Haystack Farm

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Farming and Church

I am not a church going person but I am not completely unfamiliar with what happens inside those sacred walls. The sights, sounds, and feelings of Catholic mass are etched into my childhood memory.  This spring, one of my goals, aside from keeping everything alive and where it is suppose to be, has been to be more mindful when I'm out and about doing chores.  When I step out to head to the barn I take a moment to inventory the smells on the breeze, the bird songs, air temperature, pitches of mosquito buzzing.   Early this spring, some would say more realistically it was winter, we started milking a goat so our youngest would have good goats milk to drink. I'm not sure if it was my efforts in mindfulness or the goat milking but I have started to see many parallels between farming and church.  True, milking a goat does often involve some prayer-like utterances to a higher power but the similarities go beyond those spurr of the moment imploring requests for help and patience. 

To be a good farmer you must be willing to give everything to the farm and it's inhabitants. Your own needs come last, much like having children.  So teaches many religious institutions. To be a good farmer there is no sleeping in on Sundays. Such is the life of a church-goer. To be a good farmer you need to know yourself and your farm.  To me this is one function of going to church, but substitute farm with God.

This Spring the farm has become my church, only it's a church I attend everyday whether I want to or not. Milking is first on my daily roster. I have not asked our goat her denomination but I swear the milking goes more smoothly when I fill the silence with some of my favourite hymns.  The rest of the chores follow a methodical pattern that my body knows even in my minds absence, much like the actions and responses of a mass. I exchange wishes of peace with each species of animal every morning. My "peace be with you" sounds more like "Good Morning!" and their reply often sounds like a mournful plea to be fed, oddly enough even if they are standing in grass so tall you can barely see them. Our hand shake is a scratch or turkey cluck. Our eucharist is a breath of deliciously fresh air, ofen complete with mosquitos for protein.  There is even a chapel on our farm. The pigs are the lucky ones that get to call it home but despite its inhabitants the air seems sweeter there.  The wind seems more peaceful, the choir of trees more harmonious, and the light always just right.  It is hard to rush through chores in the chapel. The giant fallen trees seem so inviting to stop and sit.  It's similar to the feeling I remember while sitting in mass only far less stuffy and significantly more alive.

As church is said to do for some, farming does my soul good even if it does not always seem to do so in the more troublesome moments.

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