Fall Thyme Thanksgiving

One recent guest wrote this review, which beautifully captures what we are trying to convey:

“Thyme in the Country is not just a lovely place, it’s an experience of a way of life and style of hospitality that is warm, wholesome, visionary, and utterly heart-felt. The experience is so much more than the sum of its parts (homemade soap, hours-fresh eggs, beeswax candles, lovingly hand built cabinets, gorgeous cows grazing around solar panels) — Thyme in the Country exudes optimism and a lively, reverent approach to life, without being fussy or pristine or over-zealous in any way.  I visited on a girlfriends’ trip.  We squashed through muddy pastures, talked with other interesting guests, tasted truly nourishing treats (ginger honey lemonade, leeks in cream!) and cozied up in our very comfortable beds. I was totally refreshed and rejuvenated by my Thyme in the Country!”

After the whirl of summer and calving, harvest and putting up the prolific fruits of our labor for winter, Fall is a welcome opportunity to say thank you to all our guests, both children and grown ups, who participate in the growing Thyme in the Country experience by offering suggestions and insights that we never would have thought of or even noticed on our own.  Conversations shared over coffee stay with us long after you leave.  We appreciate your insights  and generosity so much.

So thanks again to all our guests for an outstanding, unforgettable summer, made possible by all of you.  We hope to continue the conversation for many years to come.  
                                                                                               — Mary Koch

The New York State Fair

2010 was the first year Dutch Belted Cows were included in the Dairy Cattle Show at the New York State Fair.  It was also the first time I had been to the State Fair since I was a child in 4-H.  The President of the Dutch Belted Cattle Association, Cornell Upson, wanted to exhibit as many “Dutch Belts” in the show as possible, so we loaded our cows and brought them to the fair in Syracuse.  It was a real adventure, from sleeping overnight in our VW camper van, to learning all the details that go into getting the cows ready to show.

Photo by Chris Krasselt, The Flatbush Gardener


The “cream” of every breed is at the fair, but it’s hot, crowded and noisy there.  I would never go if I wasn’t involved with the cows.  It’s fun to walk through the fair at dawn, though, when there are no crowds and the Ferris wheels are still, and I like being in the dairy barn.  We love learning from the exhibits.  It’s also fun to meet the many people who come to see the cows, and to meet other Dutch Belted cattle farmers – this year there were about 50 Dutch Belted cows at the fair!

The one who enjoys the week at the fair most is our 14 year-old son, Teddy.  He takes on the responsibility of preparing our cows for the show ring, so he meets all the other kids who participate.  We’re amazed by how competent, responsible and fun-loving these farm kids are.  Every morning, they rise at 5:00 a.m. to milk cows, shower them from head to toe, clip their coats, clean their ears, shine their hooves and horns to make them look their absolute best, all while keeping their bedding meticulously clean and answering the multitude of questions fairgoers ask.  They  think of it  as fun, and I never hear a complaint from any of them, including Teddy.

We had such a good time and learned so much by showing our cows, now we’re sold on the whole Fair experience. We love talking to the farmers, from whom we learn about the different definitions of “sustainability.”  A farm with a thousand cows has a totally different definition of sustainability than we do.  The farm community has shown us such kindness, considering we are not experienced farmers. They make no judgments, teach us anything we ask and encourage us to keep it up.  Bill likes the opportunity to network with other farmers.  We’ve made good friends from farms all over New York through our fair experience.

Photo by Chris Krasselt, The Flatbush Gardener


In the Thyme Garden

In August, the garden is at the height of its glory. I don’t know where the time goes! We have thyme everywhere; in the sidewalks, in pots. We grow mint on purpose; before the rain came, you could usually see at least a thousand bees in among the mint flowers.

We grow corn and lots of tomatoes. Low turnips, planted next to the corn, with some sunflowers in between. The sunflowers are the kind that just come up – amazing volunteers, almost eight feet tall – all that from one seed! We leave them standing in the winter, for birds to forage. Near them, kale, leeks and onions. Feathery tops of carrots. Celery, more tomatoes, chard. The blue star blossoms are borage, another bee magnet, also good for repelling bugs in the garden and supposed to make your tomatoes tastier, plus delicious as raw greens, or in soups. There’s still one asparagus standing: the far eastern bed is an asparagus bed in the spring. Purple string beans: a lot of people think it’s magic when I cook them and they turn green!

I attribute the incredible growth you see here to nutrient-density fertilizer, and the work we do with compost. Ever since we started this system of enrichment, the garden has turned around, and gets better every year. We spend a lot of time here, but we don’t dig up our garden as much; we like to just let it knit together. With this nutrient-density fertilizer, the soil becomes like an organism, with enzymes that enable plants to take up nutrition more easily, and make a healthier plant. We dig it in a little when we’re digging up the row for seeds, but we more or less put it on with water: what you’d call a drench. You could put it on just as well at the end of the season, and let the snow soak it in. It’s mostly minerals, and mycorrhizal fungi, which definitely helps everything, even the seeds. It’s a whole new system, and just wonderful. I say, if you’re going to spend the time in your garden, you might as well get a lot back!

I’ve been preserving – freezing, canning, jamming. We’ve made dilly beans, cucumber pickles, frozen beans; we serve beans in our Bed & Breakfast all the time. We serve zucchini pancakes, zucchini fritters, zucchini bread and muffins. We have chilled cucumber-mint soup. Everything we have, we want people to taste and enjoy. My husband loves the food! He’s been gaining weight on vegetables, which is hard to believe, but I think it’s good nutrition — good weight, and health.

The corn ripens at the end of August, and the grapes! They got their trellis in the spring, and now they are very happy! One side of the “aisle” is champagne grapes, and the other side is concord grapes. This is the second year for grapes; last year, we didn’t get many. Not sure what we did wrong, but we think we started pruning too late. There was just too much leafy shade: that’s why we’re pruning the vine now. Look underneath the trellis: lots of hanging grapes. We keep our eyes on them – the cows love them, and would eat them all if we didn’t keep a current hot in the electric fence. We’re going to be making jam. And soda: we make our own soda water with a siphon and half grape juice, and it’s delicious!