Even though I was really missing my Arlington friends, I had an awesome 4th of July weekend. On Sunday we went to Rob’s place in the afternoon to beach/pool/relax. In the evening, we headed down to the beach with a large group of their family and friends to carry out their 4th of July tradition, a picnic, bonfire, and fireworks. Apparently Rob’s daughter Eleanor singled me out as a people pleaser and convinced me to go in the water with her and her friends. This way they could go further into the lake and have a tall person to hold on to when they got tired. The water was the perfect temperature, so I didn’t mind. We ate grilled brats, fried chicken, some sort of salad, and watermelon. We lucked out and got a gorgeous sunset, which led to an abundance of family photos, including one of the four interns (perhaps Rob will use it to advertise how great the experience is, nothing says farm intern like a sunset backlit photo on a beach). After watching the insane fireworks displays put on by our neighbors, we headed back to the farm with Jesse’s brothers and cousin and met up with some more cousins about our age. We stayed up way too late drinking beer and playing some game called shoulders, which is very confusing, but involves counting and ridiculous arm movements.
Fortunately Jesse had kindly given us the morning off (I did not miss getting up at 6:30, after going to bed at 3). When we reported for the afternoon, he had us trim onions for a couple of hours (cut the stems of potted onions back to a few inches so the roots don’t grow too big before they are transplanted). In the afternoon, we scored an invite to a barbeque at The Local (A butcher’s shop owned by Jesse’s friends Pat and Ellie). Obviously, they had some really delicious food. Apart from bacon-topped burgers (The shop regularly flies a “Bacon” flag where others would perhaps have an “Open” sign, so you can imagine this was good), they also had some kind of spice rubbed pork and grilled corn. We also taught them to play Shoulders, and they taught us to play ninja.
I feel like all we did last week was harvest. And then harvest some more. It was a full CSA week, which means we around 100(?) boxes to prepare over the course of the week. We also had to harvest for Saturday’s markets. Faye and I rode into Chicago with Jesse to check out Green City, which was a ridiculous experience. We had to leave at 3:30am to get to Chicago early enough. We sat three across in our box truck on the way down and listened to the same CD on repeat (which would have bothered me more, had it not been the Avett Brothers). By the time we unpacked the truck and set up the stand, Faye was starving, so we went to find a place that opened for breakfast at 6. In the end, apart from some walking and window shopping, we didn’t do much in Chicago because nothing was open (we kept forgetting it was so early). The market was very cool though, and much bigger than I am used to back home. It takes place in a park, and besides having the obvious vendors, also has a seating area with music and cooking demonstrations. The Eventually we met up with a couple of Faye’s friends and had lunch. She stuck around with them while I headed back to the farm with Jesse.
On Sunday, we got a kitten. Rob’s daughters Eleanor and Grace attend a different farm camp and arranged a trade, our two ducks for a new kitten. Although we have been trying to get rid of our ducks for a while (without eating them, preferably), we had mixed feelings about the kitten. Her name is Charlotte and she is pretty adorable (I am not a cat person either). She is very friendly, but she is the loudest kitten I have ever heard in my life. It is pretty funny when we have her out playing, but irritating the rest of the time when she sits in her crate all of the time making noise.
The only fun farm thing I can think of, that I have learned lately is to braid garlic. We grow two varieties of garlic, hard and soft neck (there are different varieties of both). The hard garlic is good because it gives us scapes, but the soft garlic is cool, because it can be braided into long chains (like you sometimes see at Italian restaurants). Once the soft neck variety had dried over night, I was put in charge of braiding it into sixes to put in the CSA boxes. It works kind of like a French braid, but instead of adding more hair, you add another head of garlic. I am getting pretty excited for this weekend already, especially because my sister is coming. I am looking forward to showing her the farm and everything we do here.