June 30, 2011

pickles and slug pro-creation

On Sunday, we took a drive to our fake farm. You know... the one we planted a huge garden at, etc. Well, since we had been asked to not go there for two weeks while "evil" brother #2 was in town, that once awesome garden was a jungle. Nature is incredible, how quickly it bounces back. Those "weeds" saw clear ground and took advantage of it. Not to mention, the deer jumped over the fence and ignored all of the weeds, but remembered to munch off the tops of each tomato plant. I just had to laugh the whole time. It was a crazy laugh, but a laugh nonetheless. At least I picked some peppers, squash, and cucumbers from the mess. I'm going to try my hand at lacto-fermentation one day soon. PICKLES!

ps. I watched Microcosmos yesterday. Never did I think slug sex could be so emotional. My heart was fluttering! Seriously. Absolute beauty.
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June 28, 2011

from the top:

mystery (do you know?)
another mystery, but a sweet-smelling one
awesome hiking shoes
adventurous wading with the camera (woo, no accidents!)
wild blueberries
curious hole with a rock inside
vibrantly red mushroom
beautiful field... no photo does it justice
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June 27, 2011

Rita and Mike's new baby

I believe they named her Karma, which is more than appropriate. Please, kitty... send us some of your magic! If you do, we'll basically take you back to the land you were born on. Please?
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June 26, 2011

the vineyard

Jamie loves working there. It's a real zen sort of job... weed-whacking, pruning, and taking breaks on these long hot days to wade in the stream. On Friday I brought everyone a cherry pie. I felt like a real 50's housewife, haha! The owner, Paul certainly appreciated it. He's in his late 80's and is apparently baffled that young folks don't go ballroom dancing anymore. He's a brilliant old man, and spent a good 30 minutes rambling on about the history of East coast vineyards and diseases and all the different varieties of grapes he's ever grown. I'd like to learn more about them. Tomorrow, I plan to pick sweet cherries there after work. Jamie found a few ripe trees last week. And maybe there will be some blackberries left too!
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part two of the we're-not-moving-into-that-sweet-house story

On Easter Sunday we went to Jamie's uncle's house for dinner and told his family about our exciting plans to move into the mad-scientist's house. "Wait. He was a physicist?" His uncle knew exactly who we spoke of. He eventually suggested we might request a purchase money mortgage so our hard work wouldn't end up meaningless. From 2006 to 2008 he had helped to subdivide the property free of charge, and didn't want us to put such hard work into creating a farm and see it bulldozed. We thought that was a responsible idea but still wanted to rent the property if that didn't work out. It was just that amazing.

And so we worked our butts off. In fact, we even documented what we did online.  Cumulatively, we worked 257 hours by May 28th. We had help from friends too. A business plan was developed and a five-year net profit spread sheet was created (I loved this part!) We quickly cleaned the areas for poultry, goats, and the garden. Then we cleaned out what would be the barn. One of our friends set up the rabbit and bee operations, and then we started on the greenhouse. Someone years ago had obviously decided it was easier to just throw all their trash on top of the oil spill. Brilliant. So we got that cleaned out and were about to begin shoveling the contaminated gravel and soil into barrels for isolation when... 

Evil Brother #2 came to town. From what #1 had told us about him, we thought he was our greatest enemy in the battle to move into the house. I mean, he really did a number on us. He said that #2 didn't approve of us because we didn't have college degrees and were too young and had no experience and no credit. Now I'm not sure those things were even said. I think #1 was unadmittedly jealous of his brother's academic accomplishments and knew we'd distrust someone who flaunted them so. Meanwhile, he praised us for all the "extraordinary progress" we'd made on the property. He even applauded us on getting bees and rabbits!

As soon as #2 saw the work we had done, he was furious. The long and short of it is, #1 had never told him we were going to move into their father's house. He ranted and raved at his brother for allowing us to do any work there without property insurance or a contract. He viewed us as manipulative people. And #1 supported that. All the sudden he'd call me to scream about how we went beyond what he told us to do. All the sudden he had never told us to bring animals on the property or clean the greenhouse. He had never said "pick a spot for a a trash pile." Why is it so difficult for some people to take ownership of their own mistakes?

After many back-and-forth phone calls between the brothers and Jamie's uncle, #2 learned what his brother had told us to do and was no longer so frustrated with us. Turns out he alone is the executor of the will and whatever decisions made about the property clean-up need to be approved by him. It makes no difference whether or not #1 is the property manager. He still has no influence in getting the house cleared out and ultimately rented. And #2 had no intentions of clearing it out in "one or two months." Regardless of renting or buying, we couldn't move in anyway since there would still be boxes and boxes of sensitive patent paperwork inside.

 So we were duped. We were too trusting. We were dealing with a delusional, manipulative, and sadly psychotic individual. And now we have to move on. The end.

But it's okay because the house we looked at yesterday turns out to be exceptional and the landlords extremely kind and friendly and (seemingly) honest. I don't want to get my hopes up, but they gave Rita and Mike a kitten... so maybe that's a good sign.
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June 25, 2011

part one of the we're-not-moving-into-that-sweet-house story

Let me begin by saying that it's sort of incredible how quickly things can get better. 

We lived through a month of anxiety, anticipation, excitement, and disappointment. I know things could be worse... we have a nice cabin, wonderful animals... but you know how once you decide you want to move, no creative or loving energy gets put into your current home? Well, that's where we've been since January. I guess those of you reading this whom I don't talk to in person are probably completely in the dark. Remember that awesome house we were moving into? The one with the airplane hanger, barns, workshops, tractor, greenhouse, LAND, tractor...? It was owned by three brothers whose father had just passed away. We had been speaking to one brother since February about another house on the same huge property. I've hesitated to publicly vent about his frustrating mind-games this whole time, but I'm glad I did since the story we thought was true was manipulated in unbelievable ways.

So first we were going to rent the farmhouse on the same property. There were "crackhead" tenants inside... people who owed $10,000 in back-rent... "You can be in there in a month," he said in February, "I'm taking them to rent-court and they won't be back again." That didn't happen. When his father died, a new house suddenly became available. We felt like vultures, swooping in on this incredible place so quickly after he had departed. But he assured us that he and his brothers wanted to rent within one or two months. Besides, his father was a genius of a man (he was at the Trinity Test for one...) and would have liked some young people to breathe new life into what had become a literal wasteland over the last twenty years. 

He implied that since our credit was non-existent, we'd have to do some work on the property to win over his two brothers. You're probably thinking we were crazy, and looking back I would have done things differently. But he seemed so genuine and enthusiastic about our vision of a farm on his dad's property, and we just wanted to move. At least was fun working there. We're both very trusting people, and meanwhile this guy was winning us over by talking about how the world is a screwball place and we seemed to be honest folks, which was refreshing. He told us that while we waited for the house to be cleared out (which by the way, was going to be done and ready for us by May 15th) we could get the land ready. He even told us if we found a herd of Boer goats we should buy them immediately and that he would reimburse us. He was on board! We had long discussions about particular jobs that needed cleaning. For one, there was a huge oil spill in the greenhouse. To us, that was major. I don't want to live near that, grow food near that, and raise my animals near that. No way in hell. And of course, after we worked with the most vigor we ever had, we were punished for it.

And now I'm off to make blueberry pancakes for Rita and Mike and go look at another farm. Like I said, things are getting better. But stick around for part two of the story. Because I'm determined to finally let it all out. In writing. At last. (Phew!)

Enjoy your weekend!
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June 21, 2011


Gave most of the baby chicks away. They're getting huge. In the process, I met two really nice people... one of which gave us homegrown turnips and borage in exchange! I love trading. 

The kids at school are loving these tadpoles. Sweet little dangly legs.
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