In July 2005, my family and I moved to a farm, not because it was a farm, but because the farmhouse and buildings were sitting on 96 of the most beautiful acres we had ever seen. There were rippling hay fields, a towering pine forest, a serpentine stream, two ponds, and wide-angle views of Vermont’s Green Mountains. There were deer, turkey, woodchucks, rabbits, and all manner of birds and rodents and bugs. There were also a lot of run-down barns, and an 1840s homestead in which not one room was habitable.
Geoff and I imagined fixing up the house. We did not imagine that, one by one, our children would become farmers. We did not imagine that, one by one, the barns would prove crucial to our kids’ ongoing operation. We did not imagine that helping our kids realize their dreams would propel us along in the direction of our own.
Since 2008, our kids have been milking at least one Jersey cow, and Geoff and I have been processing the milk. We make our own cheeses (hard and soft), butter, cream, ice cream, and skimmed milk. In a large vegetable garden, we grow as much of our own food as possible, storing the summer’s bounty by canning or freezing. I bake all of our bread. We try to be aware of where our food comes from, and of the relationships that we, as we eat it, are creating in the natural world, with other humans, and with ourselves.
I did not realize that all of these experiences of rural living would inspire and enable me to write books about the vital role of dancing in human life — What a Body Knows (2009), Family Planting (2011), and now Why We Dance (2015). They have. I did not imagine that these experiences would inspire me to write a musical — Happy If Happy When (2017). They did.
It has become a favorite saying of ours: The farm will provide. It does.