Things are a little busy right now at Terroir Farm. New animals and new infrastructure have taken ahold as the defining "ripe fruit of the summer". With so much "new" (new LGD, goats, chickens, and hogs) It's easy to feel like one is on a never-ending time crunch to get things done. Summer only lasts a short few months in northern Michigan. All the time, the animals don't stop eating, growing, and doing a little bit of providing. With all of this work, it will be exciting when they start to do a LOT of providing. They will be the future of our farm.
But all the while things take time.
It's not easy to build a farm from the ground up. Literally. When we moved here, nestled into the woods more than 700 feet from the road, surrounded by red oak, silver and red maple, white pine, beech, hemlock, birch, hop-hornbeam, and aspen, we thought it would be a perfect place to live and raise a family. As we got into the "back-to-the-land movement" things evolved. Being so heavily wooded, trees have their place. They are certainly necessary because of everything that they provide: a wide variety of foliage for foliage-eating goats, shade, fruit (acorns, hop-hornbeam nuts, beech nuts), beauty, and all of of the spiritual qualities that are harder to put into words. They, however, need to be tended and cared for in order to thrive. Untouched forests have their place, but a land that is in balance and harmony with livestock needs a little tender loving care. Every time we add more pieces to our farm, the forest must be manicured first, with an ideal space that allows the specific type of animal to thrive. Trees need to be chosen as "keepers" for the future. Trees need to be chosen as firewood for winter warmth. A lot of thought must go into each tree that is kept or cut down. Many of these decision will be made trying to look decades into the future.
So things take a while when adding new.
This all being said, as the title of the post depicts, there is indeed a metaphorical circle "around" all of this work. If things are done right, the land AND the animals needs are taken into consideration. Everything relies on all of the interconnected parts. Those parts are vast and branch further than I can even comprehend. We are just at the cusp. The farm that we envision will be highly sustaining, possibly even having parts that are self-sustaining. As we add, in order to thrive, we must subtract. We must go through times of heavy work. It is through the completion of this work that a lucky farmer starts to see the potential of this circle. Healthy, vigorous trees and soil builds life-sustaining forage for animals that, in turn, provide sustenance, and allows a small farm family a glimpse at what things could be like if we take the time to carefully implement what we have planned.
"Around the farm" isn't just conversational. It's transcendental.