It’s hard to believe that my time at the farm is almost over. When I arrived, 7 weeks stretched out in front of me, seemingly forever. Now Hugh, Hanna, Christopher and Emma will be back in less than a week, and I’ll be on to the next step on this exciting, crazy journey of figuring out my life. Next stop: Maine. I’m ready to move on, I think. It’s been blissfully easy to slip into the daily routines of the farm, but the truth is that they’re not my routines and it’s not my farm. It’s time to begin making my own routines, in my own home. I’m tired of moving around, of having my pots and pans and books scattered in boxes in five different places. Specifically where I’ll settle, I don’t yet know… but I’m looking forward to it.
In the meantime I’m soaking in this experience, and savoring the last few days I’ll have here. Yesterday was an especially stunning morning – cold, clear and bright. Six or so inches of snow cover the ground (and my woodpile), and down the long farm road, away from sanding trucks and plows, the landscape is immaculate. After milking (which by now is routine and productive), John & Brendan went back to the house to work on a cultivator and I stayed behind to do some “tree stomping”. When the snow starts to pile up, voles arrive and make tunnels in and around the trees, often chewing on the bark. We stomp around each tree, pushing snow away and tamping it down to ground level. With just 6 inches of snow, we only needed to stomp around the young trees – six or seven rows. If we’d gotten over a foot, John says, we’d need to stomp the whole orchard.
I spent an exhilarating and satisfying hour of stomping. Biscuit dashed about chasing nothing, the sun shone brilliantly, and I was entirely alone in the quiet of the farm – the only sounds my breath and the crunching snow. More than once I stopped and knelt in the snow for a few minutes to take it all in. Biscuit seemed to understand.
In a commercial orchard, which is to say 95% of orchards in this country, this task is unnecessary – the orchard is baited with poison in the fall to keep rodents away. True, it’s far easier to do things that way, but those farmers will never have the experience of tromping around their beautiful trees in the dead of winter, on a clear day, after a snowfall. I think they’re missing out.