Before one can begin to share the 2017 spring harvest, it would only be fair to describe the 2016 spring cicada re-emergence. It was an interesting time line measure of our lives here on the farm, as it was our first summer here, seventeen years ago that we were aware of the cicada phenomena.
While many of our friends and neighbors found their incessant whirring noise to be an irritant to the point of their not wanting to be outside, we found the swell of their love dance to be a wonder, and recognized that we would with good health be lucky enough to hear it again in another 17 years, when we are 77 years old.
But when the branches where the cicadas had buried their eggs began to snap off in the early summer rains, it occurred to us that we should head down to the willow fields to see if they had made courtship amongst the whips too. They had.
It would not be until late fall, when we could really see between the row, that we could ascertain how much damage they had done. Fortunately, the damage seemed to be concentrated on the outside rows, and as the inside rows have the highest concentration of living willow sticks, we knew that we would have an adequate, though somewhat diminished harvest.
We were blessed to once again have our friends from Rural Action and AmeriCorp come up for a training day. With their help along with other friends we were able to cut down the crop, numbering at over 6000 willow sticks.
We have also been grateful to have our son Eli working with us on the farm, he is one of our three young "bucks" and his company and physical help have been a blessing to both Maddy and myself. Eli is even showing a growing interest in learning to weave...
This fall we added space to our garage for a walk in cooler to house the living willow rods. A big thank you to our friend Jeremiah for finding us used panels to make an affordable cooler. This will certainly make sending out the live willow orders in the next few months streamlined.
Our local handyman, Ernie was able to build a couple of new racks in the basement of the barn making plenty of room for the weaving sticks to dry. (And to store the coracles I have been making!)
With over 24 varieties of dry willow, from 3 foot to6 foot lengths in dry storage, we are set to deliver sticks for weaving, and sticks for live willow structures and willow starts safely in the cooler for your spring planting and weaving dreams!