If you were to stop by for a visit these days, a (partially dressed, likely barefoot) child - or four - would run down the driveaway to greet you. You wouldn't be given much time to catch your breath or even say hello before Adelaide will say, "Wanna see the turkeys?"
And with that, the tour begins.
These turkeys, we'd tell you, were recently moved from barn to pasture. After quite a bit of loss in the beginning, our flock of nine is doing quite well now - growing steadily and healthily. Eating, growing, and "yipping" (the funny sound they make that none of us can replicate, but all do try).
While Adelaide and Harper play with the turkeys and try to get you to hold one, the topic of the meat chickens would likely come up, and we'd tell you all about that. Though there were no family objections, everyone here has something to say about the process. Our conversations go from reverence, to disguist, to humor, even, as we all continue to process the experience ourselves, and decide what role they play in the future of our little family farm. Meanwhile, we fully enjoy and appreciate the bounty of a freezer full of food (which Harper will want to show you when we pass through the barn).
Passing the garden, in it's September mix of growth, beauty, and decay, we'd walk nearby the neighboring bee colonies. Calvin will likely fake a dramatic "sting" and fall to the ground, and Steve would declare that not a single person has been bit yet. I'd try to convince you to come and help me extract honey this week. Yes?
Next, we'd visit the "new" chickens. A flock of eight young Rhode Island Reds that we just "adopted" (which is one way to say they were dropped at the front steps). Having pecked each other to bits, and never seen grass before in their previous home, we're hoping we can bring these skittish ladies back to health. It helps to have a six year old vet/chicken whisperer on the premise, along with the tenderhearted husband who took them in in the first place.
(Not my baby. We're really on a tour, I tell you.)
The children among us (mine and yours) will have long left the crowd of us and gone ahead to perhaps their favorite spot - the chicken yard. And there, surrounded by 34 laying hens and one duck, a whole lot of silliness usually happens as the kids feed the ladies scratch from their hands, check for eggs, and hold their favorites. I have to say that one of my very favorite things about being here is watching the little ones of friends and family who have never been so close to chickens before. Sometimes a little timid at first, it doesn't take long before they are giggling, and holding one gently in their arms. Followed by jumping up and down begging their parents for their own chickens. Kids and chickens. It's a quiet little revolution, I tell you. (It might just change the world.)
Standing at the edge of the chicken pasture while the littlest ones play, Calvin would probably tell you about his egg business. He'd tell you about his first customer, and the success he's had in the week's since. He might tell you what he plans to buy with the spending portion of his earnings. Or his plans for adding more and other breeds to the flock (which hasn't quite cleared his parents yet!). And then he'd ask you to save your empty egg cartons for him. He pays in eggs. It's a good deal.
Our tour of the livestock usually ends at the pigs. They'll come up to greet us (mind the fence!), and here, Ezra usually appears with harmonica in one hand, and a crab apple he's picked up for the pigs in the other. Adelaide, after debating with me about shoes in the pig pen and resigning herself to wearing them, will certainly jump in with them for a while to show you how "gentle" they are. We'd point out the amazing work they've done as we've moved them across the field of the pasture-in-progress all summer long, turning over wild and overgrown field into a soil we plan to seed in just a few weeks time. The seeding, the huge pile of cedar fence posts that you can't help but notice...it will lead to the talk about what comes next for us here on the farm. A dairy cow? Most definitely when the time is right. Some sheep for fiber? Oh that would be lovely. A horse? It's inevitable. A donkey? If Ezra gets his wish. And on and on the dreams go, and the plans begin.
But here we stop for a moment to catch our breath and take in all around us - both on the tour, and in the season of our farming. For exactly one year into our time here, when we pause and look aorund us, we realize we have done so much. Has it really only been a year? Sure, there are future plans and dreams to still be worked out, but we're in no hurry. We are loving these days right now...in all their fullness.
The days, indeed, are full. It's been a good year.