Sunday, January 02, 2011

Echoes From the Canyon

My friend Clare Carver was a Bay Area artist and graphic designer when she and her husband,  winemaker Brian Marcy, decided that they wanted to own a farm and grow their own grapes. I wrote about her experience in an article for NW Palate magazine titled "Setting a Big Table," and Clare has continued recording her journey from city gal to seasoned farmer on her Big Table Farm blog.

She recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of that blog by reposting one of her first entries about being a newcomer to country life, then adding a 2011 addendum to each one. You can read the entire post here, but I'm excerpting a few of her pithy observations below:

On transportation

  • 2007: You get really excited when you see the bulldozer on the road. It means you're getting new gravel and less potholes. 2011: I've learned to buy the cheapest tires possible, as you go through about one set per year on gravel.
  • 2007: You never thought you’d be driving your hybrid car with shotgun shells rattling around behind your seat. 2011: and that your car would permanently smell like a barn.
  • 2007: When you make a trip “to town” you make it count! 2011: and it's a good idea to get off the farm at least once a week and see beings on two feet.
  • 2007: Your husband puts his rusty old jeep in the front yard and you really don’t care. 2011: The jeep has been joined by a second rusty vehicle and you now think it's charming. Hell, you liked it so much you did a painting of it (above left).

On Heat

  • 2007: The wood stove is king. 2011: and insulation is the prince. No, wait, my husband is the prince for putting it in!
  • 2007: You learn the maul is NOT where you go for shoes, it’s what you use at 7am on a Sunday morning when the fire burned down too far for a big log and you need some kindling…shin guards are recommended. 2011: you get all your wood split and stacked and in the wood shed in the SUMMER!

On Power and other modern conveniences

  • 2007: You learn when you lose power it’s not heat that’s the problem, it’s water. (Most wells require power. Who knew?) 2011: Brown water coming out of your tap before you are about to have 10 people over for dinner makes things fun.
  • 2007: The mail lady knows your dog's name and nags you about the “accessibility” of your mail box due to the road being washed out. 2011: And she literally hikes through snow to bring Christmas presents. And the UPS guy, well, just saw him at the bar in town (the one horse tavern) when we stopped in for a beer.
  • 2007: The wood stove is also a very valuable cook surface. 2011: and I will say I've mastered the stock pot.
  • 2007: Hot water bottles are one of man’s greatest inventions. 2011: Hmmm…I may go get some water going for one right now.

Other things I’ve noted

  • 2007: It’s quiet…I mean really quiet! 2011: not as quiet now as I've acquired lots of animals that like to remind me of their presence every time I walk outside.
  • 2007: I can see sky from every window. 2011: and who's gonna clean these stinkin' windows anyway?
  • 2007: Our friends still visit, which is amazing! 2011: Still true. Thanks to all for the company, love and friendship!

And thank you, Clare, for sharing your life with all of us!

All photos by Clare Carver.


Clare Carver said...

Thank you for this very nice post !! cheers! Clare

Kathleen Bauer said...

Thanks for your great insights, Clare…the reflections you share on your blog have been so helpful in understanding the journey of young farmers!