Sunday, August 19, 2012

Feels like fall...

The mornings are getting darker and cooler. Part of me wants to put the breaks on summer. I feel like I haven't done anything and it is almost over. Especially with cooler days and cooler evenings. Another part of me is thrilled my favorite time of year is here.

The garden, for what survived, did well, but not what I was hoping for. Not bad though for the first year and a million projects that were priorities over it. Squash plants are huge! I mean huge bushes and long running vines. The winter squash are coming along nicely. Today I am going to dig up some of the beat up potato plants to see if we had any luck with them. The other plants are gorgeous. We had one of the onions so far. They are getting larger by the day.

My hope was to have a big harvest party. We are still trying to throw together a party. It just won't be much of what we grew. Luckily, I live in a pretty big Ag community with plenty of farms to buy from. We are also hoping to get some music and have folks just give a donation to the band. I am looking forward to making it an annual gathering, if we can just get the first one off the ground.

Yesterday we picked up a chest freezer from a friend. We have a quarter share of beef coming in a couple weeks. I will also have some veggies to be put up in the freezer and we are thinking of getting some meat birds that we can grow in 12 weeks and harvest for the freezer to cover us through winter.

How we are slowly changing the way we think about food and eating is such an amazing process. I weeded the strawberries yesterday and I am thrilled that the majority of them survived, even thrived, and are shooting off runners. The patch will be great next year.

We have plans for trees in October. While we have to prepare wind breaks, I am also shooting to get the orchard started. The overall plan for the land is starting to come together. We can see how it is going to evolve over time. That makes it feel a bit more manageable. By next year we should be able to introduce new chickens, meat goats and pigs. It will be an interesting year two.

I am putting together a photo book of the first years evolution. It was just barely over a year ago that I put a bid on the farm while J was at Sundance praying. We closed at the end of September and this incredible journey began. The change in the farm and in us in mind boggling. I went through the photos the other day and still can't believe what we bought and what it has become. No wonder I am tired. Good bone tired from a labor of love.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Everythings peachy...

Literally. I have been up to my eyeballs in peaches from the Western Slope. They are heavenly. I made a cobbler and 12 jars of freezer jam. My first attempt with freezer jam. I am hoping it comes out wonderful. I still have a grocery bag full of peaches. I will likely can or freeze slices.

Life, as usual, has been busy. I went back east to visit my family week before last. It was a good and hectic visit, as always. I did take my father and nephew on a farm field trip. I read Greenhorns recently and there were two essays from Ben James. Ben and his wife Oona Coy run Town Farm in Northampton, Mass. I lived in Northampton and the surrounding happy valley for 17 years before coming to Colorado. So, I emailed Oona and she invited me to visit whenever I was in the area.

Let me just say, their farm is stunning. The farmhouse itself is a renovated barn. I was in awe and can't believe they did all they did over five years. There is hope. I took the following pics while I was there for inspiration. It is not enough to have a home. I aspire to have a sanctuary that reflects all the things I love, such as art, music and gardens. It appears Oona and Ben do as well.

I have also spent a lot of time thinking about where I want to go with our farm. J asked me while I was away (it was our anniversary) if I was open to a surprise. Usually that is a resounding yes. But I had a feeling on this one and asked if he was going to buy me a baby goat. He was. While that is something I have wanted (baby or no) for a long time, I knew we weren't ready. (Where did that voice of reason suddenly come from) We have no shelters, no proper fencing and I am not quite sure if we go dairy or meat for our first. We still have to upgrade the dog pen from it's temporary state to the permanent fence with sunshade. So, that is for another day.

But, again,it does get me thinking. I believe if we put things in writing they have a better chance of manifesting. Also, you have a clear direction rather than planning by default. So, if I ruled my world, I would have create the following:

  • A ___ mile market. Like a New England farm stand but year round. Selling produce and value added products from the local farmers. It would have a small cafe with a menu that changes daily depending on what is available, local and in season. We would assist small farmers in having access to a year round market so they can expand their income through the year with fresh greens and hothouse produce. We would have an area for workshops for backyard gardeners and an outdoor garden  that supplies some of the ingredients for the cafe. We would be an educational center for promoting and assisting in bringing farmers together with schools and hospitals and corporate cafeterias. We would host workshops for beginning farmers on how to grow on a market scale and handle livestock, marketing and doing the business side. In addition we would have an area of the shop for homesteading supplies. So much is only accessible online now. We would also refurbish old garden tools and give them new life in someone else's garden and have a vintage shop for old tools, flannels and the like. It would be an intersection of all things agrarian for urban and hobby farmers alike. We would also have specialty and heirloom produce from different cultures. And of course, there would be music. I would call it the Agrarian Market.
If you want to know what I do with my free time, that is it. Planning the dream.