Throughout the week, from Monday to Saturday, I am a very busy person.
I am fully responsible for nearly two hundred animals, who need to be fed, watered, and inspected every day at the very least. Twice a day the dairy herd is milked, and you’ll always find me in the parlor in the mornings, and several evenings as well. Hay has to be thrown into feeders – massive amounts of fodder for insatiable ruminants. The dairy and other spaces need to be cleaned, buckets scrubbed, fly traps exchanged. This time of the year, does are found mooning around the buck pen, and need to be caught and sent to a honeymoon suite with a fine looking – and foul smelling – buck.
There are ponies that need to be checked on, ensuring that all of them have four feet and a head still. A pack of guardian dogs and collies swarm my legs in greeting at every chance, and their health is just as important. Poultry scatter at my approach, eager for their hen scratch. Even the tiny wild birds, peeping in the trees, are waiting for their share.
Even when I’m not with the animals, the work does not end. Breeding and kidding take meticulous planning and forethought. Purchasing and selling rest on my shoulders as well, as well as the extensive social media presence we have built around the dairy. Beyond the dairy are of course my own personal projects, and heaven knows that I have a penchant for starting entirely too many in my eagerness to do everything, be everything, have everything.
Not least of all are the hours I spend answering emails, messages, texts. I have always been available to those who are looking for help, if I am capable, and that will not change.
But Sundays are different.
Sunday I turn off the phone and I turn on the camera. Sunday, when the gate is opened to release the dairy herd, I am among them. On Sunday, I am little more than a rather peculiar looking goat, and as the herd goes out to browse, so do I.
I wish everyone could experience a Sunday morning the way I do. I listen to the sounds of the goat herd moving among the brush, the birds and wildlife speaking softly to one another, and the only reminder that civilization is waiting for me is the distant drone of the highway. The goats move at a steady pace – they do not stop for long before they are pushing forward, each of them searching out just the right things to eat. They strip branches and vine, grunting and puffing and sometimes shoving one another, and occasionally stop for a scratch from that one odd looking goat with hands.
For one morning, I let go of the rest of the world. The frantic freight train of my life pulls into a station for a day of rest. Tomorrow it will be barreling down the tracks at an unstoppable rate once more, but for today, it is still. For a short time, the phone hangs dead at my hip, making no demands for my attention, giving no reminders of all the things yet unfinished. Deadlines and worries are like water that beads up and runs down a mallard’s feathers, and I can breath. For one morning, I am just me.
The goats take me to interesting places, and I follow. I know their paths as well as anyone really can, and yet they often show me a new one. Even when we trod the familiar tracks, there is a freshness that only the untamed depths of the forest can bring. A heron startles from the creek and flies overhead. A snake whips through the grass, on the hunt for his own morning meal. A whitetail deer peers at us in suspicion before vanishing into the shadows.
We are safe, for the guardian dogs are at every corner, watching, listening, protecting. It’s thrilling, not frightening, to see them lunge through the underbrush at a perceived threat, and both the goats and I trust them. The herd queens watch over their herd as well, and the alarmed snort of a startled goat will bring the dogs at a run.
We make a large circle, moving from creekside path to pasture track, and then we are home again. The goats fold their legs and thump to the ground in little groups, eyes closing as they bring up cud, or nap. The silence is broken now by the highway with its semi trucks roaring past, and the phone vibrates, reminding me that I can’t stay out forever.
But that’s okay. I return home. I plug back into life as I plug in the camera, downloading the videos and pictures that I have captured, in some small effort to share this day with those who cannot join me. I feel refreshed. I feel alive. The world has reset, and I’m ready to meet the new week once more.
2017 K-N-S Farm Calendars are now available for purchase on the website!