Home, home on the range

No deer or antelope here (from what I’ve seen), but you won’t hear me saying much of a discouraging word about my first day at Omer’s family farm, just a bit West of Jerusalem.

I don’t have access to my own computer right now, so I don’t have pictures to share of yet, but I will try to share some views of this incredible spot once able. Also – there is a great deal more to share about travels through and impressions of Palestine, and there is at least one post waiting on my computer for publication. This too, I will get to at some point soon.

Tonight, I am sitting by Omer’s small wood stove, and I have been enjoying reading “Anatomy of the Spirit” by a woman named Caroline Myss. This lifestyle of farming during the day and enjoying a good book by the fire at night is one I could definitely get used to – you know, mixed properly with the right friends, family, yoga/parkour pullups and a healthy dose of occasional adventure.

It feels good after a few days spent primarily walking through cities old and new, to be back in a place where the air is fresh and the milk is fresher. Omer gave me a truly cool birthday gift: a zip up hoodie with an image of a goat farmer, coupled with the phrase in Hebrew “farmers are a race”. After all the thoughts and I’ve had recently about community and identity, it seems all too fitting. And it’s exciting to have a sweatshirt that zips up from the left – I feel like it forces me to use the other side of my brain right off the bat in the morning.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about making cheese today, it’s how very clean you have to keep everything. I had a great time cleaning the vats and moulds with Nir, one of Omer’s workers who drives to the farm for cheese making, and who is paid with a large jug of goat’s milk, which he takes home to make cheese with himself. We talked a bit about birthright, and then moved into a conversation about nature and its importance to the development of children. If you’re interested in a good book on the latter, “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv is a must read (thanks Trevanna). It was a huge part of my deciding to take the leap from Google into the wilds of Yosemite.

The other big impression from today: I was really taken with the intuitive connection Omer and his helpers seem to have with the goats and other animals here on the farm. I am still in awe of how they are able to direct the dogs with whistles and hand gestures to then direct the goats to where they need to be. At one point, when the goats were all ambling about the pen at the end of the day, Omer was able to call over a particular goat that he had diagnosed as sick earlier. Amidst the tumult of hooves, the goat made its way over, and hopped partway up the fence as Omer gestured for her to do, so that he could give her a playful pet and nudge, as if to say “just checking to see if you’re all right.”

The same thing happened when we worked together to trim the horse’s hooves today. I held the reins and murmured sweet nothings, while Omer went to town with a variety of torturous looking instruments, a very strong leg held between his knees. Afterwards, it looked like the horse was limping a bit, and so Omer hopped on board, bareback, and rode off down the dirt road to take the horse out to pasture. I felt like I was looking back in time – it made me want to ride a horse to work. Turned out the horse was just being a bit temperamental, and just needed to be encouraged a bit to shake it off.

I don’t know if there’s a point to make with these impressions, other than to share the simple joys I’ve found in them today. I myself got to use a chainsaw for the first time, and then got to fix a chainsaw for the first time (i.e. replace a dulled chain). Even taking apart a chainsaw and having to figure out for myself the system that held the blade in place and moved the chain – I could feel myself not just learning a new skill, but awakening a part of my mind that so often lies dormant. It’s so nice to take something apart and to try to fix it/learn from it, rather than bringing it to a shop, and paying for the finished product (not that this isn’t often needed to). Besides – did I mention I used a chainsaw today? Ladies – don’t all jump up and come to Israel at once 😉

Omer’s father just walked in, and he is one of those folks you see for the first time, and immediately sense “this person is going to be mind-bogglingly awesome to interact with.” Like father like son – thus far being with both has been boggling on many fronts, in only the best of ways. The fire is burning a bit more red, so I am going to tend to that flame. My thoughts and heart are pointed Westward, and I hope you know and feel it.

It does your body good,
David

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