Month: April 2016

Miscellany: “No Time to Say Hello, Goodbye”

Every so often I take a picture that is technically atrocious, but I love. And then I am appalled with myself. That’s the story behind this one from a short road trip I had to take yesterday. As soon as I saw it there were […]

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A Few Favorite Things: April 8

Read: The books I’ve been reading this week don’t really fit with what I usually post here so this week’s book recommendation is an oldie, but goodie I pulled off my shelves. Tracie McMillan put more personally on the line to write The American Way […]

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Miscellany: Lamb Watch, Garden Progress


“Your favorite ewe is restless,” I texted my Mom earlier this week, “Maybe lambies soon!” She has been asking when there would be lambs to visit for weeks now. She’s also a fan of baby pigs and has been nudging me about why I no longer have geese for at least two years. She seems to fancy us her personal petting zoo. The first time she saw Louisa (not pictured, that’s Penelope at the top) she marveled, “Ohhh, that one is so pretty!”

Now, I think Louisa looks like an unremarkable old Amish man. And frankly, her nose is kind of crooked. But my Mother loves her, so I’m glad we’re expecting her to lamb first this year. My Mom will, no doubt, trot right over here at the first sign of lambs on the ground and she’ll get to see some out of her favorite ewe when she does.

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We’re now taking bets as to whether or not Penelope (pictured) is in lamb. She’s got a nice bit of belly on her in this picture, but I’m not convinced it isn’t just a big meal. She doesn’t appear quite so rotund in person. She’s going to keep us guessing right to the end, I suppose.

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On the garden front, all of the tomato seeds have been started, and most are up and growing.

Last year I got a bit overzealous with herb garden clean-up and hacked away at most of my plants. I’ve been meaning to move the herbs to the main garden for a couple years now anyway, so this is as good an excuse as any to start over. I found more herb seeds that I remembered having when I went through my seed stash looking for the Riesentraube seeds last week, so I’ll start a bunch of those too — chives, garlic chives, basil, lemon basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, oregano… the list goes on.

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We traded a young boar for about eight tons of stemmy hay last week. It’s of no nutritional value, but will be fine for bedding for the animals and mulch for the garden. I’ve had a post in draft about no-till gardening — which we started experimenting with years ago, but committed to in earnest last year — and will probably get around to publishing it once we plant and mulch for this year so I can share pictures of the process. I am a fan of the rural economy of barters.

The farmer we traded with is one we do business with often. He’s a [I’m not sure how many, but many] generation family farmer about my age who has been working with his Dad and Uncle and Grandpa on their farms since birth and has been working now on building his own legacy for his kids. Sometimes I wonder who will be tying into this local economy when we’re old. His kids? Ours? Someone else’s? Will there be new farmers just starting? I can’t think of any other than us who are new now, so it seems unlikely that there would be new ones then, but only time will tell. I suppose that’s why agriculture manages to keep me interested; it’s never static.

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On First Storms

As I was writing yesterday’s post about folk wisdom and the fine art of applying science to real life I was reminded of something The Man has said every year since I met him, and this picture I took last week after the first real […]

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On Soil Temperature and Seed Germination

The last time the soil was as warm as it is right now, this early in the season, was 2012. That year we didn’t have a proper winter at all, and I had been harvesting lettuce from the garden until well into the middle of […]

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A Few Favorite Things: April 1


Read: I’ve been in a philosophic mood lately. Last week I pulled a copy of Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on The Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels of my book shelf and tucked it in my bag to carry along and read in those in-between moments. It’s edited by my good friend Cathleen Falsani and her friend Jennifer Grant, and contains essays by other friends — Karen Walrond, Alice Currah so I may be biased, but it has been a lovely addition to my day. The essays don’t need to be read chronologically and they vary in length, so it’s perfect for jumping around and fitting a little reflective reading in when you only a few minutes of down time here and there.

Watch: I can honestly say I had no idea how competitive the world of wine could be. And though it absolutely makes sense, and had you asked me about it before watching this documentary I would have accurately predicted the gender ratio of Master Sommeliers, I can’t say that I ever really gave the fact that it would be a glorified boys’ club much thought. The gender gap isn’t what Somm is about — it’s about the grueling studying process of becoming a Master and follows four men as they work towards that goal — but you can’t watch it without noticing the lack of women. Also, I would be lying if I didn’t admit the competitive side of me wanted to run out and start learning about wine immediately after watching this. It takes a topic you might otherwise expect to be boring and makes it engaging. I’ve linked to the iTunes page here, but it’s also available on Netflix if you have a subscription there.

BONUS WATCH: A packed Irish Pub paying tribute to their friend who died of Cystic Fibrosis by singing Mr. Brightside. At least one middle-aged Irishman removes his shirt and trust-falls off the bar.

Eat: We have been stuck in a nothing-sounds-great dinner loop lately. “What do you want for dinner? / I don’t know, what do you want for dinner? / I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?” Has become the nightly song of our people. Eventually, we give up and eat whatever is easiest. I think it’s the time of year. We’re ready for fresh spring and summer food, but fresh spring and summer food isn’t available yet. We’re tired of hearty winter fare, yet on the cold and rainy days it’s what’s most appropriate. The New York Times’ version of Mississippi Roast is bridging the gap. Paired with coleslaw, rather than the roasted or mashed root vegetables we’d choose if it were January. A hunk of sourdough and tall iced tea on the side doesn’t hurt either.

Listen: Billy Strings is a Michigan Bluegrass artist who has been a marvel from a young age. I was not a Bluegrass fan, but he converted me. More specifically, his Bluegrass rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man converted me. This one below isn’t too shabby either. Billy travels all over the U.S. and you can often catch him in small, local venues like craft breweries. You can check out his schedule and a full, free playlist recorded from one of his live sets on his site.

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