Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Beginning

It's February, the ground outside is covered with 3 feet of snow, and I'm inside sitting next to the fire trying to picture what tomato plants growing in the middle of Summer will look like. This isn't the first time I've spent a Winter afternoon staring out the window and dreaming about warm evenings and tank tops, but it is the first time that the seasons and their changes have been so important to me. It's the first time I've ever sat down with a calendar and figured out when the last frost is supposed to be, and when the ground will be dry. It's also the first time I've thought so much about soil, about nutrients and how many earthworms there are in a square foot of earth. I've only been seriously planning this small farming enterprise for a month, and already I feel as if I'm so much more aware of the land around me, even hidden as it is underneath all this snow.

The idea of having a small farm has appealed to me for a long time, but it wasn't until a couple of months ago that I began to seriously consider making this dream a reality. It all started when my boyfriend David Erickson and I moved up from Brooklyn to his parent's horse farm in Carlisle, Massachusetts at the beginning of last September. Both of us felt like we needed a change, but we weren't sure exactly what that change was, and so we decided to take a little time out and try some new things: a new place, new interests. We spent last fall busy with various projects. Dave got a wood shop up and running, we successfully roasted a 60 lb pig and I learned a little about butchering and about growing lettuce and kale in a greenhouse. When the new year came, both of us realized that we weren't ready to leave yet, we had become too excited about the prospect of really investing ourselves in the farm. And so, in the second week of January 2011, Black Brook Farm Growers was born. 

Here we are in February. Dave's gone to New York to work as a set lighting technician on Boardwalk Empire for the next couple of months, in order to make enough money to buy piglets and fencing. Meanwhile, I'm living in Massachusetts, where we both grew up, spending my days with seed catalogs. Luckily, surrounded by both our families, I have no shortage of help and support. My mom, Hasso Ewing, who has worked as a grower and landscape designer for years (and who has always wanted to farm) is very involved in this project, my dad, Bob Hannan, is excitedly designing our logo, and Dave's parents, Tom and Tammy Erickson, have been generous enough to give us free reign to use any horse-free fields their property has to offer, and have really made this all possible. We're going to plant about a half acre of vegetables, get a couple pigs, increase our flock of laying hens from 9 to 30 and build a mobile chicken trailer for a new flock of pasture-raised meat birds. The plan is to sell vegetables, eggs and hopefully some meat weekly at a couple farmers markets and see how we like the farming life, and if we're any good at it. 

Enough blogging, it's time to get back to planning about tomato plants in front of the fire.

Farming is fun!

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