A hole in a bucket
I ran over a five-gallon plastic bucket with my tractor and tore a rent in its side. Using it to haul feed or water was no longer viable, but it still could be turned over and sat on while bottle feeding calves. Over time, however, the tear bulged under the weight (reader discretion advised) and so yesterday morning when I went to move the bucket to the next pen, a cat crawled out. For a brief time, he had found comfort under the bucket which was under me.
The emerging cat set in motion another ordinary day on the farm. Usually my mind wanders and I rarely notice the going’s on around me, but the cat trick got my attention. I noticed Lady Jane Gray as she tight-rope walked the gate in front of me. My cats want to be close to me, for Hank jumped up on my lap and his brother Harry clawed at my back. With cat in front of me, cat behind me, cat under me and cat on me, I was compelled to see cats that morning.
My dog Buck had been beside me, but I wasn’t paying attention. Buck’s proximity was more selfish I concluded; he wanted to lick the milky lips of the calves. The calves for their part were not selfless either. While Buck licked, they sucked on his ear!
Calves, cats and dog surrounded me, but there was more. In one of the pens, a hen scratched away, making a nest so she could lay her daily egg. And then I remembered the family of foxes that lived under the feed bunk, the coon that eats out of the cat bowl on the front porch, the possum who quietly visits the chicken yard to clean up the leftover mash.
I thought about the Canadian geese pair down by the creek and the wood duck hen with her 12 or so babies paddling behind her. Overhead, the great blue herons glide in to fish and the red-tailed hawks squawk at the intrusion. Every morning, a small herd of deer pass from the woods to the pasture and yesterday I saw a lone coyote. At dusk, a skunk crisscrosses the field across the road on her journey to the creek. All this methodical animal world going about its business owing some of its well-being to me, but not all of it, gave me pause. Into that moment I saw life’s perfection emerge for a split second; and though it all began with a hole in a useless bucket, it ended filling me up!
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.