The Stars and Birds in the Sky

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Photo courtesy of JS

This time of year the farm is dark, like a new moon. Work is being done deep down in the soil, worms and micro organisms break down the season that was tilled in. The green cover crops cover lowly. Soon they will start to jump in response to the longer days, but Green hasn’t dominated yet. The farm is dark; it is brown soaked earth. Everything seem so be quiet, the straw colored field of last year’s growth, the reaching brown bare branches in the orchard, the seeds still call it night as they lie dormant. The new farm, like the new moon, always present but masked in darkness, is unassuming and lets others shine. At the time of the new moon you see the bold Milky Way flying directly over head, as each individual stars sing their song, Pleiades circles and shooting-starlings dive across the sky.

As the farm lies quietly working, up ahead a show takes place too. Raptors have taken over the skies as song birds fill the empty space with their melodies. This valley is home to so many birds and in these dormant months they fill it with life. Their wings span the horizon, taking up effortless flight, finding density in air that is so thin and unsuspending to us.

I’ve been filled with deep gratitude for this avian company. Their shadows traveling along the farm as they look for ground squirrels that may have been coaxed out by the spring like light and warm afternoons. There’s a Bald Eagle pair that can be found dancing about, and will even perch in the tree right outside the kitchen window. The flickers streak their under-red, Meadow Larks their yellow and little browns bounce all about, from orchard to lilac hedges, to junipers and dot the elms. I’m learning to look close, to know names and personalities. My friend Jim is teaching me how to identify wing patterns, flight, song and making the connection of habitat and season of the farm’s bird population.

Soon, we’ll honor the last of the dark new moons and the Celtic day of Imbolic, which recognizes the first signs of spring and falls between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. With it Green will start, the cover crop will begin to reach up, the greenhouse will glow and the dancing pair of eagles will build their nest and peacefully start their family, as Orion bends low in the horizon.

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The Cold Muse

The happy high tunnel ecosystem!

The happy high tunnel ecosystem!

The cold muse sauntered in unseasonably late this year. Summer flew away on the wings of staggered chevron teams of Canada Geese.  However, there was no haste to their migration. They didn’t tug at the warmth of the sun or take the flowers with them and we didn’t get morning fields, held in freezing fog, from their exiting draft. They would call, as geese do, their gossip perky, echoing on dry, unwintered, mountain tops.  The geese have migrated with prediction, unpredicted has been lettuce, cabbage, even the stray tomatoes out in the field, that have continued to seize the mild weather and sustain their growth in the moment.

The cold muse’s tardiness allowed for unprecedented extention of our Siskiyou County harvest window. September tumbled into October, and October into November, as months in single harmony. The end of the season sprint kept curving around the bend with no noticeable ending.  The cold mornings usually play their roll in taking the season away, the dutiful farmer in turn tills it all in and sows the closing of the season and cover crops, until spring ground is broken.  But this has been the fall of perpetual harvest, can one really lament? It’s been an extended season of bounty, fresh salads and soups, more sharing and lengthening of connection to the harvest. The Mt. Shasta Harvest Connection for example.

Jonathan kept me together at markets!

Jonathan kept me together at markets!

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The cold muse has been late this year,  and with it so has my reflection of the season, this cold morning by the fire to write, ponder and absorb. Now, with snow on in the Eddies, on Goosenest, Black Butte and a white Shasta, the season can begin to close and go in. An eminence of blessings and thanks for another powerful season of growth can radiate out.  In MANY ways this was the most challenging season yet, with the heat and earwigs taking the farm into a deep hole for the month of June. July and August were kind and our mega-late summer kinder still. Homeward Bounty Farm’s Fourth Annual Harvest Dinner, yet again, held special space and was visited by an auspicious lunar eclipse. The high tunnel is teaching me volumes and produced the most stunning cauliflower crop I’ve have had the honor of growing. This beautiful community, my Siskiyou County home, continues to support, value and connect deeper with the local food experience! This land continues to find connections in family and friends. People who want to give to this property, this farm, to the earth and plants, to step into the pattern and cycles. Farmer and farm couldn’t be luckier and happier or more honored.

4th Annual Homeward Bounty Harvest Dinner

4th Annual Homeward Bounty Harvest Dinner

Garlic starting to pop up. 2016 already in the works.

Garlic starting to pop up. 2016 already in the works.

Lettuce still growing in the field. One of my favorite varieties, Drunken Women.

Lettuce still growing in the field. One of my favorite varieties, Drunken Women.

Brassicas growing happily.

Brassicas growing happily.

The cold muse that has finally brought a slowing ease to the season, did indeed come later than expected and with it I’ve delayed my favorite poem of a season’s close.  A poem that usually comes in with the geese and frost comes in now, mid November. May we have a defined wet winter and a poignant start to spring and continued seasons of bounty.

The Summer Ends   By Wendell Berry

The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.

 

Giving Thanks, Pie

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Giving thanks. This year I have a wealth to give thanks for, so much so that ‘thanks’ seems a mild word. Thanks, blessings, gratitude, gratefulness – ball them all together, and the Pangaea like word that forms might begin to honor how I feel. I  visualize my blessing, a dictionaryesque tome, perched on a podium where it’s always open revealing a letter at random; R, R is for rain, radishes, Red Tailed Hawks, Robin O’Brien, romaine, roses, row cover…. From April to zucchini, the expanse of this year’s blessings, and all chapters of gratitude before, keep me in constant grace towards life. They make even the hard days of labor and loss be ones that hold great depths of thanks.

Somewhere in that tome is T for Thanksgiving and definitely P for PIE!
A pumpkin by any other name would taste as sweet, but the Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin indeed holds quite a charming and delectable name for which it is well deserving. For me, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin has become a staple. It will be one of those varieties that I grow year after year, not even curious of the other pie pumpkin varieties out there. This round netted squash has much in which to give thanks and at the Thanksgiving table represents a quintessential pillar of our feasting favorites: PIE! When Thanksgiving comes around there are many things I’m thankful for, a belly full of festive food, a table at capicity, joy bursting at the buttons and just when you think you’re too full, life’s just too good and you couldn’t possibly have more, there’s pie! Making your own pumpkin pie truly can’t be beat! F is for flaky crust, J is for Just one more piece and E if for ENJOY!

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Most Excellent Squash Pie –                                                                                                                              Recipe adapted from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love , by Kristin Kimball

**Makes two pies** IMG_0327

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

1/3 very cold water. I put the 1/3 cup cold water in a dish and add ice cubes to cool further.

Filling

2 1/2 pounds Winter Luxury Pumpkin or other winter squash cooked. I use a 6lb pumpkin for two pies.

1 1/2 heavy cream

3 eggs

3/4 sugar

1 tsp cinnamon, powdered ginger and cardamom (optional)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and salt

1/8 tsp cloves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                               2. Wash outside of pumpkin and cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place on baking sheet cut side down with a little bit of water. Bake for an hour or until very soft. The beauty of this pumpkin is that the skin very easily peals aways from the flesh!                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. While pumpkin is baking prepare crust. I always make mine in a food processor so it doesn’t get over worked. I add the flour and salt and buzz to combine. I then cut up the cold butter into little pieces and place in the processor with the flour. I just pulse it a few time and slowly pour in some cold water until the ingredients start to bind. I pour it out onto a cutting board and ball it up tight. Don’t over work the dough or make get is warm by handling it too much! If you feel like it’s getting warm you can put it in the fridge for a little bit. Divide into two equal ball and roll then each out and place in a buttered 9-inch pie plate. Chill for 30 minutes.                                                                                                            4. Placed cooked pumpkin in a bowl, add all filling ingredients and mix with a spoon. This filling always comes out beautifully smooth and creamy. You can use a blender if you like, but I have never had to. Jut a wooden spoon does the trick!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. Fill pie crusts with fill and bake at 375 degrees until center is set, about 40 minutes.

V is for Voila!

Y is for YUM!!

H is for a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!!

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GIVE THANKS!

GIVE THANKS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vaoie

Heartvest Dinner

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Another season to honor. One to name and define, to catalogue. Wedges of present moments strung together under concise themes: a day, the moth of August, a row of tomatoes , but contain truly nothing that can be defined in such simple ways. In reflecting on this, I guess the challenge lies in remembering each memory as pixilated as possible, the quality in every dot that makes it a whole, to remember and feel the authenticity of moments.

This year, not yet done, but cresting, has had many truly authentic moments and has been a season unlike any I’ve experienced before.  It was Green, not exclusively in the eco sense, but in its young tenderness, it’s vulnerability and wide-eyed wonder. We were novices, the soil, the seed, the farmer. Playing in an environment where a little beginners luck would be welcomed and the learning curve proved steep.

The season brought together Home and Bounty, as was manifested through its namesake! The family grew this season, extending to encompass yet more and more lovely smiles, warm hearts and willing to work hands. A community, with a deep appreciation for community, for local vibrant food and an even greater passion to share meals with ones dear! At the heart of it all it truly IS about eating! About making beautiful meals that make you and the ones around you glow. Each individual bite one to savor, like each pixel that makes the whole. The way the white lights caught the smiles amid animated conversations over a Harvest Dinner table. The zinnias shining out, the rain hydrating the cover crop seed, a night and a season beautifuly and richy authentic.  Thank you all for this wealth, this support and the pulse of a farm famly bond, the beat of anther successful Heartvest!

The spread - YUM

The spread – YUMIMG_1552IMG_1546 IMG_1558

Welcoming a beautiful rainbow.
Welcoming a beautiful rainbow.

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A storm rolls in.

A storm rolls in.

Joy is a Taste

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Homeward Bounty fields mid July

Homeward Bounty fields mid July

The summer has been full. It has been a full glowing moon rising slowly and reaching with grace to watch over the fields like the eager tassels of the sweet corn, they both stretch and bless.  The summer has been full of heat, full of thought and study and work. My mind is running over, how to be present with the successes and the not unfoldings? My day is penciled with ‘dos’ and notes that continually expand and tumble, rolling into the days and weeks of the future that catch up the present quicker than I thought the sun could move.  It has been a season filled with bushels of questions, optimism, recognition, dedication, work and rework. There have been backpacks full too, oranges and chocolate, goggles and towel, wildflowers, wild vistas, plunges!

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It has been a patient year. The bounty unfolding with a tease of anticipation. How eager I am for a plate of sun ripened tomatoes, a smile of watermelon, to hydrate while working in the fields by crunching into the watery cells of a lemon cucumber! I can see the fields playing now, and not just hard to get. Fruits are growing heavy and full, the dawn of the much anticipated Bounty! In these last hot breaths of July our taste buds start to excite as color and beautiful flavors grace our plates. Doesn’t it make you feel alive?

The Plum Trees

Such richness flowing

through the branches of summer and into

the body, carried inward on the five

rivers! Disorder and astonishment

rattel your thoughts and your heart

cries for rest but don’t

succumb, there’s nothing

so sensible as sensual inundation. Joy

is a taste before

it’s anything else and the body

can lounge for hours devouring

the important moments. Listen,

the only way

to tempt happiness into your mind is by taking it

into the body first, like small

wild plums.

Mary Oliver

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Carrots & God

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While thinning carrots this morning my head was wrapped around this poem. My friend Dan sent it to me last week. Intuitive of the fact that I would have hands full of roots?

 

Root Song

Picking carrots this morning

makes me think

of god,

the ceremonious unearthing

of roots

from garden beds,

the bright smell

that clings to the air

and to my fingers –

how, to die, for a carrot,

means being pulled up from the groung

instead of buried under:

dirt replaced

by lucid blue sky.

-Callie Plaxico

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~Solstice~

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Solstice – The longest day to work, the longest day to play! It’s the time of year for beautiful both.

I love the edge times. The times of transition; when you’re leaving and before you’re there, you’re in the middle, the center. You’re drumming the sun down and each bow. Gold exits West, into the belly of the Klamath Range and towards the calling Pacific waves, a glowing corona that will linger on the cheeks of Mt. Shasta and has left ours a little rosier.

Drumming the moon up, silver and dilated. In the middle of these two bookends, the ones that hold up our stories, we drummed, in the center.

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