The first words Eric shouted to me from the corral when I arrived were “go on in.” And the first thing I noticed when the house came into view were the 4 trucks outside. Reckon this is a place I might like to be!
Eric used to play the banjo before he got bit by that rattlesnake; now his fingers don’t move the same. He is so interesting and knowledgeable, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of things to learn from him. He explained to me very simply what grazing and sustainable land management are. Well, they’re simple concepts when you define them in terms of science and not personal interest. Grazing is the removal of tissue from a living plant. Overgrazing is the removal of tissue from a living perennial plant so that the amount removed cannot be replaced in a growing season. So based on the seasons and times of germination and whatnot, the cows are moved between (the 8) pastures often enough to avoid overgrazing. We’ve been made, as environmentalists and conservationists, to believe that grazing is bad. A human picking a flower is grazing, and we’re told not to do that. But picking a flower is like trimming a fingernail – it’ll grow back. Cows and horses eating grass is the same as mowing the lawn. Oy, this is mind-bogglingly simple.
Today I learned that horses have 2 legs. Duh. They can hear your heartbeat, so you have to be calm. I met Sugar, the horse I’ll be riding. All work here is done on horseback because there are no roads on the property because roads lead to erosion, especially in a landscape like this. I learnt how to pick up a horses foot. And how to make a tasty oat and beer mixture for Dink the mule. Can’t wait to start working with the horses tomorrow.
Jean is tough and a hard-worker with a very beautiful and organized home full of homemade concoctions like kombucha and prickly pear sorbet. She is not the kind I ever expect to hear the words “good enough” from. I, on the other hand, probably say those words too much! So this will be good for me.
This county we’re in, Greenlee, is really small, I noticed when looking at the map, and I wondered how many people could possibly live in this place. Eric answered that question today without me asking… 3,000. In the whole county! He said this is a unique place and the attitude (you’re on your own) is more similar to New Mexico than Arizona (let’s build highways!). How interesting and wonderful that I have once again placed myself exactly where I want to be without even knowing it. You know, I noticed that being in AZ this time around, my perception of it has changed. When I first came here a year and a half ago it was my favorite thing ever – perfect in every way (except Phoenix) – the landscape, native influence, cowboy-esque places, and even places like Tucson aren’t so bad for a bigger city. But after being in Trinity and all, I don’t feel the same about AZ. The landscape is still priceless but the people – eh. Lots of snowbirds and implants, tourists, and the entire state is basically geared toward tourism, and Tucson isn’t all that different than a place like Phoenix or Redding. It’s kind of a sad thing to realize, but not completely, because it sounds like I’ve landed in one of the exceptions. It’s mystifying really how that’s worked out. I’m feeling very good about this.
I am concerned I won’t meet people in town and such, though. But Eric even addressed that too without me asking. He said the people will come to you in time, you can’t go looking for them. I’s really eerie how he says these things that are so relevant.