Today I stand in a field, a blade of green grass tucked between my teeth, one hand shoved in a pocket filled with yesterday’s kleenex, 6 kernels of grain, a feather fallen off the bluebird.

I inspect the back end of a cow fat with baby.  Watch the sides of the animal sway and roll as it moves inside her – a drumbeat without sound or rhythm, already kicking its way into a world it does not know, will not expect.

The sun is too warm on a December day and the sweat that beads on my forehead is out of season.  A cold, cold wind will be here in two days and the landscape will slacken, curl over, gray at the edges, slumber beneath the weight of winter.

But still there is life brimming.  The dogs growl up at the hawk that circles above some carcass picked nearly clean; the carrion gather the last bits to a nest somewhere, hatching more predators or prey, depending on how they feast.

The goats amble slowly, heavy from breeding.  Each doe is a story unfolding.  The greatest mysteries brew in the bellies of these beasts.  They stretch out, regal in a pastured kingdom, scratch a leg luxuriously, groan intentionally, roll their eyes with profound extravagance.  Bring up a ball of cud to chew with eyes at half mast, their sinewy bodies are machines converting roughage to blood, blood to energy, energy to milk.  They are allowed this excess.  They give more then they take.

Beyond the fence a herd of chickens prowls and pecks, tugs against roots that bend but will not break.  The insurmountable will of growing things rooted into earth dark as the abyss.  Even the chicken cannot pull them free.

Here I consider everything taught, everything tutored, everything told, everything memorized.  I consider the lines read, the equations solved, the puzzles mastered, the essays drafted, the arguments won.  The arguments lost.  Where did that lead me?  Where did that lose me?  Everything I need to know I learned right here, planted in grass I grew, watching the cows I nursed, tending the goats that nursed me, tossing out scraps for chickens whose society could instruct a nation about the tenets of democracy, peace-keeping, negotiation.  Everything I learn is taught in a single season where certain truths are unbreakable.  The sun – it does rise, it will set, it does rise again.  The rain will come, never when needed, and maybe in excess, but it will come again. The wind is certain to strip the trees, to tear at the edges of what is nailed down, sewn closed, locked shut.  The predators will appear in the darkness, will trespass the impenetrable fortress, will tip-toe into the depths of sleep, will scald my certainty.  Despite this – despite the sun, the rain, the wind, the drought, the flood, the predators – there will be plenty.

There will always be plenty.

Today I watched the calf turn inside a cow, grazing a hill that’s been sloped for centuries but only recently exposed for her to chew the same grass grinding between my teeth.  Her calf punches against a barrier that won’t give just yet.  And it is every story I want to tell curled safely inside there.  An entire cosmos spins on these small acres, no matter if only I can see it through a handmade telescope of found glass and rusted metal.  I am enrolled in this entirely different education.  No beginning.  No end.  No curriculum.



Barnyard, Motivation


  • Amy Skorheim

    December 16, 20135:32 pm

    Thank you for that. It was beautiful.

    I’m starting on a similar journey, learning what the land has to teach, and so far it’s been a more genuine education than most anything else.

    That image is fantastic. Is that what you see from the farmhouse?

    • jennakl

      December 16, 20137:11 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it, Amy! I look forward to seeing what you’re up to and absolutely agree it’s the most “genuine” education ever. Yes that’s our front yard looking into the cows pasture :)

  • Kim

    December 10, 20137:33 pm

    Wow!! What a gorgeous post! Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • jennakl

      December 10, 201310:32 pm

      Thanks so much Kim – so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Kim Wright

    December 4, 20137:45 am

    Good Mornng! I’ve recently found your blog through a friends FB post on one of your entries. I was hooked from the first paragraph! Your stories sweep me away to that farm that I’ve always dreamt of, and the way you tell these stories keeps me wanting to read on! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure.

    (A Texas Transplant)

    • jennakl

      December 4, 20137:10 pm

      Hi Kim! So glad you found us and that you enjoy the stories! Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m glad you feel like you’re “there” but hopefully without all the smelly, grody stuff :)