Calling all grapes lovers!!!
Guess where we were yesterday?
Have you wanted to grow grapes?
Do they even grow well in New Hampshire?
What kind of soil would they need?
How do you make them grow sideways along those wires (espalier)?
Well, we spent part of our day over at the Gilmanton Winery in, uh, Gilmanton.
What a place!!
We’re not going to give all the details of our trip just yet, but, we WILL tell you that we’re working on setting up 3 workshops in conjunction with the winery.
The first will be about how to grow grapes. We’ll tour the vineyard, help prune the vines and go home with some prunings.
The second workshop will be all about how to make wine! Marshall Bishop, the award winning vintner, will be teaching us all about how it’s done and how it can be done at home! Personal time with a master vintner is precious and he’ll be all ours for that day.
The third workshop will be all about harvesting. It’ll take place in the fall and we’ll help harvest their grapes and have a great lunch on site, prepared by their kitchen.
If grapes are on your mind then you’ll want to keep an eye on our site for the updates. We’ll be posting the signup information next week. These will fill up fast so check back often.
Man oh man are we excited!!
So perhaps you haven't heard the good news: Blossom the pig has moved into her new digs!!
Poor Blossom has spent most of the winter penned up inside the barn to keep her safe from the severe New Hampshire elements, but, it was time to get her outside and let her do her pig things. So a new pen was constructed by Sam and the crew out of pallets (ya gotta love the versatility of those pallets!) and plastic and Blossom was released to check it out. Here's the video:
We're hoping for Blossom to have some piglets in the future and that means she won't have to be by herself. But, until then she sure is happy!
That photo to the left was taken yesterday and serves as a warning from a taunting nature to never mess with her. All of your dreams and visions can be held in check if she decides to not play nicely. This year in New England we've been provoked by the extremes we've seen in temperatures this past winter. Days of 50˚ and 60˚ spring like weather combined with very little snow goaded us on to drool over an early planting season, thinking THIS year will be different!
No waiting until May to find ourselves giddily planting seeds in our raised beds, marking our rows with soldiers of signed popsicle sticks and drooling over the bounty to come.
But, nah. It ain't gonna happen. Yesterday happened. Snow happened and those darn freezing temps swept in laughing at us as they smothered our early season gaiety. Just keeping us in line, reminding us that this is the time for planning.
And that takes us to the title of this post. For on Sunday (the day before the photo was snapped) my wife and I had the privilege of taking part in a planning session discussing various events which may or may not be taking place this year at IFP (Inheritance Farm Permaculture). Well let me tell you something, this is shaping up to be a very busy year.
An interesting aspect of IFP is that should one decide to come visit (and that is highly encouraged) what you would see currently is some chickens, geese, ducks and one or two pigs along with remnants from previous workshops and meetups. But, you won't see dozens of cattle roaming around (yet) or goats or large swaths of pigs rooting around (yet) or long rows of monocrops or monstrous bales of hay waiting to be stored .
There are several reasons for this. The first is that while we do have the word FARM in our name it's not our desire to just repeat what every other farm does. Who wants that? That's boring. Drive around New Hampshire and it won't take you very long before you see the idyllic setting of cattle lumping along a big open pasture or pig pens corralling mud covered pigs. See it's been (being) done.
So we have the term Permaculture in our name. And this is the differentiating factor. Inheritance Farm Permaculture is more of a farm incubator or R & D site. Our goal isn't to recreate the wheel, we like the wheel. We want to showcase everything the wheel is really capable of and then introduce those ideas, theories and possibilities to our friends, family and permaculture brothers and sisters. That's why you'll find rocket mass heaters, aquaponics and solar arrays, rain catchment systems feeding gardens, composting toilets for events, cob workshops and so much more.
And, just to give you sneak peek and to wet your whistle at what's to come, here's a quick list of hits from the discussion:
1) Garage sale (more BIG news to come on that. Keep an eye on our events page!
2) A lecture series. This will feature talks/discussions for newbies to advanced permies on subjects like micro-homesteading, intro to Permaculture, rocket mass heaters, water capture and redistribution, gardening, how to make money writing books about your farm and farm experiences, beekeeping, etc.
3) Workshops. Heck yeah workshops!! Think cob ovens, chicken biosphere, large scale swales, soap making classes, sheet mulching, bug hotels, beekeeping, biochar, building passive solar heaters for windows and using rocket stoves to cook down maple sap to name a few.
4) Interviews with innovators from around New England on topics like feeding your chickens for free using compost, as well as what's happening with permaculture in NH and Maine.
But, those are topics we think people would like to attend.
We'd love to hear what topics you're itching to learn more about and we'd LOVE to host a workshop to help you learn. Why not leave a comment and give us an earful on what would light your fire. Bring it on!!!
We live on a farm. Until last year (and possibly again next year), we home schooled our eldest son, now 12, and our middle daughter, now 8. Our 4 year-old has never set foot in a classroom. Our kids live, breathe, and eat FARM. We must have the ideal child-raising scenario, right? Our kids probably wake up early, throw on their muck boots, and help with the chicken chores. After a hearty breakfast of eggs just fetched from nests, they banter about in the fields and gardens, playing hide-and-seek and helping us plant seeds. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
Except that it doesn't happen. Here's a more realistic picture of kids on the farm:
They wake up and immediately ask me for breakfast. I have already done the chores and had my coffee (in truth, I love doing the morning chores alone; it's my peaceful time and I have precious little calm-and-quiet space when it's just me, the animals and the sunrise). I provide breakfast they don't want and field the badgering questions for things they'd rather have ("can I eat my leftover birthday cake? What about mac and cheese? Why can't we go to Dunkin' Donuts? My friends get breakfast there on the way to school!") and, if it's not a school day, they immediately launch into woes about being sooo bored it would practically be child abuse for me not to let them play video games and watch TV.
Sam and I don't think TV and video games are good things in excess, but we do love our screen time, and we're not afraid to admit it. After the kids have gone to bed, the ducks are herded into their coyote-proof house, and the day's updates have been shared between us, Sam and I are total suckers for Netflix reruns of Scrubs, and DVR catch-up marathons of Big Bang Theory. The more laundry I have to fold, the more episodes I can justify before finally putting myself to bed too late. The kids are allowed some PBS and some Wii time in their own schedule, too. But it makes me crazy that they would trade a gorgeous, sunny day for a marathon of Mario Kart in a heartbeat.
Last weekend, the temps reached into the high 60s. Spring birds were in a riot, and the daffodil and tulips, confused by the early warm weather this year, were competing for who-can-bloom-while-it's-still-winter status. Every ounce of me wanted to be outside raking, digging, and prepping for the growing seasons. I wanted the kids to be outside with me. Here's how that went:
What's WRONG with this picture?!
I stood in the kitchen staring down my non-farming children for a bit, then remembered some words of wisdom from a Joel Salatin book I'd just been reading. Kids will engage, he said in not so many words, when they feel empowered by growing food. Bingo.
I put on my "I'm in charge" voice and herded all three whiners outside. I sat them down at the edge of the most fertile of our myriad garden beds, and told them it was all theirs. The rules were simple: they could dig in any place, plant any plant, and choose anything in our box of saved seeds. I would offer advice when asked, but otherwise would not interfere. They would be free to succeed (or fail) on their own, which Salatin rightly asserted is one of the best ways for kids to learn about life's ups and downs.
I was prepared for a bit of bribery (I'll help you plant, I'll help you weed), so I was shocked when they immediately ran for the garden barn to grab hoes and rakes. They had the garden cleared of last-year's debris within an hour, and our eldest had a row hoed an hour later. I was tempted to ask him why he'd created a row for peas that ran south-east and would shade the rest of the plants, but bit my tongue. Instead, I asked him his plan, and through respectful listening to his ideas, found that he began to ask me questions. We decided together to try the peas there, and plant sunflowers on the shaded side. Problem solved.
It's an ongoing lesson for me to remember that permaculture is about community growth and learning within our families just as much as it is for the larger community. I am a work-horse, and tend to want to get it all done myself. The lesson here is that allowing the kids to experiment and take ownership of this piece of garden allowed them to invest in a way they would not have if I'd just "allowed" them (ahem, forced them) to help me with my own space. Putting the power of choice and control into their hands got them excited to see what they could do. It's a parenting lesson I think we all need reminding of from time to time, but it extends beyond that, too.
What if we all chose a bit of garden, walled it off from our "supposed to be" spaces (supposed to be flowers, lawn, etc) and allowed ourselves the freedom to succeed or fail? Why not plant peas on a strange angle? Maybe it will prompt an idea that wasn't there before. Or maybe it will fail, but the lesson in that is valuable, too. How can we engage with our gardens this year in a way we have not dared to before?
Ray is part of the Ray and Randi duo, who actually don't live on the farm. They have a micro-homestead in Gilmanton, but are VERY active over at IFP and are guest bloggers for them.
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