Note: This is a post from Shannon Walker, written in late summer but finally posted here on this blog. Shannon was an intern for 6 months on our farm.
My name is Shannon Walker and my husband and I ventured onto the Deck Family Farm around 6 months ago. Driving from Los Angeles, newly married, and a recent college graduate, I was so excited, but also nervous for the commitment I was making, and the work I would be doing for the next 7 months. For so long I have been wondering at my passion. The tug on my heart for a life outside, a desire to work with animals, and the need to fulfill the potential of my body, my mind, and my heart, lead me to farming. Arriving in the wet winters of Oregon was challenging, but to use my intuition, my energy, and my intellect so readily and in such diverse ways was exhilarating. Still, even as the days are hot and dry, I so enjoy what I’m doing.
In March, only a week or two after we arrived, the farm was in the middle of lambing season. I immediately became part of the lamb crew, tending to the sheep, and caring for the lambs that couldn’t seem to brave the weather. Soon after this the whole farm became a nursery; from calves, to piglets, to chicks. And I have fallen in love with the lot of them. I have learned so much about tuning in to my intuition and about how to work different animals based on their energy, or even their personality. I’ve gotten a scope on the entire lifecycle of a farm in just one season.
Now, as we approach the fall, there is an excitement and an expectancy for what Deck Family Farm will experience this next winter and spring. Having lived a life that is seemingly unpredictable in many ways, and now having worked on a livestock farm that can feel the same way more often than not, there is a reassuring calm to always having the seasons come and go when we expect them, to keep the lifecycle of the farm moving forward in the same circular motion it’s already traveling in. Although my internship is coming to a close I’m feeling small tugs from the ties I now have to the rainy weather of the winter, the mud and the muck, the warm belly of a dairy cow as the sun comes up, and the bah’s of the slippery new born lambs looking for their mamas at night.
Being on Deck Family Farm has prepared me in so many more ways than I could have imagined it would for the coming journey of starting our own farm in Virginia. I’ve gotten a chance to fall in tune with the land and the animals here, to understand the immediacies and the long term goals of farming, to grow in comprehending the larger scope of a farm as well as the small intricate details of growing and farming livestock and grass. I’ve become skilled in fixing hoses to sorting beef. Yet there is so much more to learn.
I am so thankful for the many lamb kisses I’ve received (and for that last moment with Eve, my favorite foster lamb), the cow hugs, especially from Rosie, and the roosters and cows and sheep all calling their good mornings when the sun is coming up. I am even more thankful to the Deck’s, their hospitality not only as homeowners, but farmers, and teachers. I have never encountered a community of people more eager to pass on all they know, all they’ve experienced, and all of their learned-from mistakes to the younger generation than farmers. I am grateful for the community of the interns and all that we’ve learned together, and are still learning in this daunting but exciting feat to become farmers or work on farms. Although our generation is itching for even more change and even better tactics, we have so many good things to look back on and learn from those still farming, and those that have farmed before. Blessed, Deck Family Farm!