Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Growing, Trusting and Side Projects

I hope you all had a wonderful day of remembrance and counted blessings on Monday.

Distant storms are chasing down our welcome summer warmth
the wind is their companion and it is a mighty one up on this hill
But in the sun there are flowers
soon to bear
and growing things growing taller
The leeks grow so fast we have to give them a haircut once a week.

We've been doing quite a bit of weeding around here in preparation for rapidly approaching harvests. We're a small group of workers but I've never felt a part of something bigger. My efforts matter more here. There's time to let your mind wonder but not wander. Farming can be dangerous so it's best to work always with your wits kept about you and to look out for each other. There is a lot of respect and trust in our little circle, and it feels good to feel it.

After work I have a few projects of my own for someone new in my life that must have had a room in my heart reserved for all the love I have for her already. My sisters, brother and brother-to-be are coming home to Wisconsin in a little over a week. My older sister and given brother are bringing my niece to visit for the first time and I am having fun making things while I patiently wait to hold her again.

Lexi's Lilac Dress
and so she knows her roots...
and just for fun.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Week at the Farm and Dandelion Wine

We moved quite a few loads of quite a few tomato cages
and trellised the cucumbers and indeterminate tomatoes in the high tunnel
we did a LOT of weeding. My favorite kind of weeds are the edible kind, which many sorts of weeds are, it turns out. The best are from the sneaky seeds that stowaway into rows of the veggies planted after them. Pretty red radishes, failing to hide amongst the beets became a quick, spicy, mid-morning field snack.
Most of my time this evening was spent picking dandelions and plucking the soft petals from the green crowns that hold them.
all in preparation for making Dandelion wine
It was a lovely evening for picking and plucking petals in the sun with a delightful 5-year-old helping me out, keeping me company and showing me many things that deserve my attention. But it was a time-consuming project and hours after he had gone to sleep, I was approaching my own bedtime and still working with the fluffy yellow stuff. I hope that this wine will be delicious and worth all the time it takes so that the next time I make it, I will have the foresight to gather friends around a bright kitchen table for this part. To chat with and laugh with and, well, help out.

Many hands make light work and good friends make light hearts. It's true.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In the Kitchen

there is so much to do and so much to eat!

Yesterday we found some over-wintered leeks in the field and with the surplus seed potatoes
Potato Leek Soup for dinner was in order (this recipe is from The Complete Root Cellar Book which is wonderful and I look forward to using in assistance with building my own root cellar one day.)

Pie (with yummy cornmeal crust from Savoring the Seasons)
Syrup (for rhubarb sodas that I discovered via my favorite blog Soule Mama)
sweet Sauce leftover from the syrup gives apple sauce a run for it's money

We have so much asparagus I tried to pickle a few spears
I'll let you know how they taste! (hopefully spicy and a little garlic-y)

The real excitement in the kitchen last night was when, amidst all this, the door swung open and I heard "There are morels in them there woods!" My coworker proudly beaming and holding a cloth bag filled with 5 pounds of delicious, highly-prized (and highly priced) morels. He generously shared his dinner with me and has inspired me to never give up the search. Before the season is up I must seek out these treasures myself.
Happy hunting to you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Local Love

They're random, but days that are sunny, cloudy and sporadically rainy are gems. Looking outside at the lit fluffy clouds, seemingly sweet after a weekend of rough weather and in some dear places, severe even, the brightness making peace and suddenly dropping the rain that makes summers here so soo green. Such a way to be.

I spent most of the day pressure-washing the boxes that the freshest cut food will be delivered in just a few weeks. It was refreshing and so will it be. I was in full rain gear, drenched and happy.

Last Thursday I took a mini trip. I did the rounds to Elmwood and Downsville. Elmwood boasts the deliciously award-winning Sailer's Meats and the locally renowned Highland Hollow Coffee. Luckily Sailer's is open late on Thursdays and they sell Highland Hollow's coffee, so I was able to get both. Though the Highland Hollow's store was closed I look forward to finding it open, as they have something else that's near and dear to me. (hint: It's wool.)

Elmwood, already the home of these super, sought-after products, is also home of UFO Days. There have been multiple sightings in this area and the people here have embraced it. I hope to be able to go to their town festival this summer and celebrate with them.
On the way back home I stopped in Downsville, WI. I was taken aback by Simply Dunn, Dunn County Pottery. http://simply-dunn.com/
Their lovely original shop --still lovely.
Their newly restored 19th century school house building, holding more beautiful pieces and even more so, meetings for local passionates of many great practices.
There are flowers everywhere.
And just beautiful work...
Trust in humanity that replenishes my continued faith in it.
Honest craftsmanship.
All around goodness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Natural Beauty

I am becoming ever fonder of the chickens. They follow me around the chicken yard making all kinds of different endearing noises. They still get a little freaked out when I try to pet them, but I'm working on it.
I love the bright stripey reds and greens of the lettuces and onions in the field.
Wednesday we seeded the most beautiful corn.
These corn seeds with their yellows, reds, blues and ones with swirly mixtures of colors --I want to string them and wear them around my neck they are so pretty.
We grow it for cornmeal which is made right here, with an antique I'm told--I can't wait to see it.

The potato planter is older too and it's a funny sight to see it hitched up to a newer tractor.
Yes, this is the potato planter I was pulling while driving the new tractor (again, my first time behind the wheel of any tractor.) Below is a visual of my wavy row--fortunately the photo is small it's not that obvious. Doesn't look that bad, right?
Yesterday I got to ride behind a tractor most of the day as we laid plastic mulch in the field, which is a great help with weed control.
All in all it was a very productive, entirely gorgeous week. I feel blessed to be surrounded by all this natural beauty. We're in full green swing here now, becoming more lush progressively always. All the blooming trees make the air fragrant and sweet, it's lovely to just close your eyes and breathe. Birds swoop around and sit on the fence and sing songs. It's picturesque all around me and my senses are filled with wonder.

While I am usually covered in dirt. (Yes, covered.) I may not look my best, but trying to do my small part working to keep our home planet just a bit more beautiful and sustainable makes me happy. Happier than finding a cute outfit to wear to office work ever did. Much.
I'm off to see friends and family this weekend again...
So, for now, I will leave you with these cows. Don't they look like nice cows? Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Picking Dinner

I'm sporting my first sunburn of the season. Yes, I have been wearing sunscreen. I apply it liberally to my head/neck area because the rest of me is pretty well covered--butt I missed a spot. (he he!) I guess I need longer shirts or higher pants or a belt or sunscreen on my lower back/upper butt because it's pretty red from being on my knees laying hay mulch on garlic.

Last night I went on a short walk through the fields and down to the woods with Oscar. It was a beautiful day and so nice to have his company.
I discovered the family's tree swing and swung a little bit.
All the while I was munching on asparagus from the farm family's pick-your-own patch. I had never had raw asparagus before I came here, and like so many other veggies, fresh picked, it is amazing.
The other night I was out picking spinach for dinner on an over-wintered field.
I made a really tasty soup I must say. It was out of a lot of random things in the fridge or freezer. I love making clean-out-the-fridge soups, because I hate to see food go to waste (someone goes to a lot of trouble to grow it and if it doesn't compost it releases more bad gases into the environment) but also--they are some of the best soups out there.

Mine was:
a whole bunch of finely chopped (in my veggie chopper) Spinach
Shallots (from the farm from last year that kept in the freezer/root cellar)
Ham (left over from Easter in my freezer)
a little bit of delicious Ramp Pesto (that was so good on pasta and sandwiches prior)
Wisconsin Crimini Mushrooms that I always have around
some frozen Peas from the freezer
Of course Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil
At the end I added a few cups of Milk that I wouldn't finish before it went, so it was slightly creamy.
The day ended with a fantastic moon rise that pictures in no way can do justice.
This is the kind of gift that this wide open air has to offer and isn't given nearly enough credit for.

I am such a sucker for the sky.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fresh Air

I purchased the annual pass to Nugget Lake County Park. We hiked up a steep hill through woods abundant with ramps, wild flowers and interesting pretty rocks. I was told I am like a goat the way I'd snatch a ramp leaf and munch on it.
Reaching the top revealed this lovely view.
As we looked around us, there was more to see...
Geological formations
Wildflowers covering the ground below...
...and up above us the Plum Trees.

We stopped here to fish a bit --we found no takers.
but just sitting listening to the songs of the water and the wildlife, watching the beautiful yellow finches fluttering all around--is what makes fishing such a pleasant experience, fish or no.

Later, back at the farm, the sunny windy day made it perfect conditions for laundry.
There is nothing like fresh line dried sheets.

There's a new tractor in the family that arrived this weekend too.
My first drive on this tractor, or any other for that matter, was pretty exciting for me. We planted potatoes--and my rows were a little wavy, which is not what you go for, but something I'll learn from. There are no straight lines in nature, right?