Forrest Foster is a farmer in Hardwick, Vermont. It’s an organic dairy farm, seventy cows total and about forty milking at any given time. I spent an afternoon following Forrest around the barn, his sugarshack, we took a long ride in his tractor, out past his deer camp. He took me to the place where he cuts cedar and hemlock boughs for deer in the winter, and dispatches his old animals to feed the bear and the deer and the coyotes and the ravens.
Forrest would rather trade services than exchange money. He’ll give you meat if you can’t afford it, and he’ll expect you’ll do some chores in exchange. What I love about Forrest Foster is that he’s always practical and always generous, and these things are always the same thing.
She’s a little nervy.
Is he married?
He is ‘partnered’.
What animal skeleton is pictured?
That is a cow that broke her jaw by knocking into another cow, and she couldn’t eat and was wasting away, which is why Forrest…let her go.
Great Show Erica I am going to contact Forrest to see if i can tinker up some of his tractors using his barter system
One of my favorites. Brought tears.
Thanks for this. “Wait a minute you shot the bear!?” No I shot the horse!
That was my favorite line.
As a farmer myself, and owner of Boyden Farm in Cambridge, I’ve known Forrest for years. I’m so happy that your great series did an interview with him, as there is less and less of people like Forrest, but the world could use a lot more! I remember having Forrest drive all the way down from Walden with an old red pickup to get only four round bales, but didn’t seem to bother him one bit! I’d ask him “Hows it going Forrest?” He’d reply “Just great!” with a huge grin on his face. “How’s the cows milking now?” I’d ask, and a quick reply “Ain’t milkin for shit..” again, with a huge grin on his face! We can all learn an awful lot from Forrest, to me he’s one of the most successful persons that I have ever met as he figured out a long time ago that all these things that everyone thinks so important and all the material BS, heck it just don’t matter. So glad you were able to share this story to everyone, and lets hope that more of what Forrest is can rub off onto the rest of this world! Thanks, Mark Boyden
I love this story. Thank you so much Mark for taking the time to write it down!
This episode took my breath away, Erica. I’m so grateful to you for telling these stories.
It’s so refreshing to hear this story. Thank you Erica for another beauty!
Great piece Erica. These voices need to be kept alive. Thanks for doing that.
I love the new episode. We the world need more people like the man in your show. The farmer. I grew up with honour boxes in the rual area of southern Ontario. I would ride my bike to a farm near us with a note from my mom and go in the shed and back of their honour boxes take what my mom wanted leave the note in he jar and then mrs klink would call my mom sometime during the week and pay mrs klink in the church parking lot on Sunday.
What a wonderful episode thank you,
Hearing this kind, generous, thoughtful man talk about his life with such a depth of understanding and appreciation of what has made that life meaningful, absolutely made my day and perhaps my week, month..who knows..maybe the rest of my life, more precious. Thank you.
Always am moved and challenged by your work! I love that you record (always?) in the natural world and the soundtrack and words merge together so well, said as someone that also loves the thoughtful scoring of The Daily which is also so effective. I appreciate that you don’t focus on fame or famous people but seek the thoughts and depth of everyday people. I’m inspired by what you do. Thank you Erica. Your podcast is pushing me in good ways.
Your timing is excellent. I have the flu and am lying on the couch like a beached whale. I needed a little confidence boost. So THANK YOU MATTHEW!
I loved this episode; I loved Mark‘s comment about Forrest being one of the most successful people he knows; and I love that you Erica married “practicality and generosity.“ Thanks to you and Forrest
It does my heart good to hear these stories from Forrest. Thank you, Erica, for this richly evocative reporting. I agree with Mark Boyden, it sure sounds like Forrest has got the whole how-to-live-on-earth thing figured out.
I’ve got an issue with a horse farm down south in Townshend. There’s 120 animals on the property, not sure how many are horses or other large livestock animals and how many are smaller farm animals but it’s a problem the community is aware of and we aren’t quite sure how to go about getting the animals off the property and someplace safe. The law can’t do much cause it’s VT and troops are thin on the ground as it is, but the town wants to do something about it, just wondering if he’s got any ideas. Doesn’t have to be legal.
DW, I’m not sure Forrest would have ideas about this but I’ll ask him when I see him. He doesn’t have internet so I’ve been sharing these comments with him when I talk w him and I’ll see what he says.
In regard to my last comment: this is a long term case of animal abuse that the locals are aware of and have tried to report independently which hasn’t yielded any results. There are former hands that have reported the farm. Mange, rotten feet, moldy grain if any at all. Not flatlanders thinking cows shit in litter boxes. These are local people and farmers who know this place is fucked.
hey erica, i loved this so much. i still have my renovated trailer in east hardwick that sits next to another dairy farm. it is a rental now, but is still home in many ways. i moved to gainesville, florida in 2018 to be close to grandchildren…just in time to be here for covid. lucky choice, i guess. listening to this stunning portrayal of the NEK made me want to pack up and get back to vermont. i don’t eat cow meat and gave up cheese, but love the descriptions of the man and the landscape. it moved my heart. i used to team with tonio epstein at WGDR…you might remember me. but that is not relevant right now. i really appreciate your incredible audio art that serves the moment and all of us who stop and listen.
Karla! A Gainesville/East Hardwick life sounds totally perfect to me. And WGDR’s star is riding these days I’m told?? Anyway thank you so much for listening Karla and taking the time to write.
You captured so much of Forrest’s personality! More important, you captured his ethos. I hope people who listen to this show really reflect on that aspect.
I just loved hearing from Forest, a guy so attuned to the land and his animals and the circle of life. Unfortunately, he is a rare breed so I am glad you were able to highlight him before he’s served up to the vultures.
This may be my favorite episode of Rumble Strip. Thank you for this feature
What a great piece! What a fabulous man. I love that he says he’s friends with a bear, and he really is. Thanks for telling good stories, Erica.
I know I can’t believe i said that. I winced when i heard it…
I love the story. I loved hearing his voice, It brought me back 20 years to when I was a baby veterinarianit reminded me working with the dairy farmers here in Addison County. I just could never bring myself to use the word tit instead of teat and the story made me remember that and giggle. I was so out of my element as a kid who grew up in Boston. Thanks for making me smile and sharing Forrest with us.
Listening to that Vermont speech is as good as a summer day. Praise Forrest for a life so well lived. I’ll picture him working away with his little Dremel tool, etching his name into the big stone that he skidded up just to mark his passing. He’s even willing to share his last resting place with”about 10 people”.
Thank you Erica
Thank you for sharing his story. I’ve never had the chance to meet Forrest. He’s obviously a very busy man. I’ve met his late father, Frank, and his sister, Crystal. And, it was nice to hear him mention Wilfred Cochran among the other local names. He mentioned spreading manure, but does he also use the whey? I know that some folks complain about the smell, but I’ve heard that it is good for the soil too. Thank you again and all the best to Forrest and Karen.
Hi Patti. I’ll get back to you on the whey. I expect the answer is no since I’ve never heard him speak of it, and he waxes poetic, often, about what he spreads and when. But I’ll ask him this week!
Great episode. Looking forward to more.