A Different Lens . . . Walking Hoop House for Shameless Beauty
February 04, 2011
My forearms burn from non-stop shoveling of the hoop houses out from under all the snow. The grandeur of the hoop houses is shrinking by the day under the ever-shifting white horizon line. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city had experienced the snowiest January in its history, enduring 36 inches of snow since Jan. 1, breaking the old record of 27.4 inches in 1925. This does not include the first Nor’easter during Christmas or the one that is currently rearing its apocalyptic head across much of the nation. At the farm, we’ve taken in over 75 inches in 1.25 months! If only we could fit the tractor between the two hoop houses to shovel out all the snow. (Check out this picture of me on the tractor . . . I'm only sitting on it, leaving its use to the people who know how to do so!)
You may be asking why all the fuss over the hoop houses. The hoop house is where our brave little seedlings grow in the winter. To date, we have started about seven thousand seedlings in what we call the garden studio, serving as my shared office space on one side and growing space on the other. We then moved them into these “magic” houses, a protected space, defying the winter elements of Mother Nature. Layered by only two thick sheets of translucent plastic separated by a constant stream of pumped air (but not heated), they absorb sunrays and insulate from the cold. On a sunny day, it could be six degrees outside and sixty degrees inside.
Walking into this “spa” the air is moist and warm, infused with the sweet smell of fresh young growth. I can feel my dry skin bouncing back from the burning cold outside. The warm aromatherapy of a nutrient-rich soil and chlorophyll elixir defrosts my windpipe and fills my chilled lungs. Invigorated, I’ve found another garden beauty secret, our own farm spa, equipped with oxygen bar!
Walking out the door at 7am to the tune of minus eleven degrees on a sunny day is . . . well, it can be exhilarating with the right frame of mind. Oddly, it felt warm, considering how cold it was. The only perceptible difference between the other days, with the temperature hovering in the single digits was the unusual feeling of an ultra-thin sheet of frost forming on the outer layer of my eyeballs. The only way I knew it was happening was by the “crunching” sensation upon blinking. It was a little bewildering and strange, but nevertheless a novelty just as long as it wasn’t doing any damage.
Speaking of exposure, the harsh weather and elements are not good for the seedlings and not good for my complexion either! I was concerned by the potential damage it was causing. During the fall, when we were still milking the goats, I started experimenting with the filters used for straining the milk straight from the milking parlor. When the milking season winds down, the milk is most concentrated in fat, which is rich in lactic acid. The fatty milk gets trapped in these filters. It was then that I had the ‘ah-ha’ moment of “harvesting” another fine beauty secret from the farm. Though difficult to secure these milk fat enriched filters to my cheeks (too vain to show you this picture), I assure you it can be done!
I recalled the stories of ancient Egyptians bathing in pools of fermented milk to beautify their skin. So at the farm, I decided to slather some goat cheese on my face. The thick and smooth texture of the cheese reminded me of luxurious $100/1.5 oz facial creams found only at Neiman Marcus! So before the cheese season was over, I dolloped (with permission) a scoop of a farm favorite salt-less cheese (salt can be drying) into a dozen miniature Ziploc baggies which I then placed in the freezer. A three month’s supply will get me through the worst of winter. Upon defrosting an individual packet – voila! I’ve scheduled in my weekly farmstead goat cheese facial!
To further maximize the benefits of my facial, I place Saran Wrap over my face cutting out holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth to keep the cheese from drying. I found this also takes advantage of my own body heat to assist in the absorption of all those skin nurturing fatty acids. I may look like a walking hoop house but vanity has no shame and I still have my priorities. And what a world of a difference it makes! I’ve found a solution to combat the negative impact of exposure to the elements. It turns out that I can have my cheese and eat it too, maintaining beautiful skin while continuing down the internship path of a sustainable farmer.
Hmm, perhaps I’m onto something here! I’ll keep you posted.