Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harvest Wrap-Up

Thought it would be good during Thanksgiving break to take a breather before the Holiday Rush begins in earnest. Truthfully, though, the year has been pretty great. Ed and I are looking forward to a Thanksgiving potluck in Pittsford with fellow members of The UU Church of Rutland.

Well, of the many things we learned this year one thing was clear: We can grow squash! Our yields for butternut squash and pumpkins were particularly high. The pumpkin harvest alone was approximately 75 pumpkins, with the largest one weighing in at 58 lbs! One of the best things about both are how easily we are able to store them over the winter.

The other great thing is how Ed has taken the lead in discovering great soups to make with pumpkins. With the invaluable help of Mollie Katzen's wonderful vegetarian cookbooks, we've made some super discoveries.

We have also gotten some good things accomplished before the winter begins in earnest. I got a handful of bulbs in the ground before the ground froze. I am wondering if cut flowers might be a potential business along with our other market farm endeavors. We'll see. I found out about a great garden supply source that sells heirloom varieties of bulbs; they also put together packages suited for different growing regions of the U.S. I decided to start with their selection for Zone 4b and see how well the bulbs survive the winter. Here's hoping!

Another great opportunity that's come my way this year is working with local potter Carl Buffum at Wallingford Pottery right in town. I've taken on some of the grunt work such as mixing clay and stacking the kiln for firings in exchange for some studio time on the wheel.

I started out working with clay left over from my classes at Frog Hollow, however, all of the glazes I've used so far are Carl's. It was fun experimenting with these. Since I have a tendency toward shiny, glassy glazes, I don't usually spend a lot of time on manipulating the surfaces of my pieces. However, Carl uses one basic white matte glaze that really emphasizes the the texture of the clay body. In the pictures here, it is possible to see how much the glaze moves around to cover the surface of the pieces. Although Carl is getting ready to close down the studio for the year (the larger workplace is in a screened-in porch), I am already looking forward to doing more next spring.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Smokey House

Hi All. Between the post growing season wrap up and taking time to appreciate the beautiful fall colors, I haven't written much about what I'm doing for work right now. At present, I have the privilege of working at The Smokey House Center, a remarkable educational center and working farm located in the awe-inspiring beauty of Danby, VT. With over 5,000 acres of reserved land set aside for its mission, the staff work to teach youth practical skills in sustainable living. Founded with a principal of work as an enhancement to education, all teens enrolled in the programs here are required to report to team leaders, learn group skills, and keep their grades up. It is exciting to see what's going on here, and also take part in some of the daily activities.
My specific title is "Energy Efficiency Intern". I am researching ways to "zip up" some of SHC's buildings so that the organization can save on fuel costs. What that translates to in my work day is: caulking! However, that's great, because ever since my VWW Women's Carpentry Class, I've become more interested than ever in sustainable and energy efficient architecture.

When I'm not doing online research or spending quality time with my caulk gun, I have had the opportunity to really appreciate what a truly beautiful state VT is. Gotta say, driving to work on the Beltway really couldn't hold a candle to this.