Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farmer Training

Yesterday I went to the Farmers Market in downtown Chicago. I go most every Tues and Thursday because I love the atmosphere of the market and to see the changing produce.

I had been the week earlier and wanted to purchase some beets. (My beet crop being sorely lacking this year.) I only had $1 and the bunch of beets was $3. I was at a stand that I had never stopped or purchased at before. The nice woman said, oh go ahead and take them anyway. I was shocked - I don't know why - I've experienced kindness and thoughtfulness like this before at the market, but I guess it always just strikes me as uncommon.

I went back yesterday to pay her the $2 that I owed her (and buy more beets of course). I got to talking to her and it turns out that she grew up in the little western Illinois town (Wyanet, IL) next to where my family is from and my grandmother still lives. In fact, her parents live in the town where my parents lived when I was born. Small world! We laughed about it. Her stand was pretty busy so I didn't take up too much of her time and moved on. I'm going to go back next week and talk to her some more. I want to hear about her farm (which is near Kankakee) and her growing methods. Based on her use (or non-use) of chemicals, I may ask her if I can volunteer sometime on her farm.

Bill and I are considering taking the Stateline Farmer Beginnings class through Angelic Organics Learning Center. I think it is an excellent opportunity to learn from current market and CSA farmers and to network with others.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rant against WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio

I am mad at Chicago Public Radio. I am so angry that I took the unheard of position of cancelling my membership. Bill and I have been members for over 10 years. I have even been a volunteer during pledge drives.

I listen to WBEZ religiously every day when I get home from work. All Things Considered, Marketplace and WorldView are my daily dose of news and happenings. Those programs are my companions during my downtime doing various things around the house or making supper.

Can you imagine my surprise when I heard one of the sponsors is Monsanto? And on top of that - claiming to be a proponent and supporter of SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE? Say what?!?

I called and cancelled our membership and told them why. The response was polite. I think I will follow up with a letter explaning my disgust.

I will send our money to Wisconsin Public Radio or to Iowa Public Radio instead.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Piglet photos

A friend and I visited Prairie Crossing earlier this spring. Prairie Crossing is a planned community - which normally I stay clear of - but this is a planned conservation community. They have their own farm! We were visiting for their plant sale and then we did a self tour through their farm and greenhouses. They also rent greenhouses and land to beginning farmers under a land share agreement.

When we were there we saw the new piglets. I don't know the breed, but these are so cute.

Last night we had a local supper.

Goat kabobs from Mint Creek Farm. As future goat raisers, I figured it was time to figure out if we like it or not - as neither Bill nor I had ever had goat. We liked it. Bill liked it more than I did. I don't need meat in my diet like Bill does. I marinated the kabobs in some vegetable oil, lemon juice and cumin. We then grilled them.

Zucchini Skillet Cakes w Capers & Pine Nuts. - recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Suppers. Delicious! The zucchini were grown by my parents, the eggs were from my co-op (from Southern Wisc), the chives, garlic and marjoram were from my yard. The bread crumbs were made from my own old homemade bread. Non-local ingredients were: lemon juice, pine nuts and capers.

This was all enjoyed with a glass of lovely white wine from a local Wisconsin vineyard - Bauer Kearns Winery. A delicious wine and surprisingly not coyingly sweet.

I forgot to take a photo. I assume the photos of the piglets are cuter anyway.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What a great vacation!

Here are some photos of the summer kitchen that I continue to take down. Remember that I am prying out each nail of the board in an effort to save the historic panels and the oak beams that they are nailed into. It is hard to remove these nails. I have to pry them out with a cat's paw and then use a pry bar to further loosen each nail.

One photo shows some of the boards. These are only the ones that I removed this past few days. The rest are already stored inside the barn.

There are still some boards on the sides, and a few stubborn ones that I didn't get off on the front. I need one more day and all of the lumber siding will be gone. I calculated that I have removed about 2500 nails. I am pretty good friends with my tools these days.

We head home tomorrow and back to work on Monday.
I'll post pictures of the dumpster soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

All in a day's work

Whew. Tired.

We worked at the farm today. I ordered a 20 yard dumpster to fill up with the garbage left by the previous owners and the trash that I took out of the barn. Today we filled it up about 1/2 way. Bill filled the loader on the tractor over and over and over and over. I continued to take down the summer kitchen - until the boards were too high for me to reach. I balanced for a bit on a cinder block but then, well, that just seemed dangerous. Bill cleaned up all of the trash from the barn interior (that I previously emptied) and the cement slab behind the hog house. We were laughing and joking with each other that we always seem to buy properties and clean up other people's garbage. Bill said, well that's our buying strategy! It's true. Garbage, run-down = affordable. Plus we prefer to do the work ourselves (sustainable and in an historic appreciative way). The trash behind the hog house was disgusting. It was a former burn pile so it had lots of rusted car parts, half-burnt, and trash. Literally trash. I found a curling iron. Children's toys. A busted barbell set. A burnt calculator. I could go on and on. You get the point.

We returned to the church/home tired. A chicken is in the oven. It was a terrific day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Symphony of Rain

We are in Wisconsin at our old church/home for an extended weekend or mini -vacation (Tues night thru Sun morning).

We arrived tonight at about 8:45 p.m.

We were sitting outside enjoying a New Glarus Organic Revolution (best name ever or what? and check out the cool illustration on the label!).

Anyway, I was sitting outside as darkness moved in and the wind picked up. I said to Bill, "feels like rain."

It began to rain. Bill chose to go inside. I like to sit in the rain so I stayed on my bench near my weed filled (not as bad as last time) garden. I discovered the Symphony of Rain.

This is what I heard:

Raindrops hit the leaves of the sunchokes growing in my garden
Rain gurgle down the gutter behind me
Raindrops splat on the compostable mulch I have on the onion bed
Raindrops pummel the corn stalks across the road
Rain on the road sprattle up from car tires as they drove past
Raindrops making the slightest hush as it fell on the prairie plants

The world is alive with music; we just need to stop and listen to it.

I am so glad to be here. We are going to work at the farm and try to get in some relaxation too.

(p.s. I don't think sprattle is a word, but I think it accurately describes the sound.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Survey - hand tools for women

Have you ever used your tools and wished that it was shorter or lighter? I have (and I'm tall!). These ladies are designing garden/farm tools for women and they want to hear from us! Check out their website and give them your thoughts.

I was also impressed that they want to make sure their workers/producers receive a living wage.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day work

Bill and I had a long weekend in Wisc and we did some work at our church/home and at the farm.

The prairie planting that we did in lieu grass is coming along nicely.
We hadn't been in Wisc since Memorial Day weekend. It was good to be back. We are heading up again next week on Tues night for a few extended days of work - we hope to get started on rebuilding the barn foundation. we brought our flatbed trailer home so that we can load it up with materials. In order to fix the barn we need to rebuild part of the foundation that has worn away with the freeze/thaw of the seasons. We are looking forward to it.

I spent some time working on taking down the summer kitchen building. I hope to get it completely taken down.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fresh the Movie

If you can, go see Fresh the Movie. For the readers of this blog, most information in this movie we already know. However, it features Joel Salatin very prominiently (and who knew he was so funny?), Michael Pollan, and Will Allen of Growing Power.

After the movie, which was shown at No Exit (the theater space associated with Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park), there was a networking opportunity. It was great to see so many people associated with the local food movement.

Interesting article from Johns Hopkins on the use of antibiotics.