Acres and Acres

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I never met a man who was shaken by a field of identical blades of grass. An acre of poppies and a forest of spruce boggle no one’s mind. Even ten square miles of wheat gladdens the hearts of most.
No, in the plant world, and especially among the flowering plants, fecundity is not an assault on human values. Plants are not our competitors; they are our prey and our nesting materials.

Fecundity is anathema only in the animal.
“Acres and acres of rats” has a suitably chilling ring to it that is decidedly lacking if I say, instead, “acres and acres of tulips”.

~Annie Dillard from “The Force That Drives the Flower”

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This time of year our farm is brilliantly lit by sun and teeming with fecundity.  The cherry orchard blossoms have yielded to fruit and the pastures are knee high with grass.  By this time in June, the daylight starts creeping over the eastern foothills at 4 AM and the last glimpse of sun disappears at nearly 10 PM.   So many hours of light to work with!

I yearn for a dark rainy day to hide inside with a book.  Instead the lawnmower and weed whacker call my name, and the fish pond needs cleaning and the garden must be weeded.

It’s not that things don’t happen on the farm during months like this.  It’s just that nothing we do is enough.  Blackberry brambles have taken over everything, grass grows faster than we can keep it mowed down, the manure piles spread on the fields in May are growing exponentially again.  The fences always need fixing.

The weather has been hot and the hay is ready to cut but no string of days has been available for harvest – we are low on the priority list of the local dairy man who cuts and bales our hay.  We no longer breed our Haflinger horses, so we are feeding and caring for a retired herd.

Suddenly our farm dream seems not nearly so compelling.

We have spent many years dreaming about the farm as we hoped it would be.  We imagined the pastures managed perfectly with fencing that was both functional and beautiful.  Our barns and buildings would be tidy and leak-proof, and the stalls secure and safe.  We’d have a really nice pick up truck with low miles on it, not a 35 year old hand me down truck with almost 250,000 miles. We would have trees pruned expertly and we’d have flower beds blooming as well as a vegetable garden yielding 9 months of the year.  Our hay would never be rained on. We would have dogs that wouldn’t run off and cats that would take care of all the rodents.  We wouldn’t have any moles, thistles, dandelions or buttercup.  The pheasant, deer, coyotes, raccoons, and wild rabbits would only stroll through the yard for our amusement and not disturb anything.  We’d have livestock with the best bloodlines we could afford and a steady demand from customers to purchase their offspring at reasonable prices so that not a dime of our off-farm income would be necessary to pay farm expenses.   Our animals (and we) would never get sick or injured.

And our house would always stay clean.

Dream on.  Farms can be back-breaking, morale-eroding, expensive sinkholes.   I know ours is.  Yet here we be and here we stay.

It’s home.  We’ve raised three wonderful children here.  We’ve bred and grown good horses and great garden and orchard crops and tons of hay from our own fields.  We breathe clean air and daily hear dozens of different bird songs and look out at some of the best scenery this side of heaven.  Eagles land in the trees in our front yard. It’s all enough for us even if we are not enough for the farm.  I know there will come a time when the farm will need to be a fond memory and not a daily reality.  Until then we will keep pursuing our dream as we and the farm grow older.   Dreams age and mature and I know now what I dreamed of when I was younger was not the important stuff.

We have been blessed with the abundance of one another, with the sunrises and the sunsets and everything in between.  This is the best of fecundity.

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7 thoughts on “Acres and Acres

  1. God gives us this moment. Thank you for sharing your list of aspirations and agreeing they are just that. We live with open hands and full hearts for this moment that is before us. Keep writing!

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  2. Dear Emily, I’ve been reading your blog for two or three years now over here in the UK, and I really ought to thank you for your pictures, quotations and reflections. The photos are so beautiful, amazing in their clarity and art; the quotations always match impeccably and make the point; and your own reflections are heart-stirring, pointing me so often straight back to God.

    I have so many of your quotations now in my own quote books, including the ones down the side of the page, so I can come back to them over and over. Thank you so much for taking the time to create this blog, day after day. Your time has net been wasted. I always look forward to opening it and see what you have in store for us. God bless you, Emily.

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  3. I love this post!! I read your posts all the time and truly enjoy them, but this one made me laugh today! The dream where everything is perfect is heaven, until then we labor and toil! Haha!! I always wish my 5 acres would mow itself! We don’t have farm animals, just one old dog (now, we put the other to sleep Dec 2015 😭) and three lazy cats! 😊 Speaking of the yard, I have to go mow, so thank you so much for your blog, I love reading it! Sincerely, Diana

    Sent from my iPhone

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  4. Thank you Emily. I love the word “fecundity.” Such a visual it is. I can’t keep up with my suburban lot with flower and vegetable garden and yet I always wanted to live on a small farm. God is showing me to be content where I am because I have more than enough.

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  5. Emily,
    Thank you so much for your post. I identify strongly with your words as my ideal farm is almost as far from reality as is my real self from my ideal self. I long to be like the “good farmer” in ” Jayber Crow” where all is as it should be. Your words are an encouragement as to what is most important.

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  6. I love your descriptions, and I love that you share the reality of your lives with us, your readers and fans. May God surprise you with joy this week.
    Much love

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  7. Oh yes, the reality of a farm. With our 2,000 almond and walnut trees, in such need of pruning, I hear my dear husband say…one tree at a time. So today, I clean out the tack compartment of the horse trailer. Scharly standing nearby to keep an eye on me. Still clean from yesterday’s bath, eyes half closed as I take a break to massage her neck , deep clean her ears and we both enjoy the moments. Eli working on the 4×4, dogs resting in the shade of the truck not wanting to be left behind….. Tomorrow I will teach others some of my quilt making skills. Yes, one tree at a time. God is good and I have so much appreciation for His gifts in many forms. So healing.

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