The Land, She Provides.

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Scrawled in many-a-journals lies the repetitious message that each In-Between merits authoring. I can be prone to mulling in my days, wondering what is worth it to mark with words with a document that will last throughout time. The fact of the matter is that each day we go through is significant because it is a place where we have never arrived before. The day might be wrought in pain, but it is a different pain, or confusion, or celebration unique unto itself.

Now is the time of a great In-Between for me, filled with a plethora of unknowns, frustrations, surprises, insurmountable gratitude, hope, and faith that is growing from seedling to solidifying sun grown stalk. I am the sunflower with its seed hat still cusping the tender small leaf and it is no doubt we mirror one another right now. The sunflower may be asking itself in the field, “Am I going to grow? Seriously? What if I don’t? What if my flower is weak? What if I never get a flower? And if a curious and derisive wind pummels me in a snide fury?” and the ever popular follow up question, “…then what?!” is the caboose of each question mark. And the flower says, “I don’t know. This is my first time being a flower. I still have my seed hat on. In the meantime, I’ll just get some sunshine and water, and we’ll see how it goes.”

And likewise in my own days follows the internal dialogue that of a self questioning seedling. A litany of uncertainty followed by self mentoring that this is my first time farming by myself and I will just have to give it my all, give it lots of sunshine and water, and see what happens above all else. I spend a lot of time in my own company and lately I have been instating mental laws like, “If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, then you can’t say it to yourself,” knowing that if I am going to accomplish anything flower farm wise or creatively, beating myself up and questioning if it is all going to work out or not does absolutely no good, and is in fact energetically combative.

The last two weekends have brought me my first solo farmers’ market experiences as well. I have been selling bouquets and sewn handmade goods. I have included hyacinths in many bouquets, alongside muscari, and the errant non deer chomped tulip. I coupled those flowers with some apple and cherry blossoms, newly budding branches, phlox, lilacs, sprigs of evergreen and cedar, and elements of dried grasses that still linger tall in the prairie. I felt those bouquets resembled the true world of spring. The last couple of weeks have exemplified that glorious sweet spot of spring where the whole world is in bloom and nearly each specimen in nature is first a flower before a leaf, before all else. There are pent up buds moments away from unfurling at any moment. What seems so compact and days away from emerging its wild show of color and true form only takes hours, an evening, a piece of day. You forget to check on something in one day and the following day the world reveals more of its natural progression and surprises.

Now is an especially exciting time because this farm home of mine is new. Though I visited the place contemplating buying it last summer, much was already green and leafed out. I never got to experience each living thing blossom and become. And indeed, there were many features of this land that I knew nothing about and have made themselves known to me only now. Not until spring began to thaw the fields did I know that there was a huge strawberry patch out in the field. Tonight I had the pleasure of weeding the patch of still green berries and flowers as the sun set. Two geese flew by sounding the pastel melt of night on the horizon, Venus a’glow from behind. I stood tall with old daisy flea bane stalks in hand and a clump of rogue grasses plodding soil below from its hanging stance. “Some great force is on my side,” I felt. Overwhelming peace was among me in the strawberry patch, thinking, “The land, she provides. Don’t be afraid.”

I turned to look back at the house and could see the reflection of the lingering bits of orange cream sun pastel and milky in the windows, warming the view. My ram stood silhouetted in the distance, watching with quiet. I stood awash in a gratitude resounding in my body. There in the strawberry patch lied no need for fear. “Everything you need to eat will come from this soil. Sow seeds each day, and you will be okay.”

I have not mowed any part of the land since I have moved in, and in doing so I have found many surprises that would have been dormant, unknown, and destroyed had I taken the shears to all that grows in the name of “keeping a nice lawn.” Last week revealed lamb’s ears and salvia. Today revealed many tiny maples, the beginning sprigs of a rose bush, and an entire peony eager with buds! With glee ridden bones I smiled and hollered a pleasant “AWWW!” aloud. The raspberries and blackberries are getting bushy bottom leaves. The apple and cherry blossoms are long spent and now preparing their fruits. And since many of the trees are fully leafed the air lends itself to a percussive sound that was absent in the hanging winter silence. The breeze hushes a new tune between the trees, soft harping among the leaves. I rise with dirty paws, bulbs in tow, and watch the beauty spread through the pasture with a praise that never tires my eyes with old. I could watch the silver backed leaves chime the live long day and never cease of its unexpected silver, nor would the sheen that rivers in the wind ever reside predictable.

Sunny was also sheared for the first time over this past week. He was so round appearing to have no neck. As I clipped his jacket off he appeared youthful and relieved to be unburdened by a year of wool. The wool closest to his body was a deep, silken black, saturated with a musky lanolin that I would put my nose to over and over again. I massaged the lanolin into my skin and repeatedly brought my hands to my face, breathing in. The large masses of wool clipped were placed into a bag and the smaller pieces attempting tumbles and release in the grass were tucked into the top of my summer dress for collection. My chest was coated in lanolin, grit, and bits of wool sticking to my sweat and oiled skin. It was a day that warranted a good shower at the end but I refused simply so I could go to bed smelling myself and rolling over catching scents of lanolin and sweat in the night.

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And so here I am, writing in the wavering depths of the unknown, with a sometimes alarming sense of peace. There is fear, oh there is fear. But fear has no space allowing its rule of me. I am feeling the love and support of my friends, family, and new community members I am meeting through the farmers’ market and feeling there is no option other than for good things to come on this farm. There will be trial and error, there will be failures and successes, good weather and the poorest. There will be everything, because that is living.

And to be living is so, so good.

Spring is here, Spring is dear!

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Today is the first day of Spring! Little sprouts of green have begun sprawling along the fields. All that was dormant and all that was dead is now enlivening. This is the beautiful stage where budding trees color the horizon first with red, umber, hazes of yellow on willows, and pale lemon fuzzes about branches before the grand explosion of greenery. The color is an amalgamation of hibernation unfurling and it is just the very beginning, like a birthday, a new start, a baby.

The picture window I once looked out of at snow covered fields has now melted its last pile of white. What used to be a mountain big enough for myself and a child to sled down is now melted down under, its waters preparing a bed of flowers to come, or some vegetable to feed. The bees are again buzzing, flies are awake and in search of muck, and the overwintered lady bugs of my home frazzle at the window wanting out. These are the days of everything changing. These are the baby days wherein we stare out at this blank canvas and we have hints, hunches, so many dreams of what we intend to paint, but what those fields will look like come July we do not yet know.

But we hope, I hope. And I dream. And I believe.

I believe in the fertile fields, in my own sweat and hard work, and the helping hands of community and family, in the grace of the land and all of the possibility that lies within her soil. I believe it is my job to make this world a better place not by schmoozing with political figures or taking my angst to the streets but by putting my hands directly to the Earth and planting food for myself, family, and community; sowing the seeds that will unleash the greatest flower foods for the bees, and making a field for the butterflies to thrive within. My greatest goal is to make the nectar for us not to simply subsist on, but thrive – to get better with, to heal with, to go beyond with, to bring joy.

Today is not only the Vernal Equinox, but it is a new super moon, a solar eclipse, and a day of fertile menstruation within my own body. The capacity I hold within my belly is reflected in the fields. This day I bleed makes room for another cycle to take its rightful place in my body and actions. The seeds that have begun will continue to transform and grow, and the ones not yet sown will soon to be germinating, and it is the beauty in these teeny tiny steps that transforms a life, a world, a body, a day. The now minuscule leaves, or the unseen steps of germination, are the very ones that will aid in someone’s celebration, birth, grief when they come into bloom. They are the tiny steps that will feed and nourish a body, whose succulent leaves of green will fill the belly during another cycle, or feed the baby of a woman who has new life growing within her own womb.

Isn’t life the most amazing gift?

To think we can take our own hands to the soil and effect change in so many ways, to bring joy to our neighbors and partners in life, to bring sustenance, hope, and proof that what we do today impacts our tomorrow, our children’s future, and the health of our Earthly companions.

And the rest of the world will whirl on in its gruesome activity saddled with glorious miracles. And my heart will still be soft and attentive to what makes me hurt within the happenings of the world; the injustice, the inequity, the harmful and the dark. But this is the best way I know how to seed light – to take in all the harsh realities of the world and still grow a petal, craft with my hands, listen to the soft wind, the changing song of the world within the seasons and try to make better in some shape or form. This is the cycle that has no end and it truly life’s work. I lend my heart and warm shoulder for those who may need it and I will devote my time and days working with the Earth to make her, and her inhabitants nourished and joyous, heard and felt and supported as much as I can.

Within all of this lies a belief in time, belief in our time alive. I believe that our lives matter and that our days matter. I believe that what I do not accomplish this year there is room for next year, and this is where growth lies as well. No one is ready for everything at once, and so here is where I stand right now. The field is still crispy grey-brown and taken over by the looks of old daisy flea bane. My kitchen has no ceiling or insulation, the bathroom floor is sagging with rot in some locations, and the old slate siding is muddied with some vegetation growth and stains of years striped upon its exterior. But this is my sacred shelter, the place I will call my home for years to come, where I will have little babies running around. I am eternally thankful for after more than a year of floating about in different people’s homes and years of rental properties that I finally have a home where I can settle and grow. This is still something I mutter to myself on silent nights outside as I take a look around at everything that surrounds me, “I have a Home. I have a Home,” as though there is something in me that hasn’t quite settled yet out of disbelief of its reality. But here it is, my home, my field, a place for me and the babies that I have promised them, and a place where we will all grow according to our own speed. They are out with their noses to the ground, nibbling little mouths moving so quickly catching the freshest greens as they sprout from the soil, grateful to be in new season – returning from the season from whence they came one year ago. They changed my life.

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I am happy where we are. And as scary as it can be to sit in so many unknowns and so much newness, I have faith in us and faith in this place. I have faith that the field I see now will be fertile and show signs of my hard work come July. I have faith that despite whatever hardships will come I will find a way to learn from them and work through them. I have faith in all possibilities, my wild dreams, and the hands and hearts of everyone who has risen to help me along the way.

May your seasons be kind and may your seasons be bright. May there be joy in your hard work and praises within your day. May your muscles throb with the pleasure that you have lived a day with the vegetation and dirt in your bones. May you prosper in the good Earth with healthy animals, healthy family, and healthy children, and may you prosper with joy and vitality. And when you grieve, as grieve you will, may you remember the feeling which comes with the look of the still yellowing willow and hazy budding trees that possibility is bred not just at new beginnings of seasons, moons, or cycles, but in the daily steps of our in-between. Whatever ails you will eventually, like all things in nature, cycle and unfurl into something new.

Whatever the outcome, let us all join hands and bare witness to one another and this beautiful Earth, in all of the seasons of our lives and days. For what greater way is there to live than together in joy, grit, and hope?

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Cicada’s Birth: A Freckled Smile and Honey Doe

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The first week of spring granted us diverse weather ranging from glinting morning snowflakes falling briefly in the pasture’s morning sun to days warm enough to melt the ice cap of the back pond. The temperatures were perfect to encourage the sweet sugar water of sap to flow generously from the maple trees and we hounded across the creek with our collection buckets in tow, clinking with our stride. Tender baby greens unearthed themselves in the fields with sheep quick to their nipping. Oak buds began to unfurl themselves on the tips of branches, like opening age-old roses. Worms reveled in the moist, unfrozen soil from underfoot. The geese were found necking and whirring their feathers in impressive displays upon the newly melted pond waters, and when the dogs ran free together watching in the distance they could not help but to jump in and join in the celebration of the seasons turning and new life occurring. Glimpses of spring that all had been awaiting hung in the air, lingered in the fields, and enlivened the grey gold fields. It was only a matter of moments before we would be inviting Cicada’s new baby goats to the farm along with the arrival of spring.

There is a song among the pasture when all of the animals know our arms are full of nourishment that is meant for their mouths. It is the chatty hour of the evening that is reminiscent of dawn when the gentle beasts similarly speak out knowing our heads have risen from our pillows for the sole purpose of tending to their bellies. They belted demands for fresh alfalfa and nipped my shirt as I made way to their feeders while some stole sprigs as I walked.

A chill was in the air as dark clouds rolled through the lands sipping up the last moments of sunlight quite quickly. I hustled the hay and water to animals in an attempt to quell their needy song while we were still afforded light. As I noted the turn in atmosphere an earnest roaring bleat rang across the field, perking my ear back towards the barn. It was a serious cry out of typical, known harmony of the hour. “It must be Cicada’s time,” I thought to myself. My arms were full of hay for the bucks across the pasture and I debated whether I ought drop the food at my feet and flee to the barn or if I had time to deliver dinner to the bucks. I rushed to the bucks and bolted back to the barn against the wind and met Cicada in her birth pen where she was found bleating in between vigorous laps of water that had released from her body with her great warning cry.

She wanted each taste which dripped upon the straw. Cicada would alternate lapping the moisture and nesting in nuzzled golden straw. Between the tastes and the lay came a definitive time to remain lowered though there was nothing leisurely about her labor. She bleated amply and forcefully, her belly contracting as she belted. Cicada pressed her knuckled knees and embedded her bottom hoof into the straw, digging for strength as she moaned. Her tongue flapped to the right outside of her mouth where it hung with wild eyes. I praised her strength while palming her cheek for comfort in short smooth strokes. She suckled my thumb and sought residual juices from my fingers and I only hoped it brought her comfort as my heart reached her face through touch and tone.

The force of her hoof was a digging pull from her core which unfurled two creations from womb warmth to world warmth. The breath of spring she harbored was emitted from the flaring nostrils peeking from her very living body. It was an oak bud opening; the baby was a mirror of the world in transition as it journeyed slowly, catching with its girth, from her body. Cicada’s disposition was a force unto itself, filled with a burning yearning of direct intention to fulfill the task of giving life. Her body had been long at work for days cultivating the miracles which lied within. Each bleat of ardent intensity was an echo of life, of transition, of moments spiraling anew, while readied life stirred still deep in her belly. Cicada’s brow furrowed with tired strength but sustained vigor to follow through on her lively duty.

Days leading up to her moments of life pushing I would feel for tender or stone ligaments just before the outward flicker of her tail. My fingers would search for indications of how many days may be left before her great pressing. My hands would rest on the soft side divot curves of her belly. With kids womb roving under my palms my hands wondered, “How many hearts beat below my tips?”

With her warm breath bleating a fog forward into the hand upon her cheek my tips knew this was the time those curious moments would reveal themselves with each generous push, with each dig of the hoof into straw. I submitted happily to each fluid, to the shared company of her earthy bed of straw, and felt the joy which came along with witnessing her birth and seeing her through in a time of need. I was aware that her strong animal body would likely not need me at all but I was soulfully happy to provide any assistance at all from kindness in tone or a thumb to suck.

After she labored gratuitously the first baby remained sustained in space. Soft hooves were pointed and ready, showing. Nesting atop the pale white hooves was the baby’s nose of nostrils gently flaring with its tongue pressed outside of the mouth much like his mother’s as she pushed heartily. The cusp of his eyes were still hidden and shelled from within her. It was determined that the child within was of great size and her laboring efforts may benefit from assistance for the amount of time she had been wearily pushing. We positioned her birthing body forward towards us in the bed of straw for ease of access to help pull the kid. Her generous mucous allowed for fingers to slip near the pointed nose and hooves to pull alongside her push to fully release the kid from the great womb to the great world.

What had just been peeking was now fully unearthed from her body and before us was this beautiful slippery buck enveloped in a coat created from within his mother. We wiped the buck’s nose to invite full breath and Cicada began to lick in as dedicated a fashion as she previously lapped her straw bed. She murmured a bleat just for him and he made incantations back towards her, and so flowed the beginning of their pastured song. He came into the world speckled with dark spots and one prime black freckle on the tip of his nose. A dark line followed the curvature of his lip traveling upward in reach of his cheek and so he was born with an embedded smile which we amorously reflected back towards him as we welcomed him and held him to our hearts while drying the newborn buck.

There was still life rousing and rumbling within Cicada which caused her to pause in her pursuit of fully cleansing her first born with her tongue. She fell again to her pleasant nest and with fervid force hoofed heartily into the straw. Unlike the clear, thin membrane encapsulating her first born, her second baby began to show in a thick, veined sac. My fingers caught hold of the pointed hooves and nose and pulled again alongside her vehement presses to release the life within. The baby slipped out into my hands completely enveloped in a reddened marble of fluid and membrane. I pierced the amniotic marbled sac with my fingernails to quickly wipe the nose of the baby, inviting a great breath of life. She breathed and sneezed while Cicada hummed a unique tune to her new little girl as she licked her new baby with pride. Cicada’s bleats became gentle and subsided towards a more soothing and contented tone. Our cooing was a welcoming tune among the oaks which carried lovingly into the spring air and fell before the new little family ambling about in the soft bed of straw.

Cicada’s little doe was not speckled like her brother. Instead, she came to us as a smooth pale honey with a dorsal stripe like a fine braid of darkened autumnal straw which followed down her tail. Her blue eyes rang bright against her golden grey body which held the tone of the half-life winter-spring fields. Her nose sloped gently downward with her face, too, clad with a simple smirk. Her ears hung slightly downward and velveteen in need of more colostrum and lively moments before rising to flower their full perk upward.

With Cicada’s placenta beginning to pass so did the hubbub of the new birthing mother. Some went into the house to finish dinner, others carried on with chores or settled into their evening routines, and I just remained in her fair straw bed of life lingering in the moments that just passed and enthralled in the moments that continued to be. My hands were removed from the kids and I was pleased to simply sit quietly among her and witness her life as a mother.

Cicada’s spotted and honey babies only needed to be introduced to her teats a few times before hunkering down on their front knees to nip at a taste of their mother’s life building, nutrient dense colostrum. I sat near them with eyes invigorated and warm from the grace of life which surrounded me. I reflected on the two hooves that first had shown themselves, the tiny tongue limp, the flaring nostrils, the baby born in marbled fluid, and the soaking wet fur that would soon show itself as soft and distances away from grown coarseness which comes with age.

I recalled Cicada’s warning cry that our horizon of life was soon to change with the addition of two more lively spirited creatures. With the skies completely darkened I could hear the pasture of animals had changed their song which came with satiated appetites as the evening closed in – the silence of a gratified field. Cicada chirped to her newborns and as they ambled about necking one another in celebration outside of the womb they echoed back to her. I whispered my own welcoming chimes and then fell silent as I watched, completely enamored with the joys which come with living, and witnessing the miracle of life, my first birth, occur before me.