Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring, the vital energy returns!

Winter succumbs her subtle beauty to the Spring,
with protest
 in the form of snowflakes.

Today, a week from May,
they lazily wandered through the greening landscape,
announcing their soft, pure, powerful presence of 
coziness and letting go

to the vibrating and insane pace of sap flow, insect emergence,
and frantic nest building.

We have been busy little seeders in the protected shell of the greenhouse.

And busy pruning blueberry bushes before the buds burst.

I have been so busy that I nearly forgot myself.

As things move from inside to outside in this transition,
I crawled out like an anxious awkward bug, unaware of all its appendages,
yet keeping its eyes on the prize and using age-old instinct
to navigate the challenges ahead.

I broke my toe on the stairs.  Twice, in the same darn place.

The body's wisdom
of slowing-down,
even with sacrifice,
for the greater balance of things.

My fruit trees arrived in the mail the same day I made an offer on a piece of land. 

I decided to start buying tractors and stuff again...

Spring, FINALLY.
Things that seemed dead asleep for ages and ages come crawling up in shades of vibrant green.
Miracles.  An eight-petaled bloom where snowflakes piled up three feet thick.

Then it happens, one evening, always when I'm not expecting it.
The urge to till the soil again.

To ask the gentle ground if she will bear us food
another year.

The silent sacrifice of earthworms to the plow,
the rich smell of warming soil,
what the steel and the diesel allow us...

Springtime creates strong instincts in animals, including human farmers.

To jump on the tractor and claim a piece of the land, in determined frenzy.

And now all those unromantic errands that go with farming,
like picking up new tractor tires from Waterloo,
clog up the never-ending TO-DO list.


While the dandelion's spring to-do list includes:
              1. LEAF
              2. BUD
              3. STEM
              4. FLOWER
              5. SEED
Among other tasks, such as vital mineral acquisition and transport up from the deep.

And, as human species with capable large brains, 
our To-Do list, this spring and beyond,

Maybe could include action on some long-term goals:

Like saving our toes, and our balance.
 Our barns, our farms, and our communities.
Our one precious planet.

James Hansen, top Climate Scientist, spoke a few days ago in Rochester, NY, 
and suggested his hope
for our future

Let's direct our vital energy this spring to what is truly important to us.
The time to wander like lazy snowflakes is over.

Bloom where you are planted, 
bloom strong, 
in the face of the frozen past and the uncertain future.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Barn Razing

A barn builds community, as the community builds a barn.
Same applies for taking one down I would say.

Last week I went down to Groveland to lend a hand in the dismantling of a "small" barn which is ages old, and has been taken down and put back up who knows how many times.

This barn was taken down and put back up here by my friend Eli, who thought he was going to be farming in Groveland, and now finds himself moving to a well-established farm in Newark (Peacework Farm).  Funny how plans change.  I don't know anything about that!

Eli gifted the barn to Ruth to put up at Mud Creek Farm over in Victor, as long as she could... take it down and put it back up.  Of course, she is not going to do this by herself.  So about 15 of us pitched in for the day, in the ages old practice of coming together as a community so the job gets done and nobody gets hurt.

We dismantled the thing using a variety of techniques... a constructed A-frame & pulley system which I am still not actually sure how the thing worked... heavy-duty straps... ladders...supports...

...pounding out the wooden pegs that hold the whole thing together.

Lazy snowflakes fell silently and disappeared in the mud, and the blackbirds announced their territories around the pond.  I looked around and felt glad to have all these wonderful people in my community, young people who value things like old barns.

Finally the last wall remained.

We were going to take this wall down by the strength of our arms alone. 

Slowly, slowly, carefully, carefully.      Everyone ok?      Over there, over there!      Yeah, right there. 
Keep breathing.      Slowly.      Good.
A whole minute of extreme concentration, where every bird's syllable becomes crisp and clear, 
and you value things like 
the traction of boots and leather gloves, the muscles in everyone's arms, tall people.


Just to give you an idea of the weight of these beams, some of them took 10 people to lift.  
Serious oak, the kind they're not making anymore.

And we did it! 

Then we dismantled all the walls on the ground, pounding them apart where they fit together like lincoln-logs, each perfect little slot fitting neatly into the next beam.  How I admire those little hand-carved wooden pegs that miraculously hold a thing like a barn together. 

After the truck and trailer got stuck in the mud trying to get down to the barn, we decided we would have to haul them up the hill to the road.

We piled high the trailer that would take this barn to it's new home.

Nothing left here but a bit of clean-up, and the ghost of a dream that hardly started in this field.

Although he directed the day's progress with good spirit, I feel a bit of Eli's sadness in the going-away of his plans for this land.  At breaktime, we all marched through his piles of farm junk and timidly laid our claims.  A historic agrarian sight-- a bunch of dirt-covered people standing around in their boots, discussing the value of a grain drill.  Or a walk-in cooler if these folks are vegetable farmers.

Plans change.  Stuff gets swapped around.  I gave away all my farm junk for a trip around the universe of the heart.  It was worth it.  Now I get to buy stuff to farm with again.

There's always a chance to start anew, even after a disaster like winter.

And, I guess, nothing really ever stays the same, not even an ages old barn.

But what doesn't change is our will to grow, our will to be a part of something bigger, something lasting, to be part of a family of friends, to help things along when fifteen can do what one or two can't.