Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hmm, I feel like putting some pictures up but I haven't taken any photos since being here except for a few botched attempts at catching the fireflies at night. This really is an amazingly beautiful farm. It's 200 acres with beautiful small pasture fields and lots and lots of trees and really nice old barns and river and pond. We just came back from swimming in the pond as the day was hot and humid. Jeff has been baking for the last 2 weeks, tending the fire in the oven, mixing and shaping dough and throwing it in and out of the oven. I've been milking cows and making cheese and hanging. The most pleasurable part of the day might be walking down this tree-lined road to close in the chickens for the night in the dusk as the fireflies sparkle and light up the fields like little twinkling stars. I love fireflies more than most things. They're the best thing of all time I think. And on this beautiful farm, they make it really magical.
Another cool thing has been getting to know Juan, an Ecuadorian farmer and farm educator who is here through the MESA program on exchange. He's incredibly knowledgeable about farming in Ecuador and all over and we've been having fun swapping farm stories from our different countries. It's really interesting to hear about what's happening in Ecuador because he is trying to promote sustainable farming there and it's just such a different situation.
Jeff and I get more excited about our own farm every day all the different things we want to do and grow and try. Cows and fruit trees and heirloom beans. Electric tractors and woks in the kitchen. The list can be endless.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Well I guess I haven't posted for awhile. Haven't really had too much of a chance or too much to write for a couple of weeks, but now I think I can squeeze something out. For the past couple of weeks, we've pretty much been getting across the country with a few neat detours along the way.
We did stop at Live Power Farm, a 150 member CSA - biointensive, biodynamic farm. We spent the day there working in their garden. Met some lovely people, there were about 6 interns there and did some garden work. That was pretty alright.
Then we spent about 3 awesome days in Oregon, camping by a river, swimming and hiking the Oregan Coast Trail in beautiful forest along the coast. That was awesome.
Then we drove and drove. Stopped at the Missoula farmers market which was nice, saw a lot of rolling prairie, stopped at a funny, neat little tractor "museum" on the side of the freeway in South Dakota and had a couple of oldster farmers show us a video of a horse-powered haystack loader (a j-fork??) - that was fun.
Stopped in Chicago and hung out with Noah! And also stopped at the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm which was pretty cool. Talk about the wickedest small-scale farming bookstore. Holy. Jeff and I were drooling and had to keep each other from just putting one of each book on the checkout counter.

Anyhoo, now we're at Bobolink Dairy in New Jersey. We just arrived yesterday and it looks like it's going to be a fun month. The farm is in an extremely beautiful area, surrounded by national forest (I think that may be the running theme of this trip - hmm, not bad). 200 acres of small pastures, old farm buildings and a nice dairy and bakery. They make beautiful cheese and wood-fired bread and Jeff and I spent our first day, split up, me in the dairy, Jeff baking bread all day. It's a beautiful farm with a whole bunch of nice people on it and we're making cheese and bread - what could be bad right? Except that we;re dying for our own farm. The longer this trip is, the more impatient I seem to get. But it's going to be a good month, there's lakes all around and cows and trees and fireflies! And I can't really complain when I get to milk cows and make cheese all day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okay then, just a quick update as we finish up here at Windborne Farm. It's been pretty great for the past month, we've learned a lot (both about want to do and what not to do! - as usual) and we've got the chance to see Jennifer's crops grow - some are heading up already and some just a few inches high, those that we planted in the past month. It looks pretty great. I've got so many ideas and plans for seed breeding and CSA options. But we're pretty excited to move on as well. We're hopefully going to visit Live Power Farm ( next week which is where Jennifer used to work - they have a bio-dynamic, horse-powered CSA that sounds really awesome and high quality. And we're also thinking of visiting a baker that Jennifer knows who is expert at using local and diverse grains and who does markets and stuff. Both sound really cool.
It's been pretty nice watching Jason and Rafael, two of Jennifer's kids do a mini CSA here, harvesting greens and radishes and stuff and riding them to people on their bike and in the community. We've also done more cultivating with Thor, Jen's draft horse which has been nice and got to see a new baby goat before we left!
So the plan is to go visit these two other places here in California and then head East, visiting the Seed Saver's Exchange Heritage Farm in Iowa on the way. Then we'll be at Bobolink Farm ( in Vernon, New Jersey on July 1.
More soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Okay I finally got this thing to put a picture up. These are the farm and the fresh pasta we made with Jen's kid Rafael (and Leslie), some cuddling goats and heirloom beans and cowpeas. I can't remember what we've done since I last wrote but some of the things are broadcasting millet, seeding black garbanzos and heirloom beans. Oh yeah, husking corn with this really nice corn husker - beautiful green corn - threshing beans, lots of hoeing. The corn and beans, millet and buckwheat that we seeded last week are up and really nice and we're going to take out the horse cultivator this week hopefully though it's been raining for a few days. What do you think over there, do you think people in the Toronto area would be interested in a grain CSA? Jeff and I are really into it the grain and legumes thing, we would really like to do it and it's pretty low overhead. But do you think that people would be interested in fresh milled flours, dry beans, lentils, chickpeas and cool whole grains?? Grains are so neat because of how nutritious they are and we don't really think about how many of them are obselete now that wheat has taken over. Anyway, my hands just stopped working so my grain nutrition sermon is being aborted. Just look at the pictures...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Farming at last!

For all those people that got a little depressed after reading our last post, fear not! All that driving was worth it! We're here in Fort Jones, California in this beautiful valley farmin' grain!!! And it's good good fun. This farm is great, and we're learning a lot and getting more and more excited every day to grow grains and legumes for our CSA when we get back. It's so so fun and worthwhile, I think. We've been at Windborne Farm with Jennifer Greene for a week so far and we're getting into the swing of things. We're done some cool stuff so far such as seeding chickpeas, beans, heirloom corn, buckwheat, millet and cowpeas. We've been hoeing lentils and moving tons of irrigation wheel lines which are those big aluminum pipes on wheels that farmers round here use to irrigate their field crops (all the farmers around us use them to irrigate their acres and acres of alfalfa). It's been really great. This week, Jennifer's got a CSA drop-off so we've been watching her beautiful mill in action as well as her nice seed cleaner (the old kind, you know, we had one at Whole Circle, but she's got her's done to a pretty fine art).
We've baked in her wood-fired oven (yummy flat breads) and made pasta and bread. And best of all cultivated with her Fjord horse Thor. As an added bonus, she taught us to spin wool and card weave which is really fun - we're gonna teach some school kids how to do it tomorrow.
So yeah, the view from an organic farm is definitely better than from the I-40. Though there is an awful lot of high-noon irrigating of alfalfa going on around here, and that means big mists thrown into the air when it's 45 degrees in the blazing sun - not too efficient.
So it's real good and Jeff and I are looking forward to incorporating a lot of what we;re learning about into our own farm in the future. Hooray!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Across the U.S.....

You know, exiting the boundaries of the farm and venturing into the rest of the world is always a little bit shocking but I gotta say, leaving Pat's beautiful homestead in the mountains increased the shock level by A LOT especially considering we left it to drive ourselves West across the Southern United States! Sheesh, I don't recommend that for anyone who has a mind towards noticing the way that our society is well just slightly functioning in the most backwards, inefficient way possible. I was trying to make my mind wrap around the crazy things I was seeing - pre-fab houses on the backs of semi trailers moving down the highway, giant fields of just harvested cotton smack dab in the middle of a town where you must have to know a secret password to find fresh food - these sights caught between the bumpers of cars the size of boats. Now, I know that this exists, that this is how our society works, that's the whole point of what we're doing, but from the point of view of the U.S interstate, the world seems pretty bleak. We're like polar bears who have decided to only eat peaches. What!?!?!? I mean, everything we do seems to be completely the opposite of efficient or sensical. And the apathy - oh the apathy....
From the point of view of the interstate (and I'm not saying that this is necessarily the best way to view the world) people don't seem to want to analyze how their actions are going to effect the lives of their children and certainly not their children's children - but it's gonna be science fiction come to life in my opinion - war, scarcity, death. We don't seem too believe that we need to function in a way that is at all in line with how the earth functions (like those peach-eating polar bears), we'll just use up all the oil, all the trees, all the land and not think about what the hell our kid's are gonna do. And not just in terms of what are they gonna use for resources but also, what's gonna make their lives enjoyable, calm, fulfilling 'cause I can't believe that living in some kind of futuristic bubble is gonna be too nice. At least, as I say, that's how it looks from the godforsaken interstate.
However, thank god for the Santa Fe Farmers Market and the New York Times!!!!! By that I mean, the Santa Fe Farmers's Market is beeeeeeautiful. And when we got to my mom's the New York Times had a great article about urban farming in NYC, Detroit and elsewhere. To my relief, I was reminded of all the awesome people who are doing positive, innovative things (not, apparently the gov't of Burma, but, well, at the farmers market?!?!?!?) and soon we're heading out to someone just like that to work on her farm for a month, phew.
Now how's that for ending on a positive note?
(p.s. I couldn't figure out how to put a caption on the photos above, so the first one is a big ol' dead-looking field in Arkansas and the other two are the Santa Fe Farmers Market - hand-spun mohair and oyster mushrooms)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

North Carolina!!!!!!

Okay, so, fate had something in mind for us when we came to North Carolina I guess. We were thinking that we were heading towards Georgia, having spoken to a farmer there who said we could come for a week or two, sounded good when he gets back to us saying, actually he's got people, he can't use more. But we really wanted to do some farming around here so we went back to the WWOOF book, called a bunch of people who never got back to us and then saw the description of this farm that caught our eye. We wrote the farmer who wrote back saying, no, not right now, but we called her too and she called us the night before leaving New York to say actually, sure, come on by.
And thank god she did. We're been with Pat for the past week, up at her place 4000 ft high in the mountains, working her garden and reveling in the beauty. She homesteads up there, growing about 70 fruit trees, blueberries, grapes, raspberries and veggies, no electricity, takes water from her spring. It;s been amazing. Her place is carved out of the crease of a mountain side (I finally know what a holler is!), we walk half a mile up to get there and she's this amazing woman, been homesteading for years and years. She introduced us to local farmers and friends, took us out to see mountain music and made us totally welcome. It was as close to paradise as we've been in years. Now we're thinking, farming??? why not homesteading??
No but really, it was a big reminder of all the things that are important to us that we often put aside towards the idea of growing more food for more people. A reconnection to how much we want to live outside of a system that just wants us to consume as much as possible, think as little as possible and forget about what we're destroying along the way.
Anyway, I can't describe how great the past week as been this way, but that's where we've been. We're driving down the coast to Georgia, then heading across to the west. But I think we;ll be back before this trip is out, I wanna pick apples in that holler.