One Tough Trough

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I have no idea how old this trough is, but from the looks of it, it has held water for some time, at least for the last 16 years of my life. This trough is a baby magnet. I wonder how many little ones have played by its side? I have pictures of all my boys around the age of one playing at the trough. It is just so interesting to the little guys, and they are just so cute when they are interested.

Thick rock walls make up the trough. Walls that are cool to the touch but strong enough to lean on, even sit on, if you are so inclined. In the middle resides a big long pole running the length of the trough to help break the ice when it is frozen over in the winter months. Enough sludge and slime line the bottom so that big old frogs can winter here, then mate and, of course, have lots of babies in the form of tadpoles come warmer weather.

Dragonflies and bees drink here in the high summer when water is scarce elsewhere. When they show up here for water, you know we need rain. They don’t even touch the water. They can just drink where the rocks wick the water upwards a bit – a perfect spot for those fliers.

It is also perfect for me. A pump handle is right above the trough, making it easy to fill buckets with water for lambing ewes, new puppies and our revolving supply of cats.

It is the perfect place for discovering life, both the natural world and that fleeting 24-hour period of time we try to catch each day. The trough showcases the little things – the overlooked amazing ones: lines of ants, elusive frogs, magical tadpoles, grass growing straight out of water? The trough never disappoints with a new find.

The trough can be quiet too. So quiet and still, gently unlocking your insides, leading you to discover things about yourself that you never even knew.

I love this water trough. I imagine when my nest is empty that I will look out and do a double take because my mind will see my little ones playing there when in reality they are grown-up men. Maybe then I will take the time to sit by the trough and be still. If I am still enough, maybe I will hear the beautiful sound of their laughter. See in my mind their toddling steps and smacks at the water’s surface, their complete awe at life, and maybe I too will be awed by life … again.

It will still be here, long after I am not. I hope it remembers me. I hope it knows how much I appreciated it for so many things. For bringing my family together, for slowing us down, for caring for my livestock and helping me finish my chores, for giving me a place to discover who I really was deep down, even when the water was too murky to see my reflection.

About the Author

Julie Vaughn is the mother of four trough-loving boys farming in Middle Tennessee with the man who brought her west to the trough. She is grateful each day for the blessings in her life. Follow her farm blog at

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