Down a country road…and along the river


As I travel down the nearby country roads, life seems to slow a little, simplifies as my mind wanders through the green fields and rolling hills… the quiet tranquility of a day in the country. These roads wind through small towns and past corn fields, weathered red barns, roadside chickens, tidy farmhouses, and old white churches
Sights both quaint and quirky, offer a reason to meander(think Norman Rockwell painting). If it weren’t for the few cars we passed along the way, it would be easy to imagine that we’d entered a time warp. This is very much the epitome of rural America. Winding our way past misty green fields, babbling brooks, and horses quietly nibbling the tender grasses,we continue up a shaded mountain road and down along the river; past more farms, some working some not. Farmers along the lovely county roads, offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for sale; sweet corn is in high season and absolutely delicious.
The Battenkill River is world renowned for its fishing…today it was bustling with kayaks and tubes. As families floated down the lazy Battenkill River on their tubes,canoes, and kayaks we couldn’t help but stop to take a closer look…it looked soo refreshing, wonder if they had a spare tube??? Maybe we will tube tomorrow ~ Another day, another adventure! We headed home; ice cream in hand, with a profound longing to spend more time exploring the lovely country roads; perhaps next fall when autumn colors etch the hills and fields in crimson,oranges,and gold. A weekend trip may be in order. Ever since I was young, I’ve loved the feeling of hitting the road. I look back with a fond sense of nostalgia to the days when our kids were piled into the station wagon for family vacations…packed like sardines with camping gear tied to the roof.

I’ll need to start planning that trip; but, in the meantime, I think I’ll just enjoy this beautiful summer!


An experience you just can’t get anywhere else. Swimming cows…I had to stop and take pictures..the Canadian Geese were in the field and the cows were in the stream. Made me smile!

No need to travel far…hop in your car, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes…and get out there! Maybe a bike trip?

Ahhh, Be well, and enjoy your day!
Jessica

Keep your face to the sunshine…it’s delicious.


Keeping up with watering and weeds tops the to-do list for me this week; then there is the joy of harvesting, beans, radishes, some carrots, pickling cucumbers, crook neck and zucchini squash.

And our family favorite ~ it is the time the kids carve their names in to their chosen pumpkins!

About this time of year I like to take a good look at my garden beds to see what is thriving and and those “not so much”, plan for next season and make notes for transplants…better luck next year.

I think this weekend might be a great time to plant another round of lettuce and carrots…and turn the compost before it cooks!

Cukes will probably be ready to pickle too. Which recipe should I choose…dill or Bread and butter? I think…Bread and Butter!

I realized how grateful I am for my ducks and their wonderous appetites; they will dine on just about any pest. Grasshoppers,Japanese beetles, June bugs, grubs and even mice. Ducks will also chase and catch flies, and root their larvae out of fresh manure (perfect for a llama farm) and decaying vegetables.

Every duck is an individual, so it’s difficult to say if one will develop a taste for; though for the most part they happily snack on protein-rich insects, earthworms and other tiny inhabitants.

Easy peazy…Ducks are hardy, and they don’t require much more than sufficient nutrients, clean water to drink and a secure area to spend the night.

The eggs are delicious! Many domestic breeds will lay more than 200 eggs per year – these eggs are renowned for baking.

Dabble in ducks…for a perky companion that will entertain, feed and help take care of garden pests, ducks are a great choice. These hardy little creatures will eagerly convert small critters, weeds and grass into eggs and may well end up as the center of your summertime attention in the process. As soon as they hear my voice..I hear theirs…whaa..whaa..whaa…( or can we have some pellets please, Mom, huh? can I?)

time to gather some neighborhood children…and get pickin’


garden in July…


my ducks and my girls…


ooh boy…


…a blossom is hope


yummy!


happy flowers!


ahhh.


these will add nicely to a kitchen bouquet.


sweet


simply pretty


Mom, I’m hungry…


nice rest, now back to the cukes and pickles…

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Bread and Butter pickles:3 quarts

15 cups sliced pickling cucumbers
3 onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarse salt
4 cups cracked ice
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seeds

Directions:
Prep Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
1 Combine cucumbers, onions, salt and ice in a large bowl.
2 Mix well.
3 Put a weight on and allow to stand 3 hours. (For a weight, I use a plate with a gallon bottle of vinegar or water on top of it).
4 Drain thoroughly.
5 Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed in a large pot.
6 Add drained cucumbers.
7 Place pot on medium low heat.
8 Bring almost to a boil, but DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL.
9 Remove from heat.
10 Seal in sterilized jars, 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

***Easy way to sterilize jars:
Wash them well in hot soapy water.
Dry them off.
Put on a cookie sheet, right side up, at 225°F for 15 minutes.
Turn off oven and leave them in there until you need them.

Be Well! Savor summer…Oh, and my new book came…”Harvesting color”…can’t wait to read it!!!

Jessica

The animals teach me something every day…


Walk with me in my garden or pasture; I want to share with you…the love, peace and contentment I gain from caring for animals….the animals teach me everyday…they teach me as they contribute to my life by daily showing me joy, positivity, and hope. I appreciate every moment. I feel as though I can pass on that love and appreciation as I help young people become knowledgeable, in farming, in nature, in life.

I try to provide knowledge, and hands on experience to instill and create thoughtfulness and a love of agriculture and nature. I give kids the opportunity to get their hands dirty and see where their food and textiles comes from and establish better connections to the world around them…show them how we can live in better harmony with our environment.

Nearly every day, Misty Maples Farm has a few extra hands to help with farm chores. The hands are sometimes tiny,but they’re almost always dirty – and that’s a good thing.

Hands-on farm experiences— such as planting and harvesting vegetables,and taking scraps to the compost pile—children have opportunities to learn about healthy foods and build connections to the foods they eat. Most of the time they don’t even realize they are learning, they are simply having fun.

Helping the kids learn by touching, feeling, smelling…and the animals steal their hearts.

Living close to nature,is simply not a part of most of our lives anymore and we would like to help make it so!

Everyone should be able to feel the peacefulness of lying in the daybed on a maple shaded front porch hide away; reading, writing and listening to the sounds of the water, the birds, the chicks, or the gentle hum of the llamas.

If you feel like getting your hands dirty… Stop on by, we can harvest in the garden, feed ducks, chicks, or llamas…I could always use a little help.

Enjoy your time in the dirt! Be Well.
Jessica

putting the farm to bed…summertime


Between the dusk of a summer night,and the dawn of a summer day, a place where “plenty to do” and “nothing to do” intersect…sitting out on the front porch with the tired dogs, lemon-aide, and candles burning…I notice the breeze rippling across through the hay-field next to me, catch the just-distant-enough sound of children laughing. And I realize that, without trying, I’ve shifted into a lower gear. Maybe,as I begin to remember summers of my childhood of us kids all sitting close in the dark, talking,laughing, catching fireflies, hoping, silently the night doesn’t end…wanting this closeness and sheer happiness never to end…to bottle the enchanting, delicious summer nights…simple and luxurious all at once.
This felt like a chance to share something I found so wonderful..summer and childhood. My siblings are spread all over now…hope they are enjoying this summer night.
I should be getting the animals set for the night, I gather grain, the water hose, a wheel barrow of hay, and the tired dogs…it was a hot one…and everyone is drinking in the cool dew and night breezes, relaxing, chewing their cud, or scratching in the grass…
After the minor excitement of the nightly chores; a calm hush seemed to come over our little farm…maybe one last dunk in the pool and call it a day.


summer…aah..


Good night Finn…


just waiting for a crackling fire…


peace…


today’s final burst of joyful energy…


full tummy before bed..


spectacular summer night.

I hope you had a wonderful summer night.
Be well,
Jessica

Showers…


So, beware…this post in not about my farm, my animals, my garden, my children, my husband nor beauty…it is about the shower deficit! Yes, you read correctly; there is in my estimation, a shower deficit. As women we have many things to look forward to…wouldn’t you agree?
Prom…we can buy beautiful dresses, go to the salon to get our hair and nails done…we have a real reason to buy shoes. Real tangible anticipation..no?

Our Wedding…more guilt free shopping, and get this…you can register with stores so loved ones can purchase just what you want… and they decorate and bake and call all your friends to celebrate your wedding…oh, to be a bride!
Our first born; again our loved ones gather to shower us with love, food, good advice and gifts….

Now, here we are..middle age; our pots and pans,linens, kitchen appliances, all seen better days..our beautiful lingerie won’t go past our shoulders…towels…scratchy with ends that have been mended too many times. Not to mention, even as our wares are faltering, our hormones are bidding us adieu… (medically speaking) permanent cessation of the primary functions of the human ovaries ~ and signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life…Menopause can then be officially declared…time for a Shower…right? It is after all a right of passage…just like the aforementioned..enjoy some pictures from the lovely shower that started me on this ~er..”journey”…My step-son’s bride – to – be.






…did I mention they bake for you…


..just for you…


..a moment with loved ones…


awe…and precious babies…


…just have to smile…

It is no fun being a cantankerous hell-on-wheels! Especially if you aren’t used to it! Well I knew something was wrong when my usual charming self found it okay to flip the bird to someone that ticked me off on the highway – thank goodness I don’t live in LA or NYC, I’d probably be dead! Or how’s about finding myself befuddled and not able to find common words or recent memory in day-to-day conversations, sure kicks those hot flashes up a notch! Simple to the point, menopause sucks, unless of course you look to the lighter side! ahh..no what was I saying, oh yeah…Showers…

Now, gather your friends and throw a party for yourselves..you deserve it…you and your friends need new things…some chocolate and a glass of wine..sounds like a shower to me!

I was going to give you suggestions, but I can’t remember what they were….oh yeah, mood rings, do you all remember those…wear them now…they can alert any passers by …do they want to mess with you today? It’s not like you didn’t warn them.

Be well, and be sure to let me know how your showers turn out. Oh, hey send me some pictures! I am going to design some invitations for a mine!

A Beautiful Life…and a barn


Our lives can sometimes fall into a routine of sorts; a dance we do with the people we surround ourselves with everyday, a way to get done the tasks we have on any particular day. I sometimes wanted to revolt against these routines. I saw them as the enemy of adventure and of living a spontaneous life. However, as I’ve grown older, and perhaps a little wiser, I’ve found that routines can be quite blissful. I’ve realized that every day events and what we would commonly classify as “normal”, is often extraordinary if you just take a closer look.
I’ve discovered that even if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be, that doesn’t mean that life right now can’t be beautiful or enjoyable. And the best part is, you don’t have to do anything to make it beautiful. It already is beautiful.
All you have to do is open your eyes.


All you have to do is open your eyes.


Realizing that beauty exists in every moment is possible; it simply takes a way of seeing things a bit differently.


Sometimes, the simplest things have the most profound beauty…


I believe llamas are some of the most serene, calming animals I have ever encountered; here is one of the “girls” on our farm…


Sometimes all it takes is a smile..


Harry,Donald,Howard,and Arnold our farm ducks enjoying their day..


My pretty little bantam rooster…actually a very, very sweet guy.


boy,oh, boy…the chicks and ducks would find these as interesting as I find them pretty.


So take a deep breath, go for a walk, experience, relax and take a closer look.


Oh, one last photo; our saga: to dismantle an old fallen barn, and reconstruct it on our farm…the small barn has been dismantled, we loaded the last load of salvageable lumber and barn siding into our stock trailer and now – after unloading this – we can start on the dismantling of the SECOND small barn…to bring home…then building begins. Perhaps an old-fashioned Barn Raising Party in the fall…hmm

Be Well,
Jessica

Come on let’s go see what’s out there!!


I long to travel….perhaps Europe first…I ‘ll start with France…to give my heart and soul a new beginning….that’s what I see in travel. To see, experience, taste, anew…To meet new people with their different cultures…visit their gardens and take in all that is out there….

Just you and your whim…

We all may yearn for travel for different reasons; maybe we want to see the world, see something different, see something change, the new, the exciting, the different, and the adventure ….

Pure anticipation…wondering…then you find yourself having dinner with six new and interesting people.

I always find my self wondering….”Where does this lead….what is behind there?” Hoping it’s a lovely garden…

It’s seeing new sights, hearing new music, and meeting new people—that I find exciting and exhilarating.

….find the beauty everywhere…even if it’s just around the corner…

Perhaps, it is going somewhere different ~ interesting, intriguing, and inviting….that keeps me longing to travel.

Could this be our collective wish?

Beauty…..set in stone…

This is what life is about. we see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people … and be happy to return home.

It’s all about the journey; to see life around me from a different perspective….children do it naturally everyday….I have to train myself . i think.

I suppose there is some irony here; designed to keep me out…yet intrigues me enough to wan to go in…

I hope to travel with those I cherish; eager to see the photos we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of of loved ones.

I hope that you too can find beauty in the everyday….When I do get to Europe you’ll be the first to know!

Be Well,
Jess

>Farmer’s markets…a unique shopping experience


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The atmosphere; casual, open air shopping …enticing; the goods: fresh…all in all, remarkable!
I love heading out to our local Farmer’s and Green Markets, to support and chat with local farmers and  artisans. Enjoy the sense of community. Soak up the entrepreneurial spirit, and  gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to bring their beautiful offerings to market. They’ll also offer information and inspiration on how to prepare, or use your fresh ingredients!  While you’re at it you’ll be reducing pollution, packaging, and pesticide use while encouraging diversification in farming and stimulating your local economy…yay!
Healthy , Entertaining, local, FUN!

Bring some sunshine to your table….

Most vendors are truly passionate about bringing their best, and each has  a unique story to tell…How much fun is this apron, if I were wearing this, I’d be dancing while I bake…just because!!!

Direct access to your local artisans…how cool is that!    Love, Love, Loved the blue pottery!
Simple! Beautiful! 
I hope you have time to spend at your local Farmer’s Market , the connections you’ll make are unlike any other, local , healthy, FUN!

I especially like the earth and pet friendly ,  pest remedies  ” By Erin”, Tick Flick’r…a great , effective, alternative solution for fleas and ticks than other noxious products we put on our pets…it smells nice too!!!!

Be Well, and maybe I’ll see you there!

>A harvest of sorts…


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If you have been following…you are well aware of our endeavor to dismantle, move piece  by piece,  then re-assemble an old barn…why are we doing it?  It makes us tired, sweaty and sometimes cranky;  my nails are chipped and dirty, hands becoming calloused ( I am certain these are not concerns of husband, I can assure you)…perhaps it is a great sense of satisfaction…to work so hard for something we want and our animals need, perhaps its a bit of stubborn persistence knowing you have to do whatever it takes…it gives us a deep feeling of strength and satisfaction. Knowing it will keep out winter’s biting winds and hip deep snow ~ keeps me moving forward.
We harvest more than boards and veggies…I have been hand carding  KatDoll’s fiber…so silky and soft.
ps  I added her photo above…

 Llama fiber is fairly simple to harvest; shear the llama and skirt the fleece as you go.  Skirting a fleece involves removing any second cuts (little pieces) and the coarse belly hair; then card the fiber.  Carding separates the fibers and aligns them in the same direction so spinning is easier.  You can use hand carders as above, or a drum carder.  Hand carders look like big dog (or llama) slicker brushes.  You put fiber on the end of one of the carders and gently brush the fiber between the two carders so it is separated.

Once you have the fiber carded, there are many things that it can be used for…spinning, felting …any creative thoughts???

There is another benefit to all of our physical labor….this old,wet hay  had to be removed as we took  the barn apart….All that weight lifting, bending, and stretching, while leaving us sore the next day..it’s great exercise…ok, so I’m rationalizing a bit!

oh, the possibilities….

Radishes anyone?  My ducks have been keeping the slug population at bay…and  they are adorable while they “work”.

Hope you can spend some time this summer  tending  and  reaping the benefits of your harvest…what ever that may mean to you…

 Be Well,

I apologize profusely for the inability to see your comments and reply to them;  Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the world!

>Independence Day,


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It started us on our road to freedom…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…and we still live by it today…

Happy Birthday America!

America is about possibilities… the possibility of expression, the possibility of  choice, the possibility of being yourself!

I just loved this boat all decked out in red white, and blue.

Freedom of expression? Gotta love ‘em!

….along the waterfront, in a city that cradled the American Revolution,
we experienced a patriotic celebration . 

This, is America; free and restless, growing and full of hope.

“Our flag is red, white and blue, but our nation is a rainbow – red, yellow, brown, black and white – and we’re all precious in God’s sight.”
(Jesse Jackson)

The most significant day in American history….the ‘Treaty of Independence’ was signed on 4th July 1776.

As much as I enjoyed our day in Boston, there is nothing like a celebration in rural America…parades with children on floats (hay wagons or trailers); local volunteer fire fighters – proud – with their freshly polished trucks, flags and patriotic buntings on almost every home;
 fireworks in the park where there is enough room for kids to run and play under their families watchful eye..
writing their names with sparklers in the darkening sky…

So, when I sang that National anthem that night, I envisioned our America and the salt of the earth American kids who are dying to defend her. 

“The Fourth of July is a day we celebrate the independence of our country. People celebrate with family and friends, barbecues, parties, games, food, fun, festivals, parades, musical events and fireworks. Please raise your glass today and remember all the soldiers who have been taken from us, those who have served and are currently serving. These are individuals who know what the taste of freedom is. It is bitter at times but something that we will not compromise and are willing to lay down our lives for.”  (words from a soldier)

As the  fighter jets flew  over and the National Anthem played…I almost felt a need to find a veteran and thank them for their service…it makes me realize how our military is vital in protecting our freedom..
they truly are living patriots;
May God bless our troops, our leaders, and our citizens …

Wherever you were this past weekend, I hope you had happy holiday, and just for a moment, paused to remember how fortunate we are to live in the United States of America. We are not perfect, but each of us can make a difference.

As we sit on the river bank, or in a park ,or maybe in your own backyard watching children play and fireworks explode this Independence Day, remember that freedom is not free. Thank our veterans and their families for their sacrifice and service, fly Old Glory, and be proud!

Be Well.