Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA

The Value of Stillness

Don't you just hate when you type a great entry and then the computer crashes? I guess I'll try again and save this time!

It's been one of the busiest weeks in memory.  Moday was for running errands in town (20 miles one way) while Dan mowed hay.  Tuesday brought a day of canning.  Today we had to pick up feed, meat from the butcher shop, and come home and begin the process of sausage making as well as package ham & bacon. Tomorrow we will butcher chickens.  Friday we will be stuffing and packaging sausage and beginning prep for Saturday's stand.  We have a big, thick field of second cutting hay to put up as well.  To top it all off, we've been helping a friend move too, so it's no wonder I'm feeling a bit tired!

Also I've been trying to take more pictures, especially of the horses working and the different equipment we use.  Eventually I want to put it online, but the pictures are the first step.   It is a beautiful late summer day here, with temps in the lower 70's, no humidity and not a cloud in the beautiful blue sky.  I went out into the field with Dan and took a few pictures of the side delivery hay rake in use.  It dates from the turn of the century but still works great.  We pull it with a forecart so there was an extra seat for me to ride along.  It was so nice to take time and just be still while Dan drove.  It gave me time to truly appriciate the biodiversity we foster on the farm by not using chemicals or planting large monoculture crops.  As I relaxed, it was easy to take in the late summer wildflowers; jewelweed, Queen Anne's lace, goldenrod, Chinese lanterns, and many more I recognize but cannot name.  The fencerow between hayfield and pasture was stunning in the golds and purples of this time of year.  Artists know those two colors are opposites and emphasize each other, but I'm sure it was nature who taught us that.  The sound of hoofbeats, harness leather and metal machienery was soothing to me, but also allowed the creatures who share our field to get out of our path.  Goldfinches looked for bugs, replacing the red winged blackbirds which were so plentiful during the first cutting.  Butterflies took flight before the horses' hooves to alight on the freshly turned hay behind us.  A vole scurried away.  Not long after I saw a small snake slithering, possibly looking for dinner in the shape of that vole!  Crickets, believed by some to be omens of good luck, were plentiful, as were the lime green grasshoppers as long as my palm.  If you were looking at all, they were hard to miss!  The most surprising (to me) inhabitants of our field were the praying mantis.  I saw both green and brown ones, but I don't know enough about these benificial insects to know if that means two seperate species, a life stage, sex difference or just a color variant.  I do know that people pay money to release them into gardens to keep down bugs considered pests, so their abundance is a great thing for us and our crops.  While it's easy to appreciate the majesty of a bale eagle over the farm or a big whitetail buck in the hayfield in the early morning fog, these little guys I watched today are easy to overlook.  That's why I think, especially in today's world of high-speed everything, it's easy to forget the value of stillness.  

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