On being a farmer

The harvest, June 5, 2015

The harvest, June 5, 2015

There is a certain presumptuousness on my part to say that I am a farmer.  I have seen farmer’s hands and mine have never worked that hard.  But this morning I woke up and went out to see the chicken coop, see the deep grooves where the coyote tried to go in through the silly little window on the chicken palace and the place where he or she finally got in.  The bottom of the nesting box is removable–week in and week out, I have removed that bottom, put the pine shavings on a pile that we are composting, scrubbed all the chicken droppings off and sprayed it with vinegar.  I hate that part of my work but no one said it would all be fun and easy.  That a feature of the coop that made my life a little easier was also what made those beautiful girls vulnerable hurts.  As Sherod and I looked at the damage, we agreed that we would pull that fancy house out and replace it with a far more utilitarian coop where new chickens will one day be safer.

Then, I went back inside and put a new mail order in.  We will get new baby chicks around the 22nd of June, in time for our grand babies to help care for them when they come spend a week at what the Mallowman calls “Camp YES SIR“.  Then I went out with Sherod to harvest what was ready for today.  After a week-long absence, we had so much produce it got a bit overwhelming.  Our green beans are all planted in the ground and there are about 15 bushes–leaning over to pick them all is hard on the old back, but doable.  Sherod is still out there picking blueberries.  He will harvest more than a quart and there will be 3 or 4 times that many to harvest in the weeks to come. Later today, we will share the bounty with friends here in Lowndesboro and my friend and colleague in Birmingham.  I am taking her some of my roses and daises and zinnias, and some thyme, lavender and basil as well.  I didn’t even bother to tackle the hydrangeas.  They are beautiful right where they are.

A farm requires a new kind of heart.  You have to do your grieving fiercely but you can’t linger.  The answer to the prayer “lighten our darkness” is morning, with all its work and responsibilities, with all its mercies that require grit and effort and hardened hands to receive.  A priest does well learning at least some of these lessons…

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