Monday, June 29, 2009

On the Farm

In Barnardsville, NC, along the Family Farm Tour

I've been feeling inspired to paint a new garden animal for next summer. Still considering what it might turn out to be... a rabbit, perhaps. I already have the perfect pair of vintage overalls that I've been saving for such a creation. They have red, green, blue and yellow stitching and accents on the pockets - so perfect! Of course, I can think of a dozen or so little painted and collaged "accessories" of nature for the little critter - lettuce, beets, flowery dill, some unusual-looking varieties of heirloom squash...

I've been spending a lot of time lately in my and other people's gardens, enjoying the offerings of summer. My garden is coming along slowly. (The back yard is just too shady.) I have an infant cucumber about as big around and half the length of my pinky and a tiny green tomato. I think a rabbit or squirrel must have eaten the rest of the tomatoes, since they have disappeared. (I don't think my dog, Lola, is too tempted by food so healthy and prefers meat scraps and plate-lickings instead.) I'm still waiting on everything else to come in - peppers, summer and pattypan squash. And my fall plantings will go in the ground this week - lots of greens, onions, and some winter squash.

I spent last Friday morning back at Lineberger's fruit farm in Denver, NC, picking berries. We were right on the tail-end of the raspberry season; there were hardly enough for Paul's mom and I to pick a half-gallon each. Whoever came before us missed the hardest to reach fruit, so I found some full, ripe berries by crawling around underneath the bushes! We also picked blackberries, which went much quicker due to the size and amount of fruit. But I did discover that the bigger the berry, the sharper the thorns! I left scraped, dirty, dripping sweat, but very satisfied to have something tangible and useful from so much hard work. The berries have now been made into jam, with a few left over for muffins, pancakes, and midday snacks.

We saw a lot of these quilt-like panels adorning the sides of town buildings. I love the photo of this one, with the little bird perched on the rooftop.

This weekend Paul and I went to the mountains for a Family Farm Tour in and around Asheville. We were able to spend time on four different small farms. We had lunch at the first and toured the garden where they grow ingredients for homemade pesto, preserves, and blackberry wine. We visited two goat farms - one where they produce lots of delicious cheese (we picked up a chevre flavored with herbs de provence and learned to make our own ricotta), the other where a sweet older woman sheers the goats for mohair fiber. This was probably our favorite stop. We loved the curly-haired goats and watching the women spin the mohair into yarn to be knitted. All of the hand-created items she had for sale held a tag with a photo of the goat the fiber came from. Our last stop was a beautiful homestead alongside a natural spring with inventive methods for obtaining self-sufficiency. Aside from a bounteous garden and winter greenhouse, the couple also had a beehive and shiitake and oyster mushroom logs (so interesting!). We learned so many handy tips from the kind husband who gave us the tour.

I better get to the sketch pad soon, while this feeling of summer is still fresh and green!

At Spinning Spider Creamery, the goat dairy farm. 
This little goat thought my dress was pretty tasty!

The mohair goats at Good Fibrations farm.

Spinning! And look at that lovely afghan in the background!

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