Monday, September 28, 2009

Sept. 27 2009

This morning as I was eating breakfast, I was reading a book that my friend Liz lent to me.  It's called Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, aka Sandorkraut.  I've been experimenting with making mead, wines, and hard ciders for the past couple years and have pecked around in this book from time to time.  This time i'm determined to read it through and i've already started planning for my first batch of sauerkraut.  The book also includes a section on kimchee and i was interested to learn about a new edible plant that was mentioned called burdock .   What was so suprising to me about this plant is that in america it's considered a weed and is growing all over the place, but it's taproot is edible and extremely nutritious.
from wikipedia :
Burdock root is very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavour with a little muddy harshness that can be reduced by soaking julienne/shredded roots in water for five to ten minutes. Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring, before flowers appear; the taste resembles that of artichoke, to which the burdock is related.

Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diureticdiaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent.

It's important to note though that only the young plants (in their first year) have edible roots.
the second year is when they develop the burs that interestingly enough sparked the invention of velcro.

It's sad to me that so many edible and medicinal plants are surrounding us but we have never been taught to identify them.  It's just another indication that our culture is headed for complete dependence on the corporations 
that treat us like livestock.  If we could learn more about how to grow our own food, forage for nutritous and healing plants, and exchange some of our time earning money for learning skills that save us money we would surely solve many problems. 

Things are going really well here at the farm though, we are making sure that all of the awesome edible plants that have sprung up from this land are reaching chomping mouths!  I'm learning alot about rock powders (enlivened ones!)  and reading about how to preserve and enhance many of the vegetables and greens throughout the coming winter.  
But the real visible progress that most people see around the farm are my various building projects which i think will really take off in the winter as my mind is swirling with ideas and the ground is sleeping.  The first project I was set loose on upon my arrival was a moveable structure to house our flock of turkeys.  We wanted something similar to this:

so that the turkeys could forage among the grass and fertilize the area with their droppings, and every other day or so we would move the cage to a new area.  but we wanted something larger and there was an old trailer that needed to be put to use.  What I came up with was about half of the equation (for now).  I made it possible for the turkey droppings to fall through their cage but since we are using a trailer with alot of steel supports running through it and a high ground clearance it wasn't looking like a good idea to have them on the ground.  but anyways, here is the "turkey trailer" in all of it's glory currently housing 16 thanksgiving main courses and 217 leftover turkey sandwiches.

I used as much scrap wood around the farm as possible but i made sure it was solid so it should last
us for many seasons.
Future renovations include:
-a technicolor mural on the roof
-a ramp to allow daytime grazing/nighttime roosting
-an enclosed inner coop for chickens

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday, Sept 5th

On tuesdays and saturdays we have the pick-up for the CSA (community supported agriculture) members.
I'm always meeting new people who are interested in what we are doing at the farm, and are excited in the
many possibilities of further developing their local food resource.
On the pick-up days we get to pick all of the beautiful vegetables that have been developing in front of our eyes.
It's nice to see big baskets full of veggies after spending the week weeding.
Today I accidentally left a door open and found dapple (our donkey) and 4 of the sheep hanging out in the kitchen.
It took some convincing, but i was able to shoo em back to their generous plots of grass.
Nick and I made a run to the hardware store for turkey trailer parts and learned a valuable lesson (almost the hard way) in properly securing 16' boards to a pick up truck. Disaster was avoided and we promptly headed back to the farm
after getting a call notifying us of a pasta salad situation. We met the challenge.
From between the sound of my hammer I heard mention of the tide and how i was from illinois.
I responded with a resentful "hey!, what is that supposed to mean?" before i knew it I was waist deep in
a kayak completely exhausted paddling against the aforementioned tide.

It was my first time kayaking, and i really loved it. Most of my traveling experience has involved a road, whether on a bike, in a car, or on foot, and it felt good to be gliding over the water, soaking in the vitamin D, taking a dip, then drying off on the nearby rocks.
After the adventure, Ron took Nick and I to a tea shop where us men lifted our pinkies and sampled a black tea with milk, and complimentary biscuits. mmhmm. but then apparently we needed to refuel on testosterone after tea time, because within 15 minutes I found myself in the town sportsbar with a beer and something called stuffed quahogs while watching the red sox.
After adequately refueling, we fired up the grill, and Nick and I played some basketball. I'm proud to say i've still got finess and proceeded to school the young buck.
Our dinner blew my mind.  A full rack of ribs from one of their own Colchester farm raised pigs, and plenty of colchester organic veggies along with my homemade bread.

Friday, Sept 4th

Slow moving morning, but still accomplished alot. Found out that farming is really mostly about just moving "shit". Literally and figuratively. So i did that, then I got a pretty good start on the turkey trailer that i'm building to cart around our 16 turkeys. We are planning on moving the trailer daily to add nutrients in the form of turkey poop to our pastures, therefore increasing the quality of grass for the sheep and donkey.
When i got to a stopping point on the trailer I took off for the cabbage patch, took off my shoes and socks, and pulled every offending plant away from the big beautiful purple leaves of the cabbage as i felt the soft, cool, black dirt between my toes and the warm late summer sun on my back.
I was wanting to get into the pond across the street from our house before it got too cold, so i decided to jog back to the house and take a dip. the water was cold, but it felt good. It was nice to swim to the middle, look around at the trees, sky, and water, all establishing their boundaries and colors.
After lunch, Ron, Nick and I went to deliver a pig to a family who planned on a special labor day treat. It presented the often pondered dillema of how to move an awnry pig from point A to point B. We did well, although had a certain odor about us when it was all said and done.
The rest of the afternoon held more trailer planning and wood slingin'. Then Nick and I cooked up an amazing dinner with colchester raised pork chops, and garlic and mixed veggie couscous. I really wanted to take a picture. It was like something your grandmother would make, but it was just us two guys in our early twenty's just cooking up a little something for dinner!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday, Sept. 3

The house i'm living in with the maribetts is heated with wood stoves which means we need plenty of wood.
So we decided to take down 5 of the dead trees around the property today. My day started feeding our
increasingly hungry flock of turkeys, and drinking plenty of coffee to make sure all of my veins were pumping
at a rate necessary for running from falling trees at 8am.
I felt good at the end of the day looking at a driveway full of large trunks and split chunks.
I put alot of new skills under my belt today when i used a chainsaw for the first time, learned to drive a tractor, and perfected the art of splitting logs.
It feels good to have sore muscles.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My first week at Colchester Farm

Here I am in Massachusetts, a state i have never considered living in. Not that i have anything against this oddly shaped pilgrim hangout. It's honestly been a long journey leading up to this pivotal point in my life. From christian school to the army, electro-indie band to house party DJ, photographer's assistant to bicycle CoOp mechanic, and environmental anarchist to organic farm intern. I'd say i change alot, but in many ways the same. I'm growing up into the space life has set for me.

so anyways, back to the farm. Here I am! At Colchester Neighborhood Farm in plympton, MA, a rock's throw from where the mayflower is parked. I've just spent my first week here and i can already feel the satisfaction of being a part of something great.
You may be asking yourself how i went from sitting in the middle of a mega corn crop in central illinois to eating rasberries straight off of the vine on the edge of america. Well one day i decided i was ready to be a home owner so i built this little baby.

It took the last dollars in my ailing pocket to construct it, but one of my basic human needs was met!
So I settled into friends' backyards while I gave plasma and amazingly got a job at an awesome restaurant in champaign.
Towards the end of the summer, i was feeling the itch of moving again and asked the lovely lady that i'd been seeing in
chicago to point her finger in a direction.
This being said lovely lady.

She pointed northeast so i hitched up my trailer that had been housing me in the back yard of these strapping gentlemen.  and i drove off.

My first day at the farm was surely and eventful one.
I skinned my first mammal for one.
Here is the evidence of my backslidden vegetarianism.

but other than that initial primitive carnality and having to kill a baby rabbit with a shovel (a "put it out of it's misery" situation)  I'm spending my days feeding animals, collecting nature's bounty, and constructing amazing things.