Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Donaldson Farms

I talk about Harvest Hosts a great deal and for good reason. I love the program and have met some wonderful people and learned a great deal.  Of the program members that I have been to so far, Donaldson Farms was the most welcoming.  From the moment  I called to obtain permission from their event coordinator, Joan, to the minute that I pulled out the next day, the employees made me feel as if they really wanted me there.

Donaldson Farms has been in business since 1906 and is family owned and operated.  They have seasonal pick your own activities, festivals, educational agricultural events, a greenhouse and nursery and of course the wonderful market.  Their brochure says, and I quote, "We set our goals high.  Our most important goal is that you leave here feeling fulfilled, and not only with a bag full of healthy, tasty produce - but also with a sense that you can rely on us to deliver quality produce, superior customer service, and an excellent all-around experience."  As for me, they are that and much, much more.

When I arrived, I located Debbie who showed me where to park and stayed to talk to with me for awhile about my travels and Miss Kitty. I ran in before they closed to get tomatoes for my dinner. She came back later with a small melon and a peach saying that this was for my dessert and that coffee would be on about 7:30am.  In addition, she was making lunch the next day and I was invited to join them.
After a very restful night, I went over to the market to take the Sunflower tour to view the Black Oil Sunflowers that are grown for bird seed for the New Jersey Audubon Society that buys the seeds from the farm.  Per Katie, wife of the owner, their goal was is to grow on the 40 acres set aside for the sunflowers; 22,000 plants that should produce 8,000 pounds to make 80 bags of seed.    Unfortunately, the storm that had passed through recently had destroyed some of the crop. The tour is not just about the sunflowers but you get to take a fun hayride around the property with my very interesting guide Gary, who is also the driver, as he narrates about all the produce they grow.

You will learn about the importance of nourishing the soil all winter and may get to sample some of the produce.

Watermelon was sweet and delicious!

Blackberries straight from the bush.

We passed radishes that they use as a winter cover crop.  The radishes puts down roots that are three feet deep and keeps the soil moist.  We also passed peach and nectarine trees, lettuces of numerous types, plus all types of vegetables.

String beans are the few crops harvested with a machine that rips the string beans out and deposits in them in plastic tubs.  Everyone on the tour was given green beans that had been pulled up from the soil.   For me, I just added them to the ones that I purchased.

Indian Corn, not good to eat but is used for livestock feed.
Pick your own pumpkin patch.

We stopped at one of the sunflower patches where they have a viewing stand so you can see the field.

Sunflowers are planted in two week cycles like all the planted done on the farm.  Thus, we were able to see the very young as well as mature ones.

 We were shown a pollination chart and told of all the insects including the honey bees that live on the farm.
Once  the sunflower starts to open, they track the sun to the east and will stay facing the east. The leaves are edible but was told that they taste like notebook paper. The pattern of the sunflowers are not random put are in a spiral pattern using the fibonacci sequence.

The storm has damaged these sunflowers.

We were given some of the seeds to see how soft they were and they should be hard.

Photo taken by Katie

In the greenhouse they grow 15,000 poinsettias.

This is the maze that is made when the corn is only 6 inches tall with a lawnmower that is GPS guided.

Justin Donaldson designed the maze on a computer. Frankly, after looking at the aerial shot of the maze, I am not sure how anyone gets out... Great job Justin!

I learned a lot more but you will have to go to the farm and take the tour yourself.  You will not be disappointed and will leave as excited as I was.

After the tour, I went shopping and then went to meet Debbie to see what was for lunch. She had made portobello mushroom pizzas. I had never had them so Debbie told me how to do it:

- You take a portabello mushroom and put a little soy sauce on it before roasting.
- Once roasted, put on a slice of tomato and top with mozzarella cheese then stick back in the oven to melt the cheese.  

There was also a side of the sweetest and most delicious corn I have had in a long time.  I was glad that I had purchased some.

Plaque on the wall that I thought was fantastic!

Do you see these gorgeous vegetable? Everything I purchased tasted just as good as they looked.

I truly hated leaving. If I had not had a campground reservation to keep in Maryland, I would have asked to stay another day just so I could talk to the the wonderful people at Donaldson Farm.  One lady actually offered to take me to her home so I could do laundry because I mentioned that I had to find a laundromat on the way to the campground. Now that is service up over and beyond! When I arrived in Maryland, I checked my email and I received a thank you note from Katie!

Will I be're darn tooting! I will be back next year on my way from Fiber College so I can take part in some of the activities and meet up with these great and wonderful people. I wish I had an RV large enough to fit them all in and take them with me. From the lady stocking the produce to the owner that asked me if I had a nice stay, I felt welcome.

On the way back to Maryland, I had to stop for gas and wanted some coffee so I could make it to the campground. As I was walking across the parking lot, a very cute man named Stephen asked me if the Viper was mine. We must have talked for an hour because I was an hour late in my travels. He wants an RV too so I might see him on the road someday.  I did give him my card just in case.  Did I say he was cute ?  I forgot to ask if he was single.

I am in Maryland at the Duncan Family Campground in Lothian.  I will be here until the 28th, visiting my son and daughter as well as going through things I left with them. I also will be using this time to  reorganize Miss Kitty to see what I need or what can get rid of.                                                                                    

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Salem, Massachusetts

My purpose for going to Salem from Sept. 10 to 12 was to meet up with two ladies I have enjoyed corresponding with online, Sharon and Rhonda. During this visit I also added to my friends, Sharon's friend Margaret.

Margaret owns her own Armageddon vehicle that is ready to go off road and stay for quite sometime.  She is considering full timing but whether she does are not, I do hope to meet her again.

I met Rhonda, , at Coveted Yarns in Gloucester, MA. This is truly a wonderful yarn store.  I forgot that Rhonda said it was a yarn tasting and this place knows how to host one.  There was a piano player in one corner playing the most beautiful music:

and of course food this was set out in different locations in the store.

The yarn tasting was of Cascade Yarns.  
There was needles and scissors so you could try the different yarns that were displayed so beautifully.

The other highlight was meeting a marvelous lady who's card I have misplaced but will add her name as soon as I locate it.  She was making shawl pins for free.  She even made my friend Collin a cocoa stirrer which I have just mailed off to him. She had said that she would only do what I was doing if she had a cute young man with her.  I told her that I did for about two weeks and showed her his picture.  She totally agreed with me and then made the stirrer and asked me to give it to him.  I  also received an absolutely lovely shawl pin that I will cherish.

I was able to spend each day in Salem with Sharon. Upon my arrival, we went out for pizza and I got to see her lovely home that she just sold to hit the open road herself in November.  The highlight was that she took me on a private tour of the only tall ship that still sails, The Friendship. Sharon is a crew member and actually climbed the mast.  Go Sharon!
File:Friendship of Salem - Salem, Massachusetts.JPG

I felt like a celebrity walking around the beautiful ship and learning about all the features with my own very knowledgeable guide. "Friendship" is a 171 foot replica of the ship East Indiaman. The ship is fully functional and is run by the National Park Service.  The ship is operated by a volunteer crew and a park ranger. The ship is stunning however down below really impressed me.

On the tour, Sharon took me below to explain the working of the ship and I got to see her bunk and was amazed at the lack of privacy but in those days, having a clean bunk after working so hard would have been a luxury.

 She also showed me the navigation equipment. Sailors would throw the chip log (the wedge looking thing) wood panel in the water behind the ship which was tied to a rope with knots of equal distance, and the rope would start unwinding from the reel.  The faster the ship moved forward, the faster the rope would unwind.  By counting the number of knots that went overboard in a given time, measured by an hour glass, they could tell the ships speed.

This cannon was non operative and was for show to scare away pirates.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.

Sharon showing me around the ship.

The campground that I stayed at was located in Winter Island Park which was really just a parking at a small park. It was expensive since you did not get full hookup but the the view was very pretty.  This is the view from my bedroom window the first morning. Yes it was foggy but still very lovely.

Once the day wore on I did take a picture of Miss Kitty in her spot.

I did not do any sightseeing except for taking ] the trolley which stops at the campground so I hopped on and did the hour tour but did not get off.  You can get off and on all day if you wanted to.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Last Day of Fiber College

Yes, it is over until next year. 

My last class was "Spinning with Paper" taught by Sarah D. Haskell who is an artist, educator and weaver of woven voices.  The technique is called Shifu and was developed by the Japanese . The story is, in olden days after spies had completed their expeditions into enemy territory and needed to return to their lords with the secured information, it was imperative that the missives be kept secret and intact.  Onto washi, Japanese handmade paper, the confidential message would be brushed by ink.  The paper would be cut and twisted into thread and then woven into cloth. A spy could then pass through inspection without being caught by the enemy.  Once home, the cloth would be unwoven, the thread untwisted and the communique reassembled and transmitted to superiors.   

The truth is that because so little is known about shifu and with no written record, we can only theorize about its origin.

An important part of Shifu is that it can be washed without damage to the paper threads.  The Japanese have made kimonos, obi, formal kimono sashes, short working coats, men's summer robes and doorway curtains.

Our instructor likes to have her students write messages, letters, or pictures,  to sometime get out their frustrations on paper. The paper is cut into strips, spun and then woven.

Here is an example of her work
This picture is made with a linen warp and weft with the house inlaid with the spun paper.

I have never been able to use a drop spindle.

Unfortunately or fortunately, for spinning paper you need the control of a drop spindle.   Part of our class was on how to use the drop spindle. I can now spin paper but still will not be able to use the drop spindle to spin wool.
Examples of spun paper

Mulberry or rice paper cut and ready to spin.

My spun paper.

Our class with the teacher in the middle.

I went back to Miss Kitty to wait for guests to come by to see her and then went to the goodbye dessert social.   

I am looking forward to next year.  I even plan to meet up with a couple in St. Augustine, Florida, at a campground there so we can work on nuno felting.  I also have friends that work at the State Farm office in Jacksonville and others who live in The Villages that I want to see and it will be easier for them to come visit and meet Miss Kitty.

Tomorrow is a rest day then I head to Salem, Massachusetts, to meet up with two ladies that I have never met but we have corresponded online for ages.  One is a knitter and that is how we met and the other was introduced to me back when I was planning to get Miss Kitty and now she has just purchased her own 27 ft RV and will be hitting the road as a fulltimer soon.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

A Mistake that Turned Out Wonderful

I got up early to take an all day class in silk scarf painting using a technique with stencils.  The lady does not teach often so I thought that it would be fun and a great opportunity.  The class schedule you receive when you arrived said that I was to go to the Art Studio for the class.   I did not look at the event brochure of classes to see that the location had changed. Anyway, I was at the Art Studio and the instructor showed her work and since nuno felting uses silk, I kept waiting to get to the part were we would be painted with stencils.  Two hours into the class, I discovered that I was in the wrong class.   It was too late to go to the other class so I stayed and I am so happy that I did.  The instructor is the most talented nuno felter that I have met.  Her technique is totally different from mine and so I learned new things.  One of those things is that she starts with a white merino roving and silk foundation piece and dyes it. I had never done that before. I truly enjoyed this class and the instructor. She visited me at Miss Kitty and we talked for about an hour.

This is my scarf but I still need to embellish it. Also, it is still wet. We all made the same scarf but dyed them differently.

Our instructor.

Examples of her work

One of the students modeling one of the instructors scarves.

Short video of last year's Fiber College.

After class and lunch, I walked around to visit the vendors and to see what else was going on.  I found some people having fun with hulu hoops.

People resting and knitting

People walking their dogs.
The leashes light up!

In the evening we had show and tell, cocktails, music and later clam chowder and dessert was served on the beach.
This gentleman made this spinning wheel after taking a wood turning class at the 2012 Fiber College.

Love this soft sculpture

The hat was made in the hat making class and the scarf was made in the silk dying class.

View of beach from Miss Kitty and campfire on the beach.

People keep making comments about Fiber College on the chalk board in the campground bathroom.

More to come!