A Timeline

As junior year of high school rolled around, the thoughts and worries about colleges rolled right on with it. It was always expected that I would go to art school, Academics was not my thing. Art class was the only place I got an A. But as the time for filling out applications came near, art school began to look less and less appealing.  I started to wonder what other options I had. What was it that I loved to do, and I started to remember my childhood and the moments I found the most special.  Those moments all happened to take place in the country with farm animals.  I was always fascinated about where my food came from and one evening I asked my mom “what about farm school”?

My grandfather and extended family in Cuba on thier sugar farm and cattle ranch
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My one yeat stint in the Catskills, my first connection with farming
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I begged to go here for summer camp after a school trip.
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I was a Hawthorne Valley camper until I was 12, I was always upset when I had to leave
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Collecting hay to feed my imaginary farm aniamls

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It didn’t take any convincing, she was right on board. Together we looked up schools, because let’s be honest,  a NYC college counselor who has to have sustainable agriculture defined to them, isn’t the biggest of help.  At one point when she suggested a school with a good ecology program and a garden, my mom had to finally put her foot down and say “Oona doesn’t like plants, she wants to work with livestock”.  That ended up leading to a whole new useless list of schools with veterinary programs, but I digress.

The more I looked into schools with agriculture programs, the more I looked forward to the future of sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and more.  Living with the land became a dream that I could fulfill, and learn to do, and I started to really want it.  The summer of my junior year I was able to get an internship at Heather Ridge Farm, and that just got me even more hooked.

The moment I received my acceptance letter form Sterling, I didn’t care about any other school. I knew from the moment I stepped on the campus, that this was the college I wanted to attend.  I think it’s because it reminded me so much of Hawthorne Valley Farm camp, and the best summers of my childhood.

It’s funny but when I first learned that a student could apply to have livestock on the farm, I thought SHEEP! I imagined all the sweaters and socks I could make, but then I remembered how skittish the sheep were at Heather Ridge, how friendly the goats where. And then I remembered how much I loved goats and the early days of Shining Star Preschool.

Rue and Odin’s First day


Que the Dairy Goats
More goats
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My last goodbyes to Rue and Odin
A New Home
A New Beginning 

The girl’s far treble, muted to the heat,
calls like a fainting bird across the fields
to where her flock lies panting for her voice,
their black horns buried deep in marigolds.

They climb awake, like drowsy butterflies,
and press their red flanks through the tall branched grass,
and as they go their wandering tongues embrace
the vacant summer mirrored in their eyes.

Led to the limestone shadows of a barn
they snuff their past embalmed in the hay,
while her cool hand, cupped to the udder’s fount,
distils the brimming harvest of their day.

Look what a cloudy cream the earth gives out,
fat juice of buttercups and meadow-rye;
the girl dreams milk within her body’s field
and hears, far off, her muted children cry.

By Laurie Lee

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