An Ongoing Story, In Words and Photos, About The Challenges Of Living Life On The Farm, The Inspiration That Sustains Us And The Lessons Learned Throughout. Thanks for visiting!

Looking Forward, Looking Back

I’m not in the field today. I’m on a train to New York City. In fact, I’m on the same train that delivered me to my last photo job before Farm School began, two years ago. The job was an annual black hole on the calendar – an international economic symposium to whip up trade between US and Russian businesses. Zzzzz. It was boring, creatively soul-crushing work complete with a difficult client but it paid well. Eventually, though, the gig became emblematic of all that frustrated me about my photography... Read the Rest →

 

Taller, Straighter, Prouder

The picture above isn’t from our farm. Obviously we didn’t take it – our lovely friend Nancy did. But I LOVE this photo. It perfectly illustrates this period in my family’s life – hands, heart and son – all in the soil. This photo is especially precious because we haven’t been taking many pictures ourselves these days. That’s due entirely to one number: 13,298. That is the number of plants we’ve put in the ground since the doldrums of our last post. I can’t quite wrap my head around it... Read the Rest →

 

Rain and Foxes

For months after our son was born, Dina and I routinely woke in the middle of the night, panicked that our infant was tangled in the sheets. One of us would rip the blankets off the bed (much to the chagrin of our sleeping partner), frantic to find him before he smothered, only to realize that Wendell was safe and sound in his crib. The midnight panic attacks returned this week when I woke to find myself again searching the blankets and shaking Dina awake. But this time, I was... Read the Rest →

 

Farming Without A Farm

“Are you effing kidding me?!!” Dina’s voice leapt the ten inches from the phone’s speaker and pierced my dazed brain. “A car ran into our tractor?”  “Something like that.” I blinked at the car parts strewn about Route 2A and our yellow Farmall Cub tractor perched oddly atop a trailer bed. Emergency workers gathered near a red Honda Fit resting on a guardrail. “Find a babysitter. I may be here a while.” The last time we wrote, our greenhouse had just succumbed to a wintry death. Then our tractor took... Read the Rest →

 

Welcome to Farming!

Winter. Tea in hand, farmer curls up by the fire, thumbs through seed catalogues and dreams leisurely dreams about the harvest yet to come. Snow falls quietly. Begin nap sequence. Cue reality: Winter. Awash in a laptop’s electronic glow, farmer squints for days on end at Excel spreadsheets, puzzling over whether 24 tomato plants will feed 40 people for 8 weeks. (Best make it 30 plants.) And which varieties are the tastiest? And won’t wither in our New England climate? And when to start the seeds that will become the... Read the Rest →

 

Final Chores

We slaughtered ninety-seven chickens. Raised the timber frame. Prepped our early fields for winter. Harvested a crazy number of tomatoes. Moved our animals to fresh pasture, one final time. And then, just like that, it was over.  Maggie’s class of 2013 has graduated – our foray into farming receding, fuzzy and dreamlike, into memory. The chickens we slaughtered were our broilers, 6-week-old birds raised for meat.  It was our third time at the killing cones, knives in hand, tasked with the grim work of harvest.  In previous attempts, we’d all... Read the Rest →

 

Moving Pictures

One year ago today, Dina and I held our breath in a darkened exam room as our doctor studied an ultrasound glowing on a screen overhead. Years of tests, procedures and crushing losses convinced us that this attempt, possibly our last, had failed as well. “There is a pregnancy in the uterus,” the doctor intoned as we tried to comprehend the nebulous white blob on the screen. He continued to speak but a fog descended and I only remember hearing him call out, “Have a great pregnancy!” as we danced... Read the Rest →

 

The Virginia Creeper

Back before I liked girls, back when the tiny cone-shaped holes that pockmarked my elementary school’s windows mystified me, it took exactly 45 steps to walk from gym class to the boy’s bathroom. And 96 steps from Ms. Grey’s classroom to the cafeteria. Some kids avoided cracks. I counted steps. “One, two, three, four, five . . .” This compulsive, hypnotic drone filled my head everywhere I went.  Fortunately, I grew out of this odd habit, but recently, a new savant tic has taken its place. These days as I... Read the Rest →

 

In The Weeds

Nine months ago, the hard-neck garlic went into the ground.  We fifteen wide-eyed and eager student farmers, just weeks into our academic year, cased the immaculate field unbroken by latent weeds, its rows of square-shouldered beds unmarked by foot or trowel. The whole year lay ahead of us. We blessed, buried and patted each clove as we inched along the rows.  A third of the way into the nine thousand-clove planting, we got a taste of the blisters and aching backs to come.  But our morale soared. We were drunk... Read the Rest →

 

Too Much of a Good Thing

“A dry summer will scare you to death.  A wet summer will starve you to death.” Fellow famer John Moore intoned these words as he watched a slow trickle of customers eyeball his offerings of grass fed beef and maple syrup at the Athol Farmers Market.  Moore works a neighboring farm in Orange, MA and we have in common a patch of sky that either blesses or curses our fields each year.  This summer, despite a warm and dry start, fields around here are now rivers of mud, having been... Read the Rest →

 

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