Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our hearth begun and a cranberry harvest

Our wood piles are growing- we're cutting and stacking... we even have a cord stacked under tarps down by the yurt!
 Jon showed me how to cut tiles with the wet saw, which was fun...
 Not fun: wearing a respirator that reminded me of dissecting cadavers in med school.  Hello claustrophobia!
 So, I just decided not to breathe while the saw was running... it worked ok.  Thankfully our tiles weren't too big!

 And ta-da!  Here it is, in all its glory- our beautiful new hearth pad, tiles all stuck down with thinset and everything!
Next we'll make a beveled wooden frame to contain it all.  Once that's done, I can grout!
It's a beautiful fall.
 Dick, Erin, and I went to the Brownfield bog to pick cranberries on this gorgeous sunny day...
If you have never walked around a bog, it's quite an experience.  There are little floating islands made of roots, moss, and shrubs that you launch your canoe onto.  When you step out, your feet sink into the water, but mostly just above the ankles.  In the really bobby places you might sink up to your knees.
 There were lots of pitcher plants
 and many cranberries to hunt for growing amidst the moss and puckerbrush
 Together we picked about five gallons!
 and enjoyed lots of time bobbing and floating with the other plant life.  I sense cranberry chutney in our future!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Common Ground

 We strained our first batch of blueberry E.M. into this bottle... it's delicious!  We added a little more sugar on top of the berry mash, and put the cloth back over the top to let it continue making its wonderful healthy microorganisms!  We'll pour off the new batch again in a month or more.
I also strained the blueberry wine mash that I started with Kathy last week.  We each are making our own 3-gallon carboy full of blueberry wine, using two different recipes.  Mine is inspired by Sandor Katz, and has a few apples and some honey thrown into the mix as well as blueberries from Mom and John's farm.
 Here it is, nearly ready for its cork and airlock.  Isn't it beautiful?
 And some food for thought from Michael White, the cat god:
 We just got back last night from two glorious days at the Commonground Fair.  It's the very best fair I have ever been to, full of sympatico people, creativity, home-grown fun, music, dancing, art, and delicious food (local, organic, and not your stereotypical fair fare)!

Unfortunately I didn't think to get out my camera very often, but here are a few snapshots from our time there... This llama (or is in an alpaca?) was humming at us as we raided the fleece tent for roving.
 These turkeys couldn't agree on which one of them was more impressive.  Perhaps the won't leave the fair being the best of friends, but they had some good displays for the onlookers amidst their territorial gobbles.
 $5 roosters:
 the biggest pickles on the planet... for Jon: garlic (of course!), and for me: horseradish!
 We were lucky to find DJ and Kathy before nightfall on Friday!  We got to camp together in a sea of tents and music makers on the far side of one of the parking lots.
 I think this sums up the feeling of the fair for me.  So very cool!  So positive!  So alternative, and full of new and interesting ideas and things to stimulate thinking, learning, and personal growth!  Isn't this a nice way to think about other peoples' poop, for example?
 Oh, inspired art... you will be mine someday!
 A band of roving accordion players singing old-time tunes!
 And miracle of miracles, Sarah found me!  We had a lovely time walking together and checking out the splendor for a bit of time on Saturday (it's never long enough!)
 And Jon and I started making fire with a bow drill and what smelled like cedar to me.  We got lots of smoke, and Jon even got some good coals going!  We'll have to perfect this art at home...  But we did learn more about the Primitive Skills School here in Maine where we'd like to study.  We want to make moccasins!  And bows and arrows!  ...And everything else too!
 This morning on our walk back to the house from the yurt, we spied these amidst the apple trees...
Funky, huh?  These last ones are stinkhorns, and they definitely have a distinct odor as you walk past.  We will NOT be eating any of these, but they sure are interesting to look at!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ditch Complete!

Right, so where did we last leave off?  Dig a big ol' trench, with the bottom 20 feet level (in our case, the bottom 12 feet are level, and we felt like that was good enough!)... and then... put that row cover netting under the last 20 feet of pipe (the only part with holes for drainage).  This row cover is meant to keep roots from invading the drainage system.  Fill with 2-3 inches of crushed rock (lucky we still have quite a stash from building our pilings earlier in the summer!) and lay the perforated pipe on top.  Fill with more rock around the sides, and about 1 inch on top, and fold the fabric over the whole thing.  You want a good rock burrito!
 Then we just filled in the rest of the hole with the dirt we had dug out.  The pipe above the 20 perforated feet is solid, and just has dirt around it- no gravel necessary.
Our pipe joints were stuck together with some kind of purple liquid and gooey glue made for this purpose.  It was pretty to look at, but it stinks up the place!
After we got most of the ditch filled, we attached our up-spout (where our house drainage will lead, after exiting the floor) and filled in the rest of the trench around it.  We even replaced the sod we had dug- you can barely tell we were there, amazingly!  All we really have left is a little pile of dirt I will spread on the gardens.  We thought the proper way to celebrate was with some Native American corn cakes.  This recipe is adapted from one a Wampanoag woman shared.  I found it on a site called Chop Onions, Boil Water (an awesome world-food site)

Nokake (Corn cakes)

2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
(we used rice)
2 TBS honey

1 heaped TBS baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 bunch scallions/green onions (green part only), chopped
(we used chives, about 1 c.)
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels

Pepper, to taste
(1/2 t.)
3 TBS olive oil
1 egg, beaten

1-1/2 cups water

Mix all but water together in a large bowl.

Slowly add the water until the resulting mixture is the consistency of hot oatmeal.

Heat a big pan, and add some oil.  Pour as much batter as you'd like, making a pancake of sorts (we used 1/4 cup for each).  Cook until done on one side, and flip to cook other side.  When done, brush the surface with butter.

Continue making corn cakes, adding more oil as needed.  These are great with roasted squash on top, and then smoked pork on top of that.  Yum!