Buckets & Posts
But when I see it I beam. Because that grassy hillside was nothing but dirt and stone last summer. It was erosion and mistakes, overgrazing-turned-desertfication. That ram in the foreground was just a yearling, half that size and half as braw. Go back two years, and that shelter was just being built, by a man and his son who belonged to the community down the road. When money became really tight they let me pay off the pole barn in sheep, and so today if you drive past Common Sense Farm you will see a flock of five Scottish Blackface sheep who were all from stock born and bred here.
I have had a lot of sheep escapes, too. But these sheep are minding this small, impermanent, fence because I now understand chargers and wiring. I know how many strands it takes, how strong a pulse, the things you only learn by doing and taking a constant mental inventory of what is and isn't part of your own farm's story.
Five years ago this was a mowed field. An extension of someone's lawn. Now it is a farm. A living, breathing, abundant farm. This is a place where honey, milk, wool, vegetables, pork, chicken, eggs and berries are produced. It is a place where apples are pressed into hard cider and baked into pies, homemade bread cools on stovetops, and ducks roast in the oven. It's a place that has its own butcher, farrier, chimney sweep, and neighbors who trade baskets for eggs. It's a place where hoofbeats can be heard at a god clip, coming up the sweep of road that brings a white farmhouse into view.
I used to see this place as a dream come true, but that isn't the case at all. Dreams are wonderful but it was not the act of wanting that made Cold Antler mine, and it sure as hell isn't dreams that keep the lights on and roof over my head. Cold Antler is not a dream come true - it is a reality come true. And while I use the romantic term "dream" a lot, I never thought of farming as something as far away as a dream is to most people. It was always the conclusion, the place I would end up, even when I was most scared and uncertain how. Dreaming is good, but believing is better. If you want something you need to believe it will happen and fight like hell to keep it. It's worth it, and every day I wake up my life is full of freedom and a mission that makes my heart sing and blood boil: to stay.
A place that deals with good and bad, mistakes and repairs, and a woman figuring it all out a day at a time. Good fences and healed earth matter here. They are the foundation and the result. They matter a lot.