Don’t Fence Me In

This little donkey stood watching me pass and she seemed to be considering how she might escape her pasture. I don’t know, maybe she felt safe inside and  only wondered where all of us fools were headed when there was security, sunshine and plenty of green grass.

I love to ride through the country and see the fields and meadows, looking for wildflowers and hawks soaring, and watching the world wake up with spring. I pull my van off routinely to get a better look at something. As exciting as the activity in a big city may be, there are life and events of interest to my heart in the country.

I wish I could have seen these fields before there were so many fences.

Even our farm now has fencing everywhere. Mowing and cleaning up the property exposed fences in all stages of demise. Pieces of old barbed wire have had to be cleared from brush hog and mower blade shafts.  We have discovered wire that tree trunks have grown over and incorporated into their bark. Fences around the barn protected chickens for the Howard family. Cows and horses, and turkeys have resided in pens that kept them safe from coyotes, passing vehicles, and hawk talons. Now our own fences guard our pecan orchard, our fruit tress, Brenna’s herd of donkeys and her farm animals, the garden, and our buildings.

In some places, fences had been left standing, but new fences were built close beside them. Brush and trees and briars had grown through and forced apart the wire and posts. Wire has been trampled into the dirt and prairie has grown over it.Gates and new sorts of fencing, like chain link and pipe fences enclose farms now, and yet the barbed wire is still the cheapest and used for cattle pastures.

I try to envision travelers who saw this land when there were few houses, no paved roads, no electric poles or wires, and certainly not much in the way of fencing. How different, how large, how thrilling, how fearful it must have been. When there were no boundaries other than those made naturally by creeks that snaked across the land, by rivers, by the trees that grew along their banks; where the grass grew so tall and unbroken that little children like Laura and her sisters could become lost in it within a few hundred yards of their father.

When I say don’t fence me in, I really mean “unfence” me. Is that relly what I want or is fencing what protects me? Is fencing what I need to feel secure and tamed. Doesn’t a fence keep others out as much as it holds me in? Like the boundaries we moms set for our children, aren’t fences for our ultimate good?

A fence we can see through may have covinced us that there is greener grass on the other side. Yet, there is sweet grass inside too and and open blue sky above. The sky gives us our greatest freedom. And the sky will never be sectioned off by barbed wire.

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