April and May on a farm like S&S Homestead mean work. Hundreds of feet of cover crop to be turned in, fields to be plowed, seeds to be planted, starts to be transplanted, grass to mow, expectant mothers and babies to keep an eye on. In the midst of this controlled chaos, we decided to have a May Day party. Why?
The first of May, or May Day, is celebrated in agricultural communities throughout Western Europe. The transition from winter to spring inspired farming communities of the past to celebrate the gift of bountiful land by gathering and dancing around the May pole, a not-so-subtle symbol of human fertility. Interrupting the imperative of farm work reminded people of their humanity and connection to community. As a biodynamic farm, S&S Homestead seeks to feed the spirit as well as the body, and sometimes, a gathering of friends can be just as essential as bread. Celebrating May Day allows us to fill this need while asserting our connection to an ancient tradition.
The week leading up to the party was abuzz with activity. Henning and Kyle were in charge of the May pole, searching the woods for the ideal tree, then felling and skinning it. Elizabeth and I worked with the high school class to gather branches of salal, cedar, and holly and make a wreath. Adam consulted with friends and the world wide web to create a playlist that would get our guests up and dancing. The evening of the party itself was magical – friends from all different parts of the island community gathered and stayed late into the night. Everybody brought and shared diverse and delicious food. We fired up the cob oven and Adam churned out pizza after pizza. Our younger guests did a beautiful job wrapping the May pole, and the dance floor saw all kinds of dancing by all kinds of dancers.
When I think back to January, this seems like a different farm. There is simply more of everything. Tamlin, the last lamb of the year, was born two weeks ago, exactly one month after our first twins appeared. The bees haven’t swarmed yet, but we keep an eye on them. We have one new calf and at least two cows who look close. Three little piglets are now rooting around by the pole barn. In short, this place is alive. Our long days are spent responding to the needs of all the organisms under our stewardship – the animals, the plants, the soil. Part of the cycle at S&S includes the coming and going of apprentices and interns. I have come to the end of my internship here, and while it is hard to leave a place of such wonder, I am going on to new and exciting adventures. Another intern, Shelli Thompson, just arrived, and is already making her own distinctive mark. Spring will soon be summer, a new season with a rhythm all its own.