It is in the shelter of each other that people live - Irish Proverb Tuesday, December 21st, quoted in the Lexington Herald
At the end of 2021, we find ourselves straddling two homes – the smallish home we’re building for ourselves on the hill behind the farmhouse and the old farmhouse that will then become Bryce’s and Anna’s and the children’s home. Despite their taking time to make some cool renovations to this old house, the dust will hardly have settled before they move in.
Thinking about home and hearth is especially poignant right now, given the upheaval Kentucky families have experienced in the past couple of weeks. We are grateful for the shelter our physical homes provide not only for us humans and our ancestors, but for all the plants and animals that have called this place home. The farm has shared space with an old carriage house (torn down and rebuilt as a woodworking shop by Lothar), the chicken house, the doghouse (currently occupied by our Australian Shepherd Kip and occasionally shared with family members!), the smokehouse (yes, we butchered hogs and cured the hams in it), the brooder house, the hoop houses, the greenhouses, the hay barn, the old milking barn, the tobacco barn, the corncrib, and the stripping room – the “tiny house” of tobacco farmers.
I expect that tobacco farm families across Kentucky would share my affection for the stripping room – a cozy winter space where we grew up listening to Caywood Ledford call Kentucky basketball games, had our own version of farm family “tailgate” meals, played with Christmas toys under the stripping benches, and made cryptic notes on the cardboard-insulated walls of the old building.
The stripping room is gone and replaced with the less substantial hoop houses and greenhouses that have felt the effects of too many strong winds in a month of unusual December weather. We now use the tobacco barn for storing farming and gardening tools used by food farmers. The milking barn has been repurposed to meet the needs of food farming, too. The corncrib houses gardening-related supplies. Bryce has brought the hay barn into the future by adding solar panels to the roof and installing a wood fired furnace for our heated greenhouse.
As important as physical shelters are for humans and other living things, the growing seasons of 2020 and 2021 have been sober reminders that, at the end of the day, the truth of the Irish proverb could never be truer – “It is in the shelter of each other that people live”. The shelter provided by the community that you have helped create energizes our efforts to grow organic produce on our small family farm. It is as concrete and real of a shelter as any brick and mortar one we will ever inhabit.
Looking forward to 2022 and hope that each of you experience the shelter of a strong and loving community.
Happy New Year!