Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Yesterday, our friend Serge came over and he and Philip did some reconfiguring of the Whizbang Chicken Plucker, getting ready for May. Imagine my delight when he handed over a little bag containing 4 big morel mushrooms. A friend had shared with his family, so they shared a bit of the bounty with us. That's what I call community!

Rachel and her children were over to pick up homemade bread, mainly to play. So when the last baquette and pan of cinnamon rolls came out of the oven, we headed outside into a beautiful 60+ degree sunshiney day. The men seemed to have the mechanical work under control so we headed out to pasture to inspect some of last week's hard work: manure spreading.

This past week we undertook the springtime task of digging out the barn. That means, everywhere animals bedded down over the winter is filled with layers of manure, straw and sawdust, with many gallons of urine thrown in for good measure(and nutrients!) Thomas and I worked for hours in the cow zone while Maggie, Rose, and our pal Laura worked over the goat zone. Patrick worked the chicken zone and Nora played. Thomas prayed that Dad would get the broken tractor working. (It has a front-loader) Radio jammed and I promised pizza for when the job was fait complit. We shovelled, we pitchforked, we drank water and sweat. The fragrant aroma of marshy swamp and earth vitamins filled our nostrils. We compared blisters on hands and muscles on arms. Backs ached. I gave thanks to God for all that manure and laughed when I remembered that an acquaintance summed up the organic movement as "A bunch of bull sh**." He didn't really mean it as a compliment, but as we shovelled and loaded tons of manure, I realized that it is all about the manure! A perfect package of fertilizer. So many life applications out of that picture, wish I had time to write them all down!

After we got halfway through with our dig out, Philip moved the trailer to the front of the barn and Thomas and Patrick proceeded to load it up. During the middle of our Saturday work, we got a call from Mr. Peery, the neighbor across the road who was born in this house. He wanted to bring visiting grandkids over to see baby animals. It was a pleasing sight to him to see the boys moving manure as it brought back many memories to him and his son of that springtime backbreaking chore. The kids oohed and aahed over the cute baby goats and ducks. They helped us move the ducks from barn to field. They walked around and grandpa and dad remembered. They saw Philip still working on the tractor and jumped in to help. God heard Thomas's prayer and the tractor started, Yippee!

That evening, Philip helped us with tractor to load up the trailer and the kids and I rode in the trailer, driven by Philip in the Suburban, through the field, tossing manure onto hungry land. The children declare that tossing manure off the trailer with pitchforks is so much fun! I think that working together with family in early evening dusk with fresh air and sunset is so much fun. And, BTW, peanut butter and honey sandwiches at 9 pm after a big day outside taste really really good.

Soooooo, manure spreading. As Rachel and I inspected the teeny portion of the hay meadow we had covered so far, the woods beckoned. If someone else has found morel mushrooms, maybe they are already here. Who knows? Rachel and sweetie-pie Mec, baby boy, and I cross the stream and climb up into the woods. We see tiny flowers, lots of beautiful wild flowers. We see baby ferns. I remember seeing the fiddlehead ferns served in Japan as a seasonal delicacy, so I pick as many as I can find. We discover a few mushrooms, but not morels. I pick them anyway, with the plan of looking them up on the edible mushroom website. Too bad, they weren't the edible kind, so we threw them away. Not that much of a risk-taker!

Maggie searches and finds some little bitty morels in the driveway, near the flower bed. We say good-bye to Serge and James. We say good-bye to Rachel, Sophie, Boone and Mec. I pull the lamb chops out of the fridge as menu ideas crowd my mind. Hmmm. One of the last packages of lamb from last year. I coat them with garlic and rosemary, Make couscous. Rinse fiddlehead ferns. Grab homegrown butter. Saute ferns in butter and garlic. Set aside. Saute morel mushrooms in butter and sea salt. Set aside. Green beans from last years garden. Sliced baguette. Lots of butter. Top the couscous with the fiddlehead ferns and morels, lambchops with pomegranate glaze on the side. Family at the table, just the 7 of us, dinner served way too late, listening to Philip tell stories about Charles Linbergh's flight from NYC to Paris. Pass the bread, more butter please.


Redhen said... Thomas can get tractors fixed by the power of prayer? I'll keep that in mind next time ours breaks. Maybe we can invite him over.

Rosco said...


What visual writing! It makes me want to spend a few days on the farm with you all! See you soon at the wedding...


Debbie Millman said...

Wow...good stuff. I love your writing also...feels like I just made a visit to the farm.