Sunday, July 7, 2013

CAF's First Indie (half) Day!

Recently I hosted my first ever Indie Day, an idea I came up with to make the farm available to guests for a one-on-one experience. Indie Days are private lessons in everything from chicken husbandry to Fiddle lessons, just you and me, learning country skills or talking about the Whole Hog. After I announced the idea two people signed up. One was Brandi, a fiber fan, who will spend a day going through the process of sheep-to-yarn and leaving with her own spinning wheel (I am selling her my Ashford). The other taker was a family of four from Pasadena. My little 6.5 acres became a part of their vacation. Talk about kismet, as it all worked out that they could visit me and tour around New York on the one rainless day we had this June. It was a working vacation of sorts, since they are considering leaving Hollywood (the father of the family is an actor) for life in Washington County.

Guys, I don't know about you but when people are crossing a continent to visit me I get a little anxious. I was excited to meet them but worried the trip wouldn't be all they expected. They didn't have a particular animal focus or lesson in mind, just wanted to see the farm and my world. Since Barbara (who had set up the day) was also a fan of Jon Katz I would try to make this a Jackson Author Day. I contacted Jon to see if he was game and he was, bless him.

When the car arrived I was on the front stoop with Gibson. Four very tan and attractive people walked out of their rental car and I shook hands and gave hugs. We had a day all planned and it started with a farm tour. I showed them all around Cold Antler and introduced them to the animals and small garden. We picked some carrots for some very special friends we were about to visit: donkeys! We hopped in our vehicles and headed over to Bedlam Farm where Jon kindly introduced them to his donks and did a herding demonstration with Red, his Irish border collie. We stood in his pasture and watched as the dog wove around people and donkeys and got the sheep to do his bidding. I was in silent awe. Gibson has the power of a rocket and energy to spare but our own herding skills haven't hit this mark. I was very proud to watch Jon and Red work together. They make a great team.

After the tour and herding demo we all heading into Cambridge for a trip to Battenkill Books and lunch at the new cafe. The Roundhouse Bakery has been built into a brick building that used to be a bank. You can eat an Asian fusion salad in the shadow of a happy vault, and the smells of their bakery and lemon cookies made me a little weak in the knees. I got a chai (love their chai) and a salad and baguette. Delicious!

Jon was working as Recommender in Chief at Battenkill Books, helping folks find the right story for their day. While we were there people called him from all over the country, saying hello to the author who they've read and followed in his adventures moving and living here. Listening to him talk, and watching the Californians peruse, it felt like watching two different pieces of one story: change. Jon had started out as a new person in this weird little town and was now a part of the fabric of it. This is his bookstore, his Tai Chi instructor served us lunch, his dog is welcomed in nearly every store. And these new faces are just thinking about taking on that story for themselves. Surely it will be different, everyone's is, but they may be getting lunch from their Tai Chi instructor someday too. Something like that. You get what I'm saying.

We ended the day with a cart ride with Merlin. Everyone helped harness and enjoyed the ride. I was so happy to share him with them, as I now feel confident and cool with the driving lines in my hands and a horse collar slung over my shoulder. That in itself was a long road to gain, but his family only need to hang on to the sides of the cart and enjoy the ride. When some folks felt more adventurous I got Merlin up into a full canter and to feel the wind in your face behind a horse cart is a sensation I hope they take with them. It's certainly why I'm here, and what keeps me here.

I can't call the first Indie Day anything but a success. They only signed up for a half day but they certainly got a load of local writers, food, farms, and experiences. They fed donkeys carrots, watched a border collie herd sheep, rode in a horse cart, ate our county's amazing food and saw a little of our heart and soul in places like Connie's store and the streets of Cambridge. I hope they move here, and I hope to see them again. Not for an Indie Day, but for dinner or apple picking or just a cookout on the lawn. This place could use a little more flair.

Before they left the farm I asked what they were going to do that night? They said they planned on taking a walk around dusk to see if they could watch the fireflies, something missing from the west coast. I hope they saw them. Cold Antler Farm is what it is, but fireflies are worth the trip. Always.