Friday, June 17, 2005

Hard Hearted

It looks like the chicks are three in number. Although we would have said none earlier, so we’ll leave those other eggs in for awhile. That is far from a successful hatching, but it is way better than none. Although I still don’t know what I did wrong.

And that phrase, ‘what I did wrong’, along with a few other things in this life, have led me to thinking a lot lately about hardness of heart, and what it might be, and what it isn’t.

I believe life on the farm puts one in closer contact with the nitty gritties of life. Or, since I did once have a life other than this one on the farm, I could also put it as, a lot of people live lives that are remarkably insulated from little ‘facts of life’ things like life, death, & sex that on the farm are right out there baby -- you can’t miss them here. Marx might have recognized it in the worker’s alienation from what he produced. There is no alienation or insulation on the farm.

We have a turtle project going this summer. Whenever we find a turtle, we bring it home, put it in a box until it is named, we try to determine its age and sex, paint its name on its side, then release it. Daughter may be keeping a record, I’m not sure. At this moment we have two turtles, one male and one female. Last night elder daughter said, “Oh, I think they are trying to mate.” She’s 9. Her sister, 8, looked in, “Yep.” Just is. NBD

We are not insulated from mistakes and responsibility here on the farm. If the chicks didn’t hatch, what exactly went wrong. Taking responsibility and FIXING IT is vital to our well-being. Placing blame is not productive. Daughter’s knee injury wasn’t just an accident, wasn’t “no one’s fault” -- it was the end result of her choices and we hope that next time she’ll make better choices. If the hothouse does not get watered, it is no surprising accident that all the plants inside die.

The butcher doesn’t work behind a closed door here on the farm. There is no conveniently not looking so as to not see on the farm because cause and effect are pretty direct.

Sure, there are things beyond our control, but damn few. And what is in our purview, we don’t tend to give up.

So on the farm we get used to dealing with these things, things as mystical as life and death and sex. And that we don’t have a big visible reaction to it might seem to be a hard heart. But really, our hearts are not hardened. Some of it is simply that we see through the illusion -- there is a continuous cycle, not a past and future timeline. Some of it is that it isn’t an amusement park ride for us -- it is everyday life. There will be gains and there will be losses, and we know it.
Our heart is not shown by a big emotional reaction (although yes, we may have them), but in our choices in the future. How much I care that our geese were killed by feral dogs is shown by my lack of tolerance for any wandering dog. That sort of thing.

Which brings me around to another thing -- people do what they really want to do, no matter what they say they always wanted to do. But that is surely another train of thought to catch on some other day.


Lost said...

It's not hardhearted, it's just practical. If you spent all your time wringing your hands over everything that died or celebrating madly everything that is born you wouldn't get anything done. *shrug* In your life, practical means everyone eats and is healthy.

Deb said...

How true. I knew how much my kids had observed and learned when my now-eight year old son said "Mom, I think the cats are having S-E-X" (He spelled it out like that!) They've experienced the deaths of chickens, kittens, toads, and a horse, and have no qualms about butchering meat chickens this year. From these experiences I think they have developed a compassion and reverence for life that they would not have otherwise.