Friday, December 17, 2010

Reflections on Deep Springs: Ezra

It has been a wonderful and challenging couple of months here at Deep Springs College. Indeed, I was thrilled to have gotten in here; really, it was all I could have asked for. Its unbelievable to think that I have been here almost half a year, but I suppose that's how long it has been -- five months now.

These have, without a doubt, been some of the busiest months I have experienced, but I hope (and I feel) that it is pushing me in ways that I would not otherwise have been challenged.

Life here centers around the community, which is both wonderful to have and complex. It is, unlike most large universities, not a community that one can chose to exclude or include themselves from -- it simply is. Therefore, it is an organic community, but as people we tend not to like organic communities. We pick and choose social groups based on similarity of habits, views, hobbies, and lifestyles and although the nature of the college ensures an element of homogeneity, we have quite an interesting mix.

After spending a term under the tutelage of the previous Sr. Dairy boy, I am now Sr. Dairy Boy. I'm here on campus for winter break, which is three weeks long, to take care of our two dairy cows, which is a joy. I don't mean to mystify the relationship between man and animal because ultimately it is one of practicality for both of us (they need to be milked and we need the milk), but there is certainly something to be said about the routine of waking up every morning at 4 am to milk alongside the cows and then again at 4 in the afternoon.

It is a curious thing to be working alongside sentient beings whose thinking is so unlike our own.

As I said though, it is now break so finally, after two weeks of sleeping roughly 4 hours a day and using every other waking hour to do work, I am quite pleased to be able to watch movies, read for pleasure, write emails, and simply spend time on the ranch.

Yesterday, there was a tragic incident that occurred that make one want to both smile and cry.

One of the pigs went into labor around 9 pm, and consequently gave birth to seven little piglets over the next two hours. We got a call at around 11 saying that she had given birth and that if we wanted to we could come and take a look. A friend and I drove over to the other side of the ranch and there they were: six beautiful little piglets. The family who over sees the ranch had built a little hanger with heat lamps for the mama pig to give birth in and so the two daughters of the ranch manager were in the hanger tending to the already suckling pigs. It was really a beautiful sight to see these newborn babies wriggling with life.

Anyway, we left an hour later to go back to the dorm as I had to get up in the morning for dairy. However, at lunch today I just found out that there was a short fuse in the hanger and it caught fire and tragically all the piglets died. The girls (the daughters) were absolutely crushed and I've been shocked as well -- so tragic, to have life taken away so swiftly after it was given, but these are the ways of the world.

It was only later though, that I found out one of the piglets hadn't been born yet and it only came out after the fire. It is a runt, but it is alive and well.

And so life persists against all odds.

Wonderful, yet tragic.

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