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7 December 2011

Living on a farm for more than twenty years makes you sleep lightly. That is, I sleep well, but any sound that’s out of the usual tends to have me drift towards being more awake and aware until it’s identified. Then I drift back down to solidly asleep again. I never come completely awake unless I can’t identify the noise. If I can’t then I do wake up and listen, it may be one of my animals in trouble, in which case I’ll be up, dressed and out of the door in 2-3 minutes. The best example of this I can tell was several years ago in the early hours when the ‘alert’ section of my brain noted footsteps running towards the house. Someone hammered several times on the wall by my bedroom window and I was awake so fast that I was calling back to them by about the third thump.
In a way this ties in with the book review I’ve just done (of Jack McDevitt’s Firebird) in which I said that people don’t change, we’re the same as we were thousands of years ago, it’s our surroundings that we alter. And after my ‘alert’ signalled last night that in the distance one of my lambs was bawling, after I’d come awake, dressed, gone out and found that the daft little critter had got himself stuck in the fence, got him out, watched an ecstatic mother and child reunion in the moonlight, gone back to bed and fallen right back into sleep…I feel a kinship with those ancient people who probably had the same ‘alert’ and, while they probably had different reasons to deal with why the lamb was crying for help, would have acted as I did.
It wasn’t much, half an hour out of my night, not uncommon for a farmer, even one like me who has only a few acres and a flock of ten sheep. (Two cattle, 11 hens, a rooster, 2 bantams, 4 geese – and probably two piglets come winter.) But I paused to look over my paddocks in the moonlight and admire the silent land, to smile at the lamb now catching up on his drinking, to be sleepily muttered at by the geese, and I went back inside feeling a link over the centuries with every farmer who’s done that. The machinery may change, but the land remains, and a farmer is a farmer, now, in the future – or ten thousand years ago – and the continuity is pleasant to contemplate.


  1. Your place sounds so wonderful. I’d love to visit. There are stories in them animals. Lots and lots of wonderful stories. I reckon I could write a few of them =)

    Comment by Glenn Hibburt — 24 March 2016 @ 20:10

  2. It is, they certainly are, and I have. Seven books in the “Daze” series and a host of letters to friends overseas. That’s the great thing about a small farm/lifestyle block, when you’re at home most of the time. You see all that stuff.

    Comment by lyn — 25 March 2016 @ 13:04

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