homestead story

     Spring revisited our land late this year, just as we were leaving for a short trip. Chickens were fully grown but acting like crazed hatchlings since we let them roam free, seedlings were newly in the ground, a half dozen projects were left partly done. The land felt like it was just starting to bloom.
I’ve come to believe traveling is unnatural in some way. If you really live somewhere, you leave a part of yourself behind when you go.The more invested in our homestead I become, the more it feels like I have to break myself up into pieces as I go. “I can’t take the compost part with me, defiantly not the chicken coop-cleaner part.”
Its hard to explain this state of affairs to love ones. “Really, I miss you, I want to come see you – I just can’t stand to leave home, you see part of my spirit is committed to feeding chickens.” This is especially true in the summer, with so much still to do on the land.
At this point I think we need about five more years to cultivate free space and build our soil to the point where its producing the way it can. Any weekend away from the soil is like time away from a hungry child. I’m going to start restricting travel to the winter months, when the land sleeps – perhaps fitfully – like a baby.
This trip included a visit with childhood friends, it felt like a way to fertilize the grown up me. Seeing old faces anew, revisiting memories, seeing how I’ve changed and how I haven’t. I guess I need this kind of renewal, strange and difficult though it can feel at times. Feeding the tap root of me.
     I remember returning home after visiting the same town when my Dad died. The land was gray, the garden fence only partly done, the fridge had turned off days before, saturating the house in rotting stink. That was over a year ago. That was a car wreck and an accident with a chainsaw ago. Its good to come home and find the land shining brighter than when we left. Maybe there’s more of me here now, I know its happier. Maybe my own spirit is part of the brightness I see.
Our dog Bella missed the land, she frolicked like a pup when I let her out of the car. She got a special treat when Terry asked me to trap a gopher. It was the quickest kill yet. Set the trap, walk into the house and it went off. Bella could barely contain her excitement. It usually takes a half hour of savoring to eat a good sized gopher, this one was gone in two gulps.

This was the first time I used a new technique to care for the spirit of the gopher taught me by the spirit of the land. She and other spirits let me know that rather than waiting until the trap was sprung, I could prepare for the gophers death by journeying to the spirits before I set the trap. A spirit showed up immediately to ensure the care of the gopher. When I journeyed to its spirit after the trap was sprung there was nothing for me to do.
Of course that makes sense, rituals to prepare for a hunt are as important, if not more important than rituals of gratitude and psychopomp that may follow afterwards. Each new lesson is flavored with a touch of “how could I have missed that!” My skull is at least as thick now as when I left.
I know it will take a few days for us all to re-assemble ourselves. Tadg has traveled a lot this lately for a just having been out on the planet for 3.5 years. He seems so much more his old self today, as if he left a bit of himself behind too. We’re all looking forward to a late hot summer vacation, here at home with every bit of ourselves.

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