My newsfeed today, as every day anymore, is full of flames both literal and figurative. My native California is burning down, women I admire and many I hold close are adding their voices to a chorus of injustices, our political leaders cannot seem to work for their people, and yet there are still so many hungry, wounded, and scared in the greater world. As any millennial, first generation farmer, I have certainly read my share of Wendell Berry. Many times before I have turned off the radio or pushed away from the computer, reframed myself with his poem "The Peace of Wild Things", and found solace in the pastures and woodlands of the farm.
We try to let our critters live as much like wild things as possible, and so there is often peace found in working and resting with our farm. But these last few weeks have offered a disheartening entropy in lieu of the nourishing grace of Berry's poem. With inadequate and drought-weakened fencing, our wild things have been running rough shod over us. Our many jaunty vehicles have all taken sick leave at once. The persistent dry spell has piled onto an otherwise strange year of weather to leave us with very little vegetative regrowth and little to no acorn drop for our foraging critters. And with ongoing and still unsolved fertility challenges in the pig herd, we are staring down another year of short pork production.
If fire is a process that releases energy and products then wildness is definitely some kind of fire. In times of harmony, our wild things and piece of wilderness give us their energy and help us produce so much satisfaction for ourselves and our community. In discord, like now, our wild things are an overwhelming jumble of pieces that consume us and seem to produce only more frustration.
I wrote much of this sob-song after the worst farmer's market of the year, but in the 24 hours since, it has rained. Already some of the grasses are perking up and the electric fences are a little punchier with moisten earth to ground them. Soon the pigs and cattle will remember not to cross them. Soon the vehicles will be reshuffled and some replaced. Soon the pigs will be sorted, tested, and culled. So these wild pieces move in small measure towards a less inflamed time. This is how we do it: patience, persistence, peace.