Monday, April 25, 2016

November Hill farm journal, 2

I do not feel so bewildered when I return to my own fields.
-Henry Beston, Northern Farm

The mower blade that prevented our mowing of late was replaced over the weekend and the entire day on Saturday was spent on the cutting of grass and buttercups growing inches every day. I had chores in the house to do while my husband mowed but I opened the doors so the sound of the mower could keep me company. 

I'm not sure what it is about mowing. I used to do a fair bit of it and I delighted in the monotonous orbiting path I made, around and around and around until at some point my rebellious, or possibly creative, side took over and I would change directions, make a pattern, anything to go against the grain of that circuit of cutting.

My husband is not as cautious as I am about closing gates and putting horses and pony and donkeys away from the mower, and this precipitated some running of the herd and then me out on the porch or the back deck waving my arms to get his attention. 

After the mowing was done there was weed-eating, a thankless chore since it's near to impossible to do the entire property in one weekend, so for the most part it never gets "done" - is always there to do once we slide into spring and then summer. The only way to manage this kind of chore - similar to mucking - is to turn it into something that gives pleasure in some other way than by completion.

The thing about doing this kind of work, for me, is that it brings me closer to the actual earth of November Hill. I walk the property as much as the horses do, and I have learned the nooks and crannies, the lay of the land, how rainfall flows, where the natural spring bubbles up, what is blooming or leafing out or dropping leaves. I find the holes that seem to appear out of nowhere and I know where the rocks are to fill them. I religiously put rocks in small piles beside fence posts and the bottoms of trees so I'll have them when needed. I know when a fire ant mound rises up overnight and needs treating, and I know where the bare patches are that need some compost and grass seed to repair.

This week as the grass was tamed back my eyes lifted to the trees, now thick with leaves, creating huge swaths of shade all over the farm. It's so visually different when the leaves come in. 

And it's true - I walk to the barn and out onto the land itself and I am calmed, brought to earth, grounded. The more I do with my hands, directly, the calmer I become. 

The garden is nearly done for this year. Cucumbers and peppers, basil and dill and parsley and anise. Yellow squash and acorn squash and butternut squash and pumpkins. Tomatoes and okra and garlic. A lettuce bed and bok choy, chard, broccoli, cabbage. We'll put in a few more things - melons and more herbs, maybe sweet potatoes again.

A new blueberry bush. 

The fig tree was shocked by the hard frost after it had started leafing out - I don't think it's dead but it looks odd, brown and dormant as everything around it has burst toward lushness.

Even the stone screening and sand arena is growing grass. Harrowing was the last chore of the weekend and it knocked it back some. I forget this time of year how my efforts to keep the grass out, and the moment of panic I have at some point mid-summer fade when we have the first frost of autumn and suddenly, for months and months, that worry simply disappears. 

Years here have shown me the things I can let go of. A good lesson for more than just the farm.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Great post! I feel similarly about dragging arenas as you do about mowing. Love to make patterns while everyone else shakes their heads at me as if to say...just get it done! Weed wracking is a chore I don't like but we found a machine that will do around fence posts but you need an RV to hook it up too.

billie said...

Love the idea of you and your arena patterns!!

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Ha - this post is right up my alley.

The trick with the weed eating is to do it first, and let the mindless / mindful tractor-meditation be the reward. That's my patented eat your vegetables first theory of less than appealing chores. ;D

billie said...

Great idea - I need to find a very lightweight weed-eater because the one we have is so heavy I can't really do it at all! Matthew does it. I have actually become very interested in getting a scythe (one that comes specific to my measurements for best ease of use) but since I've never used one I'm not sure how well they work. I have this image of a sort of Qigong (spelling?) movement and the whoosh of weeds falling blending together into a healing practice that gets chores done at the same time. :)

Matthew said...

New leaves just starting to bud out on the fig tree, thank goodness!

billie said...

Oh, good. I was afraid to look!