November 30, 2009

Smashing Pumpkins

In our neck of the woods, there's a quaint, little custom which has been passed down through the ages by the adolescent residents of the shallower end of the gene pool. They steal pumpkins off porches and throw them into the streets, smashing them and making a mess. Oh, what fun!

At first glance, it looked like the ne'er-do-wells were at work on our porch:

But here's what I glimpsed from inside the house one morning:

So, we're helping to fatten up the squirrels for winter. It gives recycling a whole new meaning. Rather than cleaning up the pumpkins, I decided to leave them for the animals. (I've seen birds going for them, too.)

Well, it's going on a couple of weeks now and even the animals may be getting tired of pumpkin. But, wanting to see this project to the end, i.e., completely eaten pumpkins, I am reluctant to clean up the now moldy pieces of orange adorning our porch:

As we passed by them on our way into the house yesterday, Hubby had a good idea for not only humoring his darling in her misguided attempts at this new form of composting but also for speeding up the process.

"Why don't you make them a pumpkin pie?"

Hmm...not a bad idea.

November 24, 2009

Down and Dirty

Having ventured into non-agricultural prose for a few entries now, I realize that it's high time to get back to what's going on at the farm, so here's an update on the aronia berries.

After getting them all in the ground, we spent the next few weekends walking the berries. We were a bit chagrined to find out that the cohabitants of our land, namely the deer, are curious creatures. They like to pull out the tiny plants and then drop them near where they were so nicely planted. They don't eat them. They don't like them. They're just mischievous little devils.

Fortunately, once replanted, the little seedlings are not much the worse for wear. The only problem is when we can't find the little seedlings. Imagine trying to find a brown stick about five inches long with a root ball about the size of a golf ball on the dirt ground among the dead weeds from the past summer. Ugh!

We estimated that we had about a 5% loss the first weekend. The next weekend, things were similar, but not as bad as the first weekend. The berries have now lost their leaves and the deer have probably had their curiosity satisfied.

So, the next big chore is to mulch between the berries to keep the weeds down next spring. We use hay from our organic fields and consider it our secret weapon in the fight against weeds. It works splendidly for the garlic because the new garlic shoots just push right up through it in the spring. With the berries, however, we have to leave the little shoot exposed to the sun and mulch around each one...a much more labor-intensive proposal. So, as Andre gathers hay bales and delivers them to the rows, I am on my hands and knees spreading hay between plants.

And guess what? You see a lot more from this position, at least when we're discussing the earth. It seems when we walked the berries, we weren't close enough to the actual plants to be sure of what we saw. As I commune with them at their level, I see a short shoot more easily than when I was standing. It turns out our estimate of 5% loss is quite high! Maybe farming isn't so hard after all. (Read: she's fooling herself again here.)

After hefting 50-pound bales of hay, breaking them apart, spreading them on the ground, doing my best inchworm imitation for a couple of hours this past weekend, I am aware of muscles I didn't know I had, only because they are burning in pain.

And only about 20% of the job is done.

Ah, but Thanksgiving is coming up and there will be offspring to help!

Yeah, right.

November 16, 2009

My Recent Trip to Girlie-Land

When I was young, my Sis was the tomboy of the two of us. Then, somewhere along the way, I joined her ranks. Here is what I usually look like:

I'm a stay-at-home Mom, artist/web designer, and organic farmer. There is really no need for me to get dressed up at all. Ever. And I certainly don't have to wear high heels, put on makeup, or fix my hair. (People around here are lucky I bother to shower.)

Then came THE WEDDING!

No, not my own (although I did get cleaned up for that one 13 years ago.) Hubby's brother/cousin (it's a Russian thing) asked him to be the best man. He also asked me to stand up for him as a groomswoman (very cool, I know). Well, if I had just been invited to the wedding, I could have pulled a dress out of my closet, slapped on some flats, run a comb through my hair, and been good.

But since I was to be in the wedding party (a first for both Hubby and myself), I needed all the accoutrements: the dress, the correct shoes, some appropriate bling, two months of weight-loss exercise at the Y. The bride mused that it's pretty easy for the guys to get prepped for the occasion -- they rent a tux and look great. Done. Oh, yes, and Hubby had to shave, too. Big deal.

I think my family sensed that I would need some help pulling this off and they came to my aide. Hubby went dress-shopping with me and we got the first one we saw. It was absolutely gorgeous, the correct color and length for the wedding party, and fun to dance in (a must!). I ordered the pewter, high-heeled, shoes to go with it and spent a few evenings practicing walking in them so I wouldn't break an ankle at the wedding. I have a whole new appreciation for those Dancing With the Stars women. I think a woman should win every time, just because she has the handicap of dancing in high heels. I got my nails done. A friend accompanied me to the Y and also lent me a scarf and some rings. My 11-year-old was there, fortunately, to give me makeup advice. Even though she's a novice, she runs rings around me. Sis got me outfitted with some more jewelry. Things matched! I had different items for different outfits! It was so new and exciting! My Aunt got me to join her on the morning of the wedding to get my hair done, another first for me.

All I have to say is what fun it was! I really enjoyed looking like a girl for a weekend. It was a pretty long road from Point A (baseball-cap-sweatshirt-jeans-wearing Lizzie) to Point B (Princess Lizzie). Here I am at Point B (I'm on the far left behind my daughter):

Not bad, eh?

But I must say that I am exhausted! I really don't understand how women do this every day...or even more often than once every 13 years!

November 10, 2009

Falling for Fall

Some time back, enebriated by the promise of spring, I dissed the other seasons. Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm not too proud to admit that I might have been wrong. (I did make a good case for spring being the best of the four children of Mother Nature.)

Then I went out and snapped this shot on a lovely, unusually warm, fall evening. The pond is clear, the air is clean and calm, the land is beginning its autumnal nap, getting ready for its hibernal slumber. Life on the farm is slowing down. Our cats are scoping out their favorite barn beds. The deer, in search of food, are nosing ever closer to the trees near the house. (Watch out, hunting season is just around the corner!)

So, I take back what I said about the non-spring seasons. Fall does have its charms.

Winter in this part of the world, on the other hand, is another matter.

November 5, 2009

And To Think I Was Going To Delete These

After all the tedium of switching over to a new computer, it's time to see what this new puppy can do.

Well, to really explore all the bells and whistles of an application like, say, iPhoto, let your eight-year-old have a little quality time with it. Here's what mine came up with:

Hey! I didn't know you could take a picture of your eye and see it four different(?) ways! Wow!!!

Or, how about this one? Somehow she manages to get the audio/video recorder working, get the lyrics and moves up on the screen (my computer does karaoke duty) and dance around my desk, sometimes perilously close to my brand new 24" iMac. (It goes to show that you don't need to know the words to sing a song.)

(If you can't see the video, and you want to, please click here to go to the original:'s worth it!)