Monday, April 30, 2012

Jorge's Blog

            Today was sort of a long day. My morning today was filled with log moving, the beginning was a bit of a drag considering it was a Monday morning. I am enjoying the farmstay because it is a great time to pull out books that I would not read otherwise. This evening was so amazing, because Franklin’s dad visited us, while he was flying a plane over the Homestead. Unfortunately he could not land to greet us, but still, it was pretty cool for him to visit.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

John's Blog

On the 29th we had our Planting Fest. I was in charge of Landscaping; I weeded and planted around the Homestead. Soon our families came.  I thought it was a great idea to have them come and help work on the land. For my micro economy project I made Gourd Bird houses and walking sticks.  The Planting Fest was a chance for us to sell them to the visitors. What I really enjoyed the most was seeing my family and helping around the Land School. I can’t wait to do it next year.


More Planting Festival Photos

Larry and Waffle

Onion planting

Yay Land School potlucks!

Some of the crew (and company)

Planting Festival Photos

Pre-Planting Festival pep talk.


Beautiful products.


Planting in the prairie!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shyamoli's Blog

            Saturday was a busy day for us all because it was the day before the Planting Festival. We all had to finish our micro -economy projects in time, so we used most of our free time doing that. In the morning, we got up, did farm chores and ate breakfast. Then we split up into our three teams; Farmstead, Prairie and Homestead. Andy gave each group an hour of his time in order to help us set up and orient us about the next day. The rest of the two hours were micro economy or free time. After lunch, which was do-it-yourself, most people continued to work on their projects. Others continued with their projects. It was hard, focused work, and you could see people really concentrating and working hard. In the end, everything was finished in time, looked good, and we were proud of our accomplishments. Over all it was a good, productive day, at the end of which we were all tired, but in a good way. We all really enjoyed working on our projects, and are looking forward to the Planting Festival!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Ewan's Blog

It’s day 12 of Farmstay 4. We’ve gone a full day without contact with civilization and two left till the Planting Festival. Anticipation is in the air as everyone is excited to see family and friends. Everything seems so rushed as people try to finish their Micro-Economy projects before Sunday.
            Today was like an average day on the Farmstay, we spent the morning working in our occupation groups. My occupation group (Andy’s) has been working furiously all week potting and labeling plants for the plant sale.
            We spent this afternoon working on our Micro-Economy projects. The products that everyone is making are finally looking almost finished. The products range from baked goods to candles to birdhouses.
            Today we also had Gallery Night, which is like a random talent show that has skits and stories mixed in. There also is Andy’s hat that is filled with a random thing you can do such as acting out something or telling a story. Gallery Night is just overall really fun.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Half Way There

            We are getting close to the day we have all been looking forward to, the Planting Festival!  Everyone is working as hard as they possibly can to finish their projects for the sale during the Festival.  Each person is working to make something, some are making shirts, bleached and tie-dyed, some are making walking sticks, others yummy baked goods such as brownies, cookies and cake.  People are also making birdhouses and bracelets.  Everyone is letting their creative side out and trying their best.  On Sunday, three days from now, we will be running activities that involve planting.
            Yesterday we went to the French competition, and we were awarded with a blue ribbon, the highest award!  We all came together on the farm stay and put our minds to it.  I do think, that if Jen hadn’t helped us, we would have never have been as good as we were.
            Now that it is the middle of the farm stay, we have all been getting more comfortable and we are getting to know each other a lot better.  We have all become very close friends, when we all began this farm stay, we barley knew each other, now we are like one big “family”. 
            Today we went and flew kites and found a huge box of kites and probably flew every one of them.  Some of us had never flown kites before, and it was fun even if it was difficult to keep it in the air.  We even had a kite flying on “auto pilot” according to Nat. 
            Each night, to end our day, we get to watch the beautiful sunset that is followed by a sky of clouds, a sight you just can’t get in the city.  It truly is a different experience here, another way of living.  We are all becoming closer to nature and learning that you can’t just get something at the store; you have to work for it.  This is a once in a lifetime experience, and none of us are going to waste it.   


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Return from French Competition

Danse Competition


            Today was a big day.  It was the day of the French competition which we had been practicing the song “Danse” by Gregoire since the beginning of the Farm Stay.  We woke up at 7:00 and Donna’s group left for farm chores while Andy’s group set up breakfast for everyone else.  We had all previously made tie dye t-shirts to wear for the competition, so everyone had them on ready to go.  There was a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air this morning especially on the drive up to the cities. 

            When we finally arrived after what felt like a really long time in the car, everyone was amazed at the amount of people there were, and at the sheer size of the place.  Of course everyone greeted our fellow students from the Urban Campus with big bear hugs, and then rushed to the Jamba Juice.  After the initial excitement, we settled down and began to spread out a bit.  Some went to watch the small group performances; others simply went down to the food court.

            Finally, it was time for the large group performances.  The first group was group C from the urban campus and they did a song called “Le Ragga Des Pingouins” by Pigloo.  They did very well and it was fun to watch their danse.  The next group was group B and they performed a song called “La Seine” by Vanessa Paradis.  They had some really amazing choreography.  Then it was group A, who performed a song called “Le roi du monde” which was from a play.  They had some really cool choreography as well.  Finally it was our turn.  We were all a little nervous but overall it went well.  We had a few slip ups, but we ended up getting a blue medal!  We were all very proud and relieved (and maybe a bit sad) that it was over.  Overall, it was a great day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Land School in the News

Corn Tortillas!

by Andy
Have you ever taken something that was simple and inexpensive to buy and then invested many hours and a little money in order to do it yourself? Sometimes the payoff is not just the thing itself, but more a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Every Tuesday night we make tacos. It usually is a pretty simple meal to prep. Heat the beef, rice and beans. Make some guacamole. Shred cheese and lettuce. And dump out a couple jars of salsa into a bowl. And we are ready! We also heat up some store-bought tortillas. Usually we use some flour tortillas and some corn tortillas and the students make little burritos. The students love Taco Tuesday. So do I.

So why did we go and mess with a good thing?

Too much popcorn. That's why. Every year as a project with Class H we plant a few rows of popcorn. We plant in the Spring and then in the fall the class comes out to harvest and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Only for the past couple years we have had excess popcorn. We have popped a lot, sold a lot, and gave bunches away to students and staff, but we still had a few bushels left this Spring.

And then one day on a chance visit, our friend Kurt handed me a homemade corn tortilla that he made himself from cob corn. It was incredible! It brought back memories of trekking in the mountains of Central America and eating stone-ground corn tortillas - fresh from the farm. I was really hooked when Kurt said that his friends had done taste tests and discovered popcorn yields the best tasting tortillas. Light bulbs went off in my brain.

After grilling Kurt and then checking in with Digna at Lake County School, I had my shopping list. We needed pickling lime, known as "cal" in Spanish. We needed a hand-crank mill - either Corona or Estrella. And then we needed a hand-operated tortilla press. As luck would have it, all three products were found inexpensively at the Mexican grocery store on Bloomington and Lake. We were in business!

First we shucked the popcorn off about 10 cobs. Then we winnowed it outside. Then we brought the corn to a boil with a couple tablespoons of lime. We simmered it for ten minutes and then soaked it overnight in a ceramic bowl. In the morning we rinsed the kernels to remove the lime and then we were ready to grind the corn (the process of soaking in lime is known as "nixtatamalization," and it softens the corn and makes vital nutrients available). We had to set the mill just right, but soon we had excellent wet corn meal spinning out. The "masa" (corn dough) was now ready to form into balls and then press into flat tortillas. We used a plastic bag to protect the tortilla press from getting sticky with dough.

The tortillas cooked easily on the commercial griddle we have at the Homestead. But they were liable to fall apart. We deduced that although the popcorn makes tasty tortillas, there probably is too much germ and not enough starch - or something. So then we tried the popcorn "masa" half and half mixed with instant tortilla mix (found locally under the name "MASECA"). This was perfect! We had tortillas that stayed together, but still had the nutty whole-grain goodness of the Land School popcorn. And they were very good, in the same way that homemade bread is better than store-bought bread. This year we are growing a few new varieties of corn to try in tortillas.

Oh, and by the way, home-ground corn meal makes the very best corn bread too.

Fire Carpet

On Tuesday the workers from ‘Habitat Creations’ came to do the prairie burn. What this means is that they are setting our prairie land on fire this is about ten acres of the land school’s land. We do this burn for the prairie here every three years. The reason we do this is because there are invasive non-native plants. These invasive plants have much smaller roots while our native plants have much stronger and bigger roots. This allows us to burn off the non-native plants without fully killing the native plants because our roots here are deeper into the soil.
        As the prairie burn workers entered our driveway of the homestead all of our excitement went ten levels up. They drove out onto the prairie with their mini van and golf cart. We walked out onto the athletic field and watched them get their tools ready. Some of the workers were holding medal brooms while others were holding unique fire droppers. There also was a man driving a gulf cart that controlled the fire with water.
Once their equipment was ready they began. The first drop of fire onto the prairie pumped up our excitement super high. Even though it was a tiny plop of fire, it was so exciting because usually when you think of a fire on a prairie you think of it as being on accident, but this fire was on purpose and it felt different. It was a feeling of being naughty because we are burning down this still beautiful landscape.
As the burn continued on the prairie it started to look like a big carpet of fire. There were lines of fire everywhere and it was beautiful. Fire here, fire there, fire everywhere. Orange and yellow flying everywhere making brown smoke float miles above the clouds. It was a fire wonderland, as I would call it, the Fire Carpet.


Prairie Burn Photos

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tor's Blog

            It’s Monday again.  Everyone’s favorite day of the week.  Back to regular working school days.  The weekend was fun.  We had a lot of free time, mixed in with work for credit, where we get actual money for our work, mealtimes (breakfast, lunch, and dinner or brunch and dinner) which include cook crew, French Competition preparation, and tie-dye.
            Tie-dye was really fun.  We all picked out a t-shirt and folded it/scrunched it in any way, shape, or form.  We then tied it up in rubber bands and let it soak in a solution meant to help the dye sink in.  Twenty minutes later, we took it out and started squirting dye in it.  Some people used every color or tried to mix the colors, and some people stuck to a few, like me.  I only used green, blue, and black, and it turned out very well, I think.  A day later, we unfolded the shirts and washed them out.
            We also, like I said, worked on the French competition song.  Doing dances like that are all incredibly awkward, unless you get a genius idea or don’t get embarrassed, but we are making the most of it.  Also, the song, after hearing it fifty times, is getting annoying, as all songs should, but, overall, the whole weekend was super fun, and I can’t wait for the Planting Festival.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cailyn's Blog

Hey, guess what? We have a new blog for you to read! Ha! I bet you already knew that though, because you’re reading it right now. Today was the seventh day of the Farmstay, and we have already had a ton of fun. We don’t have enough time to tell you everything, because everyone has their own stories, but today I guess it is my story.
Today was a weekend, so we had a lot of free time. We spent the first part of our free time doing work, however I considered it fun work because it was singing and dancing. What we were doing was preparing for the French competition. The French competition is where Lake Country students learn a song written in French and perform it for judges. The song we are singing is called Danse by Gregoire. It might be a good song, but all of the Farmstay four students will tell you it is terrible because we are so bored of it!     
After we were done with French, some of us went outside to play a game called pro-ball. I like to explain pro-ball kind of like the Hunger Games (for those of you who have read the book). We have a circle that is kind of like the cornucopia and two balls which are like the weapons.  How you play is, you try to get one of the balls and throw it at another player, however you can only take two steps when you have the ball. If that player gets hit by the ball they have to sit down, and then they are out. The only ways you can get back in are, you can wait for the person who hit you to get hit, or you can try to tag one of the players running by, and then they are down and you are up. I always liked to try and tag the other players, but then people told me that I was leaping to get people and that my feet had to stay in the same place, so now its boring. J
If someone asked me what my favorite part of the Farmstay has been so far I would probably tell them that it was gallery night. Gallery night is kind of like a spontaneous talent show where you can do really funny things. What I did was I joined a skit with John, Ewan and Bronwyn. If you have ever been to Widji you probably know the skit as “the bean skit”. What happens is someone is making beans, another person comes up and eats the beans (after asking for some) then the person dies and the ambulance comes. It is pretty simple, but the funny part is you do it in different versions, like fast and slow. My favorite version was gangster version. So um yeah … (if you don’t know that’s how all the Junior high kids end their stories, so that’s how I am ending mine today. Bye, I miss you all J)          

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Here we are..

So far, so good. It seems as if we are just at that point where we are all feeling really comfortable around each other. Every day is just a little brighter. It’s not as if we are all strangers anymore, but as if we are all a family. A family that fights, that loves, that laughs, that can’t stand to be around each other at some points but doesn’t know what they would do without the others. We have all learned to accept everyone’s different qualities and interests. Whether it’s the music they like or the food they make. Everyone has such a special quality that seems to go unnoticed almost everywhere else, but not here. We have bonded in as many ways as possible, if it’s playing ping pong or just talking about what we’re thinking about. We can all relate in some way, which I think makes this even a better experience for all of us. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead and I can’t wait for the rest of this journey.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FS4 Photo Hike Buildings

One of our projects this year is to remove the old chicken coop and replace it with a structure that is more structurally sound. The Farm Stay students took photos of the chicken coop and other Land School buildings as part of the photo hike.