Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Pig Roast:: Part One

Last week we hosted our first BIG event out at the farm. I need to stop calling it "The Farm" because we have a name for it now. Martha's farm has a name, right? We needed a name. We call it GoodTree Farm, a rough translation of our last name in German as a friend once told us. We've since learned that the translation of Welbaum is indeed not Good Tree, though Baum is tree, just not good tree. Oh well, as a language teacher and language lover, I can really appreciate mixups in translations. The translation was not lost, it was saved and made our name. So there. From here on out, I'll refer to our farm as GoodTree. Now, if any of you talented artists out there would like to help us make our logo for GoodTree, perhaps a woodcut print of a large, branchy, funky tree? I'd love it!

Our event at GoodTree was a pig roast. The idea stemmed from my brother suggesting that someday we should roast a pig out at GoodTree. A plan for "some day" turned into, "when are you available to tend the pig in the roaster?" From there I did a bit more research and discovered that renting a roaster is most definitely expensive and perhaps cost prohibitive. It takes 10-12 hours to cook the hog (my new word, previously my city self used PIG.) If we had done it ourselves, in order for it to be ready to serve at noon, we would have had to pull an all nighter by the roaster. As someone who doesn't get enough sleep to begin with, my answer was no. Instead, we contacted the local meat market in Dennison, MN and inquired about their roasting costs. Spendy, yes. Worth it? Definitely. Dori from Dennison Meat Locker informed me that they can cook the HOG at 180 degrees in their smoke house and it takes 20 hours, ready to be picked up in a hog box. Sold.

I sent out an evite for the party and fell in love with this simple, fun logo that was available on their choice list. Shhh... we used the logo throughout the event as a central theme. If you don't own any of these kind of used-car lot banners, you really owe it to yourself and your neighbors to buy some. They make any entry way welcoming. I bought them last year for our block party and have found many reasons to use them. If you're local and promise to take good care of them, you can borrow them.

We set up the potluck buffet on the cement slab that was once going to be the former owner's new garage. It made for a perfect flat surface for the food. You can take a sneak peek of the hog at the end of the table. More photos of that in Part Two. Be patient.

I don't like to use plastic silverware, if I can help it. Instead of buying 100+ forks that would just be thrown away, I sent my Dad out on a hunt for inexpensive forks. He was able to procure forks from a few thrift stores but truly hit the jackpot with a catering supply house offering used (but clean) forks for $1.65 a dozen. He snatched up 13 dozen and called it a day. We'll be set for the rest of our lives for large events and never have to buy another silly plastic fork again. Next to the garbage cans we set up bins for dirty forks and then just did a big fork wash after the party was over. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Butterflies Everywhere

Another monarch caterpillar raising summer, indeed. We've enjoyed finding the eggs on milkweed, carefully bringing the host milkweed leaves home, watching carefully as they hatch, eat, eat and eat more. They crawl up to the top of our box, just as they did last year, hang themselves upside down in the "J" position, and suddenly, POOF... the yellow and black stripes are replaced with a surreal green and gold dotted chrysalis. It is so amazing, every time. This year the kids and I were lucky enough to be watching as it actually happened, to witness nature's miracle. Although we're not homeschoolers, I think we've learned more than a year's worth of science curriculum with these critters over the past weeks. They will go on and on to strangers about the food that monarchs eat, the fras they poop, the positions they take, the cycle of their lives and even where to find milk weed in Minneapolis. Strangers look at me and grin.
While we wait for the next cycle of monarchs to begin again (they sometimes have four cycles in a MN summer), we're learning about Painted Ladies. Our neighbor brought us a kit with six teeny tiny caterpillars. The learning curve starts again.
And you? Any creepy crawlies in your life lately?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Working at the Farm

We've been hanging out at the farm a lot lately. Lots of fun, but also lots of catching up on yardwork and maintenance issues that were not taken care of by the previous tenant. The front of the house was the WORST. I think the first few people potential renters who looked at the house were probably scared. Overgrown trees, burdock weeds and flower boxes that were filled with weeds or dumped on the ground.

On Friday my brother, sister and brother-in-law joined me for a kid-free work day. Armed with shovels, cutters and clippers of all sizes, we conquered this:
Here are the after shots:

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July

For Independence day this year we headed to the farm. A few years ago we went into Northfield to check out the in-town festivities, but this year we decided to stay put and just enjoy the sun and watermelon fun. We had friends join us, including Ron's sister and family and his parents. The mosquitoes joined too... thus the mosquito net on Carl's face. You can imagine the silly games they played with the nets on their faces! In the evening we had Minnesota (ahem... Wisconsin) fireworks over the pond.
Watermelon was the hit of the day!
It rained a bit on Saturday, but the adults stayed happy inside eating in the kitchen while the six kids played hide-and-seek in the bedrooms. It is amazing how a little change of scenery can produce so much creativity in kids and so much satisfaction for adults. Who knew that by only having 8 plates, 8 bowls, 8 glasses and so on... I could feel so satisfied in the kitchen? Living simply with less at the farm makes me question everything in my cupboard at home. Until I get home and grab the salad spinner and the .... Ah, the simplicity of life at the farm.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Sorry for the extended vacation from CityFarmGirl. I've been haunted by viruses and trojans and other creepy things that overtook our new computer. Let me please say this: make sure your security is updated on your computer. Now. Run a scan. Don't fall prey to the scams. It. Is. Important. I haven't been able to check my favorite blogs for weeks. When I went to friends' houses to check email a few times, I was so overwhelmed by where to start to catch up on my Internet stuff, I barely accomplished anything. I mean, check important emails? Delete the junky stuff? Check my favorite blogs? Read the news about Michael Jackson? Where to start? Also, we've been at the farm. Yesterday we drove down around 5 pm, made dinner, put the kids to bed, went to bed, then got up at 7:30 to get ready to come home again to get Ron to work and the kids and I off to MplsNatureKids. Was it worth it? Absolutely.I have tons of photos, tons of fun coming up. Make sure to check back regularly after the 4th of July weekend for updates. I've missed your comments and reading your blogs. So glad to be back.