November 22, 2008

coexistence or keeping the outside out

What was six inches of snow yesterday is now a foot and a half today and the wind is blowing that icy dust into drifts twice that. Looks a bit like Svalbard. The snow flakes are dry and fine and are entering in to every little crack in the old outbuildings: through the vent in the hay loft, under the door in the barn - all sorts of undiscovered breaches between inside and out. I was sweeping snow off my work bench and shoveling it with the manure when I cleaned out the cows this morning. I can see this will be a challenge. At my old farm, where the tool room had 3 doors and was also the easiest accessed entrance to the goatshed, and we had - too many to count - free range bantams, keeping them out of this essential place was a battle I fought for many years. Chicken shit on nails, seeder plates and wrenches is not pretty. There were just too many people, too many tasks and too many chickens; cooperation could not be reached about a simple thing like shutting a door. And there is no reaching consensus with chickens. I gave up and moved the tool room to a less ideal space. We shall see how the challenge of snow in the outbuildings progresses. In both these cases coexistence does harm unless clear boundaries are defined and established. Like chicken shit and precious tools, snow and the inside, transgenic corn next door and my new market garden across the street will require delicate negotiations and clear boundaries to enable coexistence. Can they coexist and should they, are questions that will be on my mind as I plug holes and find fine cracks in old outbuildings.

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