We are lucky to have welcomed our second St. Lawrence University, Adirondack Semester Intern, Caitlin Kelly, to Reber Rock Farm this past December. Her impressions of life on the farm remind us why we choose to live this way. Thank you, Caitlin, for all your hard work!
Click an image and read the captions on each photo or scroll down to see the whole text.
The day starts with the sunrise—in mid-December that’s around 7:00am, a time that continuously creeps forward until the winter solstice. Getting out from under five layers of blankets is hard thing to do when it’s still dark outside and the woodstove fire downstairs has died out long ago. But I’m somehow able to muster the strength—a feeling I’m sure all farmers have gotten past—to get dressed and climb down the rickety staircase and join the real world, (as opposed to loft world).
It’s amazing how one’s perception of reality can change so easily, and so quickly. My life right now consists of eating food exclusively grown on this farm, or a farm never more than twenty miles away. We eat loads of kale, eggs, Brussels sprouts, and fresh-baked bread with flour made by Nate himself. We drink raw milk and eat maple yogurt from the North Country Creamery in Keeseville with maple syrup from this farm.
We have been through trials of farm-grown black beans, first finding little black rocks, unfortunately the size of beans in the first batch, and then hand-picking the rocks out in the second batch. I’ve carried at least a hundred bales of hay to hungry horses and cows, have helped winterize the farm store, shelled many pounds of corn with a hand-crank machine for six hours, moved and corralled cows, cleaned garlic for the City Market in Burlington, and have collected handfuls of eggs. Bringing in armfuls of wood to keep the kitchen warm has become normal. Feeding the animals before myself has become normal. And climbing down into the well house to turn the water back on after nearly running the well dry has become normal. I can’t say any of these normalcies are the same for my peers back at St. Lawrence, and neither can I say that their normalcies are the same for me.
In the great room I sit half asleep at the kitchen table. I blankly stare through the window at the blue light illuminating the landscape until I decide it is time to suit up and go outside for chores. I walk down to the barnyard and carry two hoses along with me. I greet the horses with a, “hello everybody,” a habit I have picked up from Nate and the others at the farm. I connect the hoses and throw five bales of hay to the horses and four to the cows. I take apart the hoses, carry them up the hill, and blow the water out of them, so they will not freeze during the day.
I walk back to the house as the sun illuminates the mountains to the west. I’m not sure of the names of these mountains, but I appreciate their distinctness from one another. This morning they are painted pink and purple by the rising sun, and the blue-sky backdrop is already a telltale sign of yet another beautiful day on the farm.
It’s now 7:45 as we all sit down for breakfast. I can say I’ve already done more with my day than I do on campus at St. Lawrence before 8:00am. I’ve learned to love this pace of life, and my existence here seems purposeful. Here at Reber Rock feels like the right way to live.