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Winter’s last exhale
Gives way to a new breath
Held within the ground

As a child, I remember driving to Eastern Montana to visit my grandparents on their farm. Each fall we would hunt, surrounded by brown, barren ground and crops. But it was the early summer trips that the earth showed its true colors. My grandmothers carefully manicured flower beds full of red, pink, purple.

Vibrant greens and yellows from newly planted crops, glistening blue from now filled prairie potholes, even the summer fallow seemed a brighter brown. The dead had come back to life.

Now I look out my window to watch the process from start to finish on my own (much smaller) farm. Three years ago our acres were overgrazed, horse dropping laden, sagebrush infested. The next step was dirt; ground ripped up by construction, well testing, tractor work.

Now we slowly see the return on our time of planting seeds, grazing. The grass and clover are leaping out of the ground, seemingly inches a day. Flowers and blooming weeds bring in color. It has been a labor of love in renewal.

Signs of renewal enliven all the senses. The smell of the blooms, of fresh rain. The sound of our bees harvesting pollen. The tickle of grass against the bare leg and fingertips. And babies. Crying, calling- a symphony - of lambs, kids, chicks.

Spring is beautiful, but noisy.

It is also a time for changes in our lives. As teachers, spring marks the descent into the final stages of the school year. We move on to summer jobs and projects. Focus shifts to graduations and celebrations. Next year will be new students, new assignments, renewed vigor.

Where does all the new-new take us? In order to renew, we must move on from the old. Renewal is such a positive word; change is often not. Yet we look forward to spring: new life, change. It is a paradox. At our farm we look forward to the new life. A successful lambing season brought 10 healthy, beautiful Icelandics.

The ewes did amazing in delivery, are attentive to the babies, and we are blessed. Unfortunately, the negative side of renewal/change soon

arrived. Our first goat delivered 3 kids; one survived. A second dealt us the same fate-⅓ survival. For all the expectations of newness and joy we were faced with death and sorrow. Renewal requires sacrifice.

So we renew. We adjust procedures, feed, minerals for the goats. We research and change our knowledge. New homes will be found for the kids and lambs. We trade animals to bring in fresh bloodlines. Animals are set out to graze, to change the landscape as they eat and move. And we learn from our mistakes, try to forgive ourselves as part of our personal renewal.

We are blessed currently with the ultimate refresher, renewal- rain. Nothing cleanses like a hard downpour in the afternoon, followed by sun. A reminder that renewal is more than a

seasonal change- it is a promise.

Jon Moore, of Hoof and Paw Farm, raises Icelandic, BFL, and Painted Desert sheep on a small farm near Helena, MT. They offer raw fleece and prepared fiber.


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