Thursday, October 20, 2011

the evening before

Brett arrived at the farmhouse first. Came to the front door with a truck loaded with timbersports equipment, saws, horses, and a cider press. I don't even think I said hi as I rushed him inside. I just scurried to the kitchen, spun around, and asked if he knew how to use an apple peeler. He was patient with me, by this point he knows how to recognize the glow of panic in my eyes. He started messing with the peeler, made small talk, and did his best to calm me down by showing me that

A. The peeler was broken, and
B. Why didn't he go outside and unload the truck first?

I nodded. Soon after he was out amongst his workshop area and such, Brian and Christina arrived. Now I have never met these people before in my life, but I knew they read my blog and had offered to help. So when the two came to the front door, I think the first thing I asked them was "How do you feel about livestock?" and within five minutes of walking in the front door of their weekend vacation destination they were feeding 15 Swedish Flower Chicks new feed and water in the mud room. Poor guys, at least Brett knew what mess he was walking into.

After Brett Tara arrived, fresh from her afternoon in Cambridge and a sturdy nap. She was glowing, and seemed willing to help me peel apples by hand. All I had to offer these guests was hard cider by the pint bottle, a crock pot of chili, and some homemade bread. We worked and ate, polishing off four pies by the time Raven and Mikaela pulled up to the farm in their rental from the Albany train station. I was finally calming down in this fray. The pies were on their way, the guests fed and tolerant, and everyone seemed to excuse my rudeness as nerves (which it was). I'm not worried about public speaking or having a house full of strangers make themselves comfortable. I am however, terrified that they won't have a good time or not have enough to eat. There's a lot of pressure knowing you're one couples 17th wedding anniversary weekend and another couples pseudo honeymoon... Did they know how much chicken shit was in that yard? It just didn't whisper tender memories to me. But hell, maybe they knew something I didn't know?

All night the brave volunteers helped. At one point everyone was in the kitchen making apple pies and baking loaves in an assembly line Henry Ford would have winked at. Eventually all 9 pies were cooling on racks and shelves and we had consumed enough cider to render us useless as quality control. I called it a night. I thanked Tara, Christina, and Brian and told them I'd see them tomorrow.

By 11PM the only people in the house were Brett, Raven, Mikaela and I. They had the two bedrooms upstairs and I would camp downstairs with the woodstove and pack of three. I don't think I fell asleep until 1:30, and my alarm was set for 4:45. Everyone would be getting up early with me to tackle farm chores, cleaning, and workshop prep (as well as bake 4 quiches and run to town for donuts). I fell asleep eventually, between worries about enough vegetarian options and canning jars.

Tomorrow at 10AM the first guests would be arriving and first annual Antersiock would officially begin...


Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

So sweet hearing this story chapter by chapter....

October 20, 2011 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Victoria Nidetch said...

Wow Jenna, you need to relax. I am sure no one was going to mind if they had to peel some apples. I bet everyone had a great time just being together with you.

October 20, 2011 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Sounds like you all had a great time preparing for and then enjoying Antlerstock. And before I forget, that is one fine work pony - and he's in great shape and has wonderful, lively action!! He's lovely.

October 20, 2011 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I SO know how that feels!! I teach a lot of workshops, and I am always a bundle of nerves before starting; trying to make sure there's enough food, wondering if everyone is comfortable or if they are wishing they hadn't come, etc.... I remember looking at my assistant one time, five minutes before it was time to start, and saying to her, "I can't do this! I can't do this!" ;) But wouldn't you know it, I did it.

This is fun getting to read your Anlerstock story unfold!

October 20, 2011 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

Jenna, sounds like fun peeling apples. We did our pie making at my brothers house on our trip to New York five pies all at once. All that potato pealing working in as diner as a kid paid off. I stlll long for the days of chicken shit in my back yard again... I have to sneek me some hens in...Just don't tell my HOA ;)

October 20, 2011 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Lorrie said...

It sounds like so much fun! I am looking forward to reading more of the story.

October 21, 2011 at 12:54 AM  
Blogger Mathilde said...

"All I had to offer these guests was hard cider by the pint bottle, a crock pot of chili, and some homemade bread."

Sounds like a feast to me!

Preparing real, hearty food and doing meaningful work in the jovial company of others is a rare pleasure in our world. It sounds like a lovely night for all.

October 21, 2011 at 1:09 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I agree, ALL you had was homemade bread, cider and chili? LOL- I'm sure everyone was starving! ;)

It's fun hearing about the weekend like this- I'm sure you're exhausted so thanks for taking the time to share in such detail. I hope you had a vacation day booked on Monday!

October 21, 2011 at 6:36 AM  
Blogger ocean said...

Love hearing about the event and am looking forward to next installment. What a great bunch of friends and a great weekend!

October 21, 2011 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

You need to get the peeling machine dear. Peel/slice/core with a turn of a wheel.........

October 21, 2011 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

It took me awhile to learn that the best way to be a good hostess was to relax and enjoy myself. Otherwise your guests wonder what's wrong to make you so tense?

And with the kind of guests you have, they expect (should I daresay "hope"?) to help you out. So next time relax, smile, and assume that whatever's not done when your guests come can get done after they arrive. And that no one will care if they have to pitch in.

I'm kind of tired now, just reading about your late-night mental listmaking. Been there too many times!!

October 21, 2011 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Drummond Farms Alpacas and Woolens said...

I was reading this entry when my 14yr old son, Ian, came down the stairs from waking up this morning. He had heard me chuckle and saw me smiling as I read this. He came over and read your entry over my shoulder and said, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun". I totally agree with him.

October 21, 2011 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Flartus is right! As a guest in someone else's home, being able to help out makes me feel more welcome and at ease.

October 21, 2011 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

What fun! I envy the folks who got to spend the night and help with morning chores. The food sounds delicious as well. The fact that people came from near and far to participate (and during anniversaries and honeymoons!) is a testament to the inspiration you provide to all your readers.

October 21, 2011 at 4:14 PM  

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