Photo by Sarah Detweiler
Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
Winds – North and South – once again take center stage this week as they enact their epic Springtime wrestling match. As these giants push and pull – and rattle and tear and tease – they negotiate the specific timing of the onset of the land’s greening – the Valley’s turn from deep Winter to high Summer. We are thrilled to invite you back to the Farm for this week’s Soup and Bread Gift Distribution, Saturday from 11am – 1pm. We will have hundreds of loaves of fresh bread and lots of homemade soup, all offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason. We have ten remaining fleeces, which will be offered during that time as well.
With about $1710 coming in this week, our Budget Request balance stands at $2,350 for March. If you are willing to make a gift, you can do so HERE. The detailed budget can be found at the end of this Letter.
The work here is sustained by your gifts of monies, yes, but also by your gifts of labor, building materials, wood shavings, a jar of honey, a batch of cookies or a dozen eggs. We use Maple Syrup each week at the bakery and would gratefully receive gifts of syrup toward that end. If you are looking for ways to help out at the Farm, we send out occasional emails requesting help with outdoor projects to a smaller list of folks. If you’d like to be one of those folks, please reply to this letter by email. Our larger public Work Days will resume very soon – as the snow recedes!
STORY: Shearing, Spinning, and Lost Languages of Communion
Warm Sun on dark ground brought greasy mud to the low-lying parking area, and so we juggled the vehicles of the many folks who showed up on Saturday to pick up Soup and Bread as well as burlap bags full of freshly shorn wool – white and brown fleeces from our twenty Ewes. The day before we had hosted sheering at the new barn. Sunny and South-facing, the barn was a downright comfortable place for the very-pregnant ewes to have their winter coats peeled off. To our surprise, a group of neighborhood children showed up to spectate. One of the younger kids asked, “When do the sheep haircuts begin?” This seemed a fitting way to mark a year of living alongside brother Covid – a reminder of the days before the plague when the Feast Hall and the Dance Floor and the Lambing Pens reverberated with the distinct ring of children’s joyful songs and screams.
The shearers, a young couple named Siri and Collin, soon arrived to begin their careful, practiced work. The shears are sharp enough to slice through any folded skin, drawing bright-red blood. A skilled shearer uses their legs to turn and hold the ewe in specific positions on her back and side that serve to calm her and stretch her skin taught. Our job was to catch and shuttle ewes to them as they worked. The hour and a half we worked with Siri and Collin and the Ewes – asking them questions about our sheep and theirs, hearing a few of the many stories they have accumulated while shearing four thousand sheep a year, telling them a few of our stories – this time was incredibly precious to us. After just an hour of this kind of storytelling, we began to remember the tenor of conversation and the vibrant folk knowledges that used to pass from neighbor to neighbor when most everyone in this area concerned themselves with the conditions of weather and soils and grasses and livestock. Did your ewes drop any triplets last spring? Have the rains been generous at your place? What about that wet spot in your lower field where Peepers breed in the springtime – did it dry out last summer? Did I ever tell you about the time a coyote broke the fence and took a lamb from the upper pasture?
There is something that happens when you spend time in the presence of people who carry an abiding concern and care for the more-than-human landscape within which they live. As you speak and are spoken to, you begin to notice that your words are quickly forming bonds of neighborly trust and affection. I got the distinct sense – there in the sunny barn yesterday – that we were straining to remember a lost language. A language of communion. A local dialect of fellowship, if you will. Imagine, for a moment, what the learning outcome might be for the children in attendance when such modes of speaking are remembered and employed. Imagine the consequence for the culture when these continuities are not maintained. Sadly, we needn’t imagine. We need only to look around. Please, keep bringing the kids. We will keep doing our best to remember and to revive these outmoded ways of speaking – for their sake. Given the troubled world that they will inherit from us on our watch, it seems they deserve at least as much from us.
The next day we hosted Soup, Bread, and Fleece Gift Distribution. The shortage of mud-free parking and a higher-than-ever turnout meant that Erika and I directed cars for the whole two hours. As such, we had the opportunity to greet each person upon their arrival and bid them farewell as they departed. An older person with graying hair approached me with two wool hats in hand, asking for Adam and Collin. I pulled my mask down for a moment to show my face and said that we were both here. The person said, “My name is Theora. Last spring, Collin gave me a beautiful brown fleece. I was so inspired by the gift that I decided to hand-spin and knit the fleece into hats to give away. I made thirty hats and gave them all away at the Food Shelf. Except these two, which I brought as gifts for you.” She placed an exquisitely soft chocolate-brown wool hat in my hands, and then looked up at me with bright, affectionate eyes. I said to her, “Collin is in the hoophouse giving away this year’s fleeces and will be thrilled to see you, to receive your gift, to hear this beautiful story and to send you home with another fleece.” It turned out that Theora hadn’t known that we would be giving away fleeces that day. Chance and fate had brought her to the Farm that morning. Consider the stunning beauty of the gift that stays in motion. Consider, also, the folk knowledge, the accumulated wisdom and the remarkable discipline articulated by Theora’s careful hands as she transformed raw fleece into yarn and then into beautiful, functional gifts of clothing. And then imagine the learning outcome – the cultural consequence – for any younger person who might find themselves clothed by such a gift on a bitterly cold March morning as North Wind howls and bites, sheltered by the dedicated work of someone older than they, performed on their behalf. I find myself warmed by such a garment this morning as I write. Many thanks to Siri and Collin for tending to our pregnant ewes with such great care. Thanks to Theora for bringing her remarkable skills and gifts to the Farm. Thanks to the young for reminding us of what hangs in the balance, lest we forget and fail to hold up our end of things. Many thanks to the Farm Team and all of those who show up each week to help us with this work. Might we, through our collective labors, revive modes of speaking that serve to remind us that it hasn’t always been this way. And many thanks to you for reading these stories. We are honored to know that you are out there, walking along side us. We wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.
Here is what you will find in this Letter:
- GIFT DISTRIBUTION DETAILS and FULL MENU
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – March 2021 Budget
With Great Care,
Ava, Erika, Kristen, Erik, Collin, Evan and Adam – The Brush Brook Community Farm Team
SOUP and BREAD GIFT DISTRIBUTION: Saturday 3/20, 11am - 1 pm
- Brush Brook Soup – Cabbage Noodles, Kale, Squash, Sweet Potato, Beets, Tomato, Beef, Herbs, Bone Broth.
- Vegetarian Soup – Pureed Butternut, Carrot and Turnip, Tomato, Garlic, Herbs.
Mountain, Polenta, 3 Seed, Sprouted Grain, German Rye and Backcountry Loaf (made w/o gluten)
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 March 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 – Mar. 2021 Budget
|As of 3/16|
|Gifts Received in Mar – Thank you!||$ 2603.00|
|Estimated Expenses for March|
|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||$ 448.08|
|Adam Wilson Rent||$ 200.00|
|Erik Weil Stipend Request||$ 500.00|
|Collin McCarthy Stipend Request||$ 580.00|
|Estimated Federal/State Taxes||$ 351.22|
|Paypal Fees||$ 150.00|
|Overage from February||$801.34|
|Total Remaining for March||$ 2,346.32|
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.