Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Solstice!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Summer Solstice.

As I was working in the field today, I made sure to stop a few times and be thankful we have a beautiful planet. And how cool is it that we have a summer solstice? And I was glad for our sun.

Also, I was weeding large areas with a hoe, and it was helpful for this out-of-shape chick to stop and breathe once in a while.

Though mostly that reflective grateful thing about having a solstice and a sun. Totally. 

"Farmer's Wife" update

In case you don't read the Juniper Moon Farm blog regularly (and you should! It's charming. And there are puppy photos.)...Susan received a reply regarding her letter to the toy company that prompted the post below.

You can read their encouraging reply on her blog.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Farmer" is not a gender-specific word

I am very comfortable declaring myself to be a "Small Farmer" when folks ask what I do. But, it seems sometimes that the people I'm talking to aren't always convinced that I am really a farmer. I see two potential explanations for this.

1) I haven't made any money yet.
2) I am a woman.

The lovely Susan at the lovely Juniper Moon Farm, wrote a post today defending using the job title "Farmer" to describe women. A small toy company that makes detailed and adorable farm-related toys describes their male figurine as the "Farmer" and the female as the "Farmer's Wife," even though their description of the Farmer's Wife includes:

“Our fun-loving farmer’s wife carefully takes a basket of eggs to the farm store. Afterwards, she has to go help the farmer feed the cows and chickens.”

I can't top Susan's well-written reply to their sloppy, outdated characterization, so I'm excerpting it here. The whole post is certainly worth the read too.

See, she isn’t a farmer. This is the farmer. She’s the Farmer’s Wife. A farmer by Schleich’s definition is a man. Women can be horse carersgroomsstable girls, and stable girls with wheelbarrows. They can even be veterinarians (as can men, apparently). But, in spite of the fact that she shares a full fifty percent of her listed duties with the farmer, this woman is described by your company as the Farmer’s Wife.
I’ve got news for you, gentlemen. Gathering eggs and feeding animals? Those are the jobs of a farmer. ...

Now, you may think that this doesn’t matter much, that the title of a character has nothing to do with the way in which children will utilize it in play, but you are wrong. Words matter. I am telling you this as a woman, a farmer, and — maybe most importantly — as one of your customers. Your title and description of the Farmer’s Wife is offensive. It tells me in no uncertain terms what you think of farmers who happen to be women. More importantly, it tells the little girls who love and play with your toys that the most they can aspire to in the world of agriculture is to be the lucky bride of a farmer.

This issue is important to me (as a woman farmer) but it is also important to you (as a person who presumably eats food). Sharon Astyk of Casaubon's Book, wrote a post in February, "Ending 'Farmer's Wife' Syndrome," where she points out that for the first time in history the majority of new farmers are coming from "off the farm." They are people - like me - who do not come from farming families. In addition, she writes, "...independent women small farmers are the only fast-growing segment of American agriculture - an entity that we all know is going to have to grow fast just to keep up with the aging population of farmers..."

So, if you'd like to eat anything that resembles real food, and not a amalgam of corn syrup and wood chips, stand up and recognize that I am a Farmer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Le podcast

I made one!

So, a podcast is a little recurring video or audio show with, like, themes and stuff. In mine I talk about my knitting and spinning for about 20 minutes (did you know I could talk that long??), and then give a little update about our farm. There is also a second video introducing our chickens and turkeys. Check it here: Knit Spin Farm

I plan to follow the same format and upload shows maybe every other week...ish.

If, in the meantime, you are totally hooked and want to watch or listen to more people go on about knitting, some of my favorite podcasts are listed below.

Audio only:
And, if you need more, check out the very helpful Knitting Podcast blog with links to lots and lots of shows. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

"You can blog about the oven if you want"

As you may recall, Bill finished his masonry oven a few weeks ago and we did a test burn. He found that he really liked it and yesterday he did a longer burn and some serious baking.

That's 4 pizzas, 6 loaves of bread, a dozen muffins (those were mine!) and some granola. Starting at about noon, Bill fired the oven for six hours, actively adding wood and keeping the flames going. Then he let it rest for an hour, without adding more wood, so the temperature could become more even throughout the oven.

The first thing to be cooked were the pizzas. They're done in about 3 minutes and can be cooked by both direct heat (from any remaining chunks of flaming wood) and the indirect heat that is radiating out from the very, very insulated oven walls.

Then he cooked the bread. I think it was done quicker than it is in our house oven, and the masonry oven has much higher capacity. 6 loaves were a piece of cake and Bill is confident he can probably double that comfortably. This is good because we like to eat bread!

The muffins went in next and then finally the granola.

As we were sitting there, daylight and oven heat fading, Bill said "you can blog about the oven tomorrow if you want." I'd been waiting to post an update about it in case he wanted to share his excitement with you. But, I think his mood is better captured in photos than in words. He's pretty proud of his work and glad to be reaping the rewards.

(That's an excited face. Not a creepy I-want-to-eat-your-head face. FYI. In case you were confused.)

The final stages of the process involved framing the dome in metal, plopping up some board stuff (the stuff that goes under your hearth - wonder board??), filing with vermiculite and adding a roof.

The very last bit is the decoration. Probably stucco on the top and bricks on the bottom.

Oh - and see that door? The wooden one?

Yeah, that caught fire.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Soon to include video...

I am working on a video podcast for you. What?? I'll admit it's a little weird, but totally fun. It's mostly about knitting, because people make knitting podcasts, but also a little about the farm. The pilot episode contains an in-depth look at our chickens and turkeys.

However, iMovie is a whiny bitch and - though everything is done - the software won't cooperate for the very last steps. I'm gonna loose whatever hipster cred I have right now and say that I don't like Macs. Annoying little worthless machines.

In the meantime....please enjoy this photo of the transit of Venus from earlier this week. We used binoculars to project an image of the sun onto a piece of paper. Super easy! You can do it to watch eclipses and sunspots too. Just point the large end of the binocs at the sun and hold some paper about 2 feet behind the small end. Wiggle them around until you see the sun projected on the paper. Use the focus nobs on the binocs to dial in the sun, or move the paper forward and back until the image is clear.

So cool!

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