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The teachers

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Christine Tailer

By Christine Tailer
HCP columnist

It took a while for us to get ready.

Of course, I dusted the house, mopped the floors and tidied up my marble displays. I then moved over to the 388-square-foot cabin, our first home here in the creek valley, and I whisked away cobwebs, swept, dusted and mopped some more. Because the little house has no full-time inhabitants and serves only as a space for guests, it really does need a good cleaning every so often.

Next, I moved on to organize and weed the greenhouse. Before we built the greenhouse, I had no idea how fast weeds could spring from a greenhouse’s dirt floor. Even though I’ve spread bark and chips from fallen walnut trees around the farm, I still need to weed it at least one a week. If I don't, the greenhouse quickly becomes a jungle. I decided to leave a few seed start trays floating in the float bed as examples of how I start my garden. The rest of the trays I cleaned off with the spray hose. Then, I moved across the driveway to weed the garden.

With the garden thoroughly weeded and lightly tilled with my garden weasel (an ingenious device), I looked over toward the pasture where the horses and sheep were grazing in the shade of the roadside trees. Rake and shovel in hand, I gathered up every bit of horse droppings from the paddock and fed our ever-hungry compost pile. I filled the wheelbarrow up twice and then raked across the dirt. The paddock looked lovely. I stood back and gazed out across the pasture. It looked as though it could use a good mowing, so Greg set out to mow while the sheep and horses looked on from the shade.

We never cease to be amazed by how quickly the grass grows in the creek valley. I believe that the heavy dew every morning assures its vigor, so of course we decided to mow along both sides of the road, beside the creek and around all our farm buildings, the upper and lower orchards, as well as the upper field where the little house and log cabin stand.

Now this work was work that we would have been doing anyway, but not necessarily all done with the goal of getting everything in tip top shape in a timely fashion, so that we could share our world with 37 teachers who were stopping by for a visit.

They were STEAMology teachers, a moniker that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics, and were visiting numerous sites across our county and a neighboring county over the course of two weeks. Their goal was to learn about various local enterprises and then take their gained knowledge back to their rural classrooms.

On the appointed day, at the appointed hour, a caravan of vehicles pulled into our farm driveway and 37 teachers got out and gathered around us. We proceeded to introduce ourselves and share every aspect of our off-grid world, from our solar-powered machine and wood shops, to our solar-powered home with all of the modern amenities (except air conditioning), as well as our wood-fired hot tub, and yes, all 37 teachers fit into our 950-square-foot log home at once. I had honestly had my doubts.

It was wonderful to share our world, but really, the most wonderful thing I learned from the teachers’ visit, was not that the farm looked lovely or the house sparkled or that our now 4-month old puppy dog was well behaved. It was rather the gift that they brought of allowing me to look at our world through their eyes. Things that are everyday to me, to them were not. As the last car in the caravan pulled out of the drive, I was flooded with the understanding of how truly fortunate Greg and I are.

And as for today? The temperature will be scorching, the humidity high and the grass seems as though it once again needs cutting. The garden needs weeding and the compost pile is ever-hungry. It looks as though I'd better get to work, but with thanks to the teachers, I will definitely be working with a smile.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at 

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