It is hard to believe that I am three months into my apprenticeship. I am 25% done. I have learned so much already, but still feel lost much of the time!
Spring was largely a season of waiting. Waiting for the weather to warm up. Waiting for the grass to start growing. Waiting for calves to be born. Waiting for the café to open. Everyone was antsy with anticipation.
I am glad I started at the farm when I did, during this season of waiting. It gave me time to adjust and to learn the ropes. Life was a bit slower. I am also glad I was around when the cows were still in the barn. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to working cattle, but the experience gained working with them in the barn has been very valuable now that they are out on pasture with a lot more space.
In the past three months over fifty calves have been born, as well as three lambs and a litter of piglets. I assisted with multiple bull calf castrations and performed one myself. I also helped Ryan castrate the piglets. Three months ago I didn’t know what a prolapse was, but now have seen a cow with a rectal prolapse and a sheep with a uterine prolapse. I have experience more death – intentionally by slaughter and unintentionally by illness or accident – than I have in my 27 years leading up to this experience, but I have also experience more life.
I have a greater appreciation for my food thanks to this experience. People often ask how I can eat meat I’ve helped raise. The truth is, I find it easier to eat a chicken or cow from Wyebrook than from the supermarket. Yes, I held and fed and cared for that chicken from the time it was 3 days old until it was slaughtered. Because of that I know what kind of life it lived. I know that it was content. That it wasn’t stressed by an unhealthy environment or diet. It lived the life it was created to live. I would rather eat that chicken than one that spent its short life in a tiny cage in a dark warehouse, deprived of sunshine and fresh air and the freedom to scratch about in the dirt as chickens love to do.
Thus far I have no regrets. Yes, it has been a major transition from Brooklyn to Honey Brook, but I wouldn’t go back for all the tea in China..