ruminating

IMG_7722This evening after supper, I went for a rare walk all by myself. I had been gone from the farm most of the day and I needed (wanted) to go up to the pasture to check on Lilly one last time before night fell. She is due to calve any moment now and I’m kind of obsessed with her progress. Once she calves, my daily routine is going to experience a major shift and I want to be as ready as I can be for that change. Experienced milk-maid I am not.

When I arrived at the animal’s paddock, the sun was heading quickly for the horizon. Soft pink wisps of clouds reached through the western sky like fingers. I think every single cow’s and sheep’s head was bent towards the ground, contentedly grazing. A few stray heads raised up at the sound of my approach, pausing momentarily from their supper to greet me with blank, unquestioning stares. There’s probably over 200 critters in that paddock right now, but the amount of noise coming from all of those animals was minimal. Just the sound of hooves gently moving about and grass being ripped, bite by bite. (It makes me wonder just how it is that my three small children are capable of such volume?!!!!) I noticed that Lilly had stopped her grazing and found a comfortable spot to lay down with a few other cows.IMG_7724

I’m not sure there is anything more peaceful than a cow laying in a high grassy pasture under a pink sky on a warm summer evening, ruminating. Heaven is right here on earth, indeed.

I stepped quickly over the hot fence to avoid getting shocked, and meandered through the sea of sheep to where Lilly was resting. I sat down beside her in the pasture and felt her peace. I thought my busy thoughts and wondered about why humans get swept up in such busyness. Too bad we weren’t designed to be ruminants… I think this world would be an entirely different place.

As I sat with Lilly, her peace radiated. I couldn’t help but sense that she might be in the early throes of labor, but maybe it was just my eager imagination. As much as I felt drawn to just lay down in the grass and sleep with the herd, my own precious little herd of noisy non-ruminants was pulling my strings homeward. So I left the pasture and walked the dusty dirt road back to the house; back to pajamas and bedtime kisses, teeth-brushing and drinks of water… and eventually a quiet, dark house and a little time for my own style of ruminating.

 

all shades of green

IMG_2631The world around me has turned green. Where I could recently see the contours of the hills, the trees have reawakened from winter dormancy and exploded with lush springtime growth, filling in the glimpses into my greater surroundings and the world beyond this hollow where I spend the greatest portion of my days, with many shades and colors and textures of green. The sky is much less visible around our homestead, as well. Now it’s much more elusive and mysterious. If I really want to see the horizon, and any weather headed our way, I have to take a walk up on the hill into the open pasture.IMG_2645 There I see the rampant, fresh growth of the perennial grasses and legumes in our pastures flanked by the surrounding forests. There’s no way to count all of the different shades of green that I see. When I watch the animals grazing, I’ll see the cows and some of the ewes, but the grass holds a secret: sleeping lambs. Those lush pastures can completely conceal the baby lambs from view. I know there are about one hundred of the little ruminants, but I only see a handful here or there. I find myself wishing for springs for legs so that I could just sproing up high enough to see all of the white lambs hidden within the green grass. Oh, to be a bird for just a moment!IMG_2559

While there are many shades of the color green, in the context of our modern language, “green” has many more meanings than just the color. You might find yourself “green with envy”; or maybe living a very “green” lifestyle; or “green” to something new. This last one is exactly how I felt this afternoon when the girls and I accompanied Papa to do his chores. IMG_2661We have just begun the calving season on the farm, and upon our arrival to the animal”s paddock, Eric immediately noticed our cow “Sweetie” looking thinner and with a bloody tail, but no calf by her side. “Uh-oh,” says Eric. Upon walking through the paddock, we find the calf… abandoned by mama and still wet from being born, clearly not accepted nor bonded to mama cow. Bad sign. So we have a little what-do-we-do-now conference in the middle of all of the animals and decide our plan. We quickly get to work (I see my plans for a lovely evening dinner of Ira’s freshly caught bass and fresh asparagus from the garden slipping away…) and start picking up some of our extra portable fencing nets and start making a lane to the corral. Eric leads Sweetie there and we then load the wobbly new calf into the golf cart and take her to her mama’s side. With extreme effort of immobilizing the cow in the chute of the corral, and making it so that she couldn’t move away from the calf, or worse yet, knock it down with her big hard head, the calf finally starts to suckle from it’s mama. All of my children are right there witnessing the whole process: all of mama and papa’s stress and effort and questioning… and then our joy, tinged with apprehension, when it looks like things just might work. Well… I think to myself that while I may feel very awkward and uncertain about how it will all turn out, my children will develop a completely different picture in their heads. While I feel uneasy and very “green” to the entire situation, my children were completely relaxed and offering to help, and just wanting to be close “to watch”. Eric and I didn’t grow up with this exposure to livestock and are still in a very steep learning curve, especially with cattle. We have no idea at all how this drama will play itself out, but I am in awe of my little ones and their ability to not fret about all of that and just accept the moment for what it is. They have so many lessons for me.IMG_2629

And so the sun sets on another day… a very full, very gorgeous, very green day. As I walk through the pasture, hand in hand with little Livi, we enjoy the last light of day fading into a stunning sunset. She comments on all that she sees, and it makes me smile as we leave the pasture and enter into the darkening forest and she says, “Mama, we are in a tunnel of leaves.” And now, as I sit here at the computer reminiscing the events of my day, all of that green has faded into darkness. Another day comes to an end. But in my mind’s eye, I still see green.IMG_2547