Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Icey, Dicey

Yesterday afternoon, freezing rain began and continued through the night. The roads were so slippery, my car slid past the driveway and down the hill three times before I finally was able to make it in. All evening I watched cars slide backwards and sideways down the slope, and tried to assist one driver getting his pickup out of the ditch (alas, it is still there.)
This morning, we found a huge branch had broken from one of the large maple flanking the barn stage. There may be a bit less shade next summer.

It is amazing we did not lose power--ice covered branches were resting atop the power lines.
Last night chores were quite a challenge--even with  yaxtrax I was slipping and sliding all over the place, as were the chickens and ducks, which would be more amusing if I wasn't so worried about  crashing to the ground.

This morning the ice was a bit softer with a crusty layer of  snow, so it was much easier to get around. After feeding everyone, I went for a walk around the farm with my camera.

The ice is now beginning to melt, but early this morning the wild birds had a hard time landing on the feeder perches. I saw a sparrow try to land on an ice-coated branch and slide down it like a kid on a stairway banister.

Wild cranberries.

Bird nest in a buckthorn.

Somebody walked across the pond --raccoon?
A few days ago I went through all the squashes in the basement "root cellar"and threw a bunch that were deteriorating out into the woods for wildlife. (Don't worry, I used the best parts to make a gigantic pot of squash soup. The cows and chickens got their share, too.)

Monday, January 9, 2017

The NATURE of Things

Last October, we  brought the Walking Play, "Nature," to Squash Blossom Farm for  five performances.  This was the most extravagant and ambitious event we have undertaken so far, and  absolutely magical.
Through the Tigerlion Arts company, a cast of astounding actors and musicians  came together to tell the story of the  friendship of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and their mutual love of nature.  The play was staged in several sites on our farm, with the cast and audience moving from scene to scene.
We had met with the directors many months in advance to plan the sites and walking paths, and had been given instructions for mowing, pruning, planting. The time of day, time of year, angle of the sun and shadows were considered for lighting for each scene.  Landscapes of our farm that we normally take for granted as our back yard, pasture, and prairie, became magical sets.

The play was true to history. Most of the dialogue came directly from the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, and it was brought vividly to life through the passion and talent of the cast.
Far from being a stodgy period piece, the story was filed with comedy,
 - even some hilarious clowning!
The musicians (violin percussion, guitar and bagpipes) were extraordinary.
Together with a chorus comprised of local singers,  the play was accompanied by a rich musical score.
Alexa Skye Buntrock, a young local actor, was perfect as Emerson's daughter Ellie.
The natural features of our farm became an integral part of the production. When a rooster crowed or a wayward butterfly fluttered through the scene, it became part of the story.
The bean field scene was especially evocative, with chorus members singing and dancing as field workers, transforming long poles into scythes, rakes and pitchforks in the tall grass.
We had received an unusual amount of rain all summer and fall, and the  greatest challenge for the cast was probably pushing the huge, heavy, belching Machine of Progress on its thin iron wheels through the soft, soggy prairie earth and up the hill!

The actors kept the audience moving from scene to scene.
Tyson Forbes, who co-wrote and co-created the play, performed as Emerson and is a direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson!
The audience got to meet the cast and director for a post-show discussion.  Markell Kieffer (center, in the straw hat) is the play's Director.
We are so grateful to Tigerlion Arts for sharing their talent and this  wonderful production with  us.

Thank you also to the many community members who made this event a success by singing in the chorus, providing housing for the cast and crew, attending the performances, and volunteering in other ways.

If there is any way we can manage it, we would  love to bring this production back to Squash Blossom Farm again!

This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

(Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday: 6th Annual Cow Puja & Farm Fair

The 6th Annual Cow Puja & Farm Fair was held September 25th but photos never got posted. In fact, I thought I had lost the photos I had taken, but just found them on a different computer yesterday.

A Cow Puja is a celebration of the cows--thanking them for blessing us. We are so grateful that members of the Hindu temple have come every year to lead an authentic Hindu Puja ceremony.

But then we combine it with food, music,local artisans and a celebration of all the farm animals and autumn bounty and beauty, making it our own midwestern agricultural/multicultutral/cultural festival.