What Rusty Metal Farm means to me

There is not much that brings me peace of mind more than being here on Rusty Metal Farm. | Photo by Julia Bayly

Hard as it is for me to believe, at some point in my life there may come a time when Rusty Metal Farm is not my home. Thinking about that possible future and talking about it with friends and family has forced me to take stock and really examine what this farm means to me.

Now, no worries — I’m not planning a radical change anytime soon. I mean, come on, where am I going to find another place where I can peacefully cohabitate with my tiny farm dog Chiclet, curmudgeon-in-residence elder cat Reggie, his much younger girlfriend the elegant and fluffy cat Miss Kitty Carlisle and a flock of aging, but sincere egg-laying chickens?

Go ahead — type those parameters into any rental property search engine, I’ll wait.

Meanwhile, back on Rusty Metal Farm, I can honestly say over the decades it’s become far more than a street address or a block on the town’s tax map.

The 170 acres that makeup Rusty Metal Farm were once part of a far larger potato-growing farm. Over the years it was broken up and sold off, with my late husband Patrick purchasing this part of it in 1975.

He loved to tell the story of driving onto the land the day after the paperwork was signed to start building a small cabin that over the decades hosted hikers, skiers, friends, family and parties.

That small cabin still stands, one of several buildings on the farm. It could use some TLC, but over the years it’s been rented out to people needing a place to call home for a few months and who didn’t mind roughing it — there is no electricity, no indoor plumbing and the only running water is water you run to get. It does have a dandy outhouse. On our first winter ski trip into the cabin when we had just started dating, Patrick took the time to shovel a path down through several feet of snow to bare ground from the cabin to that outhouse for me. If that’s not Rusty Metal romance, I don’t know what is.

The cabin has also been a guest cottage and my writing studio. 

One of his buddies back in the late 70s looked up at the ceiling inside the cabin one day and, noting the exposed beams, commented. “It’s like we are inside Jonah’s whale.”

That day Jonah’s Whale became the nickname for the cabin. A series of journals titled “Inside Jonah’s Whale” are tucked safely away here at the house. They are filled with the observations, comments, drawings, thoughts and jokes from all those people who visited throughout the years.

Rusty Metal Farm is also a state of mind. For me, it’s a place that generates peace and serenity after a hectic day. Peace and serenity I can find simply by walking the trails or sitting next to the Rusty Metal Farm Pond.

A refuge, if you will, from the insanity and chaos of the outside world.

Not to say that insanity and chaos don’t find their way in from time to time and I need a refuge from my refuge.

Things break. Critters get loose. Fallen trees block trails. Some days the tractor does not start or a garage door gets stuck halfway open.

Over the years I’ve become adept at simple household repairs, wrangling animals, using a chainsaw and troubleshooting farm equipment.

So, Rusty Metal Farm has also come to mean a place where my confidence and self-reliance have grown over time.

It’s a place I know I can welcome my friends and they will not judge me for the level of untidiness or clutter in my house or any of the assorted outbuildings on the farm.

More likely, they will offer to pitch in and help me bring order to the chaos.

It’s also very much a connection to Patrick. He loved this farm. It’s where we came on our first date and, seven years later, where we got married in the house we built together. 

It’s where he died 19 years after that. I see him in every tree, every rock and every inch of this farm we called home and where we together created a ton of great memories.

So yeah, mailing address, refuge, memories and more. That’s Rusty Metal Farm to me.

And will be for the foreseeable future. Or for at least as long as the critters hold on and the tractor keeps running.

1 comment
  1. Paula J. Smith says

    I loved your articles in the crown and down and hope that I will be getting more issues of the paper.

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