Friday, September 30, 2011

A Labor of Love

Brie with Angie
Wakeman Town Farm's Rescue Chicken
Those who subscribe to my blog may have noticed I've been MIA these past few weeks. Those closest to me know why.

It's been a wild ride since it all began. Summer started so well. My son had an internship at Wakeman Town Farm, under the leadership of Mike Aitkenhead, renowned Staples High School teacher and steward of the Farm.

Brie and I attended gardening workshops there regularly. Then came the day that my son arrived home, crestfallen, saying that "Mr. A" was leaving Wakeman Farm, and that he was under the impression that Mike was fired.

What followed thereafter was a flurry of press, articles that illuminated what went down and inflamed a town-wide cry for transparency. At the end of the season, the Aitkenhead family was forced to leave their home, the farmhouse in which they lived and cared for. And we all felt the sting of loss.

Mike & Carrie Aitkenhead in a fun
twist of the classic "American Gothic"
But, as in all good stories, there is a happy ending. A testament to social justice and resilience, the community rallied around Mike and his family, and made magic happen. As a team, we launched an aggressive fundraising campaign, and worked with the town government to restore the Aitkenheads to their home, to resume their role as stewards of the Farm.

Among our fundraisers is this Sunday's Pancake Breakfast, which has been promoted in every town newspaper and blog, from Westport Now, to Westport News, 06880, the Daily Westport, the Westport Patch, and CT Bites.

Angie with Friends
And in the vortex of this storm is a little chicken. "Angie," named by my daughter, was the lone survivor, post controversy, as the property laid vacant and predators moved in, stealing away the flock of chickens who resided there, despite our best efforts to safeguard it.

Angie was attacked by a predator (we think it was a fox), and was cowering in a corner when we found her, the day before Hurricane Irene. Brie tells the story best in her blog, so please take a moment to read her accounting of the tale in Lit'l Crazy Chickz.

I'm happy to report that our rescue chicken is recovering, growing stronger each day and her feathers are filling back in. We have served as Angie's foster parents, and she will be traveling to her forever home tomorrow, to live with an older hen who needs a companion.

Wakeman Farm
Back at the Farm, once the Aitkenheads return to their home in a few weeks, they will begin planning for a new flock of baby chicks, to arrive in the Spring, along with Angora rabbits and a pair of goats for homesteading workshops and a children's summer camp. Middle school apprenticeships and high school internships will teach our youth about the myriad benefits of sustainable living.

All's well that ends well, as the saying goes.

And I hope that my kids have learned a valuable life lesson through this experience:  If you love something, fight for it.