Just completed my first week of apprenticing at Buckwheat Blossom Farm; an ecological, horse-powered farm. There’s Jeff the farmer, his wife Amy, Amy’s sister Anna, and the two daughters Ruth and Leah (5 and 1 years old). They’re a gracious, wonderful family and to be able to interact with their daughters once in a while is a welcome breath of laughter in what is otherwise a somewhat long, cold day of physical work.
I haven’t had time to take any pictures but I promise I will post some of the animals, the yurt, the outhouse, etc. If I take a picture of myself, I’ll probably have a weird scraggly beard (sort of) and long hair. Use your imagination.
Many of you are curious as to what I’ll be doing on a farm in the winter so here’s a chance to get a small peek into a typical day’s beginning here (Just the chores alone are enough to write a whole story):
Animal Chores (all twice a day)
· Chickens - I get up around 6 AM (often to the rooster’s call), eat some breakfast (usually eggs from the chickens), and set off next door to the hoophouse where there are chickens. I have to give them fresh water from a hose that must be always cleared of water afterwards lest it freezes and gets clogged. Usually I feed the chickens organic corn/grains and sometimes compost right at the end of the day around 5 or 6 PM. Sometimes I have to kick their water troughs because they freeze over. At night I usually also collect their eggs which involves rolling up a huge tarp so I can get to the ~65 eggs. I’ve also come to get into the habit of kicking the rooster because otherwise it will try to kick me in an attempt to assert its cock-ness.
· Sheep – I just have to feed them a big bale of hay next door to the chickens. Easy as pie. They usually get water from eating snow…animals are so resourceful!
· Horses – As you can imagine they’re big animals and sort of intimidating at first. These aren’t your normal run of the mill horses; they’re work horses which means they have a lot of muscle and are generally bigger-framed. They have a large enclosure surrounded by movable electric fence that I have to duck under to get through with two hay bales. This is a major pain because they’re constantly trying to eat the hay before you get to the spot where you cut it open and spread the hay around. Keep in mind it’s also snowy/icy on the ground partially because it’s an area that has just been logged to turn into some sort of farm land. Millie, one of the Belgian horses is bossy and tries to nudge the others out of the way to get to more of the food. Once in a while I have to fill a 100 gallon tub with water for them.
This is only the first half hour of my day. Some of the other things I’ve done are split logs for probably 7 hours over two days, wash eggs, sort winter veggies, go to market (my favorite part of the week so far despite having to get up at 4:45 AM to get ready on Saturday!).
I’ve quickly settled into the yurt and figured out how to keep it warm for the majority of the night with the wood-burning stove. I have resorted to keeping a hat nearby so that if the cold wakes me at 3 or 4 AM, I can put it on and go back to sleep.
Well I just realized I’ve written quite a lot…Next week I’ll let you know more about either the market, more about how winter veggies are treated/taste, cooking, or the meat (delicious). If there’s something specific people want to know or you have suggestions, just comment below and I’ll try to answer. Until next time…
“Eating is an agricultural act.” – Wendell Berry