Christmas just passed. Our most thoughtful 80-something year old neighbors gave our oldest boy a telescope. A gift so appropriate and well chosen for our star struck little boy, as well as so meaningful; a tool to help us see the light that still shines so bright in the darkness of this year.
If there is anything that this past season has shown us, is that those lights are what we have to keep focussing in on. .
This past month has gone by quick here at the farm. We have been busy packing orders and arranging pick ups, running deliveries and managing inventory. We’ve had a lot to learn while growing quickly, and it has been encouraging and wonderful.
We are still living in a tent. Most days it is the sweetest smallest adventure on 384sq/ft to counterbalance the wide open chaos. Some days it’s a handful with hauling water in, keeping food from freezing, waking up at 2pm to fill up the wood stove yet again. I can’t imagine we’ll ever live a more cozy winter as we are this year, in a space that is just the right size for a 2 and 5 year old to wrap their little bodies around.
The first thing we see when we look out of the glass doors in the mornings is Georgi the cow, waiting to be milked and reunited for the day with her calf Emma. As birds of a completely different feather, the cow and calf flock together with Angelo the donkey and Sam the ram, and it’s a colorful, very furry and slightly moody bunch.
The chickens finally reached maturity and started laying during the shortest days of the year, just to make sure we knew everything is upside down. We know. Their green, blue, cream, brown eggs feel warm in our pockets when we walk home with two buckets of milk after morning chores, and are eagerly received by humans and animals waiting for breakfast.
A little further walking through the snow we reach the goats, that eat their way through their bale of hay and snack on the bark of the shrubs they help clear up. We hear the sheep on the other side of the farm. When it gets dark we hear their guardian dogs, Sadie and Shelby, ready for a night of protecting their herd & flock. The coyotes call back and forth, the dogs answering them with threats that they most likely will never have to act upon.
Every evening when we light our candle before dinner, each of us says what we are grateful for.
When Dan brought in this practise when we were just dating, I thought it was a little too American for my Dutch heart, but went along with it (because truly, I would have gone along with almost anything those first months.). Now however, it is one of my favorite family traditions, that helps me remember every day how lucky we are. Our youngest usually says he’s grateful for milk or our calf Emma, our 5 year old tries to come up with something odd and funny, but I hope it might instill a habit of thankfulness in them too.
While I try to pick something different each day, in reality I feel most grateful for the same few things. I’m grateful to have a family that fills my heart to the brim and makes it impossible to feel alone during this year full of distance and disconnect. I’m grateful to live on this beautiful farm, to get to know these pastures, wetlands and woods a little better every day, to have the privilege of being able to hide here from reality when reality gets too rough.
I’m grateful for our access to incredibly nutritious food, and to the fresh air we’re breathing in unrestricted because of the space we have. I’m thankful for the community around us, although less close by than usual, it still makes me feel like we’re a part of something strong and steady.
I’m also really grateful for what these past few months have brought us as a business. The main source of income for our farm has so far been the courses and beekeeping work. I knew in the spring we had to be flexible, ready to pivot, adapting ourselves to whatever would come, but the truth is that I felt a bit paralyzed by all the change, and mostly focusing on how to keep our family and people around us feeling sane and healthy.
Luckily we have been so supported by our community of customers in NYC as well as a whole lot of new people in our own area. They checked in with us, were excited about our new boxes of lamb and goat meat, bought our honey, hides and meat as soon as it came available and already signed up for classes that we now feel ready for to organize for 2021. Feeling like people truly cared about us as a farm has been nothing but a warm embrace during a time that we all have to stay several feet away from each other.
So the past months we’ve been trying and changing, experimenting and inventing, and we can’t wait to ruminate on it all for a few cold months and then start this spring fresh and full of energy, offering classes and courses again to teach you all you want to know to raise your own honey bees and chickens, about how to graze ruminants in the most sustainable way possible, about how to preserve and ferment, and all those other things that feel important and healthy, especially during a time like this.
Thank you, for being here with us. And here’s to a new year, bright and shiny.