Life goes on
Farm life is nothing if not an emotional roller coaster. Everyday on the farm we confront life and death. There is never a day off. We rejoice when babies are born and are hearts ache when they die. It never ends. A little over a week ago one of our bunnies gave birth to 8 healthy babies. She is by far our best bunny momma. She made a nest, kept her babes warm when we had below freezing spring nights, and she fed her babes well. But because this is a farm, and because life is tenuous, and because the fragile, beautiful creatures are always the first to die, the momma lost her babies. We had a very strong rain storm and unbeknownst to Geoff and I there was a leak in the roof of the rabbit hutch. The babies got too wet, or too cold, or both, and could not survive. I don’t know if it means that I am a good farmer or a bad farmer because my heart aches at the loss of these baby bunnies. The momma did everything right, the babies were as tough as they could be, and still they did not make it. What can a heart do but ache?
But that is the joyful, awful truth of farming—life ebbs and flows like the tide. Our bunnies left us on the same day our much-anticipated first harvest of asparagus arrived. Asparagus takes at least three years to produce an edible portion from the day it is planted. We are benefiting from the work and care of our farm’s previous owner. In the delicate struggle between life and death, the asparagus triumphed.
In other life form news, today we got another early morning call from the post office in Liberty heralding the arrival of our 48 Bourbon Red and Narragansett turkeys and our 50 Naked Neck chickens. What? You have not heard of a Naked Neck? We actually plan on marketing them as Kentucky Red-Neck Chickens. The naked neck variety is what it sounds like–picture a chicken that has no feathers on its neck. Kind of like a chicken with a bowl haircut, or a bunch of chickens that look like young monks. We are excited to have this breed on the farm 1) because they are a dual purpose meat and laying chicken 2) they are purported to have more breast meat than some of the other heritage varieties and 3) who doesn’t want a chicken with the same haircut Geoff and his brothers had when they were little (and when I say little I mean until Pete adopted the flock of seagulls look in high school). We are overjoyed by our new arrivals.
The farm is also abuzz with excitement over our internship program. On April first we collected the last of our applications. All told we had over two dozen people apply. The pool of candidates is strong and we are in the process of conducting Skype interviews with each of them. We’ll be able to offer spots to only about nine or ten of them, and it will be a very difficult decision. Our internship program will consist of three, three-week sessions this summer where the interns fly out to the farm, live in our bunk house, learn about sustainable farming, help construct Lifestyles Lane, and create their own projects based on their specified interests. We are pumped. It is going to be an amazing summer. I know our inaugural intern class will make us proud!
We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. I’ll just have to train my farmer heart to be faithful rather than fearful. Sometimes I am afraid to get attached to our little creatures because there is always a chance they won’t make it. But we are doing the best we can, learning from our mistakes, and providing a safe, healthy environment for all the living things, so I will just have to believe that all our little guys are going to make it and be thankful for the ones that actually do. It probably wouldn’t hurt if I learned to toughen up my farmer heart as well.