"January beats the drum. What is past, and what's to come?"
The end of January brought in a resonant, peaceful note – A week ago, we were graced with a new Farm Baby, our first calf! Last Thursday morning, as we sat at the breakfast table, and the sunlight softly suffused the valley and our hillside, we saw a small silhouette out in the winter cow pasture.
Since that day, I've been blessed to enter the morning's chill with milk bucket in hand, to herd mama and baby into the cow shed for morning milking. The low-stress animal handling training I received at Spring Meadows Farm in Pennsylvania, where I worked with oxen, has come in incredibly handy – I seem to have retained far more than I realized! I can lead the calf on a halter after just a week of training, and Michelle (mama cow) moves easily and readily to her spot in the barn (we call it a barn for simplicity's sake, it's really a lovely semi-timber-framed three walled shed).
As the sun peaks over the mountains and into the barn, Michelle and I talk softly to one another, and the soft hiss stream of milk flows from her udder. It's so incredibly warm against her flank as the sun shines in on us. And for some reason, kneeling at her side, the awkwardness of movement while 8 months pregnant falls away, and I feel strong, capable, and utterly balanced in a way that few positions allow these days! She hums the softest of comforts to her calf, who is tied just beside her in the barn, while I milk. We don't get so much milk, at least compared to farms that need to sell and so separate mama and baby overnight or completely; but we certainly get enough for us to drink, make yogurt, and enjoy the occasional farmer's cheese, which is just what we were hoping for! I'm also hoping to get more once they're on pasture, so we can make our own butter!
Sam and I have been learning seasonal songs (thus the January quote above), and enjoying the company of other 2 and 3 year olds both in and out of doors. He also gets a kick out of bringing out his very own tool box and helping Jon fix and build things around the farm.
Sign up sheets are finally updated on our CSA site form page (I just realized the other day the 2016 forms were still up for downloading!), and of course you may join online anytime as well. Thank you to all of you who have already joined, truly supporting our winter work of planning and supplying our 2017 season!
We are still looking for full time farm help this season, to begin work April 1st. If you happen to know anyone with a season or two of farm work under their belts, looking for a job, please send them our way!
On a personal/political note – As the nation's turmoil threatens to increase, I find solace, strength and comfort in our community, our friends, our farm, and our actions. A verse from a 19th Century poet, (transcribed to music, and sung by a choir I've been part of off and on for the past several years) has come to mind over and again the last few months – "Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." May our stars shine brightly, however dark is the night. May we support, encourage, protect and love our neighbors as we wish to be supported, encouraged, protected and loved ourselves. And may we remember that the stars continue to shine, even on the cloudiest of nights.
Jen, Jon, and Sam