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We couldn’t help but be moved by the tribute to farmers aired during the Super Bowl even though we don’t fit the portrait perfectly:
But, somehow over the past two years, we have become farmers, somewhat on our own terms and in our own style, but we are farmers. A cold wet snow was falling yesterday afternoon when we got home from our introductory bee class, but chickens and pigs needed tending. I bundled up against the elements to spread food and break up iced over troughs. A dozen eggs went into my basket.
We are also busy preparing for the main growing season. Bob is working on spring seedlings that need watered twice a day, and we check our mushroom containers for mycelium daily. The next big job is setting up the beehives since I ordered two packages of bees, and their homes need to be ready when they arrive in several weeks. It is satisfying to harvest our own food and provide food for at least a few others, but it can be exhausting.
The other evening as I looked at my dinner plate, I realized we are also turning into locavores, eating locally sourced food. The freezer yields up its bags of green beans, corn, peas, carrots, and kale, frozen fresh from the garden this summer and we have fresh rosemary and sage on the sun porch. With our own hens laying, eggs are abundant. Bacon comes from a butcher down the road. We get goat milk and goat milk ricotta from a friend. Strawberry jam is a treat and I put it into cakes and cookies as well as spreading it on bread.
This has happened pretty naturally. It’s what is available. Now, I’m going to get more deliberate. I know there are local sources for chicken, beef, flour and cow’s milk. Most of them can come through the food coop in a nearby town so we will probably get involved with them. However, many of the farmers let you do pickup at their place so it would be a chance to get a peek at others’ operations.
As I trudged from pigs to chickens this morning, head lowered against the wind, it did occur to me that we have chosen a somewhat challenging life to lead as we head past middle age. And it was a choice: our path was headed to a lovely patch of waterfront woods where our sailboat and kayaks are awaiting our return. But those plans led to more serious conversations about sustainability, and when the price tag of building a house along the creek spooked us, we found the farm without looking all that hard, like it was just waiting to let us know that we weren’t ready to retire.
And so here we are…for how long, we’re not sure. We think about a ten-year plan, hoping to get to that patch of woods and water while we are still young enough to enjoy it. But every workshop I attend and every book I read gives me a longer view. Tending the land takes time and it grows in your heart with each passing year. A decade may not be enough to achieve our vision.
Who knows? For now, we are contented in our choice, scaling the sometimes steep learning curve and having some success along the way.