Beings on the land


It’s summer, the island is lush with vegetation, all the creatures are stirring, even the mice. Though they seem pretty good at staying out of sight. Migratory birds have now nested comfortably in the protected, sanctuary land on the farm. The barn swallows, the Towhees, the Cat birds, Baltimore Orioles, Phoebes, Cardinals have all found homes here at Mermaid. There are various warblers, and sparrows and we even had a visit from a ruby throated hummingbird. The year rounders, the crows and ducks, seem to be happy too. Oh ,yeah, there are chickens. Some providing eggs and roosters who give the place a Caribbean feel as they crow at will at all hours. The others are raised for meat and happily they are pretty quiet in their outdoor enclosure.


A big group of Geese have taken refuge in one of the ponds across the street, watched over by the Oxen, both elder and newly arrived. So, you get the idea, it’s bustling. The milk cows have started grazing across the street as well so they make their early morning and late afternoon walks from the field to the milking parlor, then back to the field.


Above and below the ground creatures are bustling too. Various bugs, spiders and snakes, an occasional chipmunk, are all encountered, though infrequently, by those working with the plants as they go about their chores. Below ground the earthworms go about their business, aerating the soil. Here on the farm they are revered, allowing us to do ‘No till” farming, which helps keep the invisible networks of microbes and nutrients and even fungi thriving.


Also, above ground there is a group of workers, with names like Lassie, Tex, Rosie and Precious.

The first three are the border collies who help keep the cows and sheep in line, literally. The last, Precious, over see’s Chris as he labors with the chickens. Tex is perhaps the most remarkable, of all the dogs. Blinded by a disease when he was younger, he still gets around the farm nimbly to do his particular set of chores, the most important to him it would seem is to monitor the activity at the farm stand and to entice visitors, especially children, to throw a stick for him to chase, a task he performs deftly. Be prepared to stay a while if you are inclined to be his stick throwing helper, he is indefatigable. Often when not engaged in this task he can be heard off in the distance barking at his deflated basketball, chiding it to run away so he can give chase. The basketball doesn’t seem to mind.


Then there are the cats.  Jane and Zinnia are tigers and Rosie, Traveler and Ginger are Calicos. Each have their favorite spots on the farm. Jane, Zinnia, Traveler and Ginger tend to stay around the house while Rosie holds court around the barn and in the shop. Each are friendly in their own way but Rosie is perhaps the most gregarious. Walking past the shop one is often halted by her as she comes rushing out and when she gets close she implores, “Pet me!, Pet me!.” Though of course she says it in cat speak. She arches her back in expectation of human touch and once that occurs, off she goes. She is easily satisfied and clearly has business elsewhere. That is until the next person happens by when she renews her mission, marching up to the newly arrived human to again get what is her due… “Pet me!” she says, and of course as she is queen of the barn, one must comply.



(508) 645-3492


9 Middle Rd, Chilmark, MA 02535, USA

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