I am so anxious to get out on the land, but there is much to do first. God has to send the warmer days to melt this snow, and give us some clear days to clean up, arrange for plowing, and haul some fertilizer (the natural kind, easy to come by around here.)
We are anticipating a much bigger garden than either of us have ever managed, but working from home, we should be able to keep up with it. We are looking forward to the physical exercise and the sensation of working the soil – there is always so much to observe and learn, from the quiet diligence of insects and earthworms to the joyous flight of crows and eagles overhead.
One of our first tasks is to get the barn space ready. We need to build pens and gates, replace doors, and put in fence posts and wire. We can start with just a paddock, and get the main pasture fenced in later, but it is silly to bring animals home and have no adequate way to keep them comfortable and safe. Yes, people do – goats tied in garages, chicks in shoeboxes, cows tethered on lawns. I much prefer to have everything ready with their permanent home.
Crofters in the past took the animals out to the moors and hillsides in the summer to graze, living in small stone huts on plots called “shielings.” It was a primitive way of life, with minimal shelter, smoky peat fires for cooking and light, and a lot of foot travel to take the animals in for milking or to convey the milk. But I can imagine it had its wonderful, sweet moments, living under the open sky, immersed in God’s creation. The shielings were sometimes little villages themselves, as the local people sent their cattle and animals out to the common grazing. In some areas it may have been the summer duty of the young people, as it was in parts of Scandinavia a hundred years ago. And I can imagine that led to other things. Young people at leisure in the high pastures, pleasant summer sun overhead, or visiting back and forth in the cottages in rainy weather – well, I think we know. When I was a girl, it was the seasons of field work when young people got to know each other – cutting potato seed, rock picking, haying, the fall potato harvest. It was different from school, as we got to see who was a hard worker, who liked to talk the most, who was the most attentive. My own mother greatly discouraged these farm romances!