The end of my Adirondack adventure is coming to a close, and so is the harvest season in upstate New York. Every year at this time, Juniper Hill Farm puts together a large party for all their CSA (community supported agriculture) members to say thank you and to celebrate the bountiful season. They call it, The Fall Frolic, a celebration at this scale takes the whole week to prepare, and with 350 plus families invited, it’s no small task. The fire wood collection process alone takes a day to consolidate all the burn piles that have been building up for the past year. The bonfires put together for this event were next level. The weather was turning colder so having multiple large fires was essential for that genuine fall celebration feeling. Juniper Hill has a bottle kiln as well, and for those of you that might not know what this is, you are missing out. Start saving your wine bottles, and depending on your drinking habits, and friends, you could have your own bottle kiln up and running in a few months. A bottle kiln is basically a chimney built from bottles, you start with a 2 or 3 foot diameter circle, placing the bottles sideways, with the necks facing inward towards the center. But before or durning this process be sure to dig out and build your support platform at ground level with a fire pit below that. Make sure you have air flow at 4 sides and make sure you are able to get the fire big enough to melt and illuminate the bottles from the inside. A few simple bags of concrete mix will also be required as they provide the mortar within the system. (Remember, think brick chimney, but with bottles) after the first base level is complete it’s a matter of stacking and packing, Layering the bottles over top each other with about an inch of mortar between bottles. The height and shape of the kiln should be consistent with the base holding its diameter up to about 3 feet tall, at this point you can start shrinking the diameter of the kiln. This will ironically resemble a wine bottle standing up, and also bring the stems closer to the center of the fire, causing them to melt towards the base like the trunk of an elephant. A properly working bottle kiln will look very unique on the inside, and look bright and colorful on the outside as the fire lights up and magnifies all your colorful wine bottles. The Frolic takes place at the farm, in a beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains. Although the setting and entertainment was next level, the feast took center stage. With practically every vegetable Juniper Hill Farm grows involved, the CSA members were sure to experience a meal they would not soon forget. I won’t bore you, or make you hungry describing all the dishes, but I will tell you, the deviled eggs we prepared were one of the major attractions. Soaked in multiple vegetable juices, they were colorful and extremely delicious. Juniper also butchered 2 hogs for the party, dressing one for a serving display with choice cuts, while the other was harvested into tried and true pulled pork. Families and friends enjoyed everything the party had to offer late into the night, well after the blues and yellows left the sky, showing it’s depth as it turned into multiple shades of black. Within that, the stars slowly peaked out into our sight, feeling close enough to touch in some places, as the silhouettes of the mountains shined off the moon and the fires blazed warmth to keep the party energized. The Fall Frolic was a success, and so was my first completed farm experience since I began my journey forward. This is my first opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of a life built on sustainability, farming, and the pursuit of permaculture, versus a life more “plugged” in, yet distant from the center. This should be a very personal list completely based on what pushes you forward, aligning with your life goals. Factor in your physical and mental health while working in these places, whether or not you will have the ability to afford insurance, the time it either gives or takes from you against the skill set being provided for you to learn. Does it feed or destroy the ego, keeping you in a state of genuine sustainable happiness. Ultimately at this point it’s up to you. What causes you to act or react, and why. Recognize what causes you pain, and learn to avoid it. Discover your passion, and pursue it. Find the best way for you to learn, and never give up. Never quit. Especially on yourself. Thank you Adam, thank you Melody, and thank you Juniper Hill Farm.
On a rainy day, at the top of a mountain, you are in the clouds. You can feel them between your finger tips. You breath the thickness in your lungs. And at your feet you see infinite root systems flowing like veins, giving extra life and energy throughout the wilderness. It was raining for about an hour while hiking my way up Owls Head Mountain, in the heart of the Adirondacks. Under a canopy of colors I was presented a patch worked blanket of fiery reds and bright yellows over top the most beautiful shades of greens you can imagine. The rain dropped lightly on my face as I happily made the 6 mile hike to the top. When the wind blows over the trees and lakes, the mountains shake as the sky rolls clouds above them. But when you are inside the clouds, at the summit of the mountain, blinded by them, the void of nothing and everything shows you the next level. It’s that infinite which reminds you it’s the journey we all must take in some form, and the destination is the great unknown. In this place it’s hard not to be inspired. It has a peace only its vastness can expand from. I love places that remind me how small I am. This use to make me feel meaningless, but now it’s starting to give me a feeling of direction.. funny.. I get that feeling now, when I want no idea of where I’m going..
Hopefully this blog can inspire you, entertain you, and maybe even give you the courage to climb your own mountain one day. Peace and love.