Monday, March 29, 2010

paying attention

Walking around the farm on this wet, dark night in Southern New England I realized—despite the heavy clouds—that tonight was the full moon. The rain clouds were thick and the sky was dark, but it felt like the full moon and that is the only way I can really explain that. I suppose the best way to describe it is if you walked into a black tent in the middle of a pro football Stadium at night. Sure, inside the heavy tarps it's pitch but you know, you feel, the stadium lights outside even if you can't see your palm in front of your face. I came inside and checked my Washington County Farm calendar and saw that tonight was in fact the full moon.

I can't remember what it was like to not be aware of these things. For most of my professional adult life now I have been outside nearly every night, in all weather, watching the cycles of the moon go from bright to dull alongside my livestock or with the padding trots of my dogs. I don't pay attention to it in any serious way, but tonight I realized I missed the glow, and was expecting it even though it was absent. Make a wish, I thought...Tonight might be special.

Moon talk aside, on the way back to the cabin I tripped over the metal spike in the field that ground the electric current for the electric fences. I fell flat on my butt, getting it soaked as if I dipped it in a creek. Let's her it for me. I cursed under my breath as I went back indoors. I can sense the cycles of the moon on spec but I can't see dangerous lawn obstacles that have been in the same place for nearly two years? Pocahontas, I am not.

Folks have been asking for a Jackson update, and I am nervous to report there are none. I am still waiting for a closing date, but the USDA mortgage was underwritten and signed off on by all parties lawyers. Now it's just twiddling thumbs and hoping nothing falls through before the big day I finally sign those papers, hand over that giant check, and get handed the key. I won't really exhale until that day comes, so keep your fingers crossed and carry a bit of wood in your pocket to knock on from time to time. This girl in Vermont is still livin' on a prayer.

I have other news though, do I ever. Some of it I am waiting to share, but tonight I'll fill you in on Saturday's plans to visit a local rabbitry and learn about meat rabbits and composting red worms. Bruce, A local farmer I know through the Shushan feed store (who caters to all the local restaurants) has invited me to see his operation and, if I am so inclined, take home a few animals to breed on the farm and sell back into the local menu scene. I'm excited to learn about meat rabbits, and to see how his giant operation (over 200 does) functions as a lucrative, neighborhood farm. A student from Green Mountain College may join me. She cold called me this week because her homesteading class brought me up in some college lecture. This blew my mind, but also had me swelling with pride that local schools have homesteading curriculums. Talk about knowledge being power: a class that gets students to learn how to literally feed themselves, and not just get a degree that pays for groceries, has all my respect. I tell you, sometimes this nook of the world just makes me smile like an idiot.


Blogger doglady said...

Astrologically these are the highest high tides of the spring. We have huge rainfalls and the high tides so water is over the roada plus the high winds have resulted in power outages. Had a huge White Pine come down on the lines and had to wait for Bangor Hydro to fix it. The chicks in the basement seemed ok without their heat lamp.
Jenna, if you are thinking about meat bunnies you should consider Silver Fox Rabbits. They are awesome.

March 29, 2010 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

We raise meat rabbits and though Joel Salatin states that most restaurants are begging for home grown rabbit meat, I have not found that to be true here in NW Montana. As a matter of fact, one restaurant chef told me that she thought most of the tourists were "offended" by rabbit on the menu. So we grow rabbits for our selves and a few thankful friends. That's enough for us right now anyway. Good luck!

March 29, 2010 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Sounds like you have become a part of nature not just an observer.

Way cool about being mentioned in a course. Happy to hear that some places are offering courses like this.

March 29, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Homesteading in the curriculum? Learning how to feed oneself? Amazing. Useful. Hard to believe.

March 29, 2010 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

You need to talk to your realtor and find out what is going on. I don't mean to be rude, but you need to do more than twiddle your thumbs. Now is not the time to be passive. If you don't close by April 30th, you will lose your $8000 tax credit. Set a closing date, and set a penalty to be paid by the sellers if the date is not met. This is serious business. Make your realtor earn his commission, and get him working for you. We are all routing for you! Make it happen!

March 29, 2010 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger ladybughomer said...

From Space
WORM MOON: According to folklore, tonight's full Moon has a special name--the Worm Moon. It signals the coming of northern spring, a thawing of the soil, and the first stirrings of earthworms in long-dormant gardens. Step outside tonight and behold the wakening landscape. "Worm moonlight" is prettier than it sounds.

See - you knew!

March 29, 2010 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

You have until June 30th to close- just have to be under contract by April 30.
I hear you on the waiting- rest assured you are not alone- also waiting to close on a USDA loan.
Thanks for your blog and book- both have been inspirational for me in making this purchase and moving towards a simpler, happier life! Thank you!

March 30, 2010 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hey Jenna- from everything I know, which is not much, if the mortgage is underwritten and the lawyers have signed off, it just needs the title company's sign off and it's done (once the seller and buyer sign as well). I would definitely be pestering your realtor, if I were you, because you have a moving date looming faster than you'll know. I don't know about the tax credit deadlines, but I'd use them with the folks involved until one of them tells you otherwise. Maybe that would be a good thing to look up; if you have the correct information, it's as good as ammo, and you need to load your guns. Read a little, act like you know what you're doing, and press for a closing date. Your realtor should give you the date, and the time and place, and the amount of the check which you have to bring, and which will surely be required to be a cashier's check. You want to make sure that you have the funds in the right account in plenty of time to be able to draw that cashier's check as well.

We are getting a ton of rain here in Oregon as well, and I fear that I'm going to learn a lesson the hard way with my brand new fruit trees; they are sitting in puddles and I'm afraid that they are going to drown. My husband related a story to me that one summer in Germany it rained solid for one month straight, that old and established trees drowned.

I'm glad to hear that 1) a college is actually offering a homesteading class, which had I been there at the right time, I would surely have taken, and that 2) your name came up- so cool!, and that 3) meat rabbits are in your future. I was reading about meat rabbit raising just this evening. Not 100% sure I'm going to do it, but I'm researching it anyway.

Good luck with the closing- I think we'll all breathe easier when we're hear it's done. Then you gotta worry about who's gonna help you move!!

March 30, 2010 at 1:15 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I get so nostalgic when I see things people have written about seasons in the northern hemisphere - where I'm at in the Southern hemisphere the seasons don't coincide really match up with Western folklore or tradition (a HUGE reason I can't wait to be home again). The full moon was still just as beautiful though! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you on that property!

March 30, 2010 at 4:29 AM  
Blogger Kate Mary Betty said...

Vermicomposting is one of the easiest ways to turn waste into wonderful, nutrient rich soil for your gardens. It doesn't have the quick turn around like feeding the stuff to your chickens but the chickens don't eat shredded paper either. Best of luck on all your adventures. We're rooting for you!!

March 30, 2010 at 5:52 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Louis, I talk to them everyday. Trust me, I am not waiting around for someone to contact me. I think they are getting frustrated with my daily emails and calls...

Yesterday the 15th was thrown out as a closing date.

I hope that's the day.

March 30, 2010 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

Finally a course that helps educate young people in how to remain in an area that is suffering from lack of a level playing field economically. More emphasis on small business ventures makes great sense in a world where our prosperity is being exported elsewhere, and wil ensure a renewable and sustainable rural economy.
Fingers crossed for you - hope you find out the closing date soon!
Janet in rural coastal Nova Scotia

March 30, 2010 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Sense of Home said...

Homesteading classes. What a great idea!

My daughter and I ate rabbit at a local restaurant and loved it. I hate to use the cliche', but it did taste like chicken (dark meat chicken).

March 30, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger TheRaspberryChicken said...

Sense of Home:

Funny, it's been a while since I've eaten rabbit, but I always describe it as like white meat chicken only much more moist. I haven't eaten it in years though so maybe I just don't remember. I told my daughter that rabbit meat was tasty which is why she named her french angora (one of Jenna's kits) Tofu!!!


March 30, 2010 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Isn't it great to find out how people hear about you? Once I had a guy come up to me and ask, "Aren't you the lady that played the harp by the chicken barn at the fair last year?" Yep, that was me. On a day when it was so hot, they sent the chickens home!

Here's to fame, and to looking at the moon while you're stoming through a field.

March 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Harvest Kitchen Sisters said...

It was an amazing full worm (or crust moon) moon last night and it was blazing away on our farm here outside of a little town called Woodville, Ontario, Canada. It was eerily beautiful! It shone through the window all night long. Check out the NY Times article on killing/eating rabbits. subject Also there was a huge debate on Novella Carpenter's blog for and against raising rabbits for meat. Some may find this interesting, I know I did. There is quite the divide between people raising meat and people who don't.

March 30, 2010 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger René said...

Just read Doglady's comment and that explains what happened here on Monday morning. We had a roaring rain storm that knocked out the power. I'm still not used to living so near the ocean but I'm completely fascinated by how the geography of this area, being sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains, has so much affect on the weather.

On another note, rabbit is lovely. The few times I've had it, it's always been tender to the point of melting in your mouth. As Elizabeth suggest, though, it might do well to research your local market first. This area has tons of posh little restaurants looking for "unique" ingredients to put on their menus but somewhere like the midwest (land of the cheeseburger) would likely be less appropriate.

Given your proximity to New York, you might consider boer goats for meat too, though they're a bit more rowdy than rabbits. I've read some about Halal butchers having difficult finding good quality animals. Since they buy the animals live you have less to worry about with the FDA as you're selling livestock and not butchered meat.

March 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger small farm girl said...

When I was younger, me and my parents had a rabbit farm. We had over 150 rabbits. We got in contact with the local hospital. Rabbit meat is very good for you. Our local hospital suggested their heart patients to eat rabbit. Very low in cholesteral. We sold them then, for $5. You need to ask for more because feed has really gone up sence then. I hope you can find a buyer for your meat. Now a days people don't want to eat "cute,fluffy bunnies."

March 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

I stand corrected, regarding the signed binding contract by April 30, and closing by June 30. There is also a good chance that Congress will extend the deadline. However, I wouldn't want to risk not getting the credit because of a technicality, such as having to sign a new contract is case something is discovered before the closing, etc. Real estate law varies from state to state, so perhaps Vermont is different, but usually the closing date is specified in the contract. Do you not have an agreed upon closing date? If not, has your realtor given you a reason? Is your realtor working exclusively for you, or for both you and the seller?

I misunderstood your blog posting when you said you were twiddling your thumbs. I am glad to hear that you are pestering them. You have every right to, especially if they are not giving you straight answers.

March 30, 2010 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Waiting for a closing date -- been there, done that. Not with a USDA loan, but a VA loan; the wheels turn slowly, but they turn. It'll get there.
Homesteading classes? I hope the rest of the country catches the wave.

March 30, 2010 at 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How terrific about the GMC student. I actually am a Green Mountain College graduate from 2007 and it doesn't surprise me that you're getting worked into the curriculum. My guess is something to do with the GMC farm and homesteading courses with Philip Ackerman-Leist and the new farm manager. Good men. And there's plenty of good people that go there. :)

March 31, 2010 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Merikay said...

Hi Jenna,

I like to stop in and see how you are doing from time to time. My husband asked me to cook an old German rabbit recipe for him, Hasenpfeffer. It has been marinating for three days. He bought the rabbit at a local grocer. Would you believe a three pound rabbit cost $31. We won't have it again even if it is great.

I hope the farmers get a good part of the cost, but probably not.

April 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM  

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