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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

'Til The Cows Come Home

Cows in the Pasture, Mj Pettengill
Cows in the Pasture, Mj Pettengill

After sitting with the waterfall of my childhood, reinvigorating my inner flow, and opening the door to myself, I realized there was more to it.

Yes, I entered and encountered the necessary freeing. But I wasn’t done.

I left the falls and went to a well-known place down the road with more trails and a working farm. That, too, is a childhood site. My renewal in these woods led me to hike several trails sprouting from the center.

Although I can and do see the benefits of embracing the inner child, my presence in these sacred places has shifted as I go with my heart and eyes wide open. Many stories are embedded in the light and shadows of the elders—the tree council—that witness life as it ebbs and flows through time and me.

My favorite part of this place today, during this phase of my life, is the cows. It’s so silly to most, I know, to be surrounded by woods, rivers, and mountains and go for the cows.

Outside of my Native roots, and as I have stated all too often, I come from a long line of farmers, loggers, and seafarers. We have a strong maritime history that continues to emerge each day.

(Hats off to my sailor son who served on the USS Constitution.)

Of course, there is a great deal of family history that I have uncovered, not limited to the above-mentioned, but I am presently swirling about in the 19th century. I might share my rich Puritan/Salem ancestral history in future offerings and my scholarly work surrounding this extraordinary time in our past.

My love for cows is connected to my maternal grandfather, once the head herdsman of a considerable herd of dairy cows on a large, well-respected farm in this area. My mother lived there as a teenager, and her sister and other family members stayed on throughout their working years, and my grandmother (the other Maryjane) ran the boarding house. My great-grandfather from Nova Scotia even joined the family and worked at this beautiful farm in the mountains overlooking the lake during his final years.

I was born into this. I had no sense of the farmers’ placement at the bottom of the barrel as a low-level societal position. It was rich and bountiful to me. I was blessed to wake up, head to the barn, and watch my grandfather tend to the cows.

Later, I was fortunate to operate my own farm on another mountain overlooking a significant river. It was a substantial aspect of our daily lives, integrated into our home school.

My grandparents were guides for my future self, succeeding as both the farmer and the farmer’s wife. Together, they displayed the inner strength illuminating what I was made of and what mattered most.

When I filled the role simultaneously as the farmer and farmer’s wife, it was natural. Whether it was caring for a sick chicken, administering injections to a baby goat, braving subzero temperatures to chip ice from the barn door, and, with my children, facing livestock and deadstock, burying our goat on the mountain. I was made for it.

My days on the farms throughout my life have provided a rich set of tools for my writing. It is from first-hand experience and with ease that I include many farm scenes in my work.

When I was a young girl, I used to sit on a stonewall near my home and play my trumpet. The cows were quite curious—a polite and courteous audience. I continue to honor them for that.

I can always visit the cows during times of uncertainty—when sifting and sorting through events of our ever-changing world. They are curious but not too eager to rush to the fence and say hello. It’s reassuring.


Sep 01, 2023

It is always enjoyable to share experiences that I myself have not had, first hand . It opens up a picture that was previously limited to observer. Your interesting past enrichens the present for empathetic readers. First hand accounts based upon real experiences and their profound recollections are a welcome alternative to scientific theories and the world of CGI and AI

Long may true reality reign ! Mucky hands instead of sterile gloves.

Todays homes exclude the contact with micro=organisms due to the fanatical use of cleansing chemicals and so the kids are more vulnerable to minor infections . Thanks for sharing.

Mj Pettengill
Mj Pettengill
Sep 01, 2023
Replying to

I'm glad you enjoyed my offering. I am quite affected by my environment and that which dwells within. I find that my connection to my past experiences is like a road map over time. When we pause to reflect, we allow ourselves the opportunity to revisit those parts of ourselves that we carry with us that have been the foundation for many of the decisions and outcomes in our lives. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for your ongoing support and positive feedback. It means a lot. 🙏🏼

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