You may have read about my UL love, my hometown connection to Louisville and that we usually journey here at least four times a year to make sure that everything is relatively the same as it was from the time I was born until I left in my parents car to be dropped off at college. This, oh its so good to be around people who say Louavul everytime, visit has been beautifully balanced. So much so, that rather than feeling like a visitor coming back from out of town, my heart is happy with the feeling of home washing over me. The anchor of our visit was the KY Camp of Champions, hosted by Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, former UL basketball stars gone pro. Cyrus and Nolin didn’t take this opportunity lightly and realized that they have been in the presence of hard work and dedication for the past three days and that this is how you reach your dreams. This is the second year for the camp and rather than last years chips and salsa snack they stepped it up to burritos and hot dogs which was a super welcome boost to the insatiable 1o year old in our family. So naturally I’m thinking that we need to get some hot dogs and ground beef to these people so they are serving up some HNG goodness to 200 some kids each day the camp is happening and have made a note to myself for next year!  It’s a real family affair around the camp though, Russ Smith, Peyton, his wife, his adorable daughter and his father are all there helping out and making these kid’s day while teaching them basketball skills that will come in handy back in NC this winter for the boys. Alot of the team coaches are personal friends and former teammates of these guys and you get the feeling that you too are part of this basketball family during camp.

Russ Smith and the kids

The experience at basketball camp and with the guy who knocked on the door today at my sisters house selling math educational materials for children who is an exchange student from a country in Eastern Europe called Estonia aren’t actually all that different. It’s the connection to each other and to something greater than ourselves that we are all seeking. Its through these experiences that we choose to engage in each day where we find this place to relate.  I think this is what has been so fulfilling this week. It really is the small things, like walking from my parents house to Walgreens and finding that they have local craft beer, West 6th IPA, on the shelf which paired perfectly with 92 degrees and Ohio River Valley humidity and the fact that my sister already had some in her fridge knowing I was coming over when I finished up work.  The fact that my father, both my sisters, and brother in law work within a 1/2 mile radius from each other in what I call the Frey family business (Humana, ha) and that I can randomly call them while downtown to meet up for a Louisville Slugger Museum tour and to see my Dads 23rd floor corner office, is something I truly love. We noticed alot on the river that day out my fathers office window, the locks that help huge barges navigate the Falls of the Ohio where my grandfather once worked on the dam, the train bridge that elevates for the barges, and how the new bridge is going to look.

Gorgeous Day Dad explaining the bridge to the kids

It has taken me 37 years to appreciate this city. Actually, I think Lvl has become a really vibrant place, more so than it used to be or maybe it just skipped a few years between ’92-’96 when I was in high school. In ’78 my dad owned one of Lvl’s first skateboard shops, the Sidewalk Surf Shop, how cool is that! Well it was really cool until I was born and well, as alot of us can relate to, cool is no longer the highest priority once you have kids. Our main activity in high school was hanging out at Cherokee Park, camping at Red River Gorge and B&W photography, everywhere else we tried to hang out ended up not really working out if you know what I mean. Now a days, well maybe because I’m not in high school anymore, there are just so many things to appreciate about this city.  We now have a pop up food truck lot and our own Whiskey Row showcasing the states finest whiskey and bourbons on Main St. but I can’t help find a small bit of irony in the fact that at the end of whiskey row they give you a small souvenir bat after touring the Louisville Slugger Museum so everyone heading back up Main St is carrying one!

My sisters and my brother in law have taken off work this week so I could get two solid days of catch up work time in without kids. This has been huge! I wouldn’t of been able to leave this crazy adventure of a business I own for five days straight without their help, deviation vacation at its best here. The boys have been to the Science Center, across the walking bridge to Indiana on some type of three wheeled pedal cart, slip n sliding, swimming and out for pizza twice.  Friday we are getting fishing licenses and heading to rent a pontoon boat on Nolin Lake and to walk through Mammoth Cave for two hours Saturday morning for the true vacation of the week. I’ve driven the entire length of Wolf Pen Branch to avoid rush hour traffic while admiring all the houses and land I remember seeing from the back of my best friends fathers Suzuki with the top off as a kid when he would take us on a drive “in the country.” I have driven every interstate multiple times a day 265, 71, 264, and 64, literally going in circles to avoid traffic lights, to get my kiddos to camp on time. I have passed houses of old friends and places with many memories that were long buried in my mind and even went to an amazing yoga class with an old friend. I’ve known her since I was 8 years old and we are still in touch, all due to her efforts, as I tend to get lost and overwhelmed with what’s in front of me rather than whats behind these days. I can definitely say this was one of the most refreshing, as she put it, afternoons of my time here in the ‘ville. I kind of like the fact that there is another human being on this planet who has witnessed me as a friend for the past 29 years.  At this point our friendship has come full circle and its pretty amazing to have her in my life.

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I’m loving this connection to my hometown because even though we are settled in Fairview a big piece of my heart is in Lvl, with the rest of my family (seriously, I’m the only one not living here),  all those 600 people that I started high school with years ago, and everyone I have met on the periphery in between.  Family, cousins, basketball, and all this city has to offer will always keep Lvl in my heart as home and continue to deviate me from farming at least four times a year.

 

Last night I sat on the porch while the third rainstorm of the day came up the valley my way and I watched the lightening bugs in the forest and couldn’t help but wonder what soundtrack they were dancing to, if there was was one to hear. Summer has arrived on the farm and what lies ahead in the next few months needs a soundtrack to dance to. The dance has many people, but I don’t envision that its a typical Fairview square dance where you can’t quite hear the caller and your next step will likely end up on someones toes in effort to keep the line moving in the right direction. No, it sounds more like the thunder and the applause of the rain, loud and heavy storms coming my way before I can gather my things, bring in the comforter from the clothesline and head for the house.

The past two nights Granny Annie has joined us for dinner. With John in Raleigh most weeknights and Jamie visiting accounts in Hickory and Charlotte this week we have had some not so organized impromptu dinners. I cooked the boys favorite Pasta Roberto and we had spicy greens and peas from the garden two nights ago. When I got home from picking up Cyrus and Nolin from their afterschool fun yesterday I found, that our proud fisherman Levi, had caught a 16″ large mouth bass from the pond with Granny Annie, which she was sauteing in the pan for dinner. We coupled this with mashed potatoes (Cyrus’ dinner request) and an egg casserole with kale and cilantro also from the garden bounty. Not exactly a well put together dinner, but substance nonetheless, and a chance to sit for 20 minutes that was welcome at the end of a long day.

Levi is in his last week of preschool, my baby is heading to kindergarden after this summer break, and he is so ready. My hope for him is that he doesn’t enter this new school year with another cast on his arm. Two major breaks and six casts later he has the resilience and tolerance of no person I have ever met as he still attempts life with gusto. Nolin played his first Capture the Hoops game today, an Evergreen tradition for third graders, which he will be rising to next year. He also celebrated the joys of two months of ukelele lessons and made $8 busking at the inaugural Fairview Farmers Market at the elementary school over the weekend. Cyrus will be in middle school next year its still hard to believe! He and his cousin Anne were the first buskers at HNG making their ice cream and root beer money playing at the farm store while jamming away on bluegrass songs for our customers. It’s hard to believe that these children I carried in the sling while giving farm tours to preschoolers seven years ago are growing up into the wonderful young people that they have become.  nolinonuke

But the boys aren’t the only thing growing around here:

1. The blueberries are ready for picking and we are opening the upick today. This marks the beginning of berry season with black raspberries and blackberries to quickly follow.

2. I made my first solo appearance on the cover of a magazine. Farm Bureau’s Field and Family wrote a nice article about the farm and our berries. This all was prepared last year at this time which might has well been a lifetime ago because when my friend Sam called to tell me about it, it took a minute to remember that day even happened. fieldandfamilywsam

3. The kitchen and butchery is coming along. The roof is on and we are diligently making all the fun decisions like where to put electrical outlets and light switches. It’s going to be so great when we can serve you food, cut our own meat, create awesome sausages, make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and offer cooking classes over the winter.

4. We just launched our first ever (can you say step outside of your box Amy) crowdfunding campaign on Barnraiser. Get this, we are trying to raise $25K in 30 days. So far we are on our way with 52 awesome supporters donating for some great gifts to total $5785! If you want to be a part of this project and show your love by backing it you can do so here. All this support keeps us going and fuels our enthusiasm for this bear of a project. The benefits to the community we hope will spread far and wide once we open, fingers crossed, in August.

kitchen smokerview [Check out the smoker location back center wall!]

5. Saturday, June 20th we will bring in the official summer season with an Open House: Kitchen and Farm Tour. Burgers and hot dogs will be served between 11-1, with all donations going to our Barnraiser Project. Tours will be given at 10am and 2pm on Saturday. The culvert slides, baby chicks, pigs and creek will be ready for the kiddos to come play. See you there?

6. HNGF Camp will be held in the Big Barn behind the Farm Store so the farm will be alive with lots of children enjoying art, drama, and riding horses over the next five weeks. But don’t worry we have plenty of room for other visitors during that time as well!

We hope you are as excited about the transition from spring to summer as we are and that you will come to the farm to celebrate with us and catch us up on your lives too. The chance to make this land and this business into a place for our community to enjoy has been one we are thankful for and you are the reason we are still going.

Cheers to whats ahead in food, family and community.

amyandjamiecatawbadinner