Recovery

Last March (2014) I was diagnosed with cancer. Now, over a year later I look back. First of all, I count myself lucky. I was diagnosed early and I lucked into a superb physician who helped us deal with all the aftermath. I say us because Ed was my rock. I am so lucky to have had him by my side. I’m lucky to have been working at a job that not only provided insurance but let me be “sick.” I was able to check out and heal. I also had magnificent support from our kids and family. So now, I’m so happy to literally dig in and get my hands dirty. Although I sort of did some farm work during all my treatments, my efforts were minimal. Now I have so much more energy. There are still many issues with recovery, but I am enjoying my possibilities. I left my “desk job” at Cornell and I don’t regret that. I’m prioritizing my own time. It feels like a wonderful luxury. What’s next?

Dear Mother Nature,

Mother Nature, what are you doing? I’m sorry if we have made you angry. But our plants are very confused. When you give us 90 degree days then 30-something days, they don’t know what on earth (yes, Earth!) to do. We farmers keep holding off planting or going ahead and planting and then covering the plants as your whim keeps shifting. There is only so much covering we can do. And only so much waiting.

Market Days

We’ve joined a new market. It is a beautiful thing. We have learned that our mainstay is providing salad greens and herbs and other seasonal vegetables to restaurants. But the market is fun. It is a chance to really connect with our community. The community is Hammondsport and it is turning out to be a collection of vendors and shop owners who want to create a vibrant Saturday morning market Yea! Keuka Artisan Bakery in town is managing it and property owners in town have donated space. A lot of time donated and so far, results are good. Thank you to the organizers and property owners!

Just Thinking About Where the Line Is

swallowWhen we moved here we had a whole lot of tolerance. We embraced all the wild creatures. We loved the woodchucks and birds and bees and when “something” built a home in our pond we thought the structure was beautiful. We embraced the wildlife that called our place theirs. Then we learned that the structure was built by muskrats and they were simultaneously burrowing holes in the dike holding our pond (that’s what they do and if left on their own they would leave us with no pond) and killing our chickens. The woodchucks were chowing their way through our carefully nurtured lettuce beds. And the beautiful birds included the sparrows that clip off every bud of our cherry bushes, along with chipping away at our pea shoots and other seedlings. Not to mention the chipmunk, squirrel, mole, mouse havoc that can occur. So … how do we live in peace with these creatures?

We heard similar stories from our friends who are transplants from Long Island. They arrived with good intentions to share the bounty with the wild creatures and decided to build a fence of raspberry bushes to keep the deer out of their gardens. Deer are very intrepid. Their garden was soon compromised and their battle began.

Our battle continues. I hate to call it a battle but it is. As in all aspects of life, you need to draw boundaries. But it is tricky to figure out where the line should be drawn. We use every strategy we can to reduce the enticements and be kind to what we now consider our foes: fences (electric, small wire, big wire), electronic devices to keep out moles, abundant plantings so that there is more than enough, guards to keep the mice from girdling trees, humane traps to move the woodchucks and squirrels. We also encourage good predators. We have three Guinea Fowl guarding our place and we bring in lady beetles and put feeders out to attract the birds that be helpful not harmful. Our ponds also attract swallows and by being hospitable we have increased the swallow population here from one nesting family to eight. (Mosquitos don’t stand a chance). That means we have almost a hundred swallows here at one point. It is an awesome sight.

We keep trying to stay in harmony. And Nature keeps testing us!

Value Added

This year, we decided to brave the sea of regulations and put our pesto recipes to the test. As soon as our ingredients grew big enough to process we made up a batch of ramp pesto, sorrel pesto and basil pesto to send to Geneva, NY for testing. At the food lab run by Cornell University, they will be testing the process for safety and scalability. If all goes well we will be producing it in our lovely friends’ restaurant kitchen and making it available for sale at the farmer’s market. We have a kitchen exemption so we have been making other value-added products such as jam/jelly, muffins and cookies but this takes us to a new level. We’ll see if it is worth it. But it sure has been interesting. We’ll hear the results in 4 to 6 weeks.

Sheesh!

rampsWhen we get to the time of year when the ramps finally strut their stuff we breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, we say, spring has sprung. But, oh my! We went out to dig our first ramps and then as I went to deliver them to the waiting restaurants it began to snow. Sigh … of a whole ‘nother kind. But we did enjoy our traditional celebratory ramp frittata, even with the snow falling around us!