It seems that I announced that I blog here, but didn’t post anything, while several people checked out the site and a few signed up. Apologies.
So I will start with a little news from my life in the last 6 months. I’m living at Vairochana Farm, still alone though visitors are coming and there are a few conversations with potential residents. The learning curve has been steep, the tasks overwhelming. I’m spending money on help (farming, erosion control, and the like) that I’d rather save for big projects. It’s beautiful; it’s amazing that I get to live here. More information at www.VairochanaFarm.wordpress.com.
Trying to pull together threads from the past months:
Living on the land, I’m learning as fast as I can, which isn’t fast enough but has to be. I seek balance between self-care and the needs of the land. Harvest; prep the garden; work with erosion; study permaculture and forestry and all the rest. I’ve learned several kinds of pickling, frozen or dried a lot of wild greens and garden produce, pulled up wild cucumber and buckthorn and more. Now it’s time to install wood heat – masonry stove and wood cook stove – and that means lots of firewood. I try not to go in to town too often, but am using much more fossil fuel than when I lived in town. The plan is to get completely off the hook; patience is required. I sit zazen every morning, some evenings, and one day of retreat each month, which is renewal time.
If you have interest in helping with anti-erosion work at the farm, please sign up at http://www.wheedu.com/groups/vairochana-farm#/ You’ll get notices of events (not so many) and can decide to join, or not.
The goat adventure was – well, an adventure. I had seven goats for a couple months, sending them back when I realized that even without doing anything else I was not keeping up with them. (The plan was that they would eat the buckthorn; it would have worked eventually but moving fences gets really old.) And I still feel sad at thinking that Violet and Brave, the two goats I knew best, may be dead or enslaved now. I didn’t like fencing them at all. So my commitment to using animals to care for the land is running into my feelings for individual animals. Hopefully there will be resolution and I’ll be able to have animals again.
Meanwhile a part of my mind is always with the “outside world.” I wanted to go to Ferguson, bring Buddhist witness for the killings of Michael Brown and the others, but finally decided I need to stay here. Climate change, Palestine, all of it goes on and on while the sun breaks through the leaves in utter beauty.
My identity as a Zen priest and teacher is increasingly central to all of this. I’m teaching a very small group, and love doing so. At a recent priests’ conference, I presented a session about last year’s Compassionate Earth Walk and co-led a session on Buddhist response to climate change, both very well received. And I socialized with other Zen priest farmers. The result, briefly put, is that I discovered this really is my tribe. Sadly, not a tribe I live together with, but a tribe of shared values and more customs than I knew. Finding people who will live here – or perhaps across the road – is a slow and careful process.
I’m moving forward, one step at a time, not thinking too much about limits – specifically the limit of using inherited money rather than an income. If I go back to work, there’s not the time to wholly take care of the land. Some dana (gifts) have been given, and every one brings me a burst of gratitude and confidence. Still, starting the farm and getting the house off-grid will take much more than I have. A great deal of trust is required. Today I’m asking whether to buy the cheaper masonry stove or the more expensive one, which will save 10% on woodcutting for the rest of my life. And whether to spend $5000 to save the land bridge leading to the wooded north half of the farm.
And it’s time to go back to work; I was given several hazelnut bushes and need to bring them out of the truck, to plant another day. Hopefully the next post will be on one topic and a little more complete.