Grit Blogs > Red Pine Mountain

A Farm?

A Red Pine Mountain LogoAs summer arrives, I find myself busy with chores; tending our garden, supervising many newborn chicks and turkeys and a small flock of Sebastopol geese as well as caring for donkeys and horses. A recent eye injury has also kept me from spending much time on the computer.

How do you define farm? I always think of Red Pine Mountain as a farm but I was forced to reconsider my definition when I asked my blog be listed in a farm bloggers' directory. One of the requirements to be considered a farm was the production of crops. Do we produce food? Yes, enough for our needs and enough to donate to the food bank. And, as I become more familiar with gardening, my plans to produce more food keeps expanding. But is that the sole definition of a farm? What about farms that don't produce food? Are they still farms? Journey with me now and decide for yourself.

One of my readers recently suggested we have a retreat on Red Pine Mountain for people to spend time away from the busy world to reflect and to enjoy the solitude nature provides. Maybe spend a day laboring with Mountain Man or for those who enjoy a slower pace, a day with me and the turkeys and afterwards a home cooked Mountain Man meal.

Actually, Mountain Man and I have been thinking about that idea for a few years now.

Sunday afternoon Mountain Man and I were discussing this topic. “There’s an old cellar hole in the woods. That might be a good spot. Did I show it to you?”

“No, you mentioned it to me but I’ve never seen it. Can we go look at it?” I’m going out of my mind sitting still. Per doctor's orders, I'm not supposed to do anything strenous or do anything that involves moving my head for an entire month.

“Sure, it’s not far.” So we set out on a gentle hike and I vowed I wouldn’t fall on my bottom or knock my head with branches like I usually do.

First, we had to find the old gate. “It’s here somewhere.”


When Mountain Man found it, I said “That’s the gate?” thinking we’d be seeing something more like our steel gates but it was just a few old wires with a hook to some aging wooden boards.


And through that gate is an old foundation where long ago a house once stood. It’s fairly large and deep and my pictures can’t do it justice.


Next to it is another small circle of moss covered stones. “Outhouse?” I ask. “No, I think it’s a well house. Look at the shape.” Mountain Man replies.


My thoughts immediately turn to the headstones in our graveyard. Did this dwelling belong to one of the people resting there? Living history; I can reach out and touch it; an amazing feeling; here, sheltered in our woods that exist because Mountain Man takes only the trees he needs. We decide to search for a different spot for the setting of our modest cabin.

I do say Red Pine Mountain is a farm but it’s so much more. It’s a place where all live in harmony. Where turkey hens supervise German Shepherd dogs, supervising Mountain Man hanging a clothes line.


A place where guinea hens wander expressing their opinions very loudly while providing insect control.


Here, evenings provide a time for reflection as day after day amazing sunsets roll over the crest of our pasture.


And as I look the other way, I see a rainbow. A blessing, a sign (because I believe in signs) that I’m on the right path, where I’m meant to be; on this farm, Red Pine Mountain.


There’s the old barn, light bouncing off it. It is still standing thanks to Mountain Man’s efforts. He saved it from sinking last year and will start to work on it again soon. It’s a labor of love; one we can’t really afford but we do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do; to preserve the history of our forebearers.


Sun is setting. Time to head home. I count my blessings thankful for the privilege to be able to live in a place filled with enchantment; a place where the past is so woven with the present. God's handiwork surrounding me.


Then another dawn; enshrouded in mist. I head to the barn to start morning chores. Horses and donkeys are grazing in the pasture.


Mama turkey is already awake caring for newborn poults, keets and chicks.


Time to wake up the Sebastopol goslings now settled in and at home.


What is a farm? I can’t give you one definition. In fact, I dare say everyone will define farm a little differently but to me Red Pine Mountain is a farm; a place we are tending with careful stewardship to leave the land open and pristine for another generation to know what it’s like to experience nature and the beauty of Vermont.

Then, I ask myself if it really is all that important to prove what I know in my heart. There's chores waiting, animals to be fed, gardens to tend and life to be lived all here on this farm I adore and call home. To paraphrase, “A farm is where the heart is.”

What is your definition of a farm?

mountain woman
7/7/2011 6:25:40 AM

Thank you Cindy!

cindy murphy
7/4/2011 9:45:35 PM

What a beautiful way to live, and a gorgeous place to do it in, Mountain Woman. I hope you have a quick recovery, and are out and about, roaming your mountain farm in no time.

mountain woman
6/29/2011 6:01:18 AM

Dave, Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you about locally produced food and land in the hands of those who conserve it, don't exploit it and realize we are only holders of the property for a brief time and it is our duty to tread lightly for future generations. When I first learned MM was a logger, I immediately thought of clear cut forests, large equipment, etc. but one of the reasons I love him is his care for the land. Walk in our forest and you wouldn't know anyone has logged. He never cuts a tree unless he has a purpose and before he cuts a tree, he says a prayer and asks for guidance. Perhaps more than you needed to know but I feel in such awe I have the privilege to live on our farm. I too hope for the day vast corporate farms give way to the small farmer or homesteader. I use my blog as a vehicle to show if an older city woman can do it than it's possible for anyone who has the desire. Thanks so much again for your kind words and support of my blog. It means a lot to me.

dave larson
6/28/2011 4:13:40 PM

Mountain Woman, For me the key word in defining a farm, homestead, ranch or whatever is the word stewardship. After years of reading Wendell Berry, I am totally in your camp as to the definition of your farm. I think he would concur. Raising food for you and your neighbors - What a wonderful act and certainly in keeping with my version of farm. I hope that the day comes when we no longer have corporate monocultural farms as the benchmark for the term and pray that we might return farming to families locally producing food with an affinity for the land such as you obviously have. I find your blogs inspiring and a delight to read.

mountain woman
6/28/2011 5:59:07 AM

Hi Dave, If two comments show up, it's because I hit the wrong button. Anyway, I learned about ranches when we bought our place in the Ozarks which is technically a ranch but I keep calling it a farm I guess because I'm from the East where we don't really have ranches. I guess in my heart I've been a frustrated farmer for years so I truly believe if you think you have a farm, you do have a farm whether you're growing container pots on a porch or nurturing animals in your suburban home. To me, it's all inclusive. Anyway, we do live in a fantastic, beautiful place and I'm very fortunate but our country has so many beautiful places that it would be wonderful to get out and see them all but alas, I have farm chores :-) Thanks so much for visiting me.

nebraska dave
6/27/2011 7:55:27 PM

Sara, of course, I live in the middle of farm country so my definition of a farm would indeed be growing crops. In my territory, what you have would be called a ranch or a homestead but hey I have an Urban Ranch and the only animals I have are the ones that run through the yard on their way to the next garden to buffet on. So if it feels like a farm to you then a farm it is. It must be quite peaceful and calming to enjoy all the gorgeous scenery every day. Have a great day in Vermont.