we can’t help but say “y’all”

by Common Hands

It’s been awhile, big changes are underway and Dan and I have flown the coop for the winter months. Out migration has lead us from northern pastures for the arid horizons down south, in Manor, TX just 20 miles east of Austin. We have entered a fascinating microcosm of people, plants and animals. Everywhere else to look is gray, brown, dry and more dry (though the garden is marvelously green). I like to sense the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in the landscape, north and south, to examine the different rocks and minerals around us, and the slightly altered flora and fauna. 

There are 400 ducks here, to say the least, plus geese, quail, guinea hen, chickens and babies of all kinds. Even met a turken the other day! Rounding out the animal farm are cows, horses, donkeys, boarish pigs and of course, scarce cats and a pack of dogs. A goose, “gooseman” who has taken it upon himself to father and protect (sometimes violently nipping at heels) all the baby ducklings. Jaja, the pig, whose best friend is a black lab Charlie. A “crazy duck” recovering from some bad medicine. Together, they all compose a kingdom. A permaculture kingdom, where extra effort is taken to use the abundance of what’s around us, through innovation and resourcefulness, to rely less and less on outside sources. 

Though there are many differing, and sometimes clashing, personalities in one place…there is a beautiful energy created by all the living furs and feathers, in all their cackling and quacking, hissing and snorting, mooing and cooing. And in their differences, they are all kind, looking out for one another. Around every turn of the corner, I feel blessed to enter the world of some meandering, meditating creature. Perhaps I’ll be allowed to enter a narrative or dialogue, some fact or fiction imagined, for how can we truly know what’s spoken in the radiating spheres of existence surrounding. Or perhaps its the “tuning in” that we’ve lost somewhere along the way.

As it works out, we’ve come to the right place. Folding right away into the family and daily rhythm, we’re getting a good idea of what it feels like to be “wwoofers” ourselves, and what kinds of qualities, communication and leadership might be needed for volunteers arriving at the farm to feel comfortable, confident, and encouraged to take initiative. It is always a good exercise to practice awareness and attention to detail when entering a new system, be it a farm or any organization. It is a process of refining first impressions, building upon transmitted information with one’s own opinions and input, and not letting any perception harden, become stale or singular. An alchemy; the farm is truly comprised of the contributing workers, those who make it unique, and constantly changing.

As always, there is a tension between the present needs and circumstances of my immediate environment and the pull of outside news and information. I could literally become absorbed in the needs of the creatures around, the possibility in every interaction, all thats to learn and to accomplish. But there are other realities. Not speaking personally, per se, but of the bizarre politics spinning plates around us. Last year was characterized by riots, protests, upheaval, and unrest; not just in whole populations, but also tectonically… as with the tsunamis and earthquakes. The earth and it’s people are all shook up! And now, it seems that a new fear is sweeping those in power, a fear that people are beginning to think and do for themselves, that control of these forces is no longer so easy…As we begin 2012, I am eager to see how that energy is utilized and dispersed.

So here’s the the new year (more appropriately, the Chinese New Year)! Updates about our CSA and a new website with information, COMING SOON

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