Here's a look at two projects we have been involved in over the past several weeks, one quick and delicious and one lengthy and heavy. But which is which? I'll leave that for you to decide. Cider Making and Cabin Building, GO!
How to Make Apple Cider
How to Build a Cinder Block Cabin
Check back later for cabin building updates!
Overlook along the way
This was written over a week ago but I have not had time to type it up until now. Sorry about the delay but enjoy anyway!
A vacation can be many things. It can be a respite from a busy life, diversion from a boring life, actual life between the practical things, or just a product of curiosity. The short trip Josh and I took last week was some of those things to start with, like a time to rest and see a new city, but on the drive home I realized it was a time to think. Just clear my head and think. I realized that I hadn't really been thinking or at least didn't have the energy to. When trying to untangle the possibilities of my future, I'd only get so far because I didn't have time to let thoughts come and go. That's the beauty of long car rides and good music. When I think about the future now, I have a clear idea, a vision. This is weird to me. Usually I have a vision of the next step without much of an idea at all about the goal. It seems to be the other way around right now. The next step is fuzzy- should I do another apprenticeship? do a design/build internship? go to school (unlikely right now), stay here, go back to the midwest? Farming or gardening is in my future, though small scale and coupled with another job if possible. Perhaps design and natural building too but I'd like to know if I really enjoy and excel in those things. And then there's how to do all this. So many questions, such a long time to answer them.
But back to the trip. We started out early Thursday morning driving south. Around Galax, VA we made our way onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road which was built as part of the New Deal, winds along the Blue Ridge Mountains at 45 mph and with just 2 lanes and no commercial businesses. We took this road, stopping at a few overlooks (and meeting some hilarious old people, twice), all the way to Grandfather Mountain outside of Asheville, NC. There we walked across the "Mile High Swinging Bridge", then escaped the squealing teenagers and hiked the actual mountain. While we didn't go that far horizontally, it was nearly up hill the entire way. Toward the end we were climbing steep, wooden ladders placed on huge boulders. It was simply incredible to sit on the edge of a cliff and look out onto the lumpy mountains and squiggly rivers, and see far off where we started climbing. Naturally, as I often do, I became hungry at an inconvenient time (as in, at the top of a mountain) but we made it back in time to eat bread, cheese, and peanut butter. Always a glorious choice.
After that adventure, we made our way to Hot Springs, NC to visit and stay with a farm we talked to when deciding where to go in January. They were very hospitable and it was interesting to see their operation and compare and contrast with our farm. They use multiple hoop houses, keep pigs, goats, horses, and chickens, and sell through a CSA and Farmer's Markets. They have had problems with wild dogs and bobcats and once had goats escape and become feral in the forest. They invited us to visit another farm through a program they have in the area where interns visit a different farm each month. This one was just east of Asheville and was a much larger operation with 8 acres in production. The man was basically a mechanical genius and could make or fix anything they needed. If it didn't exist, he invented it. I'm beginning to realize that kind of person is essential and necessary on a farm, meaning, I'm going to need a lot more skills. At the end of the tour there was a potluck dinner (a farmer thing). It's good to see how things can be done differently and still be successful. Does this make me an agrotourist?
We spent two nights in Asheville, Couchsurfing with a mime and readjusting to city life. People everywhere? That I don't know or recognize? What's this? While there, we ate at good restaurants, went to the Black Mountain College museum, and hung out at a street festival. The festival had some great music and some great ice cream. I enjoyed both thoroughly. Asheville is an interesting city, very liberal, very dog-obsessed, very hippie/hipster/yuppie, very alive, very conscious, and very figured out. Can't say I'd want to live there, I guess because of that last adjective. It's almost too easy. Bust that's just a visitor's perspective. I just want to end up somewhere to which I can be of use. Asheville is a great place though up in the mountains.
Lastly, we took a day and night at Highlander Folk School outside of Knoxville, TN. This organization played a big role in integration and the Civil Rights Movement and has since continued to advocate for cultural exchange and understanding. We went for a small event called Homecoming complete with cider, hay rides, and square dancing. We ended up camping out in their orchard and waking up to fog in the distant mountains and a long drive ahead of us. We finally made it back around 3pm, just in time to get groceries and unpack for it was back to work the next day.
Doesn't sound like a calm thinking type of trip but the change was needed. It was completely worth it and highly recommended!
I apprenticed on a farm in southwest Virginia from April-October 2010. This blog contains all the anecdotes and observations from that adventure.
See more of my photos here