Tag Archives: farms

Sweet summer treat

I’m going to admit it – I am pretty damn lucky. I live in an amazing part of the world surrounded by farmland, friends, mountain views and great food. Top that off with a job that allows me to combine all of these things and, well, things are pretty damn sweet. The past few weeks I’ve been grabbing some delicious fruit from the Market and nibbling on it throughout the week but the truth is, I can’t eat the fruit fast enough. So instead of letting it go to waste, I’ve been making the most delicious, simple and summery treat I can think of: cobbler.

Last week it was cherry cobbler, this week it’s been peach and next week who knows? Maybe plum? Yum! Cobbler is so amazingly simple to make, the toughest part is waiting the 45 minutes for it to cook. It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (Battenkill Creamery is my choice) but I’ll fess up to eating it cold, straight from the pan for breakfast too!

Easy Fruit Cobbler

4 T butter
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt (I usually skip)
3/4 c. milk
2 c. fresh fruit (sliced if needed)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put butter in an 8-inch square pan and set in oven to melt. When butter is melted, remove from oven.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add milk and whisk until it forms a smooth batter.
  4. Pour batter into the pan then scatter the fruit evenly on top.
  5. Bake until batter browns, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

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So I took a break

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. There have been no recipes, insights or reflections from me for nearly a month now. Somewhere along the line a week’s long break to get things in order here ended up being a month (or more). So where have I been and what have I been doing?

Well, I started a new job.

I am now the market manager at Schenectady Greenmarket. It’s only been a week, but what a week it’s been! I’m trying to get into the groove of balancing my new role with my writing and family and friends and all the other things that make up my days.

For those of you in the area, the Market runs on Sundays from 10 to 2 on Jay Street in Schenectady. Stop by, say “hi” and enjoy all the wonderful food and wonderful people the Market has to offer. I’ll see you there.

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True north? Maybe not…

As soon as the sun begins to shine and the snow stops falling, my job requires that I am on the road visiting farmers. I love this part of the year…and I loath it. There are two fundamental truths I have discovered over the last few weeks:

  1. I live in an amazingly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful area of the country.
  2. Despite printing up and following directions, I will get lost.

I told this to the Lemon Drop yesterday afternoon as I asked him to talk me out of the maze of back roads I was on in Rensselaer County. He just laughed and laughed. What makes the entire experience even more funny is that I have a master’s degree in geography.

It isn’t my fault though…

Sure, I have no sense of direction and I second guess any kind of instructions no matter how simple or exact. No, the problem is not on my end, it is with the directions themselves.

Why take me down six back roads when I could easily take a main route the entire way and then a left onto the desired street? Why aren’t roads marked? Or signs twisted so you think you are on the correct road only to realize 3.7 miles later you actually aren’t?

The only thing going for me is that I am not required to find my way around at night. I once had a 1.9 mile night-time journey take me an hour and a half because I missed the one and only left turn I had to make. Yes, a GPS would make my life simpler and my bitching wane, but I don’t think about it until I’m in the middle of nowhere on mile 4.2 when I was supposed to find Barton Road at the 1.6 mile mark. And I’ll forget about everything by the time I hit the road again on Friday.

My faults are many, I’ll admit. I have a problem with any kind of authority (shocker, I know). And I don’t like having to hand control over to anyone or anything (even directions) – I’ll do it, but grudgingly and I am always poised to snatch that control back at the slightest moment of weakness (huh, maybe that’s my issue with men?).

Is that why I keep getting lost? I don’t know and I’m not convinced. I still think Google Maps has it out for me.

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Breaking ground

Every year around this time, I get a little nostalgic, a little dreamy and a little misty over a boy, The Farmer Boy. I don’t think about him in the winter, summer or fall; no, spring was our season, or rather, those few weeks that lead up to planting. The reason my mind drifts back to The Farmer Boy isn’t because of his good looks (and ladies, he was sooo hot) or his personality. No, the reason I think of him is because this boy broke up with me with the most spectacular line ever.

Let me set the scene: Planting was about to begin. I knew what that meant, I wouldn’t get a chance to see him for six weeks. I was OK (though not thrilled) with it. One night, while on the phone, I asked for a small favor.

The conversation went like this:

Me: Every once-in-a-while, can you maybe, along the way, let me know that you miss me?

Him: Ah…well…The thing is that I really love riding around in the tractor. I mean, I love planting and, well, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you that.

Me: Huh?

Him: You see, now that you mention it…I’ve realized that I love my tractor more than I like you.

Me: … But I have boobs! …

So as farmers climb up into their tractors, my mind drifts back to the boy who loved his tractor so much he chose it over a really, spectacular rack. And though it was painful at the time, I think it’s pretty damn funny now.

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Rhythm of the season

Spring has finally (kind of) made an appearance in Upstate New York. The Winter was cold and bitter and even snowy…but it was also long. Why is it that we spend all year complaining about the season we’re in? Winter is too cold (or too warm); Spring is too short, too rainy, too cold or non-existent all together; Summer is too hot, too wet, too dry; Fall is too short, too warm, too stormy. I’m just as guilty as the rest, I complain right along with everyone else.

To me, Spring is always about transformation and transformation is never easy or smooth. Transformation, instead, is about stormy emotions, destruction of the old, birth of the new. Muddy paths and windy nights; turmoil and chaos – that is what Spring brings. It is an unsettling of routines, souls and perspectives. It is scary and beautiful all in the same breath. It is about surrender and acceptance.

Spring in Upstate is also the time when fields are plowed and planted. It is the time when farmers emerge from their workshops rested and repaired with a curse on their lips and a prayer in their hearts, prepared for the marathon that is about to begin.

Farmers are always in a tussle with Mother Nature. Last year it was a record warm Spring and a devastating Summer drought. This year, it is the continued cold snap and flooding. We need to get seed in the ground so that it can mature in time and be ready for harvest but we also need the ground warm and dry enough to get into the fields.

For many of us who have a supporting role on farms or in farmers’ lives, planting means saying “goodbye” for a solid six (or more) weeks. I had my goodbye chat last night, planting hasn’t started, but it will in the next few days. There may be a quick call from a tractor cab here and there, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope. After seven years in the country, I’ve gotten used to the rhythm and the calendar that farm men live by. I’m not saying that I like it, I’m just used to it now.

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Fresh eyes and a male voice

I am about to embark on one great big, holy crap adventure – and I’m kind of terrified. The terror isn’t going to hold me back, in fact it is pushing me forward, but the fears of failure or success or getting hurt along the way – all these things are beginning to knot together in my tummy. You see, next week I am flying to Las Vegas for a national conference where I am going to be part of two panel discussions about farming, women, and communications. It is an amazing opportunity – one that I reached for and grabbed. An opportunity I plan to take full advantage of…but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared to death.

The other morning as I was stirring my coffee and staring at the clock, I realized that all grand adventures are, in some way, kind of terrifying. Adventures aren’t smooth and easy and always full of fun. That’s a vacation. No, adventures are full of tough treks and scary moments and amazing payoffs. I’m ready for the adventure – and the happy ending too.

I’ve been practicing my presentation (about farming, women, and communications) for a few weeks now, but I felt like I needed a fresh perspective. I called my friend, the Lemon Drop (sour and sweet all at the same time) over for dinner. The Lemon Drop realizes that there is no such thing as a free dinner where I am concerned. When I come a-callin’ he can expect a delicious meal, a lot of questions and very likely a blog entry the morning after.

Anyway, I think the best part of the evening was listening to the Lemon Drop reading my presentation about farming, women, and communications. Hearing him say things like “It’s called being a woman, right?” with sincerity made me giggle. A deep, gravelly voice – one that can be grumpy and pumpy at times – talking about the strengths women have, well, it made me see the presentation with fresh eyes and a pretty light heart…and I wasn’t so scared anymore either.

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Which would you choose?

Last night I had one of my best friends over for dinner. I needed to pick his brain and get some advice. His support, guidance and insight are things I treasure – even when I don’t agree – and any chance to sit around the table and chat is a good time. We might come from different backgrounds, but we share a similar passion: agriculture…or farming.

You see, we both have strong opinions on what the best term to use is. He prefers agriculture, I like the word farming. We had a “discussion” on why the other should change their mind. Neither of us won…but were were both right in a way.

My friend is a fourth generation farmer with an ag degree. He works on a large dairy and raises hay. He is a leader in the ag community. Farming, to him, conjures an outdated picture. Today’s agriculture is far removed from American Gothic. Agricultural professionals raise our food, wear suits, are involved in their community and civic organizations. They are educated, forward thinking, business leaders and (some) are even tech-savvy.

All of this is 100% true. And I agree that farmers are far from the romantic ideals so many of us hold on to. Sure, there’s likely to be a pick-up truck and a farm dog riding shot-gun, but it’s just as likely that there is a GPS in the John Deere tractor as they plant a field of corn.

I still prefer using the terms “farming” and “farmer.” As a marketer and communicator, I want to evoke the positive, warm feeling American Gothic and the like elicit. A familiar image or idea of farming is a great place to start a conversation. Got that happy picture in your head? Good, great! Now, here’s how today’s farming – big and small – hold onto the ideals, principles and culture that antiquated picture represented. Farming is still about family and community, no matter how the size of the farm. Today, the family has a degree, marketing skills, financial forecasting experience. The community in which the family farms is likely o be diverse, eclectic and contain more people living and working off the farm than on.

To me, when you use “agriculture” or “agricultural professional,” the image that comes to mind is big business and science. True or not, accurate or off-base, this isn’t the place from which I want to start a dialogue so I choose “farming.”

Which would you choose?

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