Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book 3

Bent Barrow Farm
'Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

This story begins with this farm, if I can call it that. This farm sits on just 1.25 acres, but it’s all pasture and orchard and barn and garden and coop. I think it qualifies at least as a hobby farm, except that I resent that phrase. It brings to mind hobby farmers, whom I think of as people with more money than me. Perhaps this is no farm but just a rural home, with a rural yard full of rural pets—mules, goat, rabbits, chickens.

I start by telling you about this place because it is here that I learned to be happy.

When we bought Bent Barrow Farm (known then merely as the Omey’s place or, to some of the older neighbors, the Hathaway house, or, to some of the even older ones, the old electrical transform station), I was not happy. I was quite distressed, actually. We were expecting a third child—all of them unplanned, and through no lack of attempts at contraception—and we were broke, exhausted, and really, really tired of our tiny apartment in a nearby college town. That neighborhood was gray and brown, with plum-colored bus stops.

This neighborhood is green, brown, blue, and white, but mostly green—green forests, green pastures, green hills, green orchards, and, in the winter, green moss where my pasture grass is supposed to be. I think it means my soil needs a higher pH, which is no surprise: we live on slick gray clay, notorious for its acidity. This acre is bounded by the Samish headwaters to the east and by a rarely-used spur of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to the west, which works out nicely: when Wickersham floods, the steeply-banked railway serves as our own personal canal. Meredith Lane becomes an island, and life goes on as usual here at Bent Barrow Farm. This has happened more than once in our seven years here, which makes me think we are rather lucky to have the train tracks.

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