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Finn and River, the namesakes

The namesakes of the farm, Finn O'Donnell and River Kisler at work!

The Naming of Finnriver

In 2004 we found the organic farm we’d been dreaming of. Lige and Kay Christain, who are now our neighbors and mentors, had started the farm and were hoping to sell it to others who would continue their vision. We partnered with friends Kate Dean and Will O'Donnell to purchase this beautiful land. When it was time to name the farm, we looked around and saw two little boys romping joyfully in the dirt, our son River and our partners’ son Finnegan. Even though the O’Donnells left to pursue other ventures, the name Finnriver honors our children and the spirit of family farming that brought us here. It also honors Chimacum Creek, a restored salmon stream that flows through the farm and intimately connects us to this watershed. The waters that carry the salmon and nurture our fields cycle from sky to mountain to stream to sea.

As we researched the name Finnriver, we discovered that there is actually a River Finn flowing through County Donegal in Ireland, and we also encountered the wonderful Irish legend of Finn MacCoul, which is one of the more celebrated mythic tales of that land. A man of large proportions and great heart, Finn MacCoul became the leader of the Fianna, the ancient band of warriors who guarded the High King. Finn challenged the Fianna to become champions of the people and to become models of chivalry and justice, and their tales may be the basis of those of the Knights of the Round Table. The following is a tale from Finn’s youth:

The young Finn met the druid and poet called Finnegas, near the river and studied under him. Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the salmon of knowledge, which lived in a pool on the river, for whoever ate the salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world. Eventually the master caught it, and told the boy to cook it for him. While cooking it young Finn burned his thumb, and instinctively put his thumb in his mouth, swallowing a piece of the salmon's skin. This infused him with the salmon's wisdom.

The salmon's place in this tale displays the esteem in which this particular family of fish is held in many different mythologies. We also revere the salmon, for the nourishment it provides our family, the annual reminder of nature's cycles during spawning, and for the many interconnections between soil, salmon and soul.