My last post was written by the wood stove, snow still on the ground. This post is being composed by a roaring stove as well, snow and sleet falling from a lavender-gray sky. An entire season of growing and harvesting took place in between. The killing frost came through a week or so ago and the growing season has officially come to an end. So much has happened in between these two moments of toasty reflection, and as per usual, I am not certain where to start exactly. I’ll just wing it, if you’ll oblige me.
I have, since April, been working part-time at a vegetable farm in the northern Catskills. I work with two of the farm’s owners and have been in charge of the seeding schedule, field maintenance, and participate in harvests for markets, restaurants and CSA. It’s been a largely positive experience, save for the daily drive, which is breathtakingly beautiful, but long and a bit of an expense for someone who is making little money and chiseling away at a somewhat manageable amount debt from our previous farm’s business. Now that the season is winding down, I think about those several hours each week that I could be doing productive work at our farm and I start to get upset with myself.
That job has now come to an end and I have been helping another farm two miles down the road with winter garden prep and planning for spring growing. I will be working there next year as their flower and vegetable grower and doing a little bit more growing on our property with the little bit of extra time the lack of commuting provides me. The most thrilling aspect of this new job is that from it springs the beginnings of a local community, a group of people that we can belong to and achieve shared goals together. That feels good to me, and like an endeavor worth putting effort into.
On our farm, we have been repairing fencing here and there, getting the barn and run in sheds prepared for housing animals during our long and cold winter. Our sows, who have been rotating every week on pastures and hedgerow since they arrived in July, will be put into an area which will be an expanded version of our garden next spring. We have all of the hay we need for the winter, I think. This is important, because it was a wet and disappointing year for late season hay cutting. There will likely be a shortage this season.
This winter will be quiet. With no regular income and a dearth of jobs in the area for people with my particular skill set, I will get back into the soap studio (finally) and do my best to make some goods for holiday sales. I had hoped to be able to do more of that this season, but we’ve been so busy with work and settling into the farm that it just never really happened. We were able to make some tallow and lard soaps for our friends at Kinderhook Farm in exchange for some grass-fed and pasture-raised meat for the winter, but that’s really as far as we got. I think from here on out, our goat’s milk soap business will be strictly seasonal and only operational from Autumn to early Spring, when we have time to do it properly. Not rushed, not slap-dash. That also feels good to me. Like a lesson finally learned without additional pain to move it along.
I guess it’s safe to say that I feel really happy where we are now. It’s not perfect. I’m the poorest I’ve ever been as an adult and we are really starting from scratch, but I have hope. I see a path forward and we’re making it work. I don’t feel frightened anymore that it’s all going to be pulled out from under us. I was afraid of it before, and it happened and we lived through it and came out of the other side of it steeled and ready to jump into this new life without hesitation. I don’t want to jinx it (knock wood) but I think it’s going to be okay.