I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December

A magical thing

And sweet to remember.

“We are nearer to Spring

Than we were in September,”

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.

– Oliver Herford

We are 60+ days past December and I’m starting to hear birds sing. We are nearer to spring! As lovely as this thought may be, we must go through the melting and the mud before we get to the lovely spring days we all love.

Our farm is just gross right now! I’m not sure who coined the phrase factory farm, but I can assure you…this is not a factory farm: sparking and clean. This is a family farm. And, at times, it is muddy. I hope these pictures are different than what you might expect on a modern factory farm. These photos are the reality of today’s family farms. It just happens to be a not so pretty season.

The cats hate it. IMG_0023

Roxy loves it.IMG_0028IMG_0008

The calves are curious. IMG_0007

And, John…well…this is his least favorite three weeks of the year. IMG_0016

I can’t say I blame him. IMG_0017

We had a few sunny days this week. Which meant the monster snow drift in front of our house was melting.IMG_9995

Anyway…you get the point. MUD & MELTING EVERYWHERE! IMG_9999 IMG_9991 IMG_0002

While sunsets, green pastures and many of the pastoral views of farm life are inspiring – mud is not. It is depressing and dirty. The back porch smells like the barn, full of sticky boots and damp clothes. These are the times when I turn to my bookshelves…looking for some cleaner inspiration.

“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.”

Farmers farm for the love of farming.

They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors.

They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live.

If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide.

I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”

— Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Food and Farming