Hubs and I recently took a drive into the heart and true boonies of Utah to get a closer look at a more agrarian lifestyle. Driving to nowhere, we eventually found ourselves driving into what felt like the land of milk and honey. Truly beautiful and breathtaking. A land some may only ever read about in books. Green. Water. Abundant water. Rivers. Fish. Wildlife. Edible berries strewn throughout. And they were good. So good. Trees. Amazing trees. Canyons. Wildlife. Wild turkeys. Deer herds galore. Large ranches. Cattle. Horses. Sheep. Country bumpkins. Nicest county bumpkins.
A hard-working, simple kind of life. A place worthy of receiving Zion. A place so glorious I could not find it in me to take any pictures. None. So not like me. It was too pretty and too sacred feeling. At least for the time I was there then.
We ended up meeting up with some people who we had mutual friends in common with. We went to their home. Their life-giving/producing land. Their homestead along the raging river where their kids play and their animals drink. Where they get their own water. Given freely by a God without regulations and additives. Given freely with abundance in mind. Sometimes, there is free lunch.
Driving on to their property we were greeted first by horses, then by turkeys and chickens. Around the bend up the road were the sheep, and then the dogs. So many dogs! And puppies. After getting out of the car, we walked through the vegetable garden and fruit trees. Which then led us to the river, by which the rabbits and pigs (and some of the chickens) lived. Oh, and the peacocks. Beautiful, amazing peacocks.
We asked them question after question about living a self-reliant life. ”Do you feel free?” I asked her. ”Yes.” she said simply and with a radiant smile. I knew she was speaking the truth.
These kind people fed us dinner. They are over an hour away from any real grocery store. But they don’t need one. They picked carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuce, and cabbage from their garden (some stored in a root cellar), and together, we made a delicious soup and salad. This is how they roll. Every day. Somehow with variety.
If that wasn’t enough, (they could tell we didn’t want to leave) they invited us to stay the night. In the morning their preteen and teenage girls made us German Pancakes for breakfast. And then off to church we went with them (to the smallest little congregation I’ve ever seen). In the same clothes we came the day before in and slept in. In clothes not worthy of church. At all. Yet we were welcomed and encouraged to go with them.
When we got home, the Mister of the house said he had some sheep to kill. Around four in the morning he had heard some of them screaming and crying. It turns out that two of his dogs got in there and roughed four of them up. Two of them (at least) so badly that they had to be taken out of their misery. My heart sunk. But knowing this was true life stuff for a farmer/rancher, something in me was compelled to watch.
I cried when I looked upon the sheep with mangled up hind quarters and fresh blood still oozing. And then of course, he had to shoot them. I didn’t watch that part. I couldn’t. I watched, with a heavy heart, him skin, gut, and cut up the sheep. There would be ribs for dinner that night, if we wanted to stay.
One of the dog culprits was wandering around the property casually and freely. I could hardly look at him. I was so mad at him. At one point when we crossed paths, I couldn’t help but tell him how I felt, and scolded him. He couldn’t care less, and walked on.
But the other dog culprit was made to be in the gated area where the sheep were being slaughtered. After the Mister skinned the first one, he threw the sheep skins (with head attached) onto the dog. The dog laid still, face and body covered in the skin of the sheep he had helped maim several hours before. I was horrified. It seemed a cruel, mean, and extreme punishment. Then he tied the sheep’s legs around the dogs neck with a rope, like a necklace and made him wear it all day.
What is he doing? I wondered to myself, in disgust.
“I’m punishing him. This is how you teach them to never do it again.” he said to me, seeing my disturbance.
“What about the other dog, roaming around freely?”
“He’s not worth it. I’m getting rid of him.”
A pause in my mind.
And then, the epiphany.
Of course, when life seems cruel and hard and impossible, and we cry out to God, “Why are you allowing this for me? Why aren’t you saving me? Why are you punishing me?”
“Because you’re worth it.”
“Because I don’t want to throw you out.”
Wow. Just wow.
All these stimulations, and inspirations, and lessons within just 24-hours on a ranchers farm. It’s no wonder why God told Adam to spend his time ‘working the land’. How many lessons are there for us, if we were to take up the challenge and command to work the land as in the days of Adam and his posterity?
My heart is full and inspired. My mind is reeling with possibilities. How I would love to say goodbye to Babylon. Farewell. We’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell.
That afternoon, I took the Missus blue-eyed, 7-month old, chubby-cheeked baby down by the river. We sat on a rock inches away from the water, and I pondered all of these things by the quiet of the raging water. The baby sat contentedly with me for almost an hour, looking into the water in a hypnotic gaze.
What a beautiful life.