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Month: June 2013

father’s day in the park

This post is belated, but I wanted to share what a fun time I had this past Father’s Day with Chris and Aidan. Wanting a relaxed kind [singlepic=1197,280,280]of day, we packed a cooler of sandwiches and snacks, grabbed a blanket and the Frisbee, and headed to the trees to enjoyed some time in Messenger Woods—one of our favorite local retreats.

Chris had made crunchy vegetable sandwiches, and we brought some fresh fruit, chips, and mixed nuts. We spread a blanket beneath a canopy of Crabapple trees, chatted, and munched. Aidan darted off to climb a tree for a while, and then, we broke out the Frisbee. Of course, I showed off my stellar kung-fu Frisbee skills—making masterful mid-air catches, spinning and flipping (okay maybe not flipping), hooking it on my foot, and sending the flying disk into the bushes more times than I’m sure Aidan cares to count. Aidan responded in kind with some skills of his own. Chris laughed and snapped pictures all the while before joining in herself.

As the sun fell lower in the sky and the mosquitos discovered us there, we packed it in, but swung by the local frozen yogurt shop for a tasty treat before heading home. It was simple and wonderful. These moments mean so much to me.

backyard robins

Once again, our backyard has become a haven for spring robins. One attentive mother made a nest in the corner of our pergola by the
[singlepic=1191,350,350]rose bush. We’ve been watching her for weeks now, dutifully building the nest, sitting patiently, and now busy as heck flying to and fro to bring bits of worm and insect to her babies who sit there eagerly clamoring for more. They are very cute, and we are honored to have them as guests until they’re ready to spread their wings.

Each morning, Aidan runs to the window to sneak a peek and to see what new developments there might be. They are growing fast, and they’re getting louder. As we sat this evening beneath the pergola, the silence was broken repeatedly by a chorus of three hungry chicks as the mom swooped in to make a cautious delivery before swooping off again. I think we were making her nervous sitting so close to the nest, but I also like to think she’s beginning to trust us as mere curious but harmless humans.

a trip to angelic organics

Recently, we joined a group of homeschooling friends for an overnight camping trip to Angelic Organcis Farm in Caledonia, Illinois. It rained, but certainly not on our parade. Angelic Organics is a “a Biodynamic Community Supported Agriculture farm, growing vegetables and herbs for households since 1991.” Some of our friends had done this years past and had great things to say, so this year, we thought we’d join in the fun.

The farm is about 2 hours northwest of home–in the far northwest corner of the state. When we first arrived, we were invited to begin setting up a camp with the others—just down the grassy path past the barn, the goats, and the chickens. It was a nice setting with picnic shelter, fire ring, composting toilet not far beyond the garden, a cob oven, and good friends.

With camp set, we met our host for the next day and a half—Randy—a really nice guy with a lot to share about organic farming, community, and living close to the Earth. He explained to us where everything was, the basic guidelines to enjoy a safe visit, and laid out the plan for our time on the farm.

Going green doesn’t start with doing green acts — it starts with a shift in consciousness. This shift allows you to recognize that with every choice you make, you are voting either for or against the kind of world you wish to see. When you assume this as a way of being, your choices become easier.
          – Ian Somerhalderour

Over the course of our visit, we toured the farm, learned about its history and its eccentric owner, Farmer John. We helped with chores (the kids loved it), milked a goat, fed pigs, chickens, and ducks, collected eggs, learned about beekeeping, ate organic vegetables right out of the field, and learned about the methods used to run a community supported organic farm.

One thing I found interesting was the focus everyone at the farm had on feeding the soil. If you feed the soil, they said, the soil feeds the plants, which makes for healthy plants and healthful food, which makes for healthier happier people. The traditional farm across the road doesn’t feed the soil. It only focuses on the plant, we learned. This seemingly small detail makes all the difference in the world. I never felt soil like that at Angelic Organics. I held it in my hand. It was black, and rich, and smelled like the Earth. We learned that a handful of healthy organic soil can contain over 5 billion organisms—nearly the population of humans on this planet. This was all at once staggering and humbling. It stuck with me.

Between the epiphanies and the chickens, we also had some good-ole-fashioned camp fun, cooking [veggie] wieners over the fire, eating shmores, talking and laughing, and playing. It rained that night, but the tent stayed dry enough, and the next morning we all enjoyed a breakfast of farm-fresh, organic, free-range eggs. After some more fun, the kids made ice cream with the goats milk they collected earlier.

Finally, Randy brought us all together for closing circle, to share what we had all learned during our time there and to remind us of the importance of community. There was something special about Angelic Organics. I know we’ll be returning again soon.

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