1998 also brought the birth of their daughter Erin, now the energetic center of the Beidler farm. Little Erin is a very engaging eight-year-old…just as resilient and every bit as adventurous as her parents! … She gallops through pastures and crop rows like a deer, barefoot and free, with an endless supply of energy and joie de vive.
When her parents allow it, Erin starts her day at 4:00 am, just like her father loved to do as a child. Brent carries her out with him for morning chores, still sleeping, to her makeshift bed in the 200 year old tie stall barn, appointed with dress up clothes, dolls, flashlights…and adjacent the new born calves. She eventually awakens to help Brent and Regina finish feeding and escort the small herd back out to the pasture, an activity she knows well, from the time she was an infant seated comfortably in a back pack. All three Beidlers do chores together, as a family.
Erin shares her plans with me for a special lemonade stand, discussing the option of complimentary roadside entertainment. "Me and my neighbor, Laura, will show people our bugs. They are kind of like water bugs, but we call them 'circles bugs' because they like going in circles all the time!"
When asked what sort of chores she does on the farm, Erin answers, "One my jobs here is to find the kittens born on our farm, make sure they are friendly to everyone." This is a job she takes very seriously, as there are at least 15 cats at home on the farm as well as a menagerie of other assorted animals: pigs, draft horses (which Brent uses to log with), chickens, and a friendly farm dog named Penny.
Farming is generally thought of as difficult and labor-intensive work in America. I can see that Brent and Regina's joyful attitudes and reverence for life comes from their combined life experiences, being raised in loving families, and then serving in third world countries. Their family values are well rooted, and the abundance that surrounds them deeply appreciated.
"Going organic was an obvious step for us, when we began to develop our farm plan," explains Regina. The Beidlers were one of the first Vermont farms to join Organic Valley Family of Farms, the largest organic cooperative in the U.S. "Sustainability is a word we all hear often. For us, it's a word that begs us to determine how to live and farm in a way that will support not only in the short term but also for generations to come."
"We understand that our relationship with the land is as sojourners that have ownership for only a short time. Stewardship and sustainability are at the forefront of each decision we make as parents, farmers and community members."
All is well here.