five minutes

I have five minutes. What should I say?

The universe is full of magic. When everything is dark and nothing seems to be going my way, I can remember that my whole entire life is just a speck of dust in  our vast spilled milk galaxy. The infinite and finite hold hands, and perspective is the Great Clarifier.

Regeneration is not just a word

Regeneration is not just a word.

It is not a catchphrase or logo. It is not a commodity or pyramid scheme.

When the soil is teeming with new life, when the mist covers the field, when the biota surges forward and recedes backward, we find the wave of regeneration moving through us. When after the pain of being born a life reverberates, when our eyes are full like moons, when our thoughts echo nature, we know that every day billions of our own cells die and billions are reborn. Regeneration is the acknowledgement of the cycle of life and death, it is the acceptance of the circle, it doesn’t shy away from death and it doesn’t cling to profit.

A moment comes in our lives and we are regenerated. Skin shed like an old coat in summer. What was unclear becomes clear. Those that oppose the circle oppose regeneration – to them, fear dictates that all must stay the same. But nothing stays the same, nothing stops time, and everything is relative to where we stand in the moment.

Senses magnify, perception clears. A regenerated landscape blooms and thrives. A regenerated heart opens and heals. Rivers cycle and trees eat photons. A fox skitters like an electron.

Linear models collapse. Sinusoidal rhythms rule. We are not getting out of this thing called life alive, so we must surf.

No thing

“What I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.

It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

“Oh!” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Perhaps it is time to quit.

When I begin to practice “letting go”, when I give up clinging to an idea or feeling, I feel relief. As if my body has been a clenched fist until I let it relax. I realize that the control I have over my life is only in the moment. I can’t ban suffering, I can’t mine joy. I can only do what needs to be done and enjoy the process.

Letting go is not the same as giving up or procrastinating. Those actions give us a sense that we are off the hook, while still hanging on it. Letting go is the outbreath, the savasana, the relaxation of our muscles, the clearing of the mind. It is the truth that we can’t know everything, and we can’t control anything for long. The knowledge that the end will come, and the absence of fear.

Letting go is stepping back into the flow.

Quitting is an action. When you see that the path you are on leads over a cliff. Quitting is the positive step toward a different path. Sometimes we have to quit so that we can start walking in the right direction.

All of these things are part of living. No reason to judge ourselves constantly. Just take a walk.  What do you really want to do today?


The Dalai Lama says that the goal of life is to be happy.

It seems simple, but what if we forgot what makes us happy?

Life never stops, there is no time to catch our breaths. We are aware that we need to live in the present moment, and not dwell in the past or future. Otherwise we’re filled with stress or regret.  For so long we’ve been grasping at straws and losing our selves, but when we practice “letting go” we find ourselves. Freeing ourselves from the tyranny of possessions and concepts feels right, Sometimes all we need is a walking stick and a gravel road. Or a cup of tea and a friend.

Do we really think that cleaning up this room or fixing this thing or landing this project will make everything all better? Doubt it. In the short term it’s great to get the list done, but we need to look at the long term list.

What is it I want to do before I die? What really makes me happy? What do I want to do for the rest of my life to make a living? Why am I not doing it?

Our paths weave the cosmic fabric. Nobody but you can choose your way. Sometimes we have to go with the flow instead of struggling forward, sometimes we have to fight to find the new way. No matter what, though, we are here, right here, now.

Janet Echelman makes art out of strings



wild 1

I live a domestic life, but I love the wild life. There is that thing inside me that is magnetized to the wilderness, regardless if it is a thousand acres or just that little patch of wildflowers behind the shed. Nature without a human touch, the most rare thing of all.

I don’t make my living from the wild, I make it from the tame. I take chaos and turn it into form. I’m just an organizer. The wild exists outside of those efforts, but we must add wild to our lives to have perspective. Without perspective into the natural world, we miss out on the spark of life and everything is just cause and effect, law and order.

Notice the wild patches today.

Momento mori

There is stress and there is STRESS. There are moments of stress, and then there are long-term panic sessions that lodge in the gut, causing sleeplessness and an underlying sense of dread. Managing this latter type of stress is perhaps my biggest struggle, and I would go so far as to guess that many small business owners and other driven people share my predicament.

As a young man I shrugged off stress with ease. My whole motto was “Relax, we’re all going to die in the end so we might as well enjoy life now.” I don’t think I was too far off the mark, but as the years have progressed and I’ve taken on more responsibilities, especially taking on the responsibilities of raising livestock, I’ve forgotten this principle and morphed into that bulgey-eyed Mr. Stressball-type whom I used to pity.

I’m kidding. I’m not always Mr. Stressball, and I’m not always Mr. Laidback. Behind the masks we wear through our daily lives we are just who we are, doing what we need to do. We each have a different path, but we meet eachother thousands of times in between life and death.

Having perspective is when you understand that even though everything in your life seems just slightly beyond your control, everything is still probably okay. It is all out of our control to a large degree. By grasping onto some idea and identifying deeply with the idea, we essentially create our own stress. Why the hell would we do such a thing to ourselves?

Because we don’t want to let go of the idea of who we are, or how we live, or what we do. These ideas make up the narrative of our lives. Losing control of any of those ideas is somewhat akin to losing any sense of our own existence.  Stress is really our minds and bodies reacting to fear and we think “It’s all up to me to make things right, to figure things out, to protect my world.”

If we’ve lost something like our friends, family, home, we feel sadness and fear of losing again and again until there is nothing left to hold on to. The weird thing is this very fear is what will definitely happen. My breaths are limited and one day I will no longer be here. No matter what happens in my life, I am blessed to live in a wealthy country. I don’t have to worry about war destroying my life, or lack of potable water and food. I can make actual choices about what I am going to do every day and what I am going to eat and drink. I can sleep in a safe warm bed. I can see my family and friends when I want to. When I have fears about the future, when I have doubts about my path, when I regret the past, I know that these are all privileges.

And I know we are all in this together. We are all passing through the cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth in some form. Fear is like a cloud that blocks the sun. Behind that veil is the bright beating heart that fuels all life, and we all yearn to be warmed by it.

So, daily, I remind myself that this life is it for me. It isn’t a competition – history shows us that all winners eventually lose. The real work lies in compassion and cooperation.




I am struck by the idea that everything oscillates, and that all stasis is  an illusion.

We have an impulse to strive for stasis. Even that impulse oscillates as we grow weary of our day to day activities. We jump outside of our comfort zone and learn and live and jump back in.  Oscillations change frequency, amplitude, and form.  It doesn’t seem to matter if we’re talking about our lives, our relationships, our gardens, the migrations of butterflies, our taste in clothes, or our skill at crossword puzzles – all things oscillate.

Karma is simply the natural flow of energy.

Here’s the thing – we deny that is the natural state. We go through life thinking it should simply be a steady increase in peace and prosperity. That is a successful life. In that way we deny the reality that we will always have ups and downs, there will always be high points and low points in our lives and in our societies. Life isn’t a yellow brick road straight to Heaven or Hell. We visit both poles equally within the brief span of our lives.

Well, at least that is what I believe, and what meditation has shown me.

We seem to be at a low point, where hate speech and the proliferation of fear is becoming common and ordinary. A time when black lives are being gunned down with impunity. A time when compassion is considered blase and vapid consumption is the norm. But people are waking up, people are beginning to question the authoritarian solutions that are handed out like candy in every institution.

I say there are no simple answers – I say that in a world where debate and conversation is becoming base and crude, and ignorance and anger is shared instantly and constantly in soundbites that eat our brains alive like mad cow disease. But I do think there are simple solutions, for the parts and for the whole.

Chaos theory shows us that the initial conditions in complex systems will determine their actions,  but since we can never know all of these conditions in perfect detail then we can only create possible models of the systems future behavior. The only way forward is to address those initial conditions and stabilize the turbulence  – each act of violence or hate is like a fractal inside a fractal, showing us what the underlying problems are.

There is a lot of noise out there. Nobody really wants to hear the negative stuff – but anything internalized becomes expressed externally, as Jung posits.

Farmers, healers, artists, and all folks involved in the practice of the Regenerative Arts have the power to cure this rampant illness. We have the ability to divert the negative energies into productivity and a regenerative cycle, for we can understand the ebb and flow of life itself. All the static and linear thinkers and doers  of the past fail us now, as we plan for a new type of living, one that acknowledges that, at the heart of designing a planetary populace instantly connected via electromagnetic waves, we must cast off linear thinking and doing.



Heroic Chores

Sometimes your animals seem to be plotting a coup and can’t wait to escape their paddocks or break everything in it to bits.

Sometimes every little chore turns into a heroic effort to overcome your own incompetence at the simplest of tasks.

Sometimes you don’t remember why it is you chose to do any of this.

At these points, it is good to take a break from what Robert Pirsig calls the “Gumption Trap”.  Simply put, when we suffer setbacks or hangups, a negative feedback loop can start and spiral out of control.

Whatever you call them, the negative feelings we encounter as we farm are vast and uncharted for the most part – dark tides pull and clouds gather many times in the course of a day or week or year. The assumption in our culture is that the mentally healthy thing to do is to shake off these negative feelings – what Thich Nhat Hanh call mental formations. These formations arise out of our selves, and are like knots that need to be untangled. An essential part of that process is patience.

I see little difference between the various types of formations we create in ourselves  – like a mollusk secreting calcium carbonate around a sharp object . And like a pearl, we can transform our formation into something beautiful if we acknowledge and work on it.

But I will not pretend that it is all chocolate and roses.

There are good parts galore, but plenty of bad times as well.

In the small-scale farming world, one of the most common default reactions is to beat oneself up over perceived inadequacies. It is extremely difficult to find the time to get everything done every day, and so instead of coming to terms with that reality, we end up criticizing ourselves incessantly until we have broken down our own sense of self-worth into tiny bits. This leads to a collapse of meaning in our day to day lives, and turns our actions into repetitive gestures that we perform unconsciously.

The unconscious has more power in our lives then we let on. The Jungian concept of our Shadow Self grows larger and more powerful the less we pay attention to it. Unconscious reactions to perceived hardships become the norm, and everything falls apart. The shit hits the fan and we get covered in it, basically.

How do we approach and work with this deep well of unconscious behavior that continuously builds and deconstructs manifestations of our hopes and fears? I believe the best way we can consciously attempt to knit our diverse mental and physical landscapes together is through the process of individuation, via a whole systems design strategy, utilizing ways of integrating the infinite smaller parts into a finite big picture approach.

It all starts with one small action.

 “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.”

-Emily Dickinson




Falling over

In a way, every time we take a step, we are committing to not falling over.

Commitment.  What a strange concept, especially in this day and age, when mostly we are oriented by our passing desires. Bingeing on Netflix is the closest thing we come to committing to a long term endeavor.

And yet without commitment, some of the most amazing things we take for granted and that provide our lives with such luxury and ease would not even exist. Commitment and a dream. For instance, the World Wide Web – It took an idea and the commitment to create by Tim Berners-Lee to allow you to read these words right now. And barely anybody knows who he is. Similarly, paper is such a blase item in our daily lives, and yet, when you think of it, it is an amazing thing – wafer thing flexible sheets of magic invented by the Chinese in 105 AD. So we can get bills for our World Wide Web in the mail. You get the picture.

A dream, and  the will to see it through.

Without the will, of course, nothing can be created. Will is commitment in action. Will is the dream’s course to fulfillment. Beginning in the ether of our souls, Will spins a web of matter to gradually edge itself into the world, like a hatching duckling, covered in the goo of birth.

As I talk with those who have started and run their own business, there is a current under their words that thrums with the will that keeps them thriving. It’s that current, that vein of will, that differentiates between the doers and the talkers. That is a real division in the realm of homo sapiens, one that is evidenced by a life led by others or a life led by one’s self.

I don’t have a moral judgement whatsoever about the right or wrong way to live, just this observation. I think a lot of dissatisfaction in people’s lives are created by a lack of commitment to a dream.  Really, the only thing to fear is failure, and failure doesn’t really exist anyways. There is only steps forward or steps backwards, but it is always a journey somewhere, through life.


Pissing on trees, part 1

In the act maintaining any relationship, there are boundaries that must be established.

A co-evolution of what that means to either party is probably necessary. There are always 2 or more parties – with 2 or more different ideas of  what is correct. But in reality, nothing in life is correct. A fundamentalist will fail at any real relationship because they think there is 1 way to do things, when there are almost an unlimited smorgasbord of ways to do this thing called life.

I’ve made many mistakes in this arena and I’m bound and determined to figure out why it is such an intense part of what makes me, and most likely every living creature, tick. Our most ancient reflexes pop up when our territory has been invaded.

So in our romantic relationships, we start out without a care in the word, happy that some wonderful person is part of our lives and making it sparkle again. After a while we start to get irritated at all the little things that our partners do that seem to infringe on our personal space or time. The person hasn’t changed, only our perception and feelings have.

How can we remain uncritical, and what is the fulcrum that tips our minds to critiscism? When critisicm, which implies moral judgement, enters the picture, I tend to become extremely agitated and thus unreasonable. But is there really a time when any off us are really reasonable? We like to think we are, but we are running around motivated by emotional states, hormones and neuron patterns, all day long.

I’ve found that those most convinced that they are logical are usually the least able to admit the illogical nature  of most of their behavior. This makes me nuts- mostly because I was like that for quite a long time!

I will simply say this: Reason can be used to justify almost anything, reason based on so-called logic. Using logic gives the user a sense of moral superiority and holiness that they imagine the other  person or creature who isn’t using logic lacks. So I don’t think it is the best tool in our toolbox. It creates hierarchies of control. He who has the most logic wins.

I believe our subconscious is the only compost pile that can really break down our lives and create a nutrient rich fertilizer. The answers are there, but our minds have so many mazes we can never really find them until we let go and let grok.  As we break down the raw detritus of our lives within our subconscious, we also need to be working on reconciling our conscious lives with our core beliefs. Again it seems that the most sensible thing is to balance out any extremes. Our answers can’t all be based on logic or emotion, we can’t imagine that we can even clearly see the big picture, let alone the small events that make up why we do what we do. Discarding hubris, we enter into real relationships outside of ourselves.

A fence is there to keep something in or something out. My life as an animal farmer is made up off a lot of fence work. Even in the relationship between me and my animals, we are still establishing a certain amount of understanding – they have a sense off where they are supposed to be and stay there as well as they can. If they really wanted to be elsewhere, they could. Most animals can escape their fencing if they really want to. So there has to be a level of understanding there – they know I will be there for them as long as they are where I left them. It’s much more complicated then that, but suffice it to say that it is never simple. It isn’t simply putting up fence and walking away – it’s a daily maintenance situation, a constant monitoring of what is going on with them.

Establishing respect and understanding in a personal relationship is a little like making those fences. It might sound a little harsh to those who haven’t kept larger amounts of animals, but believe me when I say a fence is little more then a suggestion. We do need our personal space, and we do need our personal lives – and we need those who we love to respect whatever it is that makes us tick.

Since in reality we don’t want to build fences around ourselves or create impenetrable shells, establishing boundaries is a little more like pissing on metaphorical trees. It’s important to inhabit the space that makes you happy – your happiness creates happiness around you. My happiness is essential to creating happiness throughout my circles.

Next time I will muse on the opposite practice – opening up boundaries.



whirl with it

Calm down.

It’s as simple as that.

There is literally nothing that isn’t solvable with some thought, time, and action.  The last couple of months have been a whirlwind, and I have been stressed to the max at certain points. Moving my whole life from my old farm, and the cabin I built there, has been intense. I need to give myself some breathing room, but it is hard with over 40 big mouths to feed and house and take care of, as well as situating myself in a new place, on new land, with new partners of various sorts.

There are only a few things that stand out in my brain at this point, the most important being that none of us can go through life without depending on partnerships. We need many to survive, and many to thrive. We don’t and can’t exist in a vacuum, and all that I’ve done these last few months has been possible with the help of many kind souls. I do alot on my own and that’s just my DIY independent farmer spirit, but only when I start working in partnership with others do things grow and flourish.

Not only that but I have been pondering how important it is to really find out who you are to be able to live your life fully. Partnerships help us thrive but only if we really know who we are and what we’re on this planet to do. Otherwise partners can be crutches and help us stay in stasis. Stasis is what the unrealized soul longs for, the comfort of the absence of life and death.

But that is what makes the universe spin – our infinite beginnings and ending.

No need to cry over spilt milk because there will always be more milk. No need to grasp on to some wonderful experience because there will always be something wonderful to experience. No need to fret endlessly over the possibly negative outcomes, because they will come and they will go.

We can’t grasp water (or slippery pigs) but we can flow with it, become it, dissolve in it. There is our only real comfort, that impermanence is permanent.

So let it flow, let yourself go, slow and low is the tempo.


I just want you to know that I intend to begin writing here again. It has been a long time since my last post, but I will begin again, again!

Living on the land

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

-Aldo Leopold

We are bone wrapped in muscle packaged in skin. An infinity of hydraulic and electrical systems intermeshed – molecular programming and elemental exchange bubbling along at nanolevels and quantum rhythms. We, as part of the universe, are evolutionary machines. But unlike the metal machines we make with our hands, we are complex beyond understanding and filled with the tendrils of chaos. Love bubbles up out of pain and happiness bursts from depression.

What are we?

What a question.

One answer is that we are great apes, primates, with humungous brains and sparse hair. As members of the Homo genus with an evolved skillset of  hand/eye coordination we can drive cars, drink lattes, and facebook, but we still contain the morphology and genes that yearn for hunting and gathering on the savanna.

We move toward happiness and fulfillment, just like any animal on the planet. Individual units banding together as tribes, tribes banding together as cultures. We meet our needs, our tribes needs, then our cultures, and humanity overall.  Our priorities start with our own breath and expand outward.

When our basic needs are met we search and find meaning and love.  Religion and art arise out of an abundance of material resources . Life becomes less about survival and more about pleasure – whatever stimulates our neo cortex.

We are stimulated by the act of doing. Activity is what starts growth. Inactivity promotes depression, sickness. Perhaps it is a simple evolutionary trick – the survival of the tribe hinges on its weakest link. So we applaud positivity and health and shun depression and illness.

We have become experts at creating satisfactory analogues for our primal needs. We are saturated with the ability to join interest groups and participate in social media. But a trickle of dopamine will never truly satisfy the the soul.

Connecting with nature is the first step toward a healthy  life.

We need a comprehensive reeducation in what it means to be a member of our land communities. To start with, an appreciation and respect for the elements: the earth, water, air, and fire.

To know nature truly we need to be connected to our local foodshed and soil: the complex web of life it contains and the food it produces. We need to understand where our water comes from and where it goes, and we need to tend to it on it’s journey through the landscape. We need to learn and live within the climate of the land that we live on. We need to be connected to our sources of energy; the carbon we harvest to produce our warmth and heat, that we burn to power our engines and lights and vehicles.

Furthermore, we need to be connected to our fellow creatures: the tame and wild animals that provide more sustenance then we can understand: not just muscle, fat, bone, and skin, but all of the countless activities they do that support our land community.  We need to be connected to our shelter; the materials we gather to create buildings, the fibers we cultivate to weave into fabric and tools. We need to be connected to our tribes, and ourselves.

All of these things are possible right now. All of them are necessary for survival.









Just be

There is really nothing you can do.

There is nobody to please. Nothing to prove. No reason to impress.

There is nowhere to go. No place better then another.  No home that will not crumble.

There are really no words to say. But of course, I must try to say them. I am human.

We judge every single action that we do. I don’t know why. We are trained very early on, and we are trained continuously throughout life to fear most everything, and to judge most everything, and to put most everything into compartments.

Take a moment. Sit still, breathe.

Don’t go anywhere. Don’t think ahead. Don’t think of the past.

Take a moment, take a breath.

Remember yourself as a child. Remember the way you looked out onto the world. Remember the way you felt.

Forget it. Sit.

We only possess a small spark of life, nothing else.

This breathe I possess now, and now it is gone.

One heartbeat – so fast I cannot even type a sentence before a dozen more come and go.

One sip of tea, and then it is gone. A pleasure on the tongue and then warmth in the stomach. Soon, piss in the pot.

The only thing we have is our spark and the moment. Some people say YOLO, but I say you only live a trillion times, over and over. Each time, new. Each time, different.

We can’t hold on to anything, least of all our image of ourselves.

There is nothing about me that is perfect. There is no such thing as perfect.

So, dispense with the judgement.

Sit for a moment. Breathe a little.

Forgive your self, forgive your body, forgive all.

Let it all go. It isn’t for us. It is death accumulating in the corners like dust.

Forgive and let go. You have a trillion moments to cherish.


Just be.



Whole & Half Hog Shares now available!

In 2016 we will have 10 whole and half hog shares available for purchase – reserve yours now! All the updated information is on the Buy page here: Buy


In other news, it snowed for the first time yesterday here! From sleet to snow, with a cold wind blowing, autumn has become more severe. Now is the time to eat bacon with strong coffee…




I’ve been feeling sick. All kinds of symptoms, a new one to worry about every day. I started to think about bad habits I should cut out of my life to help me regain some health.  This morning, though, I realized something. My problems weren’t all about my health. It has been a very stressful year or five, and I was blaming all that stress for my compromised immune system. But it wasn’t just that.


A couple days ago I had a really shit experience at a local feed store. Just a clusterfuck – they sold me what I wanted, but didn’t know it had ingredients I didn’t want, not to mention they didn’t have most of what they sold me and on and on. What I thought would take a few minutes stretched out to half an hour. I was filled with anger – what a bunch of incompetent idiots. I was going to complain to the manager and never set foot in the store again.

After that I had yet another shit experience. I chalked it up to the whole world being horrible at customer service.

But really what was going on was that I was falling back  into  old patterns. I won’t deny it, because it happens. We all fall back into old comfortable ways of being, even if they basically cause life to be more difficult in the long run.

It wasn’t all of “them”, it was me. I was closing up, getting pissed, and not being present in the moment.

Without conscious breath we drown. Without a strong back we crumple. Without a clear goal we flounder.

No matter what time it is or where we are in life, we can revitalize and get our mojo back with a simple flick of a switch. That and a whole bunch of work to retrain the brain and body to be what we actually want them to be.

So, stepping off that treadmill, I head back out to take care of business.

imperfect steps

I learned a lot of important lessons when I used to take  my backpack full of outdoor gear into the woods and disappear for days. For a short while, that trail became my whole world. It taught me that all we can really do is to put one foot in front of the other. The destination was never the point, it was always about the journey.

We all get stuck in ruts. Then we get frustrated, overcome by guilt or shame. We sometimes manage to get out of the rut only to find ourselves stuck in another just a few moments later.

This is what is known as a feedback loop. We find ourselves going around and around in circles, sometimes spiraling completely out of control. At this point we have to stop everything and start over.

None of us are perfect.  I think that feeling guilty about getting caught up in these loops can only serve to reinforce them. So I advocate, especially to myself, to take that guilt and set it aside. That guilt is not my essential being. That guilt is a program that can be turned off for the moment. We can silence our monkey minds and open our eyes to the reality of where we are. Is the path you are on taking you where you want to go?

Unlike being on the trail in the wilderness, there is no map of life that we can consult when it feels like we are way off course, lost in the wilderness. These days, with GPS and electronic gadgets in our pockets, we feel like we are in complete control of our destiny. But then the batteries die or the signal is lost and we find ourselves in the middle of the woods with wolves howling on the ridge and no drinking water.

Then we find out what we are truly made of. We can reach into ourselves and find the resources to keep hiking toward the lake, or we can give up and stumble to a paved road to thumb a ride to the nearest Walmart. We can either experience something new and expand, or return to the familiar and contract.


So with this in mind, I take my own imperfect yet perfect step forward.



Yoga Sangha

“When we say “I love the members of my own family, the people of my own religion or country or color” bias limits our affection. But with proper practice, from an ordinary level of affection we can develop an unbiased universal love, in which we don’t care what other people’s faith is, their nationality, or social status – so long as they are human beings, they are our brothers and sisters. “
-Dalai Lama

I have to go to my Sunday morning yoga class. It’s at my friends farm, only a couple of miles from where I live today. That may change soon because I am going through a divorce. But meanwhile I have to go to yoga. My body needs to stretch and move, and I need to chat with my fellow yoga students. I also crave the Amish donuts or other delicious breakfast foods that our gracious hosts serve after the class. They ask for nothing in return for this generosity. Sometimes a student brings an edible offering, like cupcakes or cucumber juice.

We meet at about ten minutes to 10 AM and chat a bit as everyone arrives and parks their vehicles, and then we all shuffle up to the barn loft, where we take off our shoes and unroll our yoga mats on the plywood floor. Then we stand on the mats and start the class. When we start, I have a small moment of panic. Am I going to make it all the way through? My body feels worn out, drained dry of vigor. I grit my teeth and continue.

My body is like a wound up mechanical bird – I compress downward and spring up. My bones are rusted out. I can feel muscles bunching and tensing and my blood is pumping at high pressure through my veins. Maybe I will have a heart-attack right here and die on the floor. What a gift to the class that would be.

But I continue. I move into Downward Dog, then Upward Dog, then Forward Fold, and finally I raise my arms over my head, a little dizzy. My mind is fully focused on how to arrange my body correctly. I don’t even remember to breathe unless our teacher tells me to do so. It feels good to focus on something as basic as movement, instead of the troubles that are clouding my mind these days.

Highland cattle graze peacefully out in a field beyond the open southern door of the loft. A soft moo drifts through the air. There is a gentle breeze that carries a scent of fresh hay and manure. Then it rains hard, a burst of watery bullets pummeling the steel roof. A cacophony outside that mirrors the clamor inside. But I continue, and twist my body into a pretzel.

The twists make me sick. My blood feels thick with toxins. Like I am trying to wring battery acid out of my internal organs. I almost quit, but I don’t. I know if I keep going, I will feel better, I will feel strong again. I have to stoke the prana inside me, to clean out my sluggish nadi. I am told what to do and I do it. I let go of all the grasping in my mind, and simply move.

Toward the end of the class, with sweat beading, hearts beating, and muscles aching, we are guided through slower, gentler poses, ending up on our backs in Savasana. Even as a corpse I am tense. I try to force my body to relax. Finally, sometimes, I give up and simply lay there. Like a fractal, the yoga hour mirrors my whole life.

It dawns on me that I have found a Sangha, a fellowship of friends attempting to create an island of peace in the chaotic seas of our day to day lives. As a Buddhist I’ve sought shelter within the Buddha and the Dharma, but never really within a Sangha. Now, joining this loose collection of neighbors to do yoga one morning a week, I realize how important this practice is for me.

The hot mess within me bows to the hot mess within you.


Piglets arrive


My very first batch of piglets have arrived. One recent sunny morning I noticed that my bred gilt, a mutt hog bred to a Large Black Hog/Berkshire boar, was laying down and not getting up for breakfast. Then I noticed a bunch of movement around her. Holy crap, I thought, it has happened. It was farrowing morning. She was at day 120 in her gestation, as far as I could tell from my notes. I went and grabbed my coffee and came back to find 5 healthy black little piglets jumping all over the momma, and nursing occasionally. It was beautiful.  I did not see the birth but it had happened without event. Soon she passed all of her afterbirth and I felt calm.




The next day it was going to be stormy so I was nervous about their comfort. I set up  a simple hog panel shelter, with two metal panels on top. I gave the momma  couple more bales of hay right outside the shelter. She had eaten a lot of the hay I had previously given her. Later on in the day she had a great nest built, and I felt more confident that all would be well. After a stormy night I visited her and all the piglets were active and doing well.





Now they are growing in leaps and bounds. Soon I will need to castrate the boys if I choose to do that. I will also have to consider training them into electric fencing within a few weeks. I am very surprised at how robust they are – so small yet so resilient and playful. So many lessons to be learned from the realm of the pig.