The Lunacy of February

February is my least favorite month. Fortunate then, for its 28 days. 30, or worse 31 and I would have left Vermont after that first winter. It snows every day in February. A law passed by the state legislature in 1892 requires it so. Coupled with a bone chilling cold and an utter lack of sun we spend hours looking at photos of summer wondering at the possibility.

Snow at this point in our winter has lost all novelty. Oh, its snowing says the mistress of the house as she descends in her pajamas that were yesterday's clothes. Not, Oh! the exclamation when one has found a forgotten stash of Christmas chocolate. Rather, Oh, the resignation when your mate suggests cuddling up to The Walking Dead instead of The Good Wife.

Some afternoons, after shepherding my son from house to car to co-op to car to house the guilt of his winter imprisonment overcomes. There is a break in the snow.  I stuff his chunky appendages into tubes of wool and tunnels of down. I wedge the hand-me-down-woolen blob that was once my son into his sled and pile ratty blankets reserved for this purpose all around him. He is sufficiently shielded from Winter with only the triangle of his eyes and nose visible. The absence of any screaming tells me I can proceed. I tie the sled off to my belt and mush forth.

We ascend the driveway, just a half mile to the top. The mailbox sits there and provides our walk a humble goal. I gingerly unfold the broken mouth. Oh! bills. I'm forever optimistic in my expectation of a package. It is unreasonable as they never come of their own volition and I never order anything online to warrant one.

Disappointed I turn to head home. My small shadow is still stoic and breathing, watching the dogs smell each other's marked trees. I stuff the bills into a pocket that I suspect carries a broken egg. With gloves it hard to distinguish between an egg yolk and an eyeball but my money is on the egg. It will have been the third broken one this week. And we are not a household that can afford such carelessness.

Our chickens are laying one egg a day. 29 hens producing one egg. Curiously, its almost never the same egg. They've decided, collectively, that one egg a day should keep us off their backs 'til spring, so I reckon they take turns. With every $20 bag of organic scratch we bring them I do the humiliating math. Three bucks per egg returned.  If we were better farmers these hens would be stew birds in the freezer by now. We have a soft spot for old layers...and motherless lambs, and mean knobby kneed goats, and 3 legged pigs, and mastitic dairy cows. Farming for us has always been a delicate balance of hoarding lunacy and responsible shepherding.

We are nearly home. I slide in behind Leland and we sail downhill the last hundred meters to the front porch. I roll Stay Puft through the front door. As I begin to unravel the wooly layers the reality of our return to prison hits my tiny son. He screams, a guttural awful noise. I hold him as the angering reality of mid winter courses through. A piece of buttered raisin toast seems to appease him and within minutes he is chewing thoughtfully in front of the fire. I sink  into the sofa on the far side of the cell and look outdoors. Oh, its snowing I say to nobody.

August 30th, 2014

It turns out we weren't legally married on that day.  Getting married requires more timely paperwork than either Nick or I care to complete. Which is to say, not a lot, but the combination of marriage license, visits to the town clerk, and the expiration of said license, proved a powerful and ultimately worthy nemesis for me and my "husband". We got married, legally, just recently on January 1st in the living room of our dear friends Melissa and Brent Jordan in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Which was a good 4 months past the day we will always think of as our anniversary.

The exact date of marriage doesn't matter for our purposes here. Nor does it matter for the purposes of the events surrounding August 30th. Because, with or without the seal of the state, Nick and I committed ourselves to one another on that day. We did so on our land, under two wickedly ancient and twisty apple trees, with our son as our witness.

At the risk of sounding like white laced cliché, it was the wedding I dreamed of. At least it was the wedding my thirty-year-old-bohemian-wannabe-exhausted-mother-frantic-farmer-self had dreamed of.

It was a modest affair. Mostly immediate family and local friends. A handful flew thousands of miles or drove cramped hours to be with us and for that we were humbled. We said our vows in the far northern field, overlooking the farm. Our beautiful friend Brent married us. Our fathers read poetry. Nick's entire family cried. My good Episcopalian family kept it together.  My sister and Jacob played us music they had written for the occasion. Leland insisted on nursing while I read my vows.

We walked the whole gang across the farm and at three long tables ate and supped in the belly of the new barn.

Those tiny sentences seem inadequate to describe the love, the joy, the drink, the music that filled the farm on that fine day. But I am not long for words these days as this absent blog can attest. So I allow here the photos to fill in the rest.

Photos 1-10 by Ben Jacks and Photos 11-20 by Ben Fleishman


Half Diary of June 2014

I'm cheating. Did you know you could back date posts? I do but I can't figure it out. Today is Feb. 7th and I am finally posting the diary of farm observations I wrote back in June. So, I am not backdating but backtracking. I would apologize for such slimy behavior, but I want desperately to write here again with some frequency and to do so I must delude myself into thinking this space hasn't been so deserted.

Reading about the mundanities of June in February feels forbidden and good. It was disappointing to see I couldn't even get through half a month of observations but June is a crazed month and so it is unsurprising. I can tell you, the last 15 days were filled with fireflies, many house guests, and grass that grew like weeds.

June 1st. Buttercup. Dandelions.  Coyotes were very loud tonight. Nick and Hawkeye slept on the porch to keep them back.
June 2nd. Timber-framers are back. Beginning to put together main story of the barn. They've spent the winter notching, sanding and oiling. Now it is a veritable 'game' of lincoln logs.
Planted winter's squash, watermelon, cucumbers, string beans and dried beans, eggplant and peppers. Mulching with one of the remaining round bales per the suggestion of a friend whom I trust implicitly with matters of the garden. Seems very good and thick, but I'm concerned with the heat of the fermented grass against the starts.
June 4th Hawkweed (orange and yellow) and Aster flowering.
June 5th Planted the flower garden.
June 7th very warm June. High 80s. The pond is magnificent. Winnie calved! Bull calf. Will definitely steer him.
June 8th Great Blue Heron stalking salamanders in the pond.
June 9th Built fence. Vetch and clover are flowering. Lupine too. Brush hogged spring pasture. Have had to water the gardens every day. No rain to speak of.
red clover are flowering. Lupine is flowering. Brush hogged spring pasture.
June 11th. Daisies & Bedstraw flowering.
June 12th Mama snapping turtle crossing by Laurel and Henry's. Moved it. They think its the same one they've seen a few years running now.

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