Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The evening before we left Amanda and Mike took us for a walk around their property. It was a "good buy, state of Michigan" walk. The kids were running around, picking black raspberries, recognizing flowers and herbs they have learnt about on the previous farms. At some point I couldn't even see them, they were free as could be!

We got to know more about Mike and Amanda's ways of farming and raising a family at the same time. Since they were the first family with small kids that we stayed with on our trip, I was curious to see how they had found the way of farming with children.

"Yes, I know, they step on plants a lot. They walk across the beds with seeds just planted. But I can't tell them "no" all the time. I want farming and growing food to be a nice experience for them. I want to make sure they feel that they are a part of our family farm and feel welcome here all the time. What grows, grows. What doesn't grow, I don't really fret about it. We still have enough. "

That was such an important point that Amanda made, that I needed to hear. Farming with kids is extra work, but it is all possible and doable. With right attitude it could be a pleasant experience for even the littlest ones in the family.

"Next year I'll probably design a mini garden for each child", Amanda continued. "They'll take care of it, watch the plants grow and will harvest them when they feel like it. This year Zen had his own popcorn planted, and he can't wait for it to grow!".

Being so young, Amanda is very wise and knowledgeable. I learnt not only a few tricks in the kitchen from her, but had extended my knowledge of medicinal herbs as well. As we were making our way through the woods going up to the pastures, she showed me St. John's Wort. She explained the way to identify it in the wild and told me about the ways to use it. I found it to be fascinating that a yellow flower would produce a deep purple essential oil, that is a great help with healing cuts, wounds and minor burns. We sprayed a Yarrow tincture, prepared by Amanda in the spring, as a natural bug repellent. It will last them for the entire summer. Effective, inexpensive, non toxic, a nature's gift for those who are willing to learn and be aware and receptive of alternative ways.

As we were passing by the bee hives (48 of them), stocked up on the meadow, I got to learn the story behind their honey supply for the year. A friend, who has a bee pollinating business and travels with his bee hives all the way to Florida, following the crops that are in need of pollination, gives them 5 or so gallons of honey in exchange for allowing him to keep his bees on "Maple Moon Farm's" territory in between the seasons. There are no crops to pollinate at this time of the year, so the bees are on "bee vacation". They get to enjoy local Michigan meadows before they are loaded into 2 trucks and transported to where their services are in great need. Like almond trees in GA, and citrus trees in Fl. In Michigan they pollinate blueberries and cherries.

Mike and Amanda were a great company during our stay. They have a positive outlook on everything and jokingly admitted: "Oh, we farm because we love to eat! We can't afford to buy the food in the supermarket, that's why we have to grow all of it ourselves. We have our food for the entire year, plus some extra".

We were leaving "Maple moon Farm" thankful for new encouragements, new prospectives on farming, and wished we could stay a bit longer. But Wisconsin was waiting for us and we had to move on.


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