North Country Farms

Blog: Food for Thought

I love to read!

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries. A.C. Grayling

I love to read. I love to read books — all kinds of books — fiction, non-fiction, biography, how-tos — you name it, I’ll read it. And newspapers, the New York Times in particular, can occupy me for hours. In fact, the Sunday Times lasts me a week by the time I am through with the whole thing. And magazines are not out of my realm of enjoyment — from Smithsonian to Vanity Fair — I find food for fun and thought in them all. Oh, and don’t forget online reading — some blogs and websites I have bookmarked for their particular bent.

My mind and my heart get stretched to the far reaches of each article or story I read. My regular life fades away and I enter another world. A world different from my own and its never-ending lists and chores and responsibilities. I’m transported.

I used to feel somehow obligated to read the entire book, even if it was tiresome to me. But, after turning 60, that was one “rule” I quickly dropped. Don’t like it?! – move on . . .there are so many more books to explore and enjoy.

Here are some of my most favorites. You will see historical fiction is perhaps my favorite genre.

“Modoc” by Ralph Helfer

“A Story Like the Wind” by Laurens Van der Post

“Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet

“A Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks

“Atonement” by Ian McEwan

“The Women” by T .C. Boyle (but I like most of his novels)

Okay, that is enough — I can see this going on some. Do you read? Why? What are some of your favorites?

“He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading,  by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes,”  Barrow

darling photo above by Angie Hill of her son, Braxton.

An Itch I Cannot Quite Scratch

I awakened this morning with dreams haunting me. I lay still in that place between asleep and awake until I could corral them into something cohesive. The bits and pieces came together. Little vignettes of people, places, notions, emotions. But, nothing concrete except this itch I could not quite scratch in the recesses of my mind and heart.  A yearning. And, still, hours later it sits just out of my reach.

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.” 

~ Marsha Norman ~

Well, not quite annihilation


“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.” Pema Chodron

So reads the quote I found this morning. This after what many of you already know was two weeks of intense and devastating rains, wind, and hail on Kauai. We experienced record-breaking amounts of rain–35 inches in 3 days, to be exact. The farm took a hard hit, while we huddled by our wood stove (after Sky repaired the chimney pipe lid which was blown off!) and watched the torrential storm unleash its fury day after day with unbelieving eyes.

So, we pick ourselves back up and watch for that treasured sun to return along with our gentle trade winds. We shall rebuild the beds, replant, resow, hoe, weed and feed. All the while remembering that it is our spirits that are indestructible.

We love what we do here on our farm. And, once again, nature has humbled us. Once again, we shall carry on.



Hanalei Valley from overlook during storm flooding

Elusive Time

ImageI am struck by the fact that Christmas has come and gone – again. Time has this way of just tenderly ticking away. You may not notice it in a day or even in a month. But, the years – oh the years – they are the markers of the march of time.

When I got out the lights for our little Norfolk pine tree this year and the angel that always tops it, I was almost bowled over by this feeling of just having done this very task. Not in a deja-vu fashion, but in an almost-impossible-to-grasp-that-it-had-been-a-year way.

And the cards that come with the simply stunning photos of loved ones and their little ones. Little ones that have grown and changed so much. And little ones I don’t even know and who have a piece of my heart all the same. A year for them is such a huge part of their lives and just a mere shadow of mine.

Oh, and the poinsettias! The perky playful poinsettias. They are planted all over the farm and, without a smidgeon of care, they bloom again around the holidays each and every year. And, didn’t they just finish their showy bloom?! Really. Has it been a year?!

Someone once said “The days are long and the years are short.” True that. And as the sun sets on the day after Christmas here on my farm, I am reminded of the magic march of time. And how I must cherish the richness that every day brings me. The love and abundance that are woven into the fiber of my fortunate life.

Perhaps that is a pertinent promise we all should make this New Year. Drop into the moment. Delve deep into each day. Christmas 2012 will be here in a fantastic flash!

Being in the Moment Despite Those Moments Being Difficult

Being in the moment is often a challenge for me. I work on that concept daily. But, when that moment is one of torrential rain which stretches from moment to hours as you are watching your hard work get washed away, the challenge for me becomes far greater.

The last two days on Kauai have been full of monumental rains. Like 12″ in 12 hours. The gardens have been under water or with streams of water running through them. The raised beds are faring better, but are compressed and sad. The damage is devastating to witness. We plant from seed and tend seedlings so carefully. We hand plant out thousands of baby starts with such tenderness and then cultivate them with equal sensitivity. To see that work trashed in a day is difficult.

I like the changes in weather that we get on Kauai. People often think it is a boring repetitive scenario of sun and more sun. But, we get lovely trade winds, clouds whizzing by in a show that can take your breath away, gentle caressing rains that bless the ground and our plants, cool days that make the wood stove we have a welcome addition to our home.  I wish on days that are so extreme as the one we had yesterday that I could just snuggle in and light that wood stove and make a pot of soup and be cozy and content. But, just outside the windows of this sturdy shelter that is our home, the destruction to our farm is being carried on before my eyes.

Day like that are a challenge for me to remember the larger picture. To rest in the moment and recall all my other blessings. To remember that this too shall pass. The sun will shine again. The gentle breezes will blow again. The gardens will amaze me in their resilience once again. And I will continue my own internal work of treasuring the moment, even when that moment is difficult.

better days


Heirloom Expo

Sky has returned from an adventure in our VW camper exploring New England. On his way home, he attended the first annual National Heirloom Exposition—the world’s pure food fair—in California. Three days of speakers, exhibits, activities, tastings, demonstrations, and vendors of organic heirloom foods, livestock, sustainable practices and more. It was, according to him, an inspiring and hopeful gathering. Some of the highlights he thought I should share are the websites below. Take some time and peruse them. The world is full of fine and optimistic people and organizations working at solid endeavors to insure the future of our food in ways that make delicious sense.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds—America’s Top Source for Pure Heirloom Seeds. . .they were one of the main organizers of the event, doing vitally important work in saving and distributing heirloom seeds.

Jeffrey Smith — author of the #1 GMO bestseller Seeds of Deception, and Genetic Roulette, presents shocking evidence why genetically modified crops may lead to health and environmental catastrophes, and what we can do about it.

An incredible woman from India who has galvanized for global visionary solutions for a secure and sustainable energy and food future. Sky thought she was, perhaps, the most exciting and important speaker at the expo.

Native Seeds/SEARCH conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. They promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities. And also work to preserve knowledge about their uses.

These are just some of the fine folks doing positive and exciting things in the world of food and farming. It is a very stirring and stimulating time to be involved in this monumental movement. Thank you for supporting North Country Farms’ small effort to see that clean, delicious food reaches people who appreciate the food and the importance of growing it the way we do. 

Go on–Grow Something!

As I write this, Sky has just finished attending the first day of The National Heirloom Exposition in California. I know he will come back to the farm totally jazzed and full of new information and intention. This is truly an exciting time to be farming, with so much meaningful buzz on organics, heirlooms, sustainability, community and so much more. Go on!–grow something!

Sunset Magic

There is magic afoot at sunset time.  It is always a time for color and contrast. For considering and contemplating. A hush of the day. A time of magical imagining. Tonight is no exception.


Where to Begin

I’m thinking just now about where to begin. How not to feel overwhelmed on this Monday morning. I am a list-maker and that list is mocking me at this moment. Look at me! Ha, think you can even get through half of this! You are crazy! I can hear the sarcasm and guffaws from that damn list!

Well, here’s what I’m going to do right after I finish this post. I’m going to take a deep breath. I’m going to return to gratitude. Gratitude for the autonomy I have in my work. The sheer fact that I can take on these tasks in whatever order and whatever fashion I choose is rare and to be treasured. They are MY responsibilities. And the reality is that I love my work. The separation between my life and my work is blurred. There is joy in the mundane, if I make the decision to reside in that joy.

So, take that you long and daunting list! You have nothing on me that I can’t handle with a smile and a nod to the beauty of my life!



A Spoiled Lot

We are a spoiled lot here on Kauai. Really. Year-round we have delectable, divine fresh produce on our tables and in our tummies. We tend to forget that there are, indeed, seasons here on Kauai, as subtle as they might be. And this is summer, in all its glory. And our gardens are full of bolted lettuce as the result of all this sunshine and heat. That same sunshine and heat that makes the dip we hopefully remember to take in our juicy ocean so very vital is the nemesis to lettuce growing.  So, this week we actually have no lettuce. Yup. No lettuce to sell or eat.  So, we shall have to be content with the scrumptious beets, chard, kale, fennel, eggplant, oranges, bananas, papayas, basil, squash, long beans, eggs, pac choi, tat sai, leeks, scallions and more.  Did I say spoiled???!!!  

our circle garden, start house and work shed


There are so many things I celebrate being free from. I am free from mainland traffic. I am free from ill-health. I am free from negative relationships. I am free to choose healthy life-enhancing foods. I am free from oppression. I am free to choose hope instead of fear. I am free to celebrate life, as I do each and every day. I hope you found some freedom to rejoice in yesterday and that you do the same today, tomorrow and onward. Rock your independence! And, while we are at it, let’s celebrate the abundance that our gardens are providing! 


It seems if we sat by the garden for a while we could actually watch the lettuce grow. These long summer days are perfect for a light supper of salad. If you are looking for ways to make your salads more of a meal, try putting fresh lightly seared tuna on it. Or some cooked garbanzo beans. Hard boiled eggs also make a great protein addition to a green salad. And, my favorite salad dressing—

Tahini Dressing.

 1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. tahini
1/2 c. water
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. tamari
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 garlic clove, squeezed
Black pepper