Frosty, Foggy Farm

Our latest trip to the farm was shockingly different.  We’ve seen the farm in late spring, summer, fall and now winter.  We arrived at dark and it was extremely foggy on the road from the town to the house.  Snow had fallen the previous week but a lot of it was melted.  We couldn’t see much and we were tired from the long drive, so we unhooked the U-Haul trailer and found some dinner and the hotel.


The next morning we set out for the farm and it was still foggy, but easier to navigate the road.  We warmed up the house, had breakfast and hauled in all the boxes from the trailer and truck.  Two handymen came out to see about some work we wanted done and they were friendly and informative.  One of them gave me lots of tips on how to run my dishwasher more efficiently so it doesn’t constantly break down–something I have lots of trouble with.  He also told me how to care for the gas stove.  That was much appreciated as I’ve never had one and running it on propane is different than running it on natural gas.  I have a lot to learn.  I found all the appliance books in the house and took them home with us, so I can study up on those.

After the boxes were unloaded I set out on a walk around the farm to see what I could find.  I found a few vegetables in the garden planted by the previous owners–mostly purple cabbages and the green shoots of garlic and shallots.

Cabbage Winter    Green Sprouts

The fruit trees that were so gorgeous in the fall were still beautiful, showing off the structure of their branches.

Apple Tree Winter1

I was able to find some colorful trees and bushes and berries.  I found one bush that I hadn’t even noticed in the other seasons.  It’s a strikingly beautiful sight from the kitchen window.  I’m thinking it’s a Stag horn sumac, or Stag’s horn sumach (Rhus Typhina).  Typhina means that the branches are rough like antlers in velvet.  It’s called Stag’s horn because of the velvety texture and forking pattern of the branches, reminiscent of antlers.  You can make a type of pink lemonade from the berries and all of the bush except for the roots can be used as a natural dye and mordant, which sets the dye.  This is one of the plants in my new foraging/recipe  book, Foraged Flavor, by Tama Matsuoka Wong.

Red Flowers Winter

The problem with identifying this bush is that I haven’t seen the leaves, so it could possibly be poison sumac, but I can’t imagine anyone ever purposefully planting poison sumac in their yard.  At any rate, the identification will have to wait for another season or two.

Heavenly bamboo2 Red berries Winter Heavenly bamboo1

Heavenly bamboo (above)

The two ponds on the farm had water in them, but I didn’t go down to the lower pond to see how much.

Upper Pond Winter Upper Pond Gauge Lower Pond Winter

Upper pond; water gauge and ice on the upper pond; lower pond.

After walking around the garden my shoes and socks were soaked so I cut short a longer walk.  One of the errands we ran later on in town was to buy some Muck Boots.  I didn’t get a chance to try them out, but I am hoping for dryness, warmth and sure-footing in the mud.  Here’s a link to the muck boot website:  http://www.muckbootcompany.com/page/aboutus  (Edit: 3/22/2015; The muck boots are the BEST!  They keep my feet warm and dry and I feel safe from thorny bushes and ticks and can tromp around without fear of slipping and falling.  We need to get more of them for guests.)

Later in the afternoon we met up with a couple at a coffee shop in town.  The wife is involved in the Master Food Preserving group and we met her through that organization.  We have signed up for classes in March.  We had a very nice time getting to know another very interesting, friendly couple in our new town.

For dinner that night we found a fabulous Indian restaurant.  We happened to be driving by and I saw the sign.  I looked it up on Yelp and it had all favorable reviews so we gave it a try.  It was definitely spicy hot enough for Bruce, and not hot at all for me–how wonderful is that??  So we’ve now found two great restaurants–Thai and Indian.  That should keep us happy for awhile.  🙂

Tree Moss  Moss  Sparrow

Pine tree  Bamboo

Photo group:

-This moss, or lichen, is everywhere, but seems harmless.  (Edit: 3/22/2015; the moss is harmless and seems to only grow mostly on the oak trees.)

-The little brown birds were all over the yard looking for food.  I am going to say they are sparrows.  It was too cold to go out and wait for the birds to show up, and they didn’t like my camera, so there is a lack of good bird photos.

-I thought this pine tree had an interesting shape with the wavy branches.

-A different type of bamboo, but it stood out brilliantly against the darker landscape.

On this trip we encountered a new weather phenomenon–freezing fog.  We had plenty of conjectures as to what it could be, but on the way home we finally saw the effects of it–pine leaves and leafless branches covered in white frost, like icing–truly beautiful!

As usual, our stay was much too short and we arrived home very late, but we’re already looking forward to our next visit–hopefully the weather will be warmer!

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America