On the Farm . . . what's happening this week - March 17, 2016
This year's maple syrup season is coming to a close. The harvest while not a bumper crop yielded more than last year. That's a relief, since it looked doubtful given the quick warm-up we experienced. Bill is bottling the syrup and will be cleaning the equipment to store for next year. It is an intense time of the year that descends upon us quickly, and this year, departed just as quickly. I'm already missing the sweet aroma of the sap cooking down when I warmed myself by the fire box.
It seems this year's version of Spring has sprung. While harvesting spinach, chard, and sorrel for boxes this week, rain tapped on the plastic roof of the greenhouse making it impossible for Bill and me to talk to each other. The steady rhythm made picking the leaves almost hypnotic and peaceful. I felt grateful to be there collecting tasty crops to share with farm members. When Bill left with the full crates, I crawled in one of our winter tunnels to collect kale. The rain had stopped, and I could hear birds, maybe red-winged blackbirds, calling in the trees along the creek. Then a sandhill crane sounded as it flew overhead. It not only felt like spring (I had ditched my long underwear - always a momentous occasion!), and smelled like spring with the warming dirt supporting my body releasing an earthy smell absent all winter, now it sounded like spring as well! All these signs, along with the tubs of seeds on my kitchen table, black, flats of germinating onions, leeks, peppers, kale, broccoli, fennel, and celery filling our shelving racks, point to it being here. It feels exciting but also sometimes overwhelming. There is much to do, and it seems not enough time to get it all done. Time is moving so fast. Bill and I try to focus on the task at hand, while preparing for the ones coming up. It can be challenging, but we've had some experience dealing with this together. That helps keep our stress minimal - well at least bearable! And sometimes that is the best we can do.
This past Sunday, the 13th, was the CSA Open House at the Monona Terrace. It is an exciting, busy day meeting people from the surrounding Madison area as they find a farm and CSA that works for them. We got set-up and were talking to people when the call came. My expectant niece, Darienne's, labor had progressed from the beginning stages to the immenient arrival of her baby! While we were aware that her labor had started, it was thought since it was her first, it would be later that day or even night before the birth.
Bill assured me he could handle the fair himself and told me to go. I took the opportunity. I was with Renata, Darienne's mother and my sister, when Darienne was born, and they were both with me for my children's births. It felt important the circle continue.
She was having a homebirth in Mazomanie.The midwife was there, and her assistants on their way. Even though traffic was backed up on the Madison Beltline, I arrived in time. Darienne was quietly moving into the pushing stage of labor. Zac, her partner, provided a grounding presence while he massaged her back. We did our best to comfort and support her by applying wet washcloths, fanning her, giving our hands to squeeze, or stroking her arm when she relaxed. She seemed almost in a trance, yet, still aware of us as the powerful surges moved through her body. She rested on Zac between contractions. She adjusted her position several times to find a better one. She bore down again and again. And then the baby's head was out except for her dimpled chin. She was seemingly peeking out to see if she really wanted to do this. She didn't have much of a choice, though, as the next push gave us her stubborn chin (possibly a trait she inherited from her mother?) and soon after her perfect little body. Darienne sat back and lifted her up with a look of relief. Her daughter was here!
Now days later, Zayda and Darienne have established their nursing relationship, Zac is a champ at changing diapers, and Darienne's body is recovering. How amazing it was to witness the birth, not only of this baby, but of this family. Darienne and Zac are young and have much to figure out about their lives as parents. But being there, experiencing Darienne's strength and Zac's steadiness, along with the support of the team they surrounded themselves with, I realized they too will focus on the tasks at hand, while preparing for the ones ahead. And they will do it in their own way. And it will be good.
Congratulations and welcome Zayda!