Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Primordial Ooze

Posted on | February 9, 2010 | 1 Comment

Snow is a fleeting beauty.  Tree limbs iced with fluff.  Pristine stretches of white in the meadow.  Delicate flakes against the windowpane.  Intricate ice designs on the pond.

But then they cancel school.  Sigh.  And the hose to the automatic waterer in the barn freezes.  Sigh.  And the chickens refuse to come out of the coop, pooping all over the nest boxes in protest.  Sigh.  And the goat stops giving milk.  Well, actually she has milk, but  I let her have her kid at night instead of separating them so I don’t have to milk on freezing mornings.  Ooops, I mean, because no kid should be without her dam when it’s only 20 degrees outside.  I’m perfectly willing to go out into the dark winter morning, sit hunched over on an upside down plastic bucket that is so cold it threatens to crack into a thousand icy splinters, expose my already numb fingers to the frigid air, and try to warm myself on my own steaming breath in exchange for for a few squirts of fresh milk.  But the health of the herd demands  I sacrifice the family milk for the sake of the poor little goat kid.  And who am I to argue with proper herd health management?  Really.

So it doesn’t bother me to see the snow melt.  As a matter of fact, the thaw ushers in one of my favorite seasons.  The season of mud.  Sandwiched between Orion shining  in the January night sky and the blinding yellow of the daffodils is this underappreciated marvel of nature.  Actually, mud in the Southeast is such a vigorous, boot- sucking force, I cannot believe it’s importance has not been noted.  “Rednecks” and “Tar Heels” are misnomers in this region.  Obviously, we are “Red Heels” if you examine our carpets or tire treads during the glorious mud season.

Now I know you are standing in your kitchen window, surveying the rust-colored water washing over the driveway and the bottomless sludge pit at the end of the kid’s playground slide, and thinking I must have happy pills in my coffee.  But mud is the first act of Spring.  Branches dripping under rainfall, the ground opening up its pores,  water and  sunlight breaking up the frozen wasteland of winter.  On the farm, it is more than mere wet dirt.  Here we have the added value of autumn’s leaf debris in the woodlands, the fallen rushes by the pond, garden vegetation pulled and piled aside after it was browned by frost, the hay strewn by the animals, and, of course, their droppings scattered throughout the property as they make their daily rounds.  Here we have more than mud—we have the primordial ooze.

Step in the right spot and your foot can sink four inches or more in the fertile ground.  A fecund smell  rises from the pond and the puddles in the pasture.   The garden becomes a black sponge where the lightest sparrow can leave tracks sunk deep in the earth.    Feathers and fur are smeared with it, shoes are caked with it, and yet we rejoice.  For the primordial ooze is the harbinger of life—chickens discover sleeping grubs in the soft soil at tree trunks, the pony and lamb discover the first grass seedlings on the south side of the dam, the goats nibble saplings downed when the saturated soil can no longer hold their roots.

Sure, snow is pretty.  But the primordial ooze is power.  Pure, raw power.  Snow makes for cute snowmen.  Primordial ooze sets the minutiae of life in motion, from the tiniest aerating earthworm to the larvae-gobbling spring peeper.  Snow makes a tasty treat of snow cream.  Primordial ooze prepares the land for summer’s burst of fruits and vegetables.  Snow can close the schools and make everyone late for work.  Primordial ooze breaks the grip of winter and pushes the Earth toward the Spring equinox on its muddy slopes.  So, you can keep pretty.  Now that I’m over 35, I’ll forgo pretty for powerful any day of the week.  I do have some nice pictures, though, of the kids making snow angels.  You should stop by and see them.  Just make sure to wear your mud boots!

© Stevie Taylor 2010. All Rights Reserved.


One Response to “Primordial Ooze”

  1. forensicfarmgirl
    February 18th, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

    Hahahahaha! Here in Texas, we are wallowing in mud too! I’m so sick of the mud that I’m actually looking forward to the summer drought!

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