PORK.

bacon.

Our entire house smells like bacon. We spent two days rendering lard – ending up with almost 2 gallons. There is a gigantic ham hanging underneath the stairs, and we’ve got four huge slabs of bacon curing in a couple of makeshift salt boxes (bee hive supers) by the back door where it stays cool. We have been eating sausage, chops, shoulder, or some other such pork product almost every day for the past two months. It is hard work and emotionally difficult, but this kind of abundance is why we raise pigs. They helped us to better our land, and now they are nourishing our family. Thank you, pigs.

– Hannah.

lard.

ham.

(For more of our thoughts on eating animals, check out this post.)

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GOODNIGHT, CHARLIE.

charlie.

Partially out of skepticism, and partially out of denial, we wanted to wait a little while to write this post. Because our beloved Charlie cat, mother of Scooter and the best mouser this side of the Mississippi, is gone.

Right before the big cold snap, but right after those ten inches of snow, we let Charlie out to do her business and she never returned. The next morning, in the bitter cold, I followed her tracks through the snow to the end of our road, but got too cold to follow them further. Then again that night, she didn’t come back.

We have theories on what happened––predators maybe, maybe she went on vacation––but the truth remains that Charlie is gone. She was a great cat. She was sweet towards Further and a truly proficient predator. In terms of work animals––mousing being important work around here––she was absolutely tops. We loved her and we will miss her. She was a hard worker and a member of the family. So here’s to you, Charlie. We love you. We miss you. We hope you show back up with a litter of kitties, but if not, know neither we nor our farm will ever be the same without you.

– Jesse.

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BABY’S FIRST TRICK.

So long as Further turns out to be respectful and polite—to us and to others—Hannah and I will consider our parenting a success. So it would only seem natural that the very first thing we would teach him is to stick his tongue out at us.

We read that babies his age––somehow two months, already––will mimic your face. If you open your mouth, they’ll copy, or if you stick out your tongue, they’ll follow suit. And after our midwife told us that getting him to stick out his tongue will help strengthen his tongue muscles and in turn improve his nursing abilities, we decided to give it a shot.

The first few times we tried, Further seemed incredulous. In fact, we’ve been sticking our tongues out at him for a couple weeks now, and all we’ve been getting is a look of skepticism or indifference. Then the other day it just clicked, and he has spent the last few days sticking his tongue out at us, followed by hysterical laughter. It’s one of the most joyous experiences I’ve ever been a part of. And that’s how it starts, right? First it’s the tongue and next thing we know we’ll be teaching him his numbers, and how to get over a broken heart. I wonder if I’ll treasure every milestone like I treasure this one, like I treasured his first smile of recognition. Knowing me, I probably will. I will look forward to every new milestone, and every thing he learns, even when we have to one day teach him not to stick his tongue out at people––because, you know, it’s rude.

– Jesse.

further.

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THE FATHERHOOD CRAFT.

When I first started applying for farming internships in 2009, I had Further in mind. I mean, I didn’t know he would be a boy, when he would arrive or his name, but I knew that when I did have a child, I wanted to be ready. I wanted to be in a place where I could teach him about things he could use––about growing food, and foraging and living off the land.

Because at that time, here is what I knew: I knew a fair bit about wine. I knew a superbly useless amount about Prohibition. I knew Kentucky Basketball, books, and the bars of NYC. What I didn’t know was how beets grew. Or how to keep that stupid basil plant I bought every year alive. I didn’t know how to build anything, fix anything, or anything about engines––small or large. And I was vividly aware of this.

So in deciding to become a farmer, I was hoping to remedy some of that. Then with the help of our mentors, Eric and Cher, I definitely did. I am a much more capable human today than I was six years ago. I can grow food, build things, fix others, and what I can’t, I now know how to find the people who can.

But still, for Further’s sake I can’t help but wish I knew more. I wish I had started earlier. I was telling Hannah the other night, I want to be the best father I can be, but I will always be painfully aware of my limitations as a carpenter, as a mechanic, as a woodworker, a musician, or you name it. With that said, I’ve come to realize that being a good father may require me to accept my faults or deficiencies and, like it is when I need something fixed, turn to knowledgeable people to help teach Further what I can’t. He will have to grow up knowing Papa doesn’t have all the answers, and I will have to be okay with that. Maybe it’s culture, or maybe it’s nature, but I’m finding the ego is strong in parenthood. But perhaps letting that go is the first step to being a good father. The second step, well, maybe the second step is just caring this much.

– Jesse.

jesse and further.

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