The Farm Bleat: Escaping reality has become a necessity

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Julie Buntjer

As I steered the lawn mower up and down the front lawn of the family farm Friday evening, I couldn’t help but appreciate a few things — the monotony, the serenity and, despite the steady roar of the motor, the peacefulness.

First, the monotony. At a time when this country is reeling from a global pandemic, ongoing riots stemming from the killing of George Floyd, and the ever-present disagreements between so-called Facebook friends about everything from Black Lives Matter to politics to whether or not you need to wear a mask, I think we all could stand to take a break and look for some monotony.

It was a comfort to have a monotonous chore like lawn mowing to sort out my thoughts on a warm summer-like evening. It’s akin to going for a Sunday drive through the country, except I had to be cognizant of the gnarly twigs of the old lilac bush and the low-hanging branches of the pear tree (they could poke an eye out, you know!).

I’ve learned that monotony, something I’ve often construed as boredom, has a place in my life these days.

Just as the grass continues to grow beneath my feet, so it must be cut — from east to west or north to south — row after row, until it is done. Monotony brings with it a bit of satisfaction, a job well done, an escape from still-undefined feelings that plague my thoughts.


And then there’s serenity. Our farm, flanked by conservation acres on the north, east and south, is the epitome of serenity. Well, at least it used to be before a peacock took up residence about a year and a half ago.

Peapod, as my mom affectionately calls him, has one of the most annoying squawks of any bird I’ve ever heard. The feathered beauty showed up on the farm about the time of my dad’s death. Yes, some people rejoice in seeing cardinals, thinking the beautiful red birds are a sign their departed loved one is near. Did my dad decide to send a peacock in his stead? Do Peapod’s squawks remind Mom of the many times Dad stood in the farmyard yelling, “Hey?” until she shouted back, “What?”

I asked her. She thought it was funny. We’re both still waiting to see a cardinal.

Serenity, absent of the squawking, is sitting in the farmyard and listening to the distant cackle of pheasants and the rustling of tree leaves; searching for recognizable shapes in fluffy clouds; smelling the unmistakable scent of fresh-cut grass and newly raked alfalfa fields.

Serenity comes from peacefulness, which, by its very definition is free from war, strife, commotion, violence or disorder.

It has not been a peaceful time of late, but then has it ever really been peaceful in this world?

As a newspaper reporter, it’s all too easy to become consumed by the daily feed of bad news — even when I know there is plenty of good news out there, too. It’s all too easy to get caught up in political battles; and it’s all too easy to get angry when people think the coronavirus is a fluke and they don’t need to wear a mask. It makes me angry just thinking about all the anger.

So, form your own opinions. Do what you think is best.


As for me, I’ll cling to my escape mechanism. I just started my 72nd book … since the beginning of January. What am I reading on the back patio or listening to on my walks? Books with a little humor, books with a little romance, books about Amish people, books about Dakota life in the 1800s and a series of stories set in a country mansion transformed into the Elm Creek Quilts retreat center.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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