We had a great market day today. Sell out at both Ikenberry's and Grandin. Came home with a watermelon from GFGP, eggplant and yellow squash from Thistle Dew, and SHITTAKES from Randy Deel.
Got home to a very dirty house that has been neglected for days. We promptly set to work trying to set things straight to be ready for our first Saturday evening eucharist, led by our priest friend, with the blessing of Quigg. Checked messages and was disappointed to hear that while we were at market this morning, Duncan the bull had pushed through a gate and went for a journey down the valley and onto our neighbors' property. He has been making a habit of pushing through a particular gate to get to that one field that is apparently much more delicious than all the other acres of grass that are available to him.
I came home grateful to have had an amazing couple of weeks at market, thankful to be making enough money to pay bills and set some aside for hard winter months. Amazed that so many people are coming to buy our bread.
I also came home tired after work pretty much non-stop for several days, bone tired. With more work waiting on me as I directed the kids to join me in the basic chores since they have to go to school now during our former Monday cleanup day. Not to mention some very serious grief and life altering adjustments in our house.
Hearing the message from our neighbor made me wonder why I am attempting to farm. Since I can't seem to keep our animals on our side of the fence, why do I bother?
Isn't it funny how being tired makes everything hurt worse? In a matter of seconds, I was questioning my judgement, my calling, my abilities, my farming, my parenting, and pretty much everything about myself.
I want to work on fencing, but have to work extra hours in the bakery to pay bills. I want to work on fencing, but have to get kids enrolled in school. Getting the kids in school means less manpower and the other chores take more time. Grieving Philip means my brain doesn't always work as efficiently as I want it to.
The rest of us continued our housekeeping and Patrick went to move the animals out of the bottom field, put the knocked over gate back onto its hinges properly and chained it closed. I called the neighbor and apologized and tried to take responsibility for my wandering animals, and then called our friends who own the bull and asked them to come get him so he won't knock over any more gates.
Decided that I probably won't get it all right for a very long time, at least another 40 or 50 years or so of mistakes ahead of me. Pledged to myself to find a couple of hours or so next week to strategize and come up with an action plan that will hopefully involve recruiting some helpers to finish the fence building we have begun, but not finished.
Then got to the wonderful task of throwing some things together for our potluck that would take place after church. Rachel brought a Blue Ridge Poultry Coop chicken which she placed in a pan with garlic and onions to roast. She also brought some of their delicious goat cheese. Paul, at Thistle Dew, gave me some eggplant and yellow squash. Raymond gave me a watermelon and some baby chioggia beets. Randy Deel gave me some shitake mushrooms. We cut up the eggplant, squash, beets, an onion, garlic and mushrooms, drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them in the oven with the chicken. We warmed up the pizza crusts with olive oil to go with the goat cheese and some of Big Pine Trout's smoked trout.
Part of the rest of the crew set up the altar and chairs outside.
I usually like to help set up church. Was too busy cooking to interfere. The sun was still out and hot, so they found the most logical, shady spot. Up on the top of the driveway. Right where Coco likes to poop. And the chickens scratch out the pies into crusty areas of prime fertilizer.
I was mortified.
Church? By the manure?
Well, the table was set, the chairs brought round, each with its own sweet Book of Common Prayer and Bible. Jason and the kids were not about to rearrange furniture simply because of my mortification.
We spread the cloth, arranged the flowers and candles and the cross, brought out the elements and I surrendered.
I wondered, as we covered the readings on hospitality, if it were not especially meaningful to have church take place in the middle of the manure. Reading the scriptures, sharing the consecrated bread and wine in the middle of the manure.
The chickens squawked. The dogs kept passing through. The geese honked and the sheep baaed in the distance. I saw manure.
And then grace.
There was no moment of grandeur, no shocking new revelation. Just sweet scripture, opened up by our friend, and the passing of the peace. And wiggly little ones. And chuckling baby. And the mystery of the body and the blood.
And all of a sudden, the manure seemed right and good, in a very surreal way.
And I felt a lot better about my calling to farm imperfectly.
We set out the food and ate on the deck. The roast chicken was heavenly. I had to control myself to keep from eating all the crispy skin as I cut it up into bite size chunks. The roasted vegetables were so tender and creamy and crispy and good I had thirds. The lightly salted goat cheese and the pizza crust flatbread could have been served in the finest of NYC restaurants. The trout was gone before I could blink. Watermelon heralded the end of summer and we visited, talked church talk and enjoyed the cool, despite the mosquitoes.
Real life is full of a little manure here and there, and I was so thankful for the visual reminder this afternoon. Maybe today's life lesson for me was to surrender to imperfection. To give myself and others grace when we are tired, to remember that even on happy days, occasionally the metaphorical bull will push through the gate and torment the neighbors, but that doesn't mean that I should give up my whole calling! A little manure does wonder for fertility, and so does a good rest.