On our dining room table, a tiny candle is flickering, giving this quiet, foggy morning a dance of grace, much needed for my weary self.  We’ve had a busy weekend – guests here on the farm and a concert with the amazing Joy Ike and her sister Peace at my dad’s place (a venue change because of the rain that never came).

A rainbow

This week’s brain brought us a gift.

Now, I’m sitting with my legs folded under the quilt that my mother started and my dear friend Heather’s mother-in-law finished after Mom died.

And I have coffee. . . and  definite plan for a nap later today.

I’ve been reading Joel Salatin and Wendell Berry of late, unable to keep myself away from their wisdom despite the fact that I said I was only reading books by women this year. I simply have so much I need to learn about farming and sustainability and community in a rural place that I need their collective insight.  (Though, I gobble up books by women farmers with powerful delight, including Jenna Wonginrich’s latest book, Cold Antler Farm.) They inspire me to be wiser, to be more informed, to work harder.

So much of my thinking these days centers around how to make the farm more livable, less wasteful, more communal.  I’ve just made a mental commitment to buy only compostable cat litter, and I’m looking to find a durable recycling bin that will allow me to store the glass we cannot yet recycle in our county until I travel to a place that does.  Later today, I’ll be order buckwheat and clover so that we can cover the garden beds later this fall in cover crop and take action to control weeds and create compost in the rows between the beds.

The more I read Berry and Salatin, the more I sink deep into our dream of having this place be our full sustenance, the more work I know we need to do to help this place work with us, and the more I feel my stubby toes digging deep into this soil-clad mountain.

We have many hopes and dreams – a spring-fed pond with fish that will help keep it clean and restore the ecosystem here. Oh, and ducks. Philip really wants ducks.  Dad has already begun clearing a spot for a cabin by our winter waterfall.  And we hope to put a yurt up the mountain as well.

A new plan we have begun with Dad is the construction of a pavilion for concerts and gatherings. It’ll be a simple pole structure that surrounds Philip’s shop, a place where people can camp, where I can hold retreats, and where artists can read and play without the danger of rain.

All of these things we will do with the hope of bringing even more life to this place, and we will do them as responsibly as we can. . . with reclaimed materials and our own labor.  More work. More rooting.

Every bit beauty.


Granny Cumbo’s Tomato Juice

My aunt found my grandmother’s tomato juice recipe and sent it up yesterday.  It’s a delicious way to use more of your summer crop.

12 c. tomatoes

2 c. water

4 celery leaves

1/4 c chopped onions

2 bay leaves

1 tsp sugar

6 whole cloves

1/4 tsp paprika

2 tsp salt

Wash but do not peel tomatoes.  Core and cut into quarters. Place in a stock pot and add remaining ingredients.  Cover and let simmer 30 minutes.  Strain.  Then reheat the juice and let boil for 3 minutes.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal immediately.  Or cool and drink. (Vodka optional.)

photo 1(2)

Sometimes, I get a little silly with Sabine and Jelly Roll.