Spring Mood

The peepers have started up
all at once, it seems,
as if they’ve waited for this very evening
to erupt in song –
their chorus fills the woods up and down the creek.

Fireflies emerge
but more hesitantly.
My eye is drawn to random green flickers
here and there above the grass.

In spite of Spring life eagerly bursting forth
the weather is predictably moody –
sudden tossing winds,
temperatures warming then plunging.
The rain – always beneficial for the soil –
yet not always received with enthusiasm.

The geese patrol the house-barn-creek-woods-pasture
regardless of the weather.
When the rain falls they stand and bask
occasionally shaking their feathers
before resuming their vigil,
sounding off as they go,
exciting our cockatiel as they pass by,
who shrieks along with them from her perch inside –
piercing our eardrums.

In the morning
Jonquils unfurl their bright green spears
allowing frilly yellow flowers
to shine in the sun.

I can hear the calves complaining
behind the parlor,
ready for their morning milk.

Through the woods I watch a pregnant sow
as she picks her way down the slope
to drink from a trough,
her teats hanging down.
Soon she’ll succumb
to her litter of piglets –
a dozen or more tiny shivering bodies
climbing her prone and exhausted form
in search of her nipples.

Ah, the newness, the moodiness,
the bounty of Spring!

Fall Reflection

The day begins chilly. I hear the eerie bark-screech of a fox  in the early-morning dark; a wild sound. We light a fire and sip coffee, wrapped in robe and shawl, and watch as daylight makes its slow emergence. The sunrise lights up the leaves in the woods beyond the windows – yellow, gold, orange, umber, cherry, russet. A thin ribbon of mist hovers over the lower pasture, where the cows lie cloaked and contented, with an hour still to go before milking time.

I am enraptured by fall – it seems particularly stunning this year. Or perhaps I’m just paying more attention to the way the clarified light shines through the leaves, making them glow. We take Croom Road on our way home from school, relishing the beautiful countryside, passing through a tunnel of yellow-leafed trees illuminated by the buttery late afternoon sunlight. It takes my breath away.

Fall is a season of changing colors and shedding leaves, signaling an end. It fills me with a wistfulness, and also a thrill of hope for what’s to come – the new – as I marvel at the transformation unfolding before my eyes.

Chad the Goose

A few years ago, farm co-owner Geoffrey purchased a pair of Chinese geese from an Amish farmer. His wife Sally envisioned a tranquil life for them down by the pond (while anticipating the prospect of a Christmas goose),  but we ended up putting them with the laying flock to try them out as guardians. This worked great at keeping away the ground predators – raccoons, opossums, even foxes. They were not so good at deterring eagles and hawks; more often than not, the large white geese could be seen cowering beneath the mobile coop with the rest of the chickens. Continue reading “Chad the Goose”

Dry Spell

I have been experiencing a bit of a dry spell lately. I haven’t really felt the urge to write – although I have sat down with my notebook on numerous occasions. I think it’s to do with the fact that it’s the summer season at the farm (busy!), and because it’s so HOT. (How many weeks has it been in the 90s?)

Then there’s the daily wild card of the pandemic, and how to navigate all the conflicting information, the politics, even as we do our best to respect each other and keep each other safe.

Which is why I welcome the glorious distraction of a good thunderstorm.  There’s nothing like a dramatic storm in the middle of a heatwave to bring you into the present moment. Nature is good at this, if you allow yourself to pay attention.

I’ve spent several evenings on the porch, barn kittens playing at my feet, watching the dark gray clouds march in from the west and south. The sudden crack of thunder like a gunshot makes me jump. I feel it in my chest. Thunder rolls across the sky, and back, the way music through headphones moves back and forth. Lightning spears down, or races horizontally across the clouds, or sometimes zig-zags in all directions, like an electric web, like being inside a giant plasma ball.

Storms are not this exciting in California.

I can hear the wind rush through the woods across the pasture toward me, and the temperature drops. Finally, rain splats on the walkway, the edges of the porch planks, picks up force, then slants itself sideways to find me, chasing me back inside the house. Through the window, I see chickens down by the barn running this way and that, unable to decide: Inside or outside? Cats huddle behind flower pots and porch furniture, or slink off to disappear under the porch. The cows wait patiently beneath the trees by the fence, while the geese stand motionless in the driveway, letting it drench, occasionally shaking their feathers.

Eventually the rain rights itself and falls steadily on the earth, giving the soil, plants and trees – and my soul – a good soak.