I climb into trees, run after goats, carry 25kg and even 40kg grain bags, but not every day. I slip on muddy paths and fall, tear my skin on thorns, get electric shocks, but not every day. I drop my tools, my gloves, forget to gather my baskets and buckets, have to retrace every single step, but not every day. I talk to the goats, to the cats and the chickens, to the plants, I sing to myself silently as I walk and louder in the car although I know that it is not remotely soundproof, sometimes I sing to the animals too. I talk to the birds, and, as I learned from my country grandmother a long time ago, I cut up cheese rind in tiny pieces and mix that with second-hand fat for their dinner, there is a pair of binoculars on the kitchen table to get a closer view of them as they eat, my favourites now as when I was a child, the blue tits, such exquisitely drawn little creatures. This winter has been very mild, no chilblains, no cracked skins on my thumbs, I remember one single day when the ground was frozen solid and it was suddenly easy to push the wheelbarrow loaded with the goats’ daily greens. I cut briars full of thorns planted in all possible angles that sometimes pierce through my thick leather gloves, nothing is intrinsically good or bad so thanks to those thorns my big daily bundles that the goats love passionately hold nicely together, in my arms, on my back, on my head, in the wheelbarrow.
There is still plenty of hay so most days in this January when it is difficult to imagine that Summer will come round again, I am grateful for the last long Summer full of dry days for cutting long grass, turning long grass, collecting long grass to feed the goats in the time of no growth. It is hard daily work but lovely chosen work, and I believe necessary work for my balance, for my head, for knowing my place in the universe. Some days as I sit in the shed I wish that the wood would get itself into the basket and carry itself to the stove side and when I get back inside I would rather nap than study and sometimes that’s exactly what I do.
Since yesterday there is a promise of Spring in the light and a million or more stars in the night sky but I am yawning into an early night in bed not long after the children disappear, I am still gathering my strength, plotting my Spring.