Adjusting to a new life rhythm

One of the most thought-provoking things I have read in a long time comes from young Sam Gribley of My Side of the Mountain.  Surviving in the Catskill Mountains by hunting and gathering, he muses about how you don’t really notice the weather until you live in it.  Even then, long before this move, before our chickens, before my first real garden, I began thinking how irrelevant the weather has become in modern life.

[Missing picture here]

Some of it is because of technology.  The light bulb has decreased our dependence on the sun, heat and air conditioning has allowed us to regulate our immediate environment despite what nature has in store for us, and the local news has relieved us of the need for learning to read the wind and the clouds.

Some of it is because of our changing economy.  My grandfather was a farmer and to the day he died he stayed up to watch the weather and then went to bed.  An agricultural society depends on the sun and the rain for its daily survival.  We notice droughts when the city imposes water restrictions and we are no longer allowed to water the lawn or wash our cars.  We notice floods when neighborhoods are evacuated.  But for the most part, awareness of the year’s rainfall remains on the periphery of our knowledge, something stored away for small talk in the checkout aisle but rarely personal or meaningful.

The sun itself has lost its significance, for we now schedule our days by the ticking of a clock rather than the rising and setting of the sun.  Surrounded by technology telling us the time, we no longer need to look at the sky to see that it is getting late.

When we moved out here, I knew we were in for many changes.  That the very rhythm of our lives would be altered.  Our work would no longer fall neatly into a planned schedule, looking much the same from day to day, week to week, month to month.  Instead, spring would bring planting and (hopefully) kidding.  Summer would bring weeding and fertilizing and fresh pasture for the animals.  Fall would bring the harvest.  And winter would bring some rest and time for all that we just couldn’t get to earlier in the year.

Now, however, I am aware of the approaching dusk.  I watch the sky as the sun sinks lower on the horizon.  The afternoon turns to early evening, the shadows lengthen and it does not matter what I am doing, it is time to prepare for the coming of night.  Dishes will be left, dinner held, games paused because we are now in a race with the sun.  Before the light changes, before the color of the sky deepens and before the sky is painted with fire, I must catch the cat, bring in the dogs and lock up the chickens.  The coming of night brings not only the close of day, but danger as well.

Coyotes are foremost on my mind, for ours seem bold.  They are a threat to the chickens, the dogs, the cat and even the children.  But we also have bobcats, cougars, foxes and a seemingly endless list of animals that would love to prey on our chickens.  And almost all of them are called out of their sleep by the setting of the sun.

Driving home from Lincoln, I realize I misjudged how long the various errands would take.  I pull into the drive with an odd sense of urgency as I give instructions to get the children and shopping in as quickly as possible.  The last rays of the sun disappear behind the trees as I scoop up the cat on the way back from the chicken coop.  Hunter turns and strains against the leash, looking back across the cornfield toward the treeline that marks the river.  A low growl catches in his throat and I turn to look.  The trees look ominous.  Like a dark hole cut out of a blackening sky.

I quicken my step toward the house.  Hunter comes along, but his ears are erect, his tail held high.  He is on full alert, staring into the enveloping darkness.  I don’t know what he perceives, but I trust his senses and appreciate his presence.

Inside, I turn the lock, release the dog and smile at the children.  We’re home.  We’re safe.  We’re in for the night.


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18 Comments on "Adjusting to a new life rhythm"

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belinda
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I remeber what it was like when we moved to the edge of town. i was 15 and newly married,yes!!! Anyway,I could hear the crickets having lived in town my entire life I could not sleep, Therefore my new husband got so sleep deprived he wou;d take me to mama’s so I couldnt hear noises. Well years later we moved 15 mi out in the woods and about 25 mi. from town, Being a small town it pretty much rolled up the streets at dark. So when it got dark it was Dark. Let me tell you they was way… Read more »
Dana
Guest

It does get dark out here, but the stars are magnificent. We’ll see what spring brings in the way of crickets. I remember them being seemingly deafening on camping trips!
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Homeschooling in the popular culture =-.

ChristineMM
Guest
A wonderful post. Enjoyed your writing. Thank you for this! I’m in a suburb. Weather and time of day don’t matter due to modern technology. We need money to pay for it all though. Life is defined by work schedules. Employment issues affect daily survival in a certain way, we need money to pay for the heating oil, need money to replace the broken furnace, need money for a reliable vehicle to drive us to our jobs. (Public transportation is not an option in the suburbs.) One day I went to our unfinished attic. It was cold. I realized how… Read more »
Dana
Guest
It is somewhat of a facade! Great illustration. When we got stuck in a ditch, a kindly neighbor gave us some advice about just how thin that veil is. We can get snowed in. They were snowed in three days, and they have four wheel drive AND a tractor. Actually, his tractor is the one that grades the roads out here! The power can go out, sometimes for days, because the service vehicles can’t get through. So you need bottled water and a heat source independent of electricity, because the coming of winter is an emergency situation. You need to… Read more »
April
Guest

Hey Dana: crazy homeschool lady with chickens and coyotes

You’re welcome!

; )

Dana
Guest

I’ve never been so happy for someone to call me names on my blog, before, April. Thank you!
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Homeschooling in the popular culture =-.

Susan R
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I remember those days… especially dealing with coyotes and stray dogs. I had a loaded rifle behind my bedroom door from the time I was 8- if you hear barking in the middle of the night, you throw up the bedroom window, lean out and holler, then fire a shot into the air. I could do it in my sleep. It also discouraged teens from stealing gas. Let’s face it- if it takes the police at least 30 minutes to even get to your house, you are On Your Own. This means everyone owns a gun and knows how to… Read more »
Dana
Guest

That’s what I’m hoping for my children. Well, maybe not the loaded gun in the bedroom part, but the take care of yourself rural mentality. 🙂
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Homeschooling in the popular culture =-.

Zayna
Guest

That was beautifully written Dana.

Your recent posts have given me plenty of food for thought.

For years we’ve talked about moving out of the city, raising some small livestock and maybe even getting “off the grid”…but the conversation of coyotes never came up.

😉

Dana
Guest

We thought about them. There were around where we used to live, too. But there are still all kinds of things you think you think about, but don’t really understand the implications of until you actually deal with it.

And if that is truly what you guys want to do, I hope it works out for you! We’d like a windmill, though actually going off-grid isn’t anything I’ve seriously considered. I think my husband has, though.
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Homeschooling in the popular culture =-.

Susan R
Guest

Speaking of coyotes- they actually released coyotes into the woods where I used to live to try to bring down the deer population- now instead of gardens being eaten by deer, the livestock are being attacked by coyotes.

That’s gov’t for ya’- the simple solution would have been to allow hunters to take care of overpopulation- the world needs more trail bologna!

kat
Guest
Whenever we head up to Maine for the summer our awareness kicks in, we note the moment our eyes hit the water what the tides are doing. Even the 5 year old can tell me if the tide is going in or out (look at the boats on their moorings to see which way they are being pulled). On the farm we are constantly out in the weather and our activities are determined by precipitation, temp, and bug activity. I can’t wait to live on our farm full time and have promised myself to take a long walk every day… Read more »
Dana
Guest

Yes, the walks are lovely. And what I love most is that the children, especially the smaller ones, just automatically start getting dressed to come along on chores.
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Book Giveaway! =-.

Dimes2Vines
Guest

Dana that was beautiful!
Our family had a major life change 2 yrs ago when we moved to west Tx to start a vineyard and I had never heard a coyote before and now they are in the fields surrounding our house!! Thankfully our dogs keep them at bay or at least so far have and we have not lost any chickens or our family milk cow. But, I have heard they will attack them!!!!
The seagulls of Alabama were not nearly so ominous!
Have a great day!
Dina-Marie

momanna98
Guest

Ugh! I hate the coyotes! We moved to the country 1 1/2 years ago, and I still freak out when I hear them. Of course, it doesn’t help that I fear what will happen if they manage to get into our barn.

Carol J. Alexander
Guest

Hi Dana,
I just stopped by from the Homesteading Carnival. Your post reminded me of many years ago when we bought our first home. We were used to living in giant concrete apartment complexes and bought a little place in an old subdivision. I remember those first nights going to bed and actually hearing the crickets! I felt like I was camping.! Now, of course, we live many, many miles from the city and enjoy our modest acreage with not just our farm animals and pets, but the wild animals as well.
Blessings,
Carol