The farm welcomed me to my first day of work by opening up her fencing and giving the new cattle the opportunity to seek greener pastures. The cows got out! Natalie and I (there are two of us Natalies) were seeding transplant trays when Matthew called to ask for assistance in herding the calves back into enclosed pasture since they had been spotted near a neighboring farm. Only trouble was that they didn’t know exactly where the calves were at the moment. So, we left the seeds and headed down to the creek to open the electric fence and hopefully direct the calves into the pasture next to the back barn where the chickens roost and two sows suckle their 15 piglets. Trotting down to the creek, I suggested to Natalie that I felt in the middle of a reality TV show hyping the drama of farm life. She said that the farm had been approached about a reality TV show telling the tales of volunteers on organic farms. Allan had typed up a winning description of their zany personalities, but Matthew had kaboshed it. Too bad since we had prime fodder for them here. Though they tell me this is a very rare occurrence. Eventually the four calves were located and waved into a pasture with four other head of cattle with the sense to stay home. The gates were closed in on them and all were safe if a bit skittish and riled up.
During the chase, I couldn’t do much more than observe the tension surrounding me. Later, I heard that Matthew had about given up the cattle for lost, along with several thousand dollars, during the woodland search for them. This is a precarious business in which I have cast my lot. And I do wonder what makes me want to throw myself into an internship at a small organic farm producing berries, meats, and vegetables at this point in my life. I’ve done a lot of schooling towards more academic and ministry-oriented work. And now, at 32, I’m starting again from the low rung when I’ve not really fully started a career in anything else. Honestly, I feel a bit foolish. Why this? Why now?
I do know what attracts me to farm work. After years working part time and one year full time in the windowless hallways, fluorescent lighting, and sterility of hospitals, I am ready to live under the sun, clouds, and rain. After years studying from books and lectures, I am ready to work my body and get dirty. After years of recycling and avoiding styrofoam and bicycling or public transportation, I am ready to more fully tackle an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. And since I’ve been reading up on the benefits of organic and sustainable farming practices in distinction from industrial farming methods and the processed-food industry, I am even more convinced that we all need to be more engaged in food production for the sake of our health, our animals’ health, and our earth’s health.
What I don’t know is why organic farming didn’t capture my interest before now. Perhaps I’ll never know. Perhaps all the differing pieces of my life will coordinate more obviously in the future. In any case, this internship has my attention now, and I’m doing it.
Today, on my second day, the farm offered less cow-escape drama and more weeding and cleaning up the market barn. I am a little more sore today and tired. But I am happy to be tired doing something that I believe provides healing for us and the earth. I am thankful that I want to do this strange life detour. We’ll see how I feel in July!