Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Farmsteader - Part I

The whole farm season came and went and I never managed to post a single blog. I’ve been mentally kicking myself in the pants for years now, to no avail. There is just so much to document, and with each passing day I grapple with the fleeting sense of lost opportunity to share. A long stint of writer’s block? Maybe. One thing is for certain. There has been a whole lot more doing than “planning on doing”. Time is of the essence... when it's available!

It’s hard to believe that in just one year we got married, moved out of state, rapidly transitioned to (mostly) off-grid homesteading and started a new farm operation on unfamiliar soil. Now, winter has arrived in Wisconsin, after the longest, warmest – and possibly wettest - growing season on record. We were recently blanketed with nearly 14 inches of fluffy, powdery snow. It has turned the farm and surrounding woods into a positively magical landscape, sparkling white hot in the bright sunlight, glowing blue in the full moonlight, playing with all of the light, casting shadows and softening shapes. It takes intention to even think about farming, presently. The cabin has become a cozy den, flickering with the warmth of candles and the ever-whispering draw of the chimney from the wood stove. And now, a simple, lightless Christmas Tree stands in the corner, a glimpse of snowy shiitake logs visible over its shoulder through the frosted window. Greenery and ribbons and shining spheres add cheerful splash to window sills and tables. The smell of wood smoke permeates everything. I have never felt so much at HOME.

This morning I sit down to finally write. I feel blessed to even have time to write. The summer is so demanding to the farmer and the homesteader, alike. We have become both at once. Endless lists of chores lurk onerously, tacked to a wall or cork board, peeking from some pile of paperwork or another, wedged in a notebook or crumpled in a pocket. And yet, they give me purpose. The lists are not empty, soulless demands made by a greedy employer or burnt out manager at a dead-end job. They are a moving, organic process, literally a function of survival. Nearly everything on these lists are about sustaining daily life on the farm and in our household. Hauling water, hauling wood; watering plants, harvesting vegetables, collecting eggs, preserving the bounty; feeding and watering the chickens, cats, the dog; making sure the baby chicks are warm enough, the house is warm enough, we are warm enough. Ultimately, it’s about the basic needs for life: Food, Water and Shelter. We are just doing it the “hard” way. For me, it’s the only way. I truly love waking up each morning, ready to tackle the needs of the day; slowing down and being a part of each process, connected to the Earth, respondent to the weather. Because… on the other side of those chore lists… is everything that feeds my soul.

This morning as I finally sit down to write, breakfast has already been made, dishes done, wood stacked in the house and my husband is out the door and off to work. It’s not even 10 degrees outside yet, but I am cozy with a cup of wild raspberry leaf tea steaming within arm’s reach. The sun is warming my back and melting the frost from the south facing windows. One of our very own organic, free-range chickens is aromatically stewing in the big pot on the wood stove. Plans for a venison pot pie linger on the horizon of the day’s tasks, Christmas cards wait to be sent and my cross-country skis lean kittywampus with a big question mark hovering over them. The hard work of the warm season is finally paying off and the quiet peace of the holiday season feels tangible in new way. Now I truly understand where all of these traditions come from. It makes perfect sense from this perspective. It feels right. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey.

1 comment:

  1. Descriptively written to the pint of smelling the chicken cooking and feeling the warmth of the wood stove!