Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fun with Fabric this Weekend at Wagbo



                Here in Northern Michigan, the seasons provide a steady rhythm of change for our lives.  My spirits are highest when autumn begins to emerge with her icy breaths and vibrant foliage – as the leaves turn color, I am provided with inspiration to alter the color of all of the natural fiber within my reach.  Black walnuts are dropping to the ground, marigolds are still in bloom and ready to be dead-headed, and the apple trees are awaiting pruning; the fall is our last opportunity to harvest the flora found out-of-doors, edibles and dyestuffs alike, that (hopefully) will soon be covered in snow.


                On the last Sunday of this month, my friend, Audrey Atkinson, and I will be hosting a “Natural Dye Play Date” at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center.  We will have 3 to 4 vats of natural dye prepared to “play” in. These may include black walnut hulls, onion skins, apple bark, and marigolds.  You are encouraged to bring your own pre-wetted* silk, cotton, wool, linen, hemp, etcetera, to dip into the vats.  If you have no natural fabric on hand, do not despair, for we will have silk and cotton that has been pre-mordanted (with alum) available to buy.  Also available to purchase will be dyestuffs and mordants provided by Mishiiken Studio of Alanson. 
                * Fabric that has been soaked in water for at least an hour will take up the dye better.


                Come play and dye with us - no experience required! This will be a fun activity for the whole family but please keep in mind that we will be dealing with vats of simmering liquid – so caution with young’ns is advised. Please bring the following if you have them: rubber gloves, string or rubber bands for tie-dyeing, a needle and thread (just in case), and a bucket or plastic bag for transporting wet fibers. We’ll have some supplies on hand as well. Also, we'll likely be working in a non-heated space (except for the stove tops!) so dress appropriately - layers are good. We would love for you to attend no matter your financial situation - a donation of $5-$10+ is greatly appreciated if you are able.  Also, bring some snacks to share if you like and we will do the same – you know we’ve gotta get ready for those cold winter months ahead! 

                Hope to see ya’ll out there!
                -Jasmine Lace Petrie

What: Natural Dye Play Date
Who: Audrey Atkinson and Jasmine Petrie and Y-O-U
When: Sunday, October 28th, 2012.  From Noon-3pm.
Where: Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center
Why: Because we can!
Suggested Donation: $5-$10

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Now you see 'em...

"Under the willows" at Wagbo
Sometimes you get lucky and something that's hard is made a little easier by its necessity. That is the way it was with the Wagbo willows. I'm not usually one to be overly dramatic but you have to understand (and perchance you do), "under the willows" has always been this neat little place on the Wagbo farm. A quiet spot right in the middle of things yet tucked out of site of the highway. There you could enjoy an idyllic swing in the hammock, relish a picnic at one the tables purposefully placed there, join with a few other folks for a chat (meeting is such a nasty word, isn't it?). Often, we'd circle up the children there to begin a program; or gather adults in an intimate and shady setting for a presentation, demonstration or workshop. Then there were those blessed days when your summertime work was portable enough to allow itself to get done there - whether bookkeeping (via laptop) or beekeeping (prep and maintenance, minus the bees of course) or home-keeping (many a meal has been prepared here).
The scene many months ago, and replayed a few too many times.
That's why, as our aging willows started shedding their VERY large limbs when gusty (and then sometimes even not so gusty) weather visited, it was a difficult conversation to even start, but hard also to ignore. I have learned, a little too personally for my taste, that the beautiful willow is no friend of buildings and each must keep a respectful distance from the other due to some of the inherent properties of the tree itself. And these Wagbo willows, five in number, summer's respite though they were, were much too close to a couple of important structures at the farm - our workshop and sugar shack. Not to mention - simply as an inconvenience - the driveway. I don't honestly know which came first, the fast-growing and mighty willows or the buildings, but it was clear, finally, sadly, that it was the willows that had to go.
The unsuspecting willows on the day of reckoning. 
                          Now you see 'em...
...now you don't.
All in a day's work.



















We have just begun to discuss what might replace them. The high water table here certainly limits our choices, and this too may be lucky in its own way. It's obvious that anything we choose will not soon replace the resplendent shade that "under the willows" provided. But while the best time, as they say, to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the next best of course is right now, and I will take heart in that. It even feels a little exciting, and certainly there's relief and a clearing of the back of the mind where the precarious limbs once dwelt. And in the meantime we're sure to be warmed more than once around a campfire by the remains of the once shady boughs. Perhaps you'll join us sometime?
Not bad, just different, right?
We envisioned a couple of cool tables from the stumps of the
bigger ones, and a way to remind us what once was there. 


And, as we pass the mid-month, I should remind you that we have some exciting programs, listed below, coming up over the last couple of weekends of October that you can still get in on. We're looking forward to them!


Jordan ValleyOutdoor Youth Programs: Bushwhacking & Beaver Tracking  Sunday, October  21, 1– 4pm at Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center. Suggested donation $5. Pre-registration required. This is the first of a new program series led by Fischer Jex. Join us as we delve into the world and ecology of this fascinating aquatic mammal – the Beaver! We will bushwhack through forest and field to explore an actively maintained beaver pond, dams, channels and lodges. Along the way we will discover evidence of a diversity of other creatures that call a beaver pond “home.” Pack a lunch and be ready to get wet! Suggested age 6 & up. Note: this is an off-trail adventure of about a mile through wet terrain. 

NaturalDye “Play Date” Sunday, October 28, noon—3pm at Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center. Suggested donation $5-$10. Pre-registration encouraged. Learn to dye natural fibers using area plants with Jasmine Petrie and Audrey Atkinson, local fiber artists. A hands-on experience; bring your own material to dye or purchase some at the class. Bring a snack to share if you are able, not required. This is a grown-up play date but accompanied older children interested in learning are welcome.

As always, for more information you can check out our website at wagbo.org or "like" us on facebook .

Submitted by Jen Lewis, resident volunteer Wagbo cheerleader.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NEW! JORDAN VALLEY OUTDOOR YOUTH PROGRAMS PRESENTS...


Bushwhacking & Beaver Tracking  


Sunday, October  21, 1– 4pm at Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center in East Jordan. Suggested donation $5. Pre-registration required. 


Join us as we delve into the world and ecology of this fascinating aquatic mammal – the Beaver! We will bushwhack through forest and field to explore an actively maintained beaver pond, dams, channels and lodges. Along the way we will discover evidence of a diversity of other creatures that call a beaver pond “home.” Pack some snacks and be ready to get wet! 

Note: this is an off-trail adventure of about a mile through wet terrain. Suggested age 6 & up. Please register by phone or email with the names and ages of those in your party plus the best way to reach you.

This is the first of a new monthly program series - Jordan Valley Outdoor Youth Programs (JVOYP) - led by Fischer Jex. Fischer combines his knowledge of the natural world with an eagerness to share his enthusiasm with young and old by exploring our place in nature. Each month will bring new adventures relevant to our locale and the season, touching on ecology and primitive skills while building a connection with our natural surroundings, getting dirty and having tons of fun. Adults are welcome to accompany their children. Events will be based at the Wagbo Farm and/ or nearby Jordan Valley.

Check back each month (or join our email list) for upcoming JVOYP events and we hope you'll come join us!  Tentative schedule includes “Parsnips and Porcupines” (Nov.), “Campfire Cooking” (Dec.), “Skis, Trees and Teas” (Jan.), “Maples in the Meantime” (Feb.), “Walking with Woodcocks” (April).