Attention! Drop The Farm Tools & Enjoy Nature

Life on a farm is busy. But once in a while, it’s good to sit back, rest for a moment, and just appreciate everything your farm offers.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

Life on a farm is busy, whether you’re making a go of it full time or fitting your farming between other jobs that pay bills. The pace of activities can be hectic as you juggle multiple projects and try to squeeze as much out of every day as you can.

But once in a while it’s good to sit back, rest for a moment, and just appreciate the beautiful nature that your farm offers.

A Beautiful Day

As I type this, it’s a beautiful fall day in late September. It’s sunny and warm, but not too hot—78 degrees F. The sky is cloudless. I’m sitting in an Adirondack chair under the glorious full shade of a sugar maple tree in full autumn color.

I’m up at the top of my farm’s orchard, at the crest of a hill overlooking a multitude of young apple, plum and pear trees.

I’ve been sitting here for an hour, enjoying the beautiful weather on what might be one of the last summer-ish days of the year on my northern Wisconsin farm. I should really be adding fresh compost to garden beds in preparation for winter. I also need to give the fields one last mowing. But instead, I’m just sitting, enjoying the view and soaking it all in.

Read more: Easily water your out-of-reach orchard with a water tank on a wagon!

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Nature Emerges into Quiet

Normally when I visit the orchard, I’m on the go—watering trees, tending pumpkins, refreshing mulch, or at the very least taking a walk with family and friends. It’s rare for me to sit stationary up here for more than a few minutes.

But when I do—as I’m doing today—I’m always struck by how quickly nature emerges into view, as though I’ve melted into the environment of my farm. Critters and creatures pay me no mind.

Across the yard, a gray squirrel and a black squirrel hop through the grass, hunting for—what? Maple seeds, perhaps.

Behind me, I can hear a larger animal walking through the woods—probably a whitetail deer (there are so many), though I’m hesitant to turn around and check. I don’t want to scare it away.

Overhead, a bird chirps repeatedly in the maple. A caterpillar descends on a silky thread from one of the branches.

Read more: Deer are great companions—until they aren’t. Here are some tips for fencing them out of the garden.

Sit Longer, See More

The longer I sit, the more things I see. A couple of small birds fly past, flapping vigorously on this largely windless day. A moth flutters by in the opposite direction, blazing a jittery trail across the sky.

The black squirrel edges closer and closer, his feathery tail upright as he bounces within 6 feet of my chair. I turn for a better look, and he spooks slightly. Did he even know I’m here?

Other than the occasional chirps of birds and squirrels, there’s hardly a sound to be heard. Across the sky, I can see a jet plane leaving a cloudy trail in its wake. But it flies so high I can’t hear the rumble of its passing.

The road along the front of my farm is hidden from view nearly a quarter mile south of where I sit. Traffic—what little there is on a Wednesday in this rural county—can’t be seen or heard.

Make the Effort to Do Nothing

So many days, I’m out and about with tools and machines, making no small amount of noise as I complete my farm projects. I derive a lot of satisfaction from these productive pursuits. But they’re far from ideal for observing wildlife.

It’s funny to think how watching the panoramic beauty of an unending nature scene requires the time and effort of doing no farm tasks … which isn’t exactly a small commitment from hectic farmers with busy slates.

That’s why I’m issuing a challenge to all the hobby farmers who read this: On a day when your schedule is a little lighter than usual, choose a special spot on your farm. Then sit down and do nothing. Nothing, that is, except appreciate everything around you, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds that come your way.

Don’t bring any tools or projects with you … except maybe a laptop computer for writing down your observations (guilty as charged).

Give yourself an hour to enjoy a pleasant afternoon on your farm. You’re bound to come away refreshed, happy and even humbled. I know I did.

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