Nature’s Calling

Nature’s Calling

My heart warmed to nature’s calling yesterday, as I went about my morning chores. The familiar honking of Canadian geese, carried on the wind from somewhere unseen up in the sky. A rush of gratitude flooded through me for the returning Spring. The farmhouse is wonderfully warm and cozy during the long winter months, but I’ve missed being outdoors. I truly have a soul-deep need to be among the plants and animals that make up the community of this neighborhood I serve.

Photo credit: wallpaperflare/CC BY 2.0

Tough Winter

It was a long, tough winter for yours truly, bringing me lower than I’ve been in a long while. Last year’s pig-project tanked the farm’s finances in a bad way. It’s been a hard scrabble out of the hole ever since. That was about the same time that troubles with the farm’s Subaru left me 5 months without a vehicle, until I could scrape up the funds for a replacement engine. In my personal life, stress and contention grew, leading to the eventual breakup of my relationship with Deron.

I’m not going to get into the sordid details of our relationship, what went wrong, or who did or didn’t do what. That is between he and I, and I refuse to stoop to the level of online much-raking. Suffice it to say that the last 3 and a half years have taught me some valuable lessons. When my heart has healed, I know I will always be grateful for the time Deron and I spent together.

On the other side of this winter’s painful education, finances are still a little scary, but I’ve got some irons in the fire that will bring relief─eventually. Mercifully, the Subaru is back on the road, business is steady, and I am able to find both solace and inspiration in my work here at the Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm─with or without a man in my life.


CSA Farm-Shares
Our 2023 CSA membership drive came to a close last week. We’re welcoming 32 new and returning households to our farm-share program this year. In exchange for their early-season commitment to shopping with our farm, these households receive VIP treatment at Runamuk. They get weekly email updates, first-dibs on everything the farm produces, and a 10% bonus credit every time they add funds to their account. This influx of funds allows our farm to purchase supplies like seeds, soil amendments, and equipment, ahead of the growing season when we need it most.

New lambs to the farm!

During the month of March, we had 10 new lambs born to the farm! Lambing season was intense, with all of the expectant ewes delivering within a period of 7-10 days. I was up at all hours of the night and day looking in on birthing ewes, tending newborn lambs, and generally just ensuring the survival of both mom and babies in the first 48 hours following birth. Even with my diligence, we lost a couple of lambs to the elements, and ended up with 1 bottle-baby. Such is the nature of farming.

New Chicks!
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve brought in any new birds to our laying flock. This year I’ve invested in 60 new chicks, coming in 2 rounds. The first arrived last Monday, at the tail end of March. The second round is due in late June. To commemorate the arrival of new chicks, I built myself a proper brooder, roping BraeTek into helping with the project, and calling it “school” for the day.

Now 16 and my right-hand man, BraeTek has grown exponentially, on all levels, since we made the switch from public school back to homeschooling. I’m so thankful my work allows me to incorporate his education into our daily life. Thankful, too, for the opportunity to teach my son values and lessons he would not learn in the traditional setting. Farming make it all possible for me.

Market Garden
Seedling production is well underway in our Propagation Room (essentially an alternate living room that I’ve commandeered for farm-use), with our grow-racks filling up with tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, and kale plants. Some of these will be sold from our farmstand to local homesteaders, and backyard gardeners, but most will end up in our own market gardens. Seeing shelves full of bright, green seedlings brings a surge of joy, followed by the soul-deep reassurance that I am doing the work that I am meant to do.


All winter, our farmstay has been busy, with February and March booked every night. Our guests are adventurers to the region. They come for downhill or cross-country skiing, to make use of our Maine Huts & Trails system, or, they are travelers passing through on their way to and from Canada. Occasionally, we take in new neighbors─folks who have inherited or purchased older homes or camps in the area. They like to stay here when they come to work on their place; appreciating the comfort of modern conveniences (electricity, wifi, and a hot shower), and the luxury of a fine meal cooked by someone else.

New pollinator-themed tapestry in the guest room!

Long-time followers will recall that Runamuk actually offered hosting services for a brief time a few years back. We gave it up during covid to better protect our CSA members, for whose families we’re growing and preparing food for. I didn’t want to risk exposing anyone inadvertantly.

The climate from the guests was not so appreciative back then. I’d had a couple of incidents with guests that left a sour taste in my mouth, so when covid hit, I decided to switch to long-term housemates.

Hosting for AirBnB has been different this time around. The climate has shifted. I still see some guests who are only here because it’s a cheap room, or because we have the only beds available within 30 miles. More often than not, however, I’m hosting for guests who choose to stay with us because of who we are, and what we are doing. They come from cities and suburbs, craving that connection to nature. Craving a simpler way of life, even if only for a night.

Seeing their reactions to the farmhouse is humbling, and still brings the sting of grateful tears to my eyes, that this should all be “mine”. They gush over the woodwork, the lofty tin ceilings─even that infernal granny wallpaper covering every wall of the house! They gaze upon our chalkboard of farm duties, and I always field the same questions: “It is just you here?” “And you do all of the farming and everything?” My confirmation brings the standard response: “That’s a lot of work!”

Yes. Yes, it is, lol…but it’s a labor of love.

Some folks want to see the farm and the animals. Our sheep are super friendly and personable, they love visitors. Naturally, the lambs have been popular over the last month.

No guest escapes without spending time with my James Murphy. For his part, Murphy absolutely loves AirBnB. I’m certain he thinks every guest is here just to see him. Our livestock dog, Beebe, however, is more discriminatory with her affections. She has only given a select, few the privilege of petting her. The cats, too, are hit or miss, depending upon their mood and the visitor, lol.

All of our guests rave about the food! Farm-fresh eggs, handmade breads for toast and french toast, fluffy pancakes made with Maine blueberries, and maple syrup sourced as close to home as I can get it. All cooked just the way they want it. I take great pride in feeding people up before sending them off on their adventures in the great wilderness of Western Maine.

Most of all, I feel good about creating a place where people can come to connect with nature.

Click here to learn more about Runamuk’s FarmstayBnB. Or Visit us on AirBnB at “Farm-to-Table Breakfast @ Runamuk Acres’ Farmstay” to book your next trip!

Mixed Bag

It was a mixed bag of weather yesterday: hail, sleet─at one point it was snowing─and then, half an hour later, it was pouring rain. Sequestered to the kitchen for Baking Day, I was happy to see it─giddy even. For, I know the wet mix will eat away at the remaining snow, speeding the melting process along, and I am eager to be working outside.

Ice-coated catkins!

There’s the financial aspect, of course; without a high tunnel or greenhouse, I can’t start growing anything until my gardens are free from winter’s clutches. The influx of vegetables through the farmstand generates a significant cash flow for us. I intend to use that opportunity to stabilize finances, putting the losses of 2022 firmly behind me.

Naturally, I’m looking forward to being in the garden, working the soil, and cultivating nutritious vegetables for my community. This year, however, I’ve committed to investing time and energy into the conservation side of Runamuk. Already, I have a number of pollinator-friendly herbs and flowers growing in the Propagation Room. They will be part of an effort to revitalize our neglected perennial flower beds. I’ve invested in lumber and materials for new birdhouses─even an owl house─and I have plans for trail benches, and an information kiosk.

It’s all part of my “Stewardship Initiative”, and my experiences over the winter, with guests coming here craving that connection to nature, only serves to reinforce that mission. The desire to create a place where people can come to immerse themselves in the outdoors. To offer the chance to experience the realities of farm-life, and step away from the frenzy of society and this modern world─even if only for a night or two.

So, I’ll celebrate that wet, sloppy mix of weather, because I know it will bring more honking, followed by the sight of those iconic V-shaped flocks of Canadian geese sweeping across the sky. How my heart thrills when they fly overhead! I am not too abashed to admit that I like to call out to them, “Good morning!!!” and “Safe travels!!!”

Nature’s Calling

Many other species of birds return around the same time…robins, myriad songbirds─the bluebirds. This is usually about the time that the frogs and salamanders start emerging from hibernation. The skunks, too, lol. Soon, that tender green blush will be spreading across Maine’s western mountain region. And then…then, will come that day when I am on my knees in the garden, elbows deep in the soil, planting. I’ll be plugging seedlings into the ground that will grow to produce food for my family, for families across neighboring towns, and for guests to the farm.

On that day, the sun will shine down, warming the pungent Earth about me, while birds chorus in nearby trees and shrubs. I’ll close my eyes and lift my face to be kissed by the sun, allowing the breeze to caress my face. Then, inhaling slowly, and with deep satisfaction, I’ll give thanks to whatever Gods may be. Thanks for the opportunity to live this life.

Out of the night that covers me,   
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   
I thank whatever gods may be   
  For my unconquerable soul.   

William Ernest Henley

Heedless of the struggle─the amount of work that comes with it, the financial difficulty, or sacrifices made─nature is my calling. Regardless of whomever comes or goes from my life─this is what I am meant to be doing: growing and making food, protecting wildlife, and connecting people with nature. This work fulfills me on indescribable levels. And here, at work on my farm, I am happiest. This is my bliss, and I am grateful for nature’s calling─every single moment, of every single day.

Thank you for following along with the story of this female-farmer! It truly is a privilege to live this life, serve my family and community, and protect wildlife through agricultural conservation. Check back soon for more updates from the farm, and be sure to follow @RunamukAcres on Instagram or Facebook! Much love to you and yours, my friends!

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Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm