Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Snow, Sunny Day Photos

Grape Arbor at the Farmstead

Silver Birch


All the plants had little caps on. 

Sandhill Cranes oevrhead.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

News for the week of November 28th

Holiday Tree and Wreath Sale this Saturday
Every year get get trees and wreaths from Conklin's Tree Farm and bring them to LCS. This year's sale is this Saturday, December 3rd, from 9 am to 2 pm. We have a few trees and wreaths left to sell. Please have your order in the office by Wednesday afternoon so we can get the right number of trees. Thank you!

Holiday Produce Basket Thank You
Thank you to everyone who purchased a Land School Holiday Produce Basket on November 18th and to everyone who helped make them possible. Check the Land School Blog this week for a story about the baskets.

Farm Stay 2 Next Week
Next Monday we welcome the students of Farm Stay 2. Mark your calendars. Farm Stay 2 will be hosting a Craft Fair on Sunday December 18th. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Baskets Story

Farmer Andy was proud and happy. He had just finished unloading the holiday produce baskets and they were all lined up on the ground by the apple tree in front of Lake Country School. There were fifty large wooden baskets, each filled to the brim with delicious Land School produce. Andy looked at the baskets and was thinking about what to do next, when the first customers arrived.

"Can I just take any basket?"

"Yes, they are all the same."

"Wow! This is heavy. I'm going to need some help."

"Do you have any extras?"

"Nope. They are sold out."

The people came and paid and picked up their baskets. One by one, the baskets disappeared. Everyone was happy and some stayed and talked, since the late fall afternoon weather was still relatively warm.

By 4:30 pm it was slowing down and just then Kathy came back. At first Farmer Andy thought maybe she had forgotten something, but that wasn't why she came back.

"Andy, I am so pleased with the basket, I want to write a thank-you note to the Land School staff. I brought my stationary and I just need your help to make sure I thank everyone involved."

"Well Kathy, I hope you brought a lot of stationary, because there is a long list of people who helped make the holiday baskets this year."

"No problem. I brought extra."

"First, you should know that everyone at the Land School helped. Donna, Kate and Anne all worked hard to make the baskets happen this year. But there are also a lot more people who helped. In fact you might need to thank almost everyone in the whole school."

Farmer Andy had an idea. He was busy selling the baskets, but maybe Kathy might have time to go all around Lake Country School and ask people how they helped with the baskets. It will be like solving a puzzle. Then she could write all of her thank you notes. He told Kathy about his mission for her and she agreed to do it.

"I think your first stop should be Children's House." said Andy.

With that, Kathy set off on her adventure. She soon found Aaron cleaning in his classroom.

"Aaron, I am trying to solve the mystery of who helped to make the holiday baskets, so I know who to thank. Can you help me?"

"I don't know. What goodies are in the basket this year?"

"There are winter squash, potatoes, garlic, leeks, broccoli, kale, carrots, popcorn, turnips, beets, a pint of maple syrup, a recipe sheet, and two hunks of cheese."

"Wow. Well, I don't know about everything else, but do I remember last Spring when Andy and Donna came to our classroom and the children planted squash seeds in soil trays. The children also go out to the Land School with their families in the summer to help in the garden. So you could probably write a thank-you note to the Children's House children for their help planting. "

Kathy was pleased. She had success on her very first stop. Next she walked upstairs to Elementary 1. She ran right into April, who was just walking down the hallway with her own holiday basket. What luck!

"Please April, do you have a minute?"

"Of course Kathy, let me set this down. It is very heavy."

"I am trying to solve a mystery. Farmer Andy said that the whole school helped with the holiday baskets. And if I want to write a thank you note, I need to find out the names of everyone who helped. Do you know if any E1 students helped out?"

"Hmmm...." said April, as she looked at some papers on her desk. "Here it is," she said and she pulled out a report and handed it to Kathy to read. It was written by a girl who had gone to the Land School to observe birds last week. But most of the story was all about how fresh and delicious the carrots were that she helped harvest for the holiday baskets.

"I have lots more like that one," said April. "On Wednesdays Mr. Fitch takes small groups of E1 students out to do projects at the Land School. Lately, they have been busy harvesting carrots and other roots for the holiday baskets. Did you know that carrots get sweeter after the first frost?"

Then April handed her one of the carrots from her own basket. "Just try it and see for yourself."

"Why thank you so much April for the carrot and for solving part of the mystery, I guess I should write thank you notes to Mr. Fitch and all the E1 children too."

"They would like that very much."

Kathy felt good as she climbed the stairs to Elementary 2. And she already knew she was going to love the carrots in her basket because the one April gave her was sweet and delicious. She met Mindy on the steps. Mindy looked like she was on her way out for the day.

"Hello Mindy. Are you in a hurry? I just have a couple questions for you."

"No problem Kathy, lets go back up to my classroom."

When they arrived at her classroom, Mindy brought out a bowl of popcorn.

"Would you like some popcorn? We popped some at the end of the day and there was some left over."

Kathy grabbed a handful and said "Is this the same popcorn that is in the Land School holiday baskets?"

Mindy said, "It must be. Class H planted popcorn in the Spring and and then we went out and harvested the popcorn a few weeks ago. The harvest was really fun, and now we have popcorn in the classroom for occasional popcorn parties."

"Well, thank you Mindy, that solves that mystery. Do you know anything about the rest of the holiday basket? I still need to know about the broccoli, kale, leeks, potatoes, garlic, recipe sheets, maple syrup and cheese."

"I don't know about the rest, but Class H planted and weeded the garlic. Every fall we go out and plant over 3500 cloves of garlic and then in the spring Class H goes out and helps pull weeds in the garlic. There were also some of my E2 students who helped with the garlic harvest last summer at the annual Garlic Festival at the end of the week of their E2 Farm Camp."

"Well, Mindy, it sounds like your class deserves two thank you notes."

Mindy smiled as she packed up her books to head home for the day. It was good to see her friend Kathy. As she walked away she said, "don't forget to check in with the other E2 teachers."

Kathy now had a long list of thank you notes to write, but she knew the mystery wasn't all the way solved, so she stopped next at Class G.

"Hello?" said Kathy, to what appeared to be an empty classroom. She was about to walk away when up popped Juli from behind a bookshelf.

"Come on in!" said Juli.

"I was hoping you could help me, I need to know if any students from Class G helped with the holiday baskets. You see, I am trying to write a thank you note to everyone who helped."

"What a great idea." Said Juli. "The children write thank you notes all the time, but I know they would be very happy to receive one too. Hmmm. Let me see here. Class G helped twice with the Thursday market harvests, and also helped to get ready for the Harvest Festival this year. Part of getting ready for the Harvest Festival was to harvest and wash winter squash. That was a big job, but it is so great see all of the clean squash drying in the Land School greenhouse. I bet some of those squash ended up in the baskets."

"It sounds like Class G did a lot of harvesting," said Kathy.

Kathy thanked Juli and moved on to Class F. Erin was at a table looking over some papers.

"Knock, knock" said Kathy with a smile as she entered Class F. Erin was a new friend, and Kathy was glad she was still around today.

"Oh hello Kathy, what brings you here?"

"I am solving a mystery. And I am almost done. Farmer Andy said almost everyone in the whole school helped to make the holiday baskets, and I am writing a thank you note to every person who helped. Do you know if Class F helped?"

Erin laughed a little as she stood up and gave her own shoulder a little rub. She walked over to a corner of the room where a small bag of red potatoes sat on the counter. "My shoulders are still a little sore from the day Class F went out to harvest over a ton of potatoes from our potato patch. I am sure some of those same potatoes are in your holiday basket. There were Yukon Golds and Red Norlands, I know, but also other varieties. Class F also planted all of the potatoes last May - we planted over 400 pounds of seed potatoes."

"I will be sure to send a big thank you to all the planters and harvesters from Class F." said Kathy.

Kathy looked out the window. It was already well past 5 o'clock and she wasn't sure she would find anyone in the Junior High. She hoped she would see someone she knew. She walked down the hallway and there was her very own granddaughter.

"What a surprise!" said Kathy. "I was just thinking about you! I am almost done with my mission. Then maybe we can go for a walk and catch up."

"What is your mission? Can I help?"

"Maybe. I am trying to figure out how the Junior High students helped out with the holiday baskets."

"I don't know, but some of my friends are still down in Extended Day, and maybe they'll know. Let's go down."

So Kathy and her granddaughter walked down and found a group of Junior High students. As it happens, they were already talking about the Land School Farm Stay. Kathy knew all about the Farm Stay, from her granddaughters' stories. Every Junior High student has the opportunity to go out and live at the Land School for 17 days some time during the school year.

"Do you know if any Junior High students helped with the holiday baskets?" said Kathy.

One student said "I know on Farm Stay 1 this year we harvested a lot of carrots, potatoes, broccoli, kale, turnips, beets, and leeks. Some of those probably went into the holiday baskets."

Another student added "On Farm Stay 3 last year we helped tap trees and make the maple syrup. That was hard work, but the syrup is soooo good."

Yet another student jumped into the conversation, "Last year on Farm Stay 4 we had a big planting day, and many parents and families came out to help plant things. I remember planting the leeks with my dad that day. The baby leeks were just like little pieces of thread. You could hardly see them. It is hard to believe how big they are now. We had some in the stone soup the other day when Farm Stay 1 came home."

Finally the fourth student said "I probably helped more than any of you. I was out at the Land School last summer for a Summer Apprenticeship. I was there for a whole week and we did nothing but work in the garden. We planted kale and broccoli transplants, we weeded the whole farm and then we harvested on Thursday. I have never worked so hard in my whole life."

"Thank you all so much" said Kathy. Then she turned to her granddaughter and said "let's go see if Farmer Andy can help with the last two mysteries."

They walked up the stairs and went outside into the dark parking lot. The sun had gone down while Kathy was inside investigating. Farmer Andy was there and there were still a few baskets left. He smiled at the two of them and asked them to come on over.

"Did you solve the mystery of the unaddressed thank you notes?"

"Almost." said Kathy. "We just need to know who to thank for the recipe sheet and the cheese."

Just then a car pulled up and out stepped Beth, a former Lake Country parent. She was here to get her basket.

"Kathy! It is so good to see you! How are you?"

"I am well, thank you" said Kathy. "I just have a little to go in the mystery I am trying to solve."

"Maybe I can help."

"Maybe" said Kathy " I need to know who to thank for the recipe sheet in the holiday basket."

"That's me!" said Beth. "I contributed a few fall recipes from my new cookbook."

"Well, what a nice coincidence! I'm excited to see the rest of your cookbook because those recipes look very tasty. Now I only have to find out about the cheese."

Kathy's granddaughter was listening and she said "Oh grandma. I do know about the cheese! It came from the Bolen Vale Cheese Store. We get all of our dairy products for the Farm Stay from Bolen Vale. They have meat sticks, milk, cheese, butter, and they even rent movies. Donna loves to shop locally and support small businesses, plus they have the best milk ever. I remembered that as soon as I saw the brochure in the baskets."

"Thank you so much!" said Kathy. "Now I have all the information I need to write my thank you notes. I had no idea I was going to have so many people to thank."

Farmer Andy watched as Kathy and her granddaughter walked away. He was happy because the last car had just arrived to pick up the last basket. It was time to go out and celebrate the end of another bountiful season for the Lake Country Land School gardens.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chilly Days

Yesterday Kate and I harvested the last of the leeks for the holiday baskets. It was cold - our first day when the the daytime temperature did not get above freezing. It was actually a good thing the ground was dry, because the leeks just popped right out and most of the dirt crumbled away with a quick shake. Early winter leeks are sweet and perfect for caramelizing and using in soup. But to harvest these leeks is a challenge. We dig them up and then peel the brown leaves back to reveal the white frozen tube of onion-y goodness underneath. To peel these leek-sicles requires manual dexterity and bare hands. As we got halfway to the end of the garden bed, my manual dexterity was going away because my hands were so cold. So Kate and I boxed up the dirty ugly leeks and brought them into the kitchen of the homestead and finished the job inside, with hot tea nearby and tunes on the radio. Why didn't we think of that sooner?

Yesterday was the first day of feeder watch, and Mr. Fitch brought three students out to help take the first set of data from the bird blind. These guys also helped pull in the last of carrots before the deep freeze makes them frozen chunks. Thanks!

Today we awoke to frozen water. Frozen chicken waterers and a frozen llama bucket. I assume the pond is frozen over too. We decided to warm things up for the chickens by putting in the winter windows over the screens and plugging in their winter dishes. Maybe they will start laying some more eggs. The electric fence that has defined the llamas' pasture all summer had to come down today too and the llamas and sheep will be confined to the winter pasture - so it is hay for supper until April.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rural Campus News for November 14th

Land School News

Holiday Produce Baskets This Friday
This Friday from 4 to 6 pm we will be distributing Holiday Produce Baskets. The baskets will have 2 big bags of potatoes, some of the sweetest carrots you'll ever taste, several winter squash, popcorn, garlic, leeks, a pint of maple syrup, some special cheese from our neighbors' dairy store, a recipe sheet, and other goodies from the garden. There is still time to sign-up, but supplies are limited. Click on the following link to get the order form for this and also the holiday trees and wreaths.

Land School in the Winter
After taking the summer off to discourage bear damage, we are now keeping food out at the bird blind again. Plan a day trip to help us in our effort to collect data for the Cornell feeder watch program. We had our first snow last week, and soon outings for skiing, sledding and snowshoeing will be possible, as well as trips to identify trees by their winter twig buds. Remember to check out the Land School blog throughout the winter for news and events.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Phenology Photos

Who knew that chickens love to eat pie pumpkins?

Did you know that chickens can't swallow like we can? Watch them drink water. They take some in their beaks and then lift their heads up to allow the the water to flow down their throats.

Greenhouse renovation in progress.

Maple tree without leaves.

Some animal has been eating hickory nuts on the Winding Ridge Trail bridge.

Invasive Buckthorn is easy to identify this time of year - black fruit and green leaves. 

Bees are all wrapped up for the winter. 

This time of year, Doug feeds the bees a sugar solution to supplement their diet.

Little Bluestem in the prairie restoration area behind the Homestead.

Big Bluestem in the prairie restoration area.

I think this is Prairie Switchgrass

I think this is Indian Grass

Milkweed seed dispersal.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last Day Farm Stay 1 Photos

Eva's Blog

Yesterday was our last full day. The last time we would go to bed here and the last time we would have a normal farmstay day. It was my birthday, and for breakfast we had Swedish pancakes. Since it was a Wednesday, we had science with Doug, and after finishing some geology, we went to the bird blind, which everyone loves. We saw 69 goldfinches, and doves, juncos, purple finches, downy woodpeckers, a red-bellied woodpecker, bluejays, chickadees, nuthatches and a few other birds. Some people were taking pictures of the birds and got one of a bluejay in flight. We spent more time than we were supposed to there, and we were late for lunch because we were having so much fun at the bird blind. 

Last Day Farm Stay 1

            Today is the last day at the Lake Country Land School for Farm Stay 1. It was so surprising waking up today and realizing that our Farm Stay was already over. That we had to pack-up our things and leave. We learned so many things on this particular Farm Stay. We learned the daily animal chores that you would typically do on a farm. We also learned how to harvest certain crops and what time of the year that they are harvested.
            All of the Farm Stay 1 kids are sad that we are leaving, but we can’t wait to get home and get to see our family and friends and being able to tell them all of the things we learned and stories about being able to, “live” out here for eighteen days. This was a great Farm Stay. Everyone was so helpful, kind, creative. We are so sad that it’s over!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Last of the Potatoes

Every season there is a list of things we need to do in order to be ready for the winter in the farm. Whenever we check something off the list, we are one step closer to the big freeze, a time when there isn't much to do except play in the snow, watch birds, do crafts, tell stories and read books. So far we have had beautiful fall weather, and we have had the luxury of doing our winter readiness chores on our schedule and not mother nature's. But that can change in an instant.

The squash and garlic are tucked safely in the walk-in cooler with a space heater to keep them from freezing. Check. We have many quarts of tomato sauce and pickles canned for the winter. Check. Our freezer is bursting with bags of sweet corn, broccoli and kale. Check. The pipes are drained going out to the big field. Check. We have had the last CSA harvest. Check. There is a big pile of split firewood behind the Homestead. Check. There is bird feed out at the bird blind. Check. The sheep and llamas have their hooves trimmed and are ready for the winter. Check. Orchard and blueberries safe from nibblers. Check.

Today the whole Junior High came out and we divided into stewardship groups for the morning work period. The Facilities group put fresh plastic on the greenhouse. The Animal Care group cleaned the coop and wrangled the sheep and llamas for the hoof trimmer/shearer. The Prairie group surveyed the biodiversity of the prairie restoration and planted some new native plants. The Maple Syrup/Supranature group hauled wood to get ready for next spring. The Birds and Bees group worked with Doug to wrap the hives for the winter and did a feeder watch at the Bird Blind. The Trails and Orchard group removed invasive buckthorn from the area around the treehouse. The Garden and Greenhouse group worked with me to harvest the last of the potatoes. We put all of the potatoes in feed bags to store in our neighbors' root cellar. It was over 500 pounds today - so we will be well stocked for the winter. All of these jobs were part of our preparation for the winter; it feels good to work according to the season.

There is much left to do before the ground freezes. Plastic and storm windows on the farmhouse, storm windows and plastic for the chicken coop, pull and store the rest of the carrots and beets, put the sheep and llamas into the winter pasture and put away the electric fence, store the popcorn, send out the holiday tree and basket sign-ups, mulch the rest of the garlic, seed winter rye into the potato and pumpkin patches, prep the tractors for winter, and probably more than a few other things. Each time we do one, we will inch closer to skis, crafts, books and stories. For now we are still finishing up.


Photos from Halloween Bowling