Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poem for Sunday and Family Festival at the Farm

I Never Saw That Land Before
By Edward Thomas

I never saw that land before,
And now can never see it again;
Yet, as if by acquaintance hoar
Endeared, by gladness and by pain,
Great was the affection that I bore

To the valley and the river small,
The cattle, the grass, the bare ash trees,
The chickens from the farmsteads, all
Elm-hidden, and the tributaries
Descending at equal interval;

The blackthorns down along the brook
With wounds yellow as crocuses
Where yesterday the labourer's hook
Had sliced them cleanly; and the breeze
That hinted all and nothing spoke.

I neither expected anything
Nor yet remembered: but some goal
I touched then; and if I could sing
What would not even whisper my soul
As I went on my journeying,

I should use, as the trees and birds did,
A language not to be betrayed;
And what was hid should still be hid
Excepting from those like me made
Who answer when such whispers bid.


We spent most of the day at Frederick County's Family Festival at the Farm, where lots of farms, orchards, and nurseries are open to the public for tours. The day offered perfect gorgeous fall weather, high 60s and brilliant sunshine, though the leaves are only partially turning -- a decent amount of yellow but not a lot of red, which may have to do with what a dry summer we had. We started at Whispering Meadows, an alpaca farm that also has longhorns, horses, rabbits, and pigs and poultry for those who wait for the hayrides; it's owned by a really interesting guy who gets up at 3:30 a.m. to commute two hours into D.C. to work at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as his day job, and the tours were given by local 4H members volunteering on the farm. We got to pet lots of alpacas and visit the store with woolens, plus there were carding demonstrations and food in the barn.

Then we went to Brookfield Pumpkins, mostly to pick pumpkins for Halloween, though they also had some animals -- pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, calves -- and a big barn with crafts and some of the huge squash and gourds grown on the farm. The farm has a fabulous view of the mountains and takes visitors on hayrides out to the pumpkin patches. From there we drove to South Mountain Creamery, which we visited in September but which was having a big open house for the festival with samples of their cheese, yogurt, breads, and ice cream, plus visitors like local honey producers and their bees, the wonderful Marco's Not-Yet-Famous Salsas. In addition to their calves, rabbits, chickens, and kittens, they had visiting alpacas, piglets, and sheep, plus the barn where they keep their incubators open with at least 50 newborn chicks! And we got to hand-churn butter and take it home with us.

These hours-old chicks were in an incubator at South Mountain Creamery.

In honor of the Family Festival at the Farm, the creamery had a visiting sow and piglets...

...and kittens available for adoption.

This three-week-old calf was sharing a stall with a chicken who apparently wanted the leftover feed.

Earlier in the day, we visited Whispering Meadows and met their alpacas, plus longhorn cattle, horses, and rabbits.

There were visiting sheep as well as other farm animals at Brookfield Pumpkins.

Daniel picked out this pumpkin at Brookfield Pumpkins...

...while this was Adam's. Paul said we should carve them as Ernie and Burt.

Maryland lost to Clemson while we were out and we only saw part of the wonderful Wisconsin-Ohio State game, plus bits of the Yankees losing (yay) and the Giants winning (boo), plus we watched the new episode of Merlin, which may be the silliest yet (and a bit too reminiscent of "The Gates of Avalon" in some ways), but such is my attachment to the show that this didn't even bother me -- not even the oh-so-period-correct tango music. Small Spoilers: I mean, the tango is perfect for a pixie's attempt to seduce Gaius, yes? I'm not a fan of the idea that any "normal" woman is quite happy to wear tight shoes and complicated hairdos and it's only possession by evil fairies that would give her trouble, but I liked that those weren't the reasons Arthur didn't love her -- I really like Gwen and it's fine with me if she, Arthur, and Merlin all live in the castle together. Of course, I also like Merlin telling Arthur that everyone should choose a partner for love rather than any other considerations. It's been a good week for schmoop on shows I watch.

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