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May/June 2005 – Away

I am belted into seat 18D, Westjet flight number 89, homeward-bound from Calgary. My daughter, Lily, on my right, is slurping from a juice box. We are returning from the Alberta Farm & Ranch Show, in Edmonton. Four days, 30,000 farmers, 300 exhibitors, 10 million corn dogs. Small Farm Canada’s booth was in Hall A. To our right a handsome couple was selling aerial photos of homesteads. It feels like I shook hands with every farmer in the show. Twice. My feet are sore.

I talked about livestock for four days. I can?t wait to get home, slip into rubber boots, and walk the farm. The sheep are lambing now. The good ewe, #20, has delivered doubles. There’ve been two triples since I left. The remaining ewes are as big as rain barrels. I’ll scoop an extra measure of grain into the wooden trough just to hear them chew. I’ll find something wrong with the way the lambing shed is organized. I’ll redo it.

The flight attendant announces that, after three years of auditions, the co-pilot has finalIy signed to the cast of River Dance. I miss the farm.

For four days at the farm show I talked about crops and vegetables. I can’t wait to dig the garden fork into the soil, to hold and feel the wet earth. I’ll lay out the garden rows with two sticks and twine. I’ll plant spinach, lettuce, onions while seated on an upside down plastic bucket. After that I’ll fix the gate so the deer can’t get in. The hens need to be culled. I’ll have too much to do. I’ll wonder how it will all get done. I’ll have a sore back.

The pilot tells a joke about blondes, a bar, and a parrot.

I miss the farm.

I’ll walk across the road and through the wire gate and up the hill to my neighbour’s pastures to see our yearling lambs. I’ll briefly wish my neighbour’s land was my land.

For lunch I’ll have roasted, home-raised chicken and dessert of preserved pears. I may have double helpings. I’ll drink water, beer and coffee. I’ll have dirt under my fingernails.

The airline only serves Oreos. I miss the farm.

The writer Bill Gaston says most people live in either their head or in their body. He divides the world in two: head people and body people. Professors, lawyers and accountants are head people. Athletes, welders and carpenters are body people. The two groups understand the world differently. But farmers live in both worlds, don’t we? There is the world of prices and planning, and the world of fencing nails and grease guns. We engage farming with head and body and are rewarded doubly. It’s worth leaving now and then just to know how good it is.
The jet is descending. I miss the farm.