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Moo Juice Creamery.

Juli, #24

As I’ve previously mentioned, I moved west to Springfield, Missouri to start a dairy farm with my husband, his family and a family friend. While I’ll be posting some of my favorite images here, I’ll be talking about what we’re up to over at Head on over there to see who we are, what we’re up to and what we have to say about that. I’ll just leave y’all with these images of Norma (featured), Juli and Dobin and you can read all about the adventures of tearing apart a milking parlor.

Dobin, the Bull Calf

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Goodbye, Darling.

Two months ago, I sold my beloved 2002 Volkswagen GTI. I had been kicking around the idea for nearly two years, hemming and hawing about money, resources, self-image and past decisions. In leaving the life I had for the life I want, I had to let go of so much. I had to let go the person I was, the person I thought I was and the image of my self that I created.

And I had to let go of my car. I had so much of my self-image tied up into the VW, feeling too deeply attached to an engine, to metal, plastic, leather. I made the decision to buy this car when I was but 21 years old because I wanted a cool car, not thinking about the upkeep, the inevitable downhill slide a car takes as it ages. And I couldn’t keep up with it. It fell into disrepair. Pulling to the right, balding tires, worn suspension. It was too much; I felt anchored to this car. So, I sold it off to someone who could take better care of it, who could provide the time and money it deserved.

I gave up the ability to move about without asking permission. I gave up a small part of my sanctuary, where I hid and cried and screamed and felt safe. I gave up the long hours behind the wheel, seeking images and places and experiences I needed to have, so that I could feel connected to something other than media. I gave up irresponsible straight-aways at 90 miles an hour, tight mountain curves and the whisper of the interstate. I gave it up so I could, maybe, be present in my life. I gave it up to access something that’s more concrete than running away.

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A. and I moved west the first week of the new year, against some of the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced. Packed all of our things, packed the car with ourselves, the dog, a week’s worth of clothes and headed away from lives well-established but half-lived. We moved back to his hometown of Springfield, Missouri, a place spread out and wider reaching then the east coast cities I have lived in. Enchanted with the promise of a richer, slower life lived closer to the land, days punctuated by fence mending, milkings, work.

I will not say we landed with grace, nor are things as uncomplicated as we had hoped. We have taken small steps towards the land, the life we want but it is complicated by other peoples’ realities of jobs, lives lived, schedules. We are not doing this alone, which requires patience and compromise. It will, however, result in something larger than myself, larger than he and I.

Still, the core of the work that needs to be done is there. Nightly, I find myself in a converted horse barn, face level with cow udders, the hum of a vacuum pump and a pulsator for a bucket milker ever-present. I find comfort in the repetitive work, in the earthy smell of the cows’ skin and hair, the classic rock radio station that plays to calm the cows. There, I unclench my jaw, leave behind all the things I cannot control, forget about all things I must do to make a rural life my own. I do the work because it must be done. It is there I find quiet and connection to a history and a world larger than myself.