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Showing posts from March, 2010

food as history

Tonight I attended my first ever Passover Seder meal, hosted by one of the staff at the Farm, who is herself Jewish--I say this last part because the only Seder meals I ever knew of (before coming to NE) were hosted at my church, which is Catholic. So, I feel like this meal was particularly meaningful.

We gathered. We heard the story of why the Passover meal happens and is still relevant today. Passages from the Haggadahwere read, with stops between to eat or drink. Food is central to this celebration, as each thing consumed represents part of the story; reminders of the history of the Jew's flight from slavery. Traditionally consumed are:
"Matzoh: Three unleavened matzohs are placed within the folds of a napkin as a reminder of the haste with which the Israelites fled Egypt, leaving no time for dough to rise. Two are consumed during the service, and one (the Aftkomen), is spirited away and hidden during the ceremony to be later found as a prizeCharoses: a mixture of apples, …

extending out, drawing in

I wrote about our dearest R some time ago. R, after 80 years at the Farm, passed away this past November, just 4 months shy of her 100th birthday. R was a pillar of the Farm who is very greatly missed, so it was only natural that we throw a birthday bash to celebrate her life and the impact that she had on the Farm, but more importantly on the people who knew her. This past weekend the Farm hosted a day of activities which R loved: hikes on Farm trails; games of Pick (think Scrabble--in lieu of keeping score everyone has to come up with a story at the end, using all their words); story telling; desserts; and a contra dance to end the evening.

During the planning phase of the event the coordinators were unsure how many people to figure on; the last I'd heard there was a rumor of about an extra hundred people around the Farm for the event; so I counted myself one of the pleasantly surprised to see around 140+ people stuffed into the Farm's dining room, living room and dish area…

Mummy & Monster take Manhattan

This week best friend Mummy and I were able to sneak away for an overnight in NYC; Mummy had a conference and I just wound up tagging along.We left Tuesday afternoon and headed into the city, driving, which was still new to me, having only ever done it with once before. We farmers traditionally drive to the train station and take a train into the city. The drive to Astoria, where we stayed with Sarah & Joel (at their great apartment), took less time than the entire train process (driving to station, waiting for train, taking train in, catching subway) and provided us with lots of time to chat.

Driving in we encountered some rain, but it managed to hold out enough so that Mummy, Sarah, her Mom (who was also visiting) and I could go for a walk through Astoria Park, where we were able to admire the Triborough and Hellgate Bridges (I think those are the right names...?) Met up with Joel and went to a fun place for dinner where we all tried different things, sharing our food; felt like…

a portrait(s) of NE sap season

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I heart the Friend of the Farmer blog! And I really enjoyed this blog about maple sap/syrup. It explained maple sap season in a way which I have not. I mentioned it in two previous posts: here and here. Reading his blog made me aware that I never posted any sapping pictures, so I thought I would share some now. (This is really my lame attempt to blog again after my absense lately). Mas luego!

(Right): Amos checking out the boiling vats.










(Below): Double bucketed tree.









(Below): The boiling vats where the sap becomes syrup.

the joys of audiobooks

When I was working as a Librarian, parents would often ask for a list of great books for their kids to read; I particularily was asked this question a lot at this time of year since spring break is coming up, which means more time at home and traveling. I gave them loads of suggestions, but also made sure to point out that the library also had said "great books," on CD and MP3 players--think books on a player the size of an iPhone--which can also be checked out just like books. I was always surprised at how few people knew this. I found that audiobooks were great for my antsier kids (I played them while we were doing projects at the library), and also, who doesn't love being read to? And yes, audiobooks are also available for adults. I personally choose to check out any book which I really have a hard time getting into, but really want to read. Case in point: Moby Dick, though I don't suggest that for a long overnight road trip alone. Wowza, that was rough.

So, for t…

Dean Martin, puppets, bloodletting and witchcraft

What do Dean Martin, puppets, bloodletting and witchcraft all have in common? Well, each of these three subjects has its own special collection at a university library somewhere in the United States. For those of you who don't know what a "special collection" in a library is: it's just a collection on said subject; which is constantly collecting old, rare and useful books on that topic. Sometimes these collections will also have a librarian assigned specifically to that subject too.  For more on weird special collections, click here.

New York City's Battery Park Library branch has gone green. Interested in seeing the library which is is "expected to receive LEED Gold certification from the U. S. Green Building Council"?--click here. I am going to try and visit this library branch when I am in New York City this coming week!

in appreciation of a spring day

Today was one of those gorgeous days. A leave your coat inside, sit in the warmth of the sun kind of day. A lean your head back, close your eyes and listen to the birds chirping kind of day. It was wonderful. It made me wonder at how 50-something degree weather can seem so cold in September, and yet, so wonderfully warming in March.

I wandered around this afternoon admiring everything. I feel like it is easy to often lose sight of what is good and pure and simple, so I try to occasionally pause and smell the proverbial roses. As I walked, I breathed in deep draughts of air, smelling the familiar smell that comes with spring. I love the smell of dirt, unearthed from months of snows and freezes and rains and snows and plow trucks which unintentionally tilled the earth. I love that early spring assures me that I can in fact smell colors.

Like a pig roots, I too snuff around and am awarded with the heady perfume of spring. There is something amazing about the spring air in the country. …

ides of March

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What is the "ides of March," all about anyway?  Well, "ides," harkens to the middle of a Roman month, which in turn calls to mind the events around the assasination of Julius Caesar. Historians believe that the "ides of March" expression is traced back to the events on March 15, 44BC, when Julius Caesar was murdered. The murder was a double crossing of epic acclaim, as Caesar was betrayed by dozens of noblemen, and even Marcus Brutus, Caesar's own apprentice.

Shakespeare--"borrowing" from Plutarch's version of the famous scene--wrote about J. Caesar's demise, and in doing so immortalized the line, "Beware the ides of March." Is anyone else as impressed as me at all the lines that we use from Shakespeare without always being aware of it!?
Caesar:Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer:
Beware the ides of March.

C…

gossip along the grapevine

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Sometimes life at the Farm can feel a little like the Norman Rockwell painting, "The Gossips."  Last week we received a gentle reminder of how gossip in community, like wild fire, spreads fast and can do damage--luckily in this case, just hurt feelings. Gossip among the staff is bound to happen since our worlds are so entangled with each other; working and living in a small radius leads to a lack of conversation on much outside of community sometimes, as we get so wrapped up in our lives here.

But, I would rather focus instead on the benefits of community chatter. How when you are out sick, friends and neighbors hear and check on you, or ask after you; how when something exciting (i.e. being accepted into grad school) happens, friends and neighbors pass along their congrats; or in today's case, when babies are born, the entire community hears about it and seems to swell with pride together.

Two community members who met here, married not far from here and both still w…

life is happening

We are finally begining to (sort of) see spring around here. It has been (encourageably) been in the 40s during the days, though still going down to freezing again at night--it's what is called "sap weather" around here. Many Farmers have worked hard, tapping hundreds of trees for sap to make into maple syrup (as I mentioned in a previous blog). And as it is getting warmer and warmer and more spring-like, th weather will brings an end to the sap collecting. (For the sap to run from the trees the weather has to be warm during the day, but cold at night--fun fact for the day!)

Here at the Farm all the sap gets boiled in these huge vats, which are brought to boiling by this really hot wood fire. The sap starts in one tank and as it gets hot and thickens it travels from vat to vat, and after getting it's brains boiled out it becomes maple syrup; it is a really cool process to watch. There is a Farm tradition of going out and having a hot cup of "sap tea;" hot, …

mr. golden sun

Been meaning to write lately. Spring is in the air and I feel so glad; inspired down to my core. Daylight savings has given us more sunlight, and though we got rain yesterday and high winds again today, I am so glad for the sun making more of an appearance lately. Huzzah sun!

And besides the sun, I also want to welcome my newest followers David and Anna. Thanks for joining.

"The Sun"

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful


than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon


and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--
and how it slides again


out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower


streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough

for the pleasure
that fills you,

the air smells sweet

Ok. So, maybe the air down by the dairy yard isn't that sweet, especially as you walk up the hill towards the pigs, but there is a sweet smell in the air all around Main House. The end of February/beginning of March means two things at the Farm. 1. The Farm Winter Olympics (which unlike the world olympics, is a yearly event here). For more on this event, please see my last entry. And 2. Maple syrup time! Reason #2 is why the air smells so sweet. The team that takes care of the forestry and grounds around the Farm began tapping trees a week or two ago and has already begun collecting the fruits of their labor. And today I enjoyed some of said fruits. I stopped by the Sugar Shack--where the sap is being boiled in various vats of various consistencies; which in the end turn out our DELICIOUS maple syrup--to check on the progress of our sap/syrup, but also for a cup of our famous Farm sap tea. Sap tea is basically hot sap--which is not quite syrup yet--which is then mixed with Farm cr…

huzzah Olympians!

The Farm Olympics began last Wednesday, the kick-off taking place after breakfast. I volunteered to get the kick-off stuff together; my theme became "let's all look foolish and laugh at ourselves," because to me the Olympics represent not only team building, morale building and community building, but also encourage us Farmers to be able to not take ourselves too seriously. The Farm "Olympians," as I called my volunteers, were garbed in togas made out of the Kitchen's most ridiculous and tacky table cloths that came from God only knows where. We ran into the dining room as our morning meeting ended, announcing the start of the games and telling everyone to follow us outside for the lighting of the Olympic fire. And, yes, we run with lit torches made out of old, broken hockey sticks; and oh, yes, there is an Olympic fire which we light with our torches. It was a glorious, hot fire on a cold morning!

From the lighting of the torches we rolled right into a gam…