To my family,
I'm coming home! I've missed you all so much! But, thank you for letting me stay longer. Two weeks was really much better than just one.
I don't have pictures to post like we took the other days, but I wish we'd taken the camera yesterday! We went to visit some friends who live on an organic farm, and we had so much fun we didn't want to leave.
When we first got there, the grownups were just finishing with the haying. They had cut all the hay in three fields, and made more than 800 bales from it all! We watched them take the last tall wagonload out, pulling it with a green tractor.
Then, Yellow Raven (age 6) showed us around her gardens. We ate blueberries right off their bushes, and learned about all the plants they were growing. We learned about Sister Planting, which is when you put radishes in with the cabbages and potatoes to keep beetles away, marigolds in with the tomatoes to keep aphids away, and clover in with lots of things to keep weeds out and put nitrogen into the soil. We also learned about Drip Irrigation, where you lay a hose with tiny holes in it out through the plants to water just exactly where they need it, without much water evaporating or being wasted in other ways.
The Soapbox Collector and Yellow Raven's mom walked around and talked a lot too, but I don't know what they were talking about because we were so busy exploring. We played with a flock of baby guinea hens--2 weeks old--in their box in the house, under a heat lamp. They were so soft and downy! We played with the chickens, who really seemed to like Kiki. She has a way with animals, and they all seemed to love her. She liked holding the chickens, and took time to cuddle every single one on the farm! We also played with Jasper, a 10-month-old border collie puppy who is a total natural at herding sheep, and really good at it, but still learning that he's supposed to take them where the *people* want the sheep to go, not where *Jasper* wants them to go! We saw the beautiful stone grotto where Yellow Raven's stepdad might build her treehouse this summer. Whether or not that's the final choice for a location, Jinn Quon and Kiki are coming back out to help build it and learn how to do things like that. Yellow Raven's stepdad is a carpenter as well as a farmer, and he really likes kids, so it's going to be a lot of fun.
We walked through the woods up to the first meadow, where we moved the sheep enclosure while Jasper kept the sheep where they belonged. The fence was so light, just like a net with little plastic poles, but when it's hooked up electricity flows through the net, so the sheep don't touch it! There was a beautiful forest just past the sheep enclosure, with 40 acres of trees that haven't been logged in a really long time, so they're pretty old. But, this trip we took a different path, down to where the wild raspberries were growing. We walked in and around the bushes, eating raspberries until we'd had enough to want to move on. Besides, there were more raspberries growing all over the place.
We walked through the fields that had just been hayed, down to the pond. Yellow Raven's stepdad had just planted two little willow trees in the grass near the pond, and he's going to make a pretty bench to put between them and plant flowers and shrubbery around so that it will be a beautiful place to relax. With the forest behind and the pond in front, I thought it was beautiful already!
When we crossed through the hayfield, we found a mulberry tree! Emil, Barbie, Jinn Quon, Kiki, Yellow Raven, and I went straight up into it to find the best berries and gobble them up! After the blueberries and raspberries, I *thought* I was done with berries for a while--but that was before we saw the mulberries! We stayed up there for a long time, while the Soapbox Collector and Yellow Raven's mom sat on some big rocks just inside the forest at the edge of the field, and talked. Finally, though, we were getting hungry for more than just berries, and we'd drunk all the water in our water bottles, so we headed back to the house.
There, we played in the yard while the moms picked supper in the garden. Yellow Raven has an awesome yard--a swingset, but also two big barns, lots of room to run and play, and a big wooden spool that rolls around the yard if you push it or walk on top of it. Kiki was pretty good at standing on top of the spool and making it roll where she wanted to go--and that takes a lot of balance and coordination! We also went up into the loft in the barn, and saw where Yellow Raven's mom is going to have her art studio. It's a good place for an art studio, with lots of light and really tall ceilings because it's in the loft of a barn. I wonder, though, how many other artists have a studio with chickens and sheep and a dog and all the other animals living down below!
After a very long time, the grownups called us to come and eat. The moms had picked all the vegetables, washed them, cut them, and cooked supper while everything was still very fresh. We had brown rice, and a fantastic Asian stir-fry with China Choy fresh out of the garden and marinated tofu. And, we had a salad full of everything you can think of that's ready to pick this time of year--mustard greens, lettuce, China Choy, fennel, carrots, radishes, Italian parsley, and a whole lot more than that. It was yummy!! We ate outside by candlelight, and had a very happy time.
Then we had ice cream sandwiches, made with soy milk so that the Soapbox Collector could eat them (she's very allergic to dairy), and played with the guinea chicks for a little while. We also played with Yellow Raven in her room for a bit. It got completely dark by about 9:45, and we finally left at 10:15. Yellow Raven was very sad that we had to leave, but we promised we'd see her at homeschool group on Wednesday in the state park. I won't be there, of course, but everyone else will. I was so tired when we finally got back to the B&B that I fell right asleep--and so did Emil and Barbie!
Since I mentioned it, I really should have told you about the homeschool group before. We go every Wednesday, and in the nice weather they meet in Lackawanna State Park. I've made lots of good friends there, too. The kids and their families are all so very nice!
I've had such a wonderful time here, family! Thank you so much for sending me to the Poconos this summer. I'm looking forward to coming home, giving everyone big hugs, and figuring out where in the world to go next. Today, Flat Hugo arrived at the B&B from Tokyo, and that sounds like a fascinating place. But then, Emil's from Sweden, and that sounds fun . . . and Kiki's talking a lot about Madagascar, and a researcher who's going to host Flat Shara there in October . . .and, and, and! There are so many wonderful places to go in the world!
Looking forward to being home,