A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .
A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .
The snow brings its joy in tiny thrills. I love the wood stove.I love the whole world singing new. Trees stand gloriously enrobed. Even garbage sparkles along the path. Best of all are the footprints. In most seasons, whoever has gone before me does so in secret. Yet footprints are now one of the chief pleasures of my walks. Highways of creatures cross my own. I can’t be sure of who is whom, but yesterday I counted at least five separate creatures in abundance crossing at one place or another the snow I was walking.
I pray in fits and starts, on my walks and otherwise. Mostly, I am lousy at it. I manage a sentence or two or three, get distracted and start again only to find my mind wandering in yet another direction. I go for months with the discipline of regularity then slip softly off the wagon unable to get back on. It’s an off the wagon stretch with a string of failed attempts to climb aboard again right now.
The world seems such a serious place. Rome is always burning in one way or another, and it’s Advent after all. Hardly the time for cessation of communications. My shortcomings frustrate me at the same time I struggle to force myself out the door to the woods, where it’s infinitely easier to talk. Yesterday as I tromped through the snow, I had in mind it was a good time to send up some official supplications, but the usual distractions cut them short.
Inside, that bothers me. Out there, not so much; what I do or say doesn’t seem to matter. Especially in winter’s forests, there are little invisible hand-built bridges between the lowly here and grand there. With trees towering on all sides, it is difficult to feel alone. Some prayers I didn’t work to say yesterday.
“You make good feet,” I said. And later admiring yet another set of prints, “Really, they’re exquisite. Especially with feet, you are amazing.”
The sky did not rain angels. Birds did not softly circle my head, and there was nothing to cross off a list.
Perfection and expectation, O foolish impostors for grace, get thee hence. If I can get on my coat and my boots, the great conversation awaits.
Yesterday, the first day back from Christmas holidays, was a snow day. More accurately a rain and freezing day. The thought of a quiet house had grown to full blown longing when we saw the notice that the busses weren’t running. Alas.
Monday was also death day. I love the farm. I believe in animals that are happy and well cared for. It matters to us to know where the meat on our kids plates came from and what kind of quality of life those animals had. That doesn’t make the day the lambs go to the butcher any easier.
Everything about the send off was complicated on the icy narrow path that is our driveway at present. It wasn’t possible to get a truck out to the barn like usual. It wasn’t possible to do it all while the kids were at school. We worked together to make the driveway navigable. We worked together to get the sheep in the trailer. And we hissed and spat and growled at each other.
Afterwards I went to my room to plan boy one’s execution and to figure out how to get the house partitioned so that none of us had to live together. Eventually common sense and mercy found a crack large enough to get through. None of us had handled it perfectly, but we weren’t mad, we were sad. The first time I remember figuring this out, I was 18. It was a strange revelation. I felt like someone had struck me dumb. Sssso nnnnow what? I wanted to stammer. If it’s not sarcasm and rage that’s dying to get out, what then? If I’m sad and not mad, exactly am I supposed to do? Just sit here and cry?
I thought I’d already learned that lesson, but yesterday I learned it again . . . and helped my son figure it out too. Naming things correctly doesn’t change them, except it does. Understanding what I’m dealing with changes how I treat the people in my life, including me. Understanding what’s underneath somebody else’s mad, changes how I feel about them.
Sometimes being sad means you don’t do anything except let yourself be it for a little while. It feels like getting out of prison again.
Misty the pony: extremely not impressed that we had her best friend shipped elsewhere. Not interested in speaking to humans. Will tolerate them if she gets to speak to an apple or a carrot.
Anabelle the cow: all the change in the air has made her pregnant self grumpy. She takes it out on the sheep. Grazing for a while, drive them all to the next field. Drive some more. Graze. Drive. My children do this to each other also except they don’t eat grass in between figuring out how to annoy each other.
Sheep (population 12) and Chickens (population 43) are happy and content. If it doesn’t work out to be a writer, I think I would like to be a sheep or a chicken.
Cluster flies (population 1500 plus in house alone): They are in their drunken buzzing phase, perpetually disoriented and therefore bumping into things like me. I love our farm. I love our province and our country . . . but boy do I hate those flies. Self calming now involves not only vacuuming them from the windows, but taping the hose nozzle on the vacuum after every killing spree – – otherwise I can’t stop picturing them inside mating like mad and then flying out in droves while I sleep. I look at the little Japanese beetles (population in house of at least 17 too many). . . who apparently aren’t actually Japanese but do belong to the beetle family . . . and I shake my head at how worthless they are. Like lady bugs but NOT lady bugs and they don’t even eat flies. Pathetic.
Rats (population unknown – closer to 0 than a month ago): seem to have either finally developed a taste for the poison we bought for them, or found other quarters. Either option suits us and the chickens they tried to move in with.
This is one of my favorite pictures. It reminds me that friends don’t have to be the same to love each other.
I don’t know what a first post should say so I won’t try to say it. I went out to the barn today to measure from the withers on Shorty the miniature horse. While there I became overcome with grief at the plight of the horses. Best friends. Separated five days ago because of the screaming in the night and bold attempts to take the friendship to another level. Many attempts have been made to sell ill-begotten male horse. He is currently available for free to a good home, although I foresee the day when we will be paying someone to take him. A monthly installment plan or something.
Out at the barn everyone seemed jumpy. Feeling stupid that I am not a horse person, Shorty and I agreed on approximate measurements, whereby I looked at his withers and measured the gate near him at about where it seemed right. I had asked my husband about letting Shorty out again – how long can a mare be in heat anyway? He said, forget it, we just need to get that horse off the property.
It all seemed so sad and wistful and I don’t know, I just know that after I measured the
gate horse (info for the latest person helping us divest ourselves of said creature), guilt took over. Just for a little bit, said I. The husband cannot help that he has no heart. That his eyes cannot see the poor bedraggled animals. Confused. Wanting normal. Not knowing what to do. Innocent boy horse in barn while girl horse grazes depressed or doesn’t even bother, just stands there.
The rest is a blur . . . I let Shorty out – it being the right thing and all. They said hello rather quickly. Mare Misty turned and it became rather evident even to this equine neophyte that she was in heat in a seriously streaming kind of way. Shorty was rather quick on the draw, proving to the naked eye that in fact his diminished stature is rather no trouble at all to overcome with full size pony.
But this was not going to happen. Not on my watch.
I yelled bloody murder and waved my arms. They took off across the pasture for a little more privacy. Not to be outdone I ran, still yelling so as to ruin the mood, to get a bucket of grain. Thought on the way by to grab a broom. Couldn’t shake the warning from the vet that when she is in heat, he won’t take competition. He’ll come after you and mean to hurt you. So there I am, tearing after them in the field, bucket of grain in one hand, broom in the other. They slow down and I call their names, trying to change the tone. Communicate that we are one happy little family again and here I am out with a little treat. Not sure what even made me think to bring one out. Providence maybe.
Shorty noticed. His slow first steps turned into a dead run, so I dumped some grain on the ground and ran to the other side of the round bale. I wasn’t sure if he’d go for the grain or if we’d still be circling the round bale waiting for him to kill me when the kids got home.
He went for the grain. I snuck back to the barn and managed to get the mare to follow me. Kept my broom though. Finally got everybody back to where they were. Came in the house shaking. Took a while to get my heart to stop pounding out of my chest. Still cannot find a chart that lists how many calories I burned this way.
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