Last Thanksgiving I spared the life of my lady turkey, Clyde. Her boyfriend, Bonnie, was delicious. My partner encouraged me to slaughter her, but something in me could not do it. I had grown to truly love this big, dumb bird. Which is why her very sudden disappearance around Christmas was so disappointing. It was a mystery—she was gone without a trace. I searched for feathers, watched the buzzards making their rounds day after day, posted to my neighborhood message board “Missing Turkey”, hoping to uncover any key to her fate. Alas, I could not.
We joked about her absconding with the ducklings who had disappeared at the same time. About her finding a new boyfriend and shacking up elsewhere.
Then, the first week of this year Rosco, my beloved canine companion fell deathly ill very suddenly. I was in the emergency vet office examining room, sobbing uncontrollably, when my partner sent me a text: CLYDE JUST FLEW OVER THE GREENHOUSE! It was the best news on a horrible day (Rosco pulled through). Weeks passed, and I began to doubt the report. Maybe she was pulling my leg, trying to cool my distress. And then one morning there she was, just casually drinking out of the goat trough, pecking at feed. And then as suddenly as she had appeared, she was gone again. She made a couple more appearances, but no big comeback.
Until Monday the 1st of February. I noticed her ambling about, and then I saw more movement. I could not believe my eyes. She had returned home with 10 BABY TURKEYS.
I don’t know how to properly express the incongruousness of this. She somehow managed to find a mate, lay and hatch eggs, and then walk them all the way back to the farm. I truly do not understand it, but am ecstatic nonetheless. This unexpected gift has made me proud beyond words for this wonderful bird. She’s a miracle, truly. And after last year's turkey trauma, this is a true salve.
In other news, my mama Muscovy duck dropped the ball tonight on responsible mothering technique (not the first time), and rather than losing more ducklings, I’ve taken on a few studio mates for the next week or so. Absolutely no one is complaining.
The goats are all pregnant, which means of course more kids and more milk in about 5 months. The “date nights” are pretty special, mainly consisting of me chauffeuring a goat in my vintage Mercedes and then picking her up the next morning with the windows down, as she stinks of filthy billy goat, sure sign of a solid date. A sealed deal. A successful "business" transaction.
In other other news, the farm is finally financially actually breaking even, which once seemed such a pipe dream that I scoffed at myself for even daring to dream it. Life is easier now, but not because of the financial security. It is the emotional/physical balance that has been struck up.
In 2015, a shift occurred. The routine is no longer an imposition, but rather a life choice. There is joy in the work, solace even. My mornings might consist of milking & chores, watering the garden, packing up eggs & produce for market, treating a sick animal, trimming some hooves, sneaking in a little workout in the greenhouse, and then heading to my office where I inevitably arrive on the verge of being late, every time. At night I do the routine in reverse, then spend my later hours working on the bath and body care products I've been formulating, responding to emails and writing (I'm really bad at this part). Collapsing into bed exhausted, sun kissed and wind burned, stubborn dirt embedded beneath nails, belly full of greens and cheese and eggs and meats coaxed by hand from this little patch of earth… It’s breathtakingly beautiful. And rich and complex. And hard earned.
The realization passes over me some mornings, like the shadow of a cloud passing overhead or the stark white stamp of a moon on a day lit sky, with no small measure of astonishment-- that this life did not "happen to me". It has been carefully curated, wrought from sheer will, and unbelievable community support, and of course madness.
And after a few years of constant struggle and doubt, I can say unequivocally that I am exactly where I want to be. Right here, right now.
And I hope you are too.