Thursday, December 6, 2007

books for snowdays

Ever since the industrial revolution people have been leaving the city to go back to the land, it’s an American cliché as common as singing 'Take me Out to the Ball Game' at the top of the seventh inning, but this book is hitting a nerve with me. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m intrigued. Two designers leave the city to open and B&B in rural Wisconsin. They have no agricultural experience and both decide to leave high paying advertising jobs to have alpacas in the sticks. I get it, hell, I’m trying to do it myself, but I’m curious what two world travelers who think pullet is a verb are going to do when all the fun of getting started is over? I’ll let you know when I finish reading it.

I love this book. Maybe it’s because I’m from Pennsylvania and the Amish have always been this mysterious local feral group of people. I have a lot of respect for them, crazy amounts. But not the kind of respect this Catholic MIT grad student and his wife have. For over a year they left Boston to live on a primitive Amish-type community. Hidden somewhere along the back roads of Middle America (undisclosed location) they live without even the simplest motor. Unlike Logan Wards new book, “See you in a Hundred years” the Brendes are satiated in a community living the same way. It’s more than a social experiment, a lot more. Eric and his wife become these people, and even have ea baby among the community. He ends up living just a few miles away and opening an inn and rickshaw business with his wife and two kids. I know my mom wonders why a KU student wants to have sheep, well mom, there are MIT students pulling rickshaws so don't lose heart.

Gene Logsdon is an amazing author. He’s been writing about agriculture for decades, but this fairly recent book of his is my favorite. It was given to me as a gift, and I’ve read through a few times already. It stressed common sense, logic and practicality over pride and other people’s opinions of how you work. It’s full of advice, plans, and conversations. If the Nearings wrote the Bible about “The Good Life” Logsdon has taken their inspiration to the cottage farmers. He explains whats wrong with modern methods of agriculture and how modern farmers drop 60k on a tractor they think they need when they could be selling christmas trees instead. It's full of sounds advice and critiques like that. A must read.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

leif is warm

my friend Leif sent me this picture of him sporting a cold antler knit hat in the blustery Midwestern streets of Cincinnati. Or in this case, at his place. Leif and I used to rock the cabash in Knoxville and I miss the old salt. He’s the only Scandinavian mariachi violinist I know, so far. Come home for christmas, son!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

almost there

I’m shipping out about 6 etsy orders today, if you’ve been patiently waiting I’m sorry and thanks. I have a bunch of domestic and Canadian orders, but also my music going to England, and soaps going to the Netherlands. Which is kinda cool. Besides keeping up with the farm store, things are starting to calm down at the farmhouse. The manuscript is hours away from completion and by Saturday it’ll be shipped off to Massachusetts with photography and notes. I’m so glad it’s done before the holiday break; the last thing I wanted was to be worrying about deadlines when I’m back in Palmerton. So, there will be a nice month long break between rewrites for just hanging out. I am grateful.

In other farm news I’ll be teaching my first fiddle lesson this weekend! A co-workers fiancé just got her first violin and wants to learn so she’s coming over to the farmhouse. I’m getting excited and making photocopies and burning cds so she can get started. Helping someone get started in making music is crazy satisfying. The whole teach a man to fish deal, you get the picture. The snow’s melting from rain, and north Idaho is damp and back to it’s usual self – cold and wet. It’s nearly 60 degrees today, a freak heatwave. The elk are psyched though. It’s like someone took the salad bar out of the freezer around my place. Cervine ruminants everywhere. Party!

Monday, December 3, 2007


I came home from lunch to let the dogs out and noticed there wasn’t any snow on the roof above the silkies coop. Oh no. If all three feet had gotten rain heavy and fallen on their pathetic apple crate coop, they were goners for certain. I trudged through the wet snow to the side of the house and there was a pile five feet high, the coop gone. I lost a rabbit Saturday morning, I didn’t want to find two suffocated chickens in a pile of rubble, but I had to know so I got out my shovel.

I stood on the top of the pile and started digging. When my snow shovel hit the aluminum roof I heard the faintest sound. A little coo and some chirps. My god, they were still alive under there? I frantically pulled apart the wood and roof and into a little pocket of air and apple crate that had turned on its side making a little serendipitous teepee. Inside the two wet birds were huddled together, Emily and Mac. I pulled them out and carried them in my arms back into the house. It was pouring outside and I was soaked through from the avalanche mission. I just put them down on the mudroom floor and left to change. I knew they were too out of sorts to go far. The dogs were asleep in their crates so they didn’t even stir when I carried the refugees through the house and into the garage. I placed them in a big cardboard box with pine shavings, clean water and some feed. I covered it with a section of wire fencing and let them go to dry off and relax.

The bird’s pocket of air from the snow couldn’t have been more than 20 square inches of space. Had I waited till after work to check on them I doubt they would’ve made it. Two lucky little black birds in the snow.