Yesterday we had the wonderful fortune to hear in person, farmer and author, Joel Salatin.  The author of many sustainable farming related books, Joel was on a lecture circuit promoting his newest, soon to be published book, ‘The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer’, along with the movie ‘Fresh’, a film that focuses on new thinking about what we’re eating.

His message to farmers was inspiring and simple –

We can heal the land with sustainable and organic farming practices

Be proud of who you are and your farming profession

Love and embrace what you are doing

We appreciated hearing his encouragement and success story; we left feeling younger and more excited about farming, and inspired to follow more of our dreams.  It confirmed our belief that we can make a difference, and are making a difference, one acre at a time.

We DO love what we are doing; it is the reason we have made sacrifices in our lives to stay here on the land.  We love being connected with nature through the soil and the seasons, and feeling blessed by heavenly sunshine or rain.

We love farming with organic practices that are enriching the soil; watching the worms and beneficial bugs increase in number, feeling the soil grow ‘softer’ each year, and witnessing green, healthy crops during summers of drought.

We love the opportunity to grow our own food, to preserve and harvest the food, and sharing the work and the bounty with extended family.  We love that our children are raised as ‘farm kids’, enjoying a simple lifestyle that embraces faith, family, hard work, country sunshine and wide open spaces.

Yes, we love being lunatic farmers, every single day!

Chasing butterflies

February 27, 2010

Right now these pictures are a feast for my eyes and they whisper a promise to my ears of warm days to come.  The words I hear softly wafting by are promises of Spring and summer; sunshine and flowers, birds and butterflies, children exploring the outdoors.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

Sometimes, I get these great ideas….  Well, I always think they are great ideas, but my family might disagree and call them crazy ideas, I’m not sure why.  I don’t know where they come from, but they always hit me with a wham, and somehow it never crosses my mind that these great ideas might be, perhaps, a bit difficult to carry out.

I get different reactions from various family members when I blurt these famous lines of mine – “I had a great idea….!”  Or “Wouldn’t it be fun….!”.  A few deadbeats will roll their eyes and moan and groan, as if I had just sentenced them to hard labor on a chain gang, but thankfully a few creative and ambitious souls will perk right up and gleefully rub their hands in anticipation of my latest notion.

So …. I had another one a few weeks back.  I had this great idea of hosting a candlelit walk through our snow covered woods.  Make a few ice candles and invite a few friends to stroll down the candle lit path to enjoy the solitude and serenity of our winter wonderland.  I mentioned it to hubby and didn’t even get the eye roll, so I decided it was a go ahead and proceeded to make plans.  And like plenty of other great ideas I’ve had, this one began to grow a bit beyond the first illumination.  Well, kind of picked up a momentum of it’s own and snowballed, you could say.

You see, once the vision of the candlelit woods was firmly established in my mind, it didn’t take much more to also envision a candlelit walk out to the woods, never mind that it is a half mile walk stroll across the field to reach the woods.  I’ll admit I did have to stop and ponder the feasibility of ice candles stretching out for one and half miles around the field and through the woods; it seemed it could be, well, a bit difficult, maybe.  Then, viola!. Someone suggested Mason jars, and that got me to thinking about all the vases I have laying around …….  And just like that I knew we were in business – the “Mile and half long romantic candlelit walk around the farm” business.

I learned how to make ice candle luminaries, and got pretty accomplished at it by number 100.  I borrowed and begged canning jars from family and friends, and we visited the candle aisle of the local General Dollar Store a dozen times or so.  We packed and groomed the trail for walking and skiing with a snowmobile, then paced it out to figure out the spacing of the candles.  The trail was a complete loop around a thirty acre field, with a detour through the woods at the halfway point; well, to be exact it was 1200 paces out to the woods, 650 paces through the woods, and 1200 paces back to the starting point.  About one and half miles start to finish.

On Friday we set out 90 ice candle luminaries in the woods (ten broke while transporting), and on Saturday we set out 140 jars and vases that illuminated the trail around the field.  Our guests were set to arrive at dusk, and the weather was perfect, about 25 degrees, with not a breath of wind present.

And it was perfect, just perfect.

As I stood on Steep Hill, from where I could see lines of twinkling candles for a quarter mile or more in every direction, I could hardly believe how beautiful it was, and how blessed I am to live here.  And how fortunate I am to see my crazy ideas come to life.

A number of years ago, an old timer told us that there will be rain six months following a hoarfrost.  So a few years back, we started paying close attention to when the hoar frosts occurred, and flipping the calendar six months ahead to see when we could expect rains.  Interestingly, most of the time it does rain within a day or two of the date we marked ‘hoarfrost six months ago’.  And if we had many days of hoar frosts in a row, we can almost count on as many days of rainy weather later on.

Last week we had four days in a row of beautiful hoarfrosts, and this week two days, so it looks like a rainy spell in mid-July, which is perfect for the crops and gardens, and a reminder that we should have all the cultivating done before then.  Our last two summers have been exceptionally dry, so any hint of moisture, even by old timers predictions, gives hope for the upcoming growing season.

Check back in six months to see if the old timer was right………

Last week we cut our own Christmas tree on the back 40.  We’ll call it a Christmas tree, but technically, it’s a scrubby brown swamp cypress tree that was growing wild in the lane.  But the price was right, and we had fun traipsing through the woods to find the prettiest scrubby tree.  It looks kind of a sorry sight at first, but as the tree comes out of dormancy in the warm house, it will start to turn color – and magically turn into a green Christmas tree!

We stopped to check out the spruce trees we’ve planted way on the back 40 that will be our REAL Christmas trees in a few years – love that green!