Thursday, January 06, 2011

Exposing the editor in my head

I wish I could download the dialogue going through my head right now. Exposing it might shut it down. Let me give it a try:

Linda the blogger: I wonder what I should write about today.
Linda the editor: Don't write about the farm. People are going to get tired of hearing about that.
Blogger: I doubt they're getting tired of it.
Editor: Okay, maybe they aren't but people at work might think you don't like your job anymore.
Blogger: Why would they think that?
Editor: All you ever write about is the farm.
Blogger: That's silly.

Am I the only one who has conversations like this in my head? I know better than to pay attention to them, but I'll admit to getting shut down by them from time to time. Sometimes the conversation doesn't even get past "What am I going to write about?" The thought of arguing with the editor in my head is too exhausting, so I move on to reading the newspaper or Facebook or something else entirely and give up on writing. I thought I'd write about this craziness today in an attempt to steal some of the editor's power and move beyond getting shut down. I'm not looking for advice. I know what to do. I'm just being honest about what goes on in an attempt to change it.

I think I have to make up my mind that writing is my choice. Whether or not anyone reads it is her or his choice. Writing for me serves a purpose well beyond entertaining a reader. It's a way of capturing my experience in the world and making meaning from it, however tentative and fleeting that meaning may be. To the extent that it connects with someone else, a reader, is going to vary from time to time, but that doesn't make the process any less valuable to me. Like all good disciplines, just doing it on a day when the greatest meaning I find is "Well, I did that," helps ensure that I will be where I need to be to do what I need to do when the times come for finding treasure in my experience, for new understanding to emerge out of the words that flow from my mind onto the computer screen or paper, sometimes with barely any consciousness of them before they appear in front of me.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


I did a quick interview with a local radio station yesterday. A friend texted me saying a reporter he knows was looking for someone who commutes into Tulsa from a rural area. He wondered if I'd be willing to talk to her. I agreed to do it.

It was a short interview, only about two minutes, maybe three. She wanted to know how far I commute, why I do it, whether or not I have any special vehicle, and how I pass the time. What more is there to say about commuting? Not much, but I'm blogging about it anyway.

I commute 100 miles round trip four days per week. I don't really think about it much anymore. I do it because we have this amazing opportunity to lease the farm we're on, a place that's a great match for what Lisa does. Anytime I get bummed about how far I have to commute and how much time I spend in the car, I think about the cabin where we hold the dinners and the ohs and ahs of guests when they see it for the first time. I think about walking in the woods when there is time for a hike. In my mind I see sheep grazing on rotation and goats running up from their pasture when I call them. It's really hard for me to stay bummed when I think about all that I have here. A long commute is a small price to pay.

The thing the interview didn't touch on (it was a FOX news radio station, after all) is how I feel about the environmental impact of my driving. I really regret that part of it. It runs counter to what we're about on the farm. I have a truck. I've toyed with the idea of trading for a more fuel efficient vehicle, but then I think about all the times that it helps to have both trucks here. I start doing the math and realize, while I could save some money, a more fuel efficient vehicle will not be so significantly less that it's worth giving up the value of having the other truck on the farm. I don't know of anyone in this area who commutes into Tulsa, so at this time, carpooling is not an option, though it's something that I remain open to if I make the right connections. If I had the extra cash, I'd consider a compressed natural gas conversion for my truck, but I don't so that is not an option right now either. For the time being, I'm stuck being a gas-guzzling, long commuter.

Any thoughts on other ways I could cut back on the environmental impact?

Monday, January 03, 2011

A change of pace

It's been a quiet week on the farm. I've been home for 10 days, except for a couple of days early last week when I went up to my mom's. Lisa and I have relaxed a lot and while I don't doubt we needed it, there were a few moments when we got a bit stir crazy. Apparently we like to be busy.

One day from last week illustrates the change of pace. Lisa worked in the greenhouse and I did odds and ends around the farm. We knew there was a hole in the fence where the goats were getting out. It hadn't been a huge cause for alarm. They always come straight to the back yard and stand by the gate until someone let's them back in the barnyard. Nevertheless, most of them are pregnant and a little on the wide side. We had some concerns that a couple of them might get stuck trying to get through or under the fence. So, I went in search of the hole.

Ordinarily, such a search happens an hour before both of us are about to leave for the day. It's a little frantic. When the hole is found, everything within 20 feet of the hole is fair game for blocking it until a couple of hours can be spared to fix it properly. The repair is made and then we dash off to whatever demands our attention next, praying the fix holds and we don't return to find goats in the hen house or garage.

On this day, I headed out to the pasture and noticed that Jai, the miniature dachshund was following me, on the other side of the fence, right into the woods that border the pasture on the south side. Coyotes live in those woods, so it's not a good idea for him to go traipsing around in them. I went out the gate and around the fence to the area where he was now chasing a rogue chicken. The hen was running wildly in circles around and through the trees, doing her best to lose him, but he matched her step for step, paying no attention at all to my calls. I called and called. Nothing. He disappeared for a few minutes and after what seemed like an eternity, reemerged, head high, panting and tail wagging. A tired chicken could be heard squawking in the background. Jai sat down 20 feet away from me and refused to come. I took one step toward him and he started running around again, so I stopped and waited until he was tired of his game and finally came to me. I picked him up and took him to the house.

On my return to the pasture, the goats followed me out. I walked slowly along the fence line and found a spot not far from the barnyard. It's an area where water rushes into a dry creek after it rains. There has been a lot of erosion. The dirt under the fence crumbled away just enough to allow for the goats to get out. A couple of the goats were curious about what I was doing. I stood back to watch what they did around the hole. One pawed at it and started to go under, then turned and saw me and pulled back. I knew then that I had the place they'd been using.

I pulled the fence down, took a thick branch that had fallen to the ground, weaved it through a few sections of the fence and pulled on it until it weighted the fence down and kept it at ground level. Then I put some other debris in front to prevent the goats from breaking my fix. Two or three of the goats hovered around me while I worked, occasionally nudging my arm, an attempt to distract me perhaps or just to beg for a little attention. Goats are curious animals, never satisfied to leave us alone if we're anywhere close.

With nowhere in particular that I had to be after I finished the "repair," I turned my attention to the goats. I sat on the ground and waited for them to come to me to rub their necks and jowls. Several crowded around me, butting others out of the way to get to a position in front of me. I love sitting where I can look them in the eye and see the soulfulness deep inside each animal. It's a treat to spend that kind of time with them, but such moments usually have to be stolen here and there. On this day, I had no concern for the work that was being neglected while I spent time with the animals. It was pure pleasure.

While I was occupied with a few of the younger goats, I looked up to see Teeny Tiny, one of our milk goats, head for the place in the fence where the hole used to be. She stood staring at it for a good while, then pawed at it, trying to get the branches and debris out of the way. Obviously, she's the leader of the break outs. I have suspected as much. Frustrated with my work, she gave up and turned to a broken down round bale of hay. A chunk of the bale rested on the ground, creating a small hill. She climbed on top, ready to challenge any goat who dared to get up there with her. Others grazed nearby, eating dried leaves and the occasional acorn off the ground. I sat back and watched, feeling the warm sun and breeze on my face.