The Little Red Barn

This morning I woke with steaming hot buckets of water on my mind.

Crunch, crunch, crunch went the snow under my boots, as I walked towards the barn, breathing in the cold air. It took some extra muscle to slide the frozen barn door, but with one good heave, there I was again. Bright light in my eyes, welcoming hooves clanking on wood, fresh straw, and one deep and comforting breath. I had done this familiar moment hundreds of times, yet I am always surprised by my delight.

As I scooped a little extra grain, I chatted with the goats about the unbearable temperatures and our mutual feelings of being cooped up. I unlocked the wooden gate as I shook the container of grain, and they stepped aside waiting for the ritual to unfold. As they argued over the best side of the dispenser to eat from, I ran my work glove over their fuzzy winter fur and their happy tails flickered back and forth

After several trips back and forth from barn to house, the buckets were clean and full of  hot water. Both goats immediately dipped their mouths into the steam, sucking and slurping, and then shaking off their wet beards and chins.

Pushing away fears of mice crawling in my pants, I plopped down in the straw. I closed my eyes, took in the beautiful quiet, and realized that I was actually warm. I then felt the love nibbles on my hat tassels and jacket buttons, and reached out and scratched their cheeks. Areida nuzzled her face into my arms as I scratched her neck and there she stayed for several minutes. She would occasionally peek out, re-adjust, and then back in her face would go, nestled into my arms. She was just about to settle herself down next to me, when the yipping began.

I jumped to my feet, listening as as a surge of adrenaline rushed through me. Oh my god. There were coyotes very close by. As their calls grew louder, I scrambled to open the locks on the gate, grabbed a broom and peered out the barn door. Nothing…Quiet… More adrenaline. I smacked the broom against a tall metal ornamental rooster  that stands just outside the barn, hoping to scare them off. I again peered around the next corner. There was nothing, so I embarrassingly broke into a full-out crazy run with a flailing broom at my ready. As I approached the house I turned for another look, expecting them to be right behind me. There they were, all 5 of them, running in the field away from me and the barn.

Very suddenly, this all went from frightening to exciting and I defiantly ran back out towards the barn, watching as the pack bounded in a straight line through the deep snow. They all stopped several times, looking towards me and the barn. They quickly ran out of my sight, yet continued to make noises that raised hairs on the back of my neck. I’ll admit I was relieved they were gone, but I also wished I could see more.

The little red barn never disappoints.

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Thank you to the yipping, beautiful and frightening coyotes for making my heart race and for allowing me to see you in your element. And thanks for not eating me.

Living Wabi Sabi

It is not despite our problems, but because of them that our hearts hold everything we need to be joyful.” Taro Gold

iphone fencev 040 I am going to begin with some honesty today: Our barn is really not a barn. It is only a corn crib disguised as a barn.

After spending sometime with the goats and chickens yesterday, I began feeling like a disgruntled corn crib owner. All I could see were all of the problems, and began picturing everyone else’s perfect barns.  I don’t really know who these perfect barn owners are, but I know their barns are better than mine. My thoughts quickly spiraled off into images of Animal Welfare folks coming down the driveway with their take-em-away truck because they had gotten wind of the goat turds that are intermittently found floating in water buckets and hiding in baking soda dispensers.

I suppose it could be all of those farm magazines I read… If someone was coming to my house to write a story about my farm,  I guess I would scrub that sucker down too, put diapers on all of the chickens and goats, and maybe replace the chicken feed bags that keep the wind out with a real tarp. My barn would probably look pretty darn good, in kind of an Ozarks- hillbilly sort of way.

Now, let’s rewind things a bit, to an important memory.

I could barely take it all in when my daughters and I drove up the long driveway to the old farmhouse on 1500 acres of land, and there it was… the little red barn within walking distance of the house. At the time, I knew nothing about corn cribs, so it was a barn to me. We looked at the house and I was giddy, but not as giddy as when the gentleman told me that the corn crib was apart of the agreement. He slid open the heavy old door and I could do nothing but grin. It was a real old barn with its rafters full of spider webs and the sun shining and wind blowing through the broken panes of glass of the four square windows. My senses overloaded with joy. It’s almost like I could see the chickens roosting in the rafters and the goats bedded down together in the golden straw. It was perfectly imperfect.

This memory began flickering as I was contemplating my barn dilemma at the kitchen table. At that same moment, the mailman drove up our driveway, and hopped out with a package. In that package was a book from a friend titled, Living Wabi Sabi by Taro Gold. There sat in front of me a book about an ancient Japanese Buddhist philosophy centering around “…the oddities, the perfectly imperfect uniqueness of you and me and everything…the value of objects, events, and the entirety of life “as is” unpolished, unpredictable, and natural.” It is a book about the empowerment of imperfection.

The book begins with the author’s grandma telling him, ” You will grow to be even happier than you can possibly imagine today.” She was right. After reading the book that same morning, I felt tremendous joy about who I am and the life that I am living.

There is so much beauty in everything that is imperfect, including you and me. The broken window at the peak of barn is like my anxiety, or the open slats that have to be covered to keep the wind out are like my imperfect body, or the never-ending shit that is everywhere, and I mean everywhere (please be careful  where you put your hand) is like the poo of life that just won’t go away no matter how much you try to scrub it. Scrape away one giant pile of frozen shit one day, undoubtedly there will be a new one soon there after.

I guess the more I love and accept my Wabi Sabi corn crib, the more I can love my Wabi Sabi self.

I am including a video of a group of people in Paraguay, South America that seems to embody the Wabi Sabi philosophy. It’s so beautifully imperfect.