I feel like I should start this post out by announcing that finally, at the end of July, I have come up with plans for the fall. I found out last week that my first choice program was offering me a position. It is an EU sponsored masters through the Erasmus Mundus program. These are a collection of different degrees offered to EU and non-EU students that provide an international educational experience. The program I am in is called MESPOM for Masters in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. I will be in Budapest next year studying at Central European University with something like 40 other international students. It is a really cool opportunity because I will be working and living with people from all over the world (with a concentration in Europe) and taking classes in several different countries. After spending my first two semesters at CEU, I will spend a month next summer in Greece at the University of the Aegean before choosing where to complete my degree.
Anyway. Things have been a little different around here this week. Between the beginning of our CSA program and the rain our schedules have been altered. Last week we spent most of Monday and Tuesday harvesting. Then Tuesday and Wednesday Jesse was off in Chicago dropping off the boxes we had put together which meant we were in charge of our own lives for once. We also spent a long time harvesting on Friday because we do a CSA drop then and we also went to two markets last week. Last weeks boxes included green garlic, beets, turnips, kale, swiss chard and a green called komatsuna. We sold similar stuff at the markets, but also harvested a bunch of these torpedo looking radishes that were really cool looking. Before we sell stuff at the farmers market, we wash it and go through it for split vegetables. Last week we had a lot of split beets and turnips (this is what happens to root vegetables after they grow to a certain point). We can’t sell these to customers, but they are fine if you cut off the split part, so we made a couple of different things with beets and roasted some turnips. The golden beets we have are amazing. You can eat them raw or cooked and you can eat the greens as well.
On Saturday, Annie and Kristin went to work the Harbert market and Faye and I were going to try our hand at organic pesticide application. Although we can’t use traditional chemicals to discourage bugs, we can spray a type of fine clay dust on the plants. Our eggplants have been hit by flee beetles so we were going to apply this clay substance to them while it was nice. Jesse showed us how to mix the clay into water and use the backpack sprayer on Friday. He also made sure we understood proper safety precautions. We had to wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, boots, goggles and a face mask. Unfortunately when we went to put the sprayer on and begin it leaked everywhere out of the bottom, so after all of that prep we spent the morning weeding instead.
Last week I also found myself travelling a decent amount. Last Sunday Kristin and I went out to Lake Michigan for the first time to the local state park. We were kind of mad because it was supposed to rain all day and ended up being perfect beach weather. We didn’t have our suits or anything, so we just walked around on the dunes and sat on the beach some. The Dunes are unreal. The beach seems similar to the east/gulf-coast beaches I am used to but instead of being lined with boardwalk or hotels, it is lined with these giant sand dunes that look like they belong in the desert.
Wednesday we ended up road-tripping for work. We needed some more potting soil, so Jesse sent the four of us in the truck to the compost farm in northern Michigan. We got a tour of the facilities and I was overwhelmed by how much product they make. I also thought it was really interesting that the farm went from a typical family run dairy farm to a composting facility that is still a family business. Most of their customers buy soil by the semi-truck load. We got one (still very big) bag. On the way back we stopped in Grand Rapids to do some thrift shopping and were amused that in addition to Grand Rapids, there is also a Big Rapids, Michigan.
Yesterday we drove in the opposite direction roughly down the coast and around to the other side of the lake to Chicago. It was kind of an adventure because we hadn’t made any plans. We did some window shopping and met up with one of Kristin’s friends for some deep dish Pizza at a place called Gino’s East. Afterward we walked down to the Navy Pier. We sat at the end of the pier with drinks and watched the ridiculous people on boats. We had a pretty good weekend all around, apart from the loss of one of our beloved cats. His name was Bubba and he was the doofiest, friendliest farm cat I have ever seen. We found his body on Saturday while Jesse was at the market and had to tell him when he got back. Fortunately, he was well distracted because he had three friends in from Chicago. They cooked a large dinner for all of us, and then we went to see some music in the park and came back and played cards.
On Friday, Kristin and I finally tried the local brewery, called Greenbush. We really enjoyed the beer and the atmosphere there. They have a very reasonable priced tap room, and we enjoyed the small town atmosphere that made it entirely acceptable to talk to everyone else at the bar. We are considering becoming regulars.
Admittedly, conclusions tend to be the weakness in all of my writing. I have minimal patience for summing up what I have already said to make the reader feel more comfortable. I find I am having the same problem here. That is all for last week. It’s almost July now so this will be a hot one.