Saturday, December 31, 2011

The dailies on the farm

What's it like to live on a farm? Here's a few windows into what our daily lives look like on the farm and at home.

Rochelle. Stirring up some sourdough for our daily bread 
In our kitchen, making a batch of ravioli, bread and good conversation.
Wesley, Kayla and Rochelle.

Outdoor house cat, Lentil in the tree hiding from the dogs

All hands on deck as  the crew churns out a batch of pumpkin ravioli!

Clay's first batch of woodstove bread, waiting to be cooked

Emily and Mike, boiling the ravioli's

"This isn't a carrot" carrot pulled from my carrot patch.
I thought it was a weed, but much to my surprise when I pulled it out it was a mammoth carrot!

My carrot patch! On the right is a pea patch in the making....

Attentive listeners Clay and Brian tuning into lecture up at Bob's place

Our teacher and mentor, Bob Cannard

Amanda, enjoying a fresh tangerine picked right off the tree at Bob's place

The crew, getting a demo on composting

In the greenhouse, our first batch of germinating seeds. Each intern was given 4 flats to plant four different varieties of seeds during the weekend of the full moon.

Sprouting up! Salad bowl lettuce is beginning to grow

Early morning yoga as the sun rises over the hills, led by Cricket with appearances from Farley the farm dog

Our chickens

Getting up close and personal with a fine feathered friend. Thanks for the golden eggs every morning!

Amanda and Brian out collecting the greens for the chickens. The more greens they eat the more golden the yoke!

In the morning we go out to the fields to harvest the bounty for the farm store.
Pulling up beets and cutting red chard was this mornings venture.

A box of harvested beets ready to be washed. Yummm!

Beautiful beats drying in the sun after their harvest bath

Emily getting a box of goldies ready to take to the store

Mike, Clay and the beets

Wesley with the beet bunches

Colleen in the brussel sprout patch

A happy stalk of brussel sprouts, ready for harvesting

In the heart of the leafs hides a small head of green cabbage

Chip making signs for the farm store

Instead of snowmen, we build pumpkin people

Time to compost all those leftovers Rochelle

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Farm: week 1 in retrospect

Upon driving down the driveway into what would be called my home for the next three months, I was filled with a great excitement. Here I was, my first day at Green String Institute, an eager and keen person ready to learn and work on a farm. What to expect? My first impressions as I drove up was one of welcome. It was a golden sunny day, and was met with smiles and waves by the previous season of interns. They on their way out, back into the world and off on new adventures. In front of me stood a white house, nothing exceptional about the place, but this would be my home, shared with 11 other individuals. The largest amount of people I have ever lived with under one roof. Who would they be? Around the house were little gardens, at various stages of growth, from just beginning to sprout to needing a harvest and to be eaten. I looked around. Vineyards to my left and right, with buildings and gardens in the middle. Home. As the day slowly passed, more folks began to trickle in the awkward first greetings happening as we exchanged small stories of who we each were. In the evening, we met as a group, and got a formal introduction and a short tour of the farm. Afterwards, we shared our first group dinner, one of many, many, many. So glorious to share a hearty meal fresh from the garden, and with a great collection of people, who soon will morph from strangers to family.
The second day brought us to our first day of training. We were again taken through a daily routine of what each chore looked like and its process. We met the chickens. We wet out into the larger gardens and harvested beets. The colours so rich and vibrant. Some that we harvested would become our dinner that evening. In the afternoon, we met Bob Cannard, who would teach us over the next three months about farming and how to do it sustainably. Under this umbrella, we will learn about seeds, composting, retooling and sharpening, how to drive a tractor, metalworks, beekeeping, pest management, the business side of running a farm...the list goes on and on, and each day we tick one thing off the list, while storing into our books and minds a plethra of incredible and valuable information.  Bob, through years of his own personal experience has designed this program so that he can pass his knowledge on to future farmers who have the earth in mind. Throughout the week we as interns learnt the daily routine and each day it becomes just a part of our day as we master each task. We have taken on farmers hours, rising before the sun, and capping the day off around 9:30. Some brave souls have pushed past these hours, but more or less we're up early and in bed just as early to get a ready start on the next day.
Week one we learnt about selecting seeds, creating a good potting soil for germination, lunar cycles in regard to when to plant, and planting our first trays of seeds the day of the full moon.
At home, though there are 12 people living all together, it is surprising how uncrowded it feels. The kitchen is certainly the social hang out.  Always there is one or two folks cooking up a delicious meal for the crew, or delving into a food project like making home made yogurt or butter, sourdough bread, and olives. It is not uncommon to linger in the kitchen for a good conversation, or to keep warm by the glowing fire. Our rooms are the quiet places to retreat to, or out in our own personal gardens. I have undertaken a neglected carrot patch, overgrown with weeds or as Bob likes to call it "competition". At times it feels like an endless task going through the rows, trying to give the carrots room to breathe and grow. One area was promptly dug up, as there were very few carrots growing, and spend several days overturning the soil and planting peas. My first direct sewn seeds....I don't think there will peas while we are interns, but the next crew should get a nice harvest of them to enjoy.
As the first week drew to an end I again looked around and felt content. I look at each person that I am sharing this internship with and feel that I have known them far longer than a week.  Amazing how a little dirt can bring a whole bunch of people closer together!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Highlights, Common Sense and the open road

Ever have one of those solo road trips where around every turn there seems to be something that happens? Well I happened to have one of these such moments as I traveled westwards towards California.

1. Freezing rain and the art of a curvy road. Add in the speed limit and your car is sure to dance in a rather alarming and involuntary way. My car got daringly close to other far side of the road and the ditch below. Heart racing monitor from 1-10: 8.96.  What a way to start the trip.

2. Under a starry sky facing the thunderous waves of Lake Superiour. With wind howling, and waves crashing, I couldn't help but to lift my face to the sky and holler out for the sheer joy of the moment!

3. Cranked the passenger seat down as flat as it would go and nestled up for the night in the VW Golf hotel. May be cramped but its free. In the morning, I had to scrape the ice off the inside of the car. Woops.

4. 5 dogs, a hearty broccoli and rice dinner, a glass of strawberry rhubarb wine, A Christmas Story playing in the background and the company of one very dear friend. A magical and warming night, as we caught up and laughed and shared our stories.

5. Incredibly long journey across the plains. My secret for getting through this tedious section? A very thorough and awesome playlist of top 5 billion singable songs. Works everytime, but be sure to keep the list updated and fresh. Otherwise you're in for a lonnnng drive. Hoarse voice at the end may happen. Just roll with it.

6. Return to an old haunt and enjoy the adventure of visiting all your favourite places to roam. Catching up with my lovely roommate from last winter, and then sharing a delicious breakfast at the local breakfast cafe (the Nova Cafe!).

7. Visit the ole storage unit. How, I wonder, is it possible that I had forgotten that I had: a bike, boxes of books, pots and pans, a shelf and a giant sized bag of linens? Who else would forget all of this?

8.  On a well intentioned plan of taking a different road south, I learnt a valuable lesson, that different isn't always wise. Especially when it comes to selecting faint grey roads on the map. I found myself deep in the heart of ranch country in a snowstorm and managed to get myself stuck in the snow for a brief panicking moment before my luck kicked in, and was successfully able to turn around and return to the road more traveled. Phew!

9. Another night at the VW Golf hotel, nestled between the purring idles of giant transport trucks.

10. Sunrise in the high desert. Sheer beauty.

11. Arrival to Green String farm where I met 11 wonderful people who's hearts are all turned towards food and growth. Happy to be out of the car and fluff my bum cheeks, I explored my new home and dreamed of all the days ahead.