Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ol' McDonald Had a Farm

Lately we've been busy with all things farm-related. There's, of course, our little front-yard mini-farm. We grew some peas (just enough for M. to snack on them every day for about a week). He'd put his rubber boots on, get a little white bucket, pick some peas and then sit on the stoop shelling and eating them.

We still have lots of lettuce and been having big salads practically every day. Good stuff! And today we picked our first cucumber! Tomatoes are on the way (there are some green ones), but even before them we'll start getting some zucchinis and crooknecks. Oh, and even though it's still a month or so before the 4th of July, our heirloom corn is much taller than knee-high.

You'd think that with so much going on we'd have enough farming activities at home. Nothing of the sorts. We take every opportunity to go where the farm and farm animals and farm equipment are.

Like to the Gotta Be NC Agricultural Festival last weekend. It's like a mini-state fair and, if you're just not that much into rides and fair food (deep-fried everything), then it's even better 'cause it's a lot less crowded and free to get in.
We looked at all sorts of tractors, from modern to really anique ones. I've never seen steam-powered tractors before and there were 3 of them this time. And we also looked at the textiles exhibit. M was absolutely taken with the spinning wheel. It didn't hurt that there were a couple of boys, 8-10 years old, doing a great job spinning yarn. Maybe next year M's going to be old enough to try his hand, or rather his foot, at it.

There was, of course, a petting zoo. Again, it's free to get in, but who can resist buying small packets of carrot snacks to feed to all the adorable little animals! We certainly can't. Just like we can't resist a soft-serve ice cream even though it's so not the best. But really, who eats Ben&Jerry's at a fair, I ask you.

Finally, we're big fans of pick-your-own farms. A few weeks ago I took Mr M. to a strawberry farm for some season-opening berry picking. We quickly got a big bucket of yummy strawberries (plus M. ate quite a few). Now, that must've been just about 3 weeks ago. And now the strawberry season is over. This is officially the last picking weekend for many strawberry farms in our area. So we went again, this time all of us, and picked some more strawberries.

But you know how they say when one door closes, another one opens? Well, what d'ya know, the blueberry season has started! Luckily, our favorite pick-your-own strawberry farm, Smith's Nursery in the nearby Benson, offers pick-your-own blueberries AND blackberries. So after filling 2 buckets with the season's last strawberries, we went to get the other berries.

What do we do with all those berries, you might ask? Well, last time I made some old-fashioned strawberry jam. This time I pureed some strawberries with pineapple chunks and a bit of sugar and put them in the freezer. And I'm trying out this recipe for blueberry vinegar. And there are just bags of berries in our freezer. I'm telling you, all this berry-picking has awakened my inner squirrel.

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