Excitement Abound

Another whirlwind week…..

Last weekend I had the clay stompin’ party to put up the dense layer of the clay oven.  It went wonderfully.  So many folks showed up and the air was filled with laughter as we took turns stomping clay barefoot as it drizzled and snowed around us.  Yes, it was the coldest day of the last month but it made it all the more adventurous!!   The oven is gorgeous.

Monday, I attempted the insulation layer but stopped after one ring of bottles.  I felt like it needed a little time and I needed more materials.  So today after the Orono Farmer’s Market, one week from the building of the dome, I scooped out the sand that was the mold for the dome and what held it up.  I took out the wooden form that we used to support the brick arch doorway and the arch crumbled and came apart in a couple places.  No worry, breathe, that can easily be repaired I coached myself….the sand was still damp and packed tightly.  As I scooped, I kept thinking “what if it collapses??”  Kendra (clay oven builder and wood fired bread baker extraordinaire) has been one of many wonderful encouraging folks and she told me today at market, if it collapses, you will just build it again.  Just the thought of it collapsing made my chest tighten and heart skip a beat.  Better to find out now than spend more time and resources on the insulation layer.  Okay.  I can do this.  So it started slowly and tentatively which was quickly replaced by excitement as I caught a glimpse of a piece of the interior clay wall as some sand fell away…..and it stayed intact!!!!  Then the rest went swiftly and smoothly.  Kendra also gave me a tip today at market of taking a tin can, punching holes in the sides along the bottom and lighting a small fire inside to be able to easily move it around.   This worked wonderfully and I will do this each day until ready for a larger fire.   So now I am VERY  much looking forward to baking in this amazing clay oven!   It has been so long in the making, I am beside myself with excitement to think of baking in it soon….

The week was also filled with preparing for the demolition of the attached building to the house and rebuilding it.  A 20 x 36 foot structure.  Permits, contractors, deposits, ready, set, GO!!  Another dream ready to become reality.  What an exciting year.  So many ideas for the season to soon share…..

Jamie Oliver

My new favorite program is: <a href=”http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution”> Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution</a> and I don’t have TV.   I have been watching it online…… What Jamie Oliver is doing is incredible.   Jamie is completely genuine and has such character, he is the perfect leader for the Food Revolution.   Watching the Food Revolution is so inspiring, I am thrilled to be growing vegetables and being a part of the localvore community.   Every school will hopefully embrace the Food Revolution!!  Maine has been working on farm to school for years.   It is exciting to see a major network supporting this and Jamie.

Here’s to change~

Farm Fun

Aaaaaah~  what a day!  The fields are tilled!  The back field that I put in clover last year, I am prepping to be the vineyard along the orchard and it looks fabulous.   As I prepped the front field for tilling I noticed that the peas are just starting to pop up and I was delighted to forage some greens that had wintered over.  I have been enjoying the chard and cilantro and noticed the watercress today~ YUM!!  I dug loads of yellow dock root for tincture and the rest of the parsnips.  There are enough parsnips for recipes to feed folks during this Saturday’s clay oven building party here at Fire Fly Farm.  We will be finishing the clay dome, I am SOOOOO very excited.  The next party for the oven will be making pizza!!

I am trying to salvage some wild grapes that have taken over the back tree line along side the front field.  They have been running wild longer than I have been here and have climbed several stories into trees.  They are lovely Concord grapes but are so tall, I can no longer harvest the fruit.  Inspired by Savage Oakes’ pruning workshop, I set to work.  Trying to pull them out of the trees is harder than imaginable.  I was literally swinging from them and several wouldn’t budge.  Some came down and I realized that safety glasses would be a good thing when a load of debris came showering down and a large piece bounced off my eyeball, managing to scratch both my cornea and new glasses.  Argh.  At this point, I am happy I can see!  Irritation will heal.

It has been the kind of satisfying day that you feel your muscles sighing in relief as you sit down for a moment~  I like these kind of days~

Early Spring~

What an spectacular week here in Central Maine.  Daffodils are blooming, lilacs are leafing out, garlic is several inches tall, an evening chorus of peepers, larger frogs and LOONS.  The fields are greening and it feels like it is time to plant!  I have several hardy greens and peas in the ground and want to do more, so I will.

The clay oven project is progressing as well as other exciting building projects.  It is amazing to have this gift of early spring.  Apprentice applications are still pouring in which is exciting.

I went to a grape growing and pruning workshop at Savage Oakes Winery last weekend in Union that was fabulous.  I learned so much and what a beautiful farm and vineyard and lovely folks.  Their wine is fantastic.

I am trying to declutter.  Spring cleaning with an edge.  It is so hard to separate.  But it must be done.

I have participated in a couple online auctions last week.  Interesting events, auctions, even online they can be intense.  I am happy with the items that I won.  The highlights are the stainless steel.  Inserts, pots, a monster awesome griddle (cast iron), and wire racks (most exciting).

I hadn’t been contra dancing for YEARS and went to the Belfast dance Friday.  What a blast.  For anyone wanting to contra who is or even more importantly ISN’T experienced, Belfast is the dance for you.  What a wonderfully gentle crowd of all aged folks having the best time.   The band was fantastic and Chrissy Fowler is the best caller ever.  Every first Friday of the month at the American Legion Hall on High St, Belfast, 8pm.

Have a stellar week everyone~

Foodie t.v.

March is coming to an end.  It has been a little cooler this week but Spring is here.  I baked this Friday evening, it is wonderful to break bread again.

I don’t have television but can watch programs on the computer.  I checked out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution reality show.  I really dislike reality t.v. but this one is so far palatable and I just adore Jamie Oliver…. so I enjoyed the two episodes I watched the other evening.  I am impressed that ABC is showing this.  Startling facts about how horrific many American’s diets are and how the children of this time will have shorter life spans than their parents due to diet.  Things like this NEED to be realized now and more importantly changed.   I was speechless at how these children could not identify any vegetable, not even a potato.  But they all knew what a french fry or chicken nugget looked like.

It is late….more soon~

Happy Spring!!

**WOW** What a first day of Spring it was….almost 70 degrees, sunny, the perfect day….it just went too quickly~  It has been a fantastic week back.  Spending time catching up and trying to focus on completing a few things.  Coming home after an extended trip always seems overwhelming.  I am happy to be here and excited to jump right in and end up jumping into everything all at once and the end result seems pretty scattered.  Now time to make a list and stick to it.  Big things are getting under way….very exciting ones that I will not mention right now….but soon…..

Managed to seed four varieties of peas and many hardy greens in the ground before the rain.  Just couldn’t help myself!  The garlic in the field and greens planted in the greenhouse are up, as many other signs of Spring are popping up everywhere.  It is here so early this year, it still feels so strange….

One of the best things about coming home is eating the food I have grown and put up.  Farm meals which every ingredient has come from Fire Fly Farm is about as good as it gets.  The next best thing, is to share it~ Life is good~

Arrival Home~

I am home now, ready to hit the ground running.  I cannot believe there is NO SNOW.  Record winter cold and snow everywhere I have traveled to arrive home to bare ground.  Amazing.  I am now trying to switch into Spring mode and am very excited to be able to do so this early in Maine.

The last couple weeks of my holiday were perfect.  Puerto Rico and Culebra Island.  Cave exploring and snorkeling were the highlights.  The best snorkeling in the Caribbean they say and it blew me away.  I cannot even try to describe the colors and fish I saw, it was magical, I was so excited and snorkeling was all I wanted to do.  The days flew by floating in clear blue water, swimming with the fish of every color of the rainbow, through waving vegetation and coral of equal stunning colors, it was breathtaking and blissful.  As I sit here, I still feel as if I am floating upon the waves, a smooth rocking my inner body still is doing~

Camuy cave was incredible.  There is something about a cave…..This one is the third largest in the world.  There is a group of spelunkers that I want to hook up with next time to do deeper exploring.  It had been closed several years ago when we tried to go due to a fatal accident so I was happy to go in at all.

The juicy ripe fruit was my favorite food eaten on this leg of the trip.  Papaya large as foot balls, pineapple, mango…..with all the fruit, beans and rice and occasional fish, swimming and riding the bicycles we rented to get around, I feel as if I lost weight on this vacation!  Especially when trying to out ride the barking dogs chasing us…..

I have never realized how many different types of rum there are either…..

The best ending to the amazing travels and time with family I have had the great fortune to enjoy this winter is coming home to Fire Fly Farm.  It is a brilliant sunny morning here and I am just beaming with joy with all that I am filled with.  I could not be more grateful.

Spectacular Switzerland

I found out today, I don’t have my “mountain lungs” quite yet.  I remember how wonderful I felt last year at the end of my spectacular Switzerland holiday with Jen and family.  I felt like I had been in marathon training hiking every day and felt fabulous when I returned to the low lands, so much energy.  It was very obvious that my lungs were NOT in that shape today.  Pack mule lungs I called it then.  I didn’t float up the trail, I more like flailed.  Well, maybe not that bad but it took much longer to go the distance than I remember.  Yesterday I did better but took an easier route.  Today was another perfect day, sunny and warm, typical Switzerland winter day.

Jen, Maks and Vladimir are on winter break so that is why we are now in Switzerland.  Since they had lived here for several years before moving to Germany, we all drove back for them to visit and Maks is old enough now to take ski lessons.  Vladimir is a skier also, so the guys are going to hit the mountain on skis.  I have lost my need for speed long ago and I hyper ventilate just crossing these insanely steep trails on my snow shoes!  Skiers must wear helmets it is so dangerous.   Not for me.  If I injure myself or worse, I want it to be doing something I LOVE, so at least when my self employed self is healing I won’t be cursing myself, I will be fondly remembering the what ever of a lifetime.   That is my adventure rule of thumb,  be bold but LIKE it!

Maks was adorable on skis today.   I can hear him purring in the distance, fast asleep.  Sounds like a great plan~

LOVE LOVE LOVE Switzerland…

We arrived in Switzerland and all breathed a huge sigh of relief.  We were all very happy to be back.  Jen, Maks and Vladimir had lived in Leysin for two years, I had been visiting in the winters and it was a warm welcome for all and a brilliantly sunny day.  To me, this alone seemed a huge, glorious change from the constant gray of Hamburg.

Leysin is a small village at the top of a stunning Alp.  Where we are staying (just above where they had previously lived), the only way to get higher are the hiking and ski trails.  The air and water are clear and fresh.  Just being here makes you feel like you are doing something incredibly healthy.  We unpacked the car and scattered for various missions, mine was to hike up Profandaz.  I want to hike and feel like an olympic trainer for the last wonderful week of my fabulous European holiday.  The perfect ending….and great balance to indulging in all the fabulous Swiss chocolate, cheese and baked goodies.  Funny, it can be expensive here but the cheese, chocolate, wine and bread are inexpensive…..what else is there??  I dream of being here longer and growing the vegetables and fruit to round out my diet…..I have only yet enjoyed the winter wonderland here, I am afraid if I visit during the growing season, I would be a goner…..just seeing all the freshly pruned grape fields makes my heart ache.  I fantasize about what if when I see these darling tiny chalet’s tucked into the remote mountain side with nothing more than a foot path to access it.  But….I am truly and completely in Love with Fire Fly Farm…..that is why I return.  It is hard to be torn between great Loves.  My darling family here in Europe and my Farm.

Until I depart, I will enjoy my beautiful family and this indescribably amazing country completely~

The End of my Hamburg Stay~

My last week in Hamburg was perfection.    On Valentine’s, my sister had a beautiful bouquet of tulips (my favorite) and lovely local truffles (another favorite) for me.  She threw an amazing dinner party, everything was fantastic.  I went to the St Pauli Fischmarkt for the last time that morning and it was PACKED.  If only our winter markets were that bustling, the only way through was to shuffle along with the throngs of customers.  It snowed, but now that seems to be what happens each day.

I decided my favorite is herring.  I enjoy pickled herring in the states but the herring in Hamburg is so amazingly fresh and the texture like sushi which makes it my favorite all the more.  The ways to have herring are endless.  I did not manage to try them all but if I could eat more I would have.

I bid farewell to Hamburg as we all packed up the car, Jen, Vladimir, Maks and I headed towards Switzerland~

The first day on the road we traveled to Stuttgart  where I had a “typical German meal”  and what I will refer to as a meat feast.   The local red wine was fabulous.

After a nights rest….destination:  Switzerland!!