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Friday, October 25, 2013

Connecting with Others

Rachael Brugger
Sr. Associate Web Editor

When we're connected to others, we become better people. —Randy Pautsch (HobbyFarms.com)

On the farm, I feel a sense of connection I haven’t felt anywhere else on earth. The soil under my feet feels organic and the air I breathe in is fresh and full of scents not found in the city—drying hay, growing herbs, animal manure and the like. Farm life awakens my senses, aligns my spirit and helps me get back to that place where I can better reach out to the world around me.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to step away from the office, strap on my boots and do the type of work that doesn’t involve keyboards and computer screens—and please note, work was definitely part of the equation. In addition to shooting a collection of stock photos for the magazine and a number of videos which will soon appear on HobbyFarms.com, I was put to work harvesting greens and pumpkins, feeding chickens and pigs, and rolling up tomato cages to put away for the winter. The work was physical and tiring, but at the end of the day I felt rejuvenated and fulfilled, putting me in a place to better be molded into a better form of myself.

If you’re a hobby farmer who spends a good chunk of your week churning away in an office, maybe you know what I mean. Staring at computer screens and sitting under fluorescent lights can put you in a fog. But get out to do farm work gives you a completely different perspective. You are able to connect with things that are alive—crumbly soil, curious hogs, towering corn stalks, frantic chickens.

Despite the hours I spent toiling alongside the farmers, I did manage to take time for a few moments of pure connection for connection’s sake—one particularly memorable moment with the cows.

I’m always delighted by the way cows interact with one another and the humans on the farm, as if they were designed to co-exist in packs. You can often find them grazing alongside one another or huddled together to keep the flies away. Though they show an obvious timidity toward their human caretakers, it doesn’t prevent them from wanting to connect with us to.

As I approached this particular group of cows, my camera in tow, they performed their typical mass side-step as I approached, glancing at me from the corner of their eyes but being sure not to look at me full-on. I happily snapped away, and then took a minute to plop on the ground and sip in in their magnificence, their gentle strength.

Not before long, I began to feel like a work on exhibit at the museum. The cows, kept at bay by wire fencing, began to converge toward me, taking in the sight of this odd two-legged creature in front of them. The individuals in the back nudged their ways forward so they could get a better view, and still those farther back adjusted their postures so they could catch a glimpse of the show.

Here we human and cows sat, not for long, maybe 5 minutes or so, but despite the lack of a formal language we connected in a way only possible on the farm. It brought me peace. It sparked my creativity. It revived my tired body so I could return back to my farm work.

In what ways does your connection to the people, animals and plant life on your farm make you a better person? Please share!

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