Monday, November 20, 2017

Welcome Back Silent Nights of Winter

As the last group of geese fly off to warmer climates and the remaining animals prepare for the long Winter nights ahead, I fondly say goodbye to nature's obnoxious display of Spring and Summer and welcome back with loving arms the silent nights of Winter. Daylight has slowly been subtracted from our far too long Summer days when nightfall is just a blink from another exhausting day. For this new farmer, Spring and Summer is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time and adrenalin is my only energy source. At the beginning of Summer my mornings start when the sun first lights the night's sky around 4:30am and the work day ends only when the darkness returns around 9:45pm. During these days all of the creatures including myself seem to be OK with not getting enough sleep. The sun becomes our dictator and the moon is only visible to careless lovers. But as November is moving on and December is in the wings, I now can embrace those wonderful silent nights.

As the clocks go back one hour and the sun disappears before dinner time, I am finally able to be fully awake for the beauty of silence. In Fall and Winter all of the animals try to hold on to daylight as long as they can but nighttime always wins. The silence begins as the last group of ducks make their way into their duck house slowly replacing their screams of complaint with quiet reluctance. Then I take just a few moments to stand in the farm yard with the dogs and enjoy the long awaited silence of Winter. It is here in the silence that I am able to once again connect with the wind in my face, the cold air in my lungs and the overwhelming feeling of being alive in this moment. For the first time I am able to be an empty vessel if only for a brief moment. In those cherished minutes there are no thoughts of what was or what is to become, only enjoying each breath as if it were my first and only breath.

As the reality of being on the farm slowly creep back into my awareness I keep promising that I will take this moment with me and hold it. But somehow every night I return to this same spot and realize I once again need to become an empty vessel. I will breath in every silent night of winter until those obnoxious sisters Spring and Summer steal them away from me again. But for now the nights belong to me and I will cherish each as if it were my last. Oh Silent night, you are always welcome here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Farmer: Most Vital and Least Appreciated Profession of Our Time

In May I will be celebrating my 5 year anniversary of drastically changing my life forever. Back then I was a Clinical Psychology Research Assistant at Columbia University. After completing my Masters in Adult Psychopathology, I was working towards my PhD, living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and living a life that was only a dream just 10 years before that. But 5 years ago something woke up inside of me while visiting Friends and Family in Upstate New York something that laid dormant since I was a child and I remember the exact moment it happened. I was taking a casual ride through the rural farm towns of Albany and Schoharie County with my longtime friend Libby and all at once a flood of childhood memories came into my consciousness. I remembered watching The Walton’s, Little House on the Prairie, Daniel Boone. Lassie and countless Disney movies that centered around living on a farm. As we passed rural farms more and more of those memories came to light and before that ride was over new dreams started to emerge. After a short visit and driving back to NYC I realized that the dream of living on a farm was not going away and the dreams of becoming a Clinical Psychologist were being replaced with dreams of becoming a Farmer. As the days and weeks past I realized I could not keep this secret love affair to myself and started sharing my dream with my friends. It was in those first conversations that I began to see that this profession that I admired my entire life was not even considered as a profession to most of the people who were in my life at the time. In fact many thought I was simply giving up on my ambitions of becoming a Clinical Psychologist and “going out to pasture” away from any ambitions because to them Farmers are like janitors or trash collectors and no one would dream of having that profession. But rather than taking the advice of my family and friends I chose to pursue this lifelong dream and now I am living that dream which sadly so many of my friends back in NYC still do not understand. But more and more I am understanding their view and realizing that this view of the most vital and least appreciated profession of our time needs to change and it’s not just because it is now my life ambition.

Few seem to realize that Farmers play the most important role in every human life on this planet and it doesn’t matter if you live on a Farm, in a suburb or big city, if you are rich or poor, if you eat only farm fresh products or fast-food and it doesn’t matter if you are vegetarian, vegan, carnivore or omnivore. Farming is the only profession that serves everyone. Yet if the question is asked "What is the most important profession?” few if any would give “Farmer" as the answer. This is true even if we focus on the food we love. Our appreciation for that food stops at the manufacturer for that food. In the US we are all about loving labels and marketing of food products, we fall in love with brand names and the tasty products they produce but completely ignore that fact that they only exist because of farmers. The cheese maker is useless without milk and yet only about 5% of his overall profit goes to the dairy farmer while over 90% of the overall work to get that cheese is done by the farmer alone. What’s even more shocking to non-farmers is that fact that cow dairy farms are the most regulated industry which includes a mandated cap on the price of milk regardless of where that milk is going. It doesn’t matter if that milk is to be sold cheaply at a supermarket or made into the most expensive cheese on the planet. That dairy farmer must sell his milk for the same price.

To Be Continued…..

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saying Goodbye to the Last Silent Night of Winter

I know I stand alone as someone who absolutely loves the cold silent nights of Winter. It's the time of the season when November begins until March ends when the nights are long, cold and silent. This is the most relaxing time of the year for me and the only time that I can enjoy the night sky as soon as the sun fades into darkness. When all of the animals are put to bed and all of the doors and gates are locked I'll stand in the middle of the yard and look up at the night's sky. At that moment I am absolutely at peace with the world around me and the world within me. It's the silence that I love the most because it transforms me into an empty vessel. For just that moment there is no past and no future. There is only now in this moment. So I enjoy every second of silence until the world around me slowly starts to creep back in. It's usually my 3 dogs getting restless, a plane, a car, an owl or a passing deer that brings me back to reality. But for those few short moments of cold silence I am completely at peace.

Tonight our clocks spring ahead one hour and my long silent nights are flying south. Already the geese have invaded the silence of night as they arrive from the south and compete for the best nesting spots. In less than a week, daylight will dominate the darkness and work will take over where relaxation was. Soon this farm will be transformed from a silent wasteland to a loud jungle with every animal and plant scrambling to live every second as if it were their last and I will try to support them as best as I can. Soon the night will mean only sleep as fast as you can before the slave driver of daylight wakes you again.

So I will say goodbye to my silent nights of winter and quickly prepare for your obnoxious sisters Spring and Summer Nights. They will taunt me with the desire for a restful silent sleep, then take it away as soon as they give it. But I know you will return in October. When everyone else is complaining that the warm days are gone I will be celebrating your return and my wonderful silent nights of Winter.