singing to the trees

With the pounding rain and intense rumblings above us in our first big thunderstorm of the season, we are dry, full of gratitude, and completely giddy thinking about all the beautiful trees rooting into our berms and drinking up all the water and nitrogen falling from the skies right now.  Over the last several days we have planted some 426 trees and shrubs in our hugelberms; hazelnuts, American chestnuts, Chinese chestnuts, English walnuts, Michigan pecans, and native hickory and butternuts found on our property and nearby, with their versatile nitrogen fixing companions Siberian pea shrub and seaberry, and a host of other perennial edibles and medicinals in between.  Our home-land has been transformed, multiple times, with the help of many, many hands over the last several months; and still this is just the beginning!

For all those who have spent few hours or a few days with us, coming to our winter work parties or showing up right when we needed a spurt of motivation to finish chipping the twenty-something-eth brush pile, raking another long berm full of rocks and roots, or spreading yet another hundred wheelbarrows of wood chips: thank you.  We have received more support than we ever expected from all of you, and we hope that this project continues to meaningfully engage as many people as possible as we develop, transform, plant, and diversify this land into a farm that will provide both staples and treats to our local community; our family; you!

So, what’s next you ask?

After a couple days swingin’ in the hammock under the birch trees and splashing around in the brook, and another day planting cover crops, medicinals, flowers, and a veggie garden… as well as a concert, a wedding (not ours), and a baby being born (also not ours)… and after our driveway gets finished so that we can finally drill our well… we start thinking again about the next major phase of our adventure: building our house!

In two weeks we’ll meet with our intrepid design team, engineer Chris Vreeland and draftsman Shaun Batho to review another round of nearly-completed drawings, throw some more rough estimates around, and try to wrap our heads around what exactly we are attempting to do here.  It is our hope to be able to build and pour the main water cistern later this summer/fall which will serve as principal thermal storage for the house, feeding our radiant floors and keeping us warm in the winter. Since it has to be built in place, we can do this first and then pour the rest of the house foundation around it next season.

And in between this and all that, we’ll be swinging our shovels and hammers and chef’s knives, doing our best to stow money away in the piggy bank so that the mortgage lenders will play along and give us an obscene amount of cash right before the global financial system crashes for good!  (Hey, we are apocaloptimists, afterall.)  But really, at the end of each day, we’ll be singing to our trees.

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