Saturday, March 23, 2013

Snow and Silence

Our White Christmas came three months too late.  After two days of dire threats of a terrible snow storm, fluffy flakes began to gently drift to the ground on Friday afternoon.  Everything became still and hushed, the birds and squirrels snugly tucked away among the tangled branches of the hedgerows.  The usual sounds of traffic were absent since everyone had rushed home at noon to avoid slick roads.

As I sat there watching the snow gather on branches and cover my spring flowers in this unusual silence, I thought about how some noises are deemed acceptable in town and others are not.  The roar of a motorcycle, a screaming siren, or the wail of the train horn blowing go unnoticed where the crow of a rooster or the bleat of a baby goat would, at the very least, be a cause for attention.

There was a time when it was allowed, even encouraged, for each and every person to provide what they could for themselves.  Thousands of eggs, tons of fresh vegetables, and gallons of milk were produced, consumed, and shared in the backyards of homes everywhere.  This food was cheaper and healthier on every level from the personal to the ecological.  After all, how can the carrot from a thousand miles away possibly be better than the carrot next door?

Unfortunately, today's views and laws make it difficult to return to this gentler and more sustainable way to produce food.  We, as a population, have become so removed from our food that many of us don't know where it comes from and we like it that way.  "No smelly, loud animals for us, thank you.  No untidy gardens in the front yard.  We're civilized and the "hippies" who want to do those things can just move to the country."

Is that really true?  Can we move to the country?  As we discovered during our adventures in Hedgewyck and Thistleglade, rural living is not necessarily sustainable either.  We used so much energy and many resources to maintain ourselves out there that we don't need to use here.  We are close to everything, including neighbors to share any extra we may have (there's always extra on a farm, no matter how small).  How is having two goats different than having two Great Danes?  There will be no barking at night and one doesn't have to worry about getting bitten... although the rose bushes aren't safe.  Do chickens smell more than the semi truck blowing black clouds of exhaust into the air?

It's probably bringing you that carrot from a thousand miles away.

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