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The Company I Keep

January 9, 2014

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The blog be silent for a while.  I have been preferring the company of animals to humans after the holiday meltdown season.  I’ve been “saved” from my diet of whole foods grown where they are consumed, chastised for not feeding or feeding the barn cats, homeschooling, driving a 4 x 4, keeping the cows outside, and keeping the cows in, eating too much beef and not enough chicken and pork, you know, the meats that are good for you and the environment.

Last night I sat bolt upright in bed, I had a dream one of my blog readers sent me an email asking, “where are you?”  Well, I have been here in place like always.

That email came today :p

I’m fine and dandy.

I love this cow way too much!

I love this cow way too much!

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.  (See video below for the rest of the song.)

Depending on who you ask it may be the ghee I have been ingesting, or the eggs.  But to tell the truth it’s the people I come in contact with sometimes.  The holidays are the worst, people I went to school with that “got away” come home to visit parents and get in contact with old schoolmates.  Groan.  Sorry to disappoint I didn’t want to get away.  I wanted to stay in place and feel the pulse of the farm.  Every. Single. Day.  They are killing me!  But it makes me even more determined to stay the course and feel alive.

I feel alive because I am participating in a real life.  Sure it may kill me.  If Jane kicked me in the head tomorrow, I would not regret one slice of bacon or potatoes fried in butter.

Raven and immature Bald eagle.

Raven and immature Bald eagle.

If I “got away” I wouldn’t know what the raven was telling me, because I probably would not have an ongoing  relationship with a pair of ravens.  He was telling me, “Yikes!  What is this eagle doing here in the tree at the barn?”  I was washing the dishes for the umpteenth time that day so this was my view out the kitchen window.  “Yikes is right!”  Hide the vole eating barn cats who get a half-gallon of raw milk a day.  Them’s good eatin’ for a po’ ol’ eagle.  I don’t really talk like that, but my old school chums imagine I do, you know stuck down on the farm still, like I couldn’t find my way out. 😉

New Year's Day - hay hangover

New Year’s Day – hay hangover

Yes, I talk to the animals, or rather listen to them.  We went on a walk on New Year’s Day, the cows mooed in passing, just a hello moo and we walked down the road.  In between cud burps that are causing the globe to warm.  (I was “taught” that little tidbit over the holidays too.)  That tidbit from friends who think it is more earth friendly to eat chicken and pork.  I couldn’t really explain it all in the visit, but between you and me, if you have grass and own a hog mower, you should be eating the lawnmower, namely a steer.  Just add water, grass, twine if you need hay, & lead and you have a freezer full of steak.  (Electric fencing is the new hog mower.  I no longer clip pastures – what a relief.  That is a waste.)  To get the same amount of chicken, takes a lot more propping up.  But chicken and pork diets push all that reality off to some other place.  Neat and tidy, and small and cute, not horrible as a big ol’ cow that can eat and grow on only grass that is growing for free without a bit of steel applied to the land.  If you’re wondering, I just nodded and acted like I was paying attention, and counted the minutes until they had to leave the lecturing the locals behind to catch their flight back to the promised land.  It’s pointless to point out how much jet fuel and not staying place is polluting the world.  But the mission is they tell me what to do and how to live, and enjoy their holiday.  Meanwhile, I’m still “stuck” here, doing chores, growing food, storing food, cooking food, eating food, and doing lots of dishwashing!

carrot extraction team

carrot extraction team

weekly root dig

weekly root dig

I’m not stuck by any means.

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Fresh vegetables , milk and eggs.  Most days.  Who can complain about that?  Splitting wood, feeding the fire, shuffling the cast iron pans to the sweet spot to cook a meal of farm grown food.  Wonderful work.  Not glamorous, but filled with highs and lows, not a monotone life for sure.  Discomfort, comfort, and somewhere in between.

Jane Butterfield, I am but your humble servant.

Jane Butterfield, I am but your humble servant.

I’m stuck alright. Stuck right here in place.  Counting stars.

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54 Comments leave one →
  1. Sheila Z permalink
    January 9, 2014 9:45 pm

    smile and nod was the perfect answer
    the smug fools are back in the rat race
    meanwhile you have the time to watch the ravens
    Happy New Year

  2. January 9, 2014 10:07 pm

    That was wonderful. Thank you. Here’s to a healthy and happy new year.

  3. Susan in Las Vegas permalink
    January 9, 2014 10:09 pm

    “Come to the junkfood (vegan) (gluten free) (low carb) side, Luke!” Assume hugs, a gentle nose-rub, and just ignore the fact that I’ve sewed pink lace on the tail of one of your shirts, just to see how long it’ll take you to notice. Moo. (Burp)

  4. January 9, 2014 10:45 pm

    When I was 10 years old, every day my classmates would come to school talking about the carton Blonde and Dagwood. I read a couple of them at my friend’s and I didn’t think they were funny at all. But I felt left out because we didn’t get a daily paper like the town kids did and I thought I should be like them. So I asked my Dad to subscribe to the paper. “Why?” he asked me. So I can read Blonde and Dagwood like my friends do, I said.
    “Do you like Blonde and Dagwood?” he asked. No, I answered, but everyone else does, so I think I ought to. “No,” my Dad responded. “If you like reading them, I would get it for you, but you do not have to be like everyone else. You are free. You can chose what you want to do. I won’t get the paper to let you be like everyone else.” I will never forget the great feeling of relief I felt when the truth of his words sunk in. That was 68 years ago, but it made such an impression on me that I never forgot it. It was a feeling of joy, of freedom to be me. I didn’t have to read Blonde and Dagwood. His words determined the path I would choose for my life. Thank God for that!

    My hat is off to you, Matron of Trapper Creek! I greatly admire you for being yourself! And by the way, you and your family are the ones that have greatly benefited from your decision to stay in place! But not only you all, countless others of us who read your blog, have been greatly inspired and have learned so much from you about things that really matter. Thank you for being who you are!

    From the Alabama grandmother who loves to read of your exciting life!

  5. January 9, 2014 10:46 pm

    Cow kisses, sheep kisses, fresh milk, home-made butter, meat that you can absolutely trust, beauty in all directions. My mom thinks it’s pretty humorous that she and her siblings could not wait to leave the farm, and now at 90 years old she’s back livin’ on a farm. This is the real stuff. The other is the virtual world.

  6. January 9, 2014 11:23 pm

    Dearest Matron, I read all the time, but hardly ever comment. Just wanted to say, it makes folks uncomfortable to see someone so far outside what they see as the norm, and to reduce their discomfort (and possibly cognitive dissonance, too) criticism is a handy tool. It makes them feel better about their own lives, I guess. I feel for them – it must be hard indeed to return to a stale situation after visiting you.

    I hear you. I do everything wrong too. 🙂 The only opinion that counts is yours, and perhaps — Jane’s. As Joey from Friends would say, “It’s a moo point.”

    Samara

  7. January 9, 2014 11:40 pm

    Now where would you like me to start! If there is one thing I have learnt in the last four years of studying, is that “experts” need to start listening to folks like you, people who are well connected with the land they live on. One of the reasons I find your blog so good, is that you are a thoughtful steward of your land and prepared to look around and learn from what’s out there, apply what you feel is worth applying and ignore what you don’t feel will work for you or the land and that counts for an awful lot in my books. I do a lot of studying of academic writings and fortunately there are people out there with a lot of common sense too that actually recognise the value of the types of experimentation you do, so stick with it. I’m learning lots from you for sure. There are more and more academics coming around to realising that they haven’t got all the answers and that folks working the land are not quite so stupid, as some thought.

    • January 9, 2014 11:43 pm

      Oh yes and here is my favourite quote from my favourite academic:-

      “Rural people’s knowledge and modern scientific knowledge are complementary in their strengths and weaknesses. Combined they may achieve what neither would alone. For such combinations, outsider professionals have to step down off their pedestals, and sit down, listen and learn.” (Robert Chambers 1983:75 Rural Development: Putting the Last First)

      We would all do well to get down off our pedestals from time to time and learn from others I think.

  8. January 10, 2014 2:36 am

    I also prefer to be just exactly where I am, doing just exactly what I’m doing. And I’ve heard my share from the “savers” too.

    I guess I’m lucky or something because these days, most people I see have the same world view as I do, and it’s a relief to not have to defend what we do.

    Supper last night was parsnips hash, all of it from the farm. If it’s gonna kill me, I’d rather go this way, than the way I was years back, sick and in a wheelchair.

  9. Shannon Gene Templeton permalink
    January 10, 2014 3:18 am

    I don’t have a blog, but I do homestead in east Texas. I have the same reaction from “friends” and family in the cities about my choice of life. They don’t understand it. They see it as too much hard work. They think I have become some kind of eccentric kook. I just smile and tell them I love them and that one day they may have to come to my homestead to live because of what is happening to the cities.

  10. Kristin permalink
    January 10, 2014 3:52 am

    Love this post! So inspirational! Deep down I think those who “got away” desire to come back to their roots, whether they know it or not. My great grandfather owned a dairy farm here in PA, and my Dad (who helped on the farm as a kid) frequently tells me stories of farm life. Deep in my soul, I desire to get back to my roots. Unfortunately in my part of this great nation, you need to be a millionaire to own land and a farm. With the average age of farmers in this nation being upper 50’s and land being at a premium, all those who “got away” will be wishing they stayed put in a few years ’cause there will be minimum food to feed their “earth friendly” bellies. Matron of Trapper Creek- you are my hero!!! I have said it before, and I will say it again– I live vicariously through you and envy your way of life! Keep staying put and writing your blog. May you and your gang have a prosperous New Year!

  11. Paula permalink
    January 10, 2014 4:19 am

    What a relief that these people left for the big city and the big life and you only have to be around them once a year.

    Your life is wonderful and real and when you reach out to touch it there is something there worth the living.

    The sadness is that they cannot see how much more caring your life is than theirs – you nurture the world while they only consume it.

  12. January 10, 2014 4:23 am

    Nice. People and the rationalizations they want to press upon others wear me out too. Myself included, lol. I can get a little cranky when pressed.

    Cannot understand for the life of me, why literally putting food on the table isn’t valued. I’m spoiled for any “real” employment now – once you leave the fold, there’s no going back…

    Evening cow check is the best part of my day 🙂

  13. Angie permalink
    January 10, 2014 4:51 am

    I understand you completely. It is people who really don’t understand how much happier your animals are, which means you are happier. Cheers to you and have a Happy New Year!!!

  14. January 10, 2014 4:53 am

    The number of us who understand is diminishing. And we are sadly outnumbered. I much admire you for what you do though, and how much thought you put into how and why you do it. And I sure do understand how you feel. Family members from the city lecture me as if I were an idiot….

  15. January 10, 2014 5:20 am

    Nod and smile…not to be dramatic or anything, but guess who’s going to come calling, if (when) anything happens to interrupt the industrial food supply chain. Just sayin’…

    • January 10, 2014 8:50 am

      Agreed! My family look at me like I am the poor country bumpkin and in the next breath say something like “when the economy crashes, we are coming to live with you!” Ha! They’ll never make it out of the city. *shakes head*

  16. January 10, 2014 5:24 am

    You are living the life!
    There is some research that shows industrial beef lots are creating more greenhouse gasses, not small herds raised on grass…
    The pollution the factory pig and chicken farms create is a serious problem, how could that make them better to eat?
    I would have been tempted to argue but your response is so much better – smile and nod…
    Thank you for the post today 🙂

  17. January 10, 2014 5:24 am

    Somebody in my life calls me “Wal-Mart Coat” because I dress in such cheap clothing (Wal-Mart, Goodwill). She keeps perfect manicures (my nails get much too tough treatment for that) and wears expensive clothing and jewelry. The cheap (comfy, but not fashionable) clothing is a choice on my part, much like your choice, to use less and be happy with less. I could buy more expensive clothing, but why, when most of my time is spent puttering around our farm and in my kitchen. This person makes a lot of money and spends a lot of money, on expensive doo-dads and trips and cruises and such. She can’t fathom why I’d “settle” for the farm life that I love. I’m with you, Matron! So happy here with my home schooled kiddos and my chickens and my goose and the time to enjoy nature every day.

  18. January 10, 2014 5:26 am

    What to say, when you’ve already said it all? I’ll just adorn my gardening gloves, and tip my hat instead.

  19. Laura permalink
    January 10, 2014 5:28 am

    Can you avoid those “friends” next year over the holidays? Perhaps you’ll be too busy washing dishes to attend?

  20. January 10, 2014 6:13 am

    Ha! Don’t you just love them. I get it too – comments and emails stating the bleeding obvious and teaching me what I’m doing wrong. Enjoy your break. I’ve just had a month off. Love to you and your mob. xx

  21. January 10, 2014 6:16 am

    In late 2012, I left a career in sales to come home to the farm. I went from jumping in and out of meetings and the car all day long to rarely leaving the farm and I am never going back. Many of the ones I worked with think I have lost my mind, or must be suffering from depression or some dread disease.
    Someone important to me once said to remember that someone else’s opinion of me is really none of my business, and that is how I live my life. And just think how much I am helping the environment by occasionally using my milk cows to mow my front yard! LOL
    Your blog has been a real blessing to me, for both education and enjoyment. Whenever you have time to post, a cup of coffee and your words make a great start to my day.

    PS- Installing a locked gate where my lane meets the highway has greatly enhanced my peace and quiet. My grown kids have the combination and everyone else assumes I am away, unless I choose not to be! Bliss!

  22. Erin permalink
    January 10, 2014 6:23 am

    Kudos to you for taking the high road. They don’t know what they are missing out on.

  23. January 10, 2014 6:33 am

    Oh I so hear you – I don’t think a day goes by where somebody isn’t lecturing me on how we work too hard, where I don’t get a blank stare when I explain we’re not going to attend a party because we have farm stuff to do – and yes – well meaning people who feel it critical to explain how we’re doing things ‘wrong’. My favorite of last year – I asked a woman I work with if she and her hubby would be willing to come hang out at the farm for a couple of days so we could take a quick trip to another farm to get grain. This is a woman who feels it her daily duty to remind me we’ve not travelled anywhere together in years and that’s just all wrong. The answer? “Absolutely not! We know nothing about animals.”
    I find people’s attitudes about what we do – far more exhausting than any work I do on the farm.

  24. Clare permalink
    January 10, 2014 6:49 am

    Might be time to really distance yourself from these ‘old friends’. Toxicity from them during the holidays is not a good thing. Why not be fully scheduled next time they call? Just sayin’.
    🙂

  25. January 10, 2014 6:59 am

    You summed up quite nicely why I don’t go “home.” I’ve found my little corner of the world and am very happy to be the kooky farm girl that spins wool at the farmer’s market. Animals have always been more understanding than humans. We might be more understanding if we couldn’t “talk” too.

  26. January 10, 2014 8:21 am

    Nothing like a nice dose of contentment from the outdoors to drown out the nay sayers and remind you exactly where your place in the world is. Ravens and cows probably make much more sense than many of the people I have met. Enjoy getting back to your routine.

  27. Bee permalink
    January 10, 2014 8:26 am

    Ah, man, don’t you hate it when that happens? I’m sorry you had to listen to that sort of drivel, Nita, it makes for an unpleasant holiday.
    Shoot, I’ve been swimming upstream against the flow of other people’s opinions for way better than half a century! When I was in school in the 50s and 60s I was a girl, and so had to be pigeonholed into the boxes appropriate for girls So of course, I was always in trouble, because I wanted to do it my way. I was an “underachiever” despite a high IQ — couldn’t see any sense in doing the homework if I could ace the tests consistently, so I got “As” on the tests and “Fs” in homework and a “C” average. Despite being so labeled, it turned out I was very well-educated — mostly because I read everything I could lay my hands on — and a competent, productive and respected member of society. I pointed that out to my father when he tried to needle me on the subject of not doing my homework, some 40 years after the fact, and he was insulted that I was willing to bite back (frankly, I didn’t give a damn). I flatly refused to learn how to type, because I didn’t want to be considered secretarial material — that’s what girls did….(since my mom was a surgeon, I knew better). I did have cause to regret that decision, just a little — thank heaven for SpellCheck.
    When I was younger, I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me, but as I grew older, I realized there were lots of things wrong with the system (didn’t matter what system: school, health care, workplace, government). I started listening to my gut and have never regretted it. Funny how if you’re a blue monkey in a troop of brown monkeys, the other monkeys seem to think it’s their bounden duty to make you conform. I think it’s partly fear, because we make them confront their unspoken assumptions (not to mention their politically correct, parroted party lines). God forbid they should have to look in the mirror , think for themselves and admit that the premises around which they’ve built their lives might be wrong.
    I tend to agree with Clare that decreasing your exposure to toxic people is a good idea. I’ve mostly gotten to the point where when somebody asks a pointed question/makes a comment meant to put me down, I respond with, “Now, why would you ever say/ask something like that?” While they sputter, I can look them in the eye, smile sweetly and say, “You know, I like my life, and isn’t it nice that we live a free country where we can make those choices?” Then I go talk to the pigs or watch the lambs play or weed the garden. Here’s to us farmer and ranchers — we’re smart, savvy survivors, we have fun every day, and boy, do we eat well!

  28. Ben Hewitt permalink
    January 10, 2014 8:40 am

    Wait a sec… you quit clipping pasture? That’s what I want to hear more about… we have that conversation every damn summer.

    Great post. Worth the wait.

    • January 10, 2014 1:18 pm

      Couple of questions for the committee involved in the conversation (questions I deal with as well): What does clipping accomplish? What happens if you don’t clip? More biomass? More free time? Are weeds in pastures a problem or a solution? A symptom or a cure? Do the weeds tell you what is about the future or the past? Most importantly, what is a “weed”?

  29. Cheryl L. permalink
    January 10, 2014 8:59 am

    I look forward to reading your blog, as I feel grounded with each post. I’ve learned so much from you. You live a life most envied. It’s pretty smug, and arrogant to discount a life well-lived by making you feel less for your choices. They’re gone, and I say good riddance. Happy New Year!

  30. Melba permalink
    January 10, 2014 10:03 am

    I love and appreciate your thinking! My daddy said many many times, “I wish people who don’t have anything to do, would do it some place else”.

  31. January 10, 2014 10:20 am

    Oof! It is very easy to criticize, and very hard to actually go against the grain. I, too, am tired of the lectures from well-meaning folks who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. And, as someone from the South, where lots of pigs are raised, I would never ever say that they’re better for the environment. Sewage lake, anyone?

  32. January 10, 2014 10:27 am

    Loved this post! Oddballs are easy prey. People just don’t know what to do with people who do life differently. It freaks them out. I love home too. It’s the best place to be.

  33. A.A. permalink
    January 10, 2014 10:46 am

    *Hugs* You’re the best!

  34. Susan permalink
    January 10, 2014 12:35 pm

    Seems like you keep the best kind of company. I would take cows over people any old day. I am always amazed at how ignorant people are. And how eager they are to share their ignorance with everyone else!

  35. January 10, 2014 1:17 pm

    ravens’ll say a lot.
    course you talk to the animals. course you do. it would be crazy not to.
    i don’t find myself in situations like you describe with the old friends. don’t imagine i’d be able to say much. my old friends were suburban. i don’t think any of them went rural. and mostly i’m just quiet with suburban people. generally they don’t have time to listen to anything anyway.

  36. January 10, 2014 1:19 pm

    and why does everybodys cows have to look crazy?

  37. Karen permalink
    January 10, 2014 2:58 pm

    Is it because people are unsure of their own happiness that they compensate by belittling others? Being different… doing what you believe is right is never the easy road. It’s been helpful to me to know that there are kindred spirits having the same experience.
    Glad your fine Matron. Liked the music video. 🙂

  38. January 10, 2014 5:05 pm

    Please remember at all times that you are one of the lucky folks who are truly ‘living the dream’. I wonder if these folks felt motivated to criticize because they were plain ol’ jealous.

  39. Karen permalink
    January 10, 2014 6:03 pm

    I prefer to think our lives, Matron on Husbandry’s, the commenters and mine, as that of an American peasant as defined by Donald Grant:

    An American Peasant

    There is a deep cleavage between the bourgeois of the towns and the cities and the mass of humanity on the land.

    A peasant, I would say, is one who loves the earth and works it gently.

    A peasant does not own real estate, he works the land, a piece of earth. A peasant does not work at a job, leave it, and come home to his family. Family life and working life are all intertwined.

    There is, apparently, a widespread bourgeois conviction that striving for success – prestige, wealth and power – is and should be top-priority human activity.

    The life we led contributed to good health. Most of our time was spent out of doors. There was no lack of exercise. We were doing what we wanted to do. We decided when and how it should be done. The animals, who needs could be imperious, were our only tyrants.

    It is difficult for people whose lives are broken into segments to understand what life can be when it is of one piece.

    From White Goats and Black Bees
    by Donald Grant

  40. Judy E permalink
    January 10, 2014 7:21 pm

    Sounds like Heaven to me! Thank you for your posts!

  41. TBirdsMomma permalink
    January 10, 2014 8:45 pm

    Amen!

  42. Trish permalink
    January 11, 2014 12:00 am

    Have you read the book about how cows can save our planet? Its called:
    Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth. By Judith D. Schwartz.

    You don’t need this book (though you could have written it), but I think your chicken and pork biased “friends” might! The world would be a better place if more people could see how much value there in in a creature that turns grass into so much of good use to people and the land.

    Not everyone can live this good life of being close to the land and animals. You are one of the lucky ones.

    One reason I love your blog is… I love pictures of cows. Thanks for putting up photos that make me want to reach into my screen and hug your cows (Jane mostly, and some CUTE calves, but your beefers are good looking too!).

    P.S your dogs aren’t too shabby either.

    • January 11, 2014 6:00 am

      I haven’t read it but I can imagine it speaks the truth. Cows make our place better for sure.

      Oh my gosh, Jane is a huggable girl – like a big lap dog. She always has to sniff your hands to see what treats await her at milking? Carrots, check, parsnips, check, where’s the apples?

  43. mica permalink
    January 11, 2014 8:23 am

    oh how I remember those days of heaven and never wanting to leave…

  44. January 11, 2014 12:04 pm

    I’ve been hiding, too. Don’t even visit the neighbors, just hang with my animals. I’d rather be with them.

    now off to give more straw or my pork and possibly a haircut to my sheep

  45. Maze permalink
    January 11, 2014 8:51 pm

    In our lives we create a circle of family, friends and acquaintances. Some may be near and dear, others not so, but they still are within our circle. It is natural that you want those in your circle to respect what you stand for, who you are and who you strive to be. You want them to celebrate your accomplishments and commensurate with your struggles. You hope that they would respect your choices and your opinions enough to not impose their own, at least not within your hearing. It is sad, and can be hurtful when lines are unnecessairly crossed. You however have created a circle much larger than you may know. There are many who remain silent and unseen who support you every day and in every way. For me you are the victory garden, dairy farm, and love of Guernsey’s, of my childhood. For me you are they breath of fresh, manure scented air that I long for, but has forever escaped me. For me you personify the word hope. However, as much as you represent the past, you also represent the future. Please remember that it is only those with closed minds that cannot see. I now go back to being silent and unseen, and forever supportive.

  46. Tillie permalink
    January 12, 2014 8:20 am

    Thank you for being who and where you are and for sharing that with us. I appreciate all you do and am inspired to by it!

  47. January 12, 2014 6:53 pm

    It’s nice to know someone else deals with “those” folks and feels frustrated and burned out by it besides me. Hang in there and maybe next time you can do some “educating” 😉 if you feel magnanimous enough to share your wealth of knowledge with the oblivious…

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