Monday, March 4, 2013

sit still, listen

the lower hayfield - can you spot the turkey?

How often do we just sit still and listen?

I can tell you, for me, it's not often, even though my child is grown and gone and my husband works off the farm, leaving me all the stillness I can handle.

You'd think it would be easy then just to sit still for a minute and do nothing but soak up the sights and sounds around me.

It's not.

I'm a driven person - driven by my endless 'To Do' list which revolves in my head like a carousel, a new Task ever revolving into view, the circle of tasks endless no matter how many I accomplish in a given day. 

I also have a full-time job.  Which most of the time I can do from my home office.  A blessing - but again, more stillness, more alone time, more time with my carousel of unending tasks.

In my "free time," I am primary caretaker for over 40 animals on the farm, making sure each one is fed and watered and mineraled, that nobody is acting "off"  or in need of an intervention.

Sometimes this means sitting in the barn for 45mn waiting for one of our turkey hens to lay her egg, watching her pace become more and more frantic in her search for the "perfect" spot. 

I tell her (out loud even) that "It's OK, you can lay your egg in the corner and I will take care of it.  I am here."  She continues to pace, her vocalizations rising in urgency.

I am reminded of myself whenever I watch her.  Of how worked up I can get over the little things, the things that really don't matter and will be forgotten by tomorrow, and forget the big things that do matter - family, friends, my health, this farm.

So this afternoon after my second round of chores I decided I needed to just "sit still and listen."

Despite the cold wind blowing across the hayfield, despite the fact I had already been outside, dressed in my insulated Carhartts, for nearly an hour.

We have two massive white pine trees flanking the west side of our house. When the wind blows through them it transports me to places in the Boundary Waters that I love to visit.

So I chose a tree and sat.

The wind blew around me and above me, making sweet music through the pine needles.

After awhile I heard a strange noise and looked up just in time to see a flock of about a dozen wild turkeys gliding in over the hayfield, most of them landing on the steep bank that rises up to the highlands of our property.

{The tiny speck in the photo above is a turkey running towards the hillside.}

Our heritage turkeys also saw them and called out to them, but the Wild Ones were on their own mission.

Despite their distance from me, I could still make out their calls to each other - slightly strange yet oh-so-familiar, cousins to my own small flock, their calls not so different from my own birds.

I felt a surge of unexpected Kinship with the Wild Ones.

I decided to climb up the steep hill to the highlands and see if I might spot them wandering around.

The climb involved a lot of snow, slippery slopes and crawling on my hands and knees, but eventually I made it up to the top. The turkeys were long gone, although I did manage to startle the last 4 who took off silently, gliding through ancient oak branches and out across the back pasture.

I circled the highlands and started to make my way back down.  My turkeys and guineas were creating a ruckus despite the wild turkeys being gone.

As I made my way down the hillside I realized why - a fat opossum was making it's way up the hayfield toward the poultry paddock.  I slid down the hill coming from behind him (her?).  He never even noticed me, and paid little attention to the noisy paddock of birds.

opossum shortly after eating a pile of cat poo

From there I followed him through the fence (thankfully he crossed near a gate) and wandered his way up to the old garage, stopping to sniff Papa Bear's antlers on the way by, then stopping under the Butternut tree to much on a pile of something I could not see.

By now I was only about 10' from him.  He seemed not to notice, or care.

I wondered momentarily about rabid opossums.  Shouldn't he be scared of me and run?  What if he came snarling after me?  What would I do?

Then Molly showed up meowing and when it appeared he was going to head in her direction, I made a noise and he turned and walked the other way.  As I followed him and walked past the Butternut tree, I looked at the spot where he had been munching something and realized... it was a pile of cat poo.

And then I realized,if I had gone back inside after my earlier chores like I normally do, I would have missed it all.

The music of the wind through the pine branches.

The surprise of a flock of wild turkeys gliding past.

The crawl to the top of the hill.

The slide down, watching the progress of the opossum.

The realization of what an opossum eats for dinner when it can't catch my chickens.

All I had to do was sit still and listen, to be present for a few moments.

So basic. 

So difficult.

So necessary.

Cheers -


Drummond Farms Alpacas and Woolens said...

Beautiful! This made me miss you more and I am so very proud of you and all you are doing.

Beth said...

What a great story! Loved it!

Victoria Strauser said...

Thank you Leslie & Beth! I still have a hard time remembering to take my own advice!

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