Unfurling into May

May green

And suddenly it’s green.  It happens all at once, and every year I forget the immediacy of unfurling leaves and popping green until that moment when I look up and see the sunlight catch the color anew.

The farm is unfurling into May, too.  10,000 onions, 700 feet of salad greens, 600 feet of spinach, 400 feet of tomato plants and snap peas, plus kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, beets.  We are in with our whole hearts and bodies now.

This little boy of mine is in it, too, learning to slack line with his Papa, learning to walk in the pathways instead of on the garden beds, and learning to be gentle with transplants.  When he tried grabbing the tomatoes, I said, “Be gentle with the plants.  Give them love,” to which he responded by bending down, softly brushing the leaves and saying “looaahhh”

Now even the grass gets loves from Waylon.

pointing out birds

The birds, too, command his attention.  Crows, ravens, carrier hawks, red-winged blackbirds, robins, even a heron landed in a tree to scout our pond the other day, and Waylon announced it all, saying “toot toot toot” to show us the birds.

And now he is pointing out the window, saying “side, side” and so it’s time to close the computer screen and go out with him into the day.

The Wild Ones Emerging

Coltsfoot was the first to emerge, pushing its dandelion-like yellow blooms up along roadsides and old gravely logging roads.

Then came the peepers in an evening chorus around the pond, and the bubbles of frog eggs floating in the water.

frog eggs in the pond

Just a few days ago, a friend pointed out a splash of white flowers beneath maple trees on the road, bloodroot blooming out of leaf litter in the filtered sun.

And yesterday I noticed a carpet of trout lilies blooming behind the yurt, the yellow petals flexing open, faces slanted down to the earth.

trout lily

The perennial gardens are waking up, too: peppermint and spearmint, peonies, iris, dicentra, yarrow, echinacea, rudbeckia–all coming back, finally, and bringing the last sleeping parts of me back with them, too.

Into Farming Season

Happy May Day!

After daily poetry postings for April, I’m turning now to my farming season schedule, and will be posting once a week.  Look for a new post every Friday (with occasional extras scattered through the week).

You can keep up with farm-happenings at goodheartfarmstead.com

under the reman
Waylon in the remay-tent, harvesting spinach
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Azure Star Kohlrabi seedlings
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Tomatoes, ready for transplanting

The Gathering Light

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Sheep no longer wake us at night

with the possibility of birth or death

This spring it is birdsong that trills the alarm,

pronouncing dawn and sun and the possibility

of thaw, of swelling rivers and tunneling worms.

Tools have taken over the sheep barn

where lambs once fell into the world

sticky and red, fumbling on knobby knees to the udder.

I can almost smell them, lanolin thick fleece flecked with hay,

though it’s a been a year, and tractor fuel faintly wafts through the air

Not all life is born in spring, but we don’t say this

We push away the memory of a night we slept too long,

when labor stalled and horn buds caught at the opening–

no one tells us that birth is full of suffering, but shepherds

learn from a ewe’s wailing song of loss.

New life heals lost life; that ewe gave birth the following spring

to a healthy set of twins, but I hung up my shepherd’s cane, and

call myself a gardener now,

enamored still with birth: the softening seed shell,

the unfurling sprout, the push through soil and stretch toward sun.

Struggle hasn’t left, but look how spring emboldens us into birth:

green buds explode across hillsides, water swells in valleys,

the gathering light holds us

through the suffering of transformation

as we are born into a new season.

Deva with Acorn, our first lamb
Deva with Acorn, our first lamb

What’s to come

cilantro seedlings

share basket

I shouldn’t do this, but after reading John’s post, I couldn’t help myself–I had to take out the spring and summer photos and remember the heat and taste of what feels to still be a distant season.

We made it through last night’s cold, and the car engine managed to turn over this morning, despite it being -23.  If I sit close to the wood stove and stare into the photos enough, I can almost imagine that we’re tumbling amid all that food right now.  Soon.  Soon.

For now, I’m thankful for the heat of the stove, for bacon from our friends at Humble Rain Farm, and for the photos that remind me of what’s to come.

The Seeds We Sow

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I wish that living in a yurt on a Vermont hillside farm could make me immune to the annoyances of broken computers, and the odd frustration that comes when said computer is at the shop getting fixed and I am here with an old iPad that works well enough for emails, but not much more.  We finally got a loaner computer, and so I’m back to the blog after a few weeks of sporadic posts.

Truthfully, though, I’ve felt quiet.  Perhaps it’s not just the computer issues that have kept my posts minimal and short.  It goes like that sometimes, a wave of production followed by a quiet recession back into the deep, like the tide that swells and retreats.

The farm is covered with snow, the garden under perhaps 4 feet of it, and tonight the cold seeps in from under the clear night sky.  It’s a night to pack the fire box and keep the dials on the wood stove turned open a bit more than usual.

We’ve been in the throws of spring planning: greenhouse repairs, seeding charts, cash-flow charts, marketing, perennial design, and lists of infrastructure improvements.  It feels both exciting and daunting, and we oscillate between dreamy imaginings of all the good changes to come and business crunching, detached from emotion.

The work of a farmer begins long before the greenhouse is fired up and soil is spread out in trays.  The seeds we are sowing now are sketches on paper, numbers and images and words.  Though it seems like the summer is still far away, this work is important.  Before we can manifest something into being, we must first know what it is we want to create.

In all the planning and prep work, in all the manifestations we are setting out into the world, I took out this poem again, just to remind myself that sometimes, it is okay to be demanding as we manifest our dreams:

Throw away all your begging bowls at

God’s door,

for I have heard the Beloved prefers

sweet, threatening shouts, something

on the order of, “Hey, Beloved, my soul

is a raging volcano of love for you!

You better start kissing me–or else!”

~Hafiz

Farmer Wordplay

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The words we use as farmers and eaters has a real impact on how we view our food.  This summer I started thinking more about the words harvest and slaughter when it comes to chickens, and my musings turned into an article in the latest edition of Vermont’s Local Banquet.  Read an excerpt below:

With both hands, I reach into the crate of chickens.

“I’m sorry!” I say to the chicken as it flaps in my less-than-confident grasp. The butcher just showed me how to properly handle a bird: two hands on their legs, chest down, and pick up. They won’t flap this way. I put the bird’s chest on the ground until it calms and pashand it to the butcher.

“No need to apologize to them for that,” he says, easily putting the bird upside-down into the cone and, with a sharp knife, cutting its head off in a blink.

“I hate picking up chickens,” I tell him. “I like eating and raising them, but I’m not good at this part.”

“Eating is the easy part.”

To read the full article, visit Vermont’s Local Banquet

This Moment

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. {a tradition from SouleMama}rutabaga heart

Seeing ourselves from a distance

photo by Rob Spring
Good Heart Farmstead from a distance, photo by Rob Spring

We spend so much time looking down.  Seeding, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, filling buckets with grain and water, pouring those buckets out for the chickens.  All this with our heads bent toward the earth, eyes focused on the details below.

Sometimes, we take a breath, we bend our necks up to the sky, we stare at the Worcester Range and stretch our backs.

But rarely do we see ourselves from a distance.  Rarely do we stand on the western side of the valley, on the Worcester Range, and look back.  When we do, this is what we see: an undulating blanket of forest dotted sparsely with fields, our home tucked in so small we can hardly see it, but there’s the yurt, held by a treeline that separates two fields.  You can’t see the stone foundation of the yurt, or the rows of vegetables in the field, or the chickens pecking grubs in the pasture.  You can’t see us walking between barn and garden, hauling buckets, harvesting food.  You can’t see the details.

Sometimes, the details are what brings us alive; other times we get lost in them, in the long lists of projects and daily chores.  It’s then we need to zoom out and see ourselves from a distance.  It’s then that the distance reminds us why we chose this life, and the romance of it all comes flooding back.

 

Note: My dad, Rob Spring, took the photograph above on a recent fall day.  I opened my email this morning to find it, and though I was sitting inside and not in the spot where he took the photo, the scene still caught me as I paused for a moment, taking in the beauty of it all.  It’s important that we see the beauty in our lives, to celebrate it, and to share it.  I’ve come to believe that finding and creating beauty is synonymous with waking up to life.   

 

 

This Moment

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  ~A ritual from SouleMama

Papa, Waylon, and Rudbeckia Starts