7 work parties, more than 75 volunteers, and 11 dumpsters. That’s our fire clean-up effort by the numbers. Of course, the numbers don’t tell anything close to the full story. While it is undeniably depressing to watch your life’s work leave the farm in dumpsters, our friends, families, neighbors, and customers have made it impossible for that to remain our focus. With their kind words, hugs, warm meals, gifts, labor, laughter, and positive attitudes, they have floated us along, keeping our spirits higher than we could have imagined after such a loss. The word “community” can seem very abstract at times, but in the past two months people have brought it vividly and concretely to life for us. I want to live in a world where anyone struggling with any kind of personal tragedy experiences such support.
So what’s next for Shelterbelt Farm? We’ve been so focused on cleanup and demolition that we haven’t yet tackled that question in any meaningful way. Here’s what we do know:
For the first time since 2013, we won’t have animals on the farm for a few months! The cows go to butcher in January. We sold our hens and geese and most of our sheep. Our dear friend Elissa is caring for a core flock of ewes who will return to us in May, but she will manage lambing and Winter care. I was teary watching the last trailer of ewes leave the farm, but I know this is exactly what we need right now. We are unable to supply water to the pastures over the Winter, due to fire damage in the pump room of the barn. And I need a mental and emotional break from the daily care of animals.
We also know that we will rebuild, though we may not replicate the structure exactly. After a decade of daily use of its spaces, we now have a golden opportunity to reflect on what we’d like to change. It will definitely still have an apartment and a workshop, and almost certainly a farm store, and it will be on the same footprint. Beyond that, the sky (and our insurance coverage, and supply chain logistics) is the limit!
What will next season look like? When will we have more products, and how will we sell them? These are big unanswered questions that we will tackle after the holidays. For now our online store is updated with all our inventory, so you can place orders for farm pickup there. We will keep you posted as we know more!
Winter has always been a time of reflection and planning on the farm, and this year will be much the same… just more of it than usual.
We hope you have a beautiful Solstice – hurray, the light will begin to return! Hold your dear ones close, take care of yourself in these wild and uncertain times, and please, unplug your extension cords.