Saturday, July 18, 2020

Three Times

I came home from a run yesterday bolstered and feeling amazing. I had stopped at the bottom of the mountain to talk to friends, Shelly and Iggy. They are remodeling and cleaning out an old farm house in stages, building their homestead a piece at a time. Shelly is a large animal vet and her husband runs his own small restaurant. I have known them as neighbors since I moved onto the mountain and watching their gardens, goats, and home grow permanent has been a lovely addition to our little mountain community. I felt glad to have such great neighbors and made my way up the mountain at a brisk pace.

When I came home I wanted to do something special for my late lunch. I took one of the firs zucchini from the garden and sliced it and diced it up. I added it to a hot skilled with some olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper and Italian sausage from my pigs. I cooked it all up and put it in a nice little bowl with some hot sauce and ate with chopsticks, which is how I like to eat every meal if I have my Druthers. I felt good. My body was starting to loose its winter layers, finally. I was running daily. I had this small farm, which fed and fueled me. I had pastures, horses, vegetables, eggs, livestock, and a woman I can not wait to hold again. I had less than $200 to my entire name. But! Only because I was able to pay the June mortgage on July 14th, which means now I am at least earning money to pay for the present month again! I am still here, and blooming, and eating very good sausage on a sunny day. Wealthy as can be, regardless of the bank account.

And then, as all farms do, humility was thrown down on me like a hammer. Sometimes things simply go wrong, regardless of preparation or efforts to do your best. With the help of three other farmers, the internet, and some phone calls I still wasn't able to save a small new spark of life. And even after all these years it still hits me. It hurts like hell. It doesn't feel like guilt or shame, not when you try and do all you can. But it does remind you that when you're playing with agriculture sometimes you roll snake eyes and there's nothing you can do but nod and try not to cry in front of the dogs. You keep going. You learn. You move past it so you can focus on all the other animals that make up this farm. You can not lose sight of the whole. That is how homesteaders fall apart, give up, give in. The farm is always bigger than any single part of it. Always.

Which also includes preparing for winter. I am saving up for the first delivery of firewood, a cord and a half cut small enough to fit inside my Bun Baker woodstove. It's $350 and I hope to have that set aside as soon as possible, while still earning towards the mortgage. I can't just wait until I have the mortgage paid to buy and stack wood. Seasons do not work that way, neither does my wood guy. You get it when you get it, and have it ready for winter by October nights. But I am adding to it with the fallen ash tree that friends helped me cut down. I am hoping to add a half cord at least from the tree to stack first, hoping it is dry enough by late winter to burn in 2021. Friends will come today in the heat to help chainsaw and arrange rounds so I can start chopping and stacking. They say wood heats you twice, but when you work in a heat wave I say it heats you three.