Normalcy in an Abnormal Situation

With America being in the midst of what is likely the most tense time since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, I think it behooves us to take into consideration the things that are completely stable and normal—when so many things seem unstable and abnormal.

First I’ll portray some of the things that are happening here on the farm. The arrival of spring is always one of the most exciting times to interact with the animals, soil, grass, and overall, the abundance of life we call Spring.

Green grass is here—which is the harbinger of spring on a grass farm such as ours. During the winter we move the cattle through the pastures in a slow rotation similar to the faster summer rotation, but unroll large round bales of hay to feed them due to the grass being dormant. In the absence of the preferred green grass, the cows go directly to the hay in winter moves, and are considerably less excited about moving to a new pasture in winter. However, with the greening of the grass, they now move very readily when I call, spreading out over the allotted paddock to harvest the new green delicacy they love, even dancing and jumping excitedly after a move. Their enthusiasm is palpable, and moving cows becomes a thrilling experience again. The cows are completely oblivious to coronavirus, and follow their natural impulses during this time just like any other.

With warmer weather, the laying hens go back to pasture in their portable coop. During the winter the coops are parked in a sheltered area close to the buildings for protection from harsh weather, and moving back to pasture signals a major winter-to-spring transition. Being the de-buggers and insect lovers they are, one of their favorite things is to scratch through the winter dropped cow pats (manure) to find insects and earthworms. They care about insects, water, grass, their feed ration, egg laying, and simple shelter, but are not the least bit concerned about coronavirus.

Pigs, although it’s still too early—and too wet—to begin our woodlot rotation, are happy and healthy on deep bedding in the large hoop barn. Rooting and tearing, ripping and snorting as they convert the deep carbonaceous bedding into rich compost to be spread on the fields later in the season, they would likely only snort if told of the coronavirus pandemic.

The water cycle continues its relentless course. Precipitation falls from the sky, providing life-giving moisture to plants and soil, infiltrating and flowing to form streams, ponds, and rivers, only to evaporate back into the atmosphere and repeat its ever-important function. After a day of rain, we had the opportunity to see a faint rainbow late this afternoon.  “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater….” Isaiah 55:10   Regardless of the shutdown, the waters of the earth and atmosphere continue their ageless labor.

It has been said that there’s far more unseen life beneath the soil than we see above the soil, which I find quite plausible. For example, when viewed through a microscope, a mere handful of soil contains more beetles, nematodes, mycorrhizae, giberrellins, protozoa, etc. than we can imagine. This time of year while walking through the fields I enjoy occasionally flipping up a winter dropped cow pie just to see the multitude of creatures underneath who dine on it and turn it to the soil we so depend on for sustenance. These unseen-to-the-naked-eye creatures continue their quiet labor through all the craziness the human population is going through, and have not a care in the world about coronavirus.

The sun and moon stay true to their timeless routine, rising and setting on the exact moment forecast. In times past, I have enjoyed taking time to watch the sunrise and sunset, and must say, have rediscovered the serenity in doing so in the past days and weeks. Despite coronavirus, the solar and lunar systems stay right on track.

Interestingly, all of the above mentioned components of the natural world remain unaffected by this human pandemic and lockdown, which is good because they share one commonality as necessities of food production in a balanced eco-system. The world of nature—along with food-producing domesticated animals—continue their peaceful roles in producing nourishing foods that sustain us. This sustenance, when produced in tune with nature, has the ability to create in the human body a resilience to defend against the scourges of the very disease society now frets about.

In closing, allow me to mention one more element unmoved by the concern, fear, and panic in the world; the unshakeable Word of our Creator, which persists, unchanged and undying in the face of even the direst human maladies. The Rock we can always rest in, it becomes even more so during trying and troubles times. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:8. Virus or no virus, The Word endures as penned so many centuries ago; “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4

Until later, this is…The View from the Country.

Quotes worth Re-Quoting –

“America’s present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration.” ~ Warren G. Harding

“Normalcy to me is enjoying the simple things in life.” ~ Atticus Shaffer