Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Mt. Vernon Highwater Farm
We have been staying on a farm here in mt. vernon now for two weeks. The arrangement was that clayton and i each work 4 hours a day in exchange for food and a place to sleep. The farm grows kale, beets, onions, carrots, beans, peas, and an assortment of herbs. We arrived here via amtrak and were picked up at the train station by the farm owner whose name is jeff. He showed up at the amtrak station in his vw bus and i knew this was fated to work out very well as i am very fond of that vehicle. As we rode back to the farm we shared our general back ground story and very slowly got to know each other. I could tell right off that Jeff is a very quiet patient person. It was a short car ride from the station to the farm but what we could see of mt. vernon was beautiful farmland with the cascade mountains in the background. These mountains are what i see everyday that i wake up and they never fail to make me pause and enjoy there sense of timeless presence. We arrived at the farm fairly late in the evening and after being introduced to the whole family ( jeff and his wife danielle have 5 children!) and the mother daughter duo who is wwoofing here as well we said good night! The next day we got ourselves acquainted with the farm and what our responsibilities would be. We could see that they had a diverse range of food that they grow as well as some sheep chickens and a llama who no matter where i am during the day it seems to be staring at me :) i later found out that the llama is actually guarding the other animals from coyotes and other pests.We are well accommodated here as they have redone the barn in a rustic manner to provide a kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room for their wwoofers. The mother and daughter had already settled into the living room with the pull out couch and we were offered an unfinished bedroom or the camper and decided to go with the camper. It is nice to have our own separate space to sleep in and have some privacy as a family. However they have fully stocked the kitchen in the barn with food for us to eat and we are allowed any thing out of the gardens. sharing the barn space with the mother and daughter has been ok for the most part and we are very respectful of each others needs. We at least agree to keep a clean space and i really cant ask for more than that! Our children seem to be very happy here with the other kids. elijah had found a friend in jeff and Danielle's 8 year old son and alyx is good friends with their five year old. Cedric seems to just like following every one around at his own whim. We have struggled a little with him as he has been watching our fellow wwoofers daughter and seems to assume that if he cries like she does that i will give in to his whining. However this little girl is not yet two and her mother has a different method of parenting than i do so we are just patiently reminding cedric that he will not be getting his way every time that he whines. This is the first time cedric has been around other children on a daily basis and so its a good lesson for us all to learn. We have managed our work for the day pretty well. Trading off with work in the fields and hanging out with the kids. Some days if we need to harvest clayton and i have worked together but otherwise we trade. Our job has been very simply to cultivate the fields, this is a nice term to use in place of the term 'hoeing' the fields.. Cultivating is when we use the hoe and sweep through the dirt surrounding the place to loosen the soil and pull up the weeds. When the plants are to small and you can not use the hoe we get down in the dirt and using a knife cut out the weeds by hand. Any one who is not familiar with how to do these things would be advised to learn directly from a farmer and should not attempt this on their own. I though that hand weeding meant you had to squat next to the bed and get all of the weeds in the bed. This is not the case folks! you only get the weeds in the row that are around the small plants...i was out there for four hours and could not walk for the next two days! Also, if you have been weeding by hand you should maybe only do this for about an hour and then go on to another project for there are endless things that can be done on a farm. Besides the weeding and harvesting we have been helping to put new seeds in the ground. Jeff has been leasing a property outside of this farm for his late season kale which is just now being planted. We have also had the opportunity to deliver the harvests to some of the co-ops around here which has allowed us to see some more of washington. As we leave the farmland and start to travel on the highway though more and more i realize how much i really want to get away from all the busyness this world offers. It has been a blessing to slow down and work with the earth. and although its not my farm there is no little pride in harvesting foods that will nourish people and there families. I do not think however that we will have a farm of this size, nor do we intend to grow food for a living. But we are certainly going to try to live outside a city where we can stay connected to the land. The boys have not done much farming besides pea harvesting which i think everyone is sick of doing and there is no end to it. But the weather has been so nice almost a constant 80 degrees and sunny with a light breeze, besides a couple days of rain, so the boys have had lots of outdoor fun and plenty of fresh air. All in all i feel that this has been a very successful first wwoof experience and although the next farm will be totally different i am sure it will be rewarding in its own way. Now that we are caught up i would expect to get on here and write every few days or so. I will also be posting more photos. The next farm adventure is not until August 1st where we will be staying at a vineyard just outside of portland oregon! Thank you for continuing to read this i hope you find it helps give a clear picture of what we are up to. With love always, Namaste ~ Nicole G.