Here's a classic photo of the sheep returning from the pasture through the Torii. The thin one in the lead is our beloved 12-year-old Eider, a Very Wise Sheep known for her distinctive bass voice.
The Torii is in many ways one of the most permanent and unchanging elements of the farm. The seasons may coat it with rain or ice or snow, blast it with sun or buffet it with wind. It stands, growing ever so slightly grayer.
The trees bud and bloom in spring, flourish in summer, autumn leaves fall, branches shatter, roots give way and trees topple in storms. The Torii stands firm.
Fences are stretched by leaning livestock, sag in the hot sun, the posts lean in the soft soil...the Torii stands as straight as it was on Ross and Jeanne's wedding day, when it was erected as their processional arch.
Buildings decay, the temporary ones are moved, the permanent ones are remodeled. The Torii requires no maintenance, its Osage Orange posts will last a hundred years.
It truly sets aside a sacred space, connects the farm to a spiritual dimension of life to which no ordinary gate could lead.
It is a good place to dig graves for beloved pets, and to scatter ashes of beloved people. We will always know where their bones blend with the soil. It's hard to lose.But to sheep, it is a nice solid thing to rub against, and a cool space among the willows to rest in the heat of the day.
Passing through it at mid-day, the lambs must jump as high as they can, just in case the dark shadow it casts on the ground is a cliff they must leap.
It is hard to believe, looking at this photo, that I-70 is just 1/4 mile beyond the trees in the middle, and the Juvenile Detention Center, a motel, and busy 4-lane North 2nd Street (Hwy 24/59) all lie just west of the trees on the left. 12 years of intensive carbon sequestration have paid off handsomely in screening our property from the hustle and bustle of modern "life". My kind of development plan, coming into fruition!
"Building" biological "structures" like these living, weather-control, sound-barrier, light-blocking walls of trees can be painstakingly slow on such a large scale, but it's exciting to realize that it WORKS! Of the 80 lights that could once be seen from here, only about 5 are still visible at night when the leaves are on the trees.