I grew up in the suburbs of a large midwestern city. My exposure to farm life was limited to the smells wafting from the Agriculture Building at the State Fair as we passed by on our way to the giant slide. Sometimes we would take a quick walk through to see the baby lambs, but otherwise we never gave much thought to what was going on inside.
During college I attended a small liberal arts school in a rural Iowa town, where rolling hills spotted with red barns and Amish buggies continued for hours in each direction. I was fortunate enough to work at the local community food cooperative. There I got to know the thriving network of organic and sustainable farmers whose products filled the shelves. Despite my proximity to and curiosity for it, my relationship to the farming lifestyle was still at least an arm length or two away.
At least until one summer abroad, when I met a Breton paysan, passionate about his work on his family’s 5th generation dairy farm in the French countryside. One visit led to another, emails were written, letters sent, and eventually I knew my goodbye to the midwest and the driftless region was a permanent one.
So now here I am, on Fern Island Farm, known by its Breton name as Enez Raden. I am learning bit by bit what it means to be a paysan (but more on that later). I’ve decided to keep this blog in order to share my stories, to write about slipping in manure, weeding fields of beets, assisting in the birth of a calf, or whistling songs from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack as I follow behind the herd back out to pasture.
Don’t hesitate to comment or email me!