There is something especially beautiful about evenings, early autumn on this farm. It is the moment I bring in the goats and the sheep inside for the night. The goats are more difficult to manage. They come in singly, usually each at the end of the lead cord which tethers them to their grazing area. Sometimes they are very interested in coming in, and sometimes not. Chasing an escaped goat by trying to slow her down by stepping on her lead cord in bare feet is not my idea of an especially beautiful moment. The compensation is that there are usually only four or five outside at a time.
Sheep are the other story. Sometimes that seems to be an inordinate number of them. It seems however, when they are doing their classic audition for a movie that there seems to be the greatest number. Single file. Moving with deliberation. Keeping the same distance between them. Gradual. Purposeful with sanity. They trust my request as I am, and they know it, their willing servant. Fresh hay and water await them when they come in, “Cahm ahn”. I call out. “Cahm ahn”. They understand Yankee. And me. As I, sometimes understand them. Sometimes a few will rebel and move behind the barn rather than into it. That takes a little effort on my part. “Comin ohn home”. I’ll call out. “Comin ahn home”. Occasionally, after twenty-five years, I understand them. “I want you in the barn”, I’ll shout. “Now”. “Or someone will eat you!” My worse threat of all.
The light on these hills changes by the moment. And as the colors of the trees change as well, the light assumes a new dimension. We don’t have much in the way of sunsets in this valley although the southern rim will sometimes become a bright pink where sky meets forrest, and the northern edge will become shades of red and orange. Nature compensates me, however. For sometimes. I am given a gift of a rainbow, seven fifteen in the evening. To the south. On evenings when there has been a late afternoon rain and the sun suddenly comes out. But it is the light on these hills that is lovely to me. Something of which I’ve never tired. Ever changing. Delicate. Lovely. It is the light on these hills.
The sheep look fat to me. I don’t understand it exactly. The pastures on this side of the brook seem to be grazed down, and yet they don’t cross the brook but on rare occasions to graze the thick green undergrowth in sheep meadow. The June Grass pastures also is boasting of a thick undergrowth. However, it is rare that I see them there. I walked the pasture the other day, Sheep Meadow, Wuthering Heights, and the two unnamed pastures next to Wuthering Heights. Where is Dunmoor, if I remember correctly, the name my son and grandson gave it before it was divided. The divided half is perfect for goats but will I ever take them there? It is full of non productive blackberries, and thick grass. It is a decent walk with a couple of goats on lead cords. Verity might do. And Felicity. Perhaps even the newly named Schnitzel will follow. I’ve been walking barefoot of late, however, I’ve been recently pressured into wearing boots. Boots are heavy and slow me down more than avoiding thistles does. However, I’ve agreed to their necessity. I may try, today to take the beautiful Verity and the lovely Felicity up there. Perhaps with some knitting so I can sit with them, guilt free from the risk of an enforced idleness.
I read in a very wise little book “that it makes no sense to worry about things that may or may not happen”, therefore I am using that thought to help me concentrate on living the day without it becoming clouded with apprehensions and the future. The future being called winter. I made some pear marmalade a day or two ago. Not enough, of course, but a beginning. And came up with an idea for making the curtains in the kitchen become drapes. A second curtain rod behind the first can be used to hang quilts, bed pads on hooks. They will then slide and can be tucked away at will, not to be seen from inside the room and drawn closed at night, under the curtains. For some years I’ve wanted to have inside storms made in addition to the exterior ones. This new solution will cost far less and take less maintenance. Parts of the wood room look beautiful to my eye. There is a two seater room in one part of it that I have stacked with small pieces of cut pine branches. Some are tied with baling twine. It looks like France. There is enough day starter wood in there for several months. There is about two to three weeks of light burning wood in the wood room, and about four or five weeks worth split, on a pasture. Probably enough to get me through Christmas if October and November aren’t too cold. Then what? But priorities have shifted here, somewhat. I find myself thinking of the interior of the house and how to live in it. Finished units. Finished rooms. The mudroom has taken on a dramatic new change. A larder has been built into a disused doorway in which I can keep the pots and pans that have been packed into the cookstove. Each time I bake I find I have strewn cookware all over the kitchen, that much maligned room. The larder is beautiful. A farmhouse larder, at that. I’m going to stencil on the inside door. Blue on white. Checks and leaves similar to a tiny wall on the kitchen that can only be seen from outside. Every time it is opened it shall be a joy. The Home Art Center has been reorganized and to my immense satisfaction I discovered a box of Utrecht oil paints. In it was the perfect blue with which to stencil the inner door. The reorganization process of the whole house has saved me a bit of money and a lot of time.
I’ve been thinking of late about the hardness of life here. I live without much of what the world I have come from assumes as necessities. Two or three years without a cookstove, running to the third floor flat when it is unrented to make Thanksgiving dinner. Three years without a refrigerator. The list goes on. And yet, much of that doesn’t touch me. Oh I feel frustration, usually what does not please my eye. The tablecloth that this one replaces is an example. I don’t like it. And it may become a rag. The replacement one is not ironed. That bothers me. I don’t like the windows being dirty. But the color of the curtains and the view outside pleases me. And it helps me to detach from what I can’t stand looking at. In a way, it is a fundamental error for me to have taught myself to ignore the unacceptable.
Life here unfolds of late, with very little effort on my part. Of course I must “show up”. However I am learning to replace apprehension with a sense of gratitude and a profound conviction that for the moment all is in its proper place. The sense of freedom is immeasurable.
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