even the drudgery. Especially the drudgery. Mostly the drudgery. But no one ever talks about that part do they?
I think that is a problem. A really big problem. In fact, I think it is a big part of what is wrong with people and how they think we are supposed to live. No one wants drudgery. They want excitement. They want news. They want something different. They want passion. I think if we are always looking to the next special happy exciting thing we are going to be disappointed. I see a lot of disappointed people.
Part of it, I think, is that no one respects that the circle of life is a lot of eating grass and shitting. If you didn’t have that however there would only be death. It isn’t exciting though. In fact if this blog was about how many times my animals pooped, or how many times they burped up their cud I don’t think I would have many readers. I talk about the things that made the week special. Sometimes it is life, sometimes death hell sometimes it is sex. It is read worthy. The amount of drudgery every day though, isn’t that something? I mean, without it, there would be death and sickness. We make our farm go round. I really hate that it isn’t respected. It is actually what gives me no hope for people. Oh, you are going to say something like, oh I totally respect it. I think farming is hard work. I could never do it. I so admire you for actually doing it. I admit, I love it. I wouldn’t want anything different in my life. However, look to your last month, year whatever of your budget. How much of your money went to food? To your house? To your car? How much of your food did you buy from a local source? How much do you actually respect your local farmer? Don’t get defensive, just think about it. And yeah, it is totally winter. But right now is seed buying time. The last time you might have bought something from your farmer was in fall. They lived on nothing until spring when they now need to buy a whole bunch of seeds with the hope that Mother Nature will smile down upon us and make it so we can once again make money.
That is another thing that makes the circle go round, money. And it sucks. I won’t get into that rant right now though.
I’m just sad mostly. I wasn’t actually going to talk today about how important it is to not only support but respect your local farmers. Actually, what was going through my mind was a pity party. I’m a stay at home mom. I mean really, that is what I am, right? If someone was going to ask me, what do you do? You know, when I get asked that question my mind doesn’t go blank, it actually fills up with so much I think, “Hell! What do I say? What don’t I do?” But then, it is drudgery. It really is. Each day is mostly the same. I wake up, start a fire, drag the girls out of bed. They go out and do chores. Usually they end up back in here a few times, asking me questions, sometimes I end up out there looking at an animal. I make breakfast and get things ready for school. I teach three children for anywhere from five to eight hours a day. Think about that for a second. I also make lunch somewhere in there and dinner sometimes too. Oh, I almost always make dinner, just sometimes it is after school. Then there are chores again. When I go back to milking, it will just be another few things added to my daily routine. Milking, making cheese, butter… Yes, I love it. I love my kids. I think it is insanely important to have them home, teaching them. Giving them responsibility and drudgery. I think that is where we go wrong so often. Yeah, kids should have fun. But they need drudgery. How many of us hate our drudgery? I mean it was one thing when we were a kid and we had to do the dishes every so often. It was a hated chore. No one likes doing that. But now that you are an adult? You do a lot of dishes, don’t you? That is at least until you can pass it off onto your children. What about the litter box? Or cleaning in general? Drudgery. No one likes it, but it is what makes the circle go round. The more we try to get rid of drudgery the less able we are to handle it. We get other people to do drudgery for us. We have people grow our food instead of growing it ourselves. We have people teach and watch our children so we don’t have to do it ourselves. We have people build our houses so we don’t have to do it ourselves. Someone else makes our clothes, cooks our food…You get the point, right? And while we are passing off our drudgeries we stop respecting the people who DO do these things. It is work for peons. It is beneath us to do that work. That is why someone else is doing it. So what is it worth to us?
I can tell you that if you stopped today having everyone do your drudgery for you it would be worth a whole lot more. No, I don’t even do this. I am wearing clothes I didn’t make, living in a house that while we may have built it, we have a lot of embodied drudgery in here. I guess my point is, I want drudgery to be respected. I want hard persistent work to be respected. I want to be able to say, I stay at home with my kids and teach them to be respected. I want to say, I am a farmer and be respected. I do not want to say those things and have people say, “Oh I could never do that.” What I hear is, “Oh, that work is way too beneath me. My JOB is more important than that.” I understand that to a point, it is just an expected response. What else are you going to say to something like that? But maybe we can stop asking people what they DO. Maybe we can start asking people how they ARE, and maybe while we are at it start caring about the response. And maybe while we are at that say something besides, fine, good or okay. Maybe we can start asking people what exciting thing has happened to them. Or if they are dealing with something hard right now. Ask yourself, do you want to connect with people, or is connecting with people a drudgery to you? Are people easier to deal with on your computer screen? Where you can just scroll down and pretend you didn’t hear that they are having a rough day?
I am not going to say sorry for filling this farm blog with drudgery. I would usually say something like that. I say sorry a lot. It isn’t that I don’t mean it, I usually do. In some parts of me, I can understand how you might not want to read about this. That is alright. Hell, I don’t want to read it most of the time. I am really no better at any of this than the average person. I’m trying though. Hell, I hate doing dishes and there are some days where I fantasize about the girls going to school and me having a job. I think a lot of us wish for an escape from our lives from time to time. Sometimes, I wonder what my life would be like if I were okay using paper plates, or eating not so good for me food.
On to the farm though. Things happened this week. Most of them not fun. We all got the flu. Gwendy vomiting was not because she had an excess of peanuts. It was flu. The girls have an excellent immune system. They mostly just vomited for hours and then were all better. I was not so lucky. That is alright though. Hopefully, that is the last we see of the flu. It was really the first time in a very long time I remember getting the flu. It did impact the farm though. Chores were hard to get done. I am very thankful that I was not milking. I barely was able to get out of bed. You push through it though. At least somewhat. And we did.
As for animals though, well, circle of life. We got word on the angora goats. We got the call on Sunday that they were found on the railroad tracks. We had a meeting that day but we needed to go look for them. We all drove out. Natalie and I still feeling bad, but you push through it, right? We parked and started walking the tracks. It didn’t take long to find them. We ended up dragging them all to the car. Oh, I didn’t mention, they were all dead. While we were doing this gruesome task a railroad worker stopped by. It turns out that they were hit the weekend before. We really had a feeling that they were down that way. But never saw any sign of them. It was really sad. Really sad. I am glad that we finally found out what happened to them. That is really the only positive thing I can bring out of this and it took awhile to get there.
It isn’t just us having animal sadness. Our friend is also having issues with animals. I won’t get into her stories, it is just sadness. This is a tough time of year. We saw it again on Monday. The jersey calves we got, one of them was a runt. He just was never as healthy as the others. We tried with him, but the girls found him dead on Monday morning. Another sadness. It is life and when you surround yourself with life you will also see a lot of death. Or at least it seems that way.
We also had really great news though. Yesterday actually. We were all at the table doing school. I happened to look out, I can see Rapunzel from here, and saw a small white puff in the pen with Rapunzel. She had been still going a little crazy. Pawing at the ground, rolling all over the place. We all just thought she was lonely and as sorry as I was about her loneliness, we need to quarantine animals when they first get here. Well, now I am glad she was still by herself. I really did not think she was pregnant. It is hard to feel around all that hair, but I thought I would at least see some sign. When I had checked her she was only ten days from giving birth. No sign at all. So now you know, hair/wool can really get in the way of telling if an animal is pregnant. I am so happy to see our first birth on the farm. We did have to go out there and trim up under her udders. The poor little boy was trying to nurse on her locks of hair. He seems to be doing well though. I am trying not to knit him a sweater real quick. I have to have some trust that animals can take care of themselves. To a point at least. I am glad that at least for the short term it does seem to be getting warmer. I can start to see some green in the grass. It is hard to wait for the lushness of spring. I know it will happen though. It is all part of the circle.
If you remember last year, Jack went a little crazy on the tree ordering. So he put me in charge of ordering trees this year. I am going into it this time knowing that I am very likely to be planting most of them. I still am having a hard time keeping it under 1,000 trees. I am not sure what is wrong with me. I want to get rid of most of our cedars. They are not good for our land. I would much rather some better trees here that serve wildlife in food and shelter and help with erosion control. The fact is that right now those cedars are keeping our hill up. Slowly though we will get it going better. I am oddly looking forward to planting trees. I remember last year after a hot day of planting was the first time I jumped in the pond for the year. Ordering trees makes me remember that soon, so soon, I will once again be floating in the cool water with frogs watching me. The blue sky overhead and clouds slowly going by. I am hopeful that this year we will have a dock to get into our pond, wading through the mud makes it so that sometimes you leave the pond dirtier than you went in.
We are also putting together our seed order for the year. We don’t need much in the way of seeds this year. We are missing or low on a few things. How hard it is though to be looking through all the seeds and narrowing it down. I think I have it down, though Jack keeps looking at me like I am crazy. There are SO MANY seeds out there though. Who knows what would work well in our garden. I think my weak spot this year are hot peppers. I have never been one who likes spicy food. For some reason though I fermented our hot peppers this year. Oh My GODDESS. They are SO good. They make me happy. So I plan to ferment a lot more this year as I only have one more pint left. I need more ferments. We have plans to try on doing more storage crops this year and not as many perishables. We are doing a lot of potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes and storage tomatoes. There will also be a lot of fermenting, canning and maybe even drying. I feel like we are much more organized this year. Jack is out there right now, it is a warm day, building a goat shelter. I feel like there is less chaos this year and I think that is good. I’m excited to see where we are next February.
So this week I bring you life, death and more death plus sickness. The promise of new life, the sadness of the weakness of life. Yet we all survive the best we can, going from one drudgery to another. There is excitement out there, sometimes happy sometimes not. When the girls come rushing in the door sometimes it is that they found an animal dead, sometimes it is that someone looks like they are pregnant, or someone just had sex, or sometimes it is just that they are out of feed. Those are the excitements of my day. They are real though. Very real. I find myself sometimes feeling like I don’t live in the same world as other people. I find that I don’t think that people really understand the work and energy, emotional and physical, that we put into our farm. In most ways I find it sad because I have never felt more REAL than I do now.