• Beth Hoffman

Trimming Trees

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

It has been about a week since we arrived in Iowa. I can see John riding the tractor past the back of the tiny house where I sit with the windows open, breeze blowing in. I hear a world of birds just outside, and of course a bug or two.


I've been going out to trim trees early in the morning when John goes to check the cows. Yesterday, by the end of the day, I went to bed so tired I was hardly able to put together a sentence of intelligible speech.

This is an area that needed to be cleared. The brush forms a wall that goes all the way out to the lane and is not suitable for grazing cows.

We are trying to cut back trees in the pasture so that they grow taller and make shade for cattle, instead of clumping together as hedges full of thorns and weeds, impenetrable by cows. We need next to get some goats to clear out more of the brush - a project our nephew Lucas is excited about in a way I have not seen him talk about anything aside from Star Wars and video games.


We cleared out the small trees and brush and put it all in this pile in front of the truck. We will burn it in the winter, but the area can now be used as pasture.

We are still trying to figure out how to make this move work for both of us, a problem that quickly becomes a bit of a cyclical conundrum. We both want to be on the farm, but can’t afford for us to both work out here (see our posts about how little farms make). And if one of us needs to work off-farm, and John is the one who knows how to do everything on the farm, that leaves me to get a job. I had a job interview last week and another a few weeks ago - both for very interesting jobs - and I have my job in San Francisco. We also only have a tiny house out here (without running water) and John and I might kill each other if we spend too long in too tight an area. Yet if we live in Des Moines (an hour away) then I am not even part of the farm for most of the week. What would be the point of moving here if it is not for the chance to spend much more time outside on the farm?


Now the area is cleared out and the trees we left create great shade for livestock.

This past week however, when I've thought about the question of how I am doing and about my own move to Iowa, while I am thinking about it all the time, I am also not “thinking” about it at all. While I work cutting back trees, I am trying to let my gut take over, to let myself feel and not analyze. To have my conscious self shut up and just take notes about what comes up.


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