Posted on April 10, 2012
It’s been five months since I started going to the farm. I began this yearlong adventure last November with nothing specific in mind – no predetermined objective other than just being at the farm and noticing. I wanted to start out simply being there and to see what organically bubbled up and make work around that. I thought that was what I had been doing. However, what I saw there, what I felt there this time, surprised me.
I took my children to the farm for the first time yesterday. It happened to be Easter and the farmers were not there. My mom was along, too, and the four of us had the entire place to ourselves. It was gloriously sunny and warm and A, my oldest daughter, fell in love with the place instantly and especially with the alpacas. Not surprising. My youngest was mostly interested in roaming and in daring herself to touch the electric fences and in playing in the mud.
It was great to see all of the animals. Most all were there except I didn’t find Ellie the dog or the puppies. I didn’t see Engage, the cat, either, and there were fewer baby pigs, but it seemed like everyone else was there plus some. I counted 13 lambs. Their fearless approach, their tiny wooly bodies and their leggy agility just about sent me over the moon. In comparison, the “baby” pigs now seem huge. Just enormous compared to only a month ago. The boar and the sow were in separate pens and all the pig pens were in different places. I am sure there is an interesting story there.
While I didn’t do any work this time, farm or art, I did get to simply be at the farm – the thing I originally set out to do. I think this was actually the first time I really just watched and experienced the farm as a very distinct place. I think that I have been coming to the farm with an agenda – a self-imposed pressure to have a clear knowing about what I am doing there. I want to exude confidence so the farmers will believe it’s okay to have me there in their most intimate space. I want the people who are cheering me on, namely my family and my funding grantor, to believe the time spent at the farm and in my studio is a sound investment. To that end I intellectualize and think about how I can make a big splash – how I can go big and therefore prove that what I am doing has real value. Yesterday, while watching the animals, my children and my mother just be in the space opened my eyes. Walking among the new plants and listening, listening, listening – I experienced a shift – a new beginning. I experienced a springtime and feel like my time both at the farm and in my studio will now be very, very different.
Thank you for visiting.
Posted on December 27, 2011
I am gathering gear and materials to head out to Little Eorthe tomorrow. I get to stay out at the farm for a full 24-hours for the first time. The forecast is for rain, rain, rain, but I will work and sleep inside the barn with the llamas and sheep.
The materials I will work with include sticks/branches, stones, feathers, wool, water, dirt and other sundry items. I will also get to work with Carrie doing farm stuff/whatever the day calls for. I am a little daunted by the cold and wet, but equally excited to have so many hours of uninterrupted work time and to camp with the animals.
I am pleased to begin real work on the farm. I am also pleased to welcome this new season – to shake hands with winter and finally get aquainted. I typically try my best to hide from winter cold. My normal way of being is under wraps indoors restlessly waiting for spring, or I get out of town. Occasionally I wander out to play in the snow or go for walks, but it’s not a comfortable time for me. This year I am doing things differently. This year I am acutely aware of the quiet life being forged just beneath my feet. Literally. Giant, ancient forces are working on tiny lives in the security of the dark underground. This year I am paying attention.
I will report what I see and do over the weekend. Thanks for visiting.
Posted on November 4, 2011
I learned about farmer Carrie Little back when Obama first took office. There was a thought that the new White House residents might turn a section of the lawn into an organic food garden and so the project needed a farmer to lead it. There was a call and farmers from all over the States were nominated for the role. Carrie Little was my farmer of choice.
I advocated for the project enthusiastically. I chose Carrie Little as my candidate because I felt she was especially qualified to turn that particular piece of ground into a fertile and nurturing place of good. I believed this based on an earlier project Carrie spearheaded. While at Mother Earth Farm, Carrie developed a model program for the Washington State Department of Corrections where Purdy inmates were trained to organically plant, weed and harvest crops at the farm on a regular basis. This program was so successful that another program emerged wherein successful crew members were granted a Certificate in Organic Farming from the University of Santa Cruz Organic Farming program.
I felt so excited to learn that inmates (Purdy inmates are all women, by the way) had an opportunity to get their hands in the dirt and both metaphorically and physically raise up new life! They were able to coax new beginnings and every sort of health out of dirt. I was incredibly moved by this marriage of practicality and spirit infusing work. And there was more:
“It was also Carrie who was responsible for developing a flower garden at Mother Earth Farm that was tended by a Girl Scout Troop in which every girl had her mother incarcerated at Purdy. While the mothers and daughters were not allowed to be at the farm at the same time, each could watch in the development of the labors of the other.” (Taken from here.)
I hardly know how to talk about this without sliding into weepy drivel. I’ll just say that Carrie’s long career is made up of similar stories of feeding people in every way there is to be nurtured. Suffice to say that I am incredibly honored and thrilled to get to work along side her as an Artist in Residence at her new farm, Little Eorthe Farm, in Orting, Washington, this next year.
During my residency I aim to establish a pattern of tending where I work, record, experience and begin to know intimately soil, sowing, rest, quiet, emergence, green, water, time and reaping. And because I will be working with Carrie, I suspect I am to learn a great deal about love as well.
Ultimately, a work will emerge. I am not altogether sure what it will look like, of course, but I will take what I have gleaned and harvest what grows in me during my time at the farm, specifically my time with Carrie Little.
Thank you for visiting.