This weekend we left our place for a few days, headed north to spend time at another homestead. We left late in the afternoon after the chores of moving chickens, harvesting another cartload of squash, covering other garden beds, and putting up some more food. At this time of year it sometimes seems hard to get away. There's always something to do in the garden, in the office, in the shop, the last of the harvest to gather and tend to, garlic to plant. Yet, with the seasons changing, we feel the pull to neighbor.
Driving up, we pass homestead after homestead. With each mile there's evidence of some places thriving, while others are on less firm footing. Getting away from our farm is a kind of therapy for us - seeing the homesites and other rolling farms, those of our friends, is good perspective. We laugh together at stories about batches of wine that didn't quite go as well as planned--bottles that explode in kitchens from too lively of yeast. We feel the ache of the story of the home that burned, but smile in releif at the ways that our friends reclaimed some boards from that old homestead. Those salvaged boards appear in the outbuildings, shops, and spaces that have helped them claim a livelihood and a life that was hand-built. We strive for that life, ourselves.
Part of us, you see, feels like one of those old homesteads - we've built so much of ourselves as growers of food and community this past year. Moving the farm, even with as little infrastructure as we have, we think, sometimes, might just do us in.
But it's the other times that count, times of gathering and building. We took our apples, and those of our friends, as we do each year about this time. We gathered, making cider, telling stories, reveling in a sauna, eating good food, wearing out our dog, and then, doing it the next day. You might call it cider making, but we also call it gathering and reclaiming.