Barn swallows are swooping, peepers are peeping, lambs are gamboling, farmers are stretching their backs and shoulders from long days of transplanting... we made it! Springtime is here! We've been busy: twenty-five new lambs on the pasture, a refurbished greenhouse overflowing with seedlings, the strawberries about to burst into bloom - we are ready! Spring CSA members arrive for their first share pick up on Friday, our first tomatoes will be transplanted into the hoophouse now that the evening cold spells have broken - let's go!
Without fanfare or doting, Bella, our two year old ewe, delivered twins in the old barn a few nights ago. During their first night I checked in on the progress of these two ram lambs. As they snuggled down in the straw bedding beside their mother to keep warm, I wondered how many new lambs over the years have made this barn their introduction to the world. As I looked up at the timbers, hand hewn in 1750 from trees off this farm, I thought of all the new lambs, day old chicks, long-eyelashed calves, over the years - as countless now as stars in the night sky - who have opened their eyes for the first time under these rafters. Watching Bella curl her tired body around her twins to shelter them from my peering sent me back inside confident that this barn would stand a better watch over them than anything I could do.
I had intended to wait for the first break of spring weather to send our CSA announcement, but I decided that today is just as good a day – instead of fanfare and budburst, I am announcing the start of CSA enrollment season from under a thick woolen blanket, my “to-go” coffee mug helping me to-go from the kitchen to the front porch, about as far as I may venture today. ...
In thinking about our CSA invitation letter, I asked several different CSA members about why they join our farm share each year. It is reason enough to see their children grow up with a farm, they said -- reason enough just watching sheep graze, reason enough to be able to pick organic flowers with friends, or eat blueberries in the open fields. The joy in the experiences CSA members take from this place means the world to me, to all of us who farm here.
While I was cleaning garlic the other day with Mary, our botanist and farm manager, she explained to me the relationship between the monarch and the milkweed. I knew monarch butterflies laid eggs on the undersides of the broad leaves of the milkweed, but I had no idea who mutually beneficial their relationship is. The milkweed provides food for the larvae as well as instilling in the little worms a toxin that will protect them later in their adult lives. It is the milkweed that makes the monarch poisonous. The butterfly, in its adult stage, pollinates the milkweed, by way of a cosmic thank you. Their symbiotic attachment is precious. So are my barnyard conversations with Mary, Molly, Abhaya, and Katie (our farmers here): they leave me better off - I learn something from these farmers every day.