dancing with chaos

IMG_3885The other morning, while in the throes of cooking breakfast in the outdoor kitchen, the phone rang. Eric took over my station at the stove as I answered. It was my dear fellow farmwife, Robin, hoping to catch me before the day got too hectic and the phone went unanswered. At one point, I couldn’t hear what she was saying because of the clamor in the background. As I turned to hush the children a wee bit, so that mama could hear (!), I was slightly flabbergasted by what met my eyes…

Eric was cooking breakfast at full tilt, eggs frying, spatula scraping, dishes clanking, steam rising, and kettle screaming. There was probably also the sound of coffee being ground in the mill. He had already done his morning chores and was hungry. Opal and Olivia were racing their bicycles around the picnic table, bells ringing, laughing wildly, while dodging the four lambs (yes, lambs… yes, in the kitchen) that had wandered into the kitchen for a good rub on the underside of the table. Ira was sharpening an incredibly long knife, business as usual for a nine year old boy with a plan for the day. It wasn’t even seven o’clock yet. Just outside (thankfully) the open-air walls of the kitchen, Ira’s ducks (which now number more than 30) were busily quacking and schwaping their way through the yard. The kitchen itself, in addition to all of the energy that was flowing through, was a complete disaster. The incredibly busy days had weaseled cleaning chores to the rock-bottom of the “to-do” lists. I paused for a moment, taking it all in. My goodness, I thought, I’ve lost the reigns and this chariot is fully out of control…

And then the dust settled. The moment had passed. Just like that. I got off the phone with Robin, digesting her exciting news. Breakfast and coffee were served and enjoyed. The kids zipped off, fueled and on to other activities. Dishes were gathered up, and I was able to spend some time reclaiming my precious kitchen from the mess of living life. The lambs went on their way, and I wrapped a net fence around the pavilion as a deterrent for their curiosity. The wild dance had left me a little breathless, bewildered. But at the same time, my heart was pumping my limbs full of love and affection for my little whirling dervishes, and for the chaos that flows and winds and twists it’s way through my life.

It’s unavoidable, really. The chaos. As we attempt to navigate our way through the unchartered terrain of raising our children, homeshcooling them with mindfulness, tending bumps and bruises, serving as waiter, chef, and dish-washer, story-teller, math problem-solver, as well as working from home on a big farm, raising primarily all of our own food, preserving and storing it, tending lots of animals, and just generally trying to sail our family’s ship in the general “right” direction of our goals, there’s going to be some chaos. While I thrive in peace and harmony, it’s the chaos that stirs things up; that challenges me and makes me get moving and grooving and working my tail off to reestablish a hint of order; to pacify the natives.IMG_3892

Just a few nights ago, in the very same kitchen, I sat quietly alone on the porch swing. The day was fading into night. I had just finished cooking supper and Eric had hauled it into the house to be consumed indoors, as it was nearly dark and the air had a slight chill (amazing for July, I know!). Rain started softly ringing on the tin roof, and eventually came down in a torrent so hard that the drumming of the rain drowned out the sweet voice of Ruth Moody that I was listening to. And I paused for a moment longer, enjoying the relative calm and the cool moist breeze blowing through the pavilion. In that moment, I was alone. But in my mind’s eye, I kept seeing my beautiful, smiling children. I kept hearing their laughter. I got up from my moment’s reverie, walked the slate walkway to the house, and entered the bright and bustling abode, ready for another tango with chaos.IMG_0478

right now :: harvest

Rain threatened, and we headed to hill to get some big jobs done.

Big job number one: dig potatoes.raw potato row

The kids spent a lot of time in the shade, but when they pitched in, they were a big help.


You never know what’s going on with those underground crops.  The weeds were really out of hand, but the potatoes were just great.

We planted just over a bushel, and hauled fourteen bushels down the hill.  Best ever.

levon potatoes

I love days like this.


not your typical saturday

I had a day off. Well, maybe not a day off, an unexpected unusual day on the farm: the CSA farmer’s equivalent of a snow day. I stayed home from market. We are way more comfortable when there is someone back at the farm during our long market day. Sasha tends to the livestock, but an adult sidekick is needed in case of emergency. Usually the apprentices rotate through this day, market day, farm day, and back again. With Deanna out of town, I quickly realized it was easiest for me to stay back. It could be an adult only market day (eliminating the near full time job of watching an active 2 year old at the market). I still had to wake at 3 am with Paul and ready him for market as did William, but we had the luxury of snuggling back into bed at 3:45 when the van pulled out of the driveway. A drizzly morning led to a slow moving round of chores and an extra long spell of kitchen time. I made quick work of it and processed a batch of my new favorite condiment: home made sriracha. Made exclusively with the mildest of hot peppers we grow here, Czech Black, this hot sauce is the perfect addition to our plates, edible spicy, love it.

When the skies opened blue we headed out to a clearing project  in the “wedding field” named of course for it was the chosen location for Paul and my nuptials in 2001. Sasha has taken over the clearing of the “old place”. When we first moved onto our original 60 acres, they included a scant 5 acres of open land. We began the process of clearing old logging yards that had long since overgrown and returning some of the gentle hillsides into the pastures they once were. When we purchased adjacent property we increased our open land perhaps three fold and abandoned the labor intensive task of clearing scrubland. With Sahsa’s youthful energy and 2 horses to care for, he has taken over where we left off and is most certainly a grass farmer in the making. Over the past years since he has gotten his horse and taken over managing her food supply, he has learned first hand the significance of pasture management. Now, with not only a push mower, but a riding mower, weed eater and chain saw to call his own, he can truly manage these areas of the farm in a way that benefits all.


Back to my day off. After William woke from a long and late nap, my whole posse happily headed to a remote corner of our acreage. Along side me was a happy teenager hauling all sorts of tools, a thrilled toddler in the creek “deep” “fishies”, and a gleeful middle daughter toting the picnic lunch we all carefully prepared. The sun was shining, the air had the post storm crispness that we all adore. I found a way to please the whole crew: teenager adores power tools, toddler adores water, mud, trees, grass and wild berries, and middle daughter loves a good picnic with her family.Mama, well, I was just happy for the restful break from routine.