When I was little, one of my favorite books was A New Coat for Anna, in which a young girl and her mother spent an entire year getting all of the components ready for her new winter coat. First they visited the shepherd and his flock, bartering for wool from the year's shearing. After that, they traded to get the wool carded and spun into yarn, making friends with a spinner in the process.
After Anna and her mother dyed the wool themselves using lingonberries, they struck another deal, this time with a weaver who wove the crimson yarn into cloth. Finally, the mother and daughter bartered and made friends with a tailor who created the final garment for Anna, just in time for winter. The story ends with a party, to which the shepherd, the spinner, the weaver, and the tailor are all invited.
I love this story, and right now, I feel like I am in it: we're surrounded by wonderful people supporting and helping us in preparation for this workshop we're putting on. At this point, the favors we've received for the project are almost uncountable.
In the last week alone, our friend Greer lent us tables and and tablecloths for our outdoor kitchen, someone we barely know from Shaftsbury lent us a canopy (thanks Mitch!), Rick loaned us his collection of hand tools (among other things!), and our new friend Rob (who built a strawbale/timber-frame house with his wife, Karen) lent us a second pair of drawknives.
Today was a big day, as we needed to get as many of our primary timbers debarked as possible in preparation for our class. Everyone arrives tomorrow! With Tyler's bum chest and my bum finger, we knew we were going to need some help. So, we put out some feelers, asking a few friends if they'd come over and help this weekend, unsure if anyone would actually show up.
This morning, we began bright and early, and were utterly delighted when our neighbor Jeremy sauntered up our driveway with his dog, Roscoe. Just having him around, with his huge boyish smile, enthusiasm, and many stories, cheered us significantly. Not to mention his de-barking skills—our productivity increased by leaps and bounds when he arrived!
A little while later, our friends Joanna and Greg (regulars at Cold Antler Farm Game Night) dropped in to help, too. Today was their first visit to our homestead—hooray! After a brief tour of our land, they took up drawknives and began peeling bark as well. With five people hard at work on our project, the rate of progress was phenomenal. Better than that though, was how much fun we were having with our friends!
Around midday, Tyler left to pick up some pizza and beer for our growing crew. When I heard someone pulling up the driveway shortly after, I assumed it was him returning, but it was Mike, a local farmer, and his two boys, Sean and Lorenzo, here to help. We only just met Mike last night! We'd casually mentioned our project, and here he was to help, offering free farm-fresh eggs and garlic to boot! I was surprised, and very touched.
By the time everyone parted ways this afternoon, all of the important logs were stripped and ready for our class. This is a feat Tyler and I could never have accomplished by ourselves in such a short amount of time. Right now, I am blown away by the generosity of our new community of friends. I feel so lucky to have so many fantastic people around us!
To Jeremy, Joanna, Greg, Mike, and all the folks who have helped us so far, thank you, thank you, thank you!