We're surrounded by farms. The neighbors behind me, next to the reservoir, keep horses. The crazy neighbors I share a driveway with breed dogs, illegally, in their basement. But they don't complain about the concerts I host in MY basement, so....
A mile away, there are horses, vegetables, and bees. A mile in the other direction, cows. So many cows. When I was little, we bought raw milk from that farm - you'd go with your pitcher. I heard whispers once about finding poop at the bottom of a glass. We stopped buying there after that, and as far as I know, you can't walk up and buy milk there any more, because they sell their milk to Agri-Mark. Their neighbors keep chickens, and I do still get eggs there. If you want milk, there's a place a couple towns over, a dairy farm where my parents rented until I was 3. My brother was born there. Mom says the farmer was really nervous about it, that home birth. She says he stayed out in the fields all day. He now has 7 or 8 kids of his own, and I gave piano lessons to two of them something like ten years ago, and now they're basically grown up. My first memories are of living on that farm - watching a calf be born. Walking down the hallway. My parent's 4th (I think? there was cake) anniversary.
Across the street from where my parents live now, there's a corn-field. Fifteen years ago, we'd hike up the hill in the winter when the corn was cut, lie in the snow and watch the stars, or call our friends on our satellite phone (which was considered very exotic in the days before everyone had cells) who lived 3 towns over, on another hill probably about 10 miles away, as the crows flies. They could turn their lights on and off, and we'd see it from where we were. I had a picnic up there once with some friends. It was one of the few hip things I've ever done (cold chicken! wine! Bon Iver on portable speakers!). Then a bunch of ticks crawled onto us and we called it a night. A few years prior to that, some people had trespassed up there, built a dirtbike track, and planted some, um, alternative crops. This town is pretty rural and there's a lot of open space, so you have to assume a great deal of that goes on.
Sometimes when I come home from work there's a deer in my yard standing on its hind feet, nibbling at the branches of the big apple tree. It was a long winter, and they're hungry. Last year I left on a road trip, and the blossoms were just starting. When I got home a few days later, the blossoms were gone. We had a bad spring, too wet, too windy, and so the bees couldn't pollinate, and I literally got a dozen apples. I didn't even "get" them, it was too depressing to go out and pick twelve sad, shriveling little things, and it was far too strong a metaphor for how life was at the time, so I left them for the deer. This year is going better for me, and also the apple tree. The fruit "took" this year. Life goes on.
The animal situation up here on this hill is challenging at times. To put it delicately, I have been kept awake by the raccoons in the tree outside my window during the spring. One morning I was home alone and heard creepy noises upstairs, walked outside, and saw crows flat-footing across the roof. There's a squirrel in the attic that sometimes bowls an acorn across the floor in the middle of the night. A small snake got in with the firewood in the basement. I don't do well with snakes, but it died eventually. There are a bunch of exceptionally dull small birds and one insanely idiotic squirrel (I named him Frank) that get trapped on the screen porch about once a week, and I get out there with the broom and shoo them away. Hannah called me a "dark disney princess" and that's reasonably accurate. Right now, my battle is with ants. The big kind. It's that time of year, they just come in. During the fall, the ants will retreat, and the mice will surge forwards, and I will go back to keeping my tally of the slain on the garage wall. On a clear night, you can hear the coyotes and the owls, and that's enough.