Monday, March 16, 2009

Eggstraordinary Day

On Saturday, we decided in the morning to head out to see Noah, the Amish cabinetmaker, with Richard and Ulla (of Dolgeville/Alpaca fame). We arrived about 10:45 and were disappointed to find that Noah was not at home. But his young son was there and was able to give us some limited information. Most helpful was that Noah would be back around 3:30 (4:30 our time, as the Amish do not participate in Daylight Savings Time). Richard and Ulla decided to come back when Noah could answer their questions. So Richard and Ulla and Jerry and I split off, all to finish our separate errands.
What we could see at Noah's farm was that spring is definitely on its way. The grass (grass!!!!) is peeking through the fields and the smell of mulch, manure and earth is everywhere. It was a glorious day - not a cloud in the sky. We spent a little time inside Noah's greenhouse, just to see what is sprouting and what will be available in a few weeks. It is a wood framed structure with double plastic sheathing. The air channel between the two layers of plastic is about 5", which keeps it quite warm. I found that there was a wood burning stove in the back. The heat and sun was fabulous! Inside the greenhouse were rows and rows of seedlings, with growth about four weeks along. Ready to go! Tomatoes, flowers, hydrangia, lilac, pansies, etc. This is a stop I will be making in three or four weeks, when OUR snow is melted and we can get the ground tilled. In the meantime, it was a great way to spend the morning. As we were leaving Noah's we looked across the fields and saw the farm next door. Another Amish family in the valley. See the chicken coop on the left? So did we.
As we pulled out onto the main road, we saw also that the next door neighbor was selling eggs, and decided to drop in and get some. (Chicken Coop = Eggs - Jackpot!)
It was a beautiful and well-kept farm. The Amish are not big on unnecessary decoration, everything is functional and simple. Not for decor but for functionality. This in itself is beautiful. There are lessons to be learned here.
The wife came out of the farm house and Jerry told her we wanted some eggs. She came back out with water for the chickens (why make two trips?) and two dozen egg crates. (Not two dozen - but (2) dozen. We didn't want THAT many eggs!). Jerry helped carry the water over to the chicken coop and we watched as she scooped the eggs from the hen's laying beds, right in among the chickens. Now THAT's fresh!
The Corn Barn where chicken feed is stored:
The chicken coop:
Jerry taking it all in.
I don't want to be a pie!
When I asked the Amish woman if it was OK to take pictures of the chickens, she responded "yes, but not of me", which is why you see no Amish photos up close and personal. These chickens apparently are not Amish, therefore, they can have their photos taken.
So, to clarify, these are not Amish chickens, they are just Chickens on an Amish Farm. Got it? As an aside, I will tell you that our first egg-cellent breakfast was a little scary for me, because when I opened the egg carton I saw not the bleached white eggs that we are used to from the grocery store (probably at least 2 weeks old and chemically enhanced) but fresh brown eggs with chicken schmegma on them. CHICKEN SCHMEGMA! I was terrified. Before we ate them (cooked of course) I did soak them in a bleach solution for a few moments, and washed them off in the sink before returning them to the egg carton - now our eggs are clean. But really, why was I so afraid of egg schmegma on the shells (which is just a slang for yukky farm stuff) when chemically enhanced, week-old eggs that had been transported from God knows where for however many days under who knows what conditions doesn't cause me any concern at all? What is wrong with me? Are we all this de-sensitized to rural living? I'm trying to change that. But man, I was scared eating those eggs. They were delicious - But I was scared.
As you can see, this family is also collecting sap for Maple Syrup. No high-tech miles of tubing for the Amish! They simply hang a galvanized bucket onto the side of a tapped-tree and carry it over to wherever they are boiling it, one gallon at a time. See the melting snow? ME TOO!
More sap collecting.
They make it look pretty simple. Actually, they make everything look pretty simple. They find the simplest, cheapest way to do something, and do it that way forever.
Kinda makes you think doesn't it?
On our way out of Palatine (heading home) we decided to stop by Dan's and say Hello. Dan is the Amish guy who cut down and removed the trees for our pasture. He has his own saw mill and operates right down the road from Noah. This is his sawmill (the pickup truck belongs to a customer, not to Dan - he uses Morgans)
Now that Dan and his family (the older boys who work with him - he has 15 kids!) have spent so much time at OUR property, we feel like old friends. I think he may have been just as glad to see us as we were to see him. He gets a chuckle out of us and our projects. Anyway, we talked about the best type of boards to use for wall-siding on the interior of our bedroom, and decided also to use rough lumber on the floor. This will give a solid and sturdy feel to the room, and provide a nice backdrop for our wall hangings and rugs. We like this "rustic" look, and will be using more of Dan's wood in the living room too. After establishing what type of wood we wanted we headed home to measure exactly so that Dan could get started. I would have liked to get a picture of Dan with his kids, because they were cute as buttons. But that is not respectful of their traditions, and so you get only pictures of Dan's house and property. The sawmill is getting quite busy. Dan said that he had been real slow when the snow was really deep, and probably could have gotten more done inside, but didn't. I guess he is also guilty of enjoying a little down time in the winter. Aren't we all?Now that the weather is breaking, everyone is thinking ahead towards construction projects and outdoor enhancements. Wood is back in style! These wood piles could be some of our old trees! You never know! The buggy barn: Tomorrow: How to solve a muddy driveway for $2.50

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