Saturday, July 15, 2006

Farm Work Can Be Fun -- at Joyfield!

It’s 9:30 am. I’ve been up for about 4 hours. Today is market day, so Cliff, Arlene, Mark and I got up early, had a quick but hearty breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit, and got out into the fields to finish the harvest so C&A could leave for market by 7:30. Mark and I wanted to go to market, but I wanted to write more. Arlene and Cliff have been very kind about affording us as much time as we need to rest, walk to town to do internet work (10-12 miles roundtrip, so not a journey we’ll make often), or just hang out. But they work so hard, and so constantly, it’s hard to just chill and not join in the fun.

(Orange sunflowers dot the gardens at Joyfield)

And mostly it is fun. The work assigned to us here is nowhere near as difficult or daunting as the work at Guidestone Farm, where we interned last year. The workdays, at least for us, are far more forgiving. The gardens are lush and gorgeous, full of diverse plants and flowers, and lovingly cared for. The farm is surrounded by trees, some of them very old and large, and birds, deer, more groundhogs than the Kindys would prefer, and raccoons all live in the area and visit frequently. So far here we have weeded flower beds and veggie beds, picked peas, cleaned onions and garlic, prepped food for market, harvested some flowers and transplanted some broccoli. The weather has, mostly, been kind. It has been rather hot and humid the last few days, but yesterday there was a good breeze much of the day, and Cliff and Arlene encouraged Mark and me to nap during the hottest part of the day (they kept working).

This morning was astoundingly beautiful. The sun rises late here (6:30-ish) because in the summer Indiana is in the Eastern time zone. We woke to the farm layered in a misty gauze of fog, slowly diffused with light as the sun rose. Then the suns rays started breaking through trees like the traditional vision of God blessing a piece of land. The gardens are all lush from the rain (we’ve had 2 ½ inches in the past week), and the flowers are multi-hued and dazzling. Spider webs straight out of Charlotte’s Web decorate the rusting slide in the garden, and the shrubs beneath a giant cottonwood. For the first time since reading E.B. White’s classic as a child I could picture exactly what Lurvy saw when he came to Wilbur’s pen that first morning. “What if you walked up to one of these and it said, `Some Pig’?” I teased Mark. I guess `Some Slide’ or ‘Some Tree’ would be more likely.

(Baby Swallows nesting in the barn)

Last night as we bunched scallions a double rainbow formed in the East, over Rachel and Bob’s house. The Kindys share the seven acres of Joyfield Farm with Bob and Rachel Gross, longtime anti-death penalty activists and advocates, Cliff’s parents, and another family currently traveling who live in a yurt near the garden. Once a week someone hosts a farm supper and everyone eats together, such as last night when we went together to a going-away party for a couple leaving the area for seminary. But there are other times of togetherness, as well as plenty of privacy for the various couples/families. It feels a bit like a small village, and I imagine it felt like more of one when the Kindys’ and Gross’s children were growing up here.

The Gross’s and the younger Kindys’ homes are heated with wood. The Kindys are very attentive to water conservation, and actually haul their water from the Gross’s kitchen because a water filter is required and shared. Although electricity is used, it is used with an eye for conservation. The corn crib is extremely well-insulated; Cliff is much-experienced in construction, and built a passive-solar home with Bob for Bob’s folks a while back. He did much of the work on the house, so little by little we’ve been picking his and Arlene’s brains for wisdom and ideas. We’ll try to make notes of this and share as we’re able.

The Kindys live on between $6,000 and $10,000 a year, earned from selling their produce. They could earn more, but their time is important to them--time to do other of God’s work, to be with their family and friends, and to rest when needed. They intentionally stay below the taxable income level, but this requires they live very, very simply. They purchase only what they need, and mend, fix, and reuse as much as possible to avoid having to make purchases. There is no TV in their home. The radio is turned on occasionally so we can update ourselves on the horrors in Lebanon, get really depressed (at least I do) and then turn it off again. In the evenings we read, or visit. There are games available too should we wish to play. They own a battered farm-truck-of-a-pick-up, but are still trying to figure out how they could get their ton of weekly produce to market using bicycles and trailers (did I mention they are in their late 50s, look like they’re in their 40s, and seem to be far healthier, stronger, and more energetic than I am?).

When it’s soup supper night, Cliff (and we) go into town and have supper with the other folks for whom Arlene and the other women cook. Sunday is church and rest; this Sunday there is a special get-together at a lake nearby so we’ll probably get to meet lots of other cool people. I have told Cliff and Arlene that I have the impression everyone in Indiana is Brethren. They assure me this is not the case, and that I have in fact now met all the Brethren in Indiana. I’m unconvinced.

I’m going to end this now so I can go hang out my laundry and make some lunch for Arlene and Cliff before they get home. Love, Val


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