risk assessment

The first week of April we went to go look at a property for sale. It was beautiful land but the house and accompanying barns were in such disrepair that the thought of rehabbing them was overwhelming, even for a fallen-down-farmhouse-romantic like myself. So we imagined we'd need to tear them down, and the price for the land was unjustifiably high without any usable buildings. We came home despondent, but agreed we were done looking at land for the season. We forced ourselves to live in the present. Spring was approaching and it would make more sense to look for land again in the fall, after the harvest.

The very next morning while we were doing chores, a friend was leaving a message on our machine, telling us of a small farm property and the owner who was getting ready to sell. Despite our promise to live in the present we went to see it.

We did so the very next day. We didn't walk more than 50 yards from the car. We didn't go into the house or the barn. We both said yes. It was the same reaction we had to leasing the farm we are on right now. It was the same synchronized reaction we had to moving to the pig farm in North Carolina. Some things just feel absolutely right. That was April 2nd.  20 days later our offer has been accepted.  We have a signed purchase and sale agreement. We are in the midst of inspections, septic, water, home.

I cannot believe how fast this is coming. We have been wanting our own farm ever since we quit our office jobs and our city apartments in San Francisco.  We are extremely superstitious about this place and I feel greatly nervous just writing about its possibility here.

But I had to. For I needed to explain my absence here. I needed to give you a little idea of chaos that is going on in mind, body and farm here at Longest Acres.

We are eager and in love with the property and this has coincided with the onset of spring. The time to till and plant a garden is imminent.  Winnie, our milk cow is about to calf and thus about to flood us back with milk. We have an entire barn and attic and 2 room home to pack up and move. I am now 7 months pregnant and becoming more useless by the hour. The wild ramp harvest is just weeks away, and we've made commitments to restaurants and stores in Boston. We need to find replacements for ourselves, here at our current, leased farm. I'm looking to expand my sheep herd and Louisa and I have been talking about goats. There are many balls in our proverbial air. This is a less than ideal time to go away from the farm for a weekend (like I just did) let alone move all persons, animals, and possessions.

Fortunately, the new property is just a matter of miles away from where we are now. We go there nearly every day for some form of inspection, or just to lust after it, or sit on the covered porch. Yesterday I did a small amount of tilling in one of the gardens. Today we are bringing a truck load of this winter's manure over (because that shit is gold, and you don't just abandon it). We've been advised to do nothing at the property until we have closed and title is in hand. That is good, sound, sensible advice that we will quietly ignore.

It's all about risk assessment. This is a big summer for us with the arrival of the baby coming smack dab in the middle.  We are taking the risk that things don't work out and we find ourselves and our animals and our possessions homeless and me 8 1/2 months pregnant. That could happen, I suppose. Though I have faith somebody would take us in. More overwhelming than that fear is the ideal of a seamless transition. We want everything perfectly in line so that, upon closing, we can move that day, sleep there that night, milk Winnie there that next morning, water the tomato plants in that next afternoon. Weed the onions that evening. Hill the potatoes. Eat dinner on that porch after having jumped into the pond for the season's first swim. Close in the chickens, water the sheep (and goats?) and cows and pigs in their respective pens and lay our tired bones down on our mattress on the floor of the empty home that is Ours.

We are ready for this Forever Home to come to fruition. I think we are nearly there. For good measure our fingers, toes, hooves and scaly chicken feet are all duly crossed.


Made in USA -Spring

Since you forgave me my internet lèche vitrine for Winter I thought I would push your good humor a bit further for a Spring version of items Made in the USA. As we think about moving into a forever home on a permanent farm --someday, God willing-- I think a lot about the quality and life span of the things I buy. I have moved so many damn countless times in the past 10 years and I have thrown out or thrown to goodwill so many items that I have used for just a year or two or less. So, even when money is tight, I have been trying to buy much much less and focus those few purchases on quality items that will last a lifetime. I believe that the things below represent such quality and embody the spring spirit of moving outdoors, cleaning, and the beginning of the forage and harvest season. Here you are.

Wool dry mop (via kaufman mercantile). Hand made in Woodstock,Vermont.

Turn me loose throw made by Fairbault Woolen Mills in Fairbault,  Minnesota

The harvest basket from Duluth Pack. Made in New York, USA.

Made in San Francisco, California. Hooker's salted chocolate caramels. They have been my favorite since they started creating them over five years ago out of their apartment.

Hand made and hand printed dishtowels Made in Chattanooga,Tennesse. Feather one available from Patch Design Studios and the Tomato towel available at Anthropologie. 

Made in Maine door mats of old lobster rope. My mom gave one to us as a housewarming gift last April. Perfect for mudded boots. Available here and here.  (image via)

A standby guide to wild edibles starting in the spring. Published in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. 

Mackinaw Wool Vest from Filson. Fairly sure it is intended for men but I think it would look dashing on women for those spring days that feel a bit more like they are leaning towards winter than summer. Made in Seattle, Washington. 


There is no more nearly sure sign of spring than the day these two legged feather bombs are moved out of winter's quarters and up onto the front field. That day was Friday. In an attempt to foil the fox and her spring hunt. Thank you for your kind words about our sweet Pascale duck. Such is the turmoil of spring.


How do you honor a duck?

How do I honor the duck who gave me, and the farm, two years of her life as a faithful chicken? How do I use the last eggs she laid in the days before she was taken by a fox for her breast?

Pascale was a favorite of ours. She had been through four farms with us. She would often travel in a wax harvest box in the cab of the truck. Keeping one eye trained on Nick while he drove. She was raised with Florence the chick. Saturday was the third and final attempt on her life.  A Carolina hawk and a suburban Boston fox had tried in vain in years past.

She is our first fatality of the season. A reminder that the fox kits are hungry and the mamas are in search of easy food.  Pascale was our mascot. The duck that thought she was a chicken. Everyone who visited knew her and most grew quite fond of the chicken who could swim.

When we followed what looked like fox tracks accompanied by a dragged body we found her, dead on a boulder and missing her left breast. Nick fetched her for me and reminded me of my options for burial. The ground was frozen. The dogs were hungry. The fox was, likely, still hungry.  Unable to break ground and unwilling to see the dogs destroy her on the front lawn, I walked her to the stone wall that boarders my favorite hill on the property. I lay her there, on a particularly noble looking stone and gave a eulogy similar in its emotional absurdity to so many I have given before. I hoped the fox would come back for the rest of her. Perhaps stalling a further attack on the chickens by a few days.

Now we are left with a duck-less chicken coop and seven of her big lovely white eggs. I'm thinking of making a soufflé. I once took Nick to a restaurant in San Francisco that only serves soufflés. Savory and sweet. I remember walking through the back kitchen on my way to the washroom and there was the largest bowl of eggs I have ever seen. I love the decadence of a soufflé. So it will be. Something loud and ostentatious to honor the biggest and most vocal chicken we had.
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