It felt a bit like our recent trick-or-treat night, knocking within the circle of light at the door of Eliot Coleman’s home. This time the treat would be to fill our car with chickens.
He led us by the skeletal frames of chicken shelters that were being dismantled for the season, to be reconfigured next year. Up to the barn where he shared his latest (8th?) version of a root cellar, a crypt-like building tucked into the hillside, filled with mounds of kohlrabi, beets, and more. We passed the large greenhouse set on wheels, seeing green growing goodness by the lights of our flashlights, ready to feed laying hens through the winter. Then we were at a chicken tractor, set up in a field that would be potatoes next year. Eliot commented that he already has a better design for the next chicken structure. He plucked eight hens from their sleepy perch and into our re-purposed dog crate, then we slid it into the back of our car.
Surprisingly, the hens settled right down, some even getting pats by riders seated next to them on the way home. We brought the crate to the new coop, Josh put them one by one on their roosts, and there they sleepily stayed.
There was something about this experience that had me laying awake that night, wondering. I finally realized that in the dark of Four Season Farm with Eliot, there’d been something that echoed loudly of Dickinsons Reach with Bill Copethwaite. It was odd because these two men were so very different, despite their link of Helen and Scott Nearing. But for the first time their commonality was quite clear as I again had the feeling of walking inside of someone’s manifested vision. I’d met one in his eighties, one in his seventies, both emanating such strong sparks of curiosity and continued exploration of their different paths. It was a timely reminder for me that these many aspirations of ours have space to be figured out, to unfold, to evolve. Phew… 🙂
But what HAS been partly figured out are some windows.
It’s a tricky process, these windows that must be put in from the outside because the tapered walls make the outer sill wider than the inner. Josh spent a good deal of mental figuring on the compound angles involved in the framing. It requires two people for the actual installation, for checking window positioning from the inside while it is held from the outside, and for holding the window from the outside while the outer sill is put in place. There were shims. Many, many shims…
For now we’re skipping the windows that will need to open, because that is just not quite figured out. There are enough in on that top circle to finally start to see beyond the wrapping.
How exciting it is to look out those windows, finally. To see the bird’s eye view of what is here, what’s yet to come.
Including seeing those birds out there. Although really, most of the time we’re up much closer.
Who knew how much we’d like taking in these funny little creatures? Their sounds, their rhythms, their surprises (catching and eating a mouse?!), the ongoing hunt for the 6-7 eggs each day. The children sacrificed their carved jack-o-lanterns that are now pecked at, filled with carrot peels, lunch scraps, pear cores… They run to say goodbye before school and jump from the car to run to them again after school. One child repeatedly taking a token with her TO school…
Funny to think it was more than 7 years ago that we first started wanting chickens and could not because of neighborhood covenant rules. But we’re there. It’s been all of 4 days now, and already seems strange to think of when their funny little noises were not there, when they were not scampering on the other side of the garden fence while I finish putting the beds to rest.
Because the last of the planting for the year has been done… garlic…
220 cloves this year, with hopes for 220 heads next year. By far, the most we’ve ever planted of this favorite. It’s a lot, but not when considering dreams of growing food for more than ourselves, not for market, but for community. We still tinker with the ideas of what the finished wooden yurt can be, what possibilities that space can hold for us, for others. And likely, hopefully, we too will be tinkering with new ideas around it for decades to come after.