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Contemplating My Place on Earth

The Trail Home

When I look at our farmstead from a distance I am struck by the simple nature of it. Even though it has evolved from it's origin more than 100 years ago there is a marked simplicity to our style of farming, and hence, to our place on earth. Rural philosopher Paul Gilk would refer to our farming methods as feminine in nature, with an emphasis on a framework of nurturing. We have beasts, in our case Normande cross dairy cattle, and we utilize grazing in as many months of the year as possible, normally from part of April to late November or early December. We have never put a plow to our farm since we bought it in 1989. I could go on about our system of management intensive grazing but I won't. I won't include an image of our 110 milk cows, 35 breeding age heifers, and 10 randy breeding bulls, grazing their daily allotment of grass on a pristine August morning after the milk has been harvested in our little swing 12 milking parlor that was built in 1997 after straight line winds took down our traditional red dairy barn. I should say, I won't include such an image in this writing but you are bound to see such a pastoral scene in a future writing, and I am certain it will stir you to see it. This article is to emphasize the simplicity of our farm,and of our lives. When I knocked on the door to approach the owner of the farm we would eventually come to call our own I was a younger man, naive and brash. I was determined to farm in this area where my ancestors had, and I had heard that this farm was likely to be on the market soon. "My name is Greg Galbraith and my mother grew up in the area on my grandfathers dairy farm," I told him, "if you ever consider selling I would be interested in buying this farm". The rest, as the cliche' goes, is history. Time has flown, 2 children have been born, raised, and their careers elsewhere have begun, my son David has decided to continue farming, and the transition process is slowly developing.

There have been dairy cows on this place for more than 100 years, so the hustle of morning and evening chores has taken place ... 365 x 100 x 2 = 73,000 times. We have been but a small part of that since 1989. But from this humble place we have learned to work with nature rather than battle her. We have learned about the land, life and death. We've learned to treasure our free time, write poetry, play music together, create fabric art, make quilts, paint landscapes, and grow enormous onions. And I believe it is the work that we have done on a daily basis on this place on earth that is reflected in all of these acts, for I believe art arises from ones work. We follow in the footsteps of those who went out on a cold January morning to hand milk a dozen cows in 1940. We walk past the spot where a previous owner lay on the ground after the top rung of the wooden silo that was built into the corner of the barn gave way, and he breathed his last after years of daily labor. At night we sleep in our bedroom which was once the front parlor, a place for weddings and funerals. We create our own history of this place every day. And so it goes....

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