October 2011


Horse Drawn Farms is, as yet, a small affair.  Small enough that one of us still has to stump out the door to work for someone else each morning–bills must be paid.  But HDF is growing…oh yes.   It’s growing and it just might make it.  For us, the shock of this discovery came when we counted the ripening cucumbers in the greenhouse on a summer afternoon.  Seventy-five.    Those seventy-five cucumbers and a whole pile of up-and-coming buds startled us into realising it was already time for our first vegetable market.   There was bounty all around us, way too much for us to possibly consume alone…the squash, the tomatoes, the beans…we needed to sell some of this stuff.  After all, that was the whole point of growing it, we thought, but we were still surprised we had actually succeeded.

It was a humble affair.  It was us, sitting at a table at the end of the driveway with a scale and a cash box.  A far cry, perhaps, from the slot at the Farmers’ Market we had envisioned.  There was no bold vinyl banner proclaiming our identity, no fancy vegetable cart with our wares angled to the light for best appreciation.  But people came–oh, they came all right.  We sold most of what was laid out that day, and much, much more in latter days.  Customers began coming down the driveway for the tomatoes, sign or no sign, and when we finally wanted a cucumber for a salad, there was one hell of a search in the greenhouse to find one (albeit it WAS in the dark with a flashlight.)

Horse Drawn Farms is on its way.

The cucumbers sold out first.

Timothy grows against a stormy sky at Horse Drawn Farms.

It didn’t take starting a farm to learn to appreciate the natural systems that surround us.  Probably it was the other way around; loving the biosphere–the vital breathing earth– was the lure that led us to putting our hands in the soil.    First, just the attraction of adding to that vitality, growing a plant from a seed, was enough.  A realisation of potential, and the ability to use that potential as food, as sustenance, as independence.  But now, after a few successes with the food garden and the numbers of our animals increasing, the slow rhythm of chores is becoming a cadence that we march by.  We notice things.  Which birds have new families.   How the early honey in the hives smells so strongly of the massive cottonwoods bordering HDF.  How the bobcat tracks in the mud are joined close to the trees by a much smaller set, bounding along in cub-play.  Such attractions make even leaving the farm for errands more and more difficult, and for the first time, we are beginning to understand the deep tie to the land that farmers experience.  It’s beguiling and beautiful.    But not without conflict.   When we look over the two wooded back acres of Horse Drawn Farms, we wonder what to do with it.  Should we clear trees, making possibly critical grazing space for our livestock?  Or should we leave it alone, preserving the character of the land that makes it attractive to the wildlife we so treasure?   How much easier it would be if the decision had been made for us, if we had moved onto clear, denuded land.

Heading into the first winter of the farm, with shelters and raised boxes to build, hay stores to replenish,  and endless repairs to complete means things will stay as they are for now.  The Horse Drawn Woods are open– for the deer, bears, bobcats and coyotes that also make this place their home.