Grit, determination, sparsity and abundance, the cycles of the land, life and death – all inspire our life and work.
The landscape we occupy imbues us with a sense of ‘enough’ – a paradox of abundance and sparsity. We are conscious that we cannot demand too much of it. We need to celebrate those things we choose to have in our lives and develop an awareness of the things we welcome into our lives. Beautiful forces are at work here, where the landscape and the self are constantly undergoing a mutual erosion – shaping one another.
We also live for and raise good food in our garden and pasture. That's why we keep a small herd of grass-fed Dexter cows here, a flock of laying hens, a bunch of Tamworth, Large Black and Old White sows, and pick and preserve from our garden and orchard trees.
A slender sinew of water easing its way down to us from high eastern ridges and then passing us by as it sinuates its way to the long lower valleys in the west. We are serenaded by its spring rush and cantillated frog calls and the undergrowth rabbit trails and puce chokecherries entice us out on walks along its edges.
I enter the hip roof barn, this orphan leftover from a farm site three miles north of us and gaze up into its rough hewn underbelly and imagine all the horses and cattle that sheltered here. We levered and tore it off its 1936 foundation, gently lowered it onto a haywagon and pulled it south here, to our home and settled it down, shifting it an inch this way and then that, before it sat squat on its newly poured concrete bed.
It sits there, black in the sun, exposed to the north and west winds, across the drive from its red sisters, a row of wooden granaries, sledged here on newly felled green poplars, collected from farms no longer needing their wooden bellies to hold harvests.
Garden + Orchard
Archetypes of process and eternal hope etched into small pieces of earth, our garden and orchard are where we gather together to plant, tend and gather in. Amongst the soil and plants is where we learn, on a small scale, that disappointment doesn’t mean a failing end. Rather, embracing patience and understanding, we are buoyed by lessons learned and the promising hope of next year.
These ones we have here, quietly moving across our pasture, tails swishing behind are but pets. One we affectionately call the Giraffe, an old gentleman that has been passed down, in tradition, from one young girl to the next. The other is living out her days here, a sore old mare who can be called nothing but an easy-keeper, her liver chestnut coat covering copious amount of flesh. Others are up north, with King Ranch blood blowing through veins, along with my sister and brother-in-law’s herd. Cowy and cat-like palominos, swift, small sorrels, a gentle old, moustachioed appaloosa, all are partners in the tradition of slow ranch work. They bring cows up from pasture to home, sort the mommas from the calves at brandings and help doctor ailing animals, holding them steady on the ends of their dallied ropes.
Here are the places where grasses were meant to grow. Here are the places where tree were meant to grow. These are the places where hummocks, scattered glacial till and thin brunisols throw the orders on the table. This land was made for neither plow or creaking, metal harvester but instead for the swaying heads and pendulous tails of cattle.
We love our chickens, squawky, feather-shedding chickens. They careen through the garden, wings aflutter looking for all the world like ruffled dinosaurs. Then they strut, moving from delicacy to delicacy – cabbage, broccoli, cabbage, bug, cabbage. They give us eggs, beautiful eggs in serene rich colours. Sky blue, chocolate and buff shells. Marigold yolks. Yep, love it!
Every so often, thoughts get caught between the chores, meals, making and whatever else it is we find ourselves working on. They hang on and allow me some moments to get better acquainted and explore what might really being going on under the surface of the day to day.