i wrote this this morning and thought i wouldn't post it because it seemed a bit of a downer. i don't want to give the impression that i am unhappy or overworked. because, for the most part, i am not. but when i am, i find it therapeutic to write about it. forgive me as i indulge.
its 8:23 and i have just pulled myself out of bed. i've been up for two hours and was, just two hours ago walking around doing the run of morning chores. letting the chickens out. filling their food and water. collecting eggs. throwing some hay to the donkeys. but no sooner had i appeased the most immediate needs of the farm i slinked back into bed. the temperatures of summer have already retreated and it is only august 1st. the pleasure of folding myself under the weight of our 3 blankets was too tempting. i lay there unable to return to sleep, my mind already racing with farm lists but my body requiring the extra rest. so, instead, i read. something i haven't done much of lately despite my continued manic accumulation of books.
the money i spend on books is one of my most egregious luxuries. if i actually read them i wouldn't consider them as such but i am often, despite this morning, too tired to read. too tired to entertain myself in any way that requires active participation. i buy and collect and scavenge all number of books, but in the past 5 months since starting a farm with nick i have been hoarding reference books and howto books. books like howto care for sheep. and howto care for sheep the natural way. and howto make soap. and howto make milk soap. books on wild mushrooms. books on the weeds of the northeast. books on flowers and birds. books on cows and pigs and chickens. books on the garden. encyclopedias of the garden. books on pests. books on what to do after the garden gives you her bounty.
i have this subconscious belief that if i own the books the knowledge will transfer by proxy and i will feel secure in this endeavor. i will feel safe in the farm.
but of course that's absurd. as its equally absurd that i can run a farm based on what books tell me. i spend all week fretting about the sheep and my intentions of dealing with parasites naturally and at worse organically. but when the natural sheep book comes i just put it in the pile of to read. a pile that is only touched to be re-stacked or moved to a more permanent spot on the over-burdened bookshelf with the hazy hope of being read in winter.
it isn't just the thought of wormy parasites slowly drinking the blood of my lambs that has me silent and useless with fear. it is also the selenium deficiency in vermont soil and the sheep's seemingly unreasonable requirement for this mineral i know nothing about. the cabbage root maggot has the same paralyzing power. as do the cornichons that are growing (my guess by now) out of control in the part of the garden i have inexplicably abandoned. i carry a vague worry about happiness of the pigs and if the slice from vangogh's tusk on rose's side is infected or healing. i worry about winnie's hooves and if they need trimming or if their growth is my imagination.
the worry of the farm consumes me and on the, thankfully rare, day it exhausts me.
this morning it left me cowardly hiding in bed. reading a book that doesn't have a word to do with farming. a book that is only teasing my head with ideas of running away and solo-hiking the PCT.
there are mornings like these where i worry that this is too much foolish responsibility. that we only have the most ambiguous idea of How to Farm and how monstrously irresponsible we have been to put our money into this and to embrace the lives of these animals into our flock.
these doubts and fears are, i would hope, runofthemill. runofthemill to doubt and fear a life that everyone you have met has told you will be as hard and tiring as it is rewarding and nourishing. perhaps these Doubts and Fears aren't normal. perhaps this is the beginning of the end for me as farming. that i will be more overcome with worry and doubt until i sell our flock at auction and pack nick and rudy up for a quiet surfing life on the eastern coast of australia.
but i do truly hope that it does get easier. not the farming bit. that will always be hard. but the uncertainty bit. i have little hints that tell me it will. by making the mistakes i am afraid to make and getting over it. the very facts that i find myself ravenously planning next year's gardens, or finally getting Back on the Tractor hint to me that i will eventually, one by one, overcome the anxieties and fears of the farm.
of course, this is why i have nick and why he has me. to help each other through the periods of uncertainty. to help figure out the best ratio of selenium to salt for the sheep. or to go brave the cucumber patch and then the water-bath canning dance. to herd our cows together in a push and pull when we are both as afraid as the other of the bull. i am with him when he needs to redesign the pasture rotation and he is milking every day for two weeks in my place as i try to heal the tendinitis in my right hand.
as i lay in bed this morning quietly gulping in the pleasures of a book that has nothing to do with my life. i kept intertwining my cold legs with nick's warm body. so grateful for his presence in bed as i realize that he is as tired as i. as in need of a slower morning. so grateful for his companionship on this farm and in this life. the gratitude quieted the mornings' worries. helped me to slow down and enjoy the rarity of a relaxed wakeup.
at my bedside; books that are largely Disrespected & Ignored:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons
New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman
The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
Weeds of the Northeast by Uva, Neal and DiTomaso
Making & Using Dried Foods by Phyllis Hobson
Natural Sheep Care by Pat Coleby