This is how you do it if
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you  do it right. I’ve lived by this motif for a long time. The best intentions in the world cannot override long lived thought patterns like this one. Life experiences at Buxton have taught me to think otherwise. It’s time to release this pattern of thought.

Last week one of our coworkers  forgot to close up our hens at dusk. Out here in the country that’s an open  invitation to a chicken buffet for predators. And once again the hens were a little over a mile away from the farm down that stretch of our country road following the herd.

He simply forgot. Nothing intentional. At the risk of sound careless, “it happens.” We all have our fair share of mistakes on the farm. Sometimes hefty ones. I’m as guilty at the next person. Sometime we just don’t get it right.

Hens in the hacken field

Predators had a feast. We lost a lot of hens. Feathers everywhere. We assumed at least one of the predators  was a raccoon. We have a lot of them, and a little bit of everything else that lives in these mountains. This is their home.

After the predator didn’t take the trap bait Michael set out, I decided to stay up all night near the eggmobile and catch the rascal but not without my second lesson in understanding gun safety. There’s  no telling what one might come face to face with out here.

I’ve never been fond of guns. BeforeBuxton I carried a sort of grudge about people and their guns. In my  mind guns represented violence. I lived by the feeling that there must be other ways to resolve things?

Putting wild comb in a frame

I must confess there were so many things I was slightly naive about until I moved to Buxton. Shepherding land and animals has brought me to my knees. I admit it. Old attitudes and  beliefs have dissipated. So many things I once considered to be set in stone “true” have slowly faded away.  I know the sweetness of surrender. Farming is no longer “conceptual” to me. I’m familiar now with the nitty gritty of this work and sometimes it just ain’t pretty.

At Buxton we work with the premise that we’re all in this together and so when someone makes a mistake we each pitch in to clean it up. Cleaning up after predators  can involve long nights without sleep. I can do without a lot of things but sacrificing rest isn’t my favorite. My body takes it hard.

WIld comb on water blound

Let us assume that the best resolution would be to have a second guard dog at Buxton. This could have been the path of least resistance, I know. But we didn’t have the the time to buy and train a second guard dog in addition to everything else on our plates. And quite frankly I wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment.  A dog often means companion for life. We chose geese instead.

Unfortunately early in the season we had a predator kill more than 60 turkeys in one night. It was horrific.They were in broiler pens and the predator ripped right through the chicken wire. Thus, guard dog Jack and our guard geese stay with the turkeys and the broilers. We can’t afford anymore broiler and turkey losses.

Buxton’s potato harvest. Lasagna gardening style.

My determination to prevent us from losing anymore hens meant I had to assume some responsibility. I would learn how to shoot a gun.

Turns out one of the predators was a raccoon and that night he got away. He killed one hen instead of 10.Progress. He’s the first rascal who figured out a way “inside” the eggmobile. As I write, Michael, Alec, and Trevor are adding chicken wire to secure the hens eggmobile. But the hens are traumatized. They dont’ want to go into the eggmobile at dusk due to the killings by the raccoon occurring in there. We’ve spent the last few night retraining them.

Heading to the herd

It’s not hard for me to think back to some of the assumptions I made in life before Buxton. I had so many opinions, feelings, attitudes, about how things should be done in life. An old friend of mines used to say, “the map is not the territory.” I now know what he means.

Who’s in our home now?

These days, “this is how you do it if you do it right” has been restored with, “this is how you do it when you do the best you can.” Maybe some of you can relate.

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About Grace

Grace and her husband Michael manage Buxton a Polyface satellite farm. Her first passion is to align with radiant health. She knows intimately that when you have your health you can do anything. Next, her passion for vibrant healthy food and beautiful landscapes along with her interest in permaculture influenced Grace's decision to align with the Polyface farming model. With 20 years of experience in the healing arts, she feels growing food and pasture raising animals is one of the greatest healers and a true source of personal empowerment. It's been said, "if you're not living on the edge your taking up too much space." Grace lives joyfully on the "leading edge" surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the appalachian mountains where her and Michael steward 1000 acres with profound appreciation."
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