Monday, April 20, 2009

Did you hear that?

Perhaps one of my favorite conversations from the week occurred while making breakfast on Wednesday. Joe and I were discussing the array of noises we hear from our tree houses. The most recent addition this past week was the infamous wood frogs in the pond by the G-Animal house. They sound a bit like ducks impersonating chickens (see me for a very accurate rendition of said call).
Then Joe asked me if I've heard someone trying to start a generator throughout the night but was never successful as getting it going.
Well, after discussing it some more and hearing Joe's interpretation of the noise I realized he was referring to the ruffed grouse, which I've totally been enjoying hearing. You see, the male ruffed grouse is into percussion. He'll find a hollowed out log then flap his wings creating some amplified beats throughout the woods trying to attract that special someone. Pretty awesome. Joe's description of starting up a generator works well to describe the noise.
Also, I've noticed the early morning bird chorus is rapidly changing and growing, even just in the past week. Sure, the woodpeckers are still getting things going, robins then chime in, those grouse keeping the rhythm but then the most most beautiful melodies have been surfacing, so many that it's been difficult to pick out what birds are involved.
There are some noises that I've been hearing that Joe has not. These are the noises of my roommates: squirrels and mice. One mouse was dangerously close to my head the other night. However, for the most part these roommates of mine our respectful and keep to themselves. And after all they were there first.

So next up in noises should be the spring peepers. The tiny little frogs that throw their voices in all directions creating an epic evening chorus. I bet that yesterday (Sunday) would be the day. Clearly, I lost.
This week seems very promising though...

Listen up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Thought for Food

My work focus since mid-March and continuing on through April and May consists of compiling farm information, soliciting advertisers, and graphic design and layout in order to produce and distribute the 3rd Edition of the Pemi-Baker Local Food Directory. We want to make this small booklet available by Memorial Day weekend--in time for the full jump into the summer growing season. It is exciting to know that we will be including at least a dozen more farms and a handful of new local businesses and services.

Now more than ever, this is the time to Think and Act Locally.

In the promotional letter we sent out to local businesses--an advertising solicitation that will allow us the funds to produce the Guide, we wrote, "Localization of food, goods, and services is vital to the health and growth of rural counties. Knowing one’s neighbors, farmers, and businesses increases the overall well being of a community and creates a unique thriving economy. At D Acres, we are interested in a legacy of local industry that will ensure food security, nutrition, and community sustainability--the Local Food Guide is a small step in that direction."

Wendell Barry, in an essay he wrote in 2001 states, "the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence..." We provide what we need and what we will use to those who live near us. Is it that simple? I'm not sure, but I'd like to think so.

In that same letter, we addressed the uncertainty and instability of the economic times, " We...are inclined to believe that purposeful and intentional investment in the local community is a long-term investment in the wealth of the local economy." Circulating our money within a local radius decreases our dependency on goods and services imported from miles away, therefore decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels, in turn decreasing the violence, war, and even crime that harms humans, animals, and the Earth. This is my belief.

Some of it is founded in books, essays, and gleaned from teachers, and some of it comes from the pure experience of growing, caring for, preparing, and eating good, clean, nutritious whole food.

I look forward to all the food events we have here on the farm with sincerity, and believe we are providing an environment that vibrates with change for how we view our food. We love to share conversation and "good times" around a bowl full of seasonal soup and fresh baked bread, or a potluck plate of a little of this and little of that. Please come and join us in celebrating "neighborhood and subsistence"--it is simple and refreshing.

With Warmth,

Upcoming D Acres Food Events:
Full Moon Potluck, Friday April 10, 6-9pm
Seasonal Soup Night, Saturday April 18, 6-9pm

Other Local Food Happenings:
Flavors of the Valley, Tuesday April 21, 2-7pm Hartford High School, White River Junction, VT

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chores will set you free

Chores will set you free

There is a poster that has been greeting me every time I pop down to the basement to put food away in the root cellar; or on my way up from seeding plants. It is at the top of the stairs, and proclaims in joyful dramatic woodcut ink:

The Government will not set you Free. Chores will set you Free.

I think that this statement, equating chores with freedom, captures the homesteading lifestyle at its most crucial point; it is the heart of it.

I have been here for three weeks, and I can feel a fusing of usually separate elements of my life into a single action—Chores. But it would be too simple to call it just “chores.” It is a fusing of working, learning, and socializing into a single action. On Monday, at the meeting when weekly schedules take shape, people will practically fight over certain chores; “Who wants to feed the chickens?” “I’ll take the whole week.” “Awww, I want a day or two!” Moreover, the major work week, comprised of 4-5 hour blocks, morning and afternoon, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, is so variable, new, and enjoyable that each block becomes a little experience in itself; Four hours, bite sized, mental, physical and social excursions:

Walking through the snow, the sound of clipping as we prune trees, sculpting the future paths of each branch.

Transforming the greenhouse from disorder to organization, moving from sunny indoor warmth to the hint of cold outside, all while conversation lightly flows.

Preparing breakfast, taking orders, meeting and greeting visitors as the community pours in for Farm Feast Breakfast (95 visitors strong!)

And on Monday, as the meeting lilts on and on, my schedule goes from a blank page to a full page; and free-time events, traveling into town, seeing such and such presentation, band practice, are pressed right up against my chores, feeding pigs, cleaning stalls, construction. In fact, it is harder and harder to tell which is chore and which is free-time.

You will never have so much free time as when you are constantly busy. Chores will set you free.