Robyn’s Ears of Corn
The winter in New England has a way of slowing us down on the farm, and it is during this time of the year that our program devotes more time to classes. In one of our various garden planning classes, Robyn, one of my fellow stufas, brought in dry ears of corn that had travelled in her luggage across the country from her hometown in Arizona. Robyn used to work at a seed saving organization called Native Seed Search. The colors in each ear of corn were the perfection of beauty. Almost every kernal held its own unique color. It was a reminder of the beauty that can grow but that at times seems impossible as the earth is covered in feet deep snow right outside the window. As the ears of corn were passed around our classroom, our instructor, Carlen, continued leading our gardening class. Robyn quietly picked out one of her ears and began eating the kernels. A couple of my other fellow stufas could not help but chuckle and wanted a taste as well. By the time all the various ears of corn had made their way around, three of the stufas were snacking on the various colors of corn kernels.
In our one acre garden, Carlen and last year’s stufas planted a very spicy kind of hot pepper called the bird eye chili. By the time we arrived in the fall, the plants were teeming with peppers. This year’s class has its fair share of spicy hot sauce lovers including Tristen. On one of our first weeks, Tristen set out to collect so many hot thai peppers. I can’t quite say what the basic instructions are to make Tristen’s delicious thai pepper hot sauce but I do remember the hot sauce making day. I caught a brief whip of the blending as Tristen took the food processor top off. Soon enough, the spiciness had made its way around the kitchen and into the dining area. People began coughing as they entered the kitchen and dining area as the initial stage of the process left us all with a slight itch right along the throat. Everyone knew that Tristen was making hot sauce.
In January, on our final weekend before the start of the program, Tristen was determined to finish up the hot sauce that he had began in fall- the peppers were fermented and ready to go. Tristen’s final blend, delivered about three jars of hot sauce that spiced many meals. As all of delicious food in our community goes, the hot sauce jars were gone within two weeks. Thanks Tristen!
A Little Mishap
On our second full day of chainsaw introduction, we had one of those New England days that seemingly snuck upon us- a shift from a nice couple of pleasant fall days to a day of wind advisory with gusts up to 40mph. Out in the felling field, any heat our bodies would conjure up, the wind would immediately drift away from our backs. As we were doing our various dance moves and little rabbit hops to stay warm, our instructor, Bill, taught as a technique that he uses with his guys to warm up in the forest while felling trees. It involved continuously jumping, and raising our arms up and down really fast while criss-crossing them in the process- similarly to jumping jacks. I was sold on the idea because at that point I was willing to try anything to warm up.
As my turn came to practice bucking for the first time, I took off my bulky wool mittens and borrowed a gardening glove to be able to hold the chainsaw properly. After a couple of cuts, I started to feel my left hand numb up. I stopped, placed the chainsaw brake on and quickly snugged my hands inside my pockets. I couldn’t tell if my hands were warming up so I decided to try out Bill’s warming technique. I began jumping up and down as high as I could while flailing my arms up in the air. In one of my jumps, as I was bringing down my arms pretty hard to criss-cross them and in the process I hit the face screen of my helmet. A couple of my classmates could not contain their laughter in and burst out laughing. This bitterly cold day was now a scene filled with a little warm laughter amidst the roaring gusting winds on this random New England day.