Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Juggler

It’s very fitting that one of the projects I’m working on right now is a home organization binder. I sort of already have one, but I’m aiming to make one that I will really use and will make me feel like less of a…juggler.

I say “one of the projects” because I’m currently working on many different things. I’m on the tail end of food preservation (tonight I made canned apple pie filling), I’m ramping back up my knitting and crocheting, I need to practice treadling on my spinning wheel, I’m making a cool recipe binder, regular cooking/cleaning, work, teaching, making Halloween costumes, planning travel and a birthday party, and on and on.

Oddly enough, I’m not feeling frantic. I feel similar to the squirrels that run along my fence, trying to store away enough extra food for winter. They are all over the place right now and always look very busy. I’m sure at night when they are done for the day, they wish they had Netflix and the internet. Or maybe that’s just my go-to activity for when my brain feels like mush and I can’t possibly concentrate on any projects.

It dawned on me today that in two months there could be snow on the ground. When there is, I’m going to make mulled cider with a splash of bourbon and curl up on my couch with some wool and less things to juggle.


A Good Balance

Fog rolling in on the farm.

I’m currently sitting here not knitting or building a recipe binder (2 things I ought to be doing) so I figure I could do something else productive and tell you about our first few weeks of homeschooling.

It honestly hasn’t been that odd or scary or stressful. I think that starting some school related stuff over the summer really helped. There was no real first day of school around here. I think this took the pressure off of us a bit.

Jack finished up his Explode the Code (online version) a couple weeks ago. Then we switched over to Time 4 Learning for his basic language arts curriculum. He absolutely loves it which makes me happy. Sometimes he will even do extra work just because he thinks it’s fun. AWESOME!

I wanted to fill the weeks with fun stuff but not too much where we were running around like maniacs all the time; especially since I will still be working every Wednesday afternoon at the market and once a week on the farm through October. Basically we have art class each Tuesday, science club and 4H every other Thursday, and swim lessons on Fridays.

Jack actually went to his first lesson tonight and did really well. He goes to the Y for his class and the instructors are incredible. He was having so much fun and kept smiling at me as he was swimming past. He even jumped from the side of the pool into the water for the first time ever, and didn’t freak out. YAY!

Farm cat Chet looks through the toy box after killing a mouse.

For this fall we are working on a Revolutionary War project. We will be reading various books on the topic and then revisiting the Saratoga Battle Monument (where we got married), the Saratoga Battlefield, and Fort Ticonderoga. The hope is that after learning the history we can all appreciate these places better.

Yesterday Jack and I started a project of making bats for Halloween decor and earlier in the week we built stuff from polymer clay. We squeeze math into the nooks and crannies of our days.

So, there you have it so far. It actually seems more normal than anything. I was way more stressed out getting him off to school 5 days a week before and I think he was too.

Two Trips

A few weeks ago Chris surprised us with a trip to the USS Slater down in Albany. From the website:

During World War II, 563 Destroyer Escorts battled Nazi U-boats on the North Atlantic protecting convoys of men and material. In the Pacific they stood in line to defend naval task forces from Japanese submarines and Kamikaze air attacks. Today, only one of these ships remains afloat in the United States, the USS SLATER.”

We got an amazing tour of the ship and it was incredible to see how well everything has been restored. Even more amazing is that the restoration work and continuous upkeep is done by volunteers.

I really love anything that has to do with history. I’m so truly fascinated with people who have done great things and faced great challenges.

You got to see the meager sleeping/eating quarters, how the officers’ dining table doubled as an operating table, the areas where the sailors ran their drills, the galley which is smaller than my kitchen that served over 200 each day, and so much more.

Walking through there, thinking of their deployments, it made me realize I have it pretty good as a modern Navy wife. Chris and I used to email back and forth when he was in the office underway. Those boys had to wait weeks and weeks to get letters from home. My heart aches for their wives; that wait must’ve been misery.

On Labor Day Jack and I went to the Norman Rockwell Museum just over the border in Massachusetts. We mostly went because they are currently having an Ice Age animation exhibit and Jack loves those movies.

Truth be told, I wasn’t ever much a fan of Rockwell. I used to think his works were pretty corny and overly idealistic. Seeing many of his works up close was a big lesson for me.

He has many works that could be considered very liberal and very bold for his day. Also, his paintings (well, a lot of them) are very large! When you see them up close you realize how incredibly talented he was with capturing human realism and perfect facial expressions.

Behind the museum is the small house that was used as his studio. The view from there is simply incredible. Beautiful rolling mountains covered in trees that go on for miles. On the rest of the grounds are robot sculptures (a current installation) which Jack enjoyed.

After the museum we went into town to look for a place to have lunch. We stumbled upon Alice’s Restaurant (ok, it isn’t called that now, but it’s still the same place) and you can’t really get anything you want there…but we did get some great cupcakes to bring home with us!

If you live anywhere near these two places, I encourage you to check them out. I swear I will never be too old for field trips.

The End of Season Scramble

A friend sent me this on Facebook. Hilarious.

It’s Labor Day weekend and I’m spending it laboring. I’ve been canning tomatoes like a crazy person and I still have to put up my tiny sungolds.

I’ve canned whole Romas, made spicy tomato jam, and some ketchup. There are still more pink ones on the vines out in the garden, so I know I’m not even close to being done.

There’s a shift in the air though. Days are getting shorter, corn is slowly starting to be razed on some fields, and in the mornings there’s a coolness to the air.

This is it…the homestretch. The last scramble to get everything put by before cold creeps in and kills everything. So many projects to complete. Everything is a race against the snow now.

Over the next 2 months we will be putting in a raised bed garden for garlic, building a coldframe and planting greens in it, and possibly installing insulation in the basement.

This week I’m putting the finishing touches on the cardigan I’ve been knitting. I can’t wait to slip it on as soon as the weather gets cool enough. I need to start planning Halloween costumes, and even plan out Christmas gifts that will be made.

There are certain aspects of the summer that I’ll miss, but Fall is my absolute favorite. I’m going to welcome it gladly, and fully prepared.

Beyond Surreal

These beautiful sweet potato vines are now covered with a whitish silt.

A few weeks ago over 40 people from all around the region came to Kilpatrick Family Farm for a NOFA event where Michael was educating everyone on winter production.

We went out to the field in Granville, a huge field by the Mettowee River, where he grows a portion of his crops. It was such a beautiful day and everyone was just amazed by all the crops.

They were especially wowed by how great the brussels sprouts looked. Man oh man they were really spectacular. They would’ve sold so well this fall and winter. Now they’re still standing but ruined by tropical storm Irene. (Click here for a full article with photos.)

I saw the field when I went to the farm on Friday. The only way I can describe it is that it looked like its soul was gone. Does that even make sense? It looked sad. The muddy, still-drying ground looked like almost like a compacted clay substance and everything had silt on it.

Even though it was a warm sunny day, it just looked so sad. Even worse, some of the stuff looked completely fine, but it isn’t safe for consumption. It will have to be tilled. To add to it, you could smell the putrid stench of rotting hay and straw bales that got soaked in the flooding.

When I was leaving I forgot to even say goodbye to Michael. I was stunned and in a daze. All that food, and money, and effort just gone. All those families who enjoy it so much won’t have it.

But you know what? Everyone has been so nice and understanding and feels so bad. One CSA member at market was almost in tears because she felt so bad. People have already said they’ll stand by the farm no matter what. It’s overwhelming (in a good way) to hear the kind words from customers.

This is why eating local matters. More than any of the other reasons I could ramble on and on about…it really matters to know the people who feed you for times like these so you can boost them up and let them know you care about them and their families.

Also, because in the midst of all this, I was without power and Michael extended the offer of having me stay at his farm. He just lost over $80,000 worth of crops and he was offering hospitality. The people at Purdue or ConAgra certainly aren’t extending those offers my way, nor would I even notice if something hurt their production.

Things will get better though, I know this. I’m completely undeterred by this as well. I will always want a farm. I’m stubborn and I tend to work more with my gut than with my head anyway. This is just another thing to tuck in the back of mind but it certainly doesn’t put me off of the idea of farming.

If you live anywhere near any of the farms that were impacted by the storm, please please help them in some way. Even if it’s just buying some of their products or by saying a caring word. If you live in NY please consider taking part in NOFA’s Locavore Challenge as well.