Posted in Farming

Becoming a WWOOF Host

I read a great book recently called, This Tractor Life; A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Woofers by Pamela Jane Lincoln. I was initially a little disappointed that it was primarily a cookbook (I have a zillion cookbooks but this one is rather good!) but it was more than that. Those little things the universe does to subtly direct our paths is always fascinating to me.

We had heard of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), a great program that helps farmers find much needed help and up and coming farmers find mentors and places to learn. This Tractor Life takes place in Australia on an organic farm and vineyard. The author tells stories of the recipes she shares, most coming from young people that shared her farm for a weekend or a month. Stories of woofers from all over the world intrigued me.

Stephanie and Emily holding a very little Maryjane

We watched the old Winnebago with bikes attached to the back roll past our little farm in Kiowa some six years ago. The New York plates gave away that our visitors had arrived. I had received an email from Ethan, who read my blog, asking if he and his girlfriend could come learn herbalism from me and if they could help on our farm.

Our rented farm in Kiowa

They were twenty-four years old, excited to be in Colorado, and were delightful. Ethan had on overalls and his long, blond hair was up in a beautiful man-bun. Stephanie’s long, blond locks were tucked behind her shoulder and her lovely Swedish face was always smiling. They camped out in our driveway for six weeks.

The local policeman (knowing full well that they were our farm interns) would harass them constantly in good humor. Ethan was on the phone at the fairgrounds, up in the stands to find good reception, with his jar of iced tea by his side. The chief approached him and asked him if it was moonshine and gave him a real good ribbing before letting him jump the fence back to our house. They were entertainment for our tiny town. They were young and dramatic and fought and made up loudly for all the town to hear. They were fascinated by our large western sky, something I had always taken for granted. They would yell, “It’s time!” each and every evening, grabbing lawn chairs and their glasses of wine and would go sit in the pasture with the goats to see our fantastic sunsets. We had wonderful meals and good company.

I still keep in touch with Ethan. He is a farmer in upstate New York. Last I heard, Stephanie had started an herbal business.

I very nearly gave up last week. Was just ready to get a small raised bed of tomatoes and a hot tub. Our gardens are much larger than before and I am at the very edge of what I can do mostly by myself (my husband does things as he can while working 40+ hours a week). I also know that our gardens are not nearly the size they need to be to sustain us. I admit I need help. We thought we would be able to find a local kid to help, or even a farm intern, but that hasn’t been the case. Our children live a touch too far to come help their mom and it is not really what they want to do on weekends anyway.

This program might be just what we need. We applied yesterday to be hosts. We have an orientation Tuesday and then we will be ready to receive guests. The WWOOFing program is set up as a directory where farm interns can find hosts. They choose anywhere in the world they want to go to, then contact a host there. The hosts provide room and board and the willingness to teach and the guest puts in 3-4 hours of work a day to help with the farm. The farm has to be organic (certification not necessary) and sustainable.

Even though we are a small farm, there is lots to do and learn here. I am a practicing Master Herbalist, we are putting in a vineyard, greenhouse, and rain barrel system. We have large gardens and medicine plants and wonderful things to see and do around here. We are excited to meet people from all over the world and host like minded people who feel farming is as important as we do!

Posted in Entertaining

A Kitchen Themed Bridal Shower

My beautiful daughter, Emily is getting married next month.  Her sister and I planned a kitchen themed bridal shower.  The invitation talked about how Emily loves to cook and that she will be cooking for a very long time for her growing family so we may as well make it fun!  Party goers were encouraged to bring a fun kitchen item that they love in their own cooking.

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We had the party at Shyanne’s house, since she lives closest to everyone.  My children watched Martha Stewart when it was on television every morning growing up, and it shows.  Little signs decorated the space.

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Ayla, Emily (the bride), and Shyanne

Shyanne spray painted green wine bottles gold and placed mums in each.  Balloons captured the attention and smiles of our baby, Ayla.

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I made strawberry shortcake on sweet biscuits (recipe to follow), Seven layer dip with tortilla chips, and roll ups (tortillas spread with cream cheese and topped with green chilies then rolled up and sliced).  Shyanne make cupcakes, and ricotta and peach bruchetta, and little tea sandwiches.  The table was beautiful and inviting.  Cardboard cake holders glued to sturdy plastic cups acted as stands.

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Drinks were set up on the island.  Raspberry juice and sprite in one pitcher, coconut rum and juice in another.  I brought a gallon of sweet tea.  Every one helped themselves to finger foods and drinks and met new folks and talked.  The kids were adorable playing together.

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My granddaughter, Maryjane (middle) and her best friends.

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Shyanne printed out three games for us to play.  They were all quizzes about the bride or the bride and groom.  It was a lot of fun guessing things about who kissed who first, who is the best dancer, does the bride like coffee or tea better, and so on.  Small succulents acted as the prizes since that is one of the themes of the wedding.

We had everyone write out advice for the new bride and share it.  There were some very inspirational words.  Young girlfriend’s advice as sound as the women that were married half a century.  It was a lot of fun and made us all nod and strive to be better partners.  Those went into a sweet picture album.

An Instapot, box of Corningware, breadmaker, immersion blender, knife set and cutting board, pressure cooker, and cookie sheets later, the young bride was inspired to start cooking.

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My friend, Tina, and I. This was taken by a mama with a wiggly baby on her hip!

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This is a great picture of Doug and his parents with our granddaughters.  

It was such a wonderful time with family and friends to celebrate a profound new chapter in our daughter’s life.  A wedding is an amazing event and celebrating and preparing the young bride is the community’s honor.  We are very thankful for our “village”.  To help the young couple is a pleasure and being together is always special.

Sweet Biscuits and Strawberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl combine,

1 3/4 cups of flour

2 Tablespoons of sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of olive oil (I use lemon infused olive oil for half)

2/3 cup of milk

Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Top with a sprinkle of sugar, whipped cream, and chopped strawberries mixed with a little sugar.