March has us living in a rare pause.
You know that space between exhaling and your next inhale? It feels like that. Not uncomfortable, just still. This month has provided me the opportunity to gather my thoughts and plan for the upcoming rush of Spring. Only five babies have been born all month. The older babies, born at the first of the kidding season are so big. They no longer need much of my attention, eating grains and playing happily be themselves.
This pause has also provided us with the chance to put a few seeds in the ground. Wedding season is fast approaching and everyone on the farm is been busy with landscaping and beautification projects. Joe and I are cleaning up the outside of our house and planting gardenias, lavender, bee balm and borage. So far, our bees continue to do very well. Surprising for a colony that has been moved twice since the fall! I see them all over the farm now. They greet us when we plant, dancing from leaf to leaf, checking out what new things they will have to forage from in the coming days.
The owners of Celebrity Dairy have allowed my friend Caitlan, who works in the cheese room and Inn, and myself the chance to farm some of the property here.
This is an amazing gift, the gift of free land, for two young aspiring farmers. In addition, Brit has give us the use of a tractor, a tiller, and water. We are planting in a pre-existing garden space and in two long 130 ft. rows Brit plowed up for us in one of the unused pastures. Caitlin has been through the sustainable agriculture program at CCCC and hopes to one day manage her own farm. This opportunity is huge for both of us, but it feels like equal parts gamble and experiment too. I'm scared of failing but at the same time know I will have crop failures, make mistakes, and that failing is sometimes the best kind of learning.
The garden spot already in production has four rows of garlic planted by Rudy, another part-time employee who helps with the milking and care of the goats. Rudy's family are garlic farmers in Guatemala and you can read that experience in his perfect and precise hand planted rows.
If all goes well we expect an early summer harvest of hakurei turnips, a variety of beets, mini purplette onions, arugula, spicy mesculun salad mix, cabbage, and peas. A little later on we'll harvest a diverse selection of heirloom tomatoes including a mix of slicers & paste, watermelons, and okra. We are also putting in some herbs and flowers, mainly calendulas and sunflowers.
All of our choices have been guided by what the Inn's kitchen can use and specifically what pairs well with goat cheese- hence lots of arugula and beets! We'll be serving our produce at farm dinners and what is left over we'll pickle or preserve for the Inn's use and possibly for sale to guests and at market.
We're calling it LoCa Farms for Lora & Caitlan and as a joke of our crazy, making it up as we go, experiment. So far it's been hard for us to find times that we can both be in the garden and field together because of competing schedules. But last week we built some beds together. Moving hoe and rake over dirt, we talked about personal histories and future plans. Farming with other women is one of my goals in life and I'm grateful for Caitlan's work and friendship. While most of the time the boys get all of the attention, it's important to return to how natural it feels to be a woman farming and remind ourselves that most of the world's agriculture work is done by women.
Other than the tractor and tiller, we have no real farming equipment outside of a few hoes and rakes. No real equipment means that we have no seeder. Not even a little hand held micro-seeder.... Nope...Nada. So for the last few days I've been hand seeding 40 ft. rows on my hands and knees, inching along each bed.
Since moving to the farm, I've been living from check to check. As anyone who's ever worked in agriculture knows, farm work don't pay what it should. I do have two off-farm jobs right now which help keep me afloat, but don't provide much more. With that said, I'm not complaining, things are okay for right now. I don't need much and don't have many costs. But I'm hoping that in the next week I can put enough aside to purchase an Earthway seeder so we don't have to keep hand seeding- especially as we do succession lettuce plantings.
While frustrating, going slow provides it's own rewards.
On the ground, I find my own rhythm to the planting and focus on each seed dropping into place. Today, one of the barn cats decided to join me. I don't know this cat's name, it's one of the scroungy barn cats with a torn ear and I don't particularly like cats in the first place. I appreciate them for the job they perform on the farm, but I prefer to keep my distance. She, however, had other plans; walking in front of me on the bed as if patting down the seeds I'd just planted and then moving behind me to bite my bare toes, before returning to weave in and out of my arms as I ignore her and continue planting. Bored with my routine she finally leaves. I breathe. I'm thinking of nothing, my thoughts are coming and going like the things happening around me. A colorful rooster chases a red sex link across the ground in front of me. To my right, one of the lamas is running in time with a herd of goats across the back pasture towards the barn. A hawk is flying overhead. My fingers push through ground. My seeding is at a human scale- the smallest tip of my index finger to my outstretched palm. It is imprecise, it is imperfect. I can't calculate what the outcome will be. I plant another seed, cover it up, say a little prayer, and hold my breath.
In another couple weeks 60 more babies will be born. There will be wedding celebrations here almost every weekend. I'll be busy planning my own wedding and going to Saturday Farmer's Market again. And LoCa Farms will, hopefully, see it's first sprouts poking through broken ground.