The 2016 Winter Farm

I feel like every year I post about winter at the farm, and every year it’s the same thing. That said, I find comfort in structure and familiar things, and it’s my blog, so let’s do it.

It’s been a super mild winter here in Maine, at least compared to last year. Tomorrow alone is supposed to be 40 degrees which is admittedly a little bit insane and ridiculous. I really wish we would just get slammed with a blizzard. Just once. It’s not winter without a blizzard. I’m pretty sure the ladies and gents up at the farm are pretty happy though to not have weather colder than a witches tit.

This past weekend I went up to do my annual “I’m cold. I’m feeling claustrophobic. I don’t want to move but I have to move.” photos of cows at the farm. It gives me a chance to get out, to stretch, and to most certainly plan all of my ways of escape should the bull become ornery and decide I’m not welcome. Granted, this has never happened [knock on rock hard manure]. They are all super well behaved and curious. I’d say pretty friendly to boot.

So with that said, here are the 2016 stars of the farm.

DSC_5957DSC_5970DSC_5980DSC_5995DSC_6004DSC_5955Finally, it wouldn’t be the same without the shy one:

DSC_6015The one who tries to eat the camera:

DSC_6017Or the sass masters:

DSC_5987DSC_5988

Et voila my friends, there you have it. A 2016 winter at the farm.

Stay warm, but don’t forget to crunch around in the woods some.

xo,

Heather

Uncovering The Past

Our backyard borders the hayfield of a fourth generation farm, and while I’ve written many time about the farm, I haven’t written much about one particular area known as the farm dump. It’s as literal as it sounds. Many years ago when recycling systems weren’t prevalently in place and getting rid of trash was left to individuals, many farms buried items on a section of their property. The farm we live amongst seemed to bury recyclable items (some plastic,  but not much, lots of glass bottles, and some metal). My favorite by far has been the glass bottles.

DSC_9093-01Last week Andy brought me home an old Ball jar we dated between 1922-1933 and the fun began. The next day he took me back out to show me some of the other bottles he had found as well as look for some more. As we dug we started coming across some pretty neat glass. I decided to take some photos of some of my favorites for you guys. I haven’t done a lot of research on many of these yet but plan to. I’m currently in the process of carefully cleaning some of these up, and after we’ll go ahead and display them around the house.

DSC_9130-01It’s hard to pick a favorite of these bottles, but it might be this old Stark sparkling water bottle.

DSC_9114-01 DSC_9116-01 DSC_9120-04This bottle has actually cleaned up really nicely so far since the label wasn’t paper, and I think I’ll probably keep in our kitchen with flowers on the counter. As for the rest, who knows, but here they are!

I’m not sure what this Rawleigh bottle was used for, but preliminary research says it’s not very valuable. It’s still pretty darn cool though.

DSC_9113-01House of Cott was a brand of soda. I’m actually concerned about cleaning this one up because it’s a paper label and very faded. Like most of these bottles, I’ll be doing a very small test patch with some warm water before attempting to clean the entire thing. If the test patch doesn’t seem good enough I’ll simply rinse out the insides and leave the outsides dirty or dry cloth cleaned.

DSC_9149-01 DSC_9152-01 DSC_9153-01Here are some others in order to how they appear below: Seltzer & Rydholm Inc. from Auburn, Maine; Haig & Haig Five Star; non-descript bottle with “Enjoy ME” on cap; large Casco; small Casco.

DSC_9125-01 DSC_9099-01 DSC_9144-01 DSC_9146-01 DSC_9147-01 DSC_9175-01Behind the small Casco bottle directly above, you can see a very roached out brown label. This one is going to be near impossible to clean but is an old linseed oil bottle. The part of the label left intact caught me for some reason so it made it home despite being in horrible shape.

DSC_9173-01Overall we’ve had a lot of fun back there seeing what other people considered junk. There’s some interesting metal pieces as well, one which may make it into a flower bed per Andy’s idea. That’s another post for another day however.

In the mean time what gems have you found on your property or around?

xo,

Heather

A Photography Project: Meeting Patryce Bak

You simply never know where your next opportunity is going to come from, and I’m hardly someone to turn down an interesting opportunity that could make a pretty cool memory. Unless you’re asking me to get on a plane – then I need some convincing.

A few months back a woman named Patryce Bak and I started chatting with each other on Instagram of all places. I knew she was local, but that she also worked in New York, San Francisco and frankly all over the world. I loved her photos of simple clean eating on Instagram, and how much she seemed to love Maine. It was when I first looked at her professional website that I became immediately smitten with her “The Nature of Work” project. The people behind your food, the simplicity and difficulties of working with the land and her profile of Maine. Simply put – it spoke to me.

So when Patryce contacted me to ask if Andy and I would do a shoot with her for her new Farmers & Homesteaders project I knew we had to be in. The concern though was that we are small time homesteaders with 1.1 acres of our own. While my husbands family owns woodlots and is into simple living, it would be hard to show. While I am smitten with the beef cattle farm and Andy helps on it when we need to and are more or less adopted into the farming family we live amongst, it is not our farm.

Questions definitely came up. What was she going to photograph? What was this about? We have a garden, a small barn, a garage and some chainsaws. Yes we make a lot of our own food, preserve, cut out own firewood, heat our house with only wood at this time and in general try to live a conscious simple life, but how was that going to be shown? I knew from being born in Maine but growing up out of state that this way of life isn’t normal for everyone. We had a garden my entire life but I realized growing up that a lot of my friends parents didn’t. Salsa was something you bought at a store, not made at home. Fresh bread was a treat, but I had friends who had never tasted it. I saw the other side. Andy however grew up where working in the woods, gardening and making the most of what little you had was regular.

I reminded him that many people don’t know where their food comes from. They don’t understand how it works. All things he knows and understands, but I reminded him how important it was to me to be a part of something that was going to show people that there are people out there who do this – no matter what size. To me, encouraging people to grow their own food no matter the size lot they have is one of my greatest joys. When someone comes to me and says “I only planted a tomato in a pot this year and some herbs,  but it’s something” I want to jump out of my seat and yell and am incredibly happy for them. Everyone needs to take a first step. To have a chance to be a part of a project that could show this variety of farmers and homesteaders from very big, to very small, was awesome.

Thankfully, Andy knows how much this meant to me to do and he was on board. That’s the great thing about this guy – when something really means something to me and will make me really happy, he’s in. He’s in simply because it makes me happy. That’s a good man you guys, seriously.

So when Patryce came out I had just finished gathering some apples from the wild tree out back and the sun was setting. A new calf had just been born up at the farm so we took them up there to see it.

To be honest, my neighbor the farmer should have been the one photographed. Humble as the farmer is though he had told us that we should do our pictures at the farm. It might not be our farm literally, but to him we are a part of it – and it is a part of us. Also, it’s one of my happy places in life.

I’m happy to share these photos with you courtesy of Patryce. The second photo is also part of her Farmers & Homesteaders project you can see by clicking here.
 PatryceBakProject

PatryceBakFarmHere are some other ways you can find Patryce and see the daily looks into her life, and her professional work.

Instagram – @Patryceb
Facebook – Patryce Bak Photography 
Website – Patryce Bak Photography

A big thank you to Patryce for your beautiful photographs. It was wonderful meeting you and spending time with you. I hope you enjoyed the farm pears!

xo,

Heather 

P.S. To be clear, we did photograph at our house too but it was getting a bit dark. The farm sits on a hill and the light was beautiful so the farm set of photos is what I’ve seen and what she has used in the project.

P.P.S. Here’s a little behind the scenes – in the photo of me looking out the barn door, I wasn’t just posing and staring out. I was actually perched there to get a better view of a brand new baby who had just been born about 2 hours earlier. At the time the mother was eating the placenta and I was totally in awe of nature at it’s finest. Also, that same mother chased me up onto rocks the next day, but that’s another post for another day.

Summer 2013 Happenings

Hey friends! As some of you might experience in your own lives, summer is the busiest time of year. Here in Maine summer might literally go until the end of September, but as far as I’m concerned autumn begins on September 1st. Some people might shush me for saying that, but it really becomes autumn weather and I LOVE the autumn. The other night you could feel the change in the air starting and Andy and I were both thrilled.

Given it’s the end of August and the almost end of summer I thought I would catch up a few loose ends like the farm, the garden, the house and a couple other little birdies we had going on around here.

The Farm

The farm has been well this summer without much to write home about until this last weekend. At church on Sunday the farmers wife announced that there had been a calf born at the farm that morning. Needless to say I was slightly distracted throughout church to go meet the new little dude. So here’s the part where you ask why there isn’t a photo of him. Little dude is elusive. I’ve seen him, but there were other duties to attend to so I didn’t have my camera on me. I even tried to go up and get a photo of him just for this post (literally, I stopped writing the post and drove up to the farm with camera in hand). No dice. The herd had just retreated to a far back field out of site. For reals.

I will get a photo of him and I will share it once Mr. Disappearing Act decides to show his face at a time I also have a camera on me.

The Garden & Harvest Preservation

I am SO PROUD of the garden this year. I don’t mean proud of us. I mean I am literally (using that word in it’s actual definition) proud of the plants for making it through the crazy ass weather we’ve had, being choked by weeds, and infested by insects and fighting disease. I honestly didn’t think we would be seeing a single zucchini, squash or cucumber this year. I had to replant almost all of the cucumbers, I fought squash bugs like crazy, and we experienced blossom drop.

DSC_6718-01Well done garden, well done. You rebounded nicely. The above harvest was only one of the harvests this year. The cucumbers definitely were on the bigger side for this harvest so I seeded them (along with that giant zuc above) and diced them up for diced bread and butter pickled. We also have some sliced pickles too from an earlier batch. Speaking of pickles, this summer has been awesome for preservation. (To learn more about different methods of food preservation check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation).

DriedPotatoesWe sliced, blanched, dehydrated and vacuum sealed potatoes.

PicklesandMuffinsWe made sliced bread and butter pickles as well in a British style, a garlic style and regular.We also made a batch of hearty blueberries from the year/coconut/hemp heart/chia seed/vegan muffins and then cooled and vacuum sealed them for the freezer. These are so good to grab, heat for a minute in the microwave and then head out with. They are super filling and are a perfect pick me up.

JamWe picked a ton of wild blackberries and then made jam.

CanningFailWe had our first canning fail ever. I’m happy to say it was a perfectly broken jar and not a fail because of botulism or something. I’ll take a broken jar over bacteria any day of the week.

PicklesWe also had even more successes and will continue to can throughout the rest of the summer. These are the tiny diced cucumbers and zuc’s I mentioned above. For now it’s mainly all pickles at the house for now, but we might be able to blanch and freeze some spinach and maybe some vegan butternut squash soup later on.

IMG_6567Finally, we had great success with garlic this year. Even though we grow hardneck garlic we learned how to braid it to dry it properly. The big bulbs in the front are all seed stock which we will plant this fall. We’ll eat all the deliciousness in the back. I’ll write more on this whole process in another post, as I documented it for you guys!

The House

Holla! As you guys know from this post we’ve moved into our bedroom. This topic really deserves it’s own post though. I’ll be heading into the mountains soon so I’m hoping to bang out a post then for you guys all about it. There isn’t a ton to discuss at this point, but what there is to share it still exciting! It’s hard to believe we’re winding down on the interior of the addition, and yet there is so much to do. Oh, and we’re going to renovate the entire original house so there’s definitely plenty more to go.

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Other Little Birdies

For real birdies! This was such a highlight of my summer. I would look out the window to the porch just about every day and watch them in the rafters until they finally took flight (which I missed). I almost hope they nest there every year so I can watch them! Absolutely adorable.

DSC_6281-01 DSC_6286-01 DSC_6290-01 DSC_6298-01 DSC_6332-01 DSC_6354-01 DSC_6361-01So there’s a quick wrap up of our summer and we’re not slowing down anytime soon heading into fall as we prep for winter. We still have so much to go between working full time, harvesting, construction, and the rest of the shebang. We also are going to be part of a cool project that I’ll post about as soon as I get permission. Actually there are two cool projects. Do I have your interest yet? I can’t wait to share.

xo,

Heather

Farm Update: June 2013

It’s almost hay season on the farm, with a few more weeks to go before harvest. This time of year also means it’s time to do one of the more glorious farm aspects—mucking out under the barn with the tractor. Our tractor is small enough to fit under the barn with the roll bar down, so that means every May or June Andy heads on down and gets to work.

DSC_4926-01DSC_4927-01There’s no two ways about it, a barn filled with fresh manure in the hot sun smells like roses. Roses that the cows have eaten and then digested and then crapped out.

DSC_4937-01Good job ladies and gents.

DSC_4928-01DSC_4936-01DSC_4931-01 DSC_4934-01It honestly doesn’t take too long to do, maybe 30 minutes or so. While it doesn’t get all the manure out, it gets enough. We could shovel the rest out but the farmer doesn’t seem to worry about it so neither do we.

DSC_4956-01DSC_4957-01 DSC_4959-01Eventually some of the fresh manure Andy mucked out will age and become compost for the gardens, while the rest will be spread back across the pastures to keep the greens populating that the cows love. Where some might find pungently horrible crap, I just think about the fact that it gives the cows more food to eat as the seeds in the manure re-seed the pasture, and with the composted manure it gives many of the neighbors soil an extra boost of nitrogen to help our gardens grow big and strong.

Some people might say happy life, happy wife but I think it’s happy animals, happy life. It might not rhyme, but it’s true.

xo,

Heather