Dirt Eaters

Work, Food, and Communal Transformation

(from the frontlines of a hopeful revolution)

Settling In

I’ve got writer’s block.

I’ve had it for a while, actually. If you’re someone who periodically checks my blog to see what wacky farm adventures I’ve gotten myself into this time, you’ve surely noticed. I’ve started this particular blog post seven times, changing the title, never getting anywhere. I’ve even stared at this paragraph now for five minutes. Yeesh.

I don’t know what to say, and I’m trying to figure out why exactly that is.

I want to blame Winter, the diminishing light of late November and December, but that can’t be the case, because I’ve been smiling too much. Our work days have been shortened - due to not being able to see the cows after 4:30pm - but my days have felt even more full. Every evening there’s a collaborative cooking extravaganza, or a food fermentation/preservation project, or Bikram Yoga in the shop extension, or communal movie watching, or just dozens of disparate conversations, jokes and references and connections building by the hour.

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Basically, I haven’t wanted to lock myself in my room and stare at my computer. There are too many people here that I truly and genuinely like. There are too many fun and exciting and endlessly fascinating things to think about and do. We’re becoming an actual community, and I’m infinitely happier when I’m out there involved in that community life as much as possible.

There’s more, though. Something has changed for me in the past month, something about this place and these people and this thing that I’m doing.

When I first arrived in October, I was simultaneously both past- and future-oriented. I was thinking about the life and the people that I’d left behind, and I was thinking about the life and the people that I’d have once I finished. I approached the day-to-day program, and the people that shared it with me, in a utilitarian fashion: how would it help me get from where I was to where I’m going.

If I had to take a guess, I’d say that the turning point was the week of animal death, the week when we processed chickens and turkeys and saw a cow killed at the slaughterhouse. My relationship to this experience, and to this group of people, flipped. I became present-oriented. I couldn’t not be. I cared about every moment, and every person. I was going through intense experiences, I was becoming a different person, I was walking a path with an uncertain destiny. And so was everyone else. We were doing it together.

How fabulous.

My affection for this group, for each and every member of it, has only grown in the month since. We’ve had some rocky community meetings, some tense moments. We’ve had countless classes - okay, you’re right, I can count them - on Botany and Animal Health and Bee-Keeping and Soil Science and Butchery and Field Mapping and More. We’ve bucked trees and split logs and cleaned barns and moved hay. We’ve had Secret Elf gifting madness and Holiday Parties and Dance Parties and Birthday Parties. We’ve gone sledding and skiing and built snowmen and had snowball fights. We’ve had fun.

I think I’ve settled in, I think maybe we all have, just as Winter is doing the same.

How perfect.

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Here in Central Massachusetts we’ve had the coldest, snowiest December in decades. On Tuesday, we awoke to 10 inches of snow and a -8 degree reading on the thermometer. By the end of the day, we had 18 inches of snow. We live in a monochromatic world, nothing but shades of white.

It’s a far cry from the boisterous colors of October. Which is to say, we’ve been here for a long time. Three months (and one season) down, nine months (and three seasons) to go.

Everyone has packed up, the farmhouse has gone quiet, as we embark on a two week break. Our first real break since showing up and enduring those awkward first few days that feel a lifetime ago.

Surprisingly, to me at least, I think we’re all going to really miss each other. I know that I will. We’re going to go see friends and families and try desperately to explain what exactly it is that we’re doing up here. We’ll probably all fail miserably, and that’s okay. We’ll get some space, and then we’ll come back in 2014, rejuvenated and ready to go, ready to start (gasp!) thinking about the growing season.

Settled in, a bit more tight-knit and experienced, not yet worried about what’ll happen at the end of the ride, and just enjoying it while it lasts.

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To see the rest of the past two week's pictures, click here...

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