Not your typical farm-related blog title. I have an intimate knowledge of certain things on my farm. I know it’s plumbing and electrical systems. I know the mechanical systems in the houses here. In all these examples, I know them because I’ve either installed them or worked on them. I know the soils of this farm. The field right behind the brick rancher where I grew up will never warm up early in the spring. It slopes toward the north and is heavy with clay. A mid-spring planting suits this field best.
The field out in front of my grandparent’s house was acquired in the 1970’s and it’s five acres are suited to fast growing vegetation. The heavier soil on the rise toward the back is much better land. The British probably burned the house that was there during the war.
We push old bricks around in certain fields, the last remnants of a culture too long here, not far enough gone. The old orchards are gone now, cut done to expedite the use of the tractor and haybine. Many apples fell to be consumed by the lowliest of farm creatures – the groundhog.
The barns are filled with the acquisitions of three generations. The workhorse harness of my grandfather’s still occupies the same pegs in the old stall that it did when my father gave them to me – the day after he buried his father. My harness gear is on the other side of the barn, in the “new” shed, my attempt to recreate what is probably forever lost.
Intimacy comes in all shapes and sizes. Yet there is a common thread, the binding element: Care. Care to prevent harm, promote well-being, and most importantly, to understand. Intimacy can be lost through neglect and carelessness. The greater the knowledge, the deeper the intimacy.
True intimacy is something that is worked out over time. It takes some living and some failures to bring it out. I did plant that field behind my mother’s house in early spring peas one year. I know whereof I write. I’ve seen love blossom because of intimacy; I’ve seen it die without it. Love is a funny thing, but I digress. Who’d read a farmer’s take on love anyway?
“Pep” recently had a C-section due to complications of her labor. Both lambs were lost, but the ewe was saved. I am blessed to have a great veterinarian. Yet the procedure cost far more than the ewe was worth, dollar-wise. But there were other levels of valuation in play here. “Pep” is the friendliest sheep we have. Too friendly. Bottle-fed as a lamb, she was raised on the back porch of an Amish farmhouse. When I purchased my flock, Micah threw her in the deal, just to get rid of her. I soon found out why.
“Pep” didn’t view herself as a sheep at all. She viewed herself as a human. She’d have gladly accepted a room in the house and completely rebelled against the idea of being part of the flock. Getting her off our front porch and putting her back with the sheep was a daily (hourly?) routine. To this day she does her own thing, and is always the last to come when rounded up for the evening.
So, why spend that kind of money on “Pep?” There are other traits about her I like, not the least of which is her name. “Pep” is my children’s short for the Spanish pequeno (little). When she came to us, she was the smallest little lamb we had. And she wormed a place into all our hearts. Maybe a farmer is allowed to have a pet after all.
Intimacy is what you make of it, much like all other things in life. Water it, and it will grow; starve it, and it will fade. Choose well.