Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Recent cold weather has reduced the Yum Yum Farm to this--a few lousy herbs on the dining porch. Some farm! Astute observers will notice the title of this blog is only partially accurate. It's just that "parsley, chives, basil, rosemary and marjoram" doesn't sound quite as musical. We are still enjoying sage and thyme from outside though, as well as a yummy curly mint plant, which we savor from time to time in various forms, most notably, Joanna's out of this world mint chip ice cream. A sturdy oregano plant gives the farm a Mediterranean feel (do you believe that?) well into the winter, especially if it's buried under some leaves. Now if we could just figure out what to do with those pretty blue berries on the junipers. Any ideas?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Breaking the Wind

Hard to believe we've lived at the Yum Yum Farm for nearly a year now. We still have a few firsts--our first November 10 through December 24. Then it's really a year. One lesson learned during last winter was that the entry porch is completely exposed to the strong and very cold winds from the north and west. This made firewood storage difficult, as the overhang did little to keep snow off the porch, and winds frequently blew with sufficient force to relocate the tarpaulin covering the wood to the western counties of Illinois. So, we bought the north porch a winter coat of its own, which you see pictured here. Turns out you can purchase heavy canvas tarpaulins, in (roughly) the sizes of the spaces between posts and floor and ceiling, in a dark brown that (roughly) matches the brown on our house. What a country!

Here's the view from the other side looking toward the northwest. This should keep the firewood dry. If I had it to do all over again, I would've hung these tarps on a hot day in August rather than a cold windy day in November. They caught the wind like sails, nearly flinging me into the side of the house. And handling the metal hardware and tools used to hang them--don't get me started! Despite these challenges, the desired effect has been achieved. These may also have a modest impact on our energy consumption by keeping the cold wind away from the front door. We'll see.

Note also the 2 benches, positioned now for (ugh!) boot removal. These are Aldo Leopold benches, named for the naturalist and writer who designed them. I built these over the summer for seating, and to loosely associate our farm with someone whose concepts and practices of land management we aspire to emulate. Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, and is perhaps best known for his "A Sand County Almanac", published in 1949, a year after his death. From the author's introduction to his work: "That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. That land yields a cultural harvest is a fact long known, but latterly often forgotten." (Leopold, Aldo, "A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There", Oxford University Press, 1949, pages viii-ix.). You really need to read this book.