A Mouse of Their Own

baby_daddy_1Apparently, my farm school classmates are very good at keeping secrets.  But it’s more likely that I’m easily duped.  Driving to afternoon cow chores this Thursday, I keyed into Nora and Kate’s conversation:

“SO tired,” said Nora.  “What time did you stay up until working on the quilt?”

Kate shot Nora a look I didn’t understand.

“What quilt?” I asked, curious.

“Oh, you know… just a project,” offered Nora vaguely. “Hey, look at those turkeys!” pointing out the window and changing the subject.

“Yeah, cool.  Turkeys,” I replied.  End of conversation.

In my defense, special quilting projects warrant little notice in this group. On any given day, any one of my classmates can be found carding wool, needle felting, batiking eggs or working out a new song on guitar.

So this weekend, when a bunch of crafty students decided to throw us a baby shower and dropped their accidental hint, perhaps I should have connected the dots. But I didn’t.

nell_eliza_frolicSaturday – party day – was one of those bright May afternoons perfect for front porches and having nowhere to be.  Kim and Dina joined forces to create a pregnant-belly chocolate stout cake complete with boobs and flesh-toned divinity icing, the sight of which made Farm School founder Ben blush.

cake_1Others spent hours carving intricate designs into halved potatoes to stamp white onesies with farmy slogans like “Udderly adorable,” “Daddy’s little clove,” and “I ‘leek’ my parents a lot”.

onsie_garlicBut the big surprise emerged from a non-descript cardboard box labeled, “Not a gift” in honor of our one request for the party: no presents. Turns out the quilting project Nora let slip involved more than a dozen students, staff and community members toiling for hours in secret to figure out how to design and craft a quilt for Swisher, patch-by-patch. And all of this was going on as I went about my business, oblivious to the loving whispers volleyed behind my back.

Because Dina and I found out we were going to be parents on the very day I left for Farm School, the anticipation of this baby and the process of learning to farm have become inseparable. Living this experience alongside fourteen soon-to-be honorary aunts and uncles has been rich beyond words.  Dina and I ventured down this path seeking lives of meaningful connection – to the earth, to our work, to our food and to those around us.  And now, thanks to Saturday’s outpouring, I’m overwhelmed by how full life can feel when all those connections come together.

quilt_presentationThe party-goers eventually moved outdoors, coaxed by cheerful tunes, golden evening light and more than a few beers. But between games of cornhole and whiffle ball, our friends ducked inside to lend their hand to one final gift: illustrations for a story I wrote for Swisher.

A Mouse of Their Own (which you can read below) is a mostly-true story about mice, a quest, and a tall, tall tree. The names and species of the main characters have been changed, but the story is inspired by actual conversations and is true to the journey at its source.  Someday, little Swish will flip through these pages and I hope he’ll know something of the years that came before him. And I hope, too, that he’ll feel the love of this community.

We sure do.  And we’re eternally and achingly grateful.





  • May 6, 2013 at 11:12 am // Reply

    How amazing!! Ya’ll deserve it! What a happy day!!!

  • May 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm // Reply

    OH my goodness, baby daddy Erik! What a great blog you published this week! I am thrilled to see that gorgeous quilt for Swisher and Dina looks beautiful leaning on you in the picture! You are titillating me with the use of the male pronoun and I am wondering if you know you are having a boy?????! Inquiring minds want to know! You surprised us all with your story in a story this week with you first book for Swisher! I love it and I am hanging on every work. I cannot seem to get the last page to load for me so I am excited to see how the three little babies are adapting to their parents after their overnight transformation from stars to babies…… What a precious story and Swisher and all the other Jacobs who will be coming soon too are all going to love this story best of all- I am sure! They will want you to read it to them over and over and you may want to get this one published as it is that good- move over Virginia Lee Burton!
    I meant to tell you how much I loved your “sweet” blog last week about the honey bees. It is so concerning to hear about the viruses attacking all our honey bee colonies and I am hoping we can find out the root cause and bring ’em back fast- we surely need the bees to be healthy!
    I am on permanent readiness for the arrival of Swisher so if you need me, I am right here standing in the wings! Great blog these past two weeks- I can feel your renewed strength now that your back is not so painful and the weather is a little warmer. Hang in there and keep writing! Tons of love,

  • May 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm // Reply

    What a beautiful quilt…thanks again for more updates on life at the Farm School Erik!

    Great beard too…

  • May 7, 2013 at 10:24 pm // Reply

    Just had to let you know that I am thinking of you both and hope that Dina has as easy a time as I did with my first – we won’t even discuss my second (Jen) who arrived in an hour. I await your news with great anticipation

    On the subject of mice, Jen had a pet mouse as a 4th grader. Fatso looked just like a Betiix Potter mouse. She was so tame that Jen would take her to school in her pocket and she would sit on her desk or on her shoulder and then crawl back in her pocket to sleep. She lived over four years which is ancient for a little animal like that. We all cried when she died.

    • May 8, 2013 at 11:50 am // Reply

      My earlier comment was made in a hurry. I want to share with all, that it is a BEAUTIFUL quilt, and that you were able to keep it a surprise for SO LONG is wonderful! Is it possible to request who made what block, and why they made the design they did? I always find this an amazing part of the story behind a quilt.

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