Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday April 29th

Tuesday, April 29th was the much-anticipated day of the Junior High visit. This day was especially grand because our friends and comrades came out to this place of wonder to both see the Farm Stay students and also work on the farm. Some projects that happened were the last plants were transplanted into their plant pots for the Plant Sale; setting up the electric fence so that the llamas Llarry and Precious and the sheep Olive, Lily, Blue and Big Brown could graze and be merry prancing around the meadow behind the Red Barn; and probably some other things that I cannot remember at this time. After that, we went back to the Homestead because it was raining and cold, even though we have struggled through much worse than a little drizzle and the slightest chill. We were going to watch a documentary about frack sands, but we can’t stream movies very well out here, so we decided to run around outside or stay inside and talk for thirty minutes. Cheers!


Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28th

by Ben   

         Today was the day after the Spring Festival. One of the things that we did is we calculated our profit. I thought that it was really interesting to do. Some of us made more than others but we all thought it was an interesting process to go through.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Festival

by Alex
April 27th was the Spring Festival; though the weather was gloomy a lot of people still came out to help with the work. A lot of progress was made on the new Chicken Coop and many plants and vegetables were planted in the Greenhouse. All the students staying at the Land School sold their baked goods and crafts, and though there wasn’t a great turn out everyone sold reasonably well. Work was also done in the Hoop House and in the basement of the Homestead sorting wool. The potluck went very smoothly and everyone brought delicious food for the meal. After lunch was over many people stayed in the Homestead and bought delicious baked goods like brownies but a few went outside to the A-field or went on a hike. I myself was on clean-up so I observed the activities inside; everyone seemed very happy and upbeat even though the weather wasn’t the best.
            After everyone had purchased brownies they decided to start heading home. After everyone had left and the clean up was finished the group went bowling and had pizza. The best bowler was Alex with a high score of 127, next was a tie between Indigo and Walker, a score of 126. In honor of poetry month:

A Country Path in Spring
By Mark R Slaughter
The path of mossy ground nestled
In between maternal hedgerows,
That overgrew atop, dimming down

The brilliance of the day.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Farm Stay 4 Photohike - April 24th

Today we had a choice to go on a photo hike or do some dance with Jen during CE/PE in the afternoon. Since our first photo hike was cancelled because of the snow (which is now melted), I decided to do that instead of dancing. I was really looking forward to the hike since I really love to take pictures. I shared a camera with one of my classmates so these are some of our best pictures!

by Sophia

Sinking in a Storm of Darkness

            When Sara Nelson came up last Thursday we were given a poetry assignment to work on. I have been playing around with it, and I am still revising this poem, but these are the results so far.

Sinking in a Storm of Darkness

The oars on the boat rowed
as if they were swimming.
I stared at the water
as it rippled restlessly.
I watched the reflection
of clouds the on the water.
Slowly, the darkness crept up
like a lion stalking its prey.
The wind blew against my back,
sending a chill down my spine.
The leaves fell slowly down
onto the frosty fall ground.
The thin ice spread on the shore
like muscles stretched taut over bone.
The wind grew stronger, the oars
The water became a storm in itself,
rocking the boat,
back and forth.
A flash of lightning, followed by a low grumble
threw the boat,
causing it to slam down
on the concrete-like water.
The boat was slowly filling,
slowly sinking with the weight
of the dark, heavy water.

Then, it all stopped.

All I could see was blue, red,
then black.
The water surrounding me,
forcing itself into my mouth,
throat, then lungs.
Grabbing at my body
invading my mind.

Now all was black.
Nothing was the same,
now that it was dark.
I was being pulled away,
not from the water,
from myself.
The pain was unbearable,
slowly getting stronger.
My eyes were closing.
As they did, I thought
“If I should wake before I die,

kill me.”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday April 25th

Today was pajama day so many of us spent the day comfortably doing community work and Micro-Eco. We had Gallery Night in the tree house, which was fun. Some of us told stories or jokes, and then there was a game of charades between the Occupation groups. When we got back to the Homestead we played a few rounds of miniature tanks where people get on there hands and knees and crawl to the center of the gathering room rug where they run into other people and dog pile. We finished the night with a very energetic game of tiger.

by Remi

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem in Your Pocket Day

24th April

A Farm Stay bed

Staying on the bottom bunk,
Staring sleeplessly at the frame all night,
The wood dark and detailed,
Fine as a small lizards tail,
Peering out the small window,
Watching the bloated bleached moon.
- Rachel

            On the 24th of April it was poem in your pocket day. Poem in your pocket day is a day where you discover a poem you like, you read it to as many people as you can and have them sign a sheet where thy have to write there name the location and a comment on the poem. People had a good time and got to check in with Sara and learn a lot of poems. - Max

Uncaring fate

Slender beams of moonlight,
Light this darkened prison,
As I kneel,
Always a slave,
Always isolated,
Frozen here,

Tortured shadows crafted,
In panes of glass,
As dust floats in the air,
Forming an image in my mind,
Penetrating my darkened skin.

Tears on my face.

I raise my head,
Now crying out for this uncaring fate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

French Competition

Today the Junior High participated in a French competition. Every year we choose songs plays and poems to perform for judges at the U of M. Farm Stay 4 always does a song and this year it was Papoutai, we had been preparing it for the last month and yet still last Tuesday the 15th we were almost nowhere with the choreography. Through lots of help from Jen and almost six hours of working on the song, we finally had it down perfectly or at least as well as we could get it.
 This morning at 9 o'clock am we drove back to the Cities for the competition. After getting together with our friends, watching their performances and having some Starbucks it was finally our turn. We were nervous and hoped we were well enough prepared. As we stood there on the stage I felt the anxiety in my body, but then we started and had a lot of fun. After we got back to the farm we found out what score we got, and despite our worry we got a perfect score. It showed us that we could do anything once we put our minds to it, even if we had only a week.

by Kalina

April 21st - nest boxes and the last batch of syrup of the year

By Muriel
            So far, there have not been so many blog posts checked off of our sign off sheet and I thought that maybe I should just do mine and get it out of the way; even though I’m doing it a day late. We’ll just pretend that I’m writing this yesterday.
            Today was extremely pretty—everything has started to bud and spring is in the air. It hit 70 degrees today, which put everyone in a good mood and allowed us to do the activities that are no fun in the cold; like checking on our designated bird nests. My nest is located on the outside of the pine forest next to Lucia’s, which we had a pretty hard time locating. But, when we did, we were disappointed to see that BOTH were empty.
             After checking our nests, we had Occupations. I’m in Garden and Greenhouse with Andy, and we were working on moving the plant sale items from the big greenhouse to allow more space for more plants. Max and I were working on cleaning out the little greenhouse behind the farmhouse and filling it with a bunch of aspiring onion plants. After both Occupation groups were finished with their work, we headed out with our mentor groups for lunch and finishing the last batch of maple syrup/sap for this season. When we returned, we all gathered in the classroom for a council meeting; which ended in a game of soccer on the A-field ;).

             Overall, today was a beautiful day that went extremely well. Sorry—that was a weird sentence but I’m keeping it because I don’t have anything better to say. ANYway, the Farm Stay is off to a great start and I have nothing less to say.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Blog

by Indi
Today it is Easter. We had lots of fun running around outside with each other and looking for Easter eggs. It is our seventh day of Farm Stay and everyone is settled in and having a great time. We started our day off with sleeping in and having a late breakfast, which was good for everyone because we had been getting up so early during the week.
It is Sunday so we do not have anything to do, so we had free time all day. People where very happy that it was Easter because a group of people had brought plastic eggs with them so that we could have an Easter egg hunt. We needed someone to hide the eggs so we asked for a volunteer to do it. One hand shot up and he was chosen to be the “Easter bunny”. In order for him to hide the eggs we needed everyone else to leave, people went on hikes all around the property and took some really great photos and had an awesome time.
My friends and I went a very long hike and saw many different animals like deer, rabbits and birds. We went quite a long way and got back just in time to join in on the hunt for the eggs. The eggs had been hidden in obvious and funny places but were still difficult to find. There were delicious jellybeans in the plastic eggs that everyone loved and ate straight away. We found as many eggs as we could but we were still missing one until a few hours after we were done with the hunt.
The rest of the day was also really fun and we ate a lot of candy and talked and we had an awesome water fight and we might have broken a plastic pitcher… We also played soccer in the warm sun, which was really fun and beautiful. That night we had study hall and went to bead early to prepare for the week to come. I’m glad that we had such a fun day with each other and are so comfortable as a group now. I will remember this day for the rest of m life.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Farm Stay Poem

Waking up to Saturday.
Sap already boiling and bubbling from the collection yesterday,
Reducing to thick golden maple syrup.
Sticky and sweet, it pours like amber rain.
Most of the day is drawn long and is occupied by unscheduled time, during which we play and eat and sleep in until we hunger for a social connection.
Going to sleep on Saturday, sap already boiled, reduced to thick golden maple syrup.
Poured like amber rain.
Most of the day drawing to a close, and it closes, all of us asleep,

Ready for the adventure of Sunday.

by Helen

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 18th - Making Maple Syrup

by Kasia
My worn old hand-me-down rain boots crunched through the melting ice as I made my way to the barn for farm chores. Thin strands of my hair, wet from a shower, were turned icy from the early morning chill. Andy’s mentor group presented the llamas and chickens with the beginning of a bright new day.  After providing them with food and water, we hurried back to the Homestead, proudly carrying a carton and a half of fresh eggs, still warm from a chicken’s butt.
            After a quick breakfast and not particularly interesting community meeting, we divided into mentor groups for our first session of community work. Andy’s group quickly emptied all of the plump blue bags dangling from surrounding maple trees into our heavy buckets and emptied the sweet, icy sap into giant black barrels. Some of us then went in search of big sticks for a fire, while others scooped snow from dirty, icy flattish snow banks into our buckets, which we emptied into the container that is used to boil the syrup. We scrubbed it around until most of the dirt was absorbed into the snow, which quickly turned a shade of dark brown.
            Next, we began to empty the giant barrels of sap into the large metal container that boiled them, one small bucket at a time. Emptying the buckets was pretty scary because you had to get really close to the sizzling hot boiler, put your head and arms into the steam, and the drops of sap that splashed out of the bucket hissed and disappeared in an instant. Soon, the container was nearly overflowing and boiling violently. White strands of bubbles snaked their way across the surface, almost completely concealed by the white cloud of steam rising quickly from the water and snaking into the sky, making us back away, cough, and curse white rabbits. Boiling the sap into syrup was a fun experience that I am glad I got to participate in.

Walker's Sunset Photos

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Embedded Work

by Andy

Our Farm Stay 4 students are deeply immersed in their experience. Soon they will be processing those experiences on this blog. But in the meantime, dear blog reader, you are stuck with my musings on a Sunday morning.

I was looking at the waste basket in the farmhouse bathroom the other day and I really noticed how much work went into it. I thought about how someone must have grown, harvested, dried and bundled the reeds. Others took the bundled reeds and wove the basket. Someone took piles and piles of woven reed baskets and prepped them to be to be shipped to the U.S., and then the supply chain continued full of people and resources until we purchased the basket and brought it home. So much work has gone into that basket. And then I looked around the bathroom. The room itself was built by the Pickards when they built the farmhouse, likely from wood harvested off the property. Given the bathroom's location and what I know about the foundation, it was probably part of the original floor plan. Somebody made the tub, the sink, the metal fixtures and the cupboards, all from resources that others extracted and processed. The recycled toilet paper came originally from trees and has gone through many processes of use and transformation to come to me. All of the personal care items in the cupboards required scientists, factory workers and testers (no animal testers here though!), not to mention the makers of plastic bottles. People grew and processed the herbs used to scent the soaps and shampoo in the shower. Someone grew and processed the luffa sponge. The clothing items I wear were likely woven on machines, but human hands surely crafted them on sewing machines. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the perhaps hundreds of people who have labored to make this moment in the bathroom possible. This has been happening more and more lately.

We have a bedspread that I bought on a trip to Guatemala. It was not woven on some sort of king-sized mechanical loom. Instead it was woven by hand in two-foot widen sections which were then sewn together using dyed yarn. The pattern is beautiful and I think it is natural fiber. I am sure that the person I bought it from did not make it. Instead they bought it for their stall in the marketplace from the people who made it or perhaps a middle-merchant. I don't remember how much I paid for it. I doubt it was more than $100. The retailer probably marked it up double. The person who made it had to buy the materials. The person who made it might have received at most a total of $20 to $30 for all their labor. It is not enough! Even I can see that a fast weaver would still take days to weave all that fabric, let alone sew it together and dye it.

My house is full of clothes, and dishes, and wooden items, and books, and electronics and everywhere I look I see all of the work of people's time and ingenuity that has gone into making things. It is a debt. And I know that the meager exchange of paper currency has not even begun to repay it. It is a mountain of debt, both literal and spiritual. I sometimes entertain wild notions that I could rid myself of this debt. Maybe if I work really hard and produce things of value to give back to the universe. Maybe if I give away all of my possessions except for the ones where the spiritual debt has been paid in full. Maybe if I consider every addition to my household extremely carefully before bringing it home. That could make shopping in the grocery store a paralyzing experience. Maybe I could send personal thank you notes. Maybe I could attempt to do the work of each item, so I could get a sense of what was done to produce these items. I do many of these actions already. I am a pretty conscious consumer. But, I know that there is a great force in my life that runs counter to these actions. This force is like a sleeping pill that keeps me in the mode of unconscious consumer.

Like many people of my country, I have no way to tell when I have enough. I surround myself with things and I still can't tell if it is enough. It is like I am trying to fill a bucket with holes in the bottom, but the more I put inside the bucket, there is still more room there is inside of it. It is never full. So the first question is about the nature of the bucket I am unconsciously trying to fill. I might have to patch up the holes first. Then I can think about the items that go into the bucket.

There is work embedded in everything. I want to wake up and become conscious of everything. Furthermore I want to bring the possibility of this consciousness to the adolescents with whom I have the privilege to work every day. For this is the task of adolescence: to enter the adult world of work. We are talking about their work and the work that connects them to the rest of humanity. What type of work is it? Is it joyful work? Is it work that honors and maintains the earth? Is the work well compensated? Is there slavery involved in the production of this item? Were people poisoned?These are the central social questions of our age. The dysfunction that collectively exists in the U.S.A regarding our stuff is one of the primary forces that puts people and nature in peril. Consequently, recognizing our indebtedness and acting from deep gratitude is the central task of any education that claims to meet the needs of adolescents.

We do not need to be paralyzed by our debts. Literally touching the earth at the Land School contributes to an appreciation of all that goes into the food we eat, and maintaining the property gives an intimate sense of gratitude for the work that goes into maintaining the built environments. I don't know that we will always feel the right amount of gratitude. I am just now coming to feel the true depth of my own appreciation. There is a lifetime of built up debt. I do know that any amount gratitude that we feel and express brings us all closer to the life of deep connection that we all want.

There are swallows flying outside who have just returned. Welcome home!