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”
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.