Surreal (But Really Great) Weekend

Last weekend something amazing happened.

Through the combined power of Facebook and Juniper Moon Farm, I reunited with two friends I had not seen in literally twenty years.

I found my friends Heather and Sarah on Facebook – we had been inseparable in middle school – after not having seen them or known where they were for nearly two decades.  We fell right back in to our easy banter and started to catch up and get to know each other again, and then Susan had a sale on Farm Stays this summer.  Heather snagged one for herself and her girlfriend Karen and we couldn’t wait to have a mini reunion!

Heather and Karen stayed three nights at the farm and Zac and Caroline fed us the BEST dinner every night for the stay.  Sarah and her husband James live, coincidentally enough, about two hours east of us and we were able to make a day of visiting Monticello, Michie Tavern, and Ashlawn – Highland.

I even brought the girls and they behaved rather well for such a long day on our feet.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather, either.  The mountaintop was beautiful with the leaves just starting to turn.

It really was surreal at certain moments.  Here you have friends who were *thisclose* at one time and still feel that connection and that ease around each other, but at the same time it feels like you’re getting to know someone new.  It at times takes you back into your teenage head and you remember all of your hopes and plans you had together, and then you’re suddenly in that future together but in different and unexpected ways. I couldn’t always wrap my brain around it.   I really wish I had pictures of us from back then to compare, because I would have recognized Sarah and Heather anywhere.  It’s as though we are simply more confident – looking versions of those girls from long ago.

I guess it’s fitting that this “historical” (for us, anyway) reunion took place at the homes of former presidents (and if you don’t know which ones, please click those links!)

My kids took to my friends right away, and were very sad when we all had to part ways.

It was a brilliant day, a wonderful visit, and I am hoping we’ll get to do it again soon (and NOT twenty years from now!).




Can – Do Attitude

Now that the weather is acting more like fall I’ve been craving more warming and comforting foods.  I’ve been baking a lot more bread and enjoying my afternoon coffee hot rather than iced. The canning slowed down a bit for awhile during a busy spell but I have taken it back up with a vengeance.

Most recently I put up a batch of Apple Bourbon Butter, courtesy of a recipe from Local Kitchen’s mouthwatering blog.  If you aren’t already a regular reader over there, do yourself a favor and check out her recipes.  Last summer I made her Pirate Peaches and this spring I made her Drunken Cherries.  Right now I am salivating over the prospect of trying her Pear & Pumpkin Ale PreservesDoesn’t that sound heavenly?

Aside from the preserves and boozy fruits I have been on a mad chutney kick.  I made cranberry chutney (hello Thanksgiving!) :

(recipe here)

apple chutney (can’t remember where I found that recipe) and a Hearty Ale Chutney from River Cottage Preserves:

This is full of so much goodness I can’t wait for it to be ready – Guinness, onions, carrots, parsnips, turnips, tomato….and on and on! The author claims it’s perfect with a crusty bread and cheddar.  I have a feeling this will be my winter staple!

Since the girls and I picked more apples today (Staymans – an heirloom variety) there will be more apple bourbon butter soon, and I grabbed more cranberries so I can try my hand at some cranberry – persimmon preserves, now that I have a tree full of persimmons!

If only I could find some Concord grapes I’d be all set!


What Is It???

I have a tree in my yard that has been bearing fruit lately.

Actually, it bears fruit every year but usually the squirrels have eaten all of it before we can identify what it is.  I have a hunch that it’s a persimmon tree, but this is the first year I’ve been able to see the fruit turning orange, so I am more confident than I was before.

However, since I am no expert in identifying trees and plants and whatnot in the wild, I am opening it to all of ou who may have more experience.

Most of the fruit is higher up in the tree (and I am not climbing it unless they really are persimmons, and therefor worth it) and as you can see from the leaves in the first photo, there is some sort of fungus or blight going on.

What say you?  Persimmons? Shall I harvest them?  Do I harvest them now and let them ripen indoors, or wait for them to turn orange?

I’ve never eaten a persimmon before, though I have lots of recipes for preserving them.

Fingers crossed.

Montpelier Fiber Festival (Sort of)

Caroline called me up Sunday morning and invited me to the local(ish) fiber festival that was taking place this weekend.  I had been on the fence about going since we’d done Old Farm Day on Saturday and I really didn’t have the cash to be going to a FIBER festival, but I scraped together what I could and we went for it!  Besides, how can you say no to Caroline?  I love hanging with her.

The weather was very fall – like: overcast and chilly.  Perfect for looking at all things wool.

We watched the sheepdog trials for a bit and hit the sheep tent.  We both got plenty of photos of the animals in there, and then promptly forgot we had cameras.  When you’re focused on wool, well.

We made a point to check in on our friend Anna at her vendor station.  I wish I had gotten some pics there, but you’ll simply have to take my word for it that she has beautiful pottery and woven things.  In fact, I’ve linked her website to her name.  Check it out, y’all (she’s the one that did the awesome Juniper Moon Farm mugs and yarn bowls).

Caroline picked out some lovely hand – dyed yarn from Knitting Notions (who I am thrilled has an online store, so I can order from them in the future), and I got some sportweight Superfine Alpaca (actually I bought one hank & Caroline bought me the other – how awesome is she?)  from Delly’s Delights.  I’ll be going back to them again as well.

I really had a great time with Caroline.  I am hoping like mad I can snag her and take her to Rhinebeck next year.  I can’t think of a better travel companion for such an adventure (though all of you Rhinebeck buddies from last year certainly come to mind as well!!)

Anyway, enjoy the only two decent photos I managed to get from the day.  One of an Icelandic who was too hilariously like Feenat to pass up and a Cottswald that looked a lot like Ernie.


Old Farm Day

Our very rural county does not have a county fair.  We barely have a supermarket.  Very little excitement happens here (unless you count the various animal escapes or occasional tornadoes and forest fires).  However, the first Saturday of every October we have our county fair equivalent: Old Farm Day.

The basic idea is a showcasing of livestock and antique farm equipment from local farms.  But that’s not all.  There’s the local orchard making open kettle apple butter all day.  Pulled pork barbeque and kettle corn.  Square dancing and bluegrass.  Draft horse plowing demonstrations, animal sound contests, beekeepers with honey and mechanical bull riding.  And tractors on display.  Lots and lots of old tractors.

This year we met up with Zac and Caroline for their first Old Farm Day.  They seemed to enjoy it as much as we do.

I will say that there seemed to be less animals this year, and there was no one doing any spinning or basket weaving demonstrations.  Otherwise it was quite lovely, and I would have stayed until the bitter end had we not had things to do back home, and small children hanging off us and asking to buy everything in sight.

LOVE this old chicken coop!

11 Ton steam engine built in 1921 to power plows or mill machinery.

The location is beautiful – it’s one of the oldest former plantations in the county.

Waiting for the kids’ “Tater Hunt” to begin.

“How can we get this thing home without anyone noticing???”

Neve & Oona’s “Tater” haul.  You get to keep what your kid grabs out of the ground!

That’s a “Large” size kettle corn.  Paul might have bought an extra – large, had they offered it.

Oona and Neve each lasted (barely) 10 seconds on the mechanical bull this year.

We left happy and satisfied with our Old Farm Day experience, and look forward to next year!

PS – plan your 2012  Juniper Moon Farm Farm-Stay experience accordingly!