Monday, September 30, 2013

Cow Puja! A Cultural/MultiCultural/Agricultural Celebration

Puja ceremony photo by Chris Kasper
We could not have chosen a more glorious autumn day than yesterday for our  Farm Fair & Cow Puja. And with such perfect weather,  we had a tremendous turnout - we think 600 people or more -  enjoying an afternoon on the farm.  The heart of the afternoon was the Puja ceremony, performed in the authentic Hindu manner, by Rahul Kashyap, his wife and several friends. Rahul explained that actually,we are not giving a blessing to the cows, we are taking blessings from them.
When the cows ate their breakfast yesterday morning I had painted a huge butterfly design on LaFonda's  back, which you can almost discern in  this photo, and I covered her collar with sunflowers, some of which are still attached.
Last year, all the cows crowded around Rahul for the jaggery, a crystallized sugar treat that is part of the ceremony,  but this year LaFonda and especially Jitter were a bit more shy.  Incense was wafted around the cows,  red strings draped over their horns, and a red dot dabbed on their foreheads.
After the puja ceremony, we dedicated our  recently mosaic'ed wood-fired oven as the Mike Podulke Memorial Oven.  Mike was an amazing, kind, creative person and most of the mosaic pieces came from him and his wife Stephanie, who had collected them for their stained glass and other art.  Jerry Katzmann led the dedication. (Thank you, Jerry!)
All afternoon, people enjoyed the bands, browsed the artisan crafts, ate  kebabs and kettlekorn, and explored the farm.
Axolotl played Mexican son Jarocho music.
The Nodding Wild Onions featured many original cow songs in their set.
"Ukelele Girl" Linda Drozdowicz and
The Volunteer Tomatoes also filled the air with great music.
So many delightful vendors selling their beautiful and clever wares, such as this upcycled chandelier retrofitted with solar lights for romantic patio dining...
Cheri sold her jewelry, crocheted pieces and famous "LaVermes" worm juice...
Heather Jerdee's  lovely photographs...
Local author Debbie Lampi signed her  just published book, "Shadowplay"...
Laura Rice's gorgeous painted gourds and art...
Beaded jewelry and  bead-trimmed hats , Made by Mara...
Joel's made irresistible hot KetttleKorn...
Kim sold her beautiful fair trade imported Sutra Global by Design textiles and created beautiful mehndi designs on willing arms and hands...
Virginia opened her Poetry Store booth and composed custom verses on a vintage typewriter...
small, mystical, spirit dolls created from soft leather and semi-precious beads, stuffed with a blend of sands from around the world, by artist Mary Rivard...
Brenda demonstrated how she hand-sews the bindings of her beautiful handmade books as her daughter wove...
Nicole's necklaces...
Melissa's Don't Judge a Book bookcovers, nostalgic bags and such created from vintage linens, laces, coffee sacks...
sparkling stained glass, suncatchers and windchimes made by Laurel and Darin from vintage glass nuggets and prisms...
heirloom pumpkins and squashes grown by our neighbor Brian Petersen for sale in and surrounding  the Willys...
Bonnie's recycled garden art found new homes...
as did this horse puppet that was for sale in the Farm store...
and quite a few wonderful poems were created with the giant refrigerator poetry.

And those are just a few goings-on I was able to snap photos of as I raced around all afternoon!
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to the volunteers who made the day go so smoothly and successfully!  I only have this photo of  our joyful entrance greeters - Chris Cross and Betsy Ross.  How did I not get a photo of the intrepid shop keepers - Jonya, Kathy, and Debbie?  We owe you!  Also, a special thanks to Eric for last minute branch trimming, to Jack for making sure Zinnie did not get into too much trouble, and of course to our Hindu guests for performing the Puja.
Finally, THANK YOU to everyone who came to the 3rd Annual Squash Blossom Farm Fair and Cow Puja, supported the artists, musicians and food vendors, gave our cows a bit of special attention, and are helping us make our farm dream come true.  We are so blessed, both by the cows and by you all!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Puja Preparations

It has been a crazy day preparing for the 3rd Annual  Squash Blossom Farm FAir & Cow Puja tomorrow!! I have photos of only a few of our preparations - such as putting up the beautiful yellow banners across the driveway...
the oh-so-sticky job of bottling honey...
tidying up gardens and flower beds so they aren't too embarrassing...
giving the 1957 Willys a bath; it will be loaded with heirloom squashes and pumpkins for sale...
grouting the incredible mosaic design on the  Mike Podulke Memorial Oven, which will be dedicated at the  event (thaks, Katzman family!)...
Creating the  giant refrigerator poetry event (thanks Jonya, Betsy, Brenda and Rich!)
Not to mention things I did not photograph --such as mowing, weed-whacking, coop-cleaning...
We still have a lot to finish before morning - but tomorrow promises to be a glorious autumn day--hope you can join us!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall Equinox Weekend


We did what is probably our last  market baking for the year this weekend.  Night comes considerably earlier these days and we got kind of a late start on the bread Friday evening.
Rog baking by headlamp. We baked in the dark and it was still dark when we got up to head for market!  It is a bit more fun doing the farmers market on the long days of summer.
After the Saturday market, people showed up at the farm in the afternoon for the first Fresh With Edge tilapia harvest.  Chris waded through the pond with a net to round up the fish.
Some customers even caught their own dinner.
The tilapia tripled in size over the summer, growing from about half a pound to over a pound and a half. A few tilapia eluded Chris's net, but he figures they will be easy to catch as the water temperature drops during these brisk fall nights and they slow down.

Saturday night after tilapia fishing, we had an end-of-the-season wood-fired pizza  party for the CSA members --but I neglected to take photos.  We are so appreciative of the 14 families that subscribed to this  years's summer CSA and  support our farm so heartily! Thank you.
It has been such a busy, happy week, following last week's family reunion. We have been overjoyed to have both daughters home.
This morning we took them out to brunch at our family's favorite Minneapolis breakfast spot, the French Meadow Bakery, before Cadence headed to her job and Sara flew back to North Carolina. It was a glorious fall day and we brunched outside in the brilliant sun.
After brunch, Rog and I sped home to open up the farm for the afternoon. A perfect day, with fantastic music from Thomas and the Rain, and lots of fun, friendly people visiting the farm, many for the first time.
This evening we managed to squeeze in a couple of small but important farm jobs, including moving the mother hen and her big brood from the barn to the coop. I am confining the entire family to the middle room of the coop for a few days so that they will learn to return to the coop at night, not the barn. Here is a family portrait taken in the coop tonight - you can see about a dozen of the 17 chicks.
Now, off to bed...This will be a very busy week, devoted to preparing for the 3rd Annual Squash Blossom Farm Fair and Cow Puja next Sunday.  The long range forecast sounds ideal and the event promises  to be amazing -- hope you can join us!



Friday, September 20, 2013

Catfish Time

It is getting too cold for tilapia in our Minnesota pond --they need the water to be 65 degrees and with nights in the 40's lately, the water is chilling and they are not happy. So, Chris has decided to harvest the tilapia, which have grown to about 2  pounds each now, and replace them with hardy channel catfish. Today Chris confined the tilapia to a small section of the pond using a seining net.
Chris got 50 pounds of channel catfish (about 30 fish) and brought them home in aerated barrels in the back of his truck.
After combining the water from the  pond and barrels to equalize the temperature, he began to net the fish and transport them to the pond in 5-gallon buckets.
Catfish wrangling has its challenges--they have sharp spines!
They splash a lot and you get wet.
video

Zinnie was fascinated by the new livestock on the farm. How do you herd these things?
Most of the  catfish  are albino, the standard for fishery-raised channel catfish, but at least one was the natural gray color. The gray catfish are less spooky-looking to me, but the white fish are much easier to see in the dark pond.
Releasing the catfish into the pond.
It is hard to believe we have to prepare for winter already. Very soon the pond will be covered and enclosed - sigh.  Must savor every warm, sunny day!