August is ending and here on the farm we all have fall on our minds.
Summer in the South is a glorious thing. Nature is bursting at the seams. All the delicacy of spring gives way to this roaring, raucous, summer bustle. The trees shake with the songs and squawkings of birds, bullfrogs are croaking, the bugs are incessant in their buzzing and humming. It is almost as if the air itself is pulsing with life. The days feel long, hot and frenetic. We try to make the most of these additional hours of sunlight. Projects are completed and new ones are begun. Right about now I am dreaming of brisk air, a slowed pace and early nights in. Thinking about everything we accomplished this summer and looking forward to the new season.
Yesterday, one of the hottest days of the year, I had a list of chores I needed to get done. Prepare garden for fall plantings, harvest and dry seeds, build a mobile brooder for new chicks. By 11AM I was melting. I thought I had met the day prepared, I wore a head to toe linen outfit. “Hmmm, Is that NEW”? Jim asked in an amused voice. “No”! I snapped, “It’s BREATHEABLE”! The heat was so intense in the garden that I was wandering in circles, forgetting where I placed things and what I was doing. Darla, the barn cat, looked untrustworthy. Loitering at the chicks cage, she was a good reminder of the brooders necessity. Jim helped build my brooder (he built it as I sat in the shade and offered design ideas). After securing the chicks at the coop I set out to feed the LGD’s (livestock guardian dogs) in the pasture. Lurching along (still hot), I finally made it to the south pasture. The dogs and sheep were taking it easy. Lying in the shade, the sheep nibbled grass while the dogs happily greeted me. I decided to sit down and enjoy some shade with them. I must have sat there over an hour. I sat long enough that everyone (except Milk Thistle the Great Pyrenees LGD) forgot that I was there. Excluding M. Thistles hot, damp, breath I enjoyed that hour so very, very much!
Times like those remind me why I chose this life. When I see the animals so content and healthy, I feel good. I feel my commitment to this farm. When Jim and I first started it was with the goal of trying to “do better”. We believed in the idea of a farm that was both profitable and environmentally sustainable. We believed that you could raise animals in a humane and ethical way. We believed that there were people out there who wanted more options than what was offered from their food stores. People like us who wanted to know where their food came from and how it was raised. A man I admire very much, Desmond Tutu, said “Do you your little bits of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”. I’ve always liked this quote. And certainly I don’t think that we are overwhelming the world but when I meet other farmer’s committed to the same practices and beliefs as our own , farmer’s trying to “do better”. I know that there is some change happening. At the very least farms like ours are providing people with a choice.
I love reflecting on the farm, especially inside with A/C. We snuck in a lot of fun days this summer. Rafting the Ocoee river, visiting with family, kayaking and playing with the dogs at our river. BBQ’s and late nights. We got a lot done too. We added to our cattle herd, put up our new cattle handling equipment, built offices in the new barn, got the Farm Store going and even had some time for the garden. We are now ready for the cooler weather that fall will bring. Ready for the grass to grow a bit more to stockpile for the winter. Ready for fall calves to be born. Ready for orange and yellow leaves and sheep growing their winter coats. And mostly, we are ready to see what the new season brings us!