That’s How Simple I Am

April 17, 2014 § 5 Comments



I was up and out before sunrise, my path to the woodshed lit by the 4/5 moon. Cold, it was, no more than a dozen degrees, the ground a patchwork of snow and winter-dead grass. Hard to believe we’ll be grazing in only a month. I loaded the cookstove, then strolled back outside and down to the tomato house, where the chickens are stationed for the next few weeks, until we knock together a suitable summer coop (the old, cobbled-together hovel of the past few years was finally dismantled last fall, the hens cheering with each swing of the wrecking ball). I’d forgotten to close them in last night, and if they’re allowed to range in the morning hours they lay wherever they darn well please, which means that in six months or so the boys are going to stumble on a clutch of eggs and commence to shoot them with the .22 before we can put a stop to their antics and the whole place is gonna stink to high heaven. There you have it: Rural livin’ in a nutshell. Or eggshell, I guess. Heck, I’d rather have ‘em shooting rotten eggs than playing video games. I think.

This morning I frost-seeded the winter paddock, along with a couple areas we ran the pigs through last fall. I like frost seeding when there’s a little snow on the ground, so you can check coverage as you go. We’ve been using the pigs to clear for many years, and it’s remarkable what they’re capable of. Indeed, the longer I live with animals, the more remarkable they become, particularly as we refine our practices in ways that liberate them to express their true natures. The same is true of humans, of course, for the people who get to live remarkable lives are those who, due to simple circumstance, dogged hard work, or some combination of the two manage to walk a path illuminated by principles and passions. I’m thinking that’s something worth remembering, if only to remind myself from time-to-time.

Penny and I are jamming on the as-yet-untitled Chelsea Green book. Every morning, we gather at the computer for an hour or two, scrolling through her collection of 8,000-and-something photos, matching image to text. And right now, she’s reading the entire manuscript, all 100,000-words of it, and making what I’m sure are copious and insightful notes in the margins. Next week, I’ll incorporate her comments and we’ll finish selecting photos, and I’ll send the whole shootin’ match off to my exceptionally gracious, kind, and generous editor (Makenna, you’re reading this, right?). And then… well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

As much fun as it’s been to write this book – and it’s been a lot of fun – I’m ready to reclaim a bit of balance to my days, which have been tilted steeply in the direction of desk-bound sloth. My body actually feels real good, thanks to my commitment to do something vaguely yoga-ish on a daily basis. But the litany of outdoor tasks is mounting, as evidenced by one of Penny’s infamous lists. She jots down those tasks so effortlessly – build layer coop, plant trees, finish clearing farm road woods, shore up small greenhouse, finish firewood, spread amendments, and on and on – and I look at her words and squint a bit and try to imagine them struck through by a blunt-tipped pencil. Every so often, I’ll add a task I’ve already completed, just so I can have the pleasure of crossing it out. You know, like wake up, start fire, eat breakfast.

It’s true, you know. That’s how simple I am.


Hey, I haven’t showed you this in a while! 





§ 5 Responses to That’s How Simple I Am

  • Eumaeus says:

    Yep, that was me frost seeding landio about a month ago and yesterday I rode the lawn tractor before things got outta hand. Wonder how much latitude there is between Indiana and Ya’ll.
    Funny shooting eggs. Nothing like a good stinky goose egg. Arabs throw shoes at politicians. I believe Americans had it right when we used to throw rotten eggs. That’ll get em.
    May you carry on with increased vigor and productivity, crossing things off your list, further liberating your own ‘humanness’ and choosing your pictures. May your days of desk sloth be limited. I’m still looking forward to being ‘enabled’ to buy your book. Is it really a year I have to wait?

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Home Grown is out in Sept; Chelsea Green in Jan. So not that long! Try not to let the anticipation keep you up nights.

  • We can drive each other crazy with our ambitions. And yet, we keep on going. Must be a good match. That’s how I think of my husband and myself and you reminded me of that. Thanks as always!

  • ncfarmchick says:

    Adding things to a list just so they can be crossed off? I thought I was the only one who did that! Helps you realize on days when you think you haven’t made much progress that you probably have just not in the direction you thought you were headed on when you woke up. I concur with the preference of rotten egg shooting to video games. You can wash off stinky egg smell but the effects of video games would be a little harder to eliminate, I think. Hope things start warming up for you all up there soon!

  • Cool seeing you with such a handseeder!
    There’s an old, dereliced one at the “company” I am planning on taking over/continueing/breathing new life into.
    It’ll need some TLC, but I can allready see myself using it. What did you use it for?

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