Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Of Hands and Heart

This has to be one of the hardest Christmases I have ever had to go through. Not because I am wanting in anything at all. I am not. I am well. I have a warm home and many things to be thankful for. No, this Christmas is the hardest I can remember because it is the first one, while of adult age, that I have not been able to spend much on those I love.

I have always tried to give thoughtful gifts at Christmastime. Gifts that show I know the person and have taken the time to find them something they will truly enjoy. I am sure I have failed miserably at times (a neck tie made of sock yarn for my uncle) but I am pretty sure I have been successful more often than I have failed.

This year, due to financial constraints, I made as many things as possible but MEN, oh men are so hard to buy for let alone make something for. Crocheted watch band? Knitted hat? (I swear none of the men in my family wear hats, blast it).

But for the things I did make this year I have one wish; that my family members realize that while I cannot be with them at Christmas, the hours I spent making things for them WERE hours spent with them. Spent for them. This Christmas, I could not give gifts with much thought, I could not give gifts bought with much money, this years' gifts were purchased with my time. Hour after loving hour creating something beautiful for those I love.

Some will understand this, and some will not, but I sincerely hope that when they open their gifts for Christmas, they understand that they are looking at a creation not only of my hands but also of my heart.

Merry Christmas to everyone and blessings for the New Year.
posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Crafting Slam

Right around the 1st of October I get slammed with crafting urges.  My husband has learned to spot it coming from a month away. I start thinking of all the different things I could make for Christmas gifts, I start with small projects, little things here and there. Gradually I think of making sets of things and multiples of things and before you know it, in my head, I've created a 15 snowflake mobile for everyone in our family.

Now, if i didnt have a part time job, a house to look after and oodles of other things to take care of, this might fly. As it is, it is not a very popular idea and usually, my husband is able to talk me down from my crafting high with talk of logic and common sense.  Logic and common sense? Is he crazy? Who would not want a snowflake mobile?

These crafting interventions sometimes end with me promising to craft behind his back. Which proves his point nicely.  Sigh. O.k! I can't let the dishes pile to the ceiling a la Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout in the name of hand crafted goodies for everyone in my family, at work, at church and their families?

Fine.But next year, I'm starting in February.
posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Nesters confession

Oh wheeeee the roller coaster of life. Here I am again coming up for air!
Winter is here. One year ago I moved out to central NY and three years ago I married my husband. November is rarely a boring month.
Though we really were not expecting this:

We continue to work on the farm and try to keep up with running two lives.

I am a nester. A friend of mine told me once "you have a talent for making every place you live feel like home". Well thank you I'm sure. It is definitely a compliment and I believe a useful skill.....when you have a home. When you are in limbo, not so much.

Until we move out of the suburbs and finally down to our farm, I do keep trying to nest; putting a fluffy pillow here, changing the candles out with the seasons, choosing the towels that match the cross-stitch in the bathroom.....but never quite getting things as homey as I would like. How can I with the thought in the back of my mind "we won't be living here much longer"? For now, I surround my spot on the couch with my books and crafting items to keep on hand, a girl sitting in the only empty spot in the middle of a bunch of notions.

I long for that time when all the things I love are in one place. When I can take that cross-stitch off the bathroom wall and hang it in the outhouse, choose the curtains for the cabin from my now large stash of frilly farm curtains and have a 15 minute commute to work instead of an hour and 15 minutes.

It will get here and not in my time but in God's. Of all the things I have learned this first year in a new place, this one lesson is finally sinking in: my plans don't really matter. I just have to pay attention to the cues around me, act accordingly and hang on because the ride of following your dreams is often rough, right? Did I really ever think it was going to be easy?
posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's a Miracle

Yup, I'm still here.

And I'm at work giving myself 15 minutes to check in with everyone and let you know what we've been up to.....I see I've picked up a couple followers and am now past 60!  That is truly a miracle!  And thanks! It's knowing someone is actually reading that encourages me to keep writing.  <3

It's harvest season here and after living in 4 other states I must say the harvest time skies in upstate NY are by far the prettiest.

Case in point

It's pretty likely this post will be mostly photos with some descriptions.  I like my quippy writing style but at times like these (harvest and building a place to live before the snow flies) I really have to be like a wooden 2 x 4 not a doily.  Sorry.  ;-)

We've been hard at work.  The outhouse is done, though not pulled over the 3' hole we dug.  
Can't wait to paint it white, plant flowers around it....you get the idea.

The foundation for the 'cabin' is squared and leveled (this is before it was squared and leveled hahahahahaha lest you think we are idiots!):
The round things are cement cores; we will fill the entire area in with gravel and firm them all up

But we've also had some time to enjoy life here. It's stunning every time we turn around.  Right now we are at peak fall color and boy, I have got to get some photos.  None this time unfortunately.  But still, some flowers on our land:
New England Asters simply glow in the late afternoon light

Canada goldenrod

This is one of my favorite 'scenes' on our land right now. Brambles are orange in the background, 2 kinds of asters and goldenrod; gorgeous.
And finally; some photos of the harvest:

Fava beans in pod
Huge beans in there!

Fava beans 'Windsor' peeled and ready to throw in to a stew or something.

The growing season is pretty short up here. It leaves very little room for error in planting times with tomatoes.  But the catch is if you plant when you should, you often get nasty diseases that are used to the cycles of their hosts (late blight blech!!  www.usablight.org if you want more info) so we planted waaay late and yay! no late blight but:

Yes; we picked them almost ALL green! (5.5 bushels full)

And then we did this with them, most will actually ripen believe it or not.
 So there ya go.  A little photo journal of what's been going on.  My husband's hand is healing and getting better the more he uses it. We are moving onward and upward and praising God for every blessing, even the green tomato harvest.

Until next time!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Ten Minute Post

I've got ten minutes to say hi, feed my husband some more meds and stumble in to bed.

So, here goes!

The farm is still under construction and is going very slowly due to the fact that my husband cut his hand up badly on his........table-saw **CRINGE**  Go ahead, everybody does it. It's impossible to hear that and not cringe to the very tips of your toes.  I won't lie. It has set us back drastically. We are now giving up on getting crops in the ground for a summer harvest and keeping our eyes on the weather, planting like mad for the fall harvest.

Potatoes ready to be covered over
Add to this my 1.5 hour one way commute to my new job (yaaaay! AND booooo!) and we are wondering what on earth God could be planning for us. I figure we must be getting pretty durn close to something great because that is when all sorts of hell-fire and spitting b.s. gets in your way.  Ever notice that?
Sunrise over our little patch o'dirt

So we are both kind of in recovery right now. My spirits vacillate, as do his. Some days he's in so much pain he just sleeps, and it tires me out too for love of him. And let's not even talk about money, ok? The bills coming in are the giant dark spot in my peripheral vision that I ignore. Just keep turning to the light people, deal with it a little at a time and put your face towards the sun.

Outhouse nearly finished
We've been eating lettuce and escarole for a while now and loving every minute of it. I planted 40 tomatoes and 52 cabbages. The view is still as stunning as ever and Hallelujah the rain has stopped for a bit so we can now go down and camp for a few days. I have been longing for camping. Waking up with the dawn to the neighbors' rooster crow, making coffee that always tastes better outside, frying up some eggs and drinking in the sunrise.

Well ten minutes is up and I still have to throw some photos up here for you to look at.  Enjoy, thanks for visiting and hey, I may or may not know you but if you pray then pray for us, if you send karma, then send good karma to us; we could use it and I thank you eversomuch in advance.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

For Carolyn; Wild Leeks continued

Last week a reader asked to help her distinguish between wild leeks and wild garlic. I said I'd post some photos to help so here they are!

The bulbs are an inch wide at the largest but vary and can be as small as a half inch wide. Here they  are fresh picked. Note the reddish stems on the older/larger ones.

Their leaves can be quite wide. I can always spot them because the leaves drape gracefully down, the tips nearly touching the woodland floor.

Cleaned and ready for chopping/braising etc.  They are much sweeter than a lot of onions and their smell is different from cultivated ones.

Hope this helps!!

Hey Carolyn; hope this helps! I'm not sure I've seen wild garlic before so I can't compare. These ended up whole on the grill, blackened and buttered until translucent. They were delicious. We plan on getting a few more this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

To eat or...oooo pretty!

Our little set-up camping out on our land; homey.
It's been hair-on-fire here at the homestead (all 4 of them). Today is the official last frost date for my area (and there was frost last night) so starting tomorrow, we are digging in, sweating buckets and planting planting planting.

There's already been a little activity in our beds (I should say 'bed' since currently there's only one called 'primo' because it was the first).
PRIMO with 225 onion sets, fava beans, lettuce, leeks and escarole

The onions are looking good, the fava beans finally decided to poke through and the lettuces are filling in nicely with their guardian angel watching on.

We're finally putting some hand made tools to use which is rewarding. 

Our garden cart and soil sifter both made by my husband

And we planted 101 red raspberry canes with another 30 or so to go in the ground tomorrow. 

I have a degree in Horticulture and while it has served me well, at times I find myself having to side-step my training and remember I'M A FARMER. Because it is different.

Take Daylilies (or ditch lilies as these are). To a horticulturist they are a pretty, albeit overused, perennial with grassy foliage and a wide variety of flowers.  To a FARMER they are dinner.

These made part of dinner the other night
All parts of the daylily are edible. The tender whitish green stems all the way down to the roots and tubers (mild and tasteless like water chestnuts). So we planted a bunch with food in mind and the flowers (also edible) will add a nice touch to the dinner table as fritters from time to time.

Yesterday we got to wander around a bit and found a large number of choke cherries, service berries and (manna from heaven!) wild leeks or ramps as they are called. Eating is going to be so much fun with so many natural foods at our disposal as long as I can start to see their beauty as food as well as fancy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Little patch of shelter

I thought I'd share a bit about what's going on in our sun porch right now.

I've been awfully busy starting seeds early - thank goodness b.c. with this late spring who knows when we'd have been pulling in a harvest!
Nope, not sowing them all but close!

My fav little spot right now is my potting table. It's a well loved enamel top table that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It will be our work table in our tiny little home once it's built. But for now; it's where I sow seeds, look out the windows and daydream, and soak up some sun without the cold wind to rip the warmth away from me.
Surface of my 'potting table'

I've purchased a gardening apron made of sturdy canvas with just right pockets. I'm not at all afraid to get this one dirty and wipe my grimy hands on its front more oftener than not.

And if we have any reservations about having enough food this season; let me present to you 157 Copenhagen Market cabbages and at least 200-300 leeks, 40 broccoli, 100 escarole and 65 tomatoes not to mention 225 onions already in the ground.

We found an inexpensive way to transplant from egg cartons to plastic cups ($1.99 for 100). I don't like using plastic but I console myself with the fact that we'll likely use them repeatedly and when they are completely un-usable, I'll recycle them.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Sound of Silence

Silence is underrated.

"Hello darkness my old friend....."

When we get a moment of it we don't know what to do so we fill it with thought, speech, and what was for a moment rare and beautiful, is no longer.

(or FEEL for that matter)

I think I miss quite a lot by talking so much. I used to think that talking got what was going on inside my head (you know, that superhighway of thought) out and therefore alleviated some of the 'traffic' between my ears.

(mmmmm....ice cream)

Today I took a vow of silence.  

For an indeterminate period of time and with some exceptions (prayer and in group settings) I will not speak. What I'm already discovering is that my mental traffic has actually slowed down a bit. I'm experiencing a level of contemplation I don't normally.

There is a modicum of peace in refraining from flapping your jaw unnecessarily. If I must communicate I write it down. There's the real deal: I have to think through what I want to communicate. I can't create doilies (as writing one down would take a year) and I can't offend, sound snide, use the wrong word etc. because I have to put it down on paper.

I think I may have found the key to effective communication. Everyone must write everything down first.

Imagine how much shorter the laws would be, how much simpler life would be if we would simply:

Think before speaking

Bwahahah.  And don't forget to laugh at yourself.......and your relatives.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood....."

When you have just bought a piece of land that's seen no action for 10 years, it's not too surprising that a little at a time, the neighbors start trickling in.

It's been a few weeks of us making steady trips to our parcels and in that time I've gotten a good sense of what we're up against, in for and blessed with in our neighbors.

First there was the Native American lady who tried to scare us with ghost stories and snide mention of how she nearly bought our place.

Then there was the walking lady who stopped to genuinely wish us well, kindness oozing from her smile and eyes, charm coming out of her mouth with every word. Ever read Anne of The Island? Looks like we will be having Miss Lavender for a neighbor and we are both more than thrilled.

Then there was the man who owned the land next to us (it's vacant) who stopped to see what we were doing, what our plans were, nose about, see if we were going to sell ours to him or possibly if he could sell his to us. That visit was quite confusing.

Then there was the lady whose cat has been camping out at our property, urinating and defecating in the old farm house, smelling it up badly. She stopped to tell us she's been trying to catch the durned thing. I think she needs to try harder.

Then there was the family that tried to tell us that the property line was three feet further in (in their favor) than it actually was. (Rumor has it that they move the surveyor's pins in their favor) After checking the tax maps and staking it our ourselves, we realized they were full of it.

Then there was the family up the road who didn't ask questions, just said "Hi,  how are you" and when I offered some info they offered their pile of 4 year old aged manure, offered to haul it down to us and give us as much as we needed. Genuinely neighborly. (finally!)

And finally there was the lady who, talking a mile a minute, informed us about the wolf pack that roams our property, the rabid raccoon that was shot up the road and that we should get a better lock on our shed. Scare tactics? She also offered us as much manure as we could want and I think she was trying to sell us one of her horses. The jury is still out on her....sincere? Maybe.

Unfortunately, what I'm learning from all of these encounters is most everyone who talks to us has an ulterior motive. Is a new neighbor such a threat? Do they think we're going to start fracking on our land?

Yesterday, we staked out one set of raised beds roughly twice the size of the garden I had last year.
We will be staking out 3 or 4 more of such set-a-beds. Holy mackerel; we will not be going hungry. At one point we took a break and as I looked at the empty, open, mountain backdrop to our land I thought and people quibble over a few feet of land.......and people believe that we are overpopulated.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Central New York knows no temperance

In my last post I bemoaned the snow. I had onions growing and many things early seeded but.....snow. Well I've heard it's not UNheard of to have a snow storm in June here; this might take a little getting used to!

In the Spring, every farmer hopes for a little temperance. They are out of luck in CNY. We went from 8 inches of snow to 8 inches of rain without hardly a day in between to get stuff done.

My husband and I have been getting very very wet lately.

The hilarious part is he was saying how we can't go down to the farm (it's a decent drive and $30 in gas for us) to work if it's going to rain. I said; "I'm afraid we are being whimps, we have to seed stuff for food!"

Bwahahahah. God heard that.

Because yesterday we spent a good part of the day salvaging plywood and a whole lotta lumber from someone who had knocked down their shed and offered it up for free. And we did this in the rain. At 40 degrees. Slogging through mud.

Next time I get the bright idea to question me or my husbands fortitude, remind me to bite my tongue.

When we were through on our salvage operation, we spent the remainder of the day stuffing our faces with Chinese food and passing out, in the vain hope of getting warm again. It finally worked.

And yet again I am learning that patience is a virtue......that I wish I had more of.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Farm Progress

March 22nd;

I'm looking out my window and as the snow falls, I'm thinking "Spring?". Harumph!

And yet there are signs of it here:

And here:

And, on the phone with my wise mother yesterday, she reminded me of last Spring, when the buds burst early on the trees followed promptly by a very hard frost making fruit set scanty all season long.

Just because I may be impatient for Spring does not mean that it is time for Spring to get here.

Despite the iffy weather, we've been making progress on the farm in bits and pieces. We drive to it nearly once each week to check on things, lay down black plastic to warm the soil, start framing in the cold-frames.

Last week we had a setback in the form of a minor catastrophe on the highway......but it made us think and we've since become wiser. My old truck does not agree with super highways and neither do I. I'm glad to know I chose the right vehicle for the life I want to have, not the life that I 'should' have.

March 30th;

Today is bright and sunny! The onions that have come up are sunning themselves on the porch. After Easter, we are starting our new life. We will be tenting down at the house with the dogs and all. Thank God I love to camp!

The time to till the soil is here, the time to build is here. If you don't hear from me, I'm out on the FARM!
We've been getting these egg cartons from local restaurants and using them to start veggies in

I'll be back though, with more photos and another update on our progress.

Happy SPRING and Happy EASTER!