By Callie Herron, CEFS’ Small Farm Unit Winter Apprentice

Callie with the Small Farm Unit's weekly harvest.

Callie with the Small Farm Unit’s weekly harvest.

The constant presence of new life and death on farm has had a profound impact on my life. I have felt a baby calf inside its mother, have seen calves enter the world, take their first steps, drink their first milk. I have seen laying hens grow from mere chicks to vibrant, ever-hungry birds. This will only continue with the arrival of spring and the planting of seeds.

Along with the beauty of birth and growth, comes the occasional death. I have witnessed (through tear filled eyes) a calf come out of its mother – 60 pounds and lifeless. I’ve watched a Red Tail Hawk capture a chicken and on several occasions have found the remains of the Hawk’s conquests.

I never anticipated such soul-searching would occur here, at a place where one learns how to drive a tractor, plant a seed, till the earth. Yet, each new life and each death brings with it a moment of pause and introspection. The stillness of death and the joy of birth come as a reminder that our time on earth is finite, fleeting. With each death, comes an offering of thanks for the lives that remain.

Farming is much more than a career or a hobby. It is a spiritual journey, a vision quest. It is a part of our culture that is now all too foreign to many. I feel this disconnect not only relates to our food choices and declining health, but to our ailing relationship with, and understanding of, the land, Mother Nature, life, and death. Our food, our farms, our land have a lesson to offer us and it is my hope that we all take a moment to listen, watch, and participate so that we can once again connect, appreciate, and value all of them.

For more of Callie’s writing – and lots of great photos – check out the CEFS Apprentice blog here.

From the February 2012 E-Newsletter