It doesn’t seem that unusual these days to sit around a table and talk about the animals in our lives. Allen will mention that he hates sheep, which will lead Greg to concur that sheep are stupid. I add, as an odd non-sequitor, that the cougar is probably lurking in our woods because we have gone 6-8 weeks without a kill. Karen will murmur something about the poor lambs. On it goes, to raccoons and chickens, horses and cows, deer and elk, salmon and salamanders, Blue Herons, hawks, moles, rats, and of course, our dogs.
It’s what we talk about, without even realizing how strange this conversation appears to others not caught up in the rural life we lead! Only a couple weeks ago we attended a Salmon Fest put on by our local herb company, The Thyme Garden. Every fall when the salmon come up our creeks to spawn, The Thyme Garden pays tribute with speakers, nature walks, and tables laden with fall food dishes and salmon grilled on alder planks set around an open pit fire.
We shared a table with folks from town and didn’t realize until we introduced ourselves that they found our prior conversation quite amusing.
“I don’t know when I have ever heard a group so entrenched in conversation about trimming sheep hooves, worming, and castration, …and at the dinner table!” one of the guests said.
Had we moved so far into rural America as to have lost our finess with normal, dinner table conversation? What a reality check! I don’t know if Karen, Allen, or Greg were as surprised as I to consider our removal from years of suburban living, when the wildest animals around were feral cats and the only toe nails to trim were those of the dog. What did we used to talk about over a meal with friends?
It’s not as if we don’t know what is going on in the rest of the world. On our hikes we talk politics and wars, but we also speak about our kids, ask questions about the gardens we grow, share concerns about our parents, our health, our friends…you know, normal talk. It’s just that there is now an added subject: livestock care and well-being, including defending it from being eaten, and more general living off the land conversations.
What we are talking about is really like “shop-talk”, except we are not trading in stocks and bonds or discussing marketing and advertising ideas, rather we are talking about picking apples in exchange for gallons of apple cider, or, in the case of the sheep hoof trimming, a trade-out for doggie daycare.
It all adds up to creating relationships and building friendships. Our conversations are top-of-mind talk because the problems are here and now. Just like any group of friends sitting around a table talking. Tomorrow it may not be about our animals, but about splitting wood or building fence. It’s the same all over. Whatever is in front of us is grist for the mill. Our mill, however, might just be a real one!
Harvest was hit and miss this year. Allen told us about the nematodes digging into our potatoes; Nancy suggested we use more mulch to keep down the weeds; no one helped with the pumpkins, but Greg seemed to get it right. These chiles and tomatoes are out of our greenhouse. We brought that expertise with us! Patches, the dog, walked into the shot just as I clicked.
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2007 Scottie Jones