Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm One Of You Now

I went to a wedding over the weekend here in town. It was beautiful, the old-fashioned back yard type of event. White tents on grass, potted flowers everywhere, twinkle lights, lovely table settings complete with handmade origami birds, soft music, and the food...perfection. All from the bride and groom's own farm. Lamb, pork, and beef with delectable sauces; carrots, potatoes, and salad. Sausage and cheese, bread and cake, all local and all organic. Even the butter was "home grown."

The happy couple, Adam and Kelly Perrin, operate Quarry Brook Farms in Sherburne. Family and friends raised glasses with congratulatory toasts, saying with clear admiration that Kelly and Adam walk the walk. The newlyweds believe that going back to our roots -- to local and organic food -- is the way we all should eat, and I find myself joining this growing movement in spite of eating for years "the other way," because, frankly, the other way, the processed food way, is easier (and often cheaper). For some time now, and certainly since watching the movie "Food, Inc.," I'm starting to get decidedly jumpy about processed food. Quarry Brook Farms produces grass-fed beef and lamb, pasture-raised pork, pasture-raised poultry and eggs (their eggs are in a rainbow of colors, testament to the diversity of their laying hen breeds), and vegetables from certified organic seeds. As they say on their website: 

"We farm to provide our community with the best food possible. Sustainable farming methods are used to grow the animals and plants; no hormones, no antibiotics, no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or artificial inputs. Just good, clean food grown with respect for our animals and the environment."

I don't know about you, but hearing that makes me sigh with relief.

My grandparents, and for that matter my parents, all had gardens from which the family ate, and my grandmother had a chicken coop. I remember sitting in the garden with my dad and pulling carrots out of the ground and eating them on the spot. When, I wonder, did we go from wholesome back yard food to buying packaged everything originating from who knows where? I was aghast the first time I realized that the heart, liver, and gizzard stuffed inside my Thanksgiving turkey most certainly didn't belong to that particular turkey, but came instead from a giant vat full of hearts and livers and gizzards in some factory, scooped out and plugged inside a hanging bird at the end of an assembly line, a bird that had spent its miserable life in a darkened coop, gaining weight through unnatural feedings, often too fat to even heft itself off the feces-covered floor and crammed in among other similar poultry prisoners. Is this really the food we want to put inside our own bodies? I used to, because I was too lazy to think about where my food came from. Nowadays, things for me are changing.

Adam and Kelly sell their delicious, nutritious fare via CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and at area farmers' markets, most notably on Saturday mornings in Hamilton. Last time I went, I bought some beef patties and a chicken. When I asked Kelly if the chicken was fresh, she smiled her calm smile and said, "We harvested yesterday." (Translation, that bird was hopping around the barn yard the day or so before, clucking and nibbling and living a good old-fashioned chicken life, the way it should be.) Kelly further advised the best way to cook the beef patties. Slowly, she said, because they're grass-fed. The patties hold their shape better when prepared over a low flame. There was a sense from her of real love for what she does, and for what her husband does: "offering good clean food grown with respect for our animals and the environment."

My hat's off to Adam and Kelly, who will now go forward in marriage, and who are also here for us, in this village, providing farm-to-table food that's good for the land, good for the animals, good for the farm, and good for those who realize it might be time to take a hard look at what we're eating; time to take the processing out and put the garden back in.  

As a person who has been less that devout when it comes to local and organic, I know my path on this particular journey is just starting. But as I said to Kelly when she handed me that chicken, and not unlike some character in a sci-fi movie about the pod people, "I'm one of you now."

All the best to Adam and Kelly Perrin. Thanks for a great wedding, and thanks as well for going back to the old ways, for working so hard, day and night, to provide all of us food that is, literally, from your farm to our table.

For more information on Quarry Brook Farms, please visit their website, http://www.quarrybrookfarms.com

And if you haven't seen Food, Inc., I suggest you rent it (for info, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food,_Inc.). The movie is an eye-opener, one that will cause you to think twice when you see the happy-go-lucky farm scenes on almost every food label. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Nina's Give Back Night, Tuesday, July 23, Supporting SSIRP

We live in such a great community, and I don't mean just Sherburne. Nina's, in Norwich, will be supporting The Sherburne Inn project on July 23 by donating 20% of proceeds to SSIRP. Please mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 23, and stop by Nina's between 4-10 p.m. on Give Back Night. Print and present the coupon below when you cash out and help Nina's help us! And please, share with your friends!!

Thank you Nina's!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

You Know You're Getting Old And Crazy When...

...You save bread twist ties "just in case " (old)
...You try to brush the dog's teeth (crazy)
...You ponder cornering somebody at the cable company and, at knifepoint, asking them to explain why every six months or so they spin the wheel and change all the channels to different numbers (old and crazy)
...Even when the dog teeth brushing was a failure, you try it on the cats (really crazy)
...You glare at growing grass and wish your lawn was full of rocks instead (old)
...You break a worthless vase and glue it back together rather than throwing it out (old)
...You wonder where your glasses are and spend an hour looking and finally find them tucked into the front of your shirt (old, going crazy)
...You pull weeds for exactly eight minutes and then announce, "This just ain't worth it" (old)
...You toss out all the fancy coffee makers and go back to a stove-top percolator (old)
...You eat a pound of cherries, knowing you'll be sorry tomorrow (old and stupid)
...You kick the fully decorated artificial Christmas tree down the basement steps...in April (really old, really crazy, really stupid)
...You look in the mirror and say "Hey! I look pretty good for an old broad!" (certifiable)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rain and Rain and Rain

Okay. As someone might say were they a biological product of a southerner and a Long Islander, this is fixin to be enough already.

Rain is one of those things we're all used to in upstate New York. In "the old days," a cloud cover would move in, hang around for awhile making everything gloomy, then it would rain some -- hard rain for a bit maybe -- drizzle for awhile longer, then stop. This might go on for a few days, but sooner or later the sun would appear and dry the place out.

This summer, however, things have changed. I started thinking about writing this post around five o'clock, when it was raining hard. Did a few things, made a few phonecalls. It's now 6:40 pm and it's STILL raining hard. Rain is pounding down off the eaves, as it has been for over an hour and a half. The windows are smeared with rain. Harry flat refuses to go outside. He goes to the back porch steps, sniffs, and returns to huddle in his bed. Having been psychologically programmed as an upstater long ago, I keep thinking the hard rain will stop pretty soon. But it doesn't.

Last Thursday we had another day like this. Much of the town was flooded, the river to the west of us having overflowed, and the creek to the south of us doing the same. Folks in town got robo-calls in the night advising them to evacuate various locations in town. Once again, just two years since the last time this happened, kids were floating around in boats on main street. I saw people standing in the road, staring hands-on-hips at their homes and businesses that were surrounded by water from gushing streams. Fields were covered with river water. The river itself roared beneath bridges. 

I don't even want to talk about golf, although I will say this: my Wednesday night golf league has been rained out four times, and we still can't find a time to make up matches because of the weather. Portions of the course are mudholes, and fairways are streaked with golf cart track marks, unheard of in late June.

I've personally been lucky. I live in an area of town where basements don't flood. But I've heard plenty of stories of people on the north and south ends of town who have been pumping out their cellars for five days. Now the rain is pounding down again. A friend mentioned yesterday we can only hope the reservoir dam to the east doesn't burst. If it does, heaven help those of us in "safe" parts of town.

At the risk of lighting fire under those who don't believe in climate change, I have an anecdotal comment: SOMEthing is different. We have two months left of summer, and the first month has been underwater. In my life of 57 years, I don't recall anything like this.

It's now 7 p.m. and the rain is finally letting up (sort of). That's two hours of steady hard water. Someone just texted and said her brother had to try five times to get into town, and finally found a route near Columbus because other routes were closed.

It may, in fact, be time to build a boat. 

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum