- Baby Kale
- Slicer Tomatoes
- Green Chiles
Yes it’s true, last week we actually took a break. I won’t call it a true “vacation” because we didn’t spend our three days on some sun-bleached sandy shore under an umbrella sipping margaritas. No, instead we plowed, disked, harrowed, and seeded ground. We mowed and raked fields, baled hay, and stacked it in the barn. The best term we came up with to describe our time off was a “work-ation.”
The workshop was a rare opportunity. One of the most talented and most humble teamsters (as in horses, not trucks) in the nation, Don Yerian, traveled here to a farm in Willamina to impart a little bit of his wisdom on a small group of farmers and aspiring teamsters.
Before this, neither Chloe nor I had ever experienced working with draft horses. For us, the workshop was three very intense days, during which we tried to soak up as much information and coax as many anecdotes as we could from those in the workshop who had experience working with horses. To understate it: we learned a lot, and we are currently still trying to process it all.
Our hope for this workshop was to get an idea of how feasible it would be for us to incorporate draft power into our farming operation. We see draft power as a crucial component of a truly sustainable agricultural system. We also recognize that the incredibly nuanced and complex set of skills associated with maintaining a working relationship with horses are currently in grave danger of being lost. With the coming of the green revolution and tractor power, the generations since have not even learned how to call the farrier, let alone work with horses, and those who have spent enough time “on the reins” to be considered as masters of the trade are elderly, increasing in age, and dwindling in number. It is our hope to be part of a generation that keeps that wisdom alive.
There is still a mountain of complexity in front of us that we will need to traverse through experience before we are able to responsibly maintain a working relationship with our own team of horses, and our current situation does not allow us to safely care for any animal on our land anyway, so don’t expect us to be riding up to pick-up on a horse-drawn wagon yelling “yee-haw” any time soon (no, teamsters do not actually say yee-haw). But all of those circumstances will change in time and we both intend and aspire to work with horses on our farm in the future.
I’ll end with a little anecdote that sums up the cultural difference of using animal power. When the work was done at the end of the day we didn’t just shut of the tractor and walk inside for dinner. Instead we took off the harnesses and brushed the horses. We gave them water, put hay in the manger and before turning ourselves in to eat and rest, led them out to the pasture for the night. It’s a relationship, and as in all true and equitable relationships, the needs of the other are as immediate and serious as your own. When that relationship is the medium through which you accomplish work on a day to day basis, it will heavily influence and alter the expectations and goals of your work.
Briefly, I should add a few words about the Winter CSA. We will devote a full newsletter to it next week, but it’s worth mentioning that we just finished and finalized our registration for the 2015 winter season. You can sign up online, and we will have registration forms at pick-up. Space is limited this year, so we wanted to let everyone know as soon as possible, seeing as we’re already receiving sign-ups. We will determine the limit after all of the fall harvests have come in, but so far it looks like it’s going to be a rockin’ winter.
Enjoy this week’s vegetables.