Tag Archives: square dance

Bakery/shed 2: Foundation and Floor

It was bound to happen. Any winter construction project has to build in time for snow. Ours arrived mid-January, and delayed the foundation by two weeks.

But once things thawed, the project entered a phase where things start taking shape very fast. It is very exciting. We were delighted to hire our neighbor Scott Franklin to build the foundation. This is what he and his crew accomplished in three three short days.  They did a wonderful job.

They incorporated charred block from our first oven into this foundation, which feels good and has a nice resonance.

The next step was to frame the floor, and we both helped Craig, our awesome contractor, finish this stage in three days. On the first day, we built the beam and secured the rim board.

On the second day, we added the joists, and on the third, we glued on and screwed on the subfloor. This floor is not going anywhere!

And now that we have a floor, our first thought is: let’s have a square-dance on it!  And if we have our way, that is just what will happen at our annual old-time music party, Thorny-O, which is coming up this weekend.

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Day 2: We got married!

On October 11 Ben and I got married here on the farm. We were blessed with the most magical wedding we could have hoped for. The ceremony was officiated by our dear friend Jim Morrison, anointed for one day by the Judge in Albemarle County, and attended by more than 100 friends and family. Many thanks to Katherine Turner, for her photographs.

The best parties take on a life of their own, nudged into being by their hosts, but carried along and transformed by the imagination and initiative of the guests. For a party this size to do that—which it did—is testament to the skills, hard work, and guidance of our wedding party: Sarah Stowe and Stephenie Ritchey. Thanks gals.

Our guests outdid themselves in ways we know and in ways we don’t know. Popsicles appeared. Yards and yards of tulle for decorations appeared. A stunning hand-woven willow arbor appeared. Buckets, and then more buckets, of flowers appeared.

The tractor barn got transformed into a relaxing bar, complete with an embarrassing slideshow of baby pictures. The pole barn got transformed into a dance hall. The square dance started, and then kept going. Every time we looked there was a new band and a new caller. Gorgeous custom wedding shot glasses appeared, and then the cider toast got poured.

Bountiful bread, trout, and squash emerged from our oven. Pork and chicken got smoked and pulled. The food tables groaned under the weight of the feast. An outdoor home, complete with living room and kitchen, appeared in our front yard as a retreat from the fray. And a place for hung-over campers to breakfast the next day.

It was incredible.

 

Winter is vacation time on a farm, right?

One might think winter is vacation time on the farm. Not much grows at arctic temperatures, the soil is frozen, and most farmers’ markets are on break. But as we’re discovering, farming is still a full-time job in the winter-time! Here’s a peek at what we’ve been up to.

We have hired a full-time intern, Ashley Wright, who will start the first week of April.  In May, she will be joined by a full-time volunteer Brenda Fisher.  We are excited to welcome these two gals to our farm!

Yes, its winter, but we are trying out growing lettuce in the high tunnel, which is a passive structure that collects heat from the sun during the day and protects the plants from icy nighttime temperatures.  Winter lettuce leaves are thick, because its growing so slowly, and their sugars are concentrated to help them survive freezing.  This is especially exciting because this is the first crop we have harvested that we planted ourselves!

We have assembled most of the materials for our wood-fired oven: firebricks for the hearth, red brick for the door, concrete block and gravel for the foundation, masonry sand, clay, sawdust, wood chips and, yes, plenty of beer bottles for hearth insulation.

We are nearly done with the oven foundation!  We’ve laid concrete block and have been filling it with a mix of rock that has been pulled from our fields where it likely landed in the 1969 mudslide, and gravel. The arctic weather delayed this work somewhat, but we still feel on-track for having the oven finished by April markets.

We are also building a smaller clay oven for the house, and to gain experience working with our materials.

We bought a tractor!  Its a 1982 Ford, 40 HP, with a loader, which has already been put to good use moving heavy stuff for the oven around!

We have planned our CSA and placed our seed order! This involves zillions of decisions–which crops? which varieties? how much space does it need? how much space do we have? how many transplants? how many plantings? when do we plant them so that we have vegetables when we want them? Yes, we have become best friends with Excel.

We are selling bread and vegetables in Charlottesville and Lexington.

Our CSA is about 60% sold out!  Thank you to everyone who has signed up so far!

We are planning Thorny-O, an oldtime music and dance festival that we are organizing and hosting on the Valentine’s Day weekend.  We’re looking forward to welcoming new and old friends to our lovely farm!

Whew, I think that’s it.