and learnings and all that you experience. Blessings in all that you have undertaken. Shawn

November 17, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Julie at Dragonfly Hill said...

I don't get to read your blog as much as I like. Busy being another crazy homesteader that took off more than I can chew- quickly anyway. I am learning to chew more slowly. Started my own blog too, but no time to fill it in lately.

Anyway, this post here, sums it all. The beauty the fear that we face.

I had a melt down this week not feeling well, scared that I can't do it all. I went outside as my migraine lessened yesterday and started sobbing hysterically at the beauty I see on the coldest dreariest day. That is all I need to keep going.

We all need this no matter where we are, stop, look, remember why we are doing this!

Like you Jenna, I don't think I could ever feel it this way before living here, stinky bugs, busted plumbing and all, it is heaven on Earth!

November 20, 2009 at 5:36 PM  

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