Hello friends! It has been too long. I haven’t posted in a few weeks, and I have felt guilty every Monday that slid by without a missive from the farm. It would be easy for me to write it off with the (very believable) excuse, “It’s been pretty quiet around the farm lately,” but while that is true – we are currently under several inches of snow, with another foot headed our way as I write – it wouldn’t be entirely truthful.
Living with real seasons is a new experience for these former Californians. Out west, no one has had cause to use a snow shovel, baseball season has started, and elbows have already seen the light of day outside. Life marches onward year-round, regardless of weather (with the rare exception of a gullywasher). One of the reasons we were so excited to make the move to our farm was to experience living with four seasons. We anticipated and looked forward to slowing down once a year, quieting our lives and soaking up the silence that snow would bring; no late-February softball hustle for this family.
And while it is true that a blanket of snow brings both beauty and quiet, standing at the bus stop the other day, I realized that winter life on the farm is not, in fact, as quiet as people might think. As I soaked up some mid-40s sunshine while waiting for the school bus to crest the hill, I was struck not by how quiet our country road was, but by the sheer number of different sounds that I could hear amidst my mailbox solitude. Across the road, a woodpecker was working diligently on the trunk of a 100 year old evergreen. In between woodpecker knocks I heard a squirrel scurrying through the branches. I heard the rustle of pine needles before I could locate him with my eyes, and I can tell you without a doubt, that that was first time I could ever claim to have heard a squirrel’s scampering before I saw the source of the shivering branches. Underneath those more overt rural animals sounds was another, softer murmur. At first I thought it might be a high wind rustling through the treetops, as that was another familiar farm-road sound. This sound though, was softer and steadier. Partly like a subtle stream far, far away, mixed with an unmistakable rice krispie crackling sound; melting snow.
The snow and I were doing the same thing – soaking up the warm sunshine – and as soon as I paid attention to it, the sound was distinct and undeniable. This stint at the bus stop was not, in fact, a silent backwoods spell, but one filled with sounds that I hadn’t previously had access or paid attention to. City dwellers, I am sure, look upon farm life with many assumptions. We must live a nearly silent life away from honking horns and neighbors, with perpetually muddy boots and beautiful night skies. I can assure you that two of those three are absolutely true. Our boots are always muddy (unless they are covered in snow), and the night skies out here – dusk through sunrise – are undeniably different than the heavens above the cities. There is no dark like farmhouse dark, people. No street lights down the block, no porch lights across the road, and brilliant, clear stars up above. I do though, take umbrage at our assumed silent life. Out here, the noises are different than urban life, but it can be pretty loud out here if you listen for the right things. Just as sailors must get a pair of sea legs under them, I needed a few months to get my farm ears on. Now that I’ve noticed the sounds of our gravel road, they will forever get my attention.
Just like our farm life isn’t nearly as silent as we think, the perceived wintertime slow down doesn’t mean that the overall farm hustle has stopped; it’s just moved inside for the time being. We have been hard at work: revising our website, meeting with customers, learning from our processor, and winnowing down our list of potential farmers’ markets for the summer season. We are tracking down quality suppliers for our animals (the first batch of chicks get here April 11th!) and sourcing local, non-GMO feed for the pigs and chickens. In the midst of all this, we are formulating our spring To Do list, with a brooder, chicken tractors, and high tensile fencing at the top of the increasingly lengthy list. It is true that farm life is much different in the middle of winter than in the balmy summertime. We stay inside more, leave the farm less, and have a much shorter chore list than if the temperature outside was above 40. However, it’s not nearly as quiet – figuratively or literally – than one might think at first glance. Come on out and visit anytime – we promise to get your boots muddy, show off our skies, and introduce you to the farm chatter that you might not have noticed before. And, as always, thank you for being on this journey with us.