Friday, August 31, 2007

A ride on the tractor with Bill

We're excited to be able to finally post a snap of our sweet neighbor, Bill Beyrer. Jay took Owain out to see the tractor when we heard the haying going on, and Bill was kind enough to take boys for a turn around the field. Every little boy's dream come true!

Welcome, September

After the deluge of rain for 10 days, we've been blessed by warm, sunny days with little wind. Just what the garden needs - especially our dear tomatoes that we are trying to save from water, slug & bug damage. Things are looking up. We feel especially fortunate to have a garden at all while farmers in southern Wisconsin and Minnesota watched their crops perish under drought in July and floods in August.
The storms knocked a load of apples off the trees, so we've been enjoying batches of fresh warm, pink applesauce, courtesy of Charis & our trusty food mill. The apples on the big tree (a Macintosh, we think - not the one pictured above) are eating-ready and it's hard to believe that cider season is already upon us! Pumpkins and hard squash are ripening on the vines, so the boys will have some jack-o-lanterns this year.

I made sauce out of the plums and it turned out beautiful and tasty but TART. Even after adding generous amounts of brown sugar. Still good on waffles. Last night we devoured zucchini pizza - an excellent recipe from the brown Moosewood cookbook - and a great garden dinner.

We have scheduled the window installation (by our good neighbor Tim) for the end of September, and are debating the challenge of moving our desired wood cookstove into the house since it measures 2 inches wider than any of our doorways. It just might push us into some structural changes a little sooner than planned, but we're anxious to order the stove, so it's a good impetus to get moving. Challenge #2 will be actually hauling the 800 pound stove out of the truck, up the deck stairs, and into the house. A good excuse to have a little party for the neighbors and enlist their brute strength.September brings many trips, visits from good friends and celebrations, including Ellis's 2 year birthday. I know I sound old when I say it, but my, how time flies.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wild Plums

Look what we found growing on the side of our road! This is the first year we've noticed them...not sure why we haven't seen them before. What kind of sweet, orange-flesh wild plums are they? Where did they come from? And most importantly, what ought we to do with them? Jam, jelly, puree, dehydrate...
Do any of you recognize these little, pink beauties? We also have fruit growing beautifully on a plum tree we planted two years ago - it's so exciting to literally see the fruits of our labor (well, okay, nature's labor in this case). Do you have any recipes or suggestions for use (besides munching one every time I walk through the kitchen)? It's preserving season, and we're ready to fire up the canning pots.

Charis, Owain and Gideon pose next to our baby plum tree

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Owain

A year ago Charis performed a miracle. A miracle many woman complete everyday, but the most amazing and beautiful moment that will ever capture my eyes, ears and skin.

Owain laughs, talks in Japanese of some sort (heavy on the Ah vowel), walks with abandon and knows what he desires. When he pushes his way out the front door he will turn right to the barn or left to the mailbox and no stops in-between, except now that the tomatoes are red they have become a detour. At night he has the same order of books he chooses: Puppies, Icy Antics, Sew Words, Llego la Primavera and Charlie Parker Plays Be-Bop. During the day he will pull at your shorts and turn around to face out so you can pick him up and he can play with the mixer. It is hard to fathom that I used to sleep on the couch with him slung over my hip so his acid-reflex would not bother him.

He is an explorer. He might be a civil engineer when he grows up because all objects he has to shake to see how sturdy they stand. He will pick stalls and make bread on the side. He loves the pitchfork and the mixer. He will also have many animals. He hugs Giddeon and Colby daily by resting his head against theirs and laughs every time he sees a dog (real or picture). Flannery and Gus just bust out the room as he runs like Frankenstein’s creation whenever he sees them: arms forward, incomprehensible vocal excitement.

Today we were gathering produce in the garden. He stumbled with reckless abandon through all vegetation and bit into apples, carrots and zucchini. We were gathering to head up to the house. I slung him onto my hip with left arm and he buzzed his lips and spit all over my face. I buzzed back. He returned the buzz and then began laughing. We stood there for the one of the best five minutes of my life: buzzing and laughing. He tilts his head way back, mouth agape and cackles from his belly. I hoot and have tears running down my face.


Sunrise, Sunset

I was going to say that my wee babe is one today, but he's not especially wee and never has been. At any rate, one year ago today, we experienced an event that would alter the course of the rest of our lives. And we're so glad. We love you, Owain!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Sunday morning harvest

Lower garden: raspberries, hops vines, three sisters (corn, beans, squash)

Upper garden: basil & tomatoes

zebra tomatoes on the vine

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Drafts be gone!

Well, some of them anyway. I never thought getting new windows could be so exciting. The plan goes a little something like this:
new bedroom windows upstairs, west side
new kitchen window
new upstairs hall window, north side
new (and doubled in size!) upstairs window, south side
knock out the dining room window facing the deck and replace it with french doors

This will hopefully not only cut down on frigid drafts come wintertime, but also bring good southern and western light in where we want and need it in the cold months and provide cross-ventilation in hot summer months. I've been reading bits and pieces of the piles of books we've got on green building/renovating, passive solar heating/cooling, home design, etc. Windows are one of the first on all lists of things to do to make your home more efficient (and attractive!). It's a small-ish step, and it's always exciting to see these kinds of long-term investments taking place.

The tomatoes are ripening - a few more each day. And we can't keep up with the summer squash and herbs. Tonight's supper is grass-fed burgers from a farmer-friend nearby, roasted potatoes and beets, and sauteed squash, zucchini and beet greens. Supper's on in an hour, so I'm off to prepare. Yum yum.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Giant Melon Alert

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ride on, little buckaroo

Laundry Day

In my mind, the sight of laundry hanging out to dry on a sunny day is only topped by darling children playing under the clothes as they blow in the breeze.