Monday, December 10, 2012

Headed Towards Solstice

Its dark at 7:00 am. Thinking back in the near past of summer, I remember that by this time I had gone for a swim, put the cows in the barn, walked through the garden, weeded, and made my second cup of coffee.
This time the winter, we walk the 4ft to the wood shed, make up the fire, and manage to get the coffee made. Period.
At this time of year, we trudge towards that mark that is the Solstice. The 21st of December. The point in the year when we finish our trip into the darkness, and begin to walk outwards towards the growing season. Each year, we are convinced we can see the change in the light on January 3rd. When we have officially gained no more than a minuet and a half of daylight. But after 7 am darkness for weeks on end, we are sure we can see it. Placebo effect. Probably.

At the end of December we can digest the fact that we have finished 30 of the 60 coldest days of the year. We start to form an opinion about the winter. We have gathered 30 percent of our experiential evidence with which to pass judgment on the winter of 2012 -2013. We start to formulate the vocabulary to talk about the winter. Was it Icy? Cold? Harsh? Easy? Hard? Mild?

The Steel gray light of a weak sun starts to fill in the tree line on the ridge, and makes it bearable to go out and start the chores. The cows have been in the barn for the night, as they are for every night until March or April. The time when life starts earlier and brighter each day, with the walks on the land, the starts to smell of life again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hello Sandy. She hit our mountain side last night. All the cows were tucked in the barn with plenty of hay and bedding. Our cows Sally and Grace just made it home from summer camp. They spent the summer grazing over at our friends farm who has more pasture than she can shake a stick at! The cow population on the mountain side dropped to four this past summer. Two milkers. Two calves So Sally and Grace stuffed their faces for five months, arrived home last week, and have big round bellies to prove it.
      Shortly after arriving home, Grace had her baby. We found her at dusk, while bringing a bale out to the cows. I scooped babe up, and muma followed me to the barn, where I tucked the two of them in for the night. Graces milk is just clearing up from colostrum, and is ready to drink.  The challenges of farming remain the same as always. Heading out to work when its dark, being grumpy about this or that. These things don't change. What does change is the seasoning of attitudes you bring to the bumps, scratches, and itches that decorate farming life. What changes, is how you let yourself experience these part of owning a few cows, making milk for a few neighbors, and putting food derived from your own labor on a table for me and my wife..... did I mention I got married this summer? It was awesome.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Calving Season 2012


Meet the newest addition to Symphony Farm -- Silvi!  Siobhan freshened on May 21st. We were struggling on an "S" girl name -- as we like to keep the first letters the same as their mamas to help track lineage.  Because we both teach in schools and have had our share of students that are royal pains in the asses, that eliminates a bunch of names from the pool. Jinxing our cows would not be cool.   And since we plan on having our own family, we can't use up the good "S" names on the bovines. So...we turned to our dear ones near and far on Facebook.  Unfortunately, most folks completely skipped the "S" name request and asked that we name them after themselves.  Jonathan was pushing hard for "Sorcha," Gaelic for freedom and light and I was routing for good ol' Sinead. Both were denied by the other.  Four days later, Jonny came in and said, "I gave Silvi her two bottles." What a perfect name.
Mama Siobhan and Silvi

As I write this, we are turning to you, our readers, for "C" names, as Camille has (by the sounds of it) given birth to her first calf.   We're off to see if we have a bull or heifer calf.

Thanks to Siobhan (and Camille) the milk is aflowin' and ready to be picked up.  Give a ring to the farm if you are interested - 802-883-2269. Peace.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Late March

March came in like a lion smearing snow everywhere, and then folded like a creature with no spine, into a summer tease, which was revoked from us like an angry parent taking the sweetest candy away from their child.
In the middle of this roller coaster which we call New England weather, I try to stay focused. Seeds need to be started. One step. Watch them to be sure they germinate. Two steps. Get the cows sleeping outside of the barn. Quit doing so many barn chores. Three steps.
The strides lengthen: adding compost to the garden, digging a new bed design, thinking about flowers, transplanting lilac, and frost seeding new pasture during prime conditions.
Life by the seasons can both slow time and accelerate time. The beauty of cows is they are a like a the steady consistent beat of a bass drum. Keeping time, even though we humans experience time faster on some days and slower on others.
Thats the news from the symphony were we are adding notes to the composition as the weather gets warmer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Ramona hails from the Charlie Carrier farm in Williamstown, VT She is part Ayshire and part Jersey. Her grandmother is named Red. Charlie isn't into raising half breeds, so I took this little bugger home in the trunk of Corrolla, and plopped her down on a fresh bed of hay. Fed her a bottle of milk, and put her to bed. She will raise up to be a fine family cow for some one who wants to hand milk, or do a little raw milk. For now, it is just a good feeling to divert a small critter from the production line of  dairy to the artisian line of small farm land stewards, and crafted care. It is very interesting the difference between going to work milking cows for a pay check, and coming home to cows that don't make much money at all, but give us a sense of life and purpose on the planet. A truth, that our food we eat is crafted by our own hands, and the footprint of the food is only 50 yds from the house. That the soil, air and water are positively impacted by the bites we take in our mouth. No pay check, or gross profit analysis can take truth from the physical evidence of your place on earth.