Friday, February 19, 2021

The Best We Have

Much has happened in the last few weeks, and almost all of it has to do with moving across the landscape! I’ve been walking and running, and it feels good to get some miles on my running shoes again. Yesterday I was able to run my first 5k without needing to stop to catch my breath or walk, just three solid and slow mountain miles. It was slippery and icy and 22° but I still made it out and back and I’m hungry for more. I wish daylight didn’t have so much to do with my running habit but it does. Once the days grow short I have zero interest in moving. I only care about eating cheese and hibernating. So to feel my body stretch and move has been crucial to feeling better and hopeful about spring.

Besides my own movement I am still on the lookout for a new (to me) pickup truck. My budget is under 3k so you can imagine there hasn’t been a lot of luck out there. But I am hopeful, and friends are on the lookout for a suitable replacement. Right now we only have the one vehicle, a hatchback, which isn’t idea for moving livestock (though we certainly have!) and so the hunt is on. If you are local and see one of good repute, do let me know.

Besides my running and the lack of a truck that does: mostly we are getting through a very hard winter. Hard in the way that the plumbing entirely stopped draining and it took 2 visits from a professional team of plumbers, my own work of digging out the septic tank from frozen ground, and a really hard thaw day to remove the clog. But now we have a shower again and that feels like a real lifestyle upgrade. Firewood and hay both also had to be bought in this month, that cost with the plumbing bill was a real smack to the moxie but I can’t tell you how much a hot shower helps you lick your wounds.

And I am working daily on a new, very personal book about what happened to me over the past ten years. I am proud of it, though progress is slow. I am writing it for women like me, or really anyone who had to work hard to figure out who they were. The intro is entirely about possums so look forward to that.

Spring seeds are ordered. We got a pair of breeding meat rabbits in barter! And chicks will be chirping away any week now soon as the feed stores stock them. Our sturdy meat birds had their best year ever last summer and I think we may double our efforts there because of friends and family interest. I am already dreaming of hiking, river swims, casting dry flies, and sandals in the grass. What a gift warmer weather will be!

That’s all for now. If you don’t see many updates here you can always hear me yip yapping on Twitter or Instagram and emails are always open. I hope all of you are safe and with loved ones through what I hope is the end of this pandemic. Find healing and solace in community, farms, friends, and kind dogs. It’s the best we have.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Keep on Truckin'

Yesterday a pair of gentlemen came to the farm to check out Taylor, my truck. She’s been for sale a while and most emails and calls about her were dead ends. It was looking pretty hopeless but then this past weekend a deal was made ($400 below the asking price, but what can you do in the dead of winter in the midst of a pandemic). We shook and soon they will be taking her away to become the engine and cab of a truck they are working on together.

It’s so bittersweet. After those guys left I couldn’t help tearing up. So much of that truck was wrapped up in my own story of coming out and finally allowing myself to be happy. If that seems overly simplistic, it is. But I firmly believe chapters of our lives are marked by vehicles. The single lad goes from a sportswear to a family minivan. The gal fresh out of school buys her first hatchback with her first real job. You get it. And that truck was the first time I was buying exactly what I wanted to drive, for the exact life I had created. Vintage, thrifty, sturdy, Farming. Ugh. She's leaving a rusty hole in my heart!

Also, the memories and timeline of having that truck perfectly correspond to my own memories and timelines of coming out and starting to date women. It felt like being 15 again, or 22, or whatever Taylor Swift song I was scream-singing from the cab as I rolled through the Battenkill Valley carrying everything from livestock and hay to firewood and feed. I had friendships, lovers, dogs, goats, kisses, nerves, first dates, adventures and picnics in that truck (not all at the same time but plenty of overlap). It was so associated with me in this town folks waved from their porches when I drove by. And now she’s off to become an organ donor for a sweet young man who is as enamored with old Fords as I am.

It’s the end of an era. And here’s to being able to go more places and see more things in 2021.

If you’re local and have a 4WD pickup in need of a new home, send me a note.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Winter Together

It feels like a new farm and a new life around these parts. Having someone else here to help when things are particularly hard and celebrate when they are good has changed the entire vibe of this gin joint. For example, this morning chores went by in a literal flurry! Chunky patches of happy flakes filled the air as we split up the morning work of feeding and caring for the animal crew. I went out first with the dogs and let them romp about in the snow (Friday especially loves catching snowballs in the air) and together we open the coops from the night before and get to the morning grain feeding. The goat and sheep get their feed, the chickens get theirs in their respective coops. The geese are let out of the barn and the pigs get their feeders filled. Horses and the flock get hay, filling the nets Shannon tied by hand here in the farmhouse. Once everyone has their fill of grain and grass we move on to carrying buckets. Indoors while all this is going on the percolator is churning out a thick espresso.

Once chores are done we have our own little family rituals and order to the day. Coffee and a board game are always a pleasant start on a snowy day if we have time before Zoom calls or to-do lists start. That was today, since we have the awhole snowy at home to work on our freelance, soap making, and art we sat down with hot mugs and played a game. We put on an ambiance channel on Youtube (today was spring birdsong as if it wasn’t a snowy morning in February) and took in our caffeine out of steaming-warm mugs while songbirds tweeted. You need less sugar in your coffee when that is how you start the day.

By midmorning chores and coffee are done. We slide into our separate work lives and office spaces here in the farmhouse. Shannon has a lot of conference calls and meetings with clients. I have soap to make in the kitchen, orders to pack, and illustrations to work on while podcasts play the news when we can listen. It’s a happy routine, and a lot gets done before noon every day. With our evenings usually set aside for evening chores with the animals, yoga, and cooking a meal together, it feels so nice to have the bulk of office work behind us before sunset.

It’s been lovely. Despite some hardships this old house always sets up: like frozen pipes and bad winter drainage (we do need a plumber for the drainage but I DID fix the burst pipe last week myself!) and weekends in deep cold mean adapting our routines and the house (like staying up all night with wood stoves and dripping pipes) but together we have made it. And there are more good memories this winter than bad, despite the horrific news and the fears of the pandemic. We are lucky to have this place and have it together. The animals are well. Friends have been amazing, kind, and we are all on call for each other in this quarantined time.

Speaking of which, my neighbor and large animal vet, Shelly, has come down with very complicated health issues this winter and needs help. If you can share this on your own social media, or even possibly donate, please do. The link is here and every dollar can help a local family here in Veryork get through a very hard time.

Be well. Be safe. Be kind.