Red, yellow and orange splash across the Worcester Range and frame our pasture. The colors of fall are rich, enveloping us in their warmth even as the cool air blows across the field and slows growth in the garden. At the end of September I have just only gotten back into the rhythm of chores, feeling the lightness of my body as I walk up and down the pasture and through the woods to where our rams are, while Edge hangs out with Waylon. He is two months old today, and I feel the teeter-totter of wanting an hour to myself but not wanting to let go of him the moment someone offers to hold him. I remember, though, what Waylon taught me at birth: to let go. So I go out to tend to the animals, newly aware of my body without baby.
The laying hens rush toward me as I scoop out their grain. They cluck, curiously peck at my boots, and wobble side to side as they run. As they eat I gather eggs. One broody hen sits in the last nesting box with her feathers all puffed up, but she doesn’t peck at me as I slide my hand under to retrieve the warm eggs.
A few fence lengths away from the layers the sheep sit, chewing their cud. Benna lets out a little “baa” when she sees me, and I set about putting up fence around fresh pasture for them. They watch intently, and as I connect the last fence to their existing one, they all pile up in the corner until I open it up and let them into their new space. Acorn, the first lamb born this spring, is big now, her shorn coat fluffy and white, her face dappled with light brown as if she has freckles. I haven’t been moving fence and doing chores for the last 3 months, so Acorn doesn’t know me well. She comes toward me slowly, curiosity pushing through her shyness, and I kneel down with my hand out. Her face is pillowy soft, and she looks at me unblinking as I rub her cheek.
As I go about my chores, feeding and watering the turkeys, checking on the rams in our neighbor’s pasture, I find comfort. This routine is not a chore at all, but instead a steady pace that reconnects me with the animals. They welcome me back into the folds of their days, perhaps not noticing I was ever absent. When I return to the yurt Waylon welcomes me back as well, and I am ready to hold him, glad to have let go for a while so I may wrap him up in my arms again.