Saturday, October 9, 2010

Good Earth & Amaranth

This post is a week late, postponed due to our trip! I'll post what we did this week in the next few days.
Friday...must be Good Earth Farm school! The walk is our first favorite thing of this day.
hello, jewelweed!
and lamb's ear, so dewy
good morning, doves
and Kitten
Really. It may be my favorite favorite part.
 We get there early to help with the set-up; 
a station for hand-washing, and one for dish-washing after lunch.
 After circle time and a walk, there are peanuts around a fire.
 We had a special guest this day; Brandon Jaeger from Shagbark Seed and Mill Company came to show us how to thresh the amaranth we harvested the week before.
 Threshing separates the flowers from the rest of the plant.  We threshed by stomping, jumping and dancing on the seed heads!
We learned how some people thresh with a flail - basically a hinged tool made of one long piece of wood and a smaller piece attached at one end (see the photo below).  To be truly efficient with your flailing, this would be done in a circle of people, each with their own flail, and there would be a rhythm to the work, allowing for a steady thump-thump-thump-thump-thump as each flail hits the floor on its own beat.  To give us an idea, Brandon said, "you know, it's like doing The Wave".  Silence.  The kids had no idea what he was talking about, so he started to laugh and said, all right, circle up, and before we continued, he taught the kids how to do the wave.  Pretty darn funny.
 We also threshed by wacking the amaranth against the inside of a bucket.  You just want those seeds to fall off anyway you can!
 There was a modern-day thresher on hand to show how threshing - or thrashing - is done today.
 After threshing comes winnowing, where the pink petals of the amaranth flower are separated from the tiny white seeds.  The petals are so light that this process can be done very simply: by dropping seeds from one hand to the other... blowing gently on your hand of seeds, or by walking as you pour seeds from one bucket into another - can you see the flow of pink petals trailing behind as he walks? It was so beautiful.
 Voila! Seeds.
Now it was time for a little play - building forts and fires...
 ...and after a story and a song with me, we were on to the afternoon's activity.
 We collected flowers - amaranth, goldenrod, marigolds, nasturtium - and placed them on folded pieces of paper.
After placing the flowers and leaves on our open papers, we folded them shut, and using wooden spoons, wooden spatulas and what I think were wooden drawer pulls, we "burnished" or rubbed on the paper, over the areas where the flowers lay.
 The results were quite lovely.

Autumn butterflies.  And that's about enough for one day, don't you think?


Kerry said...

What a great day; it looks like so much fun! The cow is named Kitten?

slim pickins said...

i know. weird, huh? must have been a kid who named her, don't you think?? the other cow is daisy...aren't they all called clover, buttercup, daisy...?? eliza calls kitten "mama bossy"...

Kerry said...

Yes. Definitely a child named that cow such a sweet name. I wonder if the calf miouw-ed instead of mooed when she was born?

Chrystal said...

This farm school is cool! And I really like your banner pic. So pretty.

Monica said...

what a fab time you all had! and what fun learning.