August is here in a big way. 100 degree temps, gnats, west nile virus - the works! In keeping with tradition, we've decided to start an epic undertaking (did we ever stop) just as the peak temperatures of the year start to, well, peak. To the nauseating heat and humidity, we say: "You cannot stop us. We are traditional people who follow tradition - so we must do the hardest work of the year outside. Right now." It's honorable to uphold tradition this way - right? Like how last year we dug 1 million feet of water trench with a plastic cup? And how the year before we put in 1 million feet of new fencing with only a hand shovel and toothpick? No, no - I kid - but the memory of those events feels just that traumatic.
This August, it's barn finishing/pasture building time. For the goats ("For YOUR goats" - Jer always reminds me). It's because we love them so much.
Also, we love thinking of the day when they cannot climb atop our vehicles, urinate on the porch, eat the herb garden, and chase terrified chickens. Obviously I paint a charming picture of goats - go out today and get a whole herd of your own! It's also dishonest to constantly refer to "we" as if it's been a full-on team effort. It really hasn't. Jer's handled the brunt of this project, like most of them. This weekend when I was laid up with a virus (Thankfully not west nile) he constructed one quarter of the roof structure for the awnings off the barn, managing to start securing roof panels on one end. An impressive endeavor in all weather, but particularly now and with a bum shoulder and back. What a guy.
Last night we finally got around to extracting some honey from the layers of comb tossed into a bag over a week ago. We watched cups of liquid gold drain out from the colander, set on the bar in our kitchen, perched beneath the big warehouse lights Jer and his father hung together on Christmas day, suspended from the ceiling of a house that almost wasn't built - on land we almost didn't buy. Honey extraction from the hive living in the backyard of a place you were this close to abandoning - it's not something we take for granted. I'm not encouraging folks to walk around daily in a state of self-congratulatory wonderment, but sometimes, you've just got to take a step back and honor thyself. We've come a long, long way baby.
Something about the honey extraction, or maybe it was the hour we spent wandering the property; it inspired Jer to play our blog photos on a slideshow setting. Sitting at that bar, we watched the last four years whiz by like the pages of a little flip book. You know the kind - where the flipping pages take still images and put them into motion. Viewing the pictures this way we saw fields cleared in a snap, chicks sprout to laying hens, mesquite turn into tomatoes, a forest turn into a house. It all seemed so logical and fluid, starting with a photo of those first chicks that rooted around the backyard of our house in Austin.
If you read the flip book version of anyone's life you yearn for, it looks effortless. The stories jump from page to page, each little snippet connecting to the next until suddenly you have one linear tale. In fact, I recently read the "Our Story" tab off the website of a favorite farm in which 20 years of a life spent farming was condensed into one paragraph. I walked outside with stars in my eyes. But so many missteps and middle parts are omitted when stories are told this way. It's only the victories and highlights that generally are illustrated on the pages. I have to remind myself of this each time I read an "Our Story" tab, especially the part where people were able to become "full time farmers." For a while, they too probably donned conventional work attire and attended dry meetings under fluorescent lighting. And they too spent a few Augusts dragging cedar trees. All we see now though is the pretty path they cleared.
I met a woman recently who went all misty upon learning that I live in the country and admitted to me that she always dreamed of some land and wanted out of her suburban lifestyle. I just blinked at her. "So move to the country." She blinked back at me, "But, but it's so...but it's....but what if....but - how?" I can't tell her story. For her, I don't know anything about the how, or the why. "I don't have any idea how. But stop saying 'but' - that's a start." I certainly don't mean to trivialize the levity of these types of decisions/changes/expenses/obligations. I just know that starting with "but" isn't going to lead you to a pot of honey in the forest. There was plenty of less-than-idyllic nonsense that occurred between our beginning and now - and now's still just a beginning, too. Right now we're building shelters and pastures deep in the heart of the August heat. Soon, though, I'll have a pretty picture of the finished product to add to our book. Knowing you have to do the work to get there has always been a foolproof step towards progress. Always.
Also - we named this place officially - not that it makes much difference. I just couldn't envision "No Name Farm/Ranch" hanging from a cedar sign over our entry gate. That name suited us back when we naively brought pitchforks to clear mesquite trees and were too bewildered by our purchase to do anything but drink Lone Star in lawn chairs.
So, we're calling her Bee Tree Farm. By now, you've probably figured out why.