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Weekend of Foraging: City Slickers Come Visit and Get Amped For Ramps

After work on Friday, I stopped by a farm halfway between work and home. I knocked on the barn door with a half-gallon Mason jar and a couple bucks to see if the farmer would sell some of his raw milk to me. The farmer and his wife were happy to, they said, and gave me a tour of the farm, and afterward his son let me pet his barn kittens, rabbit, and a couple of calves. I washed out my jar and they showed me how to use the valve on the milk vat, how to keep it clean, and where to stash my $2.50 if he wasn’t there (in that case, he told me to help myself.) Turns out, I’m one of only five customers he’ll personally sell to right off the farm, because he wants to keep it small. He says he likes to know who’s buying his goods, and wants to develop relationships with them; the rest of the milk he sends to larger organic milk companies. He did give me a small warning: I might get the runs. Since raw milk is a living organism, it takes people a little while to get used to it. He told me to increase my yogurt intake in the beginning, until my body can acclimate. Speaking of the runs, we had tons of guests this weekend who came up from New York to escape the swine flu. And although we had big plans of putting the ping-pong table on the lawn, we had work to do in the garden first. Early in the morning, we tip-toed outside, figuring our friends would sleep in while we got started on the first planting of the season. We were wrong–a couple of them came out to work! We gave them extra rubber boots and gloves, they rolled up their jeans, got dirty, and helped us out big time. We dug out the walkways (in the style of Eliot Coleman, we planned ten planting beds at 30 inches wide, and nine walkways 12 inches wide), raked the raised beds, and set up trellises for the peas using iron stakes and chicken wire. I planted two rows of peas, one on each side of the trellis, and a row of spinach in front. In the other two beds we did onions, shallots, leeks, and radishes. To prevent weeds, we took the advice of our neighbor (and master gardener) and put down newspaper in the walkways and topped them with hay and leaves. I was a bit wary: after all that work we’re spreading hay that could turn to seed?! But word is that it works, cuts down on weeds in the long run, and so I’m suspending my disbelief and going with it.

Soon, more friends arrived, and it really started to feel like summer. In walked (among others) a pastry chef from the Union Square Café in NYC, an aspiring horticulturalist, an intern at Shelburne Farms in Burlington, a soon-to-be psychologist, and Gideon, a musician/shaman/child-nanny banjo playing performance artist, who set off for the cows and serenaded them with his banjo, mooing at them until they mooed back, and then lit the bonfire by shooting a flaming arrow into the burnpile. The hens, meanwhile, have taken over the house and forage for bugs on the deck. The next day was packed with more foraging, this time by us. While some of the guests played whiffleball, I went out with a basket after catching sight of some fiddlehead ferns. While hiking up at Prospero’s Island–a nearby off-the-grid commune recently bought out by Sam’s cousin–we came across a ton of wild ramps, picked as much as we could carry, and for dinner sautéed them with olive oil and salt and threw them in spaghetti. This week, I’ll keep watching the indoor seedlings that continue to grow at a steady pace by the window, bake some bread to freeze, and take a thousand naps.

Green Fundamentalists: I’m Talking to YOU

Here’s what really amazes me. The self satisfied complacency of those who have deemed themselves politically sound, and businessally ethical, and morally resoundingly liberally spot on. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m queen of the internet world when it comes to morality. I do believe using pesticides is gross, and I […] Read More..

The Raven: Mythical Creature, or Chicken Killer?

Q: Is farming ever cut and dry? A: Only when you’re haying. Apart from this dumb joke I made up, farming is not quite as simple as it sounds. I thought, for example, that raising my own meat would be easy. You know: just buy the little chicks, make sure they don’t die, feed them […] Read More..

I Don’t Want To Burn My Bra, But AAARGH!

This weekend I sat on the sidelines of the men’s soccer game. It was a big deal, and many people were there, young and old–despite the fact that it’s a pick-up league in a small town. I went sheepishly, in my dorky tie-dyed t-shirt and muck boots, to cheer my boyfriend on. I sat there, […] Read More..

Farm Update: Chicks, Piglets, Morels, and More…

It’s been nearly five months since I moved to rural Vermont from New York City–and my life has changed exponentially. Radically. Ridiculously. Healthily. Happily…so far. And I’m not trying to jinx anything. But I just celebrated my 24th birthday and I can’t believe the gift I got, the very thing I wanted, and the very […] Read More..

Biking, Lobstering and Urban Gardening: in Boston!

It was with a heavy heart I left the farm for my birthday weekend, and I looked longingly through my rearview mirror as I left for work on Friday. How could I miss the few precious days of Vermont spring? My weekend. MY WEEKEND! I wanted to sit on the porch and read. I wanted […] Read More..