Friday, June 29, 2012

End of June: Pushing Up Daisies

Photo: K. Iuppa

Where does one begin to recap 20 days of June?
So many things have happened since my last post.

Looking Back:

I was successful picking, washing, prepping strawberries for jam.  On my sideboard, lined up like soldiers, a variety of glass jam jars-- all glowing shades of ruby. The jam is absolutely yum.

This weekend  I plan on picking cherries and blueberries.  The season has just started for blueberries, but because of unusual Spring weather, the cherries may be scarce.  I hope I haven't missed the boat on  cherries.  Last year I missed the strawberries.  Our gardens are in the best conditions, even with Bundini on the loose.Thus far, we have picked fresh lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash. Our kale and Swiss chard  plants are ready for plucking.  It was quite warm yesterday and today promises to be hotter.  I need to do some weeding in the South garden this morning before the sun kicks up the heat.  The South garden has always been hard to manage, but this year our weed patrol has worked out well.  I guess we have a routine.  Even though the gardens are flourishing, they seem different without those pesky weeds.

Next week, the baby chicks and turkeys will arrive.  We're getting ready for them.  Our veteran chickens and ducks have been having a wonderful time eating all the ripe mulberries. We have three trees on our farm.  We planted them, so the birds wouldn't pick at the young fruit on our fruit trees.  It's quite remarkable watching the many birds (orioles, robins, bluebirds, finches and so on) shake down the fruit.  Our mulberry trees are so lovely. Their branches sweep and swirl like ball gowns.  So the birds' constant trimming-- the scissor-cut flight in and out of the trees is something to behold.  And the chickens stand below, ready to gobble up the spoils.

Have seen at least 3 just-hours-old fawns in the past week.  No bigger than 2 feet tall and steady on their legs.  What I didn't know, but was schooled by my friend Deb,who is growing a garden on our land because the deer are so rampant in her area and eat everything to the nub, is the hours after a fawn is born, the mother leaves her baby in a hidden space and goes out to feed  for quite a few hours.  I guess the feeding gives her a chance to store food and energy and gets her milk supply  ready to flow.   Then, she comes back and takes care of her baby. Several weeks ago, we had one of these newborns on our front lawn near our Blue Spruce.  We were concerned about the fawn, because we thought that the mother had been hit.  The
woods across from our farm is the site of the CCC  and POW camp.  There  has been work going on by a zealous volunteer group to clear the area with the ambition of restoring the site to its original  condition.
They were very excited about their discovery of the camp's latrine.  Consequently in all of this clear-cutting of trees and brush, the wildlife has been seriously disturbed.  The red tail hawks which have nested in this woods for years haven't been present in two years.  The wild turkeys have moved elsewhere.  The deer haven't  been around in numbers in two years. . . It goes on and on  and we are not  keeping silent about this disruption. So now you have the side story as to why this mother deer was probably frightened by the volunteers and left her baby out in the open.  We call DEC to alert them about the fawn.  It's possible someone stopped and picked the fawn up, or the mother came back.  But now I know about this feeding ritual and will wait . . .

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Red Rooster Farm Update







We're free, free-ranging~ 

Photo by Wibke Anne, May 2012.

We planted the sunflowers along the fence without them knowing. A trick indeed because they know every square inch of our land. As soon as they see turned over ground, they march over and begin scratching up the dirt. They are quite resourceful.  We have fenced our gardens because chickens love tomatoes. The rooster sees them as an offering for his hens.  He snips them off the vines and offers them to his gals:" Darling, have I got a tomato for you." That's what we imagined  as we watched this courtship with our tomatoes. Made us crazy, watching them get our tomatoes before we had a chance to harvest them. That was the first year raising chickens. Since then we've wised up with net fencing, which works perfectly, but we're careful not to give them a taste of tomatoes. One taste and they would be eye-ing
our fences, trying to figure out the weak spot.

Are you a Strawberry Samaritan?

I'm hoping to have some time to pick strawberries. Maybe this weekend. Last year I missed the strawberry picking season completely.  All of our churches  have propped up their annual signs announcing their strawberry events, which is a perfect mix of faith and fruit desserts. Even the strawberry-- its trinity leaves and jeweled fruit is a metaphor for faith. I think about this when I'm in the fields picking for hours.  I'm looking forward to making strawberry jam using the less sugar recipes I discovered last year.  Have to call our local farms to see if it's time to pick. 

So this weekend will be a mix of work and work and work. Have  been enjoying my daily session with my writing project.  Have been meeting my page goals. Although, I've noticed a revision pattern. I seem to reread pages from day before and revise a bit before getting back into the story. It must be a way for me to regroup, especially after all the different work I'm doing right now, including editing. I mentioned this to Anne Panning the other day and she understood this practice, which was reassuring.  I happened to meet her on a Brockport sidewalk the other day and we had a stop-in-our-tracks chat.  She was wearing a wonderful pair of glasses that illuminated in the sun. Anne has such  fun with her style.  All of us who wear glasses understand how necessary they are, but glasses can be an interesting prop too and why not.  I'm in desperate need of a new pair. Will have to explore the new options.Besides accepting my compliment on her glasses, Anne mentioned that she's getting ready for the launch of her new novel Butter.  Good things are happening all around.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Searching for something . . .

Photo by K.Iuppa
Searching for something . . .

Went to a poetry reading last night at the Little Theatre, featuring Jennifer Litt and Thom Ward.

They did a braided reading, each taking turns, a wonderful mix of persona, lyric and prose poems.
It was such a comfortable reading, filled with humor
and affection for each other and each other's work.
I was struck by their range of subject, the under-telling politics, irony of situation. Enjoyed hearing the snippets of conversation that revealed how poems came to be.
The reading was orchestrated perfectly.   It was such a pleasure being able to drift on the currents of their words.  I wasn't thinking of anything else, only paying attention to them.


Today is a mix of grading, teaching, meetings and  project assessment.  Went to the first project assessment on Monday, 4-7 p.m. with teachers, looking at 3rd grade portfolios of art and writing.  Some remarkable work was accomplished this year. Today, will review 4th grade.

Glad the cooler weather and rain has been in residence for the past few days.  A break from heat has made everything easier. Everything is just popping after the rain.  The rows of corn and cabbage in our surrounding fields are looking so fit. Checked our apple and pear trees and most are heavy with fruit.  I think we were really lucky. A pocket of air bubbled over our orchard. We may be some of the few who have apples this year.

Upcoming Genesee Reading Series

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
7:30 PM, Writers and Books
$3 members, $6 public
Curated by Wanda Schubmehl


Whether psychotherapy, poetry, teaching, community service, parenting, marriage, friendship, or golf, Charles Coté sees life as improvisational art. However, certain about uncertainty, he knows he could be mistaken, so he reads up on science. In addition to his private practice in psychotherapy, he teaches poetry at Writers and Books, and serves on the board for Melissa’s Living Legacy: Teen Cancer Foundation. He’s studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence and The Palm Beach Poetry Festival, authored a chapbook (Flying for the Window, Finishing Line Press, 2008), and published other poems, most recently in Segue, Redactions, The Cortland Review, Lake Affect and Salamander. He’s been working on a full-length called Shrink, about someone just like him and every other person he’s come to know, and by that, he means it’s a work of fiction.

The sole proprietor of Jennifer Litt Writing Services, , Jennifer Litt teaches writing at Saint John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Jennifer coordinated several education-through-the-arts projects with Writers & Books and other community organizations during her 15 year tenure with the Rochester City School District. She recently unearthed a poetry journal from her twenties and says, “What a difference 30 years and some great teachers make.” Her work has been published in Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems, Jet Fuel Review, Lake Affect Magazine and Mixed Fruit.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Elusive Days of Late Spring . . .

Carmelita Strikes a Pose . . .
Photo by K. Iuppa on Wibke Anne's Camera

Since my last post, my son Nick and  his girlfriend Wibke Anne returned home for a two week visit with family and friends and specifically to attend a good friend's wedding.  Their visit went by in an eyeblink. They left for Germany on Saturday June 2, early in the morning.  We were up at 4 to drive them to the airport.  Saturday was a day of lost time.  Perhaps equal to their 20 + hour trip back to Dusseldorf. Thankfully, They arrived safe and sound, and have resumed their life in progress . . .

Our life here has been consumed by the gardens.  We had a decent all day soaking rain on Friday 6/1, which made all of our plants jump. Spent over 6 hours yesterday mulching and weeding. Peter and I are a bit giddy that we're this far ahead  in maintenance. I think we may actually master  the process this year.  Sustainability is a staggering challenge.  We have been doing this for the past five-six years now.  Modest yet innovative venture.  We have been mostly successful, that is we've been  able to put by  a variety of fresh veggies and fruits and meats. When I was finishing up my work yesterday, I thought about all of the farmers and homesteaders who came before us, before advanced technology.  Think of the hours they worked with plow and horse. Some of this work is tedious, which makes many people wince when we tell them what we're doing.  I'm sure they think we're mad for spending all this time working the land.  But the land itself is a palette for me.  The work is a meditation.  I'm currently working on a novella, which sprung from a prose poem "Hit and Run" that's currently published on the online journal Medulla Times. Interesting how the hours weeding have helped me accomplish the daily pages. So far, so good.  I think I should be finished with the draft by August.