This place. I don’t want to spend any more time on my laptop writing this entry than I have to because it takes away from my time gazing at the green land and blue sky. Everywhere.
So I’ll just describe my photos briefly.
East Grove Farms
These ~800 acres have been in the same family since the 1830s; a good story about its history is on the farm’s lovely website.
We came because it’s part of the Harvest Hosts membership so we can stay for free on our way to Des Moines, but I can imagine coming here specifically for one of their Americana music festivals. Or for a full farm tour and mead tasting.
What we got was wonderful: owner Joel gave us a personal mead tasting in the brewing barn (not the house as he would have normally), and he joined us for all the samples and to swap stories.
We loved the meads with Elder berries and Aronia berries, all grown there on the farm. The “show” meads made with almost all honey were very good, but so were the ones with grapes and apples (my favorites were both tart and sweet).
Tracy was astonishingly impressed by a mead that had been aged for two years in a Cedar Ridge bourbon barrel. Joel said he’d shoved it away and forgotten about it and just recently pulled it out, but Tracy thinks he should recreate that and make it their signature mead.
We talked beer, mead, drinkers, Iowa distributors, what in the world was Zima, and police brutality protests (all in favor of the protests, not Zima). His two sons, models for a couple of mead labels with their most-excellent beards, do a lot of brewing with him, but as with everyone their life plans and prospects have changed with the coronavirus. So if you’re anywhere nearby, visit this farm for a socially distant tasting and get mesmerized by several flavors of mead.
We certainly did. We bought a bunch of bottles and shoved them (carefully) under the sofa, padded with towels.
To clear our heads from all that tasting, we took a walk through the vineyards and arbor and woods. Yes, Iowa has woods. Joel sustainably harvests a big portion for lumber (it’s very hard to make a living as a family farm in Iowa these days).
The trails we walked through were as old as the farm.
And now we’re spending the night in his field watching the barn swallows fly low over the grass to feed on insects, and as they disappear into the night, in come the rabbits enjoying the cut grass, then the fireflies. Good night, Iowa.
Next up: Des Moines! On the agenda: visit friends, do laundry, buy groceries, pick up needed supplies at REI (on clearance, of course). Maybe get my bike fixed, and maybe get a haircut.