Journal

Around and Around Again

Posted by Erin Howe on

Around and Around Again

It’s between four and five in the afternoon. I’ve spent the morning studying and schooling my children, and the early afternoon chasing down and checking off household tasks. So now it’s between four and five in the afternoon. I change into my farm clothes: jeans, long sleeved T-shirt, duct-taped boots, straw hat, gloves. I climb into the seat of my tractor, put earbuds in my ears, crank the engine, and lift the front loader off the ground. I’m heading out to the far end of the front field to my mulch pile. It’s a big pile, given to me by...

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How to Start a Flower Farm

Posted by Erin Howe on

How to Start a Flower Farm

I’ve noticed a trend among flower farmers: they’ll start a farm, work hard at it for several years, and then write a book. The book will be full of gorgeous photos of their farm and instructions for beginners on how to start their own flower farms. Because the best teacher is often not the seasoned expert, for whom whatever’s being taught is second nature, but the enthusiastic intermediate. A little experience, a fresh memory of the beginner’s pitfalls, and wonder not yet worn into habit can make for a good hand to hold.    And so I began to wonder, as...

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Friends Like You

Posted by Erin Howe on

Friends Like You

This winter I was reading George Eliot’s magnificent shadow-box of English rural life at the turn of the 19th century, Adam Bede, when I came across a quote that made me laugh out loud. Mrs. Poyser, the sharp-witted, sharp-tongued farmer’s wife, having been praised for the flavor of her whey, says,     “Ay, ay, the smell o’ bread’s sweet to everybody but the baker. The Miss Irwines always say, “O, Mrs. Poyser, I envy you your dairy; and I envy you your chickens; and what a beautiful thing a farmhouse is, to be sure!” An’ I say, “Yis, a farmhouse...

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The Peony/Farm/er in Winter

Posted by Erin Howe on

The Peony/Farm/er in Winter

Question: What does a peony plant look like in winter? My favorite measuring tool.In winter, it’s said that peonies “die back” to the ground. I guess that’s sort of accurate, if a very people-centric way to say it, since the top half of the plant does die entirely. Below the ground, though, a peony root is the exact opposite of dead.  If, in spring, we were to dig up some of the bare root peonies that we planted in the fall, we’d find that they’re covered in white, hairlike feeder roots that they’ve been industriously growing all winter. If we...

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