The sun’s golden light seems even brighter as it hits the many and varied shades of foliage here in the hills and forests of Pierrepont. In the past week, the view through the woods changed daily, maybe even hourly. There are fewer leaves on the bottom branches of some trees and others, like my official “turn around” tree are completely naked, while the “scrub” bushes and beech trees still radiate summer’s vibrant green. There is something new to see around every corner or gentle curve in the road.
May your coming days be filled with gentle autumn sunshine and delight in all the natural wonders it reveals.
Well, despite appearances to the contrary (due to my inattention to this blog) life continues on at Deep Root Farm. The harvest was a mixed bag this year. Last season we were bemoaning the drought conditions, this summer it has been all about the rain and cooler temps when the hot weather crops were desperate for warmth.
As always cucumbers and beans were very successful crops. In fact, we still have a 5 gallon bucket of cucumbers in the shop. The chickens enjoy a couple for breakfast every morning. The peppers had a very slow start and at one point Mike was going to pull them up. Luckily that impulse passed, we have quite a mix of sweet and hot peppers. Although, the yellow wax aren’t hot at all. Tomatoes are coming in slowly as well. We have enough for meals but no surplus for canning. Luckily, Mike’s mom, Nana Bonnie, had extra, so I have a few jars of sauce in the pantry.
The winter squash were a disappointment, for the second year in a row; the two small delicata and one acorn on the counter are apparently it. So much for squash soup this winter. One five gallon bucket of smallish potatoes, will most definitely need to be supplemented with purchases from other local farmers. The carrots are beautiful and the beets are small but tasty. MacKenzie loves making raw beet salad for lunch.
Oh, and I can’t forget the bumper crop of shiitake mushrooms. They were possibly the only happy ‘beings’ this summer of wet and humidity.
Apples are the other crop that has been very successful, this year. We have an awesome deal with friends in Canton. They own a small orchard and have formed an informal cooperative of friends. Folks ‘adopt’ particular trees in the orchard and prune them in the spring. When the apples are ready, they have access to the apples on “their” trees. We “have” three trees. The Alexander had so many apples the branches were bent to the ground and most of them were, right off the tree, eatable quality. One Macintosh wasn’t nearly as prolific and the apples were not in great shape and the other barely produced at all. Most were quickly processed into the more than 30 quarts of apple sauce and slices in the pantry with plenty still in the bowl on the table for a mid-day snack.
We borrowed this press to make cider from apples we collected from trees along the road, wild trees on our land, and some of those undesirable macs. Mike picked it up last night on the way home from work.
We couldn’t wait until morning, so set it up by the back door and started processing the apples in the grinder attached to the front of the press, in the dark. The mush slid down the chute into the pillowcase lined slotted barrel. The luscious juice started flowing before we even started screwing down the press.
If you have never drunk freshly pressed apple cider it is like the nectar of the Gods compared to the pasteurized s— available for sale. In NYS, even the places who produce it fresh have to pasteurize it. For more on that rant, you can read this past blog post: https://deeprootfarm.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/culture-of-fear
Harvest; just one more reason this is my favorite time of year! May your life be filled with apples, fresh veggies and delightful sunshine!
Two eight year old girls from Potsdam participated in the first session of Deep Root Farm Summer Youth experience. Fortunately, they are very good friends and have known each other since they were one year old. At times, it seemed like they knew each other a little too well. If the amount of fun a child has had can be measured by the amount of dirt on their bodies at the end of each day…I would say this week has been a success.
The seventeen chickens and ten teenage chicks were the highlight of the week. Each day they went into the coop at least 3-4 times to collect eggs. Every time there was a loud ruckus coming from the hen yard, one would say to me, “I think there are more eggs in the nests. They certainly are being loud.”
We spent the first day painting an old toy of MacKenzie’s. Mike had built it as a doll house when she was four years old, however she never used it for dolls. It immediately became a horse barn and stables. The girls decided to keep it a barn and painted it red and brown. They also painted some wooden animals. It took a few days for the paint to dry, but they were able to play with the farm they had created by the third day.
On the second day we decided to do some experiments with baking soda and vinegar. We put the soda in an old dish-soap bottle and then poured vinegar in and immediately put the cap on. They took it outside and pulled the spout up and listened to the gas escape. Shaking it up created more gas. After two or three times it didn’t fizz anymore. Then they wanted to make some bubble solution. We filled a big metal pan with water and added dish soap and glycerin. However, we never got the mixture just right. We could get bubbles, but they always popped before they came off the bubble maker.
It was a very hot, muggy and wet week, but as you can tell from the following interview the conducted of each other, the undesirable weather did not inhibit the amount of fun memories they were able to create together.
Celeste did you have fun? Yes I had a lot of fun.
Why? Because my friend Clare was here and we got to feed the chickens, collect eggs and play in the woods.
So what did you like about camp, Clare? I liked pretty much everything Celeste liked and I liked painting.
Clare, did you like being with the chickens? YES!!!
What was your favorite thing, Celeste? I like pretty much everything the best.
What did you do in the woods, Clare? I played with you, Celeste and a swung on the swing.
Celeste, did you see anything that you have never seen before, at camp? I saw Mike growing mushrooms and I saw an unusual spider and a beetle.
What did you do on your last day? We had a campfire and ate marshmallows and chocolate.
How many bug bites did you get this week? Celeste got eleven and Clare got a lot.
Did you finish the fairy house you were working on this week? No, because it was too wet to work on it.
It sounds like they had as much fun as I did.
*The girls took most of the photos in the gallery*
Billed as the Annual North Country Goose Round-up, today’s adventure with the Nature Up North Crew from SLU was filled with an abundance of fun, sweat, sunburn and just a few ticked off geese, as well as a new understanding of the term Goose Round-up.
We started the day at 6:30AM in Parking Lot D on the SLU Campus. The Nature Up North Staff, four students, Emily, Nate, Kate and Abby, Pete, a SLU professor and I clamored into two vehicles, one pulling the canoe trailer with six canoes strapped on, and drove to the DEC Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area in Louisville on the St. Lawrence River, a remote section of Northern St Lawrence County.
With nary a goose in sight, despite my vivid imaginary visions of hundreds of Canada Geese wandering around on the river bank, we dropped off the canoes, paddles, and life vests next to the water. After waiting for quite a while, with probably about 75 other folks from all walks of life, some with experience, but many without, the round-up was underway. We all got into our water craft with minimal instruction as to what we were doing or where we were actually going to end up, hopefully with a flock of geese in front of us.
Despite our lack of knowledge, the forty or so canoes and kayaks moved cooperatively into a line to create a boom that swept the whole pond, which I should note, had previously been perfectly dry land before the dam was built in the early 50s to create the St. Lawrence Seaway. As we canoed past ghostly tree stumps, the canoes on the left slowly began to circle around, the canoes in the middle stopped paddling and several on the right stayed close to shore where we had started originally. Eventually, the geese were spotted, their heads just little straight lines sticking out of the water. We were able to circle around a family of confused loons, two babes and two parents, leaving the little group mostly undisturbed.
An hour later, the canoe and kayak boom had closed in on the flock and gently pushed them toward their funnel like destination created by fencing all along the shore. We watched in amazement as they docilely swam through the gap toward the temporary holding area on shore. Just as the last few were filtering through, I watched in admiration as one one turned around and swam directly at the line of boats surrounding it, weaving and dodging past us all as he made his way through the gauntlet to freedom. Yes, I have always admired a rebel!
After disembarking and pulling the canoes up the hill and out of the way, we ate a welcome lunch of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs provided by the DEC. Eventually, I noticed the crowd had swelled and folks were lined up outside the holding area. I was still convinced that my chicken wrangling skills were going to be put to good use in the goose pen. However, the DEC has a much more tame and I must say organized way to deal with a large crowd that wanted to get their hands on the geese.
The professional wranglers were in the mostly hidden yard with the geese. They drove a few into a net and grabbed two at a time by their wings. Each person in line (children and adults) was then handed a goose (some angry and ready for a fight others completely relaxed and compliant), suitcase style and directed either to the DEC employee who banded the bird and who then sent them to the real pro who sexed it, or directly to a person who read the band placed on the goose in a previous year. The geese were then dumped back into the water; some went gracefully, while others looked a bit disheveled and worse for wear after their ordeal.
This important annual event is just one more way regular folks in the community are invited to participate in the awesome natural world we have right here in the North Country. You can find more opportunities hosted or advertised by Nature Up North on their website. You can also follow them on Facebook and get regular updates on upcoming events.
*Photos by David Pynchon one of the Nature Up North Interns*
The chicks are three weeks old and moving into their tween stage. They outgrew their cardboard box last week and moved into an old dog crate in the lawn during the day and back into their comfort zone box at night. Yesterday, we decided that moving them in and out of the crate twice a day was getting a bit ridiculous, so they have taken up residence in the original small chicken yard that is attached to the coop. The entrances from the coop and the other part of the yard are closed off so the ‘BIG’ girls won’t go in and pick on them and they won’t venture out into a world that is much to large for them.
Of course, as with all of our grand ideas, this didn’t just involve moving the dog crate in. We discovered that the chicken wire on the chicken yard had bigger holes. A chick most likely wouldn’t be able to get out, but there is always the possibility of one getting stuck. So, Mike cut the small hole chicken wire length wise and we put it at the bottom of the pen. Both of us were covered in sweat, dust and chicken poop by the time the job was done.
When we put them in, they crowded into their dog crate and remained absolutely still for about 30 seconds. Then they realized that the door was open and they could wander around a bug filled space, eating and flying to their hearts content. Last night after I closed them back into their crate, they were a bit disconcerted by open walls. They were really loud for a while, then as night fell they quieted down. This morning they were more than ready to break out and do more exploring. When I looked out the window, one was climbing on top of the tarp roof!
I will be attending a workshop in July at North Star in Amherst, MA. This is what I want to replicate (with a few modifications for the North Country) here in Canton. Stay tuned for news and updates. In the meantime, here are a few more links to watch and read: Hole in the Wall Experiment in India, AERO. and Mosaic School Blog.
Deep Root Farm Summer Youth Experience
A place where kids have the freedom to make
deep-rooted connections to the earth and each
other through exploration, creativity and play.
arts and crafts
hands-on activities and toys
imaginary and cooperative play
time to observe and discuss nature
1. Week of July 1st Mon., Tues., Wed.,
2. Week of July 16th Tues. Fri.
3. Week of July 29th Mon. Thurs.
4. Week of August 12th Mon. Thurs.
*limited to 9 youths per session*
9:00 AM 3:30 PM
The foundational philosophy of
Deep Root Farm Summer Youth
Experience is based on our deep
and abiding trust in children.
Location: Deep Root Farm, Pierrepont, NY
For more information or to request an application,
contact Maria: 270 Bonno Road, Canton, NY 13617, 3153790196,
email@example.com or check out our blog: