all the pretty milk cows

princess and hemlock. they are our jersey milkers. princess calved just recently and so is producing the most magnificent gallons of creamy milk. milking has become my favorite time of the farm day. 7 in the brilliant fall morning and 7 in the chilled and damp night.

to be that close to a cow. to a sweet large animal like princess or hemlock. to breathe in their mud grass sweet scent with your head resting on their side. to get odd and large muscles in your once delicate hands. to give the first spots of milk to the farm kitten. to sit there and milk and talk and sing with girlfriends you feel like you've known forever. to return to the milk house with gallons of fresh warm milk. to turn that into butter and yogurt and ricotta and mozzarella. all with your own hands. this is the beautiful side of farming. the part that gets me out of bed at 6h while the sun is making her way across the berkshires. all to start the day not with coffee or tea or the paper but with these two gorgeous cows.


we are tent people now

more detailed photos to follow this week. suffice to say it is stellar and was a military issued winter tent made on 15 august 1950.

for now we are harvesting cukes to pickle. the morning's milking is done. breakfast is settled in our stomachs and the early fall sun is warming our cold toes and legs.


milk maid-ing

started milking a cow at sunrise today. and nick learned how to bake challah. firsts all around on the farm.


the boston-side of farm things.

we spent our first day back on a farm yesterday. we went to a farm outside of boston that we will be working on through the winter. they are a non-certified organic veggie farm with over 40 acres in cultivation. we have been hired to introduce livestock to their acreage in the coming year. chickens and pigs most likely. we spent the morning talking cover crops and local predators (a coyote mother who likes to watch them garden from the compost pile). we talked winter shelters for chickens. we talked heat sources and found a great solution from a woodstove in an old green house.

it felt good to talk shop again. it felt less good to spend 5 hours bent over in the hot sun harvesting arugula and kale and potatoes and cilantro. but we had to put in some solid time with their college-infused garden crew. show we aren't the bitter and wizened 27/28 year olds that we appear to be.

and so today, we are headed over to the berkshires. to begin our fall apprenticeship in the hippy hills of western massachusetts. where we will sing a lot of songs. and make a lot of farmer's cheese. and bake a lot of bread. and have general merriment and be generally productive. and be reunited with my rag tag flock of animals.

we don't have internet at this new farm. so i will do my best to communicate to you our goings ons. but a fair warning, that you may be in for a more heavily loaded iphone picture blog in the close future.

wish me luck.

in iphone photos of a friend's farm:
1. happily colored honey bees. doing their job. in their little honey bee village.
2. flowers picked for nick's sister.
3. out of focus photo of ants devouring a melon
4. pop-corn.  


holiday-ing farm-ing fools.

24 days into a 25-day holiday from farm work and the guilt of days filled with self indulgent laziness has overtook. well, it overtook about 20 days ago but i was still too dedicated to the holiday to write to you. i asked last week (was it actually 2 weeks ago??)  if farming and holidaying could be reconciled. when i wrote that, i had the inkling it could be...last week i was not so positive. and today i gather Yes and No.

its been 24 days since i've awoken to the rooster's cry. since i've raced the sun across the lower garden to rescue ripened tomatoes and perfectly sized okra, eggplant, and fragrantly screaming melons. over three weeks since i've filled a pigs wallow or combed a donkey's back or packed the v-dub full to hawk our wares at the nearest town.

i grew accustomed to a life of leisure this august with an appalling ease reserved ---one would imagine-- for a woman not seriously applied to life as a Farmer. it is appalling. and alarming. what does it say about our future in such a physically and mentally demanding field if we schedule it as such to be spoiled mercilessly rotten one month every year?

i can say to you that the idleness of holiday, whilst welcome in my bones and deepest muscles, has not stopped my mind from attempting to bring the farm to vacation. we've sought after pigs and cows and chickens and gardens in canada and the cape and now here in boston. i've had mom kayak with me over to the next island with a bag of compost to feed pigs. this morning we had our toe-headed nephews picking tomatoes and chard and squash with us in the garden next door. nick has moved them on to blueberries for this evening's cobbler. we've walked, hiked, biked, and driven anywhere we can to find eggs up to farm-snob snuff.

the time with family has been invaluable. that much is obvious. that much might not be so desperately needed in the coming years now that we live near our most precious people. the time to sleep in, rest bones, think about the evening's cocktails and eat processed foods. the time to spend with your boyfriend, your love, your partner, without worrying and stressing about the farm. it is all welcome. it is all needed. we need to have some measure --however small-- of balance in our lives so that we don't burn out in this life. that may seem like a form of betrayal to the sincerity of this life.  it may seem convenient or spoiled, but i can tell you, from one hard year on the farm that a form of Time Away is paramount. 

but the time away from the animals needs to be done with a more thoughtful execution. nick and i feel such deep gratitude to our family and our friends who have helped us care for our flock this summer. we were so desperate to get out of the hot south. off the farm. into the nurturing holds of our families that we didn't dedicate enough effort to the acclimation of every animal and we paid dearly for our haste. we lost our sweet rocco-cat to the cape and we are culpable. it is on us for dragging him all around. next summer. i will not let the anxiety...the intoxication of the prospect of a holiday overcome. next summer we will take fewer days and do more preparation. because we are Farmers now. and a Farmer cannot take weekends or holidays or sick days like s/he was accustomed to taking. and a Farmer has to remember that s/he is responsible to the flock...to the crops first. rest can come. rest does come. and should come. but it needs to come in different shapes and sizes than it did before.

and so here you have my thoughts. that took me the better part of three weeks to form. that farming and holidaying are not and should not be exclusive of each other but their relationship needs to be reworked and tinkered with, just like everything on a good farm. now to enjoy the penultimate day of vacation.



the chances of anyone reading this on the upper cape are slim. but we have put fliers up all over town. we have knocked on all doors and accosted anyone walking, running, or biking by. our little rocco kitty is missing. he's been gone now for almost two days. billy-cat would really like him to come back. and so would we. he's a good boy. but shy. he responds to rocco and kitty-kitty. and, as promised on the flier, i will bake you any kind of cookies you want as a reward.



morning a la cape

its past noon. nick's family is insisting on beach time. i am so tired of the beach. i grew up on an island. going to the beach every dragged day. i'd rather spend the afternoon in provincetown. today is carnivale there. and i need a healthy dose of gay man's carnivale in my life. the antithesis of rural north carolina. but we are doing family time which is good good good. and needed too. so i may be held prisoner in the sand, by the water for the afternoon. i do appreciate when holidays force decisions such as these. it skews perspective. this evening. when i am well into my third g & t i will conclude to you my thoughts about farmers and holidays. i write best with a bit of gin in the veins.

until then.

1. a warm and crushed diet coke found on the deck this morning. i don't know what possessed me to take a sip.
2. teddy bear. ensconsed. he hates the beach as much as i. lucky fella gets to sleep in.
3. this dress is dangerously short for the winds prevailing off the bay.
4. nick's sister got these bowls for the cape house and i'm photo-ing them to remember how much i would like a set.
5. le ciel...├ža me plait.
6. taking pictures of legs --i've always hated my legs but nick's are all dark and hairy and covered with bites so not pictured-- while nick was phone-talking to some good farmers who are taking care of our sweet bella-cow for the summer.


the fine art of camper-living

with our families and friends on the scout for places nick and i could live this year we've all been coming up with some rather practical but unlikely visions of housing possibilities. here are just a few. 
dad sent us this bike camper idea this morning.  
the half-yurt design.
your classic tipi .
a dutch company, tonke, makes caravans that start at a cool $50k.
and finally, the embodiment of Stealth and Portability. the camper kart by kevin cyr


i miss her.

my sister. i had nearly two months with her this summer. living and farming and talking and eating and cooking and planting and swimming and singing and running and reading and puzzling and talking and harvesting and hiking and exploring and arguing and music-ing and talking and sleeping and boating and driving and berry-picking and bathing and talking. all summer. with my sister. she is, without a doubt, the most loveliest person i know. in every single way she exudes beauty...even when she is grumpy with me she can't help but be the most beautiful. and today is my first day without her by my side. and tomorrow is her first day back west. and christmas is the next time i will see her. it is a magical thing to have a sister. even if you have to go stretches of months or weeks or days without seeing her. even if neither of you can keep a cell phone or write an email or send regular letters. those days that you get to be with her make it all worth the un-wholeness of when you are apart.

photo credit to mom


belly-scratches with rose

nick sent me this reassuring snapshot today. he is in the berkshires checking on our brood. rose, he determined, was feeling adequately at home on the new farm. i am in such desperate need of a good lie down in the grass with my ever-growing piglet.


farmers on holiday

i've been mulling over how farmer's can go on holiday. how they can leave their animals and crops and land and cares behind to put them on hold. to put them out of their ever stressing minds.

i'm on holiday, so i'll need to mull over these feelings of guilt and this need for rest and see if i can't reconcile it for a coherent post. for now, we are in town, getting wares. the winds are picking up a bit. and if we are to make it back to the little island without getting too wet i need to cut this short now.

i'll be back to a more regular source of internet gold next week when we land on cape cod. for now, have a lovely extended summer week-end. will see you on the other side.


rudy and i explore the boundaries of our vanity

i called the farm today to get an animal report. they are being Model pigs and cow and chickens and duck and bees. this kind of report puts me very much at ease as i was worried we had coddled and cuddled and spoiled them all too rotten.

with the Good News it opens space up for other things to worry about. like what form of human housing we can create this winter? we will be at current farm just 2 months and then we have farm jobs outside of boston but with no place to live. renting doesn't fit our modest farmhand budget. but there are options. tee pee. larger tent. 1960s camper found on craigslist. such options while small, minimalist, and sexy present two seemingly insurmountable problems. how do we heat any of the above through the bitterness of a new england winter? and on whose land in such a proper setting as outer-boston can we set up such red-neckian accommodations?

such are the thoughts plaguing me on this thursday morning. the river is glass calm and the sun is beating gently down --mercifully much unlike it beats down in the south-- so off to the rocks to make like a lizard and soak in this day. worries about winter be damned for a rainier day.

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