I feel so incredibly lucky to be here.
At 3 am on Wednesday morning, Britney, Hamilton, and I piled into Betsey's car to make the trek to Madras, Oregon for the Small Farmer's Journal annual draft horse auction and swap meet. Holy crap, what an amazing time. At any given moment you could be spectating/buying at the auction, participating in workshops, watching competitions (plowing and herding), perusing the vendors, or meeting new people. A lot of young people pitched tents and camped out there (the auction was held on the fairgrounds), so it was fun to just lay in the sun, chat and eat food out of your cooler.
Although I did meet a few cool people while I was there, I think my favorite part of the trip was getting to spend a little bit more time with the people I already knew. Once we arrived, we met up with Aaron and Dana and Aaron's brother Ben; Dana did this apprenticeship a few years ago, and is married to Aaron. After completing the apprenticeship, the two of them moved to Arkansas (Aaron's home state) to start a farm, but they hated it and ended up moving back to the Bainbridge area and now have their own small farm here. Aaron works for Brian three days a week, so I get to work with him fairly often. They're such good people! They're welcoming, smart, good for conversation, and fun to have a beer with. I really like Ben, too; he's not as outgoing as Aaron but he's really funny and great to talk to if you make the effort (he's just a quiet guy), and has really expressive eyes. As brothers, the two of them are pretty endearing. Sadly, Ben's only here to build cabinets (he's a carpenter) for Dana and Aaron's new house, and will be returning to Arkansas in a couple of weeks. Erin is another past apprentice who is still connected with everyone and came down to the auction; she's super outgoing and so genuinely sweet; you feel like you could tell her anything and she wouldn't think you were a crazy weirdo (and yes, I know I just used two semi-colons in one sentence but I don't care!). She's 31 but you'd never guess it. Robin is another past intern of theirs, and she still works for Betsey... she reminds me a lot of Natalie Portman for some reason, and is equally as great as the others. I probably sound annoyingly cheesy going on about how wonderful everyone is, but I'm just floored by how much I like them all. I tend to be hard on people and apprehensive when I first meet someone, so I wasn't expecting to feel such a strong appreciation for everyone already.
I was able to learn a few things from a lady who processes her own farm-grown fleece into yarn and then garments; I'd really like to own sheep for shearing one day, and she was kind enough to demonstrate skirting (getting the fleece ready for processing, i.e. removing pieces of poor/inconsistent quality) and carding ('combing' pieces of fleece to straighten out and line up the fibers) for me.
Joel bought chaps! (Joel was an intern at a different farm on Bainbridge, but became friends with Betsey and her interns; he's working at a farm in Walla Walla, but came down for the auction)
Two car-loads of us drove down to the Deschutes Brewery for dinner and beers one night. Pictured above (from left to right) is Renee, Dana, and Robin
Aaron and Ben