Check out Margaret’s rccent guest appearance on the Urban Farm and Garden Show Podcast:
If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve seen that the farm renovations we’ve finally undertaken don’t stop at the outside. We started the year by gutting the kitchen and dining room, a project we’ve been planning since buying the house in 2005. After giving it a decade of thought, we’re changing pretty much everything about the flow and the feel of the space, though we’re leaving it two distinct rooms to keep the original farmhouse spirit. In these first few weeks of the project, we’ve discovered a few things about ourselves and our house:
1. In 10 years, we’ve become hoarders. I think any of our friends could have told you this, but it took the removal of all of our kitchen and dining room stuff for the scales to fall from my eyes. Karl assures me that this impulse comes from a good place–we recycle everything, and those bits of strings and bags of corks and schnibbly bits of fabric and paper have all been kept with projects in mind (curse you, Pintrest!). But, to paraphrase Allen Ginsberg’s beautiful poem, “Kaddish,” it’s the accumulations of life that wear us out. Do I really need to keep every bit of felt, every mismatched toddler sock, every receipt with my dad’s signature on it? Emphatically, no. If 2014 was the year of repair, 2015 will be the year of order. Transfer station, look out!
2. We’ve been insulating with squirrel fur and corn cobs. I wish this were a joke.
3. Home renovation is addictive. We’ve turned a blind eye to so many big things over the past 10 years that now, as we examine and make decisions on the minutiae, it’s hard to overlook anything. Some decisions, like what kind of drawer pulls to use, or the finish on the cabinets, were expected. But during the renovation process, we’ve also been looking at what we have, what we use, and where we can put it to make it most orderly and accessible. I am hopeful that this spurning of chaos will spread to all 5 of us, and many areas of our lives. But to be honest, if the kids start habitually hanging up their coats, I’ll consider it victory.
4. If the kids eat packaged fruit cups, squeezy applesauce, individually wrapped string cheese, store-bought bread, and juice boxes for a few weeks, they’ll probably be just fine. So far, their 2015 diets have filled me with shame, but they’ve suffered no ill effects. Yes, I’d rather they drink goat milk, eat the applesauce we canned in the fall, and take thermoses of curried lentil soup for lunch, but I also value my sanity. And the kids are in heaven with all these “treats.” As Bea said to me last week, “We finally have good, normal lunches.”
5. We are incredible lucky. That could go without saying, but it shouldn’t.
Happy 2015 to all!
The Ten Apple Gang
There is so much to be thankful for this time of year — and even though the painters weren’t able to get the whole house painted before the onset of cold and snow, we are extremely thankful for the beautiful job that Rich Exterior Solutions did siding and repairing the outside of our barn and back of the backhouse. We’re not all the way there yet with all the renovations we were planning, there is still a bunch to do on the house, windows on the barn to repair, new garage doors to install, and the rest of the painting will have to wait until warming spring temps. But we’ve got some bright new colors on the outside of the farm to warm our spirits through the coming winter. Happy Thanksgiving!
Our 113-year-old farmhouse and attached barn finally crossed the line from weatherbeaten to eyesore. Maybe they crossed that line a while ago, but now we’re doing something about it! Rich Exterior Solutions did such an amazing job roofing the barn after the wind damage of Hurricane Sandy that we’re having them reside, paint, and install new, environmentally sound windows–including a big bay overlooking the garden. We’re looking forward to our first winter without indoor snowdrifts. Very exciting times on the farm–we’ll update weekly with a progress report!
We’ll be heading out on a goat hike through the Ten Apple woods this Saturday, May 10, leaving the barn around 11am. The hike consists of an approximately 1.5-2 mile loop through the woods on generally well maintained trails. There is some steep terrain. Children must be at least 8 years old and accompanied by an adult. Along the way we’ll talk about goats as pack animals and you’ll learn a thing or two about raising and caring for goats. After the hike you’ll be able to try some goat milk and some of our Ten Apple Farm goat cheese. $10 per adult, $5 for kids. Minimum: 6 people; Maximum: 15 people. Contact us to RSVP.
It’s been pretty cold this week, and we got fresh snow last night, but there are signs of spring all over the farm. The sap is running and there’s a pot simmering on the wood stove. The fig tree, brought in for winter, is starting to bud in the cellar. The biggest sign that spring has arrived are the new goat kids bleating away for their bottles of milk in a big cardboard box in the “back house.” Two goats have kidded, and two to go. Toka gave birth to a boy and a girl early Sunday morning, and last night (at midnight!) Flyrod gave birth to a boy and a girl, as well. After several months of no milking, our hands are sore, but glad to be getting back into the rhythm of the season. The sun is out today and the snow is melting. It won’t be too long before these kids (goat and human) are running around on green grass.
We mourn the passing of Steve Hathaway, Margaret’s father, who died Thursday, December 26, after a week of hospice care in our home. His final illness was not prolonged, and he passed peacefully and without pain. Margaret was holding his hand when he died.
As many of you know, Steve’s health had been declining over the past few months. We’re all sad and exhausted, but so thankful to have had this time with him. He made it to Christmas, which he was thrilled to be able to celebrate with the girls, and he went gently and surrounded by love. His spirit and generous heart will be greatly missed.
W. Stephen Hathaway was born in Tucson, Arizona, on June 5, 1945. He was the eldest of five children, and was raised in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Steve attended Michigan State University, and served in the Peace Corps in Trinidad and as a translator in Vietnam before earning his MFA at Bowling Green State University. There he met his (former) wife, Jeanine, and the two moved to Wichita, where they joined the English department, and where their daughter Margaret was born.
Steve taught creative writing and American literature at WSU from 1974-2012, where he was a beloved teacher, mentor, and friend. His infectious chuckle and colorful language rang through the halls of the English department for decades. The recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Steve spent a sabbatical year in Cambridge, England, in 1982. His collection of short stories, A Kind of Redemption, was published by LSU Press in 1991.
A committed Democrat, Steve ran for state legislature in Kansas twice, dotting his heavily Republican district with signs that read “Who is this Steve Hathaway?” (Needless to say, he lost.) An enthusiastic outdoorsman, Steve hiked, camped and fished throughout the West. Retiring in 2012, Steve bought a house in the woods in Maine, on property near his family at Ten Apple Farm. He spent his last year and a half tramping around his woods, bumbling around L.L. Bean, and reluctantly helping with farm chores–tales of his duck herding and skunk trapping have already passed into family lore. Happily, Maine provided a Republican governor for him to curse.
Mostly, Grampa Steve doted on his granddaughters, driving on school field trips, teaching the girls to fish and ride their bikes, hosting family movie nights, and becoming a fixture at gymnastics, ballet, and Girl Scouts. His final illness was swift, and he stayed himself to the end, warming himself by the wood stove, sneaking candy to the girls, orchestrating Christmas dinner, and rereading Nabokov’s Speak, Memory in the days leading up to his passing. At his request, there will not be a funeral, but we are planning to celebrate his life at a Festival of Steve, at his home, in early June. Donations in his memory can be made to Wichita’s public radio station, KMUW, and to Levey Day School in Portland, Maine.KMUW 3317 E 17th St. N. Wichita, KS 67208 *
Levey Day School 400 Deering Avenue Portland, ME 04103
View a gallery of Steve through the years on the Ten Apple Farm Facebook page
We invite you to share stories of Steve in the comments section.
As we continue to wind the farm down for winter, picking the last apples and digging up the last potatoes, Charlotte wrote this poem in her home writing journal. It’s a combination of non-fiction and fiction, she points out. The “fiction” is contained in the last line.My Garden My Garden grows in summer not winter fall or spring when plants die it’s a bummer but I remember just one thing the plants were so delicious we cooked them in a meal they were also so nutritious we cooked them with an eel *