I think all of our posts so far have made it pretty obvious which of us is posting. I lovingly call it “our schizophrenic blog.” (Can I just take a second to say “What-whuh! Spelled schizophrenic right on the first try! Boo-yeah!”) But with this post, I feel the need to point out it is Joel writing, but that is probably unnecessary since I just revealed myself through my spelling nerdery. (I failed on unnecessary, by the way. Can never remember if it is two c’s or two s’s. curses!)
So yes, I am not writing about movies, or books, or even cheese. I am stealing Jackie’s idea to wax poetic about one of my recent favorite places on the farm. It doesn’t really have a name, it’s a place defined by the activity that goes on there.
First you should know that my family has always just called our cattle, “the cows.” It is anatomically incorrect to say that, but it is so ingrained in my head, it feels disingenuous to say cattle. This is the same for all the unoriginal titles my family has bestowed on these acres: the farm, the trees, the field, the pond. These are their names. Nothing else will suffice.
The second thing you should know is that there is nothing on the farm that I can take credit for. It is all gift. It is a family effort. I could not do it alone and I don’t. Much is done for me. Whether that is out of pity that the least qualified Arnold ended up on the farm, or out of a sense of obligation to contribute to upkeep of the land we cherish, I do not know. Examples will abound in the following descriptions.
So one of my favorite things to do lately is feed the cows a few bales of brome hay after I get home from school. It has become a nice little ritual for Xavey and me, and it gets him out from under Jackie’s feet while she makes us something delicious for dinner. The cows know the routine as well. They are often watching me. One night I tarried longer than they preferred and they all started mooing at me. When I begin walking up the driveway, they start running to meet me. I am quite popular with the bovine crowd. I know it is ridiculous, but this never fails to boost my self-esteem.
Yes, the cows greatly enjoy the added protein of the brome bales. Those bales came from the endeavor of two of my Goddard brothers, as well as multiple nephews who helped to load them and bring them out to Kingman. I just get to be the delivery man, and to enjoy watching the bizarre pecking order of the cattle hierarchy as they shoulder their way to the trough. Plus, I get to see the new calves. This year, all of our calves were born in December and January, which is unusual. It is quite funny to see them cautiously tiptoe their way into the crowd so they can timidly sample some of this hay and see what all the fuss is about.
Plus, I have my little man-calf helping me out. Xavier shadowing me is pretty cute. He will purposefully walk to the bale stack, pull out some hay, march back over to the fence and throw them some more food, then back to the stack once again-there is more work to be done. I smile to see him developing a connection with the animals and a joy in the work of our farm, a connection and a joy that took me much longer to develop.
A description of this as one of my “favorite places” would not be complete without sharing a picture of the barn, which all of this takes place in the shadow of.
The barn is looking especially wonderful because my father and nephew came out this summer while I was working at the co-op to give it a fresh coat of paint. I sometimes feel guilty how I get to enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labors. I am blessed. It is impossible for me to forget it.
One last story, lest you think I do nothing around here. A week ago the top strand of barbed wire broke by the feeding troughs. A calf managed to jump over the fence and was on our dirt driveway. Luckily, that evening we had company for dinner: Jackie’s grandfather from Texas, as well as an aunt and uncle, her parents and brother. So I had plenty of help rounding this calf back into the field. (And the family thoroughly enjoyed their adventure in the country.) Then I learned how to mend the fence, a task I had somehow not learned in the first 30 years of my life. (Why start being ashamed in this blog post now? It is practically the underlying theme of the post) My teacher was my godfather, Uncle Rick. I find it one of life’s best coincidences that he was chosen for my godfather and me ending up his incompetent neighbor. So rather than feeling like a huge nuisance every time I have to bug him for help, I only feel like a small nuisance, because I am his godson after all, and he is so good-natured while teaching me. Have I said before that I am blessed? I am.