2023 was a year of immense change for the farm. We walked with both of our horses as they navigated end of life care. Rasta died unexpectedly after eating a toxic plant in the fall, and then we made the decision to let Tom rest after years of managing extreme pain in his front feet. These decisions opened our hearts to a depth of loss only possible because of the depth of love that we hold for them.
In the winter of 2023 we moved a yurt into the woods and it was a phenomenal amount of effort that pushed us and our equipment to the breaking point. The learnings from this process will be lifelong, and we are continually amazed at the capacity for manual labor to lay bare our interior spiritual and emotional landscape. Mostly, we are delighted that we can offer a place of deep refuge and rest for travelers and seekers. Our forest yurt is a retreat place, learning facility, and source of deep joy.
Scenes from 2023 L-R: View from Hermitage, milking goats (Mother Teresa and Savon), The yurt in winter, Teaching the next generation about chicken harvest.
Jonathan, with the support of a generous donations of funds and materials, was able to complete the shell for a truly masterful hermitage cabin. From hand shaped 22inch spruce floors to custom granite built ins, this 10x16 hermitage is becoming a place for longer contemplation and renewal with the earth. The hermitage hides above the wetland and labyrinth and was entirely constructed with materials grown and harvested in Vermont. We anticipate that it will be available for sabbatical stays, writers/artists in residence/extended retreats during the summer months in 2024.
Finally, after a year of immense change and grief, we are leaning into the promptings of our bodies. We are resting with the land this summer and not introducing any additional animals or harvesting large animals for meat (We may still grow and harvest chickens).
Our community and interpersonal landscape shifted this past year as well. In June Jonathan was able to be present for his fathers dying process and death. It was a holy and heart-wrenching time. We are still navigating the troughs and peaks involved with deep grief. What feels invited is leaning in - leaning in to the feelings, the process, the weight. Around the same time we changed in our relationship with The Retreat House at Hillsboro. The Retreat House had generously supported the work of our farm for the previous year and gave the space in Rachel's schedule for things like...writing blog posts! The Retreat House itself entered a process of deep transformation involving a change in every aspect of their organization. It was the right time for Heartberry Hollow to take a step back from their process. It has meant that there has been less time for writing and consciously developing the community here. We are trusting that the way forward will emerge over the next year as we remain faithful to this land and the nudging of the Spirit.
Thank you for your prayers, presence, and patience with us. We are truly grateful beyond words for the support and encouragement that we have received from our community. You are a part of our healing journey, and we are honored to be a part of yours.