Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1: Morning Light

It is deep summer in Texas, hot and dry. The pastures are beat down, but the creek is still running which means it is too soft to mow, which means it is too overgrown to pull electric fences so, every day I lead the eight milkers out to the forest to browse. I follow them, lead them, stay with them for two or three hours---our sojourns dictated by their thirst.

I carry a satchel with yarn and hook, scissors, a book, a water bottle, my phone (camera). I drag along a three-legged camp stool most days too. Today I have a paper and pen, a tiny clipboard for writing this post to be typed later.

Somedays I just sit, mind wandering, some days I crochet with frantic speed, some days I read and frequently find myself left behind (so engrossed in my book that the goats move away from me without my noticing). I take photos and carry on conversations with the goats. I explore and look for feathers and butterflies. 

It is quiet in the woods, not a breath of air most days and I am usually drenched in sweat in my jeans and boots and long sleeves. Despite the heat I'll sit with them or follow them or lead them to better browse. There are days when I am sorely tempted to stay inside after I finish the milking....on those days when the sweat rolls freely and the humidity is almost visible in the air. But this time of year, I go out. Every day.

One, I believe the girls need the variety and abundance that the unfenced portion of our land has to offer. I ask them to do hard bear kids, to produce milk for 12-15 months. I both recognize and respect the toll that such hard work has on them and I honor it by working hard myself. I can give them 2-3 hours of time each day to nourish themselves, since they nourish me all year long.

Caring for the girls can seem like drudgery if you don't look at it from a certain angle. I've chosen to throw off the idea of drudgery and instead embrace the idea of this being my job as a goatherd. I've chosen to go out each day because it is a privilege to share my life with this is a joy to "graze out," it is MY time to think or read or explore.

I won't lie, there are days when I dread it. I dread it until I'm out there and then I revel in it...I relish being in the midst of the herd in the quiet of the forest.

I know someday my grand plan for electric fences will come to fruition and it will no longer be necessary for me to "graze out" with the girls, but for now I enjoy the time, the quiet, the camaraderie of goats.

The above was written while "grazing out" and before I came across Susannah Conway's August Break Challenge. I've wanted to write more here, but, I'm taking Susannah's challenge to post a picture a day, but with it I am challenging myself to also write each day too.

Susannah Conway's August Break
August 1: Wee Tiny Mushroom in the morning light.

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