Home and Away
I’m a ‘dog person’ and June’s a ‘cat person’. We surprised ourselves, let alone family, when we said “no more pets” a couple of years ago. June’s last cat had recently died of old age and our last dog had died a few years before that.
No, we haven’t changed our spots. There’ll always be a place in my heart for medium to large ‘man’s best frienders’. And sometimes I wondered whether the purring was coming from both June and the cat curled up on her lap.
So what got into us? “Life’s short,” we said. A trade-off if you like: forgo the companionship of pets for the extra time and energy that’s then available for such new pursuits as blogging (me) and learning the piano (June), and for the ongoing demands of homesteading.
One of homesteading’s demands – the need to get away from it – works a bit like the notion of negative space in art. The negative or ’empty’ space being an essential and restful element of the work of art.
An extension of that idea could be that absence (’empty’ space) is curiously part of essence. Looked at in that way, you could say that an ’emptying out of the place’ by absenting oneself now and then from it is an essential element of the homesteading way of life. Come to think of it – of any way of life where ‘homecoming’ is seen in a truly positive light.
The welfare of our animals is uppermost in our minds when we go away together for a few days. When we had a dog, it was a real hassle because there are no dog kennels anywhere near Fairlie.
So now we just have animals that stay in their paddocks, and hens that are confined to their house and run. Home and away: farm animals and hens with plenty of feed, clean water, shelter, secure fencing, and their own kind for company.
I’ve been thinking about the ‘away’ bit because we had three days in Dunedin last week. We pretty much emptied our heads of goings on back home: home thoughts barely a blip on the radar.
But now we are home again and:
- The goats, Minnie and Gretchen, seem okay about sharing their kids’ milk once again with June;
- The eggs have been collected from the nests and the hens let out to free range during the day;
- The 1.5 metre high fencing and gate have kept in the billy goat;
- The three cows in the drive areas ‘winding road’ paddock have done a good job of ‘mowing down’ the long grass;
- A great many tomatoes have turned from green to red in the tunnel house (left open in case we had hot weather);
- The pumpkins, almost at harvesting stage, haven’t been hit by an early frost.
And crucial to the entire enterprise remaining in good heart, and despite the companionship of pets noticeably absent, June and I have returned home de-stressed and refreshed. As my Mum would say: “It’s good to be back home.”
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.