Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remind you of anything?

This morning I noticed that one of the Farmstead buildings, the "Machine Shed" has a collapsed roof. Ouch! Luckily no people, animals or important equipment were in there at the time.

 I will be on vacation in Honduras for the next two weeks. Please feel free to check out the farmertofarmerblog on this same website for news of my antics. Signing off. Andy

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hay Day

Can you see how this loader pivots in the center?

Those bales are at least 6 feet around!

We have been waiting for fresh hay for the animals for a long time. One of our neighbors brings us 7 big round bales of hay every year and uses a big loader to place the bales in the winter pasture. Then the sheep and llamas eat off of the big bales all winter. By springtime, there is still some hay left, which they eat over the summer as roughage. This year there was a lot of hay left in the spring, because the hay came late last year. It was also more stems than leaves, so the animals ate it, but without enthusiasm – kind of like the food in your kitchen that you eat only when all the good stuff is gone. So this year, we wanted some better hay for the big round bales. We also got some “treat hay” in small square bales that we give to the animals in hay feeders in the barn. The treat hay is stored inside and has a higher protein content due to extra alfalfa.

So we called our neighbor early, like in early September, and asked for him to bring the big round bales of hay over any time. He said no problem, but that he was busy with the harvest. This was trouble. We had hoped he would not have started the harvest yet. He harvests soybeans first, then corn - which is a non-stop job until it is done. Once the crop is ready to harvest you have to go to it, especially with soybeans, which were ready early this year due to a warm summer. So I said, “No problem, we still have some hay from last year, just try to bring it up before the snow hits.” Those really were famous last words. Our need for hay must have fallen to the back burner, because the hay did not arrive all through September and October. In mid-November I called again and he still had corn to harvest. I gave him a qualified “no problem” again. Then we fell off each others’ radar. There was Thanksgiving and then the Farm Stay.

After the Farm Stay finished, I called him again and now it was not “no problem.” Instead it was a problem because the animals had basically finished off the round bales from last year and we were feeding large quantities of the expensive treat hay to keep the animals fed. He said that he could be up there the next day. I went out and spent a couple hours plowing a path down to the winter pasture and then pushing snow around inside the pasture for him to have a place to put the bales. Then on the 22nd they came up with a massive loader and two wagons full of big bales. Yippee! This was a bigger loader than I have ever seen them bring. They must have brought it because of the snow. The loader is so big that it is designed to pivot in the middle, to make it around tight corners. Quite cool. Despite begin so big, or maybe because it was so big, the first thing they did was get stuck in the winter pasture. Underneath the snow, the ground is not really that frozen. As the machine rocked back and forth, it looked like an angry elephant stuck in the mud. They dug deep ruts, but eventually the loader was free. After that, they were wary of going too far into the pasture, so they did not get stuck again. Now the animals have plenty of hay – probably enough to last until the snow flies next year.

Lessons learned: 1. Farmers can get very, very busy during harvest time. 2. The best time to buy hay is in mid-summer when they are making the hay and can bring it straight from the fields. 3. If you really need something, ask for it directly without hedging and people will usually come through for you.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Update on Susie

By Amal
Susie arrived at our house on Sunday at around 3:00. She was a little aggressive at first towards our dog, Milo, but calmed down later in the day. She is very cuddly, and jumps right onto the window seat, and looks out onto the street with Milo. There is not so much tension between them anymore, though Milo did get growled at for accidentally jumping on top of Susie when he tried to get onto the bed. She loves Milo’s bed, and while Milo is on the window seat, she is curled up in it. We don’t really need to separate them when they eat, though we don’t have them right next to each other.
Last night, she slept in our room, and was curled up on Kumar’s bed the entire night. Every time my brother moved in bed, she moved with him. Today, my brother, my dad and I took Milo and Susie for a walk. Susie was great, and did not pull at all. She did not really get all the driveways and different sidewalks because she had never been a city dog before. She liked walking next to Milo in a pack, and I think she is not annoyed with Milo anymore. This evening, we went to shovel out a friend’s sidewalk, and Susie met another family that liked her a lot. But we think she might be our dog now, because we all love her and want to keep her.

Pictured above: Susie on left, Milo on Right

 Susie on Milo's bed

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Goodbye Farm Stay 2

We woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. Not only was the thick blanket of pure white snow sparkling with a fresh layer of multi-faceted frost, but all of the trees and shrubs were coated with a quarter-inch layer of hoarfrost. As the sun came up, the white trees took on a golden hazy shine. Looking out the Homestead windows the forest looked much as it does in the summer, except in white - instead of the distinct lines of the trees, there were generalized shapes, as if the trees were sprouting masses of white buds.

It was a beautiful day for the final day of the Farm Stay. The students scurried about, packing bags and fretting over lost items. The adults did little reminders. Rugs were vacuumed. Crafts were finished. And, of course, we had the last of three Science lessons with Doug. I overheard Doug explaining the differences between various tracks they might see in the snow, among other things. After all the commotion was finished, we had our closing ceremony, and then we sent the students off the have a mini-Holiday Fair at LCS.

In the midst of everything, we had a visit from four E2 students, who helped us make trail signs and did an observation at the Bird Blind. Thanks to them for their hard work!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow Day

Written by Miss Clairissa Victorious (Richie Rich, Claire-bear, Layer-cake, Claire.) with help from Rayban May-Z (Rayyy-Vannnn.)

So once upon a time on December 13, 2010, the urban campus had a snow day. So then all us farmer folk, were like “It sho’ is cold out der, and we should get a snow day too.”
So a snow day (or a half snow day) it was.

During the snow day we did plenty o’ things. We play’d out in the snow, we did some math-uh-mah-tics, a brief spelling class (I fell asleep – which is owkay cause I’mer gewd speler) and half of us made lunch.  W’also made mittens outta shrunkin’ wool sweaters, and some of us sewed ‘em up real nice. We even included a nice picture of Old Farmer Andy sewing up his very own mittens. Then, we…um….I know this……Well, we had dinner. Then….um… well then we cleaned up dinner. OH, and also this was the second to last day of G.G’s, so lotsa people were getting all sorts of nice gifts. I for one, got a snow globe, we for two (Clairissa) got herself some beads. Well, now it’s time for us to go  and look at a meteor shower…METEOR SHOWER TONIGHT! Thanks for read’n this blog.

Lots o’ Love,
Miss Clairissa Victourious &
Rayban May-Z

Andy sewing his mittens

Monday, December 13, 2010

Group Photo

Craft Products for Sale On Wednesday

Land School Popcorn, Syrup and Squash

Sam and Claire's Sewn Bags and All-Natural Dog Treats

Helen's Homemade Pillows

Nuria and Raven's Beeswax Candles

A.J. and Kumar's Birdhouse Gourds

Adhina and Eleanor's Soap

Anna and Yonci's Sled Ornaments and Holiday Cards

Bowling/Holiday Fair (not!)

By A.J.

Sunday was going to be our postponed Holiday Fair because we could not have it on Saturday, but it turned out that we could not have the Holiday Fair today because none of the roads around here and in the city were plowed out, so no one would be able to come. After we were all up and we heard the bad news about the Holiday Fair, we all sat around sulked and played cards for about 3 hours with some breakfast mixed in, along with the food that we were never going to sell. We all started to get some energy from all of the sugar we ate and we were able to go out and shovel and right at the end of our time shoveling we had a car pull up and to all of our delight it was the only two customers that came for the whole Holiday Fair. They bought some of our products and had some food but it seemed like as soon as they got here, they were gone, and that was all of the action that we got out of our Holiday Fair. We then ate a lunch of food that we had made for the Holiday Fair and what ever else we felt like eating. After not making any money up to that point, we were able to go and buy things from the other people on our Farm Stay so we all ended up making some money. The rest of the afternoon we played outside or just sat around and played more cards. At four o’clock we got to have some fun and go out and bowl, which we did for about two hours, and then went to the Dollar Tree and loaded up on gifts for our gift exchange and just to buy candy. On the way home from the store, we were all tired and when we got home we had our closing and all just went to bed.

Farm Stay 2 Holiday Fair - New Date, Time and Place

How about that snowstorm?!? We initially postponed the Land School Holiday Fair from Saturday until Sunday. Then, when most of our vendors and customers were still snowed in on Sunday morning, we made the decision to cancel the Holiday Fair on Sunday. However, our Farm Stay 2 students have been working very hard on making their products and they have made some high quality goods. So as a community we decided that we would bring the students and their goods in to the Urban Campus and have a little Holiday Fair in the LCS Cafeteria on Wednesday from 4 to 5:30 pm. There will be handmade pillows, fabric bags, dog treats, birdhouses, candles, soap, ornaments, holiday cards, and people treats.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Craft Fair Information

Early this morning it  was decided that the craft fair would be canceled. We all thought about it and came to a conclusion that as much as we wanted to see our family and friends it would be a lot safer to have it another time. Even though it has stopped snowing, the snow is very deep. The roads up here have already been plowed and we have decided that if people still want  to come out and purchase items they may do so but not after 4:00. We are all very disappointed about the craft fair being canceled and for all different reasons; we wanted to see our families and friends and we have worked hard for 2 weeks for something that is now canceled.

We didn't want there to not be a craft fair at all. We are going to try to have a craft fair at school either on Wednesday or Thursday the week we get back. We do not have all of the details figured out but we will post information as soon as we have details about the craft fair.

By: Nuria

Holiday Fair Canceled


This morning after long deliberation we decided to cancel the Holiday Fair. This is a mega-blizzard, and between the winds and the quantity of snow it is too much to say with certainty that the roads will be in good condition (let alone passable) by the time of the fair today. Plus they are predicting minus 35 wind chill.

We will be flexible and will try to come up with a way for the students to advertise and attempt to sell their wares. 

Apologies to our other vendors.

Check here for more updates as we process through what the next step will be.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Snow Has Finally Stopped Falling

This is the picnic table on the farmhouse deck

More like 15 inches and still snowing!

This is the view out the backdoor of the Homestead. The snow has drifted over halfway up the door. We have some shoveling to do. Understatement.

After 3 hours on the tractor, the driveway is mostly plowed and ready for the craft fair. For the moment.

The students use the word "epic" to describe so many things that it has lost the original meaning. This blizzard defies description, probably the most snow we have had at one time in the ten years I have worked for LCS. Epic? Colossal? I don't know. You get out the thesaurus. 

It is like Little House on the Prairie!

Pippa following in Pearl's track to get a little jaunt outside this morning.

Maybe we should bring in the folding chairs?

She loves the snow!

This morning when Jen went to let the dogs out, the front door resisted. It took her a second to figure out that the snow had piled up so high that it was blocking the door. She told me excitedly about her beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder, and how Jen had never quite believed that overnight snow could accumulate enough to block their door and force them to crawl out the upstairs window and shovel pathways through the snow that looked like tunnels. Well, we are not quite there yet, but it is easy to see how if this amount of snow got to blowing around, we could have some serious drifts that could block the way. We probably have about 10 new inches of snow out there, but we haven’t yet done a meticulous study. And there is more coming down! There certainly is enough snow to make the students’ newfound skill in snowshoeing come in handy.

Of course, the myth was busted by the New Haven Township plow barreling through and carving a single lane up 30th St. Because of all the dairy farms in this area, there is a robust tradition of plowing promptly. We are often quite pleased that our road has been plowed long before that of our families in the Twin Cities. My next move is to go push some snow around to try and stay ahead of it. I think the piles will maybe make good quinsies tomorrow, and be beautiful for the Holiday Fair.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Fair Changed to Sunday

Take a Snow Day. Then come out to the Land School on Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM for the Holiday Fair.

Micro Economy

by Anna

For five days now we have been working very hard on projects that we will sell at the craft fair on Sunday. Today is our last day to work on them so we are finishing up. We got to choose our own projects according to our interests and have been working in groups of two or three to complete beautiful handmade projects.

I am making sled ornaments and holiday cards with Yonci; for food we are making meatloaf and pumpkin bars. The first day everyone chose what they would do and got down to work with shopping lists and experiments. Some of us had some ideas that did not work that great but eventually we got it all good.  Then we had to start work. Every time we made one of our products we learned some easier way to do it or some way to make it look better.

Today we found out at lunch that the craft fair is postponed. We had mixed feelings about that. I was really looking forward to the craft fair and really looking forward to seeing our friends and families, but on the good side we now have much more time to finish crafts and make food and be more prepared.

The minute we found out many of us had a relief of stress because we now have an extra day to do our things. The large snow storm (the postponer of the craft fair) will be very very fun to play in tomorrow. I think we are going to go sledding in the deep deep snow which will be very fun; I am really looking forward to seeing my friends and family but bad things have good sides too (in this case the extra day.)

I am very excited to do the craft fair and I hope you can come and see us!!!!

Holiday Fair Changed to Sunday!!!!

As many people may know, there is a large snow storm heading through Minneapolis and to Wisconsin. There is a predicted twelve inches of snow and because of the concern of safety and low attendance, we have decided to move the Holiday Fair to Sunday, December 12. The fair will still be from eleven to three in the afternoon. Emails have been sent and calls are being made.

Have a nice weekend and stay safe!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hats and Candles and Dog Treats- OH MY!

By Sam
It begins like all others with yawns and spills of milk over breakfast cereal, we have NO idea what is to come of this day. In the beginning of the day after math we split up into two occupation groups: Andy (‘s) (trails, and other signage) and Donna (’s) (fiber arts). Donna’s group went into the basement on possibly the worst sewing day in the world for most of us! The plan was to make hats for the kitchen, but it soon became “trying to undo the string you just sewed into the hat wrong.” In the end though, it all worked out with five new hats and some “not so” angry teenagers. After the occupations and lunch we had a microeconomy work period. When it first started we worked out who was working when and where for the craft fair while simultaneously cracking of kernels of corn for land school popcorn. After that, Raven and Nutria went into the kitchen for what was soon to come a series of burns and drip candles, while Claire and I (Sam) started up on our first of many batches of dog treats. By the end of the day though every group had nice new crafts ready for the fair with more soon to come!
Homework “trucks” on now with the sound of pencils on paper with the occasional sneezes or cough. The day of so many things is coming to an end the thought of tomorrow creeps in.


By Eleanor

The day began for me at about eight in the morning. The night before after a long session of stargazing, I had forgotten to set an alarm for my roommate, Anna, (who also was not on farm chores in the morning) and myself. Fifteen minutes later I was in the dining hall eating a quick breakfast of a chunk of bread from the previous nights dinner, before cleaning the dishes and high-tailing it to Science with Doug.

The first thing we did in Science was discuss what we saw the night before when we were stargazing. It had been a cold December night but we saw several shooting stars, the Great Square of Pegasus, Cassiopeia, and many, many more constellations. Everyone had numerous questions about the night sky and the universe that were all answered to our likings. We then moved on to talking about Project Feeder Watch, the bird blind and the area in which the bird blind is, and the birds we were likely to see at the feeders during the winter. All the eighth graders (including myself) were immediately saying the names of the birds that popped up on the slides like a test to see how many of the seventeen or so we could identify. It was both a fun and educational experience for our group.

We then moved outside and walked to the bird blind where we saw eight chickadees, two downy woodpeckers, fifty-five goldfinches, three white-breasted nuthatches, two blue jays, two red bellied woodpeckers, and one hairy woodpecker. I had never seen a hairy woodpecker before except for in pictures so it was fun to see it and all the goldfinches that were feeding both the ground and on several of the feeders. Doug had hoped we would see about eight different species of birds, but the seven we saw were beautiful and it was a pretty good day for the bird blind.

As soon as we returned to the homestead, we put on our snowshoes. We were efficient but effective and got out of the door in good time and had a nice twenty minute snowshoe hike down to Strawberry Hill via the Sunlit Maple trail and up the Winding Ridge trail which was quite hilly and difficult to navigate on the extra long feet, but Doug told us we handled it magnificently and was excited that we all very much enjoyed our little hike.

By the end of our morning, everyone was a little tired and definitely hungry. It was time for lunch so we ate, and ate, and ate before splitting up into our mentor groups. In Donna’s mentor group, we went down to the end of the road by the Farmstead and traveled down the Solar System Trail. For every eight inches we took, it was one million miles in space. We talked about every single planet (including Pluto) and the asteroid belt. The facts that were told were common yet extremely interesting and I knew that everyone in the group wanted to learn more about the planets and their moons by the end of the hike when we walked down the driveway to the homestead.

We then transitioned into a Council Meeting, which was described as a more formal community meeting. We all sat in chairs in a circle in the dining hall and discussed about the farm animals, facilities, upcoming events, and things that were major and that either needed improvement, things that were soon to change, and announcements about the rest of the day and about how the craft fair was going to work. The meeting lasted about an hour and I thought that the leader, Helen, did a great job keeping everyone on task and keeping the meeting going in a short amount of time.

For the last two hours of our school day, we had a chance to get more work done on our Micro Economy projects. There are five groups out of our eleven students and we are making an assortment of items and foods. My partner, Adhina, and I are making soap of all shapes and smells, and we decided to add into our mix some ornaments made out of egg shells. I personally thing that the de-gooing of the egg is gross but necessary for our project. In saying that, I much more like making the soap and waiting the long forty-five minutes until it is solid and we can ooh and ah all we want at it.

The time came too soon for us to do our daily chores (which lasted shorter than they usually do), and then the beloved free time in which you can sleep, read, call home, or simply hang out with the rest of your Farm Stay group. It also happened to be dinner-on-your-own night, so I made macaroni and cheese with Adhina which was quite tasty and not a hassle to clean up. I later called a few of my friends via the student phone; then came time for homework. We are forty-five minutes into our homework time and behind me are the Morris dancers with their violin and banging of the sticks. I love watching them practice but it is a little scary to be typing on the computer and having them only a few feet behind me with four foot long sticks.

Now I must bid thee ado and finish my other homework and let the Morris dancers beat their sticks and play their violins. Have a nice day and stay tuned for more blogs in the next few days!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farmstay 2 - Day 7

By Nuria

            Today the day began like all of the others, except that instead of 4 people going to do farm chores there were 8 because we switched who was going to do farm chores. Then it was make-your-own breakfast. Then came math- where most of us were doing practice sheets. After, we split up into 2 groups; Donna’s group went to the red barn and carried 100 bales of straw into the barn. Andy’s group mapped out where they would put new signs to put on the trails, and then went on a few of the trails. After Donna’s group was done with carrying the straw they came back and made a delicious Risotto for lunch. Right after lunch we began to work on our Microeconomy Crafts. Each group worked hard and deserved a break, we went over to the pond and played broomball, most people enjoyed it while others would rather have been playing soccer. Many people fell down on the ice and brooms were scattered on the ice. It was really fun but also tiring. We came back and did our daily chores and then cook crew began to prepare a meal of: chicken, vegetables, and bread. We then enjoyed a cake made by Helen and began study hall. We had our evening meeting and went off to our dorms for bed. Overall it was a wonderful day full of laughter and fun.

Day 6 of Farmstay 2

Making Candles

Making Soap

Making Ornaments

by Helen

We started today like any other, with a simple breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, bacon and cereal. After breakfast we ventured into the classroom and began a quiet math period. Later we split up into occupations groups, the fiber arts group learned how to make hats, and Andy’s group carried 109 bails of hay into the barn. Lunch, we ate lentil soup and home made bread. After lunch clean up we began to work on our separate crafts for the awesome craft fair coming up. Each of us is making something totally unique and special. Before daily chores we all enjoyed a game of soccer and football. We ended the day by watching to interesting movie, Pirates of Penzance, some of us enjoyed it but other were not so interested. Overall we had a cold, snowy wonderful, exciting day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Typical Sunday

By Raven

We started out our wonderful Sunday with farm chores at 8:45 (it was pushed back because it’s a weekend) and a brunch made by A.J, Nùria, Yonci and Sam. For brunch we had pancakes, bacon, sausage, vegetarian bacon, and pannakouken also known as Dutch Babies. Everything tasted absolutely wonderful, especially after a harsh taste of the cold whether! Following brunch and the clean up time, we played ping-pong and other games in the basement, and then the whole group went sledding! Everyone gathered sleds from the shed, and headed out to Strawberry Hill. Aside from the long trek up the hill, sledding was highly enjoyable and frankly quite entertaining! Although some people’s sleds had a mind of their own, and plowed straight into thorn bushes, some people had very successful runs, complete with epic high-speed jumps! Also while we were at the hill, we had a visit from Jen, Pippa, Pearl, and Suzie, who distracted us for about fifteen minutes with playing! After Jen and the dogs left, most of us felt tuckered out and decided to head home (not Katy, Yonci or Nùria, they stayed for another half hour!) When we returned, everyone was excited to have ice cream treats and hot cocoa, and to play card games like spoons! After a very long and suspenseful game of spoons that Nùria won, people sort of went their own ways until dinner when we had Spaghetti, bread and carrots. Now it’s time for homework, winding down for the upcoming school week is en route!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Susie the wonder dog

Susie in our bathroom (Photo credit: Jen Bush)

Many of you know the story of our puppy, Pippa. Short version: Jen was driving home one night from her class in New Richmond and she saw a small dog walking along the highway. She stopped and found that the dog was friendly and so she took the dog in her car to the nearest farm to return the dog to safety. Jen discovered that the dog, Susie, a 2 year-old Corgi, had recently birthed a litter of 7 puppies, and was probably taking herself for a little walk to get a break. The family was obviously overwhelmed. This was Susie’s second litter of puppies, having mated with the family’s male black lab both times. Jen was offered her pick of the litter for returning the mama. At the time we were not looking for a puppy, instead we had been thinking about adopting a rescued adult dog. But since the pups were newborn, we had some time to think about it. After a while we realized that they were going to have a hard time re-homing that many puppies; and we accepted that one of these puppies could be the rescue dog we had been looking for. So when the family had weaned the pups, Jen and I visited and brought home the female runt, who became our Pip.

A couple weeks ago I was driving home from delivering the Holiday Baskets, when I saw Susie out on the highway again. I stopped and brought her back home. In my conversation with the teenage son, I learned that they still had one pup left. That week chance encounters helped us find a home for Pip’s sib, a stout little male pup, who was christened Kip. Then last week, Jen got a phone call. It turns out that they decided that they could not keep Susie, and they thought of sending her to us. Jen went right away, having bonded with Susie when she first interacted with her. When Jen got there, the situation was clear. Going into the cold part of winter Susie was outside, because the lab was inside, and they did not want anymore puppies. And she was going into heat. She needed a warm place away from male dogs, and ultimately a place where she could be spayed and live inside with a family.

We are not that place, although it has been fun having a little pack of dogs with us now when we go for walks. Susie is sweet, quiet, and loving. She is active and playful, but also has the mellow nature of an adult dog (contrasted to our puppy Pippin!). She knows how to walk on a leash and is potty trained. She is essentially a perfect dog in need of a home. Let us know if you are interested in adopting her.

We are hoping that now that the source of the puppies is in our possession that there will be no more pleas from us to consider adopting a puppy. We are not intentionally running a rescue. Really.

Trees and Wreaths, oh my!

Wow. What a couple of days!

In a normal year, we would go to the Conklin Tree Farm on the Friday or Thursday before the Saturday of the tree sale and load the trees onto the trailer and then drive them in on Saturday morning. We've come to rely on the preparation done by the Conklins - the trees would all be stacked up, baled and ready for us to load. It would take about an hour to load and then we'd be back home eating a hot lunch and proud of ourselves for loading the trees.

This year we got a call last Monday from Roger Conklin telling us that he was short of help and would not have all of our trees by Friday. Well, that gave us an idea. What he needed was labor, and what we had was eleven Farm Stay 2 students arriving on Wednesday. So Donna and I proposed to Roger that we bring our crew over on Thursday afternoon and help bring in the trees, and then come back on Friday to load the trees. Roger accepted this as a solution and we came over on a beautiful Thursday afternoon. It was a big job, but by the end of the afternoon, we were only half done. By the end of the day we had a new appreciation for how much work goes into harvesting and baling the trees.

So we went back with half of the crew on Friday morning and helped bring in the rest of the trees. There were almost 40 Balsams left to drag out of the woods and five more Frasers. The day started well. The Balsam is lighter than the Fraser, and we all appreciated the relief. We quickly had the trees lined up along the field road. Roger got the baler ready and we started baling the trees. But then the baler ran out of twine. Roger phoned back to the wreath shop for more twine and then we waited. And waited. And waited. Our crew took advantage and played some more thicket. I got impatient and hungry. It was lunch time. Finally, the twine came and we were back in beeswax. We made short work of the baling and then loaded the trees onto the trailer. Then we had the last five Fraser firs to load - the five biggest! Easily those are 50 to 60 pound trees and took three people to load on the top of the trailer. Then we drove up and loaded the wreaths and garlands and checked the tire pressure on the loaded trailer. By the time we were driving home to the Land School it was almost 2 pm. We were hungry and tired, but triumphant - and we had a hot meal waiting for us. Homemade french fries, fresh bread, Land School squash soup. We made a decision to have me go into Lake Country on Friday afternoon to try to beat the worst of the snowstorm. We didn't quite miss the snowstorm. In fact by 6 pm Friday, the snow was coming down pretty fast. But we made it and then watched the snow pile up overnight.

Saturday morning was bright and beautiful. LCS alum Katie, alum Kilian, and his friend Oscar all came over to help unload the trailer and set up the stand. LCS students Ruby, Serena, Lucia, and Dorothy helped measure and label trees and put bows on wreaths. By mid-morning the customers were coming pretty steady. With a fresh coat of snow, the city looked ready for winter holidays, and people were in a great mood. The trees were fresher than ever and wreaths were beautiful, as usual. Just at the right time, LCS parent Kerri Westenberg arrived to help welcome people and check them off as they took their trees and wreaths.

By the end of the day, we had an empty trailer and tired bodies. Thanks so much to everyone who worked, who purchased, and who brought all of their great energy to this important Land School event.

Tree coming through the baler.

Tree ready to bale.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Farmstay #2—Day 2 Blog

by Yonci

On Wednesday, December 1st, the 2nd Farmstay of the year arrived at the Land School, ready for challenge, adventure and learning. It’s the second day, and we’re almost accustomed to the busy schedule of Land School Life. Our vigorous day started bright and early with getting oriented on Farm Chores. We learned how to feed the chickens, llamas and sheep. It was our dear friend Kumar’s fourteenth birthday, so we started with a special breakfast of French toast, made by Helen, then followed by an hour of math. Then, we did Scenarios, an entertaining way to act out an emergency and what to do, followed by Occupations. Occupations are the Land School jobs that are done by Andy and Donna. Andy was working on some directive signs that were to go on the trails, and Donna was working on creating new chef hats and napkins out of different fabrics. The rest of the Farmstay chose which one they wanted to do, and basically helped in accomplishing those jobs. After an hour of trekking and sewing, we sat down to delicious chili and cornbread, the chili made by exquisite master chef Andy, using garden tomatoes and onions. 

Following lunch, we started our main event of the day. Andy will soon be selling holiday trees at the LCS campus. So, members of Farmstay 2 helped to retrieve some of the trees needed. We started at 1:30 pm, learning how wreaths were made. Then, we moved on to the dirty work, the hauling of trees to a spot in the road, where Donna would count and mark them. Some farmstayers hauled smaller trees by themselves, one even hauled it on her head.  This hard work lasted about and hour, and as the trees were being scanned for small bits of grass and leaves, Donna yells “THICKET!” As the farmstayers ran and jumped into the trees and bushes, they began the game of Thicket. Thicket can occur anywhere, anytime. I’d use up half the page if I explained what Thicket is, but I can say that it was great fun. After about an hour and a half of that, we started to bind the trees so they could all fit when we pick them up to be sold. We ended our holiday tree experience with packing up a few more trees and hanging out in smaller groups. We came back to the Homestead, anticipating delicious tacos, made by the farmstayers. It was a great way to end the day. 

Hauling the trees.

Baling the trees.

The baled trees waiting to be loaded.

Photo Credits: Kumar

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome Farm Stay 2!

Today marks the beginning of Farm Stay 2. Eleven Junior High students arrived at just before noon today to begin a 15 day experience on the farm. As they got off the bus, the sense of anticipation was bouncing off of them like a hundred tennis balls. There are 6 students who are brand new to the Farm Stay, and as they piled into the Homestead building one could see that there was a little trepidation mixed in with the glee.

Right away we divided into mentor groups and went on a hike. There was a gentle snow falling and everyone got to put on the full array of snow gear for the first time. My group witnessed something I had not seen before. Right in the middle of the trail there was a little fuzzy caterpillar on top of the snow. There was fresh snow, so obviously this caterpillar must have gotten there somehow today. We picked it up and it was alive and moving slowly. Hmmm. We tried to set it down in a place off the trail sheltered from the wind. Later we scared a big owl, which flew away ahead of us.

After the hike, the students had Science with Doug and got to try on the snowshoes, visit the bird blind, and learn how to monitor the weather and phenology. Later, they got to pick their daily chore job, and we had a great dinner of roast chicken and land school broccoli, squash, and potatoes. Tonight we’ll go over the rules and schedule and do some more unpacking before lights out.

Tomorrow we go over to Conklin's Tree Farm to help harvest the holiday trees.