Friday, June 29, 2012

Clever title about the adventures that ensued this week

Oops I've gotten lazy, sorry folks...from the lack of wit in the title you should prepare yourself for a rather dull post. Why? Perhaps because it is over 100 degrees out, perhaps because I am rethinking the stale crackers and peanut butter I consumed for lunch, or perhaps because life on the farm has been pretty uneventful. (Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, lalalalalalala's a song, I promise. I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell)
ALIGHT lets get this party started! SO, My boss went out on an adventure earlier this week to pick up organic peaches for her CSA, and she came back with a LOT I mean a ton, and we sorted through them and made trays of "rejects" vs "good" and even the good ones had some significant damage, but it was dry damage, not mushy damage. Because guess what guys, fruit isn't perfect, it isn't meant to be. We eat these strawberries the size of our heads in October, and it is LUDICROUS. We have grown accustomed to perfect food, and I include myself in this "we"; as I sort through the peaches some of them that were "good" I thought  looked terrifying with dried up brown nicks.  One peach with some fishy damage I showed to my boss who responded with, " Yeah that's fine, there's probably a worm at the pit somewhere, but that's OK". A WORM! And then I thought, well yeah, a worm and when you cut up the peach you find it and you throw that little bit away (or compost it!) and then you consume your non steroid, all natural, totally juicy and delightful peach.
This experience has opened my eyes to a lot of new things, and I consider myself a pretty open environmentally friendly gal, I mean come on, I AM a vegetarian of course! But in all seriousness, maybe this is just my young naive doe eyed blonde self coming out, I believe we can adapt and change our food system to one that is geared toward sustainability.  "An old dog can't learn new tricks" is bullshit, and it is just a lazy excuse for people to not separate their plastics from the trash. And I might not be old, but I certainly have learned some new tricks. If last year you told me I would be squishing beetles between my fingers, wiping their guts on my shirt, and continuing on with my day...I would have laughed - hysterically. Last semester I was paralyzed standing on a chair and called my roommate on the phone to have her come out of her room to kill a centipede on the floor.  Things you are forced to deal with, and adapt to end up becoming easier and easier.
Yesterday there was a giant, and I mean the size of a small golf ball with 8 legs spider in the shower. I stared it down, and it didn't spontaneously die, so I went to the kitchen put on my boots, stepped in the shower, yelled DIE, and squished it, this morning I did the same thing without the yelling for one on my wall. Now, yeah, I recognize revolutionizing the way we consume is a little more radical than me learning to kill spiders, but I think you get the point.
Oops lunch break is over, gotta go!
- Cream cheese and Peanut butter on wheat.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Unattainable Goals for Us All

Well hello there,
Happy Sunday. Hope your weekend was as restful as mine! I got the morning off from animal chores and slept until 10! I know you're foaming at the mouth with jealousy. So what does a lazy farm girl do on a day off? Well she feels guilty for watching 4+ episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" and then decides to make a list of ways to improve her life! You know a relatively generic, "I am not contributing to anything right now" crisis kind of list.
Whats that? You want to see the list...well of course! And feel free to borrow/modify any items for your own personal benefit...except 9, number 9 is mine so back off!
Thing to change, habits to curve,  and impossible goals to strive for, break, and not get discouraged by:

  1. Every morning or lunch read an article, about not shoes/sex/dieting, do this instead of frying your brain with a TV show you have basically memorized. I promise you can eat and read, stop pretending like you can't. 
  2. Listen to NPR while cooking, cleaning, and falling asleep...again as opposed to numbing your mind with TV.
  3. If you absolutely must watch something, watch a documentary...lets face it there is a lot of things you can learn, and you will not learn them from watching Joey eating lasagna, or a meatball sub, or Rachel's God awful Thanksgiving dessert...well, you get the point. 
  4. Enjoy silence.
  5. Utilize your resources, buy things used, and no you do not need another pair of flip flops!
  6. Turn off, and unplug electronics! 
  7. Only buy local fruits/veggies.
  8. When you inevitably break goal 7, only buy what is in season. 
  9. Meet Aaron Sorkin and woo him into putting you on his new show "The Newsroom" also I would settle for just meeting him and mumbling something like, "I love you" while shaking his hand. 
That is what I've got so far...Oh and in regards to 8, how do you know what is in season- Google it! Here's a list of what is in season now in the Midwest
(obtained from: :
Radishes, Spinach, Lettuce, Arugula, Asparagus, Fennel, Mushrooms
Starting in June ending in various months:
Kale, Chard, Strawberries; and Broccoli; and Rhubarb; and Cauliflower (only June), Beets, Herbs, Cabbage, String Beans, Zucchini, Peas, and Squash
Starting in July:
Cucumbers, and Carrots (although carrots have been early up here at least due to our bizarre weather patterns this year)
Also Raspberries and Blueberries have been early on this farm due to the frost, and then other weird weather factors!
I find it discouraging to look at numbers, and listen to various environmentalists say we are terrible, and Americans, and suburbanites, and fatties have tied up our fate with doom. Instead I am going to chose to do what I can to learn, change, and live with myself in whatever capacity that makes me happy. Now does watching endless television make me happy? Sometimes, and so sometimes that is what I will take comfort in...but everyone gets a free pass on a lazy day and nobody's perfect.

- Eggplant Parm on garlic bread

Friday, June 22, 2012

Arguing with chickens is futile

Life on the farm involves many things, I thought I would never do: wake up at 4am to feed a goat, murder beetles with soapy water, use a pitchfork, and last but not least swear (sorry grandma) at a chicken repeatedly.
It all started at 5am, an hour earlier than usual in order to cover the blueberries from the creatures sent by the  monarch of the north, needless to say I was not a happy farmer . We pick for about 7ish hours and then are given a break for lunch with the gleaming hope that maybe we won't get called back to work for the rest of the day! I do a little dance, eat a lot of peanut butter, and cue up to watch some hardcore Netflix. Then we are informed that we will be picking another row of raspberries at 5:15 that evening...I drag my almost permanently glued butt off my chair and put back on my very sweaty clothes. It was really not a big deal or source of contempt until 8:30pm came around and we were not yet done picking. Already late for animal chores by the time we were released I hurry to the basement, prepare the goat's bottle, and hustle over to the barn. Drink, drink, drink, feed, feed, feed, alright time to put the chickens to bed. As I approach the chicken's field I unhinge ad swing open the fence eyeing one lone hen just chilling out looking at the coup. Now, we are supposed to wait until all the chickens go to bed and then we can lock up the door to the coup and say our good nights and my boss said we shouldn't have to touch them to get them to bed. SO I wait, and wait, and wait, and call my mom to kill some time, and then the lovely, wonderful, delightful hen hops under the coup. She is now UNDER the coup versus IN the coup, insert a string of profanity here. I peer underneath and try soothing her out, with sweetness which quickly turns into "you dumb fucking chicken PLEASE go to bed, please you are so stupid". Both tactics are fruitless, and as I lay on my stomach peering at this animal I can't help but wish I wasn't a vegetarian because I would take such great satisfaction in eating this idiot bird.
I eventually go up to the house and tell my boss about the hen situation. She lets me know that the hen is probably sick and dying and then says, " I'll take care of it, if I can't get her in the coup I will put her in the barn and she might just die, so you may find a dead chicken in the morning."
Well...awesome, catholic guilt sets in and I feel terrible for not only swearing at this poor exhausted hen, but I   also wished I could have eaten her! But the good news is that with catholic guilt comes heaven's reassurance, and I'm sure I can find some mention of a hen afterlife somewhere in that old leather bound Jesus thing.
-Jam Sand
PS. She isn't dead...yet. This evening for chores I had to poke her with a long branch to get her out from under the coup, but I did so while apologizing  vs. spewing insults so I feel a tad bit better about myself and my character.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just follow the beetle brick road...

Can you tell by the titles I'm kinda a fan of the "Wizard of Oz"? Fun fact about me, I used to refer to the movie as Dorthy Gale when I was little, betcha didn't know Dorthy's last name off the top of your head, well I do so HA!
Sorry for the hostility that's what a long day capped off with some beetle duty and a run in with poison ivy will do to you. Oh? you want me to elaborate, well don't mind if I do:
It was a 6am harvest day, so after FREAKING OUT around 4am that I was late I went back to sleep and let my alarm wake me up at 5:20. Blah blah breakfast, coffee, sunscreen (yeah mom I wear it EVERYDAY), hat, action! In the field for another glorious day of raspberry picking. Our first row of raspberries was made even more fabulous by the array of picnic bugs that had set up shop inside about 1 out of 3 harvested. What are picnic bugs? Well, contrary to their name they are no picnic...Oh come on it wasn't that corny, laugh a little, humor me here I'm secretly an old man- I like to make "Dad jokes".
Any who, picnic bugs are long black bugs that burrow into the raspberry and hangout, and usually if they have gotten there recently we can just blow them out of the berry and salvage it for selling. Easy enough, but pretty time consuming, and very frustrating. Then after one measly row it is already 9:30am...yep over three hours with 6 pickers on one row- it's gonna be a long day.
We then move onto my favorite: black raspberries, which actually fight you when you pick them it is almost as discouraging as the bugs. AND THEN we move onto another variety of regular raspberries that have been invested by our favorite bug of all time (drum roll please) THE JAPANESE BEETLE! Super exciting, these puppies are shiny, black and green/blue and they destroy the leaves and berries and come in swarms. To kill them, you pick them up and squish them in between your fingers until you hear a crack. Yep I'm a bad ass I kill beetles with my bare hands, children tremble when I walk into a room, and women weep at my sheer strength no big deal.
So we make the genius decision of just working a long morning so theoretically we don't have to come back out after lunch. It is 95 degrees outside, my toenails are drenched with sweat, but it is 2pm and we are DONE. That's the perk of starting your day at 6am! However, as we make our way back to the house my boss asks us to come back out and trellis some cucumber melon plants later, I volunteer to just do it right away but am told I have to take a break...UGH I just KNOW if I come back out we are going to have to do more than just trellising. Sure enough as I am sitting out there, my boss's boyfriend comes out and asks me to do "beetle patrol" with him. Beetle patrol means going through all the bushes and some of the trees and whacking branches with beetles on them over a bucket of soapy water so they drown.
Beetle patrol also involves climbing underneath the netting placed around the rows of these plants so that you are trapped in with the beetles, and let me tell you they are not happy when you try to murder them. After they swarm all around me the first time I drop the F bomb, and then turn to Steve (names have been changed for confidentiality reasons or whatever) and say "Shit I swore...sorry?" He laughs and responds with "they won't hurt you or bite you or anything" UH yeah STEVE but it is not exactly a fairy tale having them fly out at you with vengeance while you are trapped in what they have claimed as their is terrifying and although I am a bad ass, I am also sometimes a 21 year old city girl.
Needless to say my first beetle patrol did not yield high results, but don't worry folks because we will be doing it from now on every morning!
Oh, and the poison ivy thing- no big deal, just while murdering some beetles we were by an area apparently overgrown with poison ivy, a fact Steve shared with me after several minutes, following it up with "you're probably allergic, we should just go inside now and you should wash up with warm water and soap."
I showered promptly, crisis averted.
- Chicken Salad Sandwich, hold the chicken

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wetlands, and Farmlands, and Food OH MY!

After doing some self required reading by Michael Pollan, I have acquired some feelings. I recommend you check this guy out, he has a website with all his articles posted, so there is no excuse of "I can't find them", I just told you how. Also I am sure you have all already heard of him, but I'm 21 and in no way educated on the environmental topic. The other day in the field my boss mentioned him prefacing it with, Oh and you know of Michael Pollan, right?...UM, no- BUT, I'm here to learn! So I googled, I found, I read.
One interesting point he brings up in his article "Farmer in Chief"  is the legislation protecting wetlands... which I found fascinating since I just took a wetland ecology class! And recently I've been struggling with the fact that many farmlands in the Midwest are drained wetlands. The one I am currently on is located right by a river, and I asked if they knew if their land had been drained. My boss said they have found tiles on the property which means yeah, it was drained.
SO, recently there has been a movement to protect and restore one of our most valuable resources- wetlands. Now you may be thinking "yeah ok, wetlands you mean bug paradise swamp city?" Well shut up, because wetlands are very important and full fill many roles from filtering our water, to storing carbon. Pretty good stuff, not to mention they aren't too shabby to look at.
Anyway, Michael Pollan makes the point that farmland should be protected and treasured just as our dissapearing wetlands are, because; if we are going to continue to eat food we need to start changing the way we farm, but we are also going to need more farmers. More farmers means we need to protect already existing farmland from greedy developers and suburbanites who plop their subdivisions on quality land.
After reading this article, I realize that lands that were drained in the 1800's and 1900's that have become farms are not evil, and we can't forever mourn the loss of what once was centuries prior. They once were wetlands, but we can't change it all back. We can however respect our Earth and our soil in another way. We can farm organically, we can plant poly crops, and cover crops, and put an end to CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and we can make sure the farms we have aren't turned into three story mansions. Farmlands around here, are for the most part drained wetlands and if we are protecting our wetlands because of their value why then are we not protecting their not so evil younger sister farmland? 
I think gradually we are learning that expansion is not the answer, bigger isn't always better, and we need to recognize we live in a community and what we do with our land, water, and resources effects our neighbors however broad that term may be. Now maybe we can't all sing kumbaya and sway, but we can at least be respectful.
My cousin once said people in their 20s are the worst because it is always all about them.  It is a time in one's life where mostly your world centers around yourself- you don't normally have a family to provide for, and you generally have some parentals paying for your bills while you prance around at school. The more I read about America the more I feel like we are just a big ol' selfish 20 year old prancing around demanding Mommy and Daddy can't cut us off yet. Well guys, its time to grow up.

JEEZ, bet you thought you weren't going to be lectured...Where is all the bug humor? Don't worry it won't all be heavy lifting!
Thanks for sticking with me,
-Egg salad and cheese extra mayo

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eat my shoe you little Bastard:The day I decide to win

I survived a week, let's celebrate shall we?
Hmmm what should we do? Sleep a solid 9 hours, HELL FREAKIN' YES!
Aye am a parti animal guyz, PAR-TEA- AN-E-MAL, I also don't spell, that shit's for city folks.
So you may be wondering based on the title of this post, who is the poor bastard eating this crazed farm girl's shoe? Let me clue you in, it is a giant hand spider beast who I was forced to squash in order to use the bathroom. Now, anyone who knows anything about me knows I pee 500,000,000,0000 times a day and I am a nervous pee-er, which means I run the water while I pee because I don't like people hearing me, I close the door because I am a human, and I pee when I am in anxiety producing situations: like if I have an audition, a test, or a meal to eat soon. SO you can imagine my dismay when I run into the bathroom to find a bold little bastard of a spider just staring me down directly across from my sanctuary aka the toilet.
Well this ain't gonna work. If I can't have people hear me pee, I sure as hell won't be able to go with this bastard giving me the stink eye. (Full disclosure I am not using the term "bastard" correctly, I in fact have no previous knowledge of this spider's mother and do not know if he was hatched out of wedlock).
So needless to say I won that staring match, unless of course you consider going and getting a shoe to murder your competitor which case I just won at life. HASHTAG farm life, EAT MY SHOE SUCKA.

Another farm moment came this morning when my room mate came out of the bathroom in a towel and said,
"I think we have a hot water problem"....And no the problem wasn't that we had too much hot water. Normally, I would have just not showered, but my mother was coming to visit today and it had been a solid 3 days without showering and my hair was now just molded into a ponytail shape without the elastic.

Ice cold shower because the water heater broke- check. I can do anything now, killed an eight legged monster, suffered through some serious ice flow, I've pretty much done all there is, right?

Happy almost father's day!
- Falafel

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day Number...? Silly rabbit farms are for dogs!

Ok, you caught me I haven't been posting everyday. It is Friday. Yesterday I was up at 5am to do animal chores, and we worked until Netflix looked more attractive and took less brain power than writing, plus I made a promise that I wanted to learn something each day to share with you, my oh so loyal readers (aka my mother, thanks mom!) and I haven't done any outside readings. I'm slackin'.
 SO, what have you been up to? Oh please you go first I insist, we always talk about me...ALRIGHT I guess I'll start:
Yesterday was another harvesting morning, so we picked blueberries- which was a million times better than raspberries because blueberries are not out to get you. Blueberries are friendly, their vines don't have prickles and they don't bend and twine and hide from you, they are also less delicate and therefore don't break if you get too excited while picking them.  So we are jollily picking blueberries and then we hear one of the dogs digging and making a raucous by a bush. Shortly after, we hear some squeaking, like she found some sort of toy, and she had! She had found many toys in the form of little baby bunnies.  She destroyed them one by one, each helplessly squeaked before submitting to what sounded like a not so quick and quite painful death. My boss tried to call over the other dog, because she thought the other one would be a little more considerate with her killing- but she wanted nothing to do with the mass murder, and I understood turning down the invitation of looking at the dying bunnies I responded with,
"No thanks, I'm a vegetarian."
Now, I know this is a farm, and life on the farm involves some brutality, I mean the fight I had with the black raspberry bushes today was not a pretty sight my friend, but it was a little shocking to listen to some baby bunnies be torn to bits. In the end the rabbits would have eaten the berries and although it would make my job here easier if there were no berries, it would also make it non existent. I guess I still have a tougher coat of skin to grow, which would come in handy while fighting raspberries-

Until I learn some shit,
- Golden Browned Boca

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I work out: Day 2

Day 2 of Farming:
It was a 6am day today, what is up sunlight? 6am start means 5:15 wake up to feed my loving caffeine addiction; it also means finding another large friend in my shower and responding like the true adult I am and closing the curtain.
We harvested berries... Admit it, you were picturing some frolicking in fields, and serious skipping with baskets, this however, is completely and utterly wrong. It is lots of squatting,  reaching, bending, hot hot sunning, and fighting with thorns on raspberry plants. It was 6-12:30 of me feeling like I had stayed in the same exact spot finding new berries with each new leaf moved. It was fun!
Yeah, so then an inappropriate amount of food later, I returned to the field and my boss took me to another farm to get her bales of hay she stores there. The other farm is also organic, but the do more crop farm stuff- like wheat, and corn- it was awesome to see those fields, they were super clean. No weeds, as far as I could see, which was heartwarming because people tend to rag on organic farmers for having very weedy fields- well take that big corporate America. We climb up to the top of the barn where the bales are stored and she explains I should be careful because there are holes in the boards. Holes in the boards I am standing on? Yes. Holes in the boards I am standing on that are covered in hay? Yes. Um is there a light switch please.
After some serious tiptoeing and gluteus maximous clenching, I got a grip on the strings of the first bale. Then my boss directs me to a small opening in the side to haul it out of, she warns me against falling out of the little door, I give a half smile because I think she is joking. She is not. She then shares a tale of how the man's father who owns the farm once tossed out some hay and fell with it toppling to the ground, he was relatively alright until his son accidently ran over him immediately following...
Well, that's terrible, I think to myself, but I mean come on- I got this, I work out. Two heaves later I stumble forward and realize how easy it is to not let go while trying to propel this giant hay thing out a tiny window.
I didn't fall out the window in case you were worried, nor did I fall through the boards. I am alive, SURPRISE.
The rest of the day went by quick and my roommate and I ventured back out to the field to pick some things to make for dinner. That sentence alone makes this experience totally worth it. Even if I do make a new 8 legged friend each morning, I GET TO PICK MY DINNER!
SO yeah, exciting day!
- BLT hold the B
PS. I'm not a total wimp by the way, I totally stepped on a monster, I'm talking American style obese, ant today- inside- and wiped it up all by myself. Granted there was serious squirming and whining but baby steps guys, baby steps.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day One

Day One:
Well, day two of being here, but day one of work. At first I arrived apprehensive and very afraid a spider was going to eat my face off. I unpacked in the basement, my roommate (the other intern) was visiting home and wouldn’t be back until later that night. I explored our bunk beds, saw she had settled into the bottom bunk and eyed the top spotting several large leggy creatures nestled in the window sill by where my head was meant to go. So I did what any self respecting 21 year old female would, I climbed up and reached for the shade to pull it over the problem.  If I can’t see them they can’t see me, right? Well, I pulled and the carcass of their brethren unraveled with the shade. Great. Ok well, what the hell did you expect? It is Eureka IL and you’re on a farm…if I was on twitter this would be a hashtag moment, something like #farmlife #America.  Fast forward through me eating lots of peanut butter out of the jar, my room mate arrives; it is late and we chat for about 5 minutes until it is straight to bed to be up and out by 7am. I curl as far from the window as possible, jam head phones in my ears, and drift to sleep.
Day one of farming we weed all morning and in the midst of weeding my room mate spots a giant spider, and asks if I like spiders to which I respond appropriately with, “uh hell no” , she points out the cool looking monster carrying its egg and I twitch while saying I found a giant one in the tub last night, but I was too scared to kill it so I just shut the curtain (again I'm an adult guys, I know how to hide shit and pretend it isn't there). And just then as I am remembering how gross the tub bug was, choir music began to play, the heavens opened up , and light bathed her face as she said “Oh really, I can take care of it when we get back inside.” Done, and done...
Alright Eureka Illinois, I think this is going to work out. 
- PB&J

And now the next thing

Oh HAY there,
Yeah I'm hilarious, deal with it. So I haven't kept up with writing, during my class I was busy studying, watching online t.v., eating, feeling superior to mankind because I ripped out some weeds in a wetland, studying, eating, celebrating being 21, and oh did I mention eating?
So now my next activity will be staying on an organic fruit and herb farm...whoot whoot small town IL here I come.
- Tofurkey dog