This year has seemed like a game of Red Light, Green Light. You know the game we played as children. Someone hollers, "Green Light!" You go. "Red Light!" You stop. First person to the goal wins. All or nothing. Stop & go.
The pictures above are of the same thing. Do they look the same? Maybe. They just have different perspectives. The first on is looking at what is directly in front of the camera. The second one looks beyond the closest object into the distance. This is the same in farming. Seeing what is happening now while gazing into the future.
This place. This homestead. This farmstead. This is the place where we glance back at the past while we stand in the present. Then turn our eyes to what is to come. Winter is my time to stop. To really come full-stop & take stock in what we have gained & lost over the last 4 seasons.
In the gardens this year we lost ALL, & I mean all, our green, yellow, purple, bush & pole beans to hungry rabbits & groundhogs. We didn't have a lot of apples due to an early frost. I didn't get the last of the broccoli & kale due to an early freeze. We lost 2 baby goats this spring. The loss of those 2 little goat kids broke hearts here. The heirloom purple potatoes didn't do as well as what i hoped for. A couple of baby chicks & turkey poults died shortly after arriving to the farm.
Loss is difficult to understand & accept. The "why did it happen?" & "What could I have done better?" questions take your mind hostage until you either succumb to the thoughts that resonate that you are a failure. Or you tell those ugly questions that you don't have to listen, just learn from them. Then move on.
Today I took a walk in our upper fields & fence rows. My friend, Alana, from Black Valley Farm asked me where the orchard that we've been planning was going to be located. So i went to take a few pictures to show her the place where I will hopefully be picking apples for sauce, pies, crisps, butter, jams, chutneys, snacks & more. I let myself stand in the middle of the future & day dream for just a while until the biting wind beckoned me back to the present.
A hope & a whisper is all that orchard is right now. Hopefully this spring it will be a fledgling orchard that with last beyond my lifetime & remind the younger generations to look back when it was all just a dream & a prayer.
This old soul is all that is left of the original orchard that was here before this land was acquired from my husband's grandfather. It is what his family calls a spice pear tree. It will not be long before it will serve it's final purpose, warming our home.
As continued to walk around the fields looking at the past & present, I strain to see what might be happening if I would turn the pages of the calendar. Care to take a journey to the future with me? Let's imagine together.
For January & February I see catalogs, classes, seeds & soil, boughten hay, frozen water buckets, layers of clothes, piles of snow & smoke coming from our wood stove chimney.
March & April should bring baby goats, sleepless nights, anticipation & anxiety, seeds & plants in the still-cool earth, & blossoms on the fruit trees. Oh, milk! Fresh, sweet, raw goat milk that has been missed during the time when the mama goats are given time to rest their bodies & grow the next generation of our herd. And eggs!! The chickens will relish in the longer-lasting sunlight and gives us their eggs as thanks for the longer days. Hopefully we will have some broody mama hens that will raise a bunch of chicks to carry on their legacy.
We will once again whisper a dream. This time of a micro dairy to sell our own raw goat milk. The thought of producing milk for people who understand & need local wholesome organically-fed goat milk gives me hope for the future of our farm.
May & June should bring forth the beginning of the garden harvesting. Spinach, lettuces, radishes, peas, kale, Strawberries, new potatoes & spring onions. My mouth is already starting to water at the thought of salads. Tangy sweet strawberries!!! Oh my. Little goats jumping, playing, running, learning & nursing from their mamas. My son says that there is nothing cuter than a baby goat!
July & August calendar pages have been historically absent with days of rain & full of unbearable heat (at least to me). The tomatoes & peppers will soak in all that solar energy & express that into, what I believe, tastes of summer. Picking beans will become an almost daily morning chore. You pick beans before the sun has a chance to burn you face & arms. Weeds will abound & grow faster than can be plucked & fed to the goats & chickens. Only on a farm can you turn something undesirable into something life-giving. The smell of the herb garden is intoxicating as the plants beg you stay a little longer & just inhale their scents. We will sweat. It is inevitable on these pages of the year.
September & October seem like a lifetime away. If you lift their pages carefully, you see apples, squash, kale, cabbage, a rainbow of tomatoes, an abundance of peppers, potatoes of all colors & a second round of the spring vegetables all over again.
As we turn the last 2 pages of our calendar, We wind down & prepare for winter. We secure some hay for the goats. Batten down the the goats' & Chickens' quarters. Gather more firewood for the ever-hungry wood stove. Go over the year's stats & numbers. Weigh what was good & what can be discarded. Dream. We will dream of what the next year will be like. It's the time of year to reflect & dream. I will once again walk around the property when it is at it's bleakest & peek into the future & talk in hushed tones about what might be waiting with the turn of the next page of the next year's calendar.