there are different priorities here, living not only with the farm animals who play their roles on the land, but also with children. telling the ducks a bedtime story is one of those important chores of the day that you get on a farm with children. the little ones who visit are similarly drawn to connect, to feed, to pet, to become good friends with a duck or a chicken, to cuddle the cat and play games with the goats. stern words, this is a working farm, are unnecessary. in the life of the farm the children do the most observation, reporting back on the state of a lame hen, the relationship between the rooster and the hen lowest on the pecking order, whether both kid goats are drinking water or growing at the same rate, counting eggs and who isn’t laying in the nest boxes, the cat’s habits and whether he’s eaten. they take the farm’s temperature, monitor its health. the children lock up their creatures carefully, because they are all dear and worthy. they also know first when it is time for a rooster to go and see that i will handle it humanely. they honour the deaths of older hens and their own grief with a tree-planting. their relationship with plants has this same full emotion. we only fell a tree after thorough discussion, and all pruning, all planting is a collective decision. understanding more and more about the soil food web and liquid carbon pathways, they are concerned if there is to be digging, they tell me if the hens have uncovered the soil, they see raking as gathering precious materials and are as thrilled as i by good compost and richly growing plants. it isn’t sentimental, it is superconnected. it is adding more humanity to what we see as food production, when really we produce so much more when we partner with animals, plants, soil.