cookies with Jam

In 363 days, the 2017 Quarry Farm Jam is happening under the red roof of the Seitz Pavilion. Two days after the 2016 musical gathering, my toes are still tapping and I wonder at the videos and photos that keep popping up on Facebook, including this compilation from Dave Frick:

A few years back, Steve brought up the idea of inviting musicians to this place, this “whole different world” as Betty Wannemacher says. No program, said Steve, just ask people to come on over and play their favorite musical instrument…or not. Listeners could pack a lawn chair. We’d supply the cookies, per tradition.

Four years ago, the first Quarry Farm Acoustic Night included guitar players and kazoos. The next year, fiddles and a saxophone showed up, too. The third year, scheduled for late October, was renamed a Jam as the pavilion was wired with electric outlets and lights. The weather didn’t care, however, as the Jam was snowed out (yes, snow.) The next day, we circled the second Saturday in 2016 as the fourth music night, plugged or unplugged.dsc_0046dsc_0044

Saturday’s instruments included guitars of various scale, a ukulele, autoharps, fiddles, harmonicas, and I believe that a mandolin made an appearance, too. There was a good gathering of music lovers to listen alongside and in the peaceable kingdom next door.

Oh so many thanks to Doug, Mike, Ralph, Gus, Dondi, Lynn, Bob, David and Michelle. And Erin, who has joined us every time with her roadie/soundman dad Bruce and musician mom Beth. Did you notice that great blue heron skimming low over the cabin on its way to sunset? That was your great-grandpa, Erin, and boy, is he proud.

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meanwhile, across the run

IMG_2440In between cookie batches for Saturday’s annual music Jam, the call of the nature preserve was answered. So were Lolly and Cady, both of whom stared out toward the tree line, rolling their big brown eyes soulfully and wagging their tails each time someone with opposable thumbs walked in the direction of the front door.

Sunday, the door was opened. Summer drought and temperatures in the upper 80s laid mosquitoes to rest; no repellent was pocketed along the way.

IMG_2442I always forget what late summer does to the natives. Minnows, small bass and other fishes circle in the pools that are Cranberry Run during much of the year. This year there are clots of decaying algae to suck the oxygen from their gills. The bed has been dry for so long that purple ironweed grows below the waterline. The old quarry is diminished to a green duckweed center.

IMG_2444I pulled a muskrat trap from the bed of the stream. Its wire frame lifted with a strong coating of fertilized creekbed. Neither traps nor fertilizer are welcome in this waterway. One is easily removed, though, and went the way of garbage pick-up.IMG_2435

Leaves hang dull green and brown-edged from the trees. Twigs–whole limbs, sometimes–drop with the hot wind that puffs down the bluff into the floodplain. A willow that, even though it died some years back still hosted ichneumon wasps and other helpful predators, leaned its last before our arrival. A chunk of trunk crumbles over the path. A new bracket grows on what still stands.IMG_2431

The back field is golden under heated air open to sunshine but little current. Few insects sift through the artichokes and bullthistles. There should be so many this time of year. Their absence is sobering. It’s a relief to see a bumblebee and sulphur butterfly. I tried to take the bees photo, but all but his back legs and a bit of yellow fluff are caught in the frame to the left of a cluster of yellow flowers.

Flattened grasses indicate that somethings do rest and feed here. We get a whiff of proof when both dogs roll in scat and carry it with them back through the upper woods toward home and baths.IMG_2417

Get off my yawn

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Much as I tried, I couldn’t leave this photo to its own devices. Buddy was indeed yawning, not braying the classic “hee haw.” Donkeys don’t, at least the two here, don’t. They “hee-hee-hee” and “ho-o-o-o-nk” and blow raspberries, but declare nothing for Buck and Roy to play along with.

Sunday morning, as I filled the water pans, Buddy followed me to make sure no carrots lurked in my pockets. I saw his lower lip begin to tremble and readied the camera just in case a toothy grin was on its way..

Color run

It took the dregs of July, the last real rain to percolate through the cracked ground, to get us through three weeks of no rain. A mustard haze hovered over the corn field across the road. Any bit of breeze brushed it into the water pans and left a brown coating on grass that was already crispy. Water in the cabin rainbarrel was conserved used sparingly.

In the floodplain, Cranberry Run didn’t run. Darters, minnows, crayfish and blue gill duked it out in pools, the survivors left to feed the great blue herons by day and raccoons by night.IMG_2139 (1)A week ago, rain–rain we needed so very much–came and went, leaving fungi of all sorts sprouting and the rainbarrel full. The drought dried up the mosquito swarms, leaving perfect conditions for outdoor art workshops. There’s no better time to paint in watercolors than when water drips from the eaves of the shelterhouse, eh?IMG_2122

On August 20, we dug through the kitchen cupboard, the garden and its edges to pool a palette of natural pigments with which to paint still lifes and landscapes. The Saturday class includes individuals from right here in Putnam County to a Tennessee visitor. Using rich colors derived from paprika, turmeric, blueberries and poke berries (plus black coffee, something that’s part of every workshop here), participants developed pieces lush with late summer color. Store-bought paints were also available and most everyone washed the first layer of a second work.

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There were visitors of different species, including an unidentified caterpillar and two haywagons-full of riders shuttled by neighbor Daryl Bridenbaugh. When paints were put away, the creative mood was still fresh. Board President Laura shared a slurry of shredded, soaked paper, mixed in some concrete plus a little dab of this and that so those that could stay onsite could make papercrete containers.

On this last day of August, one pot has traveled home to North Carolina while the others are still drying in Ohio. Instead of yellow dust, there is fog.

And it’s raining.

Warning: Harsh reality ahead

Funny story. A man crafted a pretty little flyer that he thumb-tacked to the check-out bulletin board at the neighborhood market. The ad simply stated that he liked to tinker with old lawnmowers and was looking for a new project. The posting included his address and phone number.

He came home from the grocery store and found a half-acre-full of lawnmowers in various conditions on his half-acre of land.

This is why we do not share our address prominently on this website, on Facebook or any other easy-to-locate location.

BobThis is Bob. Bob is happy. Carlton is standing behind him, as are several hens of various histories and ages. They are happy, too. When Bob came here, he was not happy. He was recovering from abandonment, starvation, frostbite and likely a whole other host of horrors. Some of those chickens came with him. They survived because they found shelter from the coldest winter of the decade under the frozen carcasses of their flock. Carlton was abandoned by someone anonymous. We’re betting that they found out piglets–even pot-bellied minis–don’t fit in the palm of your hand forever.

If our address was easy to find, we would have more Bobs, Carltons and chickens that we could care for, no matter how hard we try. By no means whatsoever do I mean to suggest that Bob, Carlton, Beatrice, Lucy, Buddy, Freckles or any of the animals here on the farm animal sanctuary on the same level as a lawnmower. Lawnmowers we can load up, take to recycling and use the recycling funds to pay for food and medical care for the animals. These animals, however, trust us to provide for them for the rest of their lives, lives that we pledge to be existences of peace and contentment. That’s the least we can do to make up for what some of our fellow human beings have put them through.

So…

If you call us and we don’t answer right away, please leave a message. We will return your call as soon as everyone is tucked in or a scheduled program is completed. If you have an animal that you cannot care for, we will refer you to someone who can if we are unable. That is part of our mission.5K logo

Better yet…
Join us on October 1 for the first ever Quarry Farm 5K (registration info is listed under Events) and be part of that mission! You’ll walk, run or bicycle right past the gate.