January 2016 Story Pole Notes

Greetings from the Whitney farm family! Winter is finally here (we think), and though we did not pound all of the fence posts we may have needed to, we are nevertheless very grateful for the cold weather and short days to slow us down. Matthew and Malaika have survived their first full year of farming (thanks to lots and lots of help from family, neighbors, friends). This fall Matthew's twin brother Peter Haarklou joined the farm as a full time member of the crew, bringing valuable help and knowledge to farm endeavors, as well as starting his own chicken business. Since returning to the farm in the fall of 2014, they have gathered 1 Asher dog, 2 oxen, 4 dairy cows, 4 steers, 10 pigs, 4 sheep, and a partridge in a pear tree. 

The foundation of our Sugar Shack is finished. The concrete floor is complete with our initials, maple leaf prints, and paw prints. The lumber is felled, milled, and joinery layout has started. In order to have good sap season, we need a cold winter. We are hoping winter will arrive soon. We are planning to do another maple syrup open house this spring, and will have information as the time nears. Meanwhile, we will be busy buckling down to finish the building in time.

We are winding down from a whirlwind production of hand felted, homegrown, black walnut dyed, felted wool Michigan trivets, which we brought to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. We will be making them again next year, for the late fall, early winter season.

Malaika is beginning to work on what she is calling the Centennial Dialog. She is studying her great, great grandfather (Esli) and great grandfather's (Horace) journals from the early years of the 1900's and comparing and reflecting upon what they did on this land 100 years ago, with what we did/do on the exact same date, month, and year. She is curious and excited to compare planting dates, weather patterns, animal breeds, maple syrup production, plant species, etc, as well as land specific observations and particulars of farm record keeping. For example, in these dairies, some days are filled with notes of tasks completed, while other days have just one word to describe them: rainy, fair, or frost. These entries are gentle reminders that not all days need be defined by tasks and chores we have set out to do.

Malaika Whitney