|The Poop Temple|
Upon arriving at Fable Farm in Barnard, VT we were greeted by Jonny and Jessie who gave us a tour of the farmhouse, which, along with their satellite fields, makes up the farm they co-own with Christopher and Brooke, Jonny's brother and sister-in-law. As we passed through the farm house into the back field, it seemed that we entered a whimsical agrarian wonderland. A giant striped tent contributed a playful circus feel, while nearby paper lanterns hung expectantly over a home-made stage waiting to illuminate performers. A large outdoor kitchen with plenty of provisions and a gas stove allayed our fears of having to start a cookfire before every meal. Next our eyes were drawn to the "mama" apple tree, a huge ancient apple tree that had been there for generations, decorated with prayer flags, chalk boards, swings, and a hammock. On our way to the yurt we would be staying in, we strolled through the extensive garden where innumerable five-foot-high reddish-purple amaranth stalks gave way to a vast array of herbs, beans, tomatoes, and tomatillos.
|Games by candlelight included "AC/DC: An Electric Circuit Game"|
The next morning we were greeted by Chris, Jonny's brother, who introduced us to the herb spilanthes. Spilanthes is a little-known medicinal herb that is also called the "toothache herb" because eating one flower head will numb the mouth for up to twenty minutes. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, and immune-supporting properties. For anyone who hasn't tried it, it is an intense experience. The unsettling amount of tingling and the increased saliva production had us exchanging worried glances, but we trusted Chris and rode it out. Soon we were popping spilanthes regularly.
|The Worthy Burger|
|Chris and Selena picking chard|
|CSA pickup party|
Though the work hours were minimal, our time off was mostly spent reading under blankets, as the yurt was uninsulated and lacked electricity. We got through The Hobbit (which we read together in anticipation of the new movie), and played a few of the board games Randy had picked up at the thrift store.
The yurt had no electricity, and the whole farm had no internet so after making and eating our dinner in the outdoor kitchen (which did have electricity) we usually went to bed, getting on an 8-8:30 bedtime schedule. During the day the yurt and the kitchen were usually warm, but after the sun went down we were ready to be warm under our stack of blankets.
With the whole weekend at our disposal we indulged in leisurely reading, game playing, and going back to South Royalton. On Sunday we had planned on attending the church next door to the farm, but found that the Universalist church was only active in July and August. Instead we decided to enjoy a cup of tea at the Barnard General Store. The Barnard General Store has been continuously operating for 180 years, but this spring the owners had to close the doors because of the economy. The town has rallied around the store (which, along with the post office, town hall, volunteer fire department, church, and library, make up the entire town), and is attempting to earn the $500,000 they need to buy the store, refurbish it, and keep it running. For now, volunteers staff the store every morning, selling donated coffee, tea, and baked goods as a long-term fundraiser.
|Taking down tomatoes|
With a blood drive taking place in the next town over, it was the perfect opportunity to add Vermont to the list of states we've bestowed our blood upon (this list is surprisingly similar to the list of states we've eaten free pizza in). Unfortunately Holly's iron count was .5 too low, so she just sat and read while Randy donated.
Wednesday dawned chilly and drizzly, but the CSA needed potatoes and someone had to dig them. We both love digging potatoes, and on a warm, sunny day, the quantity would not make a difference. But, on this gray, wet day, the acre and a half spread out before us was a bit daunting. Fortunately we only needed to dig a fraction of the field to fulfill the CSA needs, but with only a pitchfork and our hands, gathering 160 lbs covered the 6 of us in mud and took us the rest of the day. With temperatures dropping, the local animal population boosted its caloric intake with the food stores of our kitchen. We were surprised at what racoons are capable of opening, their ungraceful nocturnal visits often left the kitchen a mess, and we all lost a few chocolate bars to the midnight bandits.
|Holly and Ida making a delicious bisqueous|
On Thursday we harvested the rest of the vegetables for the CSA, and also picked all of the peppers, eggplant, squash, and less hardy veggies because of an imminent frost threat. That night was a pizza night for the CSA pickup. Fable Farm constructed a pizza oven as a means to bring the community together, and often offered their CSA members unique artisan pies along with the music and comradery found every week. This week's menu featured delicacies such as the Hot Potato Pie (hot sauce, potatoes, tomatillos, garlic), the Irish Pie (pesto, potato, leek, garlic), the Squash Pie (pesto, squash, leeks, kale, goat cheese), and the Nightshade Pie (red sauce, tomatillos, eggplant, peppers), which were all exceptionally delicious. Fable Farm had devised a finely tuned pizza-making process, and we hopped in on the assembly line. Our crash course in pizza production greatly improved our dough-rolling and sauce-applying skills. Randy also got a chance to try his hand at cooking pies the cobb oven. After all the orders were filled (over 40) the kitchen crew was able to create pizzas to their heart's content and we gladly supplemented our diet for the next several days with the surplus pies. The gathering continued well after dark, and was bolstered with Jessie's delicious kombucha, a few rounds of hard cider, and some spirited fiddle playing.
|Jonny cooking pizzas|
|Holly ended up running the press|
|Nico trying the potato digger|
Wherever we end up in the future we hope to find a community as healthy, happy, and supportive as as Fable Farm's.
|Every farm needs a handy gestation tabulator|
|In case you had any doubts that we are indeed farmers|