The Stone Soup Institute is an international school offering courses of study which integrate traditional and contemporary practices and knowledge in the Agrarian Arts & Sciences, Crafts and Fine Arts.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Update

Seeds started  in the cold frame

Baking Bread in the brick oven- very fun.

Dandelion Wine making
Pickling Fiddleheads!

The fiddleheads

The brine

Garlic on the top.

Yum for the wintertimes. 
Egg production is up. 
Zeus continues his devotion to playing fetch at any spare moment. 
Chickens are eating grass cuttings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Labor of Love

Spring comes on slowly up here, and the rush hasn't quite started yet.  Maine gives you a number of opportunities throughout the year to reflect- times when you need to know not to jump the gun. Its still to cool to plant, and you must keep your head about you on the warm days. There are a lot of old timey ways to know when to get started- " don't fish *such and such* until the leaves on the * such and such*  are as big as a mouse ear."  Or by how amorous the birds appear to be or certain tender flowers that grow wild, but only when the soil warms to their liking, so you know that its warm enough for a cucumber.

Why farm? Why know these thing when you can eat as easily without knowing them?  Just go buy some food and gobble it up, go about your day because we all have to work to keep up, and theres only so much time.

To me, the reason is this-  Time spent watching and participating in the natural order of things has a similar effect of becoming good friends with a person- you understand them better, and as you understand them, you love them.  Maybe not everyone feels that, but in my experience it has been true. 

It is a beautiful relationship; that we eat from the land we live on, land sustains us, offers the beauty of life each spring, and the gift of food.  If a person was to do this for us: feed us, exist beautifully so that we may enjoy her presence, provide wood for our homes, we would consider them to be so valuable to our lives and we would never think of doing something to hurt that relationship. For some reason, because the entity which does this for us is not human, we cannot accept it as gracefully.  To live closely to the earth requires work, but the work is for your own freedom and nothing else. When you plow, plant and harvest; your  labor, and power within the land has provided you with that food.  When you go to a big store and buy tomatoes in the dead of winter which were grown in South America, your labor still has provided you that food ( in the form of money) , but the opportunity to commune with the raw power that makes a seed into food, and makes life on this earth possible, is gone.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gettin' the Garden Ready!

Winter finally let go up here,  and we have been  busy. Tomatoes, peppers,  kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are started.  Lettuce will be direct seeded, and some herbs will be getting started in the ground this week.
By far the most exciting part of the week was getting the garden harrowed and plowed. 
The garden was disc harrowed first.  This churns the soil and breaks everything up,  which gets it ready to be plowed.

Molly stood watch close by. She is too old to work, but she likes to be in the action.   The soil is dark, beautiful and healthy.  Having sat through the winter really makes you love when land turns workable again.  All the old corn husks, and remnants of plants are gone, and the garden looks young.  I can feel the momentum that has been building. Just like all these plants that know its time to get going, we feel it to.  There is nothing, nothing, nothing in the world that I love more then spring after New England winter. 

After a few days, its time to plow.  Markus and Gus get harnessed up again are ready to work.  I loved watching this team work.  I  learn a little bit more each time I watch them work.  Turning and steering a plow is a very advanced knowledge and it is something that can only be learned from watching and listening, and noticing how the land is being plowed.  When the horses turn, they side step, one foot in front of the other, and it looks like dancing when they are in sync. 
The first furrow.