Saturday, September 11, 2010

sunny and me

Friday, September 10, 2010

event at hubbard hall!

I'll be hosting a film and book signing here in Cambridge at Hubbard Hall on November 5th. The film is Handmade Nation, and afterwards I'll have a short talk and signing of Made From Scratch. If you're in the area, or just want to see a documentary about a movement, stop by my little town and say hello. We've got a hotel, bars, restaurants and farms. I say that's a combination for a fine time.

Event information and details, as well as a trailer of the flick can be seen here. There is also a call for local artists to join in. So if you spin, knit, can, sew, or turn a potting wheel you should consider showing up and joining the party.

i still can't believe it happened

It's a small miracle every time I mail in that mortgage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

21 days to go

Simple Pumpkin Muffins
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Mix all those dry things in a bowl larger than you expected...and then add 1 cup oil, 4 farm eggs, 2/3 cup water, and 2 cups of pumpkin. Mine was a little stringy but after the beaters got to it all was well. Grease your muffin tins with butter and add a sprinkle of flour too. Shake out excess flour and then fill then 3/4 of the way full (though I went nearly to the top...) Bake at 350 for about twenty minutes, check to make sure a toothpick comes out clean. I spread cream cheese icing on mine after they cooled. Coworkers will be happy.

i have a pumpkin and i'm not afraid to use it

I bought a pumpkin at Gardenworks this weekend. A small one, just big enough to make a few loaves of pumpkin bread or muffins, but large enough to still make a fine jackolantern. Tonight I'll fill the house with smells of baking pumpkin and lantern light. With the clouds and rain it'll make everything seem safer, warmer. These past few days have been overcast and blustery. I was outside around dusk with Gibson, watching the trio of crows in the dead limbs of trees high above the farm barking at us. Everywhere around me were the leaves of the big maple. The dry summer may have stopped another season of Blight in the garden, but it also is causing an early foliage turn. All the October tourists will be finding a lot of empty trees. September will be our peak, mark my words.

I am happiest when I need wool wrapped around me, rubber boots against damp earth, and the sky is swirling and overcast. I adore precipitation: rainy days, storms, and snow. The weather that makes us stop and hunker down with books and mugs. I like being outside in it too. There is something a little more tangible about those damp days. The world has a stronger grip on you. You're forced to pay more attention: to how you drive, what you wear, and even if you cupboard has all the right supplies for hot chocolate or tea. I like working outside in a cold mist and getting sweaty, feeling the heat of work bounce back against my skin off wool. I like seeing my breath swirl, hearing distant wind and then seeing it rush into the trees. I like seeing the crows scurry like buckshot, their sounds calm me, very much so.

I don't ever want to be too far from crows and cold wind. That would be just awful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

!!!

my god it feels like fall tonight.

practicing my english

"See, this is why we call it Burdock Meadow," Hollie said to me, half joking and half surprised I didn't pull the seventy-jillion burrs out of Sunny's tail while I tacked him up for my lesson. Sunny's a chestnut Appendix, a regal looking animal in his english saddle and bridle. But it's hard to look good when your personal assistant doesn't realize you have stickers on your butt. Hollie was joking, but she made her point: grooming is head to tail, not just where the saddle goes. I've almost got the tacking part of the lesson down. I can brush backs, pick hooves, pick out and adjust the right pads, lifts, girths and saddles. I can put on the bridle and halter: but I never thought to check his tail. I blushed a little and apologized in some rushed bit about not-knowing-about-the-tail. I made a mental note.

Last night was my best lesson so far at Riding Right Farm. For one, long, side of the arena I did my most-correct, most-comfortable, and most-chilled out posting trot yet. I beamed as Hollie praised me. For weeks I'd been coming to lessons tightly wound and over-working my body. I was nervous being back on a horse again. It had been since college that I rode regularly. (I'm cautious by nature, so having a 1,000-pound animal below me that could throw me at whim had me a little tense.) But tonight some part of me gave up the fight, gave in. For the first time I was at home up there, even for a dozen yards. I could tell it was correct because it felt effortless. I trotted with Sunny, not on him. For a moment my mind was clear and I understood everything he was doing and he tolerated me beautifully.

Within a few more laps and circles I was back to overworking, poor hand position, and over steering. But I'll get it eventually. The point is progress was happening and all it took was letting go.

When the lesson was over Hollie let me un-tack Sunny alone and left me a lantern and instructions to return him to Burdock Meadow. The meadow was on the other side of the farm and it was already after 8pm and dark in New York. After I put away all my gear and Sunny was back to just a halter. I thanked him and gave him a kiss on the nose. I pulled every burr out of his tail. He stood patiently. A good man.

The barn was ours for a minute. I turned on the lantern and we walked under the stars to the meadow. We walked slow and I could look up and around me. At the trees starting to yellow, at Sunny's large brown head just to my right. I opened the gate and removed his halter. The rest of the night was his to do things horses do. I thanked him again for helping me relax, let go, and just be present with him for a few moments tonight. He turned around and trotted off into the dark. I headed back to the stables with a lantern in my right hand, and was smiling. I didn't know horses could be buddhist.

Monday, September 6, 2010

lawn pedicure

fabulous finn?

The three day weekend was kind to me, kinder than it seems from the frustration of earlier posts. I needed it too. I was able to jog everyday, caught up on housework (The shower has never been cleaner) and sleep. I got more sleep last night than I get during the work week in three days. Top off that kind of slumber with a morning of pumpkin coffee and cast-iron baked apple pancakes and you have yourself a remedy. Living on a farm is both the poison and the cure, but at least you don't have to go far from your front door to experience both.

Yesterday Annie Dileo came back over to help run a third line of electric fencing around in the inside of the sheep pen. So far it's working great and should hold him while I'm at work so I don't have to pace around the office worrying. I made her an apple pie with a smiling goat on it as a thank you. I wish I could do more, but I am learning as a new home owner you can't do much of anything when the mortgage is due. I happy and sobering reality, that.

I'm working hard on finding Finn a new home. I'm talking to everyone from Doug at Wayside to Brent and Josh of the Fabulous Beekman Boys (who's farm is south of CAF in Sharon Springs). It would be quite fabulous to get Finn a gig on a TV show with those goat boys, that way this sheep girl can move forward with the fall plans of barn raising and pasture expanding with a lighter heart and less stress.

Someone's gotta adopt this guy, and they will. In the meantime the third strand of wire is working, for now...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

annie has her masters in comfort

a follow-up

A few weeks ago I announced a post where a farm family in Florida needed our help. Donations were sent in from all over the country and HeartSong Farm is slowly building from the ground up. For anyone who donated I would like to thank you personally, and for those of you who sent a gift their way: here is a note from Crystal.

Dear CAF readers,

I feel like I should call you family now. "Readers" has such an impersonal tone, I don't think it's appropriate anymore. So, family you now are and will always be at HeartSong Farms.

I cannot express in words how amazing the responses to Jenna's post have been. I have read each personal note. I have cried in thanks over every penny sent our way. I have prayed for each person that has sent good wishes to us. The world seems a smaller, closer place now. I am in awe over the intimacy humans can accomplish over state lines and broadband connections.

After much frustration with local building laws, we have inched forward with our move to the land. We have a permit for electric, an address, containers for water, and tools to start a simple life on five undeveloped acres. These are all thanks to you. And yet, we've been down right stingy parting with such fine gifts. We have enough left to make the shed a safer place for our babies to live.

There is a lot of work infront of us. But we're moving forward with cautious steps even if they're a bit hurried from our initial plan. We've been rushing out resumes and have had an interview for a job about 45 minutes from our land. I've been sorting out our possessions and have scheduled yard sales over the next few weeks. It's still scary. It's still nervewrecking and nauseating at times but we're resolved to not let this break us. To become a better family because of it. We are fortunate to have a place to call our own and a faceless family that wants to see us get there.

Thank you. Each and everyone of you. We have kept each email and hope someday to return the favor however we can.

Sincerely,

Crystal and the HeartSong Farm Family