Winter’s Call

MVIMG_20171109_074257.jpgIt’s been almost two months (two months!) since I’ve been back – work, travel, family and the usual exigencies of life – and in that time, autumn has swept entirely by. My understanding of farm life and farming is still laughably meager for someone nominally in charge of such a bounty of land, but I do understand that if you want to get something done on a farm, you need to get it done before winter.

You scramble to get the hay in, the well dug, the pump installed, the wood piles set up before it’s too late. When is it too late? That’s winter’s call.

We’ve gotten a remarkable amount done this year. By “we,” of course, I mean the folks who’ve spent so much time here, sweating (and sometimes bleeding) on behalf of the farm: Mark and Nancy, Logan and Lacey, Shay, Brendon, Pete, and folks I haven’t even met, like Rosie and Adam.

Rosie and Adam headed up the greenhouse project. Yes, we have a greenhouse! Or maybe a grayhouse. First pass was the beginning of October, and when Rosie, Adam, Logan and Lacey got the structure up, but ran out of time to stretch the plastic sheath that provides the outer covering.

Next opportunity to work on it was going to be a month later. The challenge is that you need to get the plastic sheeting nice and warm to stretch onto the frame, and by the time November rolls around, warm sunny days are a crap shoot. Was the weather going to cooperate? Ah…no.

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Rosie and Adam, up on ladders, trying to finish the greenhouse – in the snow. [photo courtesy Mark Bowman]

The well is finally dug, but we’re two months into trying to get a pump installer to give me a quote and a commitment to actually install what they’ve quoted me. In the meantime, we’ve already had our first freeze, which scuttled the jury rigged surface hose setup we’d been using to get water out to the animals in the field. The tractor is still dead, waiting for a replacement start solenoid.

But…baby steps. We have gotten an enormous amount done. We’ve got live buried power and (still-empty) water pipes to all the fields. We’ve got goats and pigs grazing the haylands and trimming brush. Martin and Charlotte’s cows are contentedly grazing in the west pasture.

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The barn is fully restored, with a new roof and downspouts. And it’s full of hay from our fields. We’ve even found takers for the hay that wouldn’t fit – a horse rescue shelter down the peninsula and a couple of local farmers. The new fruit trees and nearly all of the 100(!) baby chestnut trees survived, and we’re lined up to put in over 150 hazelnuts in the spring. We’ve got fence lines cleared and wood piles stacked.

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Logan and Lacey will be moving into the Danger House in December, and have already begun to transform it, scrubbing and painting the walls with warm inviting colors. Everywhere I look there is so much more to do, but also clear evidence of how much has already been done. Spring will be calling before we know it, and it’ll be time to re-seed and fertilize the fields, get those hazelnuts in the ground, dig the new septic system, and embrace the crazy exuberance of the earth as the cycle begins all over again.

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Lacey and Logan fixing up the Maybe-Not-So-Dangerous-After-All House

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Rosie and Adam hero shot – buy those kids a hot cocoa!

2 responses to “Winter’s Call

  1. Always enjoy your posts. I grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota, and well do I remember the incessant and never ending chores and projects that needed to be done. These days I’ll just sit back and live the farm life vicariously through your blog! Heh heh.

    Like

    • Hah! Serves me and my suburban Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese upbringing right. Not getting back to my roots, but getting back to someone else’s. But thanks for the kind words – I’ll do my best to keep writing!

      Like

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