Take time to stop and smell the deer prints
Every Saturday and Sunday morning, my dog, Bella, wakes me up about seven in the morning. I hear her stretch, sigh, and then her cold wet nose nudges my hand and if I don’t pet her, then she hops up on the bed and nudges the cover off me until I get up.
It is pretty adorable if you ask me.
I get about five minutes to get up and dressed before she wants to head outside to explore the great outdoors. It does not matter if it is raining, snowing or a beautiful morning, Bella is always game to explore her surroundings. Our morning jaunts have taught me a lot about taking a moment to enjoy my surroundings and pause amidst the chaos that has been 2020.
Now that crops have been harvested, Bella and I have begun walking the fields at the farm in the morning. To me, it is always stunning how soft the land in fields look, but how strong it actually is when my boots and her paws trek across the rows. I am always fascinated by the number of tracks you can find in a field.
On our explorations, we often see deer prints, rabbit droppings, half-chewed acorns from squirrels and more recently, coyote tracks. Bella, of course, sniffs each track diligently, committing to memory the smell of each so she can track it at a later date or follow it down the row.
These moments of stop, sniff, identify and then move on have taught me a bit about how I need to approach the chaos of this year. I need to take a page from Bella’s book. If the smell or track follows straight down the row, then I need to follow it and move in a forward direction. However, if the track or smell takes me too far from the objective, I need to let it go and hope that maybe it circles back around later.
This advice might be crucial for maintaining my sanity teaching during COVID-19.
Another thing these walks have taught me is that nothing stays the same; even the fields change throughout the years.
One major change that has happened this year is that we actually added a real waterway through our big field. Since our farm is only about a mile from Mosquito Lake, water has always been an issue. All the water from state Route 11 runs across our neighbor’s field, picking up speed and debris, and crossing our field. This has made us lose some quality topsoil and created an issue that could not continue.
So this year, we created a waterway through our field to help slow the runoff and save our topsoil. This waterway was created with help from Ohio Farm Bureau and the Trumbull County Extension office.
During our morning walks, it has been amazing to see this new waterway take shape. What started as a deep but craggy creek that ran in a haphazard fashion through a major field has now been turned into a smooth, wide but shallow, grass field that will safely channel water and catch topsoil. However, never in all my days did I ever think that we would willingly turn a stretch of farmable land to grass. Yet, I am excited to see how this saves our precious soil and helps to prevent erosion.
These morning walks have been the calm in the storm, a moment to reflect and pause in a year that has been anything but normal. Walking in the field, enjoying an early sunrise or dodging raindrops have given me a chance to evaluate what is important and what I should let go of. It has also taught me that while things may seem permanent or that there might not be an easy way out immediately, change is inevitable.
Even the land surrounding us changes with the seasons, the years, the decades, and the millennium and when you’re looking for experts in land, look to the Ohio Farm Bureau and its vast network of resources.
Yet, the land is not the only area of expertise for Farm Bureau. Mental health, food safety, immigration, politics, scholarships and a whole range of other topics fall under the purview of Farm Bureau, and during these tough times, I encourage you to reach out and find resources that support you and your goals.
From finding mental health resources for someone who might be struggling to learning more about where your food comes from, I encourage you to take some of your time to explore the Farm Bureau website. You might find that Farm Bureau is more than just farming and that a walk in the outdoors could give you a better perspective about the world around you.
Clemson is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and completed her doctorate at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca.