How a city girl, gone country grieves (and raises cows): Porch Time
How a city girl, gone country grieves
(and raises cows)
met Kimberly through farming. She, like me, has been dropped into this
life and is learning to love it just like me. She is a Christian,
however, our pasts are nothing alike. I've asked her to share her story
on my Blog over the next weeks or months or however long it takes. It is
filled with much grief and loss but will hopefully make you laugh and
smile and grow and grieve along with her.
I’m baaack! My apologies for such a long delay between posts, but as
Wendi can attest, spring brings all kinds of new and more challenging
chores in livestock.I’m not sure where I want to begin
again, as per usual a whole lotta cover and a whole lotta ground. Today,
though I had a little revelation we’ll start there.
This afternoon, I was enjoying a little late lunch break on our porch.
The air is dry and warm and the breeze carries with it the smells and
sounds of June life on the farm. The sky is a crystalline blue, with
seriously not cloud to be had and the mountain is in full emerald glory.
I love June. It’s probably my most favorite month, especially since
January this year lasted three months.I finished my lunch
(all sourced locally I might add with produce from local farmers and our
own eggs harvested from our noisy hens) and was chatting with Kaity,
our farm girl who lives here with us. It dawned on me that just five measly
years ago (and an entire lifetime of experiences) I was enjoying our
porch view with literally NOTHING to do. I wasn’t working, I wasn’t
farming, I wasn’t tied up on social media, I wasn’t doing much of
anything more than full time wife and mother. I look back on that life
now and wonder how I got through the days with literally NOTHING to look
forward to but my husband returning home from work. I cannot recall all
the specifics (lifetime of experiences since then muddle my memories),
but today I had an opportunity to live like that for just a short time. I
do recall thinking then that my life was a perpetual vacation; with
occasional family visits, occasional trips to the lake, occasional
day-trips to sight see near the Smokies. Occasional then, non-existent
today. Oh my, how things have changed indeed.
Farm life brings a host of ‘new, exciting’ adventures and
responsibilities that oftentimes have us second-guessing our choices
here. In the long run, and I mean LONG, the benefits far outweigh the
struggles. It is often near impossible to see it that way when your day
begins with ‘the sheep are out of their electric paddock’ and ends with a
stillborn calf, an injured pup or even the water-pump going kaput. I
could go on and on with one after another of the trials, most of which
we look back on with a little giggle, some of which we just don’t look
back because of the painful lesson. Some of our more noteworthy
experiences are discovering that tree frogs conduct electricity for only
a ‘short’ bit (poor fella was charcoal by the time we found that he was
the short in the electric wire); our firstborn calf hit the ground to
our very first longhorn mama, who happened to be particularly protective
(my husband Allen finally understood it when she nearly charged him
through the fence); we definitely learned that weaning a calf means
moving the calf not the mama, as we discovered two cows out in the
middle of the night literally leaving "no hide nor hair" behind and
causing us a three-day hunt for them; we’ve been chased up corral panels,
charged, kicked, stepped on and goosed. We have gone after fencing from a
calf breaking out, a cow breaking in, a bull tearing it down by
throwing a corral panel over it (that bull left his mark on many a
corral panel, doubling them the Tonto Gates).
Yet we have also been
shown the mercy of God on too many levels to count. And if you notice,
this is the just tip of the proverbial iceberg; we have also had meat
chickens, layers (we got smart and started buying them as pullets!),
pheasants (which got loose and never seen again because the dogs ate
well for a few days) a pig (a one-time, never to repeat experience) a
roaming yard goat (see pig), a horse (see goat), guineas (we bought 9
and only 3 have stuck around), Soay sheep (Allen’s brilliant 36-hour
decision) and so many head of longhorn cattle I can barely recall! This
list of course does not include the "locals" who also dwell here
seasonally, like the black snake, the rats, the field mice and bunnies.
The latter three have had their numbers controlled by the exceptionally
fertile barn cat population (it’s hard to believe three years ago we could
BUY a barn cat to control the rats in the chicken house!). Also
included, a host of various canine companions, with our numbers reaching
7 at one time. We gotta lotta life out here! And death, we finish out
the longhorn skulls. I won’t go into gory details, let’s just say we’re
getting a better handle on the head garden these days. Talk about morbid
humor. You really need a strong stomach just for the jokes surrounding
that aspect of our business. But I digress….
Speaking of gardens, I had someone ask me just this week if we were
putting out a garden. I laughed. Like HARD. Last year, we couldn’t even
keep 4 little tomato plants alive, how in God’s creation were we going
to put out a whole garden? I’d love to say that’s part of our immediate
future for regenerative ag and self-sustainability, but that’s a lie. It
is part of our future, which looks more like 5 years from now when the
beef end of our business stabilizes more. In the meantime we support our
local growers and participate in a CSA so we’ll have freshies all
Now you’re saying to yourself, okay where are you going with all this? I
want to go back to the porch! So, let’s return to the porch!
We are fortunate to have a true wrap-around porch. We have views from
all four corners, hence the name of our ranch. We have been so busy
hitting the ground running to catch up with ourselves, there were at
least two whole summers we cannot recall sitting on the porch during
daylight hours. That’s too busy. Even our pastor said to us one time,
“be sure to take 5 minutes and appreciate your porch. You need that. “
His is one of the most understated pieces of advice we have ever gotten
since this whole roller coaster ride began.
So, this afternoon I relished in my porch time. I closed my eyes and
just breathed the fresh country air (the cows are downwind today!),
listened the cacophony of cackling hens, calling guineas and nature’s
own songbirds amidst the early melodies of insects. Even the dogs and
cats were on the porch today, soaking up the warm sun and cool breeze.
It is the kind of time we need to re-charge our batteries and get
Everyone has a porch; whether yours is a front stoop, a step, a folding
chair under the shade tree or a borrowed bench at the closest park. Take
porch time. It will impact you to decide the difference between a
challenge or a chore, an adventure or a task, an experience or an event.
And if you’re ever in Grainger Co, drop on by. Our porches are always open.