Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our Autumn: Coming Full Circle

We have been living full-time at the farm for nearly three months. In that time, we have had to transition emotionally and physically. We've had to make changes to our autumn calendar, live without some of our belongings, live with an already furnished farmhouse, constant projects and unfinished spaces, and keep an ever watchful eye on the changing weather and seasons. I've had to put this space aside for that time, as well, simply lacking enough hours and energy in a day for all of it. Overall, I am very pleased with the work we've done, again, emotionally and physically, and with the eagerness of everyone to tackle this transition. More, I'm overwhelmed by the somewhat unexpected, possibly surprising sense of contentment we all seem to feel, being here. Sure, I've said, transitions are not without their bumps, too, and everyone can feel out of sorts or place from time to time. But overall? We are happy. Please do visit Bradstreet Farm for farm related updates.

In late September, as always, we attended the Common Ground Country Fair. While we've always enjoyed the fair, tremendously, this year filled us with an even greater sense of belonging and purpose, as with every workshop and talk attended, with each purchase of art or handcrafted item, we were doing it with the farm in mind. This year, we attended the fair as beginning farmers. We spent two afternoons discussing goats and attended two talks on poultry and one on heritage pigs. I fell in love with a donkey, and learned that they are great guard companions for goats, so that sounds like a win win plan. We closed a circle, in some ways, as it was just last year's fair that we attended a farm management talk. What changes a year can bring.

On the way to the fair.

On the way to the Common Ground Fair - Blessed Mabon #maine

Guinea fowl talk.

I kick hippies. #cgcf2013 #commonground

Sandor Katz keynote.

Sandor Katz

The goat talk. This wicked chill goat herder recommends three types of Swiss dairy goats - Oberhasli, Toggenburg, and Sannen. Good to know.

talking goats

Pie Cones.

Pie Cone Reunion #cgcf2013 #commonground

Late Friday afternoon crowds.

the fair

food glorious food

The food.


cinnamon popcorn

Olivia's friend Iris came and stayed with us for the fair.

Saturday morning

high fives all around

Certified organic. Iris and Olivia. Maine style. #commonground #cgcf2013

And we visited the Taproot booth some, and had a good chat with Amanda about living with in-laws (and goats), and we met artist Phoebe Wahl. (Dear Santa, Phoebe prints under the tree and on our farmhouse walls would be wonderful.)

The animals.

llama parade

thirsty pig

napping pig


hello goats

Talking to cranky alpacas at the fair. #commonground #cgcf2013

The harvest.

Bahner Farm

farm market



Adam volunteered at the MOOMilk booth for a second year.

Adam volunteering at MOOMilk

The weather. We were either getting sunburned or soaked, sometimes simultaneously.

too warm Olivia

Alex <3

clouds roll in

Iris and Adam talk with the goats

Saturday morning sunshine


It was another good fair. It was really busy on Friday and Saturday, and rather warm, however, so despite Sunday's rain, we enjoyed the much more quiet pace and smaller crowds on our final day.

In early October, we took a break from all of the house painting, and we piled into the van one morning for a leaf peeping road trip. Within an hour (an hour!), we were in Castine, the town in which I lived from ages 5-8. It's so amazing to be in the midcoast region of Maine, where we do our grocery shopping in Belfast and the towns of Blue Hill (ages 3-5) and Castine, that have forever shaped me, are literally, just down the road. We've taken the kids to see these towns before, but they were pretty young, then. We also went onto Deer Isle and into Stonington, before heading back home. Showing my children all the places that feature so strongly in my memories and stories, that still have such a powerful hold on me, gave them a better sense of how such a thing happens. The landscape, the shore, the scent, the streets, all of it still shines so brightly. Memory lane, indeed.

The Backshore, Castine

Backshore, Castine

the Back Shore road

at the Back Shore

taking down my memory lane

The Castine harbor docks

the docks at Castine harbor

Castine harbor

Down at the Castine docks. #myoldhometown #maine

Adams School, where I attended K-3.

Adams school

the same swings

memory lane

The homes my family rented and the streets on which we lived, in the late 1970s.

Court St.

I lived here for two years

looking towards Water St.

The Manor Inn. (It was full of raccoons and mold and it was slowly sliding down the hill, then, but still glamorous and amazing and special in all its neglected shabbiness.)

The Manor Inn

drive up to the Manor

Manor Inn views

Spindrift, on Dyce's Head.

I used to live here, too

shivers of memory

Our neighbors, on Dyce's Head.

Dyce's Head

Dyce's Head

autumn at Dyce's Head

down the cliffs

stairway down

In town, Castine.

Santa lives here

Emerson Hall

Castine Common

After lunch in Castine, we drove into Blue Hill. We didn't spend any time downtown, as roads were blocked for some kind of thing involving public works and firetrucks. So we went to the park and then to Blue Hill Falls.

Blue Hill Bay

Blue Hill Falls

Blue Hill Falls

From there, we crossed into Deer Isle and we continued on to Stonington. Here's a thing about me - I've long been bridge phobic, which is called gephyrophobia. And when I was little, say ages 3-5, we used to cross this bridge fairly often. This bridge is quite large and curves upwards, and it has a blind hill as you approach it. Also, this bridge was often closed due to strong winds and icing and swaying. It also had stability issues when it was first constructed. One winter, my mother had to take a ferry to work instead of cross this bridge, due to all that swaying and all that icing. Did I mention galloping, because this bridge has done its share. But it's an irrational phobia, right? Hey, I'm working on it. I took these photos and I didn't even cry. But you can't convince me that this bridge isn't a little intimidating, with its narrow two lanes.

Gephyrophobia and Me Part II - this bridge has terrified me since I was a child. #maine

Deer Isle, on the other hand,  is magical and fairyland-like.

Deer Isle

Deer Isle

Deer Isle

Deer Isle

LL Bean probably should just hire her, already. #maine

Deer Isle

I'm damn lucky. #husband #love


By Stonington, we were losing our daylight and anxious to cross back over the bridge before dark, so back we went. I think we'll explore these corners of Maine more frequently now that they are just an hour or so away. The Common Ground Country Fair, too, is a half hour drive away, and Alex only just spent last weekend up at MOFGA taking a chainsaw safety course. Earlier this month, too, we were in Camden to present at our second Maine Unschooling Mini Conference, and we are only an hour from there. Twice a month, we'll be in Rockland, also an hour away, for something Olivia is doing (for another post). Everything that we love about Maine feels so central to us and it feels right. It truly feels like home. We drive around in neighboring towns and it's all so familiar to us. We used to live in Union, not twenty minutes from the farm, and so we know that area and we take our recycling to that transfer station. These are places we remember.

It feels like coming full circle, is what it feels like.

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