I wrote recently about the volunteer crop of wheat that surprised us this spring. The farmer who manages the fields around our house decided to harvest and add the green wheat to his already fat silage worms. Well, they're not really worms, they're actually huge plastic tubes of crushed and fermented plant stuff, taller than a person and stinking like garbage. But they look like worms, so that's what we call them.
After the plant stuff has gotten good and stinky, it is fed to cows. Trucks come and empty out the worms little by little for the hungry bovines. It might just be me, but dairy farming seems to be a messy, smelly business. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe they're bucolic, peaceful buddhas in disguise. Hayden Carruth, a Vermont poet, thinks so:
The Cows at Night
The moon was like a full cup tonight,
too heavy, and sank in the mist
soon after dark, leaving for light
faint stars and the silver leaves
of milkweed beside the road,
gleaming before my car.
Yet I like driving at night
in summer and in Vermont:
the brown road through the mist
of mountain-dark, among farms
so quiet, and the roadside willows
opening out where I saw
the cows. Always a shock
to remember them there, those
great breathings close in the dark.
I stopped, and took my flashlight
to the pasture fence. They turned
to me where they lay, sad
and beautiful faces in the dark,
and I counted them–forty
near and far in the pasture,
turning to me, sad and beautiful
like girls very long ago
who were innocent, and sad
because they were innocent,
and beautiful because they were
sad. I switched off my light.
But I did not want to go,
not yet, nor knew what to do
if I should stay, for how
in that great darkness could I explain
anything, anything at all.
I stood by the fence. And then
very gently it began to rain.