Knee-Deep Farming

The cows are back!!

Well, technically they’re cattle… (in this case) cows and steers destined to be T-bone steaks and meatloaf. Forgive me if I call them all cows; it’s just easier.

For the past 18 years, we’ve lived on five acres just outside the city limits, across the street from a good-sized piece of undeveloped land. While our property is mostly Ponderosas with some grass, the spread we look out on is mostly short-grass prairie with a few trees. It’s been owned by a series of developers. I’m sure they have plans for high-density housing and strip malls, but one good side of the bad economy is that no bulldozers have yet arrived to spoil the peace and quiet of our country spot.

In order to save money on their taxes, these property owners run cattle on the land. (This allows them to pay taxes at agricultural rates.) Around the end of July a herd of cattle arrives to spend the waning days of summer munching grass. Sleeping with our windows open during the warm weather, we wake one morning to the gentle sound of lowing and know that the land is safe for another year.

I absolutely love this. Growing up in the suburbs of southern California, I dreamed of living on a farm. I wanted all the animals pictured in my childhood books: chickens, sheep, cows, pigs, goats… and a garden featuring straight rows of healthy vegetables.

As I got older, I learned a bit more. We won’t say the books lied, so much that they left out some very important aspects of agriculture. Not one mentioned getting up in the dark to milk the cows, or the financial devastation that results from a badly-timed hail storm. Farming is very hard work for very little pay, and I’m grateful that there are families who choose to grow our food.

Now that we have our little patch of land, I do keep hens for their eggs and fertilizer (and emotional boost), and I have a large veggie garden (planted in beds, not rows). That is plenty to keep me busy and content. I know I would never survive as a real farmer.

But hearing the cows across the street, seeing them out the window—it’s a way of enjoying the experience without doing any of the labor. I don’t own that land. I don’t own those cows. I am in no way responsible for any of it. I just get to hear them moo.

I count this as one of God’s many blessings. Pete and I are not called to be ranchers, and definitely do not have the time or resources to care for a herd of hamburgers. Yet, God knows how He created me. He gives me just enough “country” to let me dabble a bit—to wade in up to my knees but no farther. I’m so thankful!

Here it is only May, but I just looked out the window and there they were! Two months ahead of schedule, about 25 cattle are happily trotting along the fence checking out their summer digs. Later on I’ll head outside and make their acquaintance. Right now, I’m just glad they’re back.

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