Well, it’s a sunny Tuesday morning and I’d usually be doing some work around the farm at this time. The compost needs to get turned, goats need to be moved to a new pasture, a handful of trees could use some extra mulch. But instead of doing any of that I, the intern, am writing a blog entry while Andre works his butt off. That’s because just this weekend I took a bad spill on my bike and badly hurt my elbow. Nothing broken. 3 stitches. Still very sore and far from turning a heap of compost. So this entry is just a reflection on my time here on this land, with these people. But if you just want to see pictures of some faces and places here scroll to the bottom!
I came to Sunnyfield Farm in mid-december from Salt Lake City. I have always felt a deep connection to this Earth and the life it supports and I wanted to really begin to understand more fully this interaction between this living world and myself. How can we live kindly with soil, plants, and animals? What are these things? What can we learn from them?
I was really starting from scratch. I was raised in the suburbs eating processed food that just showed up on my plate. I had no idea where it came from. As a child I don’t think I actually understood that food comes from the Earth, not a box. We eat this Earth. And when we see where our food comes from, we understand something of what it means to be alive. And where we come from. And where we return.
December was cold and rainy. I slept in the yurt situated near the barn, just next to the Limbach’s little home. The goats made me laugh. The Limbach children were incredibly bright and welcoming. Andre and I started working together. I try my first bloomy rind cheese, a few months old. Andre loves these cheeses. They take a lot of work and careful attention to get it just right. I cannot believe how satisfying a small slice is.
On Christmas Eve my spirits are lifted by a snowfall. Leaving the warmth of the yurt I grabbed my headlamp and went out for a walk. Billions of snowflakes. I wanted, as always, to understand.Muffled footfalls. Up to Lopez Hill. So quiet. Then I saw two eyes reflected in the light of my headlamp, got spooked and ran home. Probably one of those flesh eating deer.
February. Only a few goats in milk. Just enough for everyone on the farm. Sunnyfield is closed for business until babies start coming in March. We hand milk, no machine. Its really nice. I assist Andre with odd jobs but much of my time is spent in the food forest. Elizabeth teaches me, drawing from a deep well of knowledge and experience working with plants. She is the mastermind behind the food forest, the vegetable garden and the breathtaking and seamless landscaping that brings this place to life. I dig holes for transplanting small hazelnuts and chestnuts. We plant a hedgerow of willow, dogwood, silverberry, and blackberry. It will serve as a permanent fence as well as browse for the goats. The cold weather and short days leave time for occasional movie nights. Morgen and Andre introduce me to the hilarious and wonderful world of Monty Python. I am forever indebted to them for this influence. Around this time Andre and I start playing chess. I win the first game. Now he’s ahead by 5.
March. Tantalizing hints of spring. I see an animal give birth for the first time. They rarely need any assistance and I stare in awe as two small, wet goats emerge from the backside of Cajeta, one of the Alpines. Well, alright then! Before you know it babies are everywhere! They’re warm and playful. This also means that the herd is making milk again. We have to milk twice a day. 6am and 6pm. Andre then uses magical spells to turn this bounty into yogurt, bloomy rinds, fresh chevre, feta, and the occasional hard wheel.
April. We’re really in the swing of it. Less rain, more sun. Goats going to pasture in the green growing grass, cheese to make, spills to clean, dishes to wash, hooves to trim, fences to make and move. The air is fragrant. Lots of love and lots of learning but no proper words for this gratitude.