As a little boy all I wanted to do was be outside, whether it was exploring the fields beyond the backyard, playing in the dirt with toy trucks or street hockey until dark, the hours flew by in pure delight.  On weekends we would often make a drive about an hour away to my aunt’s A-frame cottage nestled in the wooded hills and pastures of Wyoming County, where we would fish, catch frogs and newts, collect bottle caps around the fire pit and pass the time in various activities throughout the forest.  It was such a profound influence on my psyche that I ended up pursuing ecology as a course of study in college.  I’ve spent many years since then designing, updating and maintaining landscapes.  My studies combined with working in my mother’s backyard gardens have yielded many rewarding experiences in horticulture.

And so it is little wonder that I am now researching regenerative farming as a vocation.  I had been dreaming of a tree farm ever since I can remember, and now nearly halfway through You Can Farm, I am reconsidering more lucrative and less risky centerpiece enterprises per his suggestion.  The author, Joel Salatin, is turning out to be a mentor, albeit in a remote sense, as I’m finding his philosophy to resonate as both common sense practical how-to coupled with a visionary ethic that awakens latent childhood awe.  Anything but a redneck hick, I really appreciate his perspective on farming as a “people business”, extending beyond the more mundane views of dust, noise and toil.  It is clear that he is passionate about what he does, and an inspiring example of what is possible for anyone who dares to venture outside the status quo.

And so we are now entering the winter doldrums as this new calendar year is under way.  I took a brief walk earlier this afternoon, pausing to visit a neighbor along the way.  Joe appeared to have tears in his eyes, and he alluded to how he can’t wait for spring.  We chatted about the coaching changes for the Bills and the holidays before parting ways.  A stiff southwesterly breeze forced me to do an about-face retreating back from the beach to the pavement.  I made it around the block before retrieving the mail and returning to warmer quarters.  I really do miss companionship out here and am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on just how much I value the many loved ones in my life.

In common wealth,