Bear Wrestling and Farm Work


Food: So much peanut butter.

Activity: School is my life

Music: Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs.

As I sit typing this, according to my fancy computer thermometer, it is 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I’m quite positive this measurement isn’t accounting the windchill factor from the hurricane force winds screaming out of the appropriately named Hellgate canyon, because if it did, the temperature reading would be “deep space, near Pluto.” It’s a winter wasteland out there, folks. It’s the crazy weather like this that almost makes me glad for the mountain of homework I’ve been chipping away at over the last month. Plus it gives me ample opportunities to make myself hot chocolate and popcorn.

I know I’ve been out of touch recently. Bear wrestling in the arctic seems to take up most of my time these days. Big, angry bears of academia. One bear’s name is British Literature, a towering brute, with branded marks on it that say things like Paradise Lost, and A Satire Against Reason and Mankind, and Robinson Crusoe. Sounds scary, right? I fight him twice a week, 9:40 to 11:00 AM, in the Liberal Arts building. I’ll let you know who wins the final bout, although that’s not scheduled until finals week.

Since my last post about Lebowskifest here in Missoula, I’ve been trying to get back into the groove of things. College is starting to feel like college again, and at the end of each day it usually feels like I’ve been doing mental pushups, pull ups, squats, and lunges all day without a water break. When I do have a moment, a mental water break usually consists of reading a comic book, hitting the climbing gym, strumming the guitar or playing my saxophone with friends, or cooking myself a nice meal.

Groundhog day has long since come and gone, and I do believe Mr. Groundhog not only saw his own shadow, but also the shadow of a looming pile of textbooks, class syllabuses, and of that giant menace British Literature the Bear. At this rate, the smart little rodent will probably stay in his hole until mid July, inevitably leading to another 5 months of winter. That’s just how the Global Groundhog Effect works. It’s science.

Since the last installment of my UM life story, I’ve started a new chapter entitled: Chapter XX: Montana Kid Finally Learns How to Farm and Drive a Tractor. That’s right. A real farm, and a very real tractor. Two weeks ago I started my internship with Clarkfork Organics, a family owned and operated farm just outside of the Missoula city limits. So far I’ve learned that chickens are possibly the hardest thing in the world to catch and carry; how to drive a manual tractor; how to plant seeds on a large scale farming operation; and how to enjoy myself shoveling horse manure for three hours in the Montana chill.

Farming is hard work. Work where I get to use my hands and play in the dirt, where I get to play with power tools to solve practical problems like repairing old seed boxes or tables, and where there’s always an energetic border collie nearby named Jupe ready to play fetch. I don’t know if I’ll ever run my own farming operation, but for now it’s been a heck of a learning experience and more fun than a wheelbarrow full of manure.

Thanks for reading. Be good to each other, and stay warm out there!   ~ Clay

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A little about me: I escape the city as often as possible to go on random outdoor excursions. I enjoy standing in the middle of bridges for extended periods of time. I love reading. I love dogs. I also love making music, dancing, potlucks, pretending to be a zombie on Halloween, gardening, running on trails, cooking with garlic, copious amount of hot sauce, falling leaves in autumn, and drinking black coffee. I also love writing, and feel fortunate to offer my weekly perspective as a college student to the Make it Missoula collective.