Amir and I find ourselves shaking our heads in wonder a lot lately. Not just at the gorgeous sunsets and moonrises, amusing chicken antics, and sprinting pace of spiny pigweed going to seed, but mostly at the plethora of good people that make up this little county of ours. And even more so because of their amazing, God-centered, smart, skilled and wholesome kids. It’s like living in the land of Little House on the Prarie, only without any Nellies or Mrs. Olsons. (I’m pretty sure we’ll meet them soon enough, though.)
These are kids without ipods, who have hobbies that involve building, growing, or raising things, who go on service trips instead of summer camp, and know how to butcher animals. And if they don’t, they are eager to learn. Thus we were blessed by the presence of none other than Mary Ruth Kipps and her youngest daughter, sixteen-year-old Catherine, for yesterday’s chicken harvest of 94 birds. (For non-locals, Mary Ruth runs one of the most popular stands at the Madison Farmer’s Market, with her assortment of colorful eggs, delicious baked goods, berries, vegetables, and flowers. Her beaming smile and humble daughters add to the overall appeal of her stand, I’m quite sure. )
Catherine is quite the budding writer. She had taken over writing the weekly newsletter to all the market fans and has turned it into a delightful journal of her experiences on the Kipp family farm, with its many enterprises and siblings. Opening up my email on Thursday nights to find that newsletter is one of the highlights of my week because it always leaves me with a beaming smile. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have gotten a mention in this week’s newsletter! Without further ado, here is Mary Ruth’s Garden Newsletter, of August 12th, 2011, by the soon-to-be-famous author, Catherine Kipps.
Several years ago, I was walking through a creek and saw a relatively large shell. At the time, I found great joy in collecting anything and everything, so I picked it up and washed out all the dirt. Most of the little shells are just white on the inside, but this one had the most beautiful coloring I’d ever seen, with blue fading into pink and all the shades inbetween. And y’know, that’s the exact same color of a clear sky just after sunset. I know I’ve probably said this before, but in my opinion, the sky is the most beautiful part of God’s creation.
The clear weather has kept our family outdoors for the majority of this week. Daddy and Mamma have been working in their fruit trees and gardens. Jonathan’s doing a lot with the machinery at the farm and today he busted his head a little when he was driving the pick-up truck through a field. He hit a hidden rock and stopped suddenly. He thinks he blacked out for a few minutes, and when he woke up, he put his hand to his head. When he saw all the blood, he thought, Oh whoops! Naturally, Mamma’s more concerned than he is. Stella has been rooting a lot of cuttings and she roped me into helping her, because she thinks “this will be good experience for me”. We don’t see much of Walter, between his work and his girlfriend. He comes in with his boots and straw hat from making hay and goes out all dressed up for a date. Rebekah is babysitting a couple days a week and is loving it. Around sunset, Nathaniel can be seen with the garden cart, hauling bottles of milk to the bawling calves behind the house.
After market on Saturday, Rebekah said something about a baby squirrel on the deck, so I went to check it out. It definitely wasn’t on the deck, so I figured it must have fallen off. Sure enough, it was squeaking it’s little lungs out down in a clump of grass. I took care of it for several days, and then on Monday, Stella, Rebekah, and I took our cousin from Iowa on a hike up Old Rag. When we got home, the squirrel’s nest of rags was empty, so we searched under chairs and around bookshelves and finally decided he must have dropped through the railing into the plant area. That’s exactly what he did. He dropped directly onto the cement floor and we thought he surely was a goner, but he only seemed hungry so I took care of him for another day. By Tuesday evening, he decided he’d had enough of this life and so he died. I think it had something to do with his addiction to falling (Jonathan suggested we call him Geronimo), first from his tree, then from the deck, and finally from our living room, but I guess we’ll never know. He was fun while he lasted.
This morning, Mamma and I headed over to Amir and Diana’s to help them butcher chickens. I never butchered chickens before and I think I was expecting something very gruesome, but I had a lot of fun. I killed my first chicken around mid-late morning, and I had some first-rate teachers and I even had Mrs. Caldwell look on and cheer for me! It was a wonderful, beautiful day, spent with wonderful people.
Our green-beans are producing very well right now, and we canned several batches. Mamma has fed us green-beans for supper almost every night for the past week. Stella worked up some corn while we were gone today and Mamma and I worked up a small batch earlier this week. The tomatoes have been dribbling in, giving us enough for sliced tomatoes whenever we want, but not enough for processing. The carrots and red beets we planted a couple weeks ago are coming up with gaps in the rows where there wasn’t enough water. An apple tree I grafted this spring looks like it grew six inches since I last looked at it, which really wasn’t that long ago. We found a garter snake in our basement yesterday but it didn’t want Nathaniel to catch it, so the last we saw, it was hiding out under the boardwalk in the plant area.
We’re making all the usual baked goods for Saturday, and we’re planning to bring more grapes and apples. We brought two pies back from market last weekend, but Stella stuck them in the oven on Sunday morning to crisp them up and forgot about them. When we got back from church, they were still edible, but definitely overbaked.
See y’all Saturday,