Waiting is the hardest part
A friend and mentor recently told me that it’s the “what’s next” aspect of this lifestyle that’s so exciting. I agree with her. At least I think I do. It’s no secret that I tend to thrive off drama, this being the culprit of many bad decisions, ill-advised plans. It’s probably also what makes me take risks, some bad – some very good. I think a person has to be open to the element of surprise when they choose to live with animals, or choose to make a living from animals or land. It’s important to be willing to ask, “what’s next?”, fully embracing that you rarely control the answer.
It is in this vein of open-mindedness that I am trying to navigate uncharted territory. For weeks we’ve been waiting. Waiting on loan information that gates all of our farm expansion and business plans. Waiting on changes in the nether regions (keepin’ it real, people) of a cow who’s likely to calve any minute. Or maybe next month, who knows. Waiting on goat births. Waiting for the weather to change. It makes me moody as this season that flickers between spring and deep winter over the course of five days. But it’s exciting, too, in a deeply disturbing, masochistic way. What’s next?
I haven’t felt so unsettled since the Great Period of Waiting, circa 2009-2011 when we were dragged through the post-recession circus of loans and building. So we’re attacking the situation now like we did then: lists. Spreadsheets. What can we do now? Well we can build a buck pasture, thank you very much. Make sure we have the milk machine in working order. We can develop floor plans for a future milking parlor and cheese house. I can visit other dairies. And I can read, read, read (I should probably start reading). The difference between now and the Great Period of Waiting, circa 2009-2011 – is that we are here, on the farm, in the midst of the animals, and the wildlife, beneath the twinkly stars, audience to a symphony of hoot owls. I’d rather be here then anywhere. It makes “what’s next?” easier to wait for.
While we wait, we’ve expanded the little farm family, bringing my darling Clementine home a few weeks ago. She is the new Jersey girl, a heifer due to calve in June. She is gentle but spunky – not the calm, solid presence of Winnie but with the same doe eyes and intelligence. I sure do love those cows.
The puppies are thriving, making it nearly impossible to adopt any to other homes.
The goats continue to blame me for the bad weather, bleating angrily in complaint each time I go into their pasture.
And the bucks’ days in the cow pasture are numbered. I can no longer tolerate their, ahem, “affection” each time I go in to check on the cows and know that it will be nearly impossible to manage cow-milking with the bucks vying for my attention. So the pen we’ve talked about building (for almost two years) is finally in the works. We spent all weekend patching the crooked purple shed, the only structure that was standing when we bought the property. It’s perched between us and the neighbors, right in the middle of a patch of land we’ve never used. Now three strings of electric fence will encircle the shed and unused land, and soon the bucks will be moved away from their beloved cows. I’m bracing myself for drama during that transition.
Another big freeze is coming tonight. I’ve cleaned the goat barn and loaded it with bedding and told Winnie she is forbidden to calve in the next 48 hours. I think we’re on the same page about that. The wind is blowing the front through in 40 mph gusts, and I can feel fingers of cold air seep through some of the crevices we can’t quite fill. But the trees already show small signs of buds, nowhere close to being green or leafy, but bundled up at the tips of limbs. Spring – it’s coming – whether or not I hold my breath in anticipation.
Just like everything else I’m waiting for.