Oh man, what a full day!
First of all, I either slept through my alarm or it didn’t go off for some reason this morning… Either way I woke up just in time to make a quick tea and greet a volunteer who had arranged to be here at 8am. Her name is Traci Epperson and she was with us all day. I have to say that she was a “dream volunteer”! Her attitude was amazing; she’s the kind of person who makes things happen; she worked hard and efficiently and she had a good sense of humor. Thanks Traci, come back any time!
This morning, after picking flowering basil to use for centerpieces at the brunch and transplanting some scallions to condense them and clear up a planting bed, we set off to weed a relatively small planting area in the SE corner of the farm. Even though we do weeding every day and there is usually nothing too special about it, today it’s worth mentioning it because we had some serious encounters with fire ants. Mike got it the worst – he has welts all over his feet. All in all, we must have been out there less than an hour, but with the heat and the ants it felt like eternity. There isn’t much worse out there to run into than fire ants; they are the fastest creatures I know of and their bite is as painful as a wasp or bee sting. They go crazy during the summer here and make nests everywhere, so around this time of year when we are weeding areas that haven’t been used for months it can be very unpleasant.
We had two lunches! After the ant attack we needed a rejuvenating and fresh snack. A beautiful fruit salad with Carambolas, Bananas, Blueberries, Key Lime juice and a bit of honey was perfect! Later we all went to Robert’s and sat down to a feast lunch of spinach, pork roast with carrots and potatoes and stuffed Avocado halves. He really knows how to make a good roast!
Eventually, we got down to the business of peeling and cutting 70 pounds of root veggies for the Root Medley. My hand is still sore from using the paring knife so much as well as stained by the beets, but I’m not complaining; it was a good time and we made a great team. We also made a very concentrated batch of Lemongrass tea to dilute tomorrow as needed, which scented the whole room and made us feel like we were in a spa. At the same time, in Robert’s other kitchen he and two of his guys were cutting, juicing and mixing fruits as well as baking the most yummy muffins I’ve had in a while. Actually, these whole wheat Allspice-berry muffins remind me of the Lemon-basil Raspberry muffins I was making in upstate New York at Four Winds Farm this summer. They both have an herbal flavor and a subtle sweetness.
The best thing about working (or hanging out) at Robert’s is that he has a wealth of information and is very happy to share every bit of it. I always feel like I came out of a class when I leave his place. Today for example, after we finished peeling and cutting, he did an informal wine tasting of various fruit wines he makes as well as some delicious preserved Carambolas in sugar. The tasting transitioned into an elaborate conversation and demonstration on how he makes them including a visit to his “wine room” which is a truly amazing place. It was an inspiring adventure. I wish I had pictures… maybe next time.