Tuesday, July 25, 2006

the birds and the bees

Yesterday concluded with work out in the fields with the pigs. The weather was foreboding and we drove up towards the pigs as the thunder and lightening hit. Unphased, Davide led us to put up a fence around the pigs, steadily working across the perimeter of their pen. Every now and then a lightning bolt would light up the sky as if the main player on the stage, otherwise just an expanse of field. At one point, Davide started walking away and told me Lascia la rete, lascia la rete (let go of the fence) because Russell, the patriarch and only uncastrated male was coming our way, lumbering in our direction. We waited in the car as Davide poked at Russell from the other side of the fence and herded him away. Russell has been known to bite people, as he did with Davide a few months back. After feeding the pigs (really rotund creatures) to a chorus of wailing/burping/grunting/squealing, we headed back for the conclusion of day number one.

This morning, I woke up a bit sore but went, on automatic, to take a shower (I had taken two the previous day I felt so dirty). Before I turned on the water however I heard a beautifully happy bird song. I went to the window to see two swallows fly away. If birds could giggle flirtatiously, they would sound like these swallows did. In our courtyard, in front of the 'Fattoria' building there are a whole bunch of swallows that just swoop around and fly all day long. Entrancing to watch, beautiful to hear.

This morning I worked with bees. I got the whole suit and everything. Even the square screened hat. It was a bit terrifying. We went around to the back of the apiary area to transport some old bee boxes full of panels of wax back to the main building. This involved walking through the forest and dislodging about 30 wooden boxes apart from each other while being surrounded by bees. You learn to suck it up and just move, smack the boxes apart and transport them, after all you are pretty protected. I learned to just deal with it, take the box, move it. Yea there might be about 20 bees in it that you might disturb but going with their movement somehow coaxes them off. Lindsey and I had been asked if we liked bees this morning, followed by inquiries about allergies. I said okay sure and told Riccio and Carrie about being stung by a bumblebee no problem 2 weeks ago, while Lindsey said she only had a mild reaction to a sting (which means half her forearm swelled up... mild). But we survived, faced the fear and moved those boxes. Full body suits in Tuscany, hot, real real hot.

Life on this farm has a rhythm, you feel useful, you feel purposeful. Tasks require time: mending a fence, moving wood, bailing hay, unloading, driving. A tractor only goes so fast. Moving a pile of wood from one place to another can't be done by machine, it takes time. Most of the tasks I've had to do so far have involved loading, transporting, unloading. Somehow the day trickles away and lunchtime rolls around. All those fears about bees or getting lost on the property on a bicycle or being hungry just evaporate, I am here to work, sweat, be in the land. Bugs are far down on the list of priorities. Rather, it's much more exhilirating to be awake at 6.30am or to come back from a day of work covered in hay, dirt and woodchips to a hot shower and a soft cushiony bed.

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