The gentle rumble of disappearing thunder has become our lullaby this week on the farm. Summer heat reaches its breaking point and shatters across the sky in spontaneous, electric streaks. Our sheep and goats have been cowering under their tarp protection and crying out at first sight of anyone passing by. The goats and sheep are so spoiled, in fact, that I have to avoid wearing bright colored clothing on the farm. If they see me, even from hundreds of feet away, they begin a chorus of moans that rattle my maternal instincts.
Our chickens are finally moving into their newly built and luxurious chicken tractors made by Gibson Remodeling ; a father son team who consistently impress us with their beautiful carpentry and diverse knowledge base of fixing, changing, and creating. The chickens' bodies are stretching out in all directions. Their legs are growing awkwardly longer as their necks reach for the sky. Finally, after much practice, they are moving with the tractor as it rolls onto a fresh patch of grass. Chickens gather at the front of the tractor and just as the first green spears enter the structure, a frenzy of wings and beaks flutter about trying to get the first snip. Minor confrontations break out over territories, water, grass, and grain. Occasionally the runts and underdogs add a mark on their scoreboard as they catch an insect, defend it, and manage to eat it before it is stolen by a bully. Everyday another push, everyday a new adventure.
Our gardens are weighed down with heavy, beautiful summer crops. All of the exotic fruiting bodies are filling empty spaces on stalks and limbs. Tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, beans, okra, cucumbers, and melons; their incredible features of color and shape added to aromas and flavors unmatched by any other season. The summer heat has Mother Nature all wound up and the world is lush and abundant. Legions of baby frogs have taken over the isle ways and shady spots under our plants. Being so tiny makes them nearly invisible as they quickly and silently move through the greens. They've only recently sprouted the limbs they need to tackle land and they are certainly welcomed guests here. Amphibians respire partially through their skin. They serve as incredible environmental indicators; thriving only where a place is clean of chemicals and pollution. They represent a healthy ecosystem where there is water and enough vegetation to support diversified wildlife. They also eat their fair share of insects.
While there is so much life in the world, I can't help but acknowledge the presence of death. Human beings have made it common practice to disassociate themselves from the rules of nature. We take what we need with no sense of equilibrium or balance with any creature, current, or tide. Many of us believe in a human god and the binding laws of capitalism, government and exponential growth. We care very much about the survival of our own species without considering the population ups and downs of a natural ecosystem. Due to this human-centric vision, we take for granted a lot of life, but also the many deaths that are directly associated with our survival. Being a vegan or vegetarian does not leave you blameless. Living within the means of a technology culture makes you responsible for habitat loss, species extinction, an industrialized food system, pollution and a host of other man made messes. We must accept that with the over abundant life of one species there are many diversified deaths. We are responsible for what BP and so many others have done to this planet. We will only be relinquished from that guilt when we finally squash our addiction to a material culture. That goes for you and me as well.