The Eat with Care blog

Writing about humane farming issues by Caroline Abels, founder of Humaneitarian. Your comments and feedback welcome. (All replies are screened and posted, if thoughtful and respectful.)

Farming, week 21: Illumination

September 9, 2012

A brilliant, exquisite light illuminated the farm around 5 pm on my last day of work there. A true parting gift. Beneath a canopy of dark, ominous rain clouds, a piercing light burrowed out from underneath and, at a low angle, lit up the tree line to the east and the two white hoop houses and the patch of Brussels sprouts and the pond. It was like the light after a rain, but before any rain had come. Chatting near the farm stand, Lauren and I stopped and admired the brightness and clarity of the light. “There’s a name for this kind of light,” Lauren said, but she couldn’t remember.

It didn’t last. Or I should say, the light turned into something else. Soon the farm was dusky again and there were chores to be done. I walked down the farm road to where the turkeys were quietly chirping and the pigs were squealing their dinner demands. I kept thinking about the time a few weeks before when Mari, one of the farmers, said something to me like, “When you get your own land and animals….”  I remember looking over to her and saying, “Oh, Mari, you have no idea how far away that feels right now.” Right now, being in not-quite-the-right-place-in-life to raise animals, I instead wait patiently, diligently working on Humaneitarian and remaining open to signs and signals that, one day, might lead me into muck boots for good.

The chore board

As ever, chores on this last day were both a joy and a complete mess! The gals I work with never seem to get a hair out of place as they fill water buckets, lift 50-lb. feed bags, or catch turkeys that have escaped over the fence. Me, I always seem to somehow spray myself with the hose, spill grain as I get jostled by a ravenous pig, or trip as I get my boot stuck in the poultry netting. But I love it. The more I end up looking like a mess after chores, the more I feel it was a job well done.

This happy string of summer Thursdays at Green Mountain Girls Farm ended with Anna giving me a four-leaf clover (she finds one almost daily), Lauren making fresh cultured ice cream with raw goat’s milk (wow!), and Liva telling me that I was welcome back for farmer lunch anytime (“You know what time we eat and where we are!”)  Best of all, farmers Mari and Laura — two of the most extraordinary women I will ever know — told me I could come back anytime for the morning or evening milking. I told them I probably would. I would like to sit again on the milking stand, alongside a cud-chewing goat, my aching hands squeezing and pulling, my eyes squinting out at the hill country beyond, and one side of my head leaning against the warm, soft flank of life.