you are a great mom

as our time at the farmers market drew to a close saturday, the beautiful young friend of our neighboring vendor said to me “you are a great mom!” my heart sang and i thanked her, little did she really know this was about the single best compliment she could pay to me, really. i held that conversation in my heart but the thrill of the compliment soon wore off, what would my kids think if i posed this question to them? as i pondered topics for this week’s post and mulled over motherhood, i decided to do some of my own reasearch and present it to you all, here.

perhaps you agree with me or maybe you don’t but mothering can be a pretty thankless job. the day in day out nitty-gritty of caring for our babes can leave us tired and unflattered.  with familial and societal concerns for the next generation so great, we as mothers are often pressed to ignore our intuitive desires for our own. but wait, i am getting ahead of myself, back to my survey.

i wanted to discover if my own kids thought i qualified as a grade A parent. i started with madeline, pre teen she is, still loves a good chat with mama.

robin: “do you think i am a good mom?”

madeline: “where did that question come from?”

once i explained the initial compliment, my resulting jubilation and then subsequent introspection, i got some good response.

madeline: “well, you’re pretty good”

“sometimes you’re really, really annoying but for the most part you’re alright”

” i wish you’d make mashed potatoes more often,”

“your cooking is pretty good”

“you’re fairly nice most of the time”

“i wish you’d stop having brothers” (i decided not to interrupt her flow by explaining this was actually dad’s doing!)

“sometimes i wish you’d stop nagging me to clean my room”

“occasionally i wish you’d stop letting pilly (one of many family nicknames for our youngest boy) in my room first thing in the morning”

“you’re a pretty good draw-er and you’re fun to play with when you have time to play with us and i do wish we had more time to play with each other”

“on the whole, you’re pretty good.”

with my middle child, i decided i was definitely granted a basic mothering thumbs up.


it was harder to pin my teen age boy down. first of all, he was busily chopping wood.

robin: “do you think i am a good mom?”

sasha: “why am i supposed to answer that?” and in his next breath “what were madeline’s answers?” finally “you’re pretty good i would say.”

robin: “come on, describe me as a mom, elaborate”

sasha: “you know i hate elaborating, i thought you knew that. you forget too much.”

“could you help me stack this wood” he pleads and then adds after i start to work with him “you are a good cook and i wouldn’t trade you in for another mom.”

feeling like a pretty good mama now..


william was last, at 2 he is still a man of few words. but it is clear every time this little guy looks my way that i top his list of favorite mothers.


on this lovely monday morning, i ask any and all mamas reading this to look within, find joy in your motherhood and remember:  you are a great mom, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!


state of the farm report

On the eve of the first “Big Freeze” of the season, we scurry like squirrels, gathering and stashing food into every nook and cranny of our warm house. When the work is done, or done enough, as is often the case, we look around, amazed, satisfied, and slightly overwhelmed at what the season has provided. It’s time to reflect on the State of the Farm Report.

We came into this season with a mind to change things. We wanted to grow a little less, have less pressure to sell, be better stewards of the land, and make room for other avenues of livelihood and Life.tulsi bee

In the big picture, I think we succeeded. We still grew a tremendous amount of food, but it was less than years before, and it was organized in such a way as to allow some summer cover cropping, which felt like a nice rest for the garden. There was still a lot to do, and moments of complete overwhelm, but the scale of the labors was much more realistic for the two of us with outside commitments, and the season passed without injury. Considering some of the seasons’ gone by, this is a victory in itself.levon in kale

I let my mind’s eye drift back over the gardens, watching the maturing of the season, and considering losses and gains. The pole beans, for instance, were a total bomb. My Fellow Man recently realized though, that some unusual coloration we were seeing on the broom corn, which was to be their support, indicated a rather severe magnesium and iron deficiency. So maybe we can learn something about the garden from the placement of that loss. Tomatoes and sweet peppers were great this year. Because we grew less tomatoes, we had just about enough cages left over to cage our sweet peppers, which was wonderful. The Golden Treasure peppers nearly outgrew the cages. The neighboring eggplant had a great big first flush, then seemed to almost die. The leaves fell off and we more or less given up on them when they made a surprise come back and gave us another small Fall harvest. I don’t know what that was about, but it worked out well.

Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes were bumper crops. Sweet potatoes were especially fun. We saw some purple sweets in a grocery store early in the season and pick up a couple. The slips they made were healthy so we planted about a third of a row in purple sweets. The vines seemed to spread for miles, and even bloomed beautiful delicate purple morning-glory type flowers in the late summer. When we dug them, we found HUGE long twisty potatoes reaching way down into the subsoil. That was a treat. Unfortunately, they didn’t follow the habit of their pink brethren, which make a handy cluster at the base where the slip was planted. sweet potato clusterThe purple potatoes made potatoes in a large radius from the original stem. Hand digging was the only way to extract them. We were grateful for only a piece of a row, but in my opinion, they were worth the work. Levon’s birthday purple-sweet-potato-cheesecake topped the charts, in my opinion.purple sweet potato cheesecake

Not far from the sweet potatoes, we tried an experiment. We grew chia – as an herb, for the seeds. The plants are beautiful, towering probably eight feet high with velvety soft leaves slightly reminiscent of catnip. We watched and waited all season. No blooms, no seeds. Only last week, as we made the final rounds of the top gardens, did I finally find pretty little seed heads, immature. We’re supposing that chia may have been developed in high altitude areas with cooler nights, so was waiting for the temperatures to drop before it made seed. Oh well.

At least we finally succeeded at rice. This is the third year we’ve tried. The first year we had nice plants, but got them out a little late and they never set seed. The second year there was a horrible drought and the rice set seed but not much and not very good. This year, my Fellow Man ordered seed from the USDA seed bank. We trialed four varieties and grew the bit of seed we collected from the previous year. It worked. The rice was beautiful. Birds began to eat it when it grew plump, so we covered it with bird netting. Now we just have to figure out how to thresh a few bushels of rice. That will be fun.rice corn squash

My ambitious husband’s seed saving skills took a leap, as he had more time to focus on those details. We grew three different kinds of corn, and saved seed from two of them.

this is part of the process of collecting corn pollen

this is part of the process of collecting corn pollen

The Taos corn is a flint type that my folks brought back from New Mexico. It is shorter in stature than the Damon Morgan that we usually grow, and it is accustomed to growing in the high arid Southwest. But it made nice ears, plenty enough for the year, plus some to select for seed. I’ve already told you about Glass Gem, which was just great fun. We haven’t popped any yet. One of these chilly days, soon.taos corn

Paul also saved seed from summer squash, melons, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and beans. That’s just what I can remember off the top of my head. We had set aside some lettuce for seed, but I think it was overrun by weeds and over-shaded by some beautiful pink cosmos.

Weeds were the issue of the garden in this long cool summer. Galinsoga grew rampant. It least it isn’t thorny. There were a few places where we managed to hold it at bay, but I lost my will to fight after we lost Susan in mid-August, and some parts of the garden were swamped.

We made it. There have been heartbreaks, two deaths in the family and on the smaller scale, loss of some of our poultry flock. But as for the living, we are still here. We have loved one another, learned a lot, enjoyed our world and eaten well.  The children continue to grow smarter, stronger, and fiercely free. lulah wild and freeThere is plenty to eat, plenty to think, feel, and love, and plenty to be grateful for as we go forth, day after day. As goes the soil, so goes the grower.

May the same good fortune follow each and every one of you.  Happy Autumn.


this time of year it is hard for me to muster up any more food preservation energy. i have been deep into my stock pots for months now. alas, just when i was ready to call it a year, we harested our first crop ever of ginger:  fresh, inspirational baby ginger.


wow. raised here in our high tunnel, we have been tending this delightful crop since early spring. the culinary thrill seems endless to me right now.

first i tried pickled ginger (japanese gari)


then, since these have to sit for a week at least, i had to make a quick batch of crystallized ginger


next on the list ginger beer. inspired indeed.