Tuesday, November 6, 2012


For weeks now, I've been feeling slightly ill and unsettled.  There's a lot of change coming to the farm with the addition of Madaline and Rodeo and the goat babies I expect in late winter.  The anticipation of all these responsibilities keeps me up at night, but then, the fear of never having these responsibilities used to keep me awake, too. Jon Katz recently shared a quote from Lao-tzu on his Bedlam Farm blog: "Fill your bowl to the brim, and it will spill over."  I've been thinking about that a lot lately as my own cup starts to overfloweth.  I don't actually interpret the quote as a cautionary tale.  Maybe it's too much that I take on, but I prefer to swim upstream in the midst of things that make me happy.  The "spill over" mentioned, in my world, means that other parts of my life get affected, other people who know me are affected too.  While it doesn't bother me all the time, it requires a lot of patience from them.  Unintentionally, I drag others upstream along with me - for better or worse.  This translates into backbreaking labor on the part of Jeremy (and sometimes his father) to breathe life into whatever rudimentary sketches are drawn in my mind about animal shelters, fencing, garden plots - those little lines and zig zags that must somehow zip together and make sense. 

As we build more places to shelter more animals it's evident that we're running out of land.  Or, rather, the space we have is already earmarked by the farm that lives in my head.  I have to be strategic, at this point.  The plans I make now can be undone, with some trouble, and nothing I bring home or commit to now defines this place forever.  But it does shape the story, and the undoing of things is never as effortless as the decision to do them.

In thinking about our goals for the property, it's clear that they have already changed.  In the short time we've lived here, some realities have sunk like stone.  There's only so much space here and acquiring additional land remains a question mark that hovers each time I walk the property line.  So, it seems, the donkeys may need to be re-homed.  It's hard to even type this, because it means it might happen, and I have trouble bearing the thought of a pasture without them.  However, I increasingly struggle to justify their purpose out behind the fences.  Bringing animals in and then moving them out - it feels like a failure - a failure that I did not try harder to make them into something more purposeful and a failure to plan well and act with forethought.

It's timely then that Jon Katz recently wrote an ode to donkeys, the animals that he and his wife love dearly on their own farm in upstate New York.  This made me suck in my breath and pause before doing anything drastic.  The plans for them are stewing along with plans for other things.  Either way, it's a beautiful read.

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