Photo: Ben Sklar
Hello Friends and Neighbors,
This is Erika writing to you today. For those of you I haven’t met, I am a member of the Farm Team. You’ll often find me around the gift stand or in the gardens tending to veggies - come say hi! I am writing to share the story of the cow move this week, however, I can’t begin without first expressing my utmost gratitude for your support in keeping this farm alive. To have the opportunity to attempt good work in service of the valley is the biggest gift I could ever ask for.
To tell the story of this Sunday’s cow move, I must first introduce you to Sweet Pea, an old, hard-working dairy cow. When Sweet Pea first joined our herd earlier this summer, I learned that she had particularly strong motherly instincts but had never gotten to raise any of her calves. We were able to give her the chance when young Trudy, days old, was welcomed to Brush Brook. They took to each other instantly, forming a bond that ran deep into each of their bones. Our small herd has taught me a lot about love, mostly about how love and food are inseparable, but the way Sweet Pea cares for Trudy has been especially powerful to me.
This past Sunday morning was our longest cow move of the season. This two mile adventure up to Cozzen-land near Lincoln Hill Rd is filled with twists and turns, bridge crossings, smiling neighbors and pristine fields and gardens that are quite the temptation to our mischievous cows. A cow move of this length is enough to challenge anybody, but add some old achy bones and a full, waggling utter to the equation and you can imagine the struggle that our dear Sweet Pea was faced with! In spite of her age and udders, she stayed with the twenty other cows and humans as we strolled along the valley floor. It wasn’t until our final uphill stretch that she really fell behind. A few of us tired humans gladly welcomed the reason to slow down - these cows can run, and it was still probably before 6am. We offered her encouragement as we pushed from behind and pulled from infront to keep her pace above a crawl, but she was thoroughly worn out. As we turned a corner only to find an even steeper stretch of path ahead, she came to a halt - she had HAD it. She stood there, raised her head to the sky and let out the biggest, most sorrowful bellow she could muster in all her exhaustion. Looking up, she seemed to spot Trudy, quite possibly her biggest motivation to keep going, and after another moment of rest somehow carried on. From that point forward, she seemed to be moving for Trudy, to find a power inside of her that allowed her to set aside her own pain for the wellbeing of this dear calf that relied so heavily on her milk for nourishment.
Finally, we made it! The herd quickly made themselves at home in the pasture, surrounded by green hills, early sun just starting to warm the grass and birds welcoming their new cow neighbors with sweet song. We settled down next to the grazing cows as we exchanged stories of the morning, made grand plans for the November return journey back to the Home Farm, and took in the glory of the scene, our dear cow friends grazing comfortably in their new paddock. There was Sweet Pea, drained of energy but standing tall, leaning into a longing that ran deeper than reason, deeper than personal comfort, a longing to give herself to another, as she stood and allowed Trudy to nurse from her full, sagging udder. A true act of love.
We would like to invite you to:
A Community Conversation
and Simple Farm Meal – please bring a bowl and spoon
Sunday 9/12, 5-7pm – outside at the Farm
We are asking for your help as we:
Pause and Reflect on three years of giving gifts.
Share the challenges and dreams of the Farm
Imagine our next chapter together.
RSVP requested – firstname.lastname@example.org
In preparation for that gathering, we’d like to ask you, What does Brush Brook Community Farm mean to you? We’ve been asking ourselves too, and will share some of those thoughts in the Newsletters leading up to the Conversation. This week, I’m honored to share the writing of our dairy magician, vegetable guru, and dear deer friend Ava:
“What does Brush Brook mean to you?”
A difficult question to respond to, I must admit. And one that we will also ask you, dear Newsletter readers and friends of the Farm, to consider in the coming weeks. Here follows my attempt to articulate that “meaning”:
I am fed by Brush Brook in countless ways. The sun that feeds the grass that feeds the animals that feed my body. In a literal sense, I have the immense privilege and honor of my diet coming almost entirely from the Farm. The other humans that encircle the Farm, also quite literally feed me. Group meals, Gratitude Feasts, a container of braised cabbage to take home, fresh pesto and eggs dropped off at the gift stand. My body is made of this place. The other humans, those that tend to the Farm more intimately, and those that come to Work Days and the gift stand, also feed me spiritually. I longed for “connection” when I first came to the Farm, for the elusive “community” I had heard so much about. I may not yet know the full meaning of these words, but I feel that these other humans have chipped away at the layers of disconnection and loneliness that had long accompanied my days. Alongside the human realm, I am nourished by the many other beings that we share the Farm with. Ephemeral veery, scampering woodchuck, glinting firefly- all have taught me the meaning of pause, which is in itself a gift of nourishment. Lastly, Brush Brook herself. The cascading, glistening, singing waters of Brush Brook seep into my pores and implore me to listen.
This leads me to Reverence. Long have I felt unable to express just how beautiful I experience the world to be. I recall moments in my childhood, standing on the shores of a most spectacular Great Lake, waters shimmering in fading sunlight, and feeling my heart break wide open in a confused combination of ecstasy, love, grief, and unbridled longing. Brush Brook invites a reverence of the living world that has transformed my capacity to love. To listen, observe, and sing the praise of that which reveals its innate beauty to me. To pause and consider that the other-than-human lives might notice the footsteps that I take, the impression those footsteps make and how carefully I proceed. They might care about me and the other humans. They might take note of our reverence and understand that we care. A ceremony, a song to welcome the sheep home to the lambing yard, to usher the cows to their mountain pasture, to uphold the lives of those who encounter their deaths by our hands- this is the Reverence that I speak of. And might it flow through me like the steady waters of Brush Brook.
Depth & Intimacy.
These are more difficult for me to describe but I understand them to be the undertones of all that occurs at Brush Brook, of all that I’ve laid out above. I’ve wondered: what might serve as an antidote to the percolating disconnection that I’ve felt? Perhaps to get closer and to deepen. To strip away that which keeps me at an arm’s length, that which invisibilizes the roots and sustenance of all that I engage with. Depth & intimacy for me are tethered with “connection”. I long to know, to have a relationship with that which sustains me as there seems to be no greater purpose than to honor this life-giving. Brush Brook has demanded that I get closer, crack myself wide open and see who and what flows in. What emerges could quite possibly be magic.
You’ve generously met about $2,200 of August’s budget so far, leaving almost $2,500 for the second half of the month. You can always see the detailed budget at the bottom of this email and make a financial gift HERE. If you have any questions about our work, please do not hesitate to ask.
We are thrilled to invite you to join us for Soup and Bread Gift Distribution this Friday 8/20, 4-6pm. We will have hundreds of loaves of Fresh Bread and two delicious Soups – Pureed Greens and Herbs with and without rich Bone Broth. Both soups are delicious served cold or hot, with or without an addition of Milk, Cream, Yogurt, Sour Cream. All food is offered as a gift to anyone who is hungry for any reason.
Our Work Day this Sunday 8/22 from 1-4pm will include Soup Making (bring a cutting board and a knife), Garden and Pasture Work. If you have a round-pointed shovel to bring along, we will continue with our Burdock removal projects (long-pants recommended).
Here is what you will find in this Letter:
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – Detailed August 2021 Budget
With Great Care,
Erika, Ava and the Brush Brook Community Farm Team
BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for considering the August 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.
|BBCF - August 2021 Budget|
|As of Aug 17|
|Gifts Received in August – Thank you!||$2,000.13|
|Overage from July||$223.00|
|Tractor, Freezers and Milkroom Rents||$200.00|
|Bakery Overhead (firewood, insur., utilites)||$250.00|
|Website, Tech, and Office Supplies||$20.00|
|Bread Ingredients & Packaging||$850.00|
|Misc Ingredients (spices, etc)||$30.00|
|Hosting and Educational||$200.00|
|Vehicles (gas, maintn., insur. etc)||$150.00|
|Predicted Human Expenses|
|Collin McCarthy Rent & Utilities||$580.00|
|Adam Wilson Rent||$200.00|
|Adam Wilson personal stipend||$448.08|
|Infrastructure Maintenance and Project Fund||$300.00|
|Total Estimated Expenses||$4,678.08|
|Total Remaining for August||$2,454.95|
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.