Monday, December 7, 2009

Washington Fruition

Meg and I sat shell shocked on the futon in the little apartment in Montpelier. Our brains felt like stale bread being thwacked on a counter top. Both of our eye carried about as much expression as tea platters. The norm of living for the last six months has been non commitment to any plan. Plans, even the rational ones, were as dependable as leaky pipes. They held no water!
Plans that resembled concrete walls were busted apart by excavators of the universe, or gods hand. Throwing it all to the wind is an understatement. We threw it all into a hurricane. We threw it into a tornado. We kept hoping the storm would let up. We kept thinking we saw bright spots. Eventually the storm became the norm and we accepted rain falling straight down as a positive alternative to sideways rain.
Then the storm stopped. We were so accustom to the rain, thunder and lightning that calm skies seemed a bit uncomfortable. We have waited for the storm to start back up. We have been peering out from under out make shift shelter of impermanence, unsure if the sun might actually harm us. As the sun heats up our skin of opportunity we start to feel good, even excited. Our lens of reality has come into focus. Not a bad picture at all! In the bible Job was repaid two fold for his faithfulness to god in the face of suffering. I sure hope the lord counts this spring as payday friday, cause we are ready to clean ourselves up, head to town and party like rock star farmers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Home in Tunbridge

I took these photos this morning, December 1st, 2009. The barn and its insides are really a very cool spot. For those of you who are looking at the blog and drinking the milk, 
this will give you an idea where the cows are living and where the milk is coming from. Meg and I are going to work together to create a tour through milking on the blog. This will give you a way to visit the farm on line and see how your milk is made. Until then the girls are munching away on their second cut provided by Gary, and are getting to be oh so happy critters!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Away again...Farmers Passport

For the second time in two weeks I have been able to leave the farm and go to another state. For most people it isn't a big deal to get in the car and drive places other than where they live. For farmers it can be like embarking on a trip. One person can become so en grained into a "place" that leaving it for any period of time can be a lot like a voyage to another country. The every day language of getting up, making your coffee and having your morning routine is foreign, and resorting to hand gestures, smiles and facial expression gets you what you need in this foreign place. A sense of culture shock can envelope farmer.
Farmer can attain a passport to this other land by getting others to understand his imprint on "place". The permission to cross boarders is only granted to those who have some one else to step in and carry the farm. Some one who understand the animals, the equipment, and the care giving that is required. Unlike normal passports there is no application and six week waiting period. The process of getting a passport to leave the farm is contingent upon a community of people that are willing and still posses the knowledge and skill to care for animals and farm. A passport allocation is dependent upon farmer's economic health. Farmer needs to be capable of sufficent reimbursment to a community member for covering the chores.
A short while back in history these passports were far more prevalent. Many community members carried with them the skill set to care for animals and land. The divorce of a significant number of community members from land, place and food has drastically reduced the allocation of farmers passports. Mechanical AG finalized the divorce papers reducing the percentage of people involved in agriculture to 2%. As we march away from the date that those papers where signed, and start to recognize and process the trama that has insued, no part of our rural farming communities are healed up. In fact most farmers are pissed off, hurt and angry. The absence of granting trips away from the farm has transformed farm from "place in the world" to imprisonment without parole. Policy can change. Culture can heal. Farmer can enjoy his passport and sleep in till 7 am.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The News From Symphony Farm

Its November 19th, 2009 and the cows have been in Tunbridge, about a week and a half. A good feeling. The commute back and forth is pretty mellow, and I enjoy it. Meg and I have been car pooling. We are putting our best efforts forward in a temporary situation to make top quality milk, and operate with in the guide lines of the Unpasteurized(Raw)Milk Law. We have been able to get a vacuum and bucket milking system up and running. I just filtered milk through one of the old style calendar filter set ups this 'morning. It worked really well. I found a supply of half gallon ball jars. Meg has gone and laminated our label. I have looked into getting a test of our milk to determine its quality. 
Just last week we welcomed Ben on board.  Super good guy who has been able to pick up the milking skill in a short period of time. We are going to go away for the weekend, and there is somebody who is going to fill in. As those of you who have been familiar with previous states of the farm, this is huge! From the get go we have a relief milker. 
I made the paper and it wasn't for the police reports! It was for getting involved with the after school program pottery. So that coming up in the future. 
The cows are just fine. Siobhan and Trasa are doing well and growing well. The barn cleaner runs like a champ. Why people use liquid systems I do not know. 
For the most part, other than a few freak outs here and there, and a few trips to Covi land and back, things are well.
Thats the news from Symphony Farm, where all the women are beautiful, the men are emotionally stable, and the children have yet to be born

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Having a Good Day?

Are you better off at the end of the day than at the beginning? A quality definition of what counts as a good day farming. The converse definition of a bad day is also true; being worse off at the end of the day than when you started the day. 
In the last week I have had the pleasure of getting to know a farmer down in the Tunbridge area. Tinkering with the little bucket milker which now constitutes my whole milking system, lead to an awful feeling that I may end up worse off at the end of the day. Started with a working pail milker, and with all the effort to make it better, found myself at the end of the day with no pail milker at all!!
A bad day was just about to happen. I drew the last straw and pulled the entire mechanism apart, only to find a small over looked detail. I righted the wrong, plugged in the milker and presto. Awesome pulsation and a better working system! I drove up the road to return tools, and parts to Gary. The sun was low and I saw Gary at the shop. 
"How did you make out?" 
"I suppose I'm better of at the end of the day than at the beginning."
"I  guess that is all you can ask for some times."
Love the small victories in the is little trade called dairy farming. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fourth Barn...

I am meeting up with Teddy Yandow today to truck cows from Fairfield to Tumbridge. The fourth barn I have been in. Mountains of fear reverberate the nagging question; "what will make this situation any different?" The best answer I have to the fear is ; "I am not trying the same thing for the fourth time and expecting different results, so back off!" 
I guess this effort counts as the first time I have tried keeping cows with no expectations: I don't expect to gross eighty grand, I don't expect the cows to be my main source of income, I don't expect to become a grazing super star, or an Organic Valley poster child. The expectations have burnt themselves like an over heated radiator. It forces a guy to pour on some antifreeze of acceptance, indifference, and objectivity.  Antifreeze of the intellectual and spiritual type keeps things cool and running smoothly. It allows a guy to keep his eye on his temperature gauge. It allows a guy the choice to pull over, add some more antifreeze, check the belts or limp into the fix it shop. It allows a guy to scrap the truck all together and get a new one if he wants. Junk grave yards of ideas and efforts are really sweet places to visit. The best part is the grave yards never move location they stay at the same address in our memories of the past.  You never have to go looking for a new Junk Grave yard of the future, they don't exist yet.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The road from then until now...

The road from then to now constitutes its own novel. The characters that grace the story are as rich in flavor as the fresh picked produce and slow cooked rib roast. The places that occupy space on the road from then to now went through a process of envisioning, living, dying and rebirth. Each place had its own set of dreams and grand visions. Much like blank canvases or lumps of clay and an artist brain that wishes to sculpt, paint and mold his or her ideas; only this was land and communities, life and living that were the ideas, and plants animals and trees that were the medium. The road from then till now deserves a lot of thought reflection, and each of its stories to be told and shared. Now there is a space to do it. I hope all who have watch and listened will now enjoy the reading


Facebook, check. Twitter, check. Blogspot, here we go....

So Jonathan has mastered Facebook...and we're on our way to Twitterland, but for those of you that aren't so connected to the "I want to know what you're doing every second" world, we have made a blog.  We hope to share the trials and tribulations as we move forward in creating our own farm business.  We'll keep you posted on products we hope to have available soon -- raw milk, grass-fed beef and a boatload of savory garden products!

Jonathan will be trekking the cows from Fairfield to Tunbridge tomorrow as we wait to see if the Washington house/barn becomes a lease to own reality.  Cross them fingers.....