Fun Fact: Cows spend up to eight hours a day chewing their own cud.
Jon always gets a little butt-hurt about the fact that I don’t spend much time writing about what he actually does on the farm, which is, in truth, a hell of a lot more than I do. He maintains all of the equipment because he is a mechanical genius. He can fix anything. I’m trying to talk us into buying a vintage stove from an antique shop on Orange Circle in Southern California, and he’s planning on doing the repairs. He also spends a lot of time hauling gravel because he’s working to make the roads on the farm serviceable in heavy equipment so that our crew doesn’t get the snot beaten out of them every single day. He cuts trail. He trims trees. He sprays. He welds trailers. He bull-dozes. He just bought a road grader. He fixes water pumps. He puts up flagpoles. He also clears trees to make our hay fields larger because he’s kind of obsessed with topping our next-door neighbor’s ridiculously beautiful winter wheat field. Men.
He spends a lot of time making nice with neighbors, which sounds like I’m being snarky and I suppose I kind of am, a little bit, only because I’d rather he come home and make nice with me instead, but making nice with the neighbors is really important in SW Missouri, and I really suck at it. So he’s our household diplomat.
He also cuts hay. A lot of hay. So much hay it’s hardly even fathomable. It’s a multi-day process that always ends with a long, long day that trickles into the three or four a.m. hour. He cuts square bales and round bales and wraps for silage, which is beautiful and smells so wet and wonderful and it makes our barn feel ripe and reproductive when the weather turns sour.
His latest big project is an oat field. He cleared different sections at different times and treated the soil with a couple variable processes, namely experimenting with drainage and fire to fix nitrogen. Then some dude came in and plugged the seeds in perfect, evenly spaced rows, which is a true engineering feet but also kind of eery and beautiful all at once.
You know that dizzying feeling that you get when you pass an orchard along the side of a highway and your eye can’t quite grab a single row? That’s how it feels to look at this field.
Later, it will be cut and formed for hay to feed the cows through the winter when the ground freezes and the fescue in their fields dies back. Though they never graze the live oats, the deer love it, and my God I love to watch them. A few nights ago, I walked out to the oat field with Pax. There must have been ten or fifteen deer grazing in the far corner of the field. For a long time, I just stood silent and watched them. They stood silent and watched me.