Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peaceful Prairie Interview

I just saw this video over at On Human-Nonhuman Relations and thought I'd pass it along. This is the first thing I've ever watched from and I look forward to watching more.

It's a really great, not-too-long interview with the owners of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

Note for the squeamish: There are no images of animal cruelty in this video whatsoever. All you'll see are animals living a life of peace and freedom. Enjoy!

I can't wait to someday visit this place. We were so close to touring it the last time we were in Denver, but then it had to go blizzard all over the place.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Anna Wednesday #9

Jump and Run

Check this out. Liam's basically running in his jumper.

It's bordering on dangerous. If he gets any more distance we may have to take the jumper down. Or probably move things out of the way to give him more space to run. Because man, he loves it. You wouldn't know it from watching, but he was sick yesterday (when the video was taken). Snot pouring out of his nose and all that sort of stuff. But put that kid in his jumper and it doesn't matter. He's happy as a pig in mud.

By the way, the song is Cake's version of Mahna Mahna with audio tweaking by yours truly. It will be stuck in your head for the remainder of the day. You're welcome.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kids' Day at the CSA

This last Saturday, a bunch of families descended upon a small farm near Osceola, MN to get dirt under their nails, bugs in their hair and food on their plates.

This is the third summer that we've had a share in Foxtail Farms CSA, but it's the first time we made it out there for the kids' day. I guess it took having photos of Anna picking vegetables for me to finally write something substantial about our CSA.

The first thing we saw when we pulled up were goats and kids feeding the goats. Anna said, "Look, they have doggies!" We corrected her before getting out of the car. (City dweller shame is an embarrassing burden to bear.)

Anna watched the kids feed the goats.

We didn't encourage her to feed them, but we also didn't discourage her. She decided on her own to stand back and just watch.

I honestly do not know why there are goats on this farm. For milk? As pets? There were also chickens, some cows and a bull. They all looked healthy and in good spirits. I decided to ignore the fact of their property status and that they might be used for food. Because it was kids day, and this farm is awesome and we were there to have fun, dammit.

For those of you unaware of the CSA movement, here's a blurb from the Foxtail website:
"CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Each spring, CSA members purchase a "share" of the farm's produce. Fresh vegetables are delivered weekly throughout the growing season, usually from mid-June through October. The farmer benefits by having an established market, while the members enjoy a wide variety of the freshest produce available all summer. In addition, by joining a CSA, members are supporting small scale, local, sustainable farming."

And we get wagon rides!

Here's Jen and Anna on the wagon. Where was Liam, you ask? I was wearing him. It made taking photos especially difficult, given his affinity for chewing on straps of any sort. Hell, for chewing on anything. He probably would have chowed down on the lens had I given him the chance.

Farmer Paul (if I remember correctly) drove us out to the fields. First stop: Potato Town.

The farmer stomped a pitch fork into the hard soil and loosened a clump of potatoes just enough for the kids to pull it out the rest of the way. Anna just sort of stood there and watched the older kids. It looked dirty to her. She's not a total clean freak, but she likes to be generally dirt-free. I instantly knew what was running through her head (because it was running through mine as well ... like father, like daughter, right?) so I told her to just dig right in. "It's OK," I said, "You'll get dirty. You're supposed to get dirty. The dirtier the better."

So she got dirty and picked a bunch of potatoes. It was work. She had to look under things and bend over and pull hard.

Next stop: Carrot Town. There was no hesitation this time. Anna dug right in. A lot of tops of carrots were snapped off, since the pitch fork couldn't be in all places at once. I wonder if we'll get the bottom halves in a future delivery...

Next stop: Bean Town.

On the way to Bean Town, I heard a couple tweens wondering what beans grew on. A bush? A tree? Yes, they eventually decided, beans grow on a tree. And this is what was great about the day. Kids learning where their food comes from. What it looks like before it's on their plate.

I almost cried while watching Anna's hands move through the beans. I saw grace and a fluidity of movement, I saw determination and a keen eye. I saw my daughter pick those beans with her own two hands.

I saw her face beam with well-deserved pride.

In the most recent newsletter that comes with the CSA box we get each Thursday, the writer (who is, I believe, one of the two owners of the farm) said, " is only through intense interactions with the physical world that food is generated for people to eat."

I wouldn't call what we did intense. It was an infinitesimal percentage of the work that goes on every day at that farm. But I could tell that Anna took pride in it and she considered it to be a certain level of work.

Later that day when I started to prepare supper, Anna was in the kitchen asking to help. That happens rarely, if ever. But here she was, asking to skin the potatoes; to cut the potaotes. And I let her. With my really sharp knife. How could I say no? She picked these potatoes. It only seemed natural that she wanted to also prepare them. (Note: I held the knife with her and was as safe as possible. Well, I let her try it on her own for one of the smaller potatoes.)

And then she ate the potatoes. And she ate the carrots raw. And she ate raw green beans, too.

[Side note: When we were in North Dakota a couple weeks ago we got to eat my mom's pickles. We came back to Saint Paul and I picked up some pickles at the store. I put a couple on Anna's plate and she looked at them and asked in a dissapointed tone, "are these from the store?"]

Foxtail has interns. They live at the farm and work for room and board. This guy is one of them, I'm pretty sure. He walked alongside the wagon, making sure kids weren't getting run over and whatnot. In the background is where our basil and cucumbers (among other things) grow. I kept referring to it as a grow house, which tells you that I've spent more time in my life watching "Weeds" than I have picking weeds.

On the wagon ride, a kid commented to her parents that the green houses reminded her of something out of a Mario game. I jokingly shushed her and the parents and I shared a knowing glance. Like I said ... shame of the City Dwellers.

After the wagon ride, we sat on the big lawn and ate potluck food, most of which was made from the veggies share-holders got from the very farm they were touring. Fresh food and smiles abounded.

Then I fell in love with a big old barn. Here are my adoring photos of it.

And to top it all off, Anna got to swing on the largest and highest swing she will probably ever swing on. She's still a little leery of "big kid" swings, so she didn't want to go super high. Next year...

And finally, our booty for the day. This is the kind of stuff we're going to get every week for the next month or so, but these tasted better. The vegetables of our labor.

This is "morganically grown" produce here. From the Foxtail website:

"'Certified Organic' is a useful term for food grown by farms thousands of miles away, but we are developing a relationship where the farmer and consumer know and depend on each other. Morganic is local, grown to organic standards, hours old fresh, and sold directly to the consumer. You can talk to the farmer and tour the farm. That is the only way to be sure of your food."

To find a CSA in your area, go here. I strongly suggest it. It's a hunk of money up front, but it pays off. You'll eat fresher, healthier and localer. Yep. Localer.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Liam #9

I've been lax on my photo taking responsibilities since getting back from our week and a half long trip to North Dakota and Winnipeg. Here's the most recent photo I have of Liam (taken 7/19, which was also Mrs. Piggy's birthday). It was the last photo of our trip, taken by our good friend Kelly right before we left her and her husband's house to embark on the ten hour trip back to Saint Paul (which went surprisingly well).

Friday Liam #8

Another bonus, since I should have posted this last Friday. Here are two taken July 13th and 15th.

I know, I know, I know. If you've seen one baby-in-a-dryer photo you've seen them all, but here you go anyway.


And here's a photo that my five year old niece Ella took of Liam while we were visiting North Dakota.

Friday Liam #9 coming up shortly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anna Wednesday #8

We went to Winnipeg last weekend for a wedding and stayed at our friends Mike and Kelly's. They have a beautiful house and were gracious hosts. Anna loved staying there.

(Click to enlarge to see the blue in her eyes.)

I didn't take many photos at the wedding because our friend Britta was the photographer and I just didn't see the point in adding my paltry two cents worth of photos when she takes masterpieces all day. I did take video though, which I hope to post in the coming days.

Anna Wednesday #7

Still trying to get my footing after our long trip. Everything went great. I didn't get a chance to post an Anna Wednesday for last week, so here are two to make up for it. These are from the 11th and 13th of July.

Anna took part in a "fashion show" at my big paternal family reunion a couple weekends ago in Devil's Lake, ND (or as Anna called it yesterday Double's Lake).

A couple days later we drove up to Langdon, ND with my mom to visit my grandma.

Anna Wednesday #8 coming up later today.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I forgot to mention that we're out of town for a while. Hence the absence of general blog posts and Anna Wednesday and Friday Liam.

Things to talk about when I get back:

Anna's reaction to fishing. Her cousin asking her if she caught any fish. And her polite way of asking me if something was vegan.

Until then...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Anna's 3rd Birthday Party

Anna turns 3 in a few days so we celebrated her birthday on the 4th.

We had it at a park with a zero depth entry wading pool.

It's a wading pool, but Anna still wanted to use her floaty ring.

Our friend Erin made the cupcakes. Cookies and cream. Yum.

Here's a shirtless Liam with his aunt Anne (my sister) and cousin Zach. We intended for this to be the first time taking him in the water, but it never quite happened. Probably a good thing, since the water was reeeeeally cold.

That night we lit off a few fireworks.

Anna went to bed shortly after this photo was taken, only to wake up (or she never went to sleep) about an hour later. We were all still hanging out in the back yard, watching the big fireworks being set off from somewhere not too far away. Mrs. Piggy brought Anna into the back yard to watch. She saw one big explosion and said she wanted to go back inside.

Once she fell asleep Jen (Mrs. Piggy), Jessica (her sister) and I played around with sparklers, spelling names with a ten second exposure.

Anna's favorite birthday present so far (and she's only really explored about 20 percent of her presents) is the swing that we gave her. Yes, we hung it from the tree in our back yard. Also, I tested it with a 50 lb. bag of sand (which I bought to fill up the sand box/water activity table her grandpa gave her) with five continuous minutes of swinging before Anna ever got in it. So it's safe. Unless she suddenly gains a ton of weight ... or the branch starts to die. Then I'll have to reassess the situation.

I suggested to Anna that we name the tree the Giving Tree. No, she said, let's just call it tree.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Liam #6

The kid loves his feet. I should get video of him sucking on his big toe one of these days.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Goode Family - Ep 6: The One With The Freegan

This one's about freegans. Or at least it has a freegan in it (in case you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the Wikipedia article on Freeganism).

A freegan visits Goode Family neighborhood and indicts them as wasteful consumerists. The freegan is a misanthrope, spiteful of everyone he comes into contact with.

A point is sort of made that while we can always do more and be better people than we are, doing so means becoming miserable in the process.

I take issue with this. I think that someone who tries to do good for good reasons usually gets personal satisfaction from the acts of doing good. I'm happy with veganism, for example. I don't see veganism as a sacrifice. I don't know a single miserable vegan. But it's a stereotype that gets promulgated all over the place. I think this happens for two reasons:

1. Ignorance: People don't know about the wonderful foods vegans eat and they don't understand the reasons for going vegan. So they think vegans are self-loathing and masochistic.

2. Wishful Thinking: There are those who hope that vegans are miserable. It makes it easier for them to remain comfortable with their worldview. If a vegan is miserable, unhealthy, sikly, pale, anemic (and again, I don't know a single vegan who fits this bill), then it's easier for them to write off veganism as something that just doesn't work. Something they should never consider.

The same could be said for Freegans, is what I'm getting at.

The creators of the Goode Family, I think, have a case of number 2.


Oh, and here's something I've been meaning to do with past reviews and will start now. I'll call it the Vegan Watch, in which I report if there were any veganism-related jokes in the episode.

Vegan Watch: There were no jokes about veganism in this episode.

Well ... that was uneventful.