More Butter, Please!

Mere words can’t really express how much I love butter.  Sure, there are those that say it’s not healthy, and if you’re a vegetarian, you might be offended by my love of this animal product. Even so, it’s something that I really enjoy. While I try to practice moderation in my butter consumption, there’s nothing like a thick layer of it spread over freshly baked bread.  So good!

Because it’s a staple in my diet, there are times when there will be a stick sitting on the counter, softening up so that it’s ready to be spread upon a grilled cheese or toasted bagel.  Having the butter on the counter hasn’t been an issue until recently.  Someone decided it would be a good idea to eat an entire stick of it while I was out running errands.

Hannah?  What’s this?

Apparently eating that much butter at one time is not easy on the digestive system, because a few hours later, Hannah violently expelled it from her stomach.  In keeping with the silent code of all dogs everywhere, she opted not to throw up on the wood floor, which is easily cleaned, but rather on the rug, which is not so easily cleaned.  In my lifetime I’ve had to clean up plenty of unpleasant things, but there has been nothing as vile as this butter barf. 

It was so awful a diffuser was necessary to purify the air.

The incident is behind us now and the new location for softening butter is on a shelf way higher than Hannah is able to reach.  Hannah and I had a long discussion about how a little butter is good, but a lot of butter is not.

As I continue my Minimalism journey, I find the same pattern in my own life. It seemed like if a little stuff was good, a lot would be better!  As I look around, I see a shelf loaded up with books, a little dish filled with earrings that I rarely wear, dishes that I haven’t used since I moved, and other things too numerous to mention.  It’s unbelievable, really, given that I’ve done multiple major and minor purges over the last few years.

Things that I thought were useful or that gave me pleasure have become burdens, things I have to wash or dust or shuffle around or sort and ‘organize.’  And here’s the thing – I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth, but I’m quite certain I don’t want to spend them washing or dusting or shuffling or organizing.

More stuff has left the building and I’ve been scrutinizing the remaining items as well. My goal isn’t to get to the place where I’ve got a mattress on the floor and I’m surrounded by four bare walls, the goal is to have only the amount of stuff that I use, enjoy, or otherwise adds value to my life.  As The Minimalists say, “Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all.”  Oh, and go easy on the butter.

Why The Rooster Had To Go

Being greeted by the sun is one of the best things at the farm.  It’s not that the sun didn’t rise in other places that I’ve lived – it’s just that most of the time I didn’t take the time to notice it.  Slowing the pace of my life down so that I can be present in the moment has been a true gift.

Sunrise at the farm

Things aren’t always perfect at the farm, however.  One of our pullets from last spring turned out to be a rooster.  He’s a beautiful white Brahma.  I watched him go from a little chick that we thought was a hen to a gangly teenager whose attempts at crowing were ludicrous, to a mature rooster who watched over the hens, making little clucking noises to bring them close when he’d found a particularly delightful treat. 

Mr. Rooster

When he pecked a two-year old on the back (not a life threatening injury, but clearly traumatic as she remembers it to this day), we chalked it up to a number of things – he felt threatened because she was running toward him and the other chickens, her size made her vulnerable, etc., and it was decided that he would be on probation to see if the behavior persisted.

Like most farms, we get new chickens every year.  For reasons that I don’t understand, the rooster despised one of the older hens, a black and white Barred Rock.  There were others of that breed in his group and in the group of our older hens, but he only had an issue with her.  She never backed down when he challenged her and I loved that about her. 

As the younger hens matured, it was difficult to tell them from the older hens and one night, the older hen got in the coop with the rooster.  When I went to the henhouse in the morning, she was badly injured and despite my best efforts, succumbed from her injuries within a short time.

The unseasonably warm weather was a blessing as I went to the back of our property to dig a hole to bury her.  While I was digging I wondered what could drive an animal to inflict so much hate and violence that another animal would die.  Surely she cried out in pain – was he oblivious to her suffering?  And why did he hate her?  What was it about her that piqued his wrath?  She was a chicken, he was a chicken, different breeds, but so what?

As I continued to dig, I realized that we humans are no different.  When my oldest son was a toddler, we were riding a city bus.  There was another Mom and her son in the seat in front of us.  The two boys were playing with each other, peeking over the seat and ultimately they held hands and the other Mom and I smiled at each other.  The memory of a brown hand holding a white one is etched in my memory – an Instagram moment had that existed thirty years ago.  Even though that Mom and I didn’t speak to each other, I felt a surge of happiness that this new generation would be the one that is color blind, that all the anger and hate and violence would be in the past, that we could all live together in peace and harmony.  (Yeah, sometimes I get all Pollyanna like that.

Both of my boys had friends of all kinds, all kinds!, and I continued to feel encouraged. That’s why it’s been so difficult over the past few months to see, hear, and read all the harsh comments, families and friends divided over differences of opinion and beliefs and violence, more violence and hatred. 

The rooster no longer lives here at the farm.  While I do hope that he’s doing well in his new home, there’s no place here for someone to act the way he did, both with his fellow hens and the kids that play in the yard.  Bullying, hatred, intolerance, exerting power and control, and acting out violently will not be tolerated.  Now, if only there was something I could do to help humans understand that.