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  • Writer's pictureQinghong Wei, PhD

My Real Life as an Artist and Beginner Farmer

What is the life of an artist plus beginner farmer is really like, do you ever wonder? Let me tell you a story so you could have a taste. See this rose painting? It is just another practice, but what’s special about it is that I painted the rose while chasing my sheep, sort of! So how did that all happen?


My two sheep, Pepper and Mint, had been docile and very easy to manage. I have them partially free range on the pasture. This morning, while I was painting this rose, I saw the sheep start to head out to the driveway. Normally they would turn back upon my calling, so I wasn’t really worried and thought, 'let me finish these few brushstrokes and I will go get them.'


By the time I laid down my brush and got out, the sheep were already at the entrance of the farm. I called them, but for the first time ever, they didn’t turn back but ran out of the farm! And from there, the more I chased them, the more they ran away! And boy let me tell you, these sheep can run, and fast! Before I knew it, I was chasing through the rolling hills, the woods, the pastures, and eventually lost sight of the sheep!

At this point, there was nothing I could do but go home and try to get help. I was tired, frustrated, and very worried, because the sheep were vulnerable in the wild with so many predators in the mountains.. When I got home and talked to my husband who was away from the farm then, we realized that the reason the sheep got out was that, very likely they smelled the fresh grass growing up in the nearby pasture and wanted to get there. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?! If I don’t chase them, they might just stay on that pretty pasture behind the church and graze. After they are satisfied, the sheep would naturally want to come back home.


After understanding this, I took some deep breaths, engaged my intuition and I could feel the presence of the sheep back on the farm. Both my logical and intuitive minds were telling me to just rest and wait, for now. Perhaps I could continue with my watercolor painting! So I sat down and picked up the brush again. It wasn’t easy to focus as I was still quite worried. But by now, after going through many crises on the farm, I have learned that I am going to go through this anyway. I can choose to be anxious and freak out about it, or I can choose to relax and be peaceful about it.


As I was moving my brush, more and more I felt calm. After the rose painting was complete, it was time for me to get out and find the sheep again. I took a little bucket of their favorite treat with me and went. The moment I stepped on the rolling pasture where I suspected the sheep would graze, I saw two pretty white heads! Pepper and Mint were grazing there, safe and sound. Even more amazingly, the moment they saw me, they ran towards me happily!!


Now it became almost effortless to lead them back. By then my husband Zhigang came too, and he watched in amazement as the two sheep followed me back. “You are a certified shepherdess now!” Later he told me jokingly.


So, there went another day on the farm. All my perfectly planned art studio day was gone, but I did somehow painted watercolor, and have our sheep back safe and sound. Ho ho ho! Such is life of an artist and beginner farmer. Chaotic, stressful, and also exhilarating and peaceful, isn't it? ;)

(If you want to see more of my farm and art life, enjoy this video: the most enchanting moments on the Starry Farm.)

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