Bluebirds on the Farm: A Great Place to Bird Watch

More than ten years ago we started to build a Bluebird Trail on our farm. This was not a difficult task. We have close to 30 bluebird boxes now and add new ones every few years. The Eastern Bluebird has had a difficult time surviving in northeast Texas, but the attention to this and the effort by many to build bluebird trails has led to a resurgence of the bird in our area. Texas Parks and Wildlife has an interesting presentation on the birds in Texas.

The male scouts arrive on the farm in late February and check out the boxes used in the past and the new ones we have constructed. I do not know how they claim them, but when the females arrive they partner up and move in and raise several litters of baby birds in a season.

We have many different types of bird feeders scattered around the farm house and the cabin area. Bluebirds are some of our best customers and are so pretty. Birding on the farm is great in any season. Our area is renowned for the number of species of birds that can be seen. We are members of the Texas Ornithological Society and have check lists of the species know to be in our area.

There is a public bluebird trail starting in Mount Pleasant you can follow.

This as an Eastern Bluebird.

The bluebird boxes on the farm show how the birds build several nests each season to raise different litters of birds. The eggs are a bright blue. At the end of the season, we clean the nests.

The Week That Was: September 14-20

Perhaps the best way to describe the week is to borrow from English literature. We had no revolution and on one lost their head, but what Charles Dickens wrote as he started his monumental work on the French Revolution, A Tale of Two cities, captured the good and bad of our week on the farm.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way”.

So it was with the week that just passed. If the week before was calm, this past week was anything but calm. I told Eva that Monday was probably the hardest day I have had since coming to the farm. If that was not enough, we needed Noah’s Ark by Thursday and then had an electrical fire in the pasture Friday. She had a great cooking class Saturday, but was stiffed by one “lady” on payment for the class. Where to start?

All of the blueberry plants are not mulched. This annual task is finished finally. It was too wet to do any more in the berry patch. The fencing projects were on a slow crawl too with the rain. Hay could not be moved at Rocky Branch also due to the weather.

We had rain that started Sunday and by Monday morning it was getting really bad and the ground water soaked. We had 5 inches or more in 24 hours and eventually almost 12 inches of rain. Javier was away with his family on vacation. I did not expect to do much except catch up on paperwork. Eva had left earlier to go to Dallas for the day. I got a call that we had cattle out on the road south of the house. That was an understatement. We had over 30 head out in several different areas. Read my blog for all the terrible details.

I was alone, soaked and scared. A significant investment in cattle was at risk. I had no time to call for help (phone got water soaked anyway), and the only thing to do was to gut it up and take care of it myself. When it was over I was scratched, bruised, exhausted, soaked to the skin, but the cattle were back and safe.

I repaired the gate that was knocked over in their escape, but still do not know what caused them to force it down. I still suspect it was a cougar that pressed caused them to gather as a mob and the gate was unable to take the pressure of so many cattle on it.

We had a dinner Friday night for families from Dallas and Louisiana that had come to the farm for a reunion. It went very well and as we started to clean up the dishes the electricity suddenly went out. No storm or such to make an outage expected. We ran around and handed out lanterns to each cabin and the bunkhouse. We have these neat lanterns that do not need a battery, but you wind them up and a minute wind gives good light for an hour. I started the generator so we had light and water in the house to get the dishes washed.

In a while I noticed the outside security light was on (direct wired to the power company lines) so the electricity was restored within an hour. That was good. I went out to turn off the generator and make the power switch when I saw a big fire in west of the house. For a moment I thought the barn was on fire. I called to Eva to call 911 for the fire department and got Javier and we headed out into the paddock with the bull’s where the fire was. It became it that it was an electrical fire. We stopped well short of it knowing of the danger and we saw the bulls were well away from the hot line that was live and hot. About that time the power company truck showed up and surveyed the situation. Apparently the breaker switch did not trip when power was restored (the line was broken). The fire department eventually showed up. The electric co-op fellow called in for a work crew and after midnight several large line trucks arrived and about 2:00 am the power was restored.

At rocky Branch we move 92 bales of wet hay closer to the barn to dry before storing inside. The cattle there have eaten most of the grass in the paddock they are in, so it was important to move them to new grass. As we are just weeks away form calving season we cleared high grass to install electric wire fence to keep the cattle away from the deep woods. It is better they calve in open lush grass.

Fencing took a back seat, but we did get some done. More brush clearing where new wire will be installed. I know this project is near an end.

Eva’s cooking class on Artisan Breads and Soups was tremendous. She has such talent and a fun, unique way to teach and have the class participate. Except for someone that had stayed on the farm for the weekend, signed up for the class and then did not attend and refused to pay as a no show, it was a wonderful event. Some people go through life with a gloomy outlook and rain on everyone’s parade around them. They appear to be sad, unhappy folks.

We have applied during the week for two government farm programs under the new farm bill. Both are conservation programs designed to improve the environment on our farms and the area around them. For the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), we have to sign a five-year agreement and perform specific conservation practices. There will be different focuses on grassland areas versus timber. An example is maintaining fire lanes around planted pine timber. For the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) you also have a contract to perform assigned tasks over a specific period of time. EQUIP examples include installing water distribution systems to eliminate cattle trails to ponds and tanks which wash out in rain. Another new one will be planting wild flower buffers to provide food for bees.

“The 2008 Farm Bill made improvements and strengthened the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The program was expanded to help farmers and ranchers maintain, establish and increase conservation on land they are actively farming. CSP is a voluntary program that rewards farmers and ranchers for managing their land in a way that produces real and measurable conservation outcomes – healthy soil, clean water and air and wildlife habitats.”

“The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.”

We will not know for months if our application was approved and if it was what practices we will need to implement.

Eva's Foral Talent.... WOW!

In 2002, there was not a single flower, shrub or decorative plant around the farm house. That year we used spray paint to outline new flower beds, obtained an 18 wheeler of frocks to edge the beds, used hundreds of paper sacks to overlay the grass, used several 18 wheelers of new top soil and created "many" new flower beds. Today, Eva can go out any time of the year and pick a bouquet of fresh flowers to decorate the house. These arrangements below were for a lunch we had at the house. The tall yellow stalk is from a Mexican Candle Stick which is a really unusual fall flowering flower/tree.

Septmeber 19: Artisan Breads & Soups Cooking Class

Due to unavoidable cancellations, we have room for a two more this Saturday, September 19 in the Artisan Breads & Soups cooking class.

We will be using the bread in 5 minutes concept preparing an artisan free form loaf in the style of Boule and Ciabatta bread which may be varied with herbs and seeds. We will also make a flatbread using the oil dough method for Foccacia with onion and rosemary. The third type of bread will be enriched dough making Brioche a Tete and a Braided Raspberry and Blackberry almond cream pastry.

Our soups will be a Venison consommé whereby you will learn the technique of clarifying a broth using the raft method and a Tuscan Bean soup with kidney and cannellini beans and chickpeas.

Cattle On The Run: "Mr. Greer, I just passed south of your place and there are cattle everywhere!”

If you ranch and have cattle the most depressing words you can hear are those spoken by someone telling you that your cattle are out. Out as in no longer safe behind your fences, but out roaming the roads and woods and wherever they can get to easily. Such was my fate early Monday morning. It has rained for two days and everything was mushy and it was difficult to get out without getting suck. I had turned the coffee pot on about 10 minutes to five and was reading a paper when the call came close to seven. “Mr. Greer, I just passed south of your place and there are cattle everywhere!” I was stunned. Eva had gone to Dallas earlier and Javier was in Florida. I was “home alone”.

I quickly pulled on my new work boots and ran out of the house into a heavy rain. By the time I was in the truck I was soaked, but not as much as I would be later. I realized there is no 911 call to be made when your cattle are out. It’s your problem. I drove slowly up the hill hardly able to see and in time did find a few cattle in the middle of the road. There were less than 10 and over thirty had escaped my paddocks. I was now really depressed. I drove off the side of the road and realized I may be stuck. The cattle were not so happy to see me and scattered down the road and into the woods along a trail we have for our cabin quest. The made a big circle covering a half-mile and got back on the road and instead of heading down the hill to an open gate and safe pasture, they headed up the hill and made a left turn toward town.

They were now a mile from the house and to the south there are is open country and no fences for miles and miles. I decided it was better to kill one running it down to get in front of them then losing all of them to the open land. So I blasted with horn blaring through them and they scattered in all directions. I jumped out of the truck and got them to turn north and back to our land where we have new pine trees planted. Luck would have it we have a fire lane here and they ran down it before I could catch up with them.

I needed help and needed be able to move around easier than in a truck. As I drove rapidly back toward the shop, I spotted a four more head in the woods. I got out and got them started toward the house, but then they went west into the woods on the trail the other cattle had been on 15 minutes before. I chased them in and then felt they would stay put until I got back. I was soaked to the bone and it was raining so hard you could not see 50 feet.

I got back to the shop, got a four-wheeler and made one call on my cell before it died (rain soaked). The guy that had called to tell me the cows were out had dropped off his trailer and said he could come back and help a little. When I got to the top of the hill and into the trail there were no cattle. My friend showed up and said they were on top of Greer Mountain. Now why would these cattle pick a very difficult hill to climb in the rain? He went up one side and me the other and in time we got them down and they ran off south in the woods. I told him to wait on the road and I would go in and chase them out. By gosh I felt like bur rabbit in the brier patch. The thicket under the trees was 4 to 8 feet tall and it was tearing at me on every step. The dang cattle went in deeper and deeper and I stayed with them sometime crawling. Eventually I got them to the road and with my friend behind them and me running ahead to open a gate we had four head back in a fenced area.

I went back and got the four-wheeler and went to see where the cattle had escaped. It was at the end of the power company right-of-way and they had ripped a metal gate off its hinges and with it suspended half way up in the air crawled over it. I took it down and left it open. Perhaps a cougar had chased the herd into this corner and in a freight they took down the gate. I went behind the cabins and opened a double gate up into the new pine area hoping that the cattle I had chased off the road would get this far by themselves.

My friend left me as he had other obligations. I was now alone again.

I went back to where the small herd had left the road south of the cabin area three fourths of a mile away and entered the dense brush. It was hard going and I was on foot stumbling and crawling. In time, I made it all the way down the hill and found this group of cattle and got them into the cabin area. I closed the gates and went and got the first four we had captured and ran all of them back into the bottom paddock that had secure fences. I counted fifteen head. Now I needed to find 17 more.

The rain had not let up a bit and I was dirty, soaked and tired. Maybe for a moment I thought it was a good time to start smoking again. I kept thinking where 17 head of cattle could be. I went back to the shop, got the truck and drove all of the back roads to see if they had move far away from home. No luck and with the rain it was impossible to see tracks or cow poop. I went back and got on the four-wheeler and back tracked where they had originally escaped.

This is an area of heavy forest and large black jack and white oaks. We have a mowed trail through this area and the going was easy for a while. As I exited the trail into the new forest, I saw a few cattle in the distance. I jumped off the four-wheeler and like Harrison Ford went in hot pursuit of them. Not wanting to spook them I had to go through a quarter mile of thicket and thorn bushes to get ahead of them. When I did get to them they split into two groups. One set headed back into the oak forest and the other into the new forest thicket. I chased the ones in the woods on foot and got them back through the gate they had broken down to escape. I moved these to join the others I had captured. I now had 20 head safe and 12 missing.

I retuned to the thicket now really exhausted. In time, I got ten head out and into the cabin area and eventually safe with the others. Thirty head were secured. Where were the other two? Maybe it is not so bad to just lose two head. A hot shower sounded good. Nope, I went back for the four-wheeler where it had been abandoned and spent hours in the rain covering every possible area where they may be. To my astonishment they found their own way back to the cabin area following the calling of their mates. All 32 were not back in secure fence.

I counted and recounted and was settled that all the cattle were there I headed to the shop and left the four-wheeler, took the truck back to the house and peeled off some very wet clothes. My wallet was full of water. I took off my new boots and poured a cup of water out of each. My body ached. A shower awaited me.

I had spoken very briefly with Eva hours before and without a working phone she had no idea if I was alive or dead stomped under a cow’s hoof. I called and let her know things were okay now.

Now I really do enjoy my cattle and doubt that I would be happy as a row crop farmer. But, I know for a fact a row cropper has never had a row of corn, cotton or soy beans run off. My only saving grace is that I did not have all our cattle in one paddock and have that many more to chase down.

Did I learn anything? Yes…. put your cell phone in a zip lock bag if it is raining.

The Week That Was: September 7-13

Labor Day week was uneventful on the farm. That is good news.

Our work on the farm is divided into several buckets. We have the ongoing obligation to mow 17 acres a week, keep things tidy, maintain the cabins and have them ready for our guests, work on equipment and care for our animals. That is kind of the basics. Our special projects are ongoing and last from a few days to months. Currently that includes getting the berry patch ready for the winter and building and/or rebuilding hog proof fences. There are seasonal projects like getting hay into the barn from fertilization of fields through cutting, baling and moving it. Breeding season. Soon we will prepare to plant winter pasture. Care of the cow herd and calving is very special and the new calves hit the ground starting in three weeks. So it goes season to season as all our necessary tasks are completed. There is never a really dull day, some days are more hard than others and you seldom get away from the farm except for work reasons. This is my life and I love it. I would like to get to the coast to see the kids there more often than a few times a year.

Mulching is almost complete in the blueberry patch. Only four rows remain to be mulched. This is a very labor intensive effort each year. Almost as bad as hand weeding the rows. We also realigned the drip irrigation hose under each plant. It contracts and expands in the summer heat and creeps away from where it is supposed to be.

Fencing continued. The woven wore is tacked up on posts in the woods and needs clips. We will add two strands of barb wire. We built a 4 ft woven wire fence in the end of the power company right-of-way. For some reason, the ends of the right-of-way have pressure from the cattle. We have the only open area near the house almost finished, east of the garden. That was a labor day project. The hogs are very active and we need to finish this project soon.

The beef cattle we are selling to customers look good. We weighed them and moved them to fresh paddocks. The grass finished ones look better and will be harvested sooner than the grain finished. The Maine-Anjou cattle on grain take a long time to get used to it and gain any significant weight. I am sure what they eat is adding fat though. We sold two more quarters and lost a customer for one quarter after they lost their job.

Job lay offs has affected us also in cabin rentals as families have to change their plans when they lose a job or are threatened.

Javier left Thursday with Jovita and Sidney for a vacation near Tampa, Florida. This is their first vacation trip and they drove off excited. As you might expect, Friday was not such a good day for me. I was going to mow the cabins and the battery was dead on the mower I was going to use. I robbed a battery from another mower and it too was bad. I put the two batteries in the Ranger to go to the parts store and the battery in the Ranger was dead. I have replaced two batteries on it this year (under warranty thank goodness). After several hours I was able to mow and in due time the mower quit. Oh well, such is farm life. I repaired it and finished hours after I should have been done.

We did not move any hay from the fields at Rocky Branch. The one ton truck we use has had serious break problems hauling a loaded trailer. After two shop visits, it may be resolved. We did move 111 rolls of hay out of the enclosed barn to make room for the new hay. This older hay will be feed first this winter. Late Friday I checked the barn and the cows were inside feasting on alfalfa. They had breached the electric fence around the barn. I returned to the house and got supplies and Eva and we re-designed the electric fence and got the cows back into their paddock. They are hard to move when they have alfalfa to get into. Eva's main job was to go woo woo and wave her hands and try and keep them out of the barn as I build the fence.

As the week ended we had the treat of rain became reality and looked forward to cooler temperatures. Saturday night and all day sunday it rained heavy.

What will our winter be like? Weather Forecasting Greer Farm style

There as many ways to forecast the weather as there are folks around with an opinion on the subject. This includes many sayings such as "red sky in the morning, sailors warning or clear sky-cold night".

I buy the Old Farmer's Almanac every August to see what they predict for the year using their 200 year old method. For 2009-2010, it predicts December will be mild, January cold and February very cold for our region. They say the summer will be hot and dry. Dah! This is Texas. What else would you expect?

Here on the farm, we read persimmon seeds to determine what the winter will be like. This is a highly scientific and exact means of forecasting. When the first persimmon ripens you take out the seeds and split them open. This is not an easy task as the seeds are really slick. It is best accomplished by using a pliers and after the seed opens use a knife to split it in half. Your will find inside one of three things: a fork, a knife or a spoon. I am not kidding. If you see a fork it means a mild winter. If you find a knife it will be a cutting cold winter and if you find a spoon it will be a heavy winter with plenty of snow toi shovel if you live in the snow belt.

This is a seed opened last week. What do you think our winter will be like?

The Weeks That Were: August 23- September 6

It has been a very busy two weeks on the farm. So busy in fact that we did not get to write our weekly "week that was" last Sunday. Well, actually the reason was Eva and I had taken off on Saturday to visit our son in Dallas that had just turned 30. We went to the IMAX and saw Harry Potter's latest film in partial 3D and then had an elegant dinner in one of Dallas' finest restaurants. The Doubletree Hotel had given us a great rate, but when I logged on to write my blog they politely asked for $9.95 plus state tax. I can pay for a movie, meal and hotel room, but damn if I want to be ripped off to access the internet. So, the blog was not written. It reminded me of when motels charged 25 cents for a phone call. Next time I will look for a hotel that offers free internet access.

This was the first time I had been away from the farm since late April or early May. It was nice to see some civilization for a change. It was kind of funny as we had the cabins full of folks from Dallas wanting to get away to the country and we were rushing to get to the city. I was very happy to get home and Eva was equally pleased to see our dogs and be back on our own front porch Sunday evening.

The weather was so cool starting the 24th. The nights were in the very low 60's and days in the mid 80's. It seemed like someone had flipped a switch and said the long hot summer had ended. This made a very busy work time go faster.

Hay baling continued at the Rocky Branch Grass Ranch and when it was over we had baled 425 1,100 pound rolls of hay. That is a lot of hay; almost 7 bales to the acre. It is still sitting where it fell out of the machine. We moved 111 bales of older hay out of the barn and have it in the pasture. This hay will be fed first starting in late November. A few months of weather exposure will not hurt is as we are in the dry season now. I re-stacked hay in the barn and thought I had it right, but now know that about 40 rolls need to be moved from Rocky Branch to our hay barn at home. We should then have room to get most if not all of the new hay in the barn. The new hay will be stacked on its end four bales high. I practiced doing this for an hour before i got the hang of it.

Also we received an 18 wheeler load of alfalfa from northern Missouri. This is very rich hay that we feed as a supplement to our cattle that have babies, calves that have been weaned and the steers we are finishing for beef. This load was 55 large bales (3x3x8 ft) each weighing 872 pounds on average. This entire load fit on one side of our barn at home which has a concrete floor. The hay will be good for years. We had to move 11 big bales of alfalfa received last year to Rocky Branch where we have about 22 other bales. This older hay will be fed to the cows having calves this fall before we use the new hay.

Moving hay or tractors has been difficult. The breaks on our one ton truck keep messing up. When you go to stop the truck lurches, jacks and jumps enough to frighten you. We took it to the shop on Friday and they flipped the calipers which were warped, but that did not do the trick. It needs to go back to the shop first thing on Tuesday so we can use it to move hay.

The new fence project has moved along well in the thick woods. All 10 braces were finished and all the wire stretched except a small piece. Next on this section is to finish that last piece of wire and then to place clips on each post. We then put two strands of barb wire on top of the woven wire. This will be a good fence and keep out the wild hogs and keep in our goats and cattle. I cannot wait until Spring when I can release 50 or so goats on those thick woods and see it open up. The cattle will go in there too and knock brush down.

This section of fenced land will be the perfect place to try and raise pastured pork. They would have access to the woods and some pasture.

Javier and I started taking a welding class at our local community college. That will be two nights a week for 7 hours of class time a week. We have a lot of projects that were left hanging when Karl moved on we can finish when we perfect this skill.

When we had time mulching continued in the berry patch. This project will continue on all fall I guess until finished. We bought another 18 wheeler of pine bark mulch so we hope that will finish this project and have some left over for other uses. See our blog of August 28.

Eva is working on different breads and soups for her September 17 cooking class. The October class Oktoberfest Texas Style has only 1 or 2 slots left and November on roasting meats is almost full. She has several private cooking classes lined up for the fall with groups staying in the cabins and enjoying the farm and cooking. Last week she had a luncheon for 23 ladies with Texas Cooperative Extension. They were from Fort Worth to Texarkana and had a business meeting prior to lunch. Javier and I were the special waiters of the day.

Our fall cabin schedule is filling up. This is the perfect time to get away before it is cold and enjoy a few days in the country.

All in all it was a good two weeks and much was accomplished and much is still to be done.

Auden Speak: The Start of World War II 70 Years Ago

September 1, 1939 is one of those poems you read over and over and still wonder what certain lines mean. It is rather long and complicated dealing with the first days of World War II and the invasion of Poland. Auden nor anyone else could have imagined at that time in five years 50 million people would die

From Valpopoetry Poetry Review

W.H. Auden: "September 1, 1939"

On the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Germany and the opening of World War II, perhaps today presents the perfect time to revisit W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “September 1, 1939,” written in the immediate aftermath of those events. The piece appeared in The New Republic in October of 1939, and it was included in Auden’s 1940 collection of poetry, Another Time, published by Random House. Although this poem has been a favorite of many readers ever since, it received particular renewed attention in the days after September 11 in 2001, and not just for the uncanny superficial similarities in lines like the following: “The unmentionable odour of death / Offends the September night.”

However, we also know Auden became disenchanted with his own poem soon after its publication. Auden attempted editing the work from the very start, omitting a couple of stanzas even before its publication and later changing one of the poem’s most memorable lines, which Auden concluded displayed “dishonesty”: “We must love one another or die” became “We must love one another and die.” Auden eventually revised the poem by deleting the stanza containing that line. Finally, still unhappy with the language, he tried to limit reprinting of the poem altogether by refusing almost all requests for its inclusion in anthologies.


I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

—W.H. Auden