Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

17 May

Mother And Son

by Jon Katz

Robin is almost as big as his mother Laurie. They still graze together and he tries to nurse every once in a while, but she’s pretty much done with it and he eats grass and drinks water like all the others.

He’s going to be big, his tail and testicles were banded and are gone. Maria is drooling over the wool he’ll produce for yarn. It’s always fascinating for me to see the moments when a lamb becomes a sheep. Robin is there.

17 May

Four More Shrubs: Blue Crop Berries From Maryland

by Jon Katz

A few weeks ago, browsing for blueberry bushes online, I came across Start Brothers in Maryland, they were selling  Blue Crop berries for $13.99 a shrub, the second-best price I found.

The four I ordered as an experiment came last night.

The first, from Hammonton, N.J., was $10 a shrub, Moise and I decided to grab 30 of them, they have been shipped and will come any day this week, possibly today.

I’m bringing these four bushs up the Miller farm this morning. The FedEx delivery was a day or two late, two of the bushes looked dangerously dried out and were shedding leaves.

I watered them last night and they all seem to be better this morning Stark Bros will exchange any that don’t survive for replacements. The Amish daughters know everything about plants.

I like what I’ve read about the Blue Crop berries.

They like colder climates and produce large clusters of big, all-purpose berries, great for eating, or in salads and pies. They ripen in July.

The Blue Crop berries are self pollinating but will yield even larger crops if pollinated with Jersey or Earlblue berries. They need a lot of sun and moist but not soggy soil.

I bet Moise will want more of these next year. We’ll have 41 shrubs total, a good start for the first year.

I  hope to be present for the planting of the 30 bushes, the netting is on the way. So is Moise, I’m picking him up this afternoon at 2.

16 May

Wonder Woman Meets Perseus At The Met

by Jon Katz

Wonder Woman met Perseus and the Head of Medusa today at the New York Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

Wonder woman was Robin, my granddaughter, and Perseus was Benvenuto Cellini’s famous sculpture of the Greek God Perseus cutting off the head of Medusa, who could turn anyone who looked at her to stone.

Perseus tricked her by looking at her reflection in his shield and then cutting off her head.

The statue was sculpted between 1545 and 1554 by Cellini, one of the great sculptors and goldsmiths of his time.

Then and now, there was politics in art. The political meaning was that the beheaded Medusa represents the Republican experiment, which Emperor Cosimo did away with, while the snakes coming out of the Gorgon’s body symbolize the disagreements in the city which threatened democracy.

Sounds familiar.

I asked Emma if Robin was surprised by the nudity in the statute and Emma said not at all. Robin said “look, he decapitated her! But why did he do it naked?”

I don’t know what Emma answered in response, but Emma said she was impressed and proud that Robin knows the word “incapacitate” and used it correctly before the age of five.

It’s a Brooklyn thing, I think. But the photo is another Emma classic.

16 May

A Sweet Surprise. A House Full of Amish Visitors

by Jon Katz

Maria and I had the nicest surprise today; four of Moise and Barbara’s children walked down the road today to accept our invitation to visit Bedlam Farm. We didn’t know if they were coming today, but it was a pleasure to see them in our yard.

I heard the dogs and looked for horses but instead found these lovely four children standing by the pasture gate, talking to Maria, waiting for me to come out.

First, we went to see the donkeys.

All of them wanted to feed Lulu and Fanny some treats.

Their hats and bonnets spooked the donkeys, they hadn’t seen that before, but they calmed down. These kids are used to animals.

Secondly, we went into the big barn, and like their father, they were fascinated by the cow stalls, the construction of the Pole Barn and were very curious to know what Maria did with the wool.

They wanted to know all about the sheep, where they came from, why we had them.

So she invited them into the Schoolhouse Studio, where there was intense talk about the making and selling of quilts, a subject close to Amish hearts.

Maria showed them her fabrics and how she put them all together to make her quilts and potholders and hanging pieces. She explained how the wool became the yarns she sold on the Internet.

Maria and three of the girls talked shop for nearly a half-hour.  The boy and I went out into the pasture and talked about donkey care and lumber. He loves the Hardy Boy books and we talked about that.

I loved watching Moise’s kids in the studio; it seemed a perfect and natural fit.

The children are courteous, open, and articulate. They are used to talking to adults; they look us in the eye, ask questions about our lives, and speak candidly about theirs.

Because they don’t spend their lives on Facebook, they seem comfortable speaking to one another and adults.

I’m not using their names only because I haven’t asked Moise or Barbara for permission to do that. I felt completely comfortable with them here; we urged them to come back anytime.

I feel they are part of my family in some way, and I am part of theirs. I was so pleased they felt easy enough to walk down here and visit us. I’m happy the books mean so much to them, they have given us a way to talk to each other and get to know each other.

We talked about the farm, the animals, the books I’ve brought, the books they would like to read. I’m fond of these kids, and it was a joy to see Maria so comfortably engaged with them as well.

They loved hearing about the farmhouse. They know a lot about building.

After the visit to the barn and the studio, we invited them into the farmhouse to tour the house, the kitchen, and their bathroom. They were curious; they wanted to see every room and wanted to know what we had done and what was there originally.


We all stood around the dining room table for a while. Maria gave them some of her Robin magnets, which they loved; I handed over some coloring books for the grandchildren staying with them for a week or so until their parents get here.

After the talk in the dining room, they asked me to come into my study and look on my computer and see the photos I have been putting up on my blog. I was delighted by that (but couldn’t take a photo). I sat in my chair and pulled up the Bedlam Farm blog, and we went through all the photos I’ve taken of the farm, the plants, the horses, and the cards.

They loved seeing these images and how their farm looked through someone else’s eyes. They were fascinated by their photos taken from a distance and could tell me which horse was pulling the cart and who was in it, even from far away.

I read some of the pieces to them and managed to show them every photo I’ve taken. I’ve done the same for their father, and this decision to be open has cemented trust and connection. I was pleased to see how much they liked the images and how much they mean to them.

I’m having five or six prints made of their favorite photos, and Moise and Barbara said it’s fine with them. Having enough is a big Amish idea, and I’m beginning to understand what this means.

I’m enjoying my connection to this family, as many of you know, but today’s visit was special to Maria and me. How nice of them to come. Now, we all know where and how the other lives.

We tried to give them some water, but they said they had enough with them. Today is Sunday, their parents were aware, and there is no church this week, so they thought it would be nice for them to come and see the farm and us.

They all said I needed an Amish straw hat; they said their aunt would make me one. We’ll see. I can’t say I don’t like the idea, but it isn’t quite me.

Both of us greatly enjoyed the visit. The children were impressed by Fate’s running around; she reminded them of Tina. I told them that Fate didn’t like herding sheep; they were a little confused by that.

Then they said goodbye, thanked us, and headed back up the road. These kids are a gift to me. I’ll see them in the morning. After they left, four new blueberry bushes arrived, somewhat dried out in transport. We watered them and I’ll drive them up first thing tomorrow.

They will be in good hands. I’m picking up Moise at 2 p.m. in Glens Fall and bringing him home. This is blueberry bushes week, 30 of them expected to arrive any day.

16 May

Success. My Raised Zinnia Garden Bed Has Sprung To Life

by Jon Katz

As with most new things, willfulness is as important as skill. This was my third attempt at a Zinnia garden in my new raised garden bed. More than 25 seeds sprouted today.

I’m spraying twice a day, it’s warmer than it was, and I’m more patient than I was. A formula for success. The thing is, just don’t quit. There is always a way.

This is going to be a watershed week for the Zinnia garden, I’m into it.

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