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  • Writer's picturezoarsyrup

Wwoof! and Other Tales from the Farm

Life on the farm, in the midst of a continuing pandemic, took a turn for the marvelous this summer, thanks to our new participation in Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). WWOOF USA is self-described as "part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices.

Visitors, or ‘WWOOFers’, spend about half of each day helping out on a farm, learn about organic agriculture, and receive free room and board during their visit." ( The joy they have brought to this corner of the world is indescribable, and we are so grateful for their friendship, hard work, laughter, and inspiration. Chronologically, our heartiest cheers to Cedell, Liam, Natalie, Dana, Duncan, Frank, Gabby, Lulu, Lydia, and Kim.

The adventure continues, and we are excited for the arrival of Gabriel on Wednesday, and the return of our Gang of Five in October for harvest... We are so happy to share the delight we derive from this life.

The summer couldn't have been more different than 2020 weatherwise. While last year was paper-dry, this year we often thought we may be in a tropical clime: Hot, wet, lush. Mosquitoes in numbers we've never experienced. New-to-us bog plants popping up near the barns. Hay in the barn in August rather than late June. Personally, I am worried about our beloved sugar maple trees. They are a cool weather, snow embracing tree--part of the reason they love the northeast of our fair continent. In recent years, there has been an emerging threat from the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that happens to love sugar maples and other favorites. They are not yet prevalent in New York, but they have made a mark in Pennsylvania. Take nothing for granted. We have not seen any sign of the spotted invader to date, but my cautious nature advises to treasure each bottle of syrup. Heaven forbid our beautiful maples succumb to pestilence as did the mighty chestnuts, elms, and now ash forests. This steamy weather does not bode well.

Enough gloom and doom...

Surreal is perhaps the most accurate description of the social dynamics of the last year and a half. Situated as we are on the northern border with Canada, we have been cut off from our friends and haunts since March of 2020. It has been akin to sitting on one's hands...for over a year. In July, the border restrictions began to loosen for vaccinated folks entering Canada, and by early August, vaccinated travelers from America could travel to Canada if certain prerequisites were met. The temptation was too great, and I headed north for a day of solo hiking, reading, and general relishing in the respite. Landon Bay is part of the Thousand Island National Park on the Canadian side, and it is a lovely spot with beautiful views from high and low elevations.

Being so close to home, but looking south, it was a delight to soak in the terrain, the breezes across the St. Lawrence River, and the sunshine. Grateful for short breaks from the day-to-day. It also allowed me a few quiet hours to finish Peaceful Persistence, a lovely book of essays by Michael Perry. The book ends satisfactorily with this, "[P]eaceful persistence is its own reward. It isn't a matter of winning, it is a matter of dignity. Be at peace with yourself, [] and at the edge of sleep I recite those words against the universe, hoping my children will hear them."

Persist peacefully, people. We are cheering for you and for us all.

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