Huginn’s Heathen Hof

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Greetings from the Northern Mountain

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It has been such a long winter here. Not particularly cold, but long. The last of the heavy snows have melted weeks ago, turning the gentle streams into wild rapids. Every night I think it is raining as I fall asleep, but it’s just the brook that winds through this farm and down the mountain.

I am on the back of my horse, Merlin. We’re riding along that brook, and he seems less interested in its volume than the grass growing alongside it. This fare is taller than what’s in his pasture. I let him take a few bites. Seems like a fair trade for carrying me.

He’s a small draft horse, a breed from Northern England called a Fell. He’s sturdy with a black coat still hairy from winter, a long mane, and feathered feet. He looks like he should be carrying a dwarf to The Lonely Mountain. Which is pretty fitting considering my own 5’2,” farm-gal frame. We are a good pair.

It’s 60 degrees and the sun is shining. This is a treat here in the Northeast, just south of the Adirondacks. I’m a New Yorker, but I’m so far north my farm shares a latitude line with Portland, Maine. This sunshine is a straight-up novelty. It’s my stream grass. I am grinning on the back of the black horse and ask him to canter up the winding trails to higher ground. I forgot how good it feels to move swiftly with the sun above you and a horse below you. I notice the naked trees around me in the forest. Some of the red maples have buds already. A butterfly bobbles past. It has been so long since I’ve seen these things. I happily yell, “Hail Freyr!” and we trot to the mountain top.

We are on my neighbor’s land. In a mile, we’ll be able to take in the entire view of the valley from an outcrop. It’s stunning to see this at peak fall or on firefly-lit nights, but right now it is fallow. That doesn’t change the altitude though, and all around me I can see local farms, roads, and rolling mountains. I can see Mount Equinox in Vermont, the sky is so clear. I pat Merlin’s side. I inhale the luck I pray for every day.

From the top of the mountain, I can hear distant rooster calls from my land. I know they are my roosters since I am the only one who keeps ‘crowers’ on this mountain. Plenty of neighbors keep hens for eggs, but I like a vibrant a cappella section. Their songs also sound like spring. The hens are laying so many eggs I don’t know what to do with them all.

I own six and a half acres, a modest plot compared to my neighbors, but it’s mine. It’s where I raise sheep, dairy goats, poultry, pigs and keep a hive for the Kindred’s bees. It’s where my Kindred,  Tyr’s Good Hand, gathers monthly. Our members travel from several states to gather for study, worship, and community service. We’re Universalists and have members as varied as ex-military fitness instructors, academics, and scrappy farmers; myself, being the latter. I started the Kindred as a humble study group that met at a bookstore years before. Now we are planning our third-annual summer Thing. It’s a weekend camp out at the farm with games, ritual, campfire meals, and fellowship. I am excited about it.

When asked to consider a column for this website, I thought that writing as a Heathen Woman from a farm she tends alone would be an interesting voice, and hopefully a worthy one. I do not write as any sort of authority, historian, or academic. I write as a practicing Heathen, a Farmer, a Woman, and a Tribe Organizer. My loftiest goal is to give you a taste of my experiences here at this farm as an Ásatrúar close to the soil. The title of this column, A Pair of Goats, comes from a favorite line in the Hávamál

A farm of your own is better, even if small. Everyone is someone at home. A pair of goats and a coarse roof is better than begging. {36}

This farm tends a pair of goats, which I keep for milk, cheese, soap making, and to sell or butcher their offspring. Things here are often scrappy, but the animals are always worth the effort. Those two goats provide for this farm. They never complain about the roof, either.

I have my Gods, ancestors, the wights, and my own luck to thank for being a self-employed single woman on her own land. I am not rich, but I am wealthy. I have farmed here for nearly seven years and produced lamb, pork, chicken, honey, vegetables, milk, cheese, wool, and hides from my small farm for several families. I have learned to ride horses and use them for harness work. I have learned to hunt and fish. I have picked up the skills of spinning wool, playing mountain fiddle, and shooting a long bow. Yes, wealth is the correct term. I do my best to wield it, but not without faults and mistakes. There is no shortage of mistakes made on this land, and while I may sometimes have late bills, used clothing, and an ’89 pickup —abundance is everywhere. I hope to share that luck with my Kindred. I hope to share my stories with you in this new column. And together may we continue to make Heathenry a better faith through our deeds and our words. That is the life I wish to share here from this mountain.

 


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*featured image cropped from pasujoba‘s “Fell Pony”      (CC License)*

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