So we have done A LOT of building jobs since we moved to Maine. Currently, we're working on the farm store. I will say that most of this responsibility falls on Dylan for this job because 1. we have three kids that need supervision and can only spend limited time in the farm store without going crazy and 2. Dylan is a much better carpenter than I am.
Number 1 needs no explanation. It is the reason why a lot of the labor falls on Dylan.
Number 2 has become more and more clear the few times I've tried to help building...well..anything. For some reason, Dylan always thinks its a great idea to have me measure.........which ALWAYS ends up in a wrong measurement. Always. My skill with power tools is definitely lacking as well. Dylan is very patient and continues to "allow" me to help, but it has to drive him crazy.
The funny part of all of this is that my dad is an expert carpenter/woodworker and would absolutely be ashamed of my carpentry skills. You would think I would have inherited some of his carpentry skills, but I apparently did not. Nor his artistic skills. And barely any of his musical skills.
I can paint, and do a pretty good job at that. So..............that is something I get to help with quite a bit when the kids allow it. Silver lining, I guess.
So for those of you that are new to the 47 Daisies Blog, I will provide a little background. For years now, we have named our fields (i.e. different sections of our farm). By far the most popular destinations on the farm are North Dakota and South Dakota. The reasoning behind these names is long and deserves its own entry.
One of the most frequent phrases in our house is (for instance)….”where’s dad?” Answer: “He went to North Dakota.” This answer comes whether or not I actually did go to North Dakota (the field, not the state)……..
Today, as I was perusing the winter weather advisory posted for tonight and tomorrow (more snow and ice…yay)….I read an article about the “Gallup-Healthways Well-being survey.” This survey interviewed over 175000 residents in all 50 states and then scored the states from #1-#50 based upon the well-being of their residents. Why is this relevant to the farm? Turns out that the #1 and #2 states for best well-being of their residents are North Dakota and South Dakota, respectively.
So now when the answer comes that “Dad went to North Dakota” everyone can rest assured that I am going to a happy place and my well-being is secure………and I spend a lot of time in North Dakota!!!
By the way, Maine was #14……not too bad!
So, next time you are down in the dumps…..never fear, head to North Dakota!! And you can borrow our North Dakota if you can’t actually make it to the state.
It is very interesting what folks think of as a farm. When you picture a farm…..what do you think of? Most would probably answer: barns, livestock, open fields full of crops, etc. All of these things happen on what we would call open land (non-forested). While this is the crux of farming operations, there is an often overlooked, and not often thought about, part of most small new England farms…..the woods.
Most farms in the northeastern United States are a mixture of woods and open fields. Interestingly, the forested portion of farms typically gets neglected (or is thought of as separate from farming operations). Some farms will use the woods for a variety of uses….i.e. firewood, maple syrup, pasture, park old run-down equipment, hunting…….but typically these woodlots are underutilized and under-appreciated.
We look at the woods differently at 47 Daisies (maybe this is because I teach sustainable forest management). At 47 Daisies the woods and open fields blend across the landscape……is their a separation to their uses? Of course there is, not many folks plant crops in the woods, but the connection cannot be lost between these very different ecosystems (forested and farmscape).
The forest supports the farm. It is a unique balance of harvesting woodland crops (logs for growing mushrooms, firewood, maple syrup) and appreciation. If we observe the forest, we can get ideas on how to make farming more productive and sustainable. Rarely do we see a monoculture (one species) in a forest. Most forests consist of a myriad of species all coexisting in their own niche. This co-existence is what makes the forests so productive….not just for harvesting of wood products, but for wildlife habitat, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and just sheer beauty.
Next time you are in the woods, look around and appreciate what the forest does for us as a society…..clean water, clean air, oxygen production, wood products (from toilet paper to furniture), reduction of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide), recreation……….and this only scratches the surface!!
Enough of this ranting, but do “love thy forest as thy self!!”
So we have reached February…….the long awaited month to tap maples and make the winters best treat….MAPLE SYRUP!! The kids are in countdown mode now. Kade tells me each evening how many days are left before we can consider putting our taps in. As you can probably tell…..we are all VERY excited each year when maple season rolls around (especially now that we are back in the northern tier states).
The kids got a little reprieve from the waiting yesterday in the form of “maplescicles”. With the ups and downs in temperature that we have started to have recently the maples are starting to think about pumping sap. This can start happening here in Central Maine anytime it warms up, starting in about mid-January or so. We also had the devastating ice storm early in the season which brought branches down (fortunately no major damage on our mature maples…..just small branches).
Due to these previous wounds from the ice storm, during these brief warm days we have had, you can notice the sap starting to drip. Yesterday, I was out walking the dog and found a rare winter treat hanging from a Norway maple branch. Out of a small wound on the branch, the sap had started dripping and then we got cold again. The sap froze in icicle form……thus creating maplescicles.
The kids loved them…….devoured them actually, and this only adds fuel to the mad countdown until taps go in!!
Farms are typically not something that you associate with having a mascot…..but the kids have designated a mascot for 47 Daisies. Not really a mascot like you see at a baseball or football game, but more of an idealized entity.
Bob.....is a raccoon. He lives in a large white pine tree out on the periphery of South Dakota. Bob frequents our bird feeders and gets into all kinds of trouble on the farm. He eats the compost, he gets stuck in the mud around the frog pond and has to be rescued by a flock of hummingbirds, he hangs out with Millie (a baby deer) and peanut butter and jelly sandwich (a resident crow) down by the beaver pond and is generally accepted as a crucial part of 47 Daisies.
The kids have decided though that EVERY raccoon that they see ANYWHERE is definitely “Bob.” This is usually not a problem, as it is okay for them to very excitedly (and VERY loudly) proclaim that they see Bob in picture books when they are read to.
However, when this VERY loud and excited proclamation comes in public…….it becomes a bit of an issue.
Harmony had taken the kids to the library for story time. This is a time where the librarian reads a story to many children. This particular day, the librarian was reading the story which happened to have a picture of a raccoon on the pages. Basil (our three year old) couldn’t help himself and yelled "BOB!!", to which all of the adults kind of looked at him. Harmony quietly said "yep, there's Bob!" And the moment passed.
We were thinking of getting a raccoon costume for Kade and have him walk around the farm when the farm store is open. But that would be a little to strange. Maybe we will just get a pet raccoon instead. Kidding......our "wild" Bobs are just fine.
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )