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Stories from the heart of Hawthorn Farm.

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Down With Comfort, Up With Pleasure

In the years since our hand-harvested food challenge, I notice that I don't have to work as hard to feed myself. I also don't enjoy feeding myself as much as I did when the garden was the only grocery store. I remember my grateful tears at the first strawberry of the season, ambrosia after a winter of shriveled apples and dried pears. There is something about the right degree of hunger that amplifies my pleasure at life. I don't demean the painful, calorie- and nutrient-short hunger that many feel. I weep with sadness and frustration thinking of people in the world who go hungry. My life's work here at Hawthorn Farm is to make that sort of hunger obsolete. One of my mottos is, "Good fo

Farm Girl Goes Wild

Daniel and I have taken a mountain trip together every year since 2011. We backpacked on our first trips. Then we went out from a basecamp with only the clothes we wore. Then we made our own clothes from wool and buckskin. So far, we've survived. In fact, the adventures have helped me live more. I remember building a shelter from fir boughs at high elevation. Come to think of it, I really DO want to stay alive. Without choosing to make a shelter, I probably wouldn't make it through the night. The farm is a comfortable, regenerative place. I love the running water, the washing machine, the hoses and books. I love them all the more because I have chosen time away from these comforts.

Death. Why Take It Personally?

Yesterday, Jenn walked out of a chicken house gingerly holding a rat trap. A large rat scurried back and forth inside as I took the cage from Jenn for the next necessary step. "Don't drown it in my bathtub!" called Kevin. He has reason to clarify; we discovered too late that previous rats had met their end in the rain barrel that he uses for his cold baths. I stepped onto the island in the farm pond and set the trap on the muddy bottom of the water. Rats are able swimmers. I crouched and cried as the last bubbles left the animal's whiskered face. "I'm sorry, Rat," I said through my tears. "I am so sorry." This brush with death left me pensive. I looked at the rain drifting across the

A Love Letter to the Future

In October of 2009, I walked into the north pasture and sat next to a four-year-old European chestnut tree. I've been back every day since. I watched this sapling reach towards the sky, skew east to avoid the shade of a short-lived alder, shed leaves, and accumulate rows of scars from a red-breasted sapsucker. The tree is a friend. From the knee-high seedling I planted, it's grown to a sturdy tree that doesn't need goat-resistant fencing around it any more. This year, I scuffled through the prickly seed husks at the base of the tree and found one nut that the squirrels had missed. "It's a rite of passage!" said our friend T-bone when I told him about this first tasty fruit. European ch

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