31 December 2009

Reflections 2009

This has been an interesting year for us in our new house turned homestead. I think one saying rings especially true for us this year:

Good judgment comes from experience. 
Experience comes from bad judgment.

And apparently, we are still learning from our bad judgment.

Even though I don't always feel that I have youthful enthusiasm, I can say without a doubt that some of that youthful enthusiasm has been thwarted. Every time we try to take two steps forward and stick to a schedule, we are reminded that life doesn't work that way. Life is meandering. Life is organic. And messy. And has other ideas for you. Especially on a farm. Especially in the country. Especially when you've moved there after getting soft from a cushy life in the suburbs. The country knows you've been away and has lessons to teach you.

Some of the highlights of our blunders this year include the time we kept saying, "Pee-yew! It smells like a skunk died in the barn," when in fact a skunk had died in our barn, it just took us two weeks to figure it out. (Yes, two weeks, although to our credit, it smelled so bad we didn't spend much time "exploring" the issue.) The poor thing crawled behind the wood piles for shelter and some logs rolled off and crushed it. It was the pile of wood stacked in the darkest, farthest corner, behind two more rows of stacked wood, and the hardest for us to get to, but finally Kevin had to remove what was left of the skunk carcass and wonder of wonders, the smell actually dissipated after that.

And then there was the time I was hanging laundry in the backyard on a beautiful sunny Saturday, breathing in the fresh air, admiring the Great Blue Herons, and thinking how idyllic the day, the land, the morning's activity, when my husband comes running down with a nearly dead chicken in his arms, my daughter crying at his side. He had guillotined the chicken, ironically after I'd spent so much time teaching my five-year old how to properly attach the sliding chicken door to prevent just such an incident. The nearly-guillotined chicken earned the name Lucky and spent the day in our arms. Lucky's voice box was transformed in the incident and Lucky has a hard time seeing properly out if its left eye and doesn't lay eggs and is skittish of people now, but is fine.

Oh yes, and Lucky who always had the prettiest green tail feathers I'd ever seen on a Rhode Island Red, turned out to be a rooster! So of my seven "girls" I now have four roosters! Seriously! So much for my ideal coop full of happy, fluffy free-ranging hens who lay an abundance of eggs. Year one, our girls turned out to be more of a misadventure. And this says nothing of me, with a background in medicine and biology, that I ended up with four roosters and ignored the little hints and signs along the way until they couldn't be ignored any longer.

And there was the time we had an early snowstorm and instead of plowing the driveway, my husband drives behind the barn, under the pretense of emptying the mulch in the bed, and gets it so far stuck in the mud beneath the snow that the transmission decoupled itself from the axle. We watched it snow, and we watched the truck and plow sink further into the ground. It took two weeks for someone with the right equipment to come haul the truck and plow to the shop.

And there were many other of those sorts of times this year but there were also the times where we trudged into the woods together, our woods, and let Savannah pick out our Christmas tree, which she pulled home over a layer of fresh snow. Or the time we released all the dried milkweed into the air and watched the silk starbursts dance away, filling the sky over the pond. Or the times we made a camp fire behind the barn and roasted marshmallows until the sun set and night set in. Or the times we watched the turtles make the trek across the lawn to find the perfect spot to dig a hole for their eggs, lay them, then trek back to the pond. Or the times we picked all the strawberries we could eat and made the best jam that brings us memories of summer when we load it on our winter toast. Or the times we read our books by the big maple tree, Savannah in the tree swing, her legs dangling down, her head bent over her book, while the leaves turned their many shades of autumn around us. Let's hope for more of those times in 2010.

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