Friday, July 26, 2013

for others

It has struck me lately that doing something for others, rather than just for ourselves, is really the purpose of so much of what we do here. I've felt this most intimately with my own kids. Some days I wish I had all to myself. To clean and have it stay that way, to garden without interruption, to have the time for elaborately prepared sleep! But then I think, who would I be doing those things for? If only for myself, the tasks somehow lose their meaning and their appeal.

We often (surprisingly often) have visitors here as well. I like to think somehow people are drawn to this place, and I hope I have a small part in making that so. I'm not certain I do, but I still try to put out that kind of energy, despite my introverted nature. My husband is a natural at it - always welcoming or encouraging people to visit, he treats everyone like family, allowing the kids to tag along for evening chores or other acts of generosity in many small, but meaningful ways. Of course, we benefit, too, from work in a lovely environment, surrounded by animals and nature. But what is beauty for, if not to share it? And what of a lovingly prepared meal if always eaten alone?

This is really the reason behind our self-titled "Ngo Family Farm." Have I told you this? We never intended to buy a much-too-big-for-just-us house and a couple acres to keep it to ourselves. In fact, if I truly had my way, it would be more of a family compound, with much of our family living right on this very land! But we have the next best thing - family (and adopted family) coming to visit, to share in our joy of homegrown eggs, to sit by the pond, to help tend the animals, to hold the baby. And I've become a bit less shy about asking visitors to help with a little something around here, because I've realized it gives them some ownership of this place, too. They benefit as well from doing something for others; Most especially the children, who naturally gravitate toward caring for the animals.

And so we are good at sharing. And not holding back giving of ourselves. And this, I think, is what a good life is about.

Friday, July 12, 2013


I was sitting on the couch last night in the dark, soaking my sprained foot in an ice bath - slumbering baby in my lap and dogs resting at my feet - watching the lightning storm outside. And it occurred to me that I never really just sit still like this. How nice it was! Just sitting and watching and appreciating what is around me. I didn't think about what I needed to do next, or fret about the dirty floor or become distracted by the dishes piled in the sink (as I usually do). I simply sat there. I noticed how calm and rythmic the baby's breaths were, how sweet the dogs looked all curled up, and how beautifully the flashes of lightning reflected on the wet world outside. It didn't last long - the storm passed, the baby awoke clamoring to be nursed, and the dogs roused. But I'm trying to hold onto that moment and keep it at the forefront of my memory; a sweet reminder to quiet myself from time to time, and allow that stillness to foster gratitude for the simple joys surrounding me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

around the farm

The peas never make it into the house - we've been eating them fresh off the vine - so sweet and tender! (and so 'num! as the little girl says).

The cream from our goat's milk is so very sweet and makes the best butter. I've also been experimenting with some very simple cheeses; Chèvre using lemon juice (which the first time turned out more like crumbles, but still tasty with chives and garlic scapes mixed in), and ricotta using apple cider vinegar. And I never knew there were so many uses for whey!

Speaking of the goats, Spring is quite a tough ol' gal, and has determined she will be herd Queen. More power to her.

There seems to be an explosion of bunnies (not good for the garden) and many of my beautiful greens growing in barrels were ravished by something overnight. My michilini cabbage is totally ruined, along with my short-term plans for kimchi. But I did manage to harvest all the bok choy and some of the mustard greens before the destruction. Our new favorite way to eat bok choy is stir fried with a little garlic, sugar, and fish sauce.

My larger garden is in a sad state, save for the potatoes, garlic (almost ready to harvest!), and onions. The tomato, pepper, and cucumber plants are s...l...o...w to grow this year. And all my poor squash seedlings died before I could plant them out. I'm consoling myself with the fact that I grew a baby this year instead of a good garden. Oh well. I do have a cousin-in-law who looks to have a bountiful harvest in her suburban garden, so I plan to trade my eggs for her produce.

I think this might be a duck egg! It made delicious braided bread.

The meat birds have all been harvested, and I'm thinking about re-seeding the outdoor run attached to the chicken barn (now wonderfully fertilized!) with kale and pumpkins.

What's growing in your space? Certainly you must be doing better than I am!

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