by Barbara Steinkraus
One of the things I like to do best, in this my seventy-ninth year, is hop in my car, pick up a friend and drive up to St. Francis Farm. It’s a trip I dream about many times more than I actually do it.
I’ve tried to put my finger on just what it is that draws me to the Farm. I think it has something to do with feeling closer to nature there than I do anywhere else. It’s not as if I live in an apartment in a big city. I don’t. I have a house, a yard, two flower gardens, one in front and one in back, three trees, and a lilac bush. I can walk outside on the grass, when I want to, and I can admire my flowers from my window. I live only two blocks from the beautiful great Lake Ontario and perhaps seventeen blocks from the Oswego river. I enjoy driving by each of these daily, and sometimes I even sit and gaze at them.
But I don’t have any goats—or chickens—or pigs to care for. I don’t milk my goats two times a day so I can drink their milk. I don’t make goat’s milk cheese. I don’t gather my own eggs. I don’t have to move the chickens from spot to spot so they always have fresh forage. I don’t have to feed the pigs or move their pen when they have rooted up all the vegetation, and I haven’t cultivated a great garden where I grow not only all the vegetables that end up on my table, but have plenty to give to my neighbors who have no gardens. This would be “living close to the land.” This is what Lorraine, Joanna and Zach do at the Farm… and so much more.
When I visit, I can sit by their little pond on a sunny morning. I can see the little stream flowing by. I can feel the breeze on my face and see the tall grasses wave. Certain times of year, I can hear the frogs croak, but I have yet to see the Little Green Heron that Lorraine saw catch a fish, or the Kingfisher at work, or the Oriole’s nests.
Sometimes when I visit, I get to lend a hand. Once I snapped beans while sitting by the pond and then filled quart jars while Lorraine put them on to cook. Once or twice I shucked peas. I have spent some happy moments in their lovely sunny chapel upstairs in the barn. I understand they worship there at 7:00 each morning.
As busy as she is, Lorraine has found time to teach me how to make note cards by hammering fresh blossoms onto paper stock, and a way to make sachets from lavender. The result is an intricately woven beautiful little thing. Oftentimes I have eaten at their table, fresh goat’s cheese, beautiful fresh greens and tomatoes, and those tasty crisp peas you don’t remove from the pod, and often home-baked bread. Hospitality abounds at the Farm. Lorraine has convinced me that they really love having visitors, so I plan to go again…and again…and again.
by Barbara Steinkraus