Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
New Snow overnight – fallen through warm and windless air – clings to every branch and twig. Owl sits watch over the clearing from an inner limb of tall Hemlock beside the house. Deer left tracks in the night, digging for the last of the fall Turnips and Kale. Last week we distributed our first Lamb Soup, full of those same Turnips and Kale, as well as Squashes, Rosemary, and Fennel. This week we processed our stored cabbage crop and so the Soup Pot is filled with smoky-roasted purple Cabbages and rich Beef. With the help of many hands, we made over 300 pounds of sauerkraut, which will lend its gentle tang to hearty soups later in the winter.
We are thrilled to invite you to stop by the Farm between 11am and 1pm this Saturday for our weekly Soup and Bread Gift Distribution, where all food is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. There will be no official Work Day this weekend. However, if you are interested in helping with projects at the Farm during the upcoming week feel free to reach out. Your generous financial gifts in December resulted in $836 over the budget request going to the SCYTHE FUND, which will purchase 4 new scythes. Thank you! Thus far in January, we have received $925 out of a total budget request of $5470.
STORY: Dominick and Dorothy
It is dark as I clean off the car and push my little ship out onto the road, travelling behind the small bubble of light that extends forward from the headlights. The barn lights are on when I arrive, and I find Joe in the milkroom preparing for milking. I have been here many times, but today I enter the barn and find myself in a magical world. Forty sets of dark Jersey Cow eyes turn to look at me. Their udders are full, there is fresh sawdust in the aisles and sweet hay in the manger. The air pulses with the warmth of their bodies and the scent and rhythm of their breathing. To be human in this place is to be in the minority – by a lot. It is a place for remembering, and so I stand still for a few moments to let it wash over me. I have come to fill a tall, shiny milk can from the spigot on the bulk tank, which I will transform into a simple cheese to be eaten through the week by the Farm Team. As I sit to write, the tea in the mug beside me is thickened by yellow cream from that gifted can of milk. I have known Joe and his wife Emily for two decades. Their early generous impulses led us into a long-term, untracked gift exchange, and our resulting friendship matured into bonds that now carry the tone of family. They have taught me much of what I now invite others to consider at Brush Brook. Last week, Joe called to say that they would like to give us Dorothy – gentle grandmother of the herd – as a gift toward the Soup effort. At 10 years old, with a persistent limp, she was not fit to give birth again and would otherwise be loaded onto the beef truck headed toward distant auction pens. This system of shuttling retired dairy cows into the commercial food chain is a long way from anyone’s ideal.
A cow is quite a large gift to receive, but, as is my practice, I said ‘Yes, we will gratefully accept.’ There was one hitch, however. Dorothy is their youngest son Dominick’s favorite cow. Her slow gait and gentle demeanor made it possible for him to ride on her back as a baby. They promised Dominick that they wouldn’t make any decisions about Dorothy’s retirement without his approval. The next day the phone rang again. Young Dominick had agreed to the plan, with the simple request that he be able to go to Huntington to say goodbye to her before she was killed. The next morning, their neighbor pulled his cattle trailer into the barn to load gentle Dorothy and drive her to Brush Brook to live out her final weeks.
Some of you may have noticed the typo in last week’s Letter. The sentence was meant to read, ‘To be alive is to breathe in so much beauty, and to long to remember how to breathe beauty back out.’ These words – at once praise, plea and prayer – have guided the work that has become Brush Brook Community Farm. At the center is the verb ‘to long.’ I love this word, and its noun form ‘longing.’ A teacher and elder of mine, Stephen Jenkinson, describes the difference between longing and desire. The project of desire is to get to its end, to get to satisfaction. The project of longing is to long, and it is a lot like dancing. You don’t dance in order to get to the end of the dance, do you? And then you might circle back to living and its noun form, being alive. And you might wonder ‘How did we get here from a barn full of Cows and Dominick and Dorothy?’
There are moments – ravishing moments – when you catch a glimpse of this condition we call being alive and realize how utterly – or perhaps ‘udderly’ – On the Receiving End you are, that this is indeed the root condition of being alive. In those moments there is the option to turn away, to deny the gift and its demanding debt service. Or you can take the world’s outstretched hand and allow yourself to be pulled onto the dance floor.
Dorothy calls her longing to the mist-thick air this morning. She misses her home and the family she has known. She calls out her love of being alive. She sings of beauty and heartbreak and indebtedness. She sings of relationship, of the layers upon layers of intimacies under whose weight we might just remember how to live.
Here is what you will find in this Letter:
- GIFT DISTRIBUTION DETAILS and FULL MENU
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – January 2021 Budget
With Great Care,
Ava, Erik, Collin, Evan and Adam – The Brush Brook Community Farm Team
SOUP and BREAD GIFT DISTRIBUTION: Saturday 1/9, 11am - 1 pm
- Brush Brook Soup – Roasted Cabbage, Sweet Potato and Potato, Tomato, Beef, Garlic, Herbs, Bone Broth.
- Vegetarian Soup – Pureed Sweet Potato and Turnip, Tomato, Garlic, Herbs.
Please bring a mask with you and wear warm clothes. We will have Soup and Bread to take home, and encourage you to bring quart containers from home for us to fill for you.
BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for considering the December Budget
Many heartfelt thanks to all who have responded to these invitations by sending in Financial Gifts. If you would like to support our work, you can mail checks made out to Brush Brook Community Farm to PO Box 202, Huntington, VT, 05462, bring gifts to the Gift Stand, or donate through the website. We are 100% financially supported by these personal financial gifts.
Brush Brook Community Farm – Jan. 2021 Budget
|As of 1/6|
|Gifts Received in Jan – Thank you!||$ 925.00|
|Estimated Expenses for January|
|Bread Ingredients & Packaging||$ 1,115.50|
|Bakery Overhead (Insur., Electric, etc.)||$ 555.86|
|Bakery Rent||$ 300.00|
|Farm Expenses||$ 1,550.00|
|Farm/Bakery Team Requested Gifts|
|Adam Wilson Personal Living (full time)||$ 648.08|
|Adam Wilson Rent||$ 200.00|
|Erik Weil (part time) Rent/Housing||$ 500.00|
|Collin McCarthy (part time) Utilities||$ 100.00|
|Estimated Federal/State Taxes||$ 351.22|
|Paypal Fees||$ 150.00|
|Total Remaining for January||$ 4545.66|
Support the Farm & Bakery
The operations of Brush Brook Community Farm & Bakery are maintained by neighborly working hands and financial gifts. Your generous monetary support propels the gift of food forward to those open to receiving it.