My Thanksgiving trip to the family farm

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I was completely disconnected from the internet for most of today, and it was great. My family maintains a small farm in the back woods of northern Tennessee. We've got chickens at our house in a small, manageable pen, and several goats out on our larger property.

For all intents and purposes, it's my father's project. He's been a gardener since before I can remember, and by the time I reached my mid-teens he had decided to expand onto a large property close to our home in upstate New York. I was often dragged along — begrudgingly, I'll admit — to help him maintain our crop of organic vegetables.

Today was different, though: I very much enjoyed our trip out into the wilderness. Not only is the climate much more amicable than the frigid tundra of the north, it's just far more engaging to be part of the vitality and life of livestock than the silent indifference of cabbage in the row. Our only goal for the day was to feed the goats and re-enforce the new sections of fencing. Compared to the backbreaking work I'd done hauling manure up north, this would be a complete cakewalk.

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He uses an ingenious technique to secure the fence-posts he'd recently cut from the perimeter of our farm: after securing the wire with a single staple on the opposing corner, he wedges one of the barbs into the fork of a hammer and wrenches it tight. Then, he flips the hammer over, wedging the it between the post and his side. With his newly freed hands, he uses a fencing cutter to hammer in another staple, keeping the line taught. Finally, the tightens the wire even more using a long piece of scrap wood, twisting it around until the force holds the board tight against the connecting post. It took only a few minutes, and the end result is quite strong.

While we were out there, I didn't receive a single call, email, or text message. The only sounds were the occasional bleats of a hungry goat. Though I brought my laptop and a tablet, I didn't think of them once — there were simply other things to attend to. I can't imagine what it's like to disconnected from the internet for an entire year, but I can tell you one thing — it's a wide and beautiful world away from these screens.

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