Today my partner was home from work. This was a great gift from the Barre School District gods, though I guess it takes rain in winter in Vermont to call it a snow day. Temperatures soared to 43, rain and sun and rain again made the roads slick and dangerous. Although we made it off the land in the afternoon, the morning was miserable, to be sure. It was a good day to not go to work.
We could have done work on the next phase of this farming and community adventure-- begun the long process of cleaning out the barn. This barn, like many old barns in these parts, has not been used for agriculture in many years, and is now home to stored memories, and not some small part trash, of past residents. There are some current residents of the furry variety, as well.
And honestly, it's not really a barn. It's a large shed that at one point had a couple of horses, and some very extensive gardening happening out of it. It's pretty perfect for our size for now. If we grow, that will be another issue, another blog post.
But instead we made pancakes and sausage after sleeping in, hung out with our son, and noticed a rainbow during a break in the weather. It was pretty perfect.
This project is at once so clear and so overwhelming. Starting a farm is something that I have dreamt of doing for many years, and the fact that we have made it here, and the wheels are turning, is quite something.
In the fall we planted garlic. We hand turned 352 square feet of bed, pulled sod out of old pasture, tried to make a good home for it in this very acid soil. I managed to plant it all by October 30, the day after the first snow here. As Aunt Janet says, Nothing like a little snow to motivate you to finish that fall project!
Garlic is something one orders all the way back in January, to be delivered in the late summer or early fall. Garlic has this amazing reversed-ness, that makes it appealing to grow, and something one can invest time and energy in the fall, and hope for good results the following summer. I ordered it as a promise to myself that we were actually doing this, though I hadn't given notice, we hadn't confirmed with the house. I just needed to do it. And I was right.
Now, we plan. I am so grateful to be in Vermont, where there are so many resources for farmers. I am taking the Building a Sustainable Business class with the UVM Extension, and it is giving me many tools for business, marketing, and infrastructure planning. I am also grateful that there are so many farms in this region. Farmers' markets are robust, even in winter. I can stop and chat with someone about kale in the coop, and likely they will be a grower of some type. And we are surrounded by farms on this land, in this neighborhood. Directly next door is an herbalist. On the other side of a neighboring aunt is a beef cattle and maple syrup farmer. Down the street is the dairy coop. And on and on and on.
We have arrived in a rural place, designated as Agriculture and Forestry Conservation in the local zoning law. The land is ripe and ready for next things, after many decades in pasture and small gardens. We will start small and build on the good basis of pasture, garden, barn. We will build out, with season extension, beehives, chickens. Our goal is to self-sustain, and share the harvest with those who are interested.
But it's more, and the Snow Day lends me to dreaming, remembering the vision of community and faithful opening ways of space, land, food, healing. Though I know we have a barn to clean out, a budget to set, and seeds to order, I remember the good and big thing we do, wedding ourselves to this land, committing ourselves to a ministry of healing and growing, in so many ways. And I know that the big things are made of the small steps we take-- to work, to connect, to love, and even to sleep in, in good time.