Learning as We Go

Happy New Year! We appreciate the rituals of reflection and goal setting that often accompany the calendar reset and resolve to keep using this weekly format of stories from the farm to keep you, our farm community, connected with this place, this wild experiment in mundane acts of growing food that is good for you and the planet.

We enter the year eager for still doing some rich and deep learning from last year… the barn project has meant that we haven’t yet completed analysis of yields and such from 2014. And we are determined to adjust course as needed – but all within our “complex bottom line”: healthy natural systems; thriving farmers, profitable enterprises, engaged community and high quality products.

But as of yesterday our learning was more in the moment! The phrase “hung up on” took on an altogether too literal meaning when we attempted to move the hen wagon towards its destination inside the new barn. The plan seemed perfect. Hens like humans aren’t great with change. They would have their regular nest boxes and roosts in the new barn, thus enabling them to go from winter barn to summer freedom rotating every few days on pasture with their mobile wagon home.

hung up hen wagon

It was just that in the snowy circumstances trundling the wagon through the gates we pinched the turn and while we barely kept the thread bare wagon wheels from getting stuck on the plowed farm road we did manage get its roof hung up on the gate as the wagon leveled off onto the flats. Some management teams do ropes courses! Andrew, Laura and Mari had some good bonding with each other, our new winch, the gator and the 29 horses inside the Kubota tractor and were grateful the darn barn project left us with lots of 10 x 10 scraps from the ends of posts to build a bridge out of our “snafu”.

Andrew hooking up winch

Always it is remarkable how many times we find ourselves in the real live circumstances of colloquial expressions. Last week, as Mari packed 15 heavy long steel shafts together with some 14 foot lumber and ratchet strapped them to the bed of the (too short) farm truck she said out loud “hang in there”! And respectfully remembered her ancestors with a message to St. Christopher, the patron saint of safe travel. The six hour emergency run for the right size parts to finish the barn was made more hopeful by an NPR program on Pope Francis, reminding us to keep trying to be the change we want to see in the world.

Then there are moments that couldn’t seem more right. Laurie’s group last night at the cooking class taking “hands-on” to a new level.

hands on cooking classleek fritter with herbed sauce

Transforming farm fresh goods and upgrading our skills to do more of the same into the future without threat of getting bored as localvores.  Just a few hours earlier, as stress narrowed perception and snow narrowed the path of the hen wagon, St. Jude (patron saint of hopeless cases) seemed the most relevant spiritual figure for the farm. The cooking class on the other hand expanded everything… our repertoire with familiar ingredients, our finesse in savoring and adjusting the flavors of the dishes, our skills for mundane tasks of cutting onions, chopping carrots and “pastification” of  garlic, our appreciation for the here and now. Indeed in that moment, the Buddah and his here and now mandate seems to align perfectly with this Slice of Life.


And speaking of here and now, it was being embraced yesterday by Celsius and Typhoon, the last 2 pigs of our spring litters left on the farm. They decided that after having watched the barn project for the past two months and enduring the noise and distraction, they wanted a tour.  They relatively politely asked Andrew to let them in (after letting themselves out of their fence) but acquiesced to just admiring it from the outside.

Celsius & Typhoon seeking entrance Celsius & Typhoon asking Andrew to get into new barn