Farm perks abound this time of year


Farm Perks. Noun. (1) the little things that bring joy to a farmer; (2) the special things that are unique to farm life.

September and October can be the busiest months on a farm. Here at Nightfall, we’re at max capacity, with sheep, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys,and laying hens grazing on pasture. We’re starting to make more trips to the butcher, farmers markets are still in full swing, and we’re making plans for fall (which trees still need to be cut for firewood? Which ram should we breed to our ewes. When?). We’re trying to fit in a few more big projects, like a new pump house for the well.

These busy times also bring quiet moments of joy.

We recently decided it’s a must for our mental — and physical — health that we stop and smell the proverbial roses. (We actually only have a few roses here on the farm …).

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We’re making a point to pause in our days and acknowledge the small, intangible blessings that the farm brings to us. Here are a few examples that we’d like to share. Perhaps you see these in your days, too.

Last night, we were tired, sweaty and ready to head in for dinner. We were almost done with evening chores — we just needed to check on the lambs and give them fresh water for the night before coming into the house. When we arrived, though, the lambs had eaten all of the forage in their paddock.

We’re grazing them on our new field, which is planted in cover crops. The cow peas, buckwheat, pearl millet, and other annuals grew in abundance, but as the lambs get bigger, they are eating through the paddocks more quickly. We figured there would be enough food to last them until morning … but we were wrong.

The sun was setting and we were hungry, but we needed to move the lambs. We got to work, setting up a new fence and paddock for the lambs. This process takes two people about 45 minutes, and we do it every 48 hours or so, so we’ve had plenty of practice. That means that while we’re setting up the fence, we can talk, take in our surroundings, or just be quiet.

The sunset caught my eye first. The sky was full of pinks and oranges. Then I noticed, to my delight, a surprise: At least 20 dragonflies were zipping around, about 10 feet above our heads. They seemed like silent, graceful acrobats performing just for us.

Of course, they didn’t really care about us: they were hungry, too, and as the sun set, they filled up on mosquitos. (Did you know that dragonflies eat mosquitoes? My niece taught me that last year. Dragonflies are now my favorite insect.)

This moment with the dragonflies was a "farm perk." Who else was outside, in a pasture, just then? Probably some other farmers, scattered around southern Indiana. Maybe they saw some dragonflies, too.

Farm days (and evenings) are filled with "farm perks’ if we’re willing to look: A supper that’s made completely from our food (and food from the farmer’s market!); a hard-earned Popsicle on the porch; the site of a barn in fall, filling up with straw and hay; the pleasure of working quietly with people you trust.

As we head into the coming busy month, here’s hoping we keep taking time to notice each day’s "farm perks."

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