Archive for April, 2012


There are new, wide cobwebs in the barn this morning that remind me of Charlotte’s Web. It’s a beautiful spring day, bright green and rainy, and just damp enough to want a fire in the woodstove.

We were happy to see the rain this weekend! As the clouds crept up and over Mt. Mansfield on Saturday morning, we hurried to build a few small beds in the garden and plant beets and peas. The soil has been dusty and dry, and the spinach we put in a week ago has been patiently awaiting a watering. On Thursday we borrowed the tractor and tilled the three plots we’d prepared in late fall, plus a new, fourth garden that will be a good place for corn and squash. We think it all looks great, and unfortunately so do the chickens… before we plant too much more, we’ll have to set up some fencing.

Our plants in the greenhouse have been transformed by last week’s sunshine. We’ve moved all of the tomatoes, and almost all of the peppers, into bigger pots so their roots will have more space in the weeks before they are planted outside. This weekend Jacob trimmed the onions back so that they’ll grow wider as well as taller. I planted the first round of flowers, which presented some logistical challenges: some require a temperature of fifty-five degrees to germinate while others require eighty-five degrees; the larkspur needs a chill period of thirty-five degrees and darkness for seven days (a requirement met, I found out with relief, by storing our seeds in the refrigerator).

We are pleased to announce that we have our first CSA member! Jacob says that the only thing worse than having no members might be having just one, but I have faith that we’ll find our five. We have a spot in the Essex Farmer’s Market, which begins in just under six weeks. We’re hoping to have spinach, salad greens, lettuce, beets, carrots, kale and chard by then. We’ll also need to create a display, so we’re scavenging for folding tables and some form of shade tent, and designing shelving and signs.

From the bookkeeping desk… we recently acquired our Tax ID number and are ready to start a bank account for the farm. This is great- it will allow us to separate farm money from our own, and force us to keep finances organized and keep track of all expenses, from potting soil and grain to seeds and farmer’s market fees. This is perhaps the most intimidating part of the whole project for me- paperwork, finances, rules and regulations – and luckily we have some great resources to guide us, including family (some of whom practice law and find excellent tidbits for us such as Anne Higby’s “Legal Structure of the Farm Business,”  which is basically a step-by-step for the beginner), the VT Agency of Agriculture and NOFA. Next up is to find the insurance we’ll need for the farmer’s market…

Jacob will start his new schedule at High Mowing next week, squeezing forty hours into four days, and will have a three-day weekend to work here. I’ll also be reducing my work load to three nights at the Bee’s Knees, and plan to spend my days in the garden. Hope it rains just enough but not too much!

P.S. I know I need to post pictures. They’re coming.






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Digging In

I’ve been feeling nervous lately. Our list-making has turned into check-writing and seed-planting. Our garlic has pushed up through the mulch and is looking around. After a week of summer and then nights in the single digits, we’ve been shuffling our fragile plant starts between greenhouse and back living room. We have two months until our first market. It appears as though this thing is happening.

I’m nervous because although we’ve been here for four months, it’s just now settling in that we’ll see seasons change here; we’ll put seeds in the ground and care for them through fruition here; we’ve got a commitment to this little piece of earth that is just becoming tangible. This is one of my internal dilemmas: I long to settle in, and I long for a little piece of earth to take care of; simultaneously, I long for change and adventure- all my life I’ve been too easily bored. And so it’s the work that’s scary but also the being here, the chores morning and night, the staying here.

My best friend came to visit last weekend. She showed up late Friday night, her long brown hair dyed red at the tips. She came into the house laughing, which is what she does for my soul. Out of her shoulder bag emerged a pound of fresh coffee, music, a new cookbook, and then a pineapple, which cracked her up. “I bought this at Trader Joe’s!” – the absurdity of which cracked her up again. April is my reminder of real life. She can worship farm fresh eggs as well as the next guy, then waltz into my living room with her spandex and boots and her spiky Chiquita pineapple.

April lives in Portland, Maine. I told her that if I had a city life right now hers would be it: funky apartment littered with art projects, a job at a corner bakery with butcher blocks and massive windows, bars and dance parties and friends with dogs who chase kids on the beach. When she came here, she told me that the city isn’t right for her right now, that if she had a country life mine would be it. She told me over coffee, eggs and toast, and a glass of champagne, “I know you know how much you have…how lucky you are…but Katie, I would do this in a second if I had someone to do it with.”

It is sometimes lonely here. I sometimes feel that I should be in a city, or at least a town, with people my age. I sometimes fear that I’m too young to be out here in the quiet with the barn and the record player and the gray-bearded dog. I sometimes regret turning down an opportunity to go backpacking in Montana for three weeks this summer.

This spring is about digging in. It is for doing the things that I have talked about and dreamed about. It is for understanding the choice I’ve made to move my life here and grow food from the ground. It is not forever; we are borrowing and exploring. This season is about knowing what I have and taking care of it.

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