Sunday, December 27, 2009

The bluest skies

The Sun is just now coming up and it looks like blue skies. This totally blows my Seattle bashing about the cloudy rainy 360 days a year shtick. Oh well. Yesterday was amazing not a cloud in the sky the mountains were visible all around us, the Olympic Mountains, the Cascades, Mt Baker, Mt Rainier, it was breath taking. My brother in law and I took the new light rail to the “I district” (aka/ china town, international district). Our first stop was PHO HOA an awesome Vietnamese noodle house. For those not familiar, Pho, it is a soup made up of an extremely hot and rich broth that is poured over thin rice noodles, it’s often served with very thin slices of tendon, or flank, or tripe that cooks in the extremely hot broth. You’re served a plate on the side that contains a huge handful of mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapeƱo slices and lime. It’s a huge bowl. It’s delicious, nutritious and will fill you up and it’s very cheap to boot. Pho places open early and by 10 am they are generally packed with Vietnamese, Samoans, Latinos and a few slices of white bread like us.
The thing I love most about Seattle is the diversity of cultures that live mostly harmoniously under one grey sky. The assortments of small independently owned ethnic restaurants range from Ethiopian, Thai, Mung, Pilipino, South African, North African, South American, Norwegian, Swedish, Sicilian, Italian, Brazilian, Japanese, Korean, Irish, Scottish, English, and Russian. When I lived here before, I ate out a good part of my week, when I wasn’t cooking at the restaurant I ate out. To choose what restaurant to go to I would just decide what country I wanted to eat in. It was amazing. It’s easy to be adventurous without trying very hard.
One of my very favorite restaurants in Seattle is Sea Garden its Chinese and specializes obviously in sea food, it’s been around for ages and just keeps getting better. One specialty of the house is the crab with black bean sauce or crab in garlic ginger sauce both phenomenal! When you enter Sea Garden the first thing you see are the large tanks with the fish of the day. There might be clams, mussels, oysters, goeduck, tilapia, and always crab. After you order your crab it is brought to the table for your inspection. The waiter takes it out of the plastic bin with a pair of tongs and gives you a good look at it, front and back. The main thing you are looking for is to make sure it’s alive and well. A dead crab will bring on the worst digestive issues you can imagine. And possibly a long hospital stay not to mention you will never eat crab again as long as you live.

From there the crab gets cleaned and thrown into a red hot wok to cook with the incredible sauce. It comes to your table cleaned but whole so you also get a large glass bowl of warm lemon water for your hands. It’s messy, make no mistake about it. If one feels self conscious all they have to do is look around at this packed restaurant and the crab on every table. It’s a visceral experience and one of the best ways to really get into your food. Very sadly this trip home no Sea Garden for me, it just didn’t work out and not having a foodie family it wasn’t on the top or bottom of their list to eat so the one time we did eat out it was at a chain Mexican restaurant that served basic food everyone could enjoy. Luckily I have a lasting memory of Sea Garden !
Today I’m held up in the house, everyone is gone so I guess I’ll pack and get ready for my flight in the morning. I cannot wait to get home. It was a rough week for the farm. The snow storm had some bad effects and we lost two bucks, they became hypothermic and through all efforts, blankets, hot water bottles etc. were not able to recuperate, very sad. Linda held the fort down and I’m sure will need a break when I get home. The snow made daily life very difficult for one person. On the bright side we have a new beautiful lamb born yesterday, healthy and strong and so goes the circle of life.
So long Seattle,
The farm is calling me home to her arms.
To her goats, sheep, lambs, chickens, and her love.
Fences to mend,
Eggs to gather,
Goats to milk,
Cheese to make,
Soil to turn.
Through death and through life
The farm is calling me,
to her land I must go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A foodie christmas

The forecast today calls for sunny skies in Seattle and snow predicted for my corner of Oklahoma. The best in both worlds! I’m not going to be whiney about missing home and tell you how I dreamt of Teeny Tiny. Really. I am ON right now! On, to cook dinner tonight for 14 family members. Yea I’m fired up!

First of all the family is getting the basics; Prime rib roast
Scalloped potatoes
Iceberg with ranch
Rolls w/margarine
This they will be happy with, I’m adding to the menu some:

Crab cakes with rosemary aoli
Local green beans slathered in real butter and toasted garlic
Seared and braised fresh Alaskan halibut steaks with
red peppercorns, lime and cilantro
Tiny Red fin fingerlings roasted with garlic
A salad of all the different greens I could find at the market
Dressing served on the side of course.
a beautiful loaf of rustic bread
And a seriously kick but yes…. Jell-O salad, red white and green baby!

My youngest niece who has the baking gene is bringing desserts.

Wish me luck and have a very merry Yule to you all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

City Day

A day at the Pike Place Market does a spirit good. Traveling with my middle niece Jennifer via the new light rail system was a true big city day. The train was packed with Seattlelights of all creeds, cultures and colors, it was clear I wasn’t in Depew Oklahoma any more Dorothy! I was trying hard not to stare. Living in Oklahoma I forget that there is a world outside of my own, one bursting from its seams, one flowing over with unabashed freedom and force. This City, like most big cities is full of life, some of it profoundly joyful and beautiful and some tragic and painfully sad.

We listened to great old guy Jamin’ at the market. He was a light! Crooning old Dillon and Guthrie toons he attracted a huge half circle of on lookers in an absolute daze. Tourists and homies , This guy was a great entertainer! Tried to upload a video for you but it must have been too long.
Down the way a bit we listened to a fellow playing a saw. I have to admit it sounded like he was torturing that poor saw, best to put that thing to a timber than a bow son! Just sayin’.

I met several artisan cheese venders. They were very busy so I really didn’t get a chance to talk in depth but the samples of cheese I tasted were no less than inspirational. I picked up some cards and brochures and thought possibly after Yule I’ll see if I can come to their farm for a visit. My heart races when I taste a beautiful handmade cheese. My palms get sweaty and I babble. I can’t focus and can’t really form sentences. All I really want to do is pull out my milk and my cultures and get to work. It drives me crazy that I don’t have an on farm processing permit yet. I know it will happen eventually. The only thing stopping me is money.

Today, I’m headed out to shop for Christmas Eve dinner. This is when I start to really feel the angst of being home. I am a trained chef. My family would like it if I make the dinner. Here is the problem most of them eat like four year olds, they have the taste buds only suited for cheesy mac and Top Ramen. They don’t like vegetables they don’t like anything “gourmet”. So my challenge as a chef is to make them happy by cooking the blandest fakest meal I can. (Instant mashers win over fresh, iceberg over green leaf)
How does “A real food” foodie cope with this????
One option is to cook two dinners. One for myself, my brother in law and my older sister and niece that’s 4 and the other 10 get fake potatoes, feed lot beef, minute rice and iceberg w/ ranch. Or should I just suck it up and just go along with what will make the majority happy. I need your help here people! Or maybe I make the fake food and just have a couple of items that will be a real treat like fresh dungenous crab cakes with rosemary aioli, How ‘bout a bottle of Andrew Will Cab to put my mind at ease. How about a small filet of Alaskan salmon barely cooked. And I’ll go back to the cheese venders and make myself a little local cheese sampler.

What’s a good compromise? Any ideas? Am I just a food snob? Yes! I’m a complete food snob, can they love me anyway?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The closest exit may be behind you

A great feeling of dread came over me as the grey thick clouds hugged the plane upon our decent into Seattle. Just moments before a voice came on the crackly muffled loud speakers to tell us winds were high and to expect some turbulence. “The Seattle weather today is rainy, 48 degrees” he croaked. Oh, really I sarcastically thought to myself. I missed home already. I missed the Oklahoma sunshine I left countless hours earlier. I missed the farm. Painfully, I missed the farm.

The plane made its way through in spite of the thick grey clouds. Soon my city was visible. Wet and grey at high noon. Black and green dots became visible as great pine trees and houses crammed together so closely it seemed like a row of fallen dominoes. Alki beach, Elliot bay, Lake Washington, bridges over water backed up already in traffic. The area I grew up in looked like Mister Roger’s neighborhood clearly fake but believable if you only use your imagination.

The plane hit the tarmac hard and I bit my tongue, I was home. Home where I grew up, Home where my kin have stayed put since 1925, except for me and my oldest niece Jen who left our Seattle to live and create new Homes far, far away. Others of my tribe made attempts at living away but came back briskly with wounds to be healed. But it was the opposite for Jen and I, her in Arizona me in Oklahoma gave us an opportunity to come into ourselves. To be created without judgment or ridicule. To become. I can’t speak for Jen but It did me a world of good to leave home and I even feel like I’m a better more productive member of my clan then I was before. I have a better appreciation for them. I have more to offer them. More stories, more conversation, more laughs and I’m settled in good with myself now.

I picked up my big bulky bag off of the carousel in baggage claim. I waited a little while before I called to have my brother in law pick me up. I thought about seeing my family and the permanent shadows my sister left behind like the victims of Hiroshima, my sister’s shadow engraved forever in the kitchen after the devastating cancer bomb. At the kitchen table she sat, with her coffee and paper, un-moved un-altered. God how will I deal? Then I thought about the Christmas tree and all the decorations my brother in law continues to put up with such spirit. I thought of rest, I thought of seeing my great niece and nephew. I thought of eating and where I would go first. I thought of all the good wine I would be drinking and the crab and salmon I would eat. I thought of what fun it will be to cook dinner on Christmas Eve side by side with my sister’s shadow. And finally, I called. “I’m home” I said, “come and get me”.

Today I’ll go to the Pike Place Market, I’ll go to the coffee shop, visit the butcher, go to the spice shop, the wine shop and of course the coffee shop again for the train ride back home. (The new light rail is in operation now!) Glad to be home.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

For me, the tough part of December is over and now comes the warm fuzzy part where I get together with friends for raclette and pack for my trip to Seattle to visit my family. The Catering was fast and furious but I couldn’t be more grateful for Kam who employs my services and thus pays the farm bill for the next month. After that who knows.
My last day working with Kam was Friday and I must say it took a while for my legs to stop twitching so I could sleep. Kam and Chef Bill are still going strong, I’m only free because I’m skipping town.

On the home front, I did one of the cheesiest things imaginable, for solstice I gave my partner a puppy. I know! I had to give him to her early because I leave tomorrow morning but it turns out I did ok. She really likes her new buddy. He’s a miniature dachshund, 6 weeks. He is adorable of course. And what farm doesn’t need a mini dachshund! He’ll herd the cats and the dust! Max hopefully will warm up to him but right now all the dogs are scared out of their gourd of him. The way he goes straight at them with his sharp as needles little teeth (are u my mommy?)

Life is beautiful here; the pond is partially frozen except for the middle that is high in waves from the 10 or so ducks that are swimming around playfully. The tall grass in the pasture is frozen and crystallized reflecting the morning sun, edging me into a profound spiritual experience. The smell of puppy breath does it every time!

Ahh…..Sunday breakfast!
Blue corn flapjacks
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup blue cornmeal
Pinch salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups goat milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Directions :
Preheat a cast iron skillet. (if your using the top of your wood burning stove wait, it won’t take long at all just till a lump of butter melts).
Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat the eggs the milk in a medium bowl until combined, stir in the melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. If the batter seems too thick, add a little bit more goat milk.
Put a little butter or oil into the skillet to melt. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until the bottom is light golden brown, flip, and continue cooking for about 60 seconds. Remove to an ovenproof dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. This recipe makes about 16 pancakes. We heated up some frozen peaches from this summer with about a tablespoon of butter, If you have some cream from the top of yesterdays milking poor about ¼ cup into the peaches, You don’t even need maple syrup. Yummers!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fond of food

It’s a dark cold morning and it was one of those off and on sleepless nights, which only happens when you need rest the most. I helped feed over 300 people yesterday. I’ve lost count for the week. When I did sleep I dreamt of food; cutting, dicing, and pulling apart one turkey after another, also, mashing. I knew I was dreaming because my mom was there and she is looking forward to eating what I was about to serve. My mom was one of my biggest fans. Some times when we would share a nice lazy Sunday with each other she would pull out the shoe box that contained all the little articles and reviews I had received throughout my years of chefing of Seattle. We would look at them, it was weird but I went along, glad that I made her proud.

My mom did cook while I was growing up but only the very basics; hamburger helper, ice berg wedge with Thousand Island and she had this cake fetish; crab cakes, salmon cakes, cod cakes, trout cakes. (my dad fished) I don’t know that I had ever eaten a filet of salmon before I was 15, but had eaten many many pounds of the stuff in different forms.

I was the ”gourmand” of the family, always chefing things up even as young as 8. My shows were Julia Childs, Jeff Smith “the frugal gourmet” (who I later went to work for but only for a very short time) and “the Galloping gourmet”. This was Public television 3 pm, back in the late 70’s. By dinner I was so hungry I looked crazed I’m sure.

My middle sister was a really good cook. Very home style cooking but seriously melt in your mouth pot roast and sloppy joes to remember. I was a huge fan of my sisters cooking and un-like me she received the baking gene and could make and decorate cakes like it was nobody’s business.

When I opened my restaurant in Seattle my mom loved to come and have dinner, she would bring my Aunt. Two of the cutest old ladies in the world. My aunt was a meat and potatoes kind a girl, so I would have to run next door to the butcher and get her a nice steak which I would then cook the loven crap out of. My mom liked the spaghetti marinara, the most purest simplest item we had on our menu. She tried the Botarga (dried tuna roe) and the pasta con sarde (pasta with sardines) but always floated back to her fav, the spaghetti.

Those times seem so long ago, so much has changed. my Mom, Sister and Aunt have all passed and me, no longer behind the line slinging out pasta on a busy Friday night but instead left with my beautiful memories of them while I wait for a Ewe to lamb and gather the items for the CSA. I’m still cooking, I guess that will never change.

By 6pm tonight I’ll have fed maybe 150 people. Last day of catering then rest and then Seattle to be with the fam.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dream a little dream

Its 18 degrees and the dogs refuse to go out side. They're crossing their legs pacing the door but every time I open they repel back and look at me like no frikin way lady.

Everything is kind of chaotic right now with the new sheep. Everyone but the woolies are having trouble figuring out where they’re supposed to be or where they’re supposed to go. They do know where the water and mineral block is and they know when its meal time. There just real clumsy about it. Like a new kid the first day of school, where’s my locker? what if I can’t remember the combination? how do I get to this class?. I will say the woolies seem to be doing slightly better, they’re still finding a way out of the south fence but they are coming back. So they are finding the routine and flow of things finally. Just so they don’t find the flow of traffic on route 66 I’m A OK. The hair sheep are so beautiful, they are big and healthy looking and Pascal has taken to watching over them. Pascal Loves lambs and they love him. I’ve watched from a far while several lambs played king of the hill on this back. He acts as if it tickles, I’ve never been able to get a good shot of it though, every time the camera comes out they stop, what’s that about anyway. Hopefully the new lambs who weren’t born here will grow to trust him.

December is almost over, which means I’ll be able to get down to the real business of farm work. Yesterday I got home at 4:30 and worked on fences until I couldn’t see anymore then I went up to the big barn and loaded the truck with hay and alfalfa for the milkers and milked late. The goats hate when I’m late. I gave them extra alfalfa to buy some time as I unloaded.

I dreamt of high stress caterings last night, ones like where I was just about to serve the soup (for 175 people) and could not find it. I found it finally after a lot of screaming and yelling at my staff (I’ve never done that) and it was cold! So I heated it up and then could not find the garnish. I did three caterings in my sleep last night. I worked my butt off in that dream and I won’t even get paid! That sucks! I hope those people are happy they got such a good deal! The whole time I was trying to work (in my dream) this dang baby kept bugging me when I would push the stroller in the other room its dang head would fall off. I put it right back on and he seemed perfectly fine, but somehow he would wander back in the kitchen and the same thing would repeat. That dang head kept falling off. Three more days of catering left. Three more days.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Game night

I’ve started this kind of bad habit of watching TV almost every night. I have my favorite shows. Yes, shows that I follow like the ol’ soaps. I like The Office, 30 Rock. Tried V but gave up on it (so not believable). The Daily show, The Colbert report and the top most requested DVR replay is Dexter. But I’ve been feeling like I’m being pulled into the underworld. Really it’s just that at the end of the day while eating dinner in front of the TV all I want to do is zone the f*c* out. The problem is I have a queue of books that keeps staring at me from the night stand next to the bed as if I’ve been out either as guest or a lusty server in some dark alley red light district. Finger Prints Of God looks at me like “so… choose the murd…er…er rrr ova me eh?! “Or the latest edition to the cue, Wendell Berry’s bringing it to the table; that one just looks at me and turns away in disgust and pity. Anyway my point is I feel there is better ways I can spend my time that won’t make me feel so guild ridden!

So I’m making an effort here and the first one is GAME NIGHT! Last night Linda and I (Kasey was out gallivanting with his……family!) played dominoes: Mexican train. (Forgive me for any one I may have offended, I have no idea what a Mexican train is but it sounds derogatory) All the P/C aside it was fun! And while I was getting whooped I made feta cheese! How productive!!!!
So game night will lead to reading night, guitar night and soon it will just be TV night and or movie night and I”ll be back to creating and thinking again I hope. Hmm maybe I’ll take up knitting? No better not, I’d never get anything done:). This morning its 19 here and I have a heater in the pump house and a drizzle of water in the kitchen sink. The kitchen is so clean and I have two bags of feta hanging. Life is good. Back to Oklahoma City to cater today. Can’t even guess how many people I’ve helped feed so far. Time does fly by!

I’ve got an Ewe that’s real close to giving birth, I hope she does before I leave for Seattle. There are three lambs out there now but I haven’t been able to spend any time with them so they are very afraid of me and even Pascal, he must look like a giant to them. I’m sure he’ll charm them soon and they be jumping and playing on his back. He likes that!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yesterday morning I was boiling water to do the dishes. I had the hot water in the kitchen turned off so I could try to replace a hose under the dishwasher that became rat food or something, maybe they used it to sharpen the teeth of their young. All I know is water comes spewing out the bottom and it’s a huge mess to clean up.

It’s been one thing after another and you know I don’t dare ask what’s next because as we all know there is a next. Yesterday was a fix it day, but now yesterday is a didn’t get it fixed day. Well let me back up. Didn’t get everything fixed day. But the most important item on the list was the water well and that dear friend is fixed! Thanks to Linda and Ed. It took most of the day but we have water! But yesterday being it was a Sunday and the closest hardware store closed, if we needed anything were talking a three hour tour. Yes a three hour tour! (Actually just two) But, sit right back and yu’ll hear a tail, a tail of a fix it day, that started with broken pipe and a sheep that ran away. A sheeeeeep that ran awayyyyyy. (you’re singing along aren’t you?). The mate was a mighty Nubian, the skipper brave and sure………..The woolies ate the chicken scratch and we pulled out our hair! OK I know that didn’t fit in but it was true, really!
I let the new Katahdens out of the isolation pen last night and they flocked right away (unlike the woolies) Received 4 more ewes two with lambs hanging off their utters. So that reaches my quota of 20 ewes. Well actually I’ve surpassed that number and have 26 ewes, three lamb ewes, 1 Dorper Ram, 8 woolies and 1 wither (spot, who is just like one of the girls). I stop now. Really!
I’m back in Oklahoma city this week catering my little heart out.(to pay for my sheep habit) I’ll have Thursday off, maybe to work on fences and get ready for my trip to Seattle. Trying not to feel overwhelmed.

What was really great about yesterday though was breakfast! Eggs Benedict of sorts with seared eggplant, a bunch of our fresh picked greens, a poached egg topped with homemade hollandaise. We fried us up some nice taters to go with it and I’m telling you that is the way to start off the day for sure!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, We're still with out water. The plumber came yesterday and fixed the broken pipes but no water is yet to flow through our faucets. Possible that it is a frozen well pump. I put a small heater in there last night and this morning still no water. Back to the drawing board.
yesterday it just barely got above freezing so harvesting for the CSA was almost impossible. Kasey was able to harvest a big bag of lettuce for everyone but kale, chard etc was frozen.
Generally these things can freeze and be fine once the temp comes up they just cannot be harvested frozen or they turn to mush.
I'm catering in Oklahoma City for the next two days. There is so much work I have to do here so I'm feeling pretty frustrated but the money is one of those things I really need more than almost anything else right now.
The woollies are still getting out but now there coming back so that's a bright light.
I'm talking to a lady about buying her brown swiss milk cow. Yea like I really need a milk cow right now.
do I?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's freezing!

OK is 12 degrees. Yesterday the kitchen sink was frozen and finally thawed out in the afternoon. I had left the facet open so when I came in from doing chores there was three inches of water on the kitchen floor (the drain was plugged). I was happy the sink was working again. So I cleaned up the water and admired my clean floor, then I heard it, the water fall under the house from the busted pipe. Yep. Called the plumber and he was 8 deep with folks having the same problem. But I got someone coming out this morning.

I had to turn the water off so we filled up several pails and were fine. This morning when I went to check on the chickens I noticed the river of water coming out of the well house. yea. Last night I turned the water off at the well house, but didn't turn the pump off. I didn't think it would matter, There is a ton of insulation in the well house I thought it would be fine. Thank god the plumbers coming out this morning.

So when they say it can always get worse. I always believe them.

The temp will come up enough harvest for the CSA delivery and hopefully the plumber will be able to get us all patched up. Lessons learned.
So far I'm keeping a good attitude about it all but I'm definatly a woman on the verge.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcoming the light

I’ve been trying to find a way to find comfort in this month. I’ve been trying hard to find my place in it, one where I too can feel the warmth of the sacred fire amongst my friends and family. But sadly this month has brought out the opposite in me for many years. It’s a time of year that I haven’t always felt connected with my family, and I would worry about my defects and my imperfections, and until the death of my sister there was a wedge between myself and my kin folk due to my emotional response to what I perceived their response and their judgment to my life path was. Until recently I guarded myself from the judgment I expected to receive, the teasing and what I felt was their emotional paralysis.

I dreaded Christmas not just because I felt it was based on lies and deception but because I felt it was when I was most exposed. Really what I was trying to protect myself from was seeing and celebrating my own imperfections and flounders and just dealing with it. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made poor choices. I’ve also done some things and have experienced peace, joy and beauty of epic measures. Something shifted in me once my sister became ill. I didn’t care what my family thought of me. It just happened, I didn’t even try. It just fell off my experience just like that. Somehow through my sisters illness and death I accepted myself good, bad, ugly and beautiful and not only my family but everyone I come across, suddenly I had this great sense of what they see is what they get and if they don’t like it too bad! but not in an arrogant way in a truthful with myself way. It was a profound shift in the way I saw myself and my worthiness of love and respect.

I think many people go through this and I guess it’s just a coming of age thing where one day we wake up and are introduced to ourselves. Hi this is who I am, this is what I’ve done, this is what I want to do and I hope we can fine some peace with each other. I know we’ll have some rough times ahead and some joyful ones too but I’m gonna stop treating you like shit and calling you names and telling you that everyone thinks you’re a firkin loser cause I know now you’re not. And I know I’ve told you over and over again you’re as ugly as sin but when I look at you in the mirror right now with your new eye wrinkles and the wrinkles around your mouth from all that smiling and laughing you like to do, I see now that you are really beautiful, and I’m glad you made those choices you did that got us into trouble cause we’re better because of them.

When I was reading this morning about Winter Solstice I had to admit December is a dark time. Scientifically speaking that is. Ancient farmers knew it, animals knew it, trees and flower know it. So why shouldn’t it be the same with the world with-in us. One page I was reading this morning said “This is a natural time for letting go and saying farewell. Release your resentments and regrets into the darkness, knowing they will be transformed.” After December 21st the light comes, and with it a new season of opportunity, growth and love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

OK, so I am truly excited about fiber sheep. My small flock of Southdown seem like the perfect starter herd to explore this with but dang they are worse than goats when it comes to floating through fences. I’m telling you it’s crazy. Luckily there is no danger nor are they a danger to others (except if they manage to find the garden) but they are breaking out of my grazing routine and its really making me mad. I NEED CONTROL!! AH, HA, HA,HA!

They don’t seem to even care about the other animals they just do their own thing and wonder away from the herd. They do come back, right around dinner time to grub on alfalfa so at least I know their number. I just expect this kind of behavior from the goats not from the sheep. So they really have me confused. Now I’ve got a new flock of Katahden that are waiting to go in with the other hair sheep and they seem to be interested in the other hair sheep, but not the woolies or the goats. Is it possible they recognize each other to be the cut from the same pie? Pascal the Llama definitely has been keeping a curious eye on them and has shown no interest what so ever in the woolies.

About the fence. OK not many will disagree that woven wire field fence with a strand of barbed wire at the top is the way to go with goats. From my experience sheep can do fine on barbed wire fences and be pretty content to roam in side of said fence. Why don’t I have the woven wire fence? Only because a fence of 6 strings is already in place. If I add another strand I’ll be fine. Let me also say that the goats have been fine, and they up until now have been my fence testers. Let me also mention that the area I’m trying to keep everyone in is a beautiful 10 acre holler, a gorgeous valley between a fenced 85 acres and 230 acres. It has tones of good forage and grasses, lots of good things to eat and a nice clean pond to drink from. The goats have figured out that this is a pretty great place and I’m sorry but if the woolies think they can do better well, they’re in for a big surprise.

A reader commented on the last post that fences were her life. Yea I’m getting the feeling I’ll be spending a lot more time this winter stringing wire and pulling woven wire fences. I have looked into electric but another friend told me that woolies are insulated and can withstand the shock. I’m gonna have to do more investigating on the subject. Any insight would be helpful out there.

Oh I forgot one of the new sheep lambed. Just before they arrived to me, a beautiful baby girl, solid black except for a little white tip on her tail. All the new Katahden’s are bred and of course I have no idea when so I am hoping they either lamb now or wait till spring. But either way it’s exciting. I haven’t taken any pictures of the little one yet but will have a chance probably tomorrow.

I’m so busy right now with catering and working at wellness center and just keeping things together at the farm. December is like this but I will be traveling to Seattle to spend Christmas with my family. I’m trying to plan some fun things to do like visit a few dairies and maybe travel to the San Juan islands for the day or maybe cross country skiing, anything that will take me out of the house waiting for my sister to join me for a cup of coffee. This will be my second Christmas without her. I wonder if I’ll ever stop counting.
Off to the milk barn.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yurt Raising

Just before the cold weather hit last week we managed to wrangle up a bunch of very generous and curious friends to help raise the yurt. This will be Kasey’s home. Yurts are fabulous! When I first moved to Oklahoma I lived in this yurt for one year before moving to the farm in Bristow. There is something about the curves and the light fabric walls, the wood beams that make up the ceiling and the lattice walls. It’s heated with a wood stove so in the winter as long as you keep up on loading the fire it’s the coziest place in the world. The summers are another story so placement is important. You want to make sure you get the winter sun and avoid the summer sun so lots of shade trees on the west are a good thing.

Kasey has chosen to place the yurt just north of the first pond. It’s a beautiful view and he gets plenty of southern exposure. I’m a little jealous to be honest. I absolutely loved living in the yurt. It does change your priorities, he is learning that gathering wood is one of his most important chores. It helps to have an efficient stove one that will burn 8 hours plus and will take full logs. This helps get ya through the night without feeling a bitter cold poking your nose. He’ll be working on making it home by putting in a small kitchen and bathroom and making it comfortable. I’ll keep ya updated with photos.

On the garden front: In spite of the dang cold weather we’ve been having things are still looking good. We put plastic over our fabric crop covers for some additional protection and to try to coax the broccoli and cauliflower to grow a little more. If we can keep them around 50⁰ we should have harvestable heads the end of next week. If we could have just got them in two weeks earlier than we did we’d be in business. But next year right? It’s hard to forget how traumatic last September was with trying to get moved, it’s really amazing we have a garden at all.
I’m off to Oklahoma City to help a friend with some catering jobs. Feeling very grateful for the income!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Time to catch up a little

Life on the farm has been very busy lately. Twelve new beautiful Kathaden ewes arrived last Thursday and between getting the Southdowns introduced into the old flock of St Croix, covering up and protecting our winter crops, fence mending and all the other daily chores, there has not been much time at all to breath. Not only that but the “holiday” season means I work like a fool to make enough money to pay the farm bill when no farm income is coming in.

For me, December is not the warm fuzzy time to spend with friends or family, it’s a time when I cook for people who are doing just that. From thanksgiving to Christmas I am working my buns off catering making it possible for folks to engage in holiday cheer without the messy clean up. Just yesterday I helped cater two parties one for 100 people and the second for 175 people. Yes, yesterday I helped feed 275 people. Until I leave for Seattle on the 21st I’ll be doing much of the same.

No matter how bad I want to be a full time farmer and make all of my living off the farm I just can’t yet. Luckily for me I have a skill that can help me when times are tight and I can’t squeak a living out of the soil or an utter. Cooking is in my DNA and I can’t avoid it so I might as well use it! But the consequence to that is I’m pretty much bah hum bug when it comes to the holiday season and remain so until my favorite holiday, New Year comes ( the day when I pledge every year I won’t cater anymore)But, now that I don’t work in a restaurant, my new years eve is free to contemplate and enjoy. New Year ’s Day is spent enjoying life and its bounty instead of sleeping through the whole day in recuperation for a hard night at the restaurant. So really I haven’t much to complain about.

I could go on some serious rants about the toils of catering, about the price bickering about rude guests and degrading comments and such. But I’ll just keep that smile on my face and try to pretend I’m as excited about their party or event as they are.

I’ve been cooking professionally (getting paid) since I was 14.5 years old. I’m 43 now. I do love it, always have and until now have never wanted to do anything else. But now I want to grow food instead of cook it, I want to make cheese instead of serve it and I want to feel the cool and warm air of the field and gardens instead of particles of smoke, steam and stifling heat of the kitchen. I want cooking to be a part of a grand experience that I’m not left out of. I want to share the wonders of a broccoli and the smooth creamy texture of freshly made chevre. But until then I’ll chop, dice, puree, bake, fry, sear, slice, dish up, tray up, wrap up transport and serve.
I've got today off so its back out to the fences.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I cannot believe its almost evening chore time. The day flew by and I got very little accomplished. Mostly because I had to drive into Tulsa to run some errands and of course have lunch and well, if time would have it the day is nearly gone. Thank goodness there is always tomorrow right?

Living in Depew, Oklahoma is a joy but I'll tell ya jack its a long walk to the rest of the world. It seems like the farm is an hour from everywhere. So if I decide to leave my enchanted farm and village, I'm out for the day.

Maybe this is a good thing at times but with 11 Southdown sheep at the fence trying to find that small space I may have missed. Why? so they can somehow squeeze their big fleecy bodies through and be on the other side which is so so similar to the side they were on in the first place! I've still got work to do.
I swear they are worse than the goats! I know!
But it does seem like the work is never done so I dont have to worry about missing anything.
Tonight all of the southdowns get pedicures, I'm sure it will be very relaxing for them.

Off to it


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Date with a fence

I was driving into town last night making the CSA delivery and I was trying to find a decent station on the radio, one with out news just music. I started to get frustrated till finally I found this station that was playing this great sounding tune. It had a slow old country twang to it guitars, fiddle, banjo maybe, I don't know. It made me feel really happy. The tune sounded so familiar, but I just couldn't name it. It was great though, then a male voice, tenor came on singing happily, "walkin in a winter wonder land" . AGHHHHH! NO !!!!!! its November 20th!. I was tricked!!!! I nearly ran off the road kids. The station I tuned into was THE CHRISTMAS STATION 24 HOURS OF CHRISTMAS MUSIC! IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE??????


yesterday was a fence day. The one thing you've probably heard about goats is its hard to keep them in. Its true. Goats prefer the fodder on the other side of the fence no matter what. They can get themselves in a whole bunch of unfortunate predicaments in the process if not looked after carefully. The Southdown sheep apparently have been taught by skillful goats on how to do the same. A few days ago they were all on the road happily grazing the fence line. It was a little difficult to herd them back, but a little alfalfa and the three of us being human blocks finally got them back into their pen. There was Ram wrestling. Now everyone is in the 10 acre valley fenced in safely.

I have really come to respect the ability to pull wire especially barbed wire. Yesterday I used a barbless wire to add a few more strands to the already existing 1/4 mile of fence. Normally I would have used field fence but the cost right now was prohibitive and I had the wire so I'll give this a try for now. So far so good. its been 10 hours so far. I know I'm setting myself up.

Ginger was a big help!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Slowing down

There is just the lightest frost on the ground this morning. Winter is slowly edging its way in. In some ways I've been fighting it a little which believe me I know is futile, but the garden looks so awesome and the threat of freezing temps is really gonna put my winter growing effort to the test. So maybe its not winter I'm against, I'm just a little scared of failure. OK terrified. But.... I have to re assure myself. Its been done before and even by me. There are books and farmers out there that make their annual living from winter growing. Anyway, all of the rows are covered. The green house is ready for plastic and I'm sure all will be well. I have 18 CSA members I'm accountable to so I nor Kasey will be slacking on making sure our green rows of spinach and lettuce and kale and chard are well taken care of.

On the other hand however, milk production has gone was down. I'm at half the production I was at just one month ago. Went from two and a half gallons a day of milk to just shy of a gallon. That means I've got no milk to spare or sell Every drop of milk is going into cheese making. I really need some more goats:) So right now I am milking 5. Next season I'll be milking 7 and after that 12. Talk about slow growth.

Egg production has increased slightly from zero to two now up to four a day. Thank goodness! I can eat a mess of eggs again for breakfast (a mess is over three). But really all this reduction of milk, eggs, etc its just the natural process, its smart really so I'm the one who needs to adjust. It reminds me I need to slow down start my winter projects. And just settle into to the cold comfort of the season to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

May you rest in the greenest pasture Racey

Sadly we had to put Racey down on Monday. This will have been the first milk goat I’ve ever lost and I was very emotional but was able to hold most of it in until I went to bed. Then I allowed myself to wallow in this great loss for as long as I needed to.

The thing is Racey was such a people goat. She loved humans. We bonded easily when she was a crazy little kid. She had the potential to be herd queen but with Sally doing a fine job at it, it looked as if she was perfectly content with second, always heading up the back. I would watch her taking care of business with the younger ones and she was always second in line for milking.
It’s worth saying she was a very affectionate goat and loved being petted and kissed and she loved having her cheeks scratched. During the winter, the milk parlor is freezing so I would tuck my nose in the crook of her back leg and rest my head there. It was so warm and soft and the smell was so pleasantly earthy and sweet. She seemed to enjoy taking care of me.

Deciding to put her down was not a hard decision. She was suffering. I knew it, Linda knew it and Kasey knew it, and deep down I know Racey knew it. I had to rest in the knowledge that I had tried everything. That letting her struggle like this would not be honoring that goat I described before.

I’m grateful to Dr. Denham for all he has done to try to help. He did a necropsy on her so we could make sure we knew what we were dealing with and could prevent this from happening with any of the herd. It turns out she had emphysema which was secondary damage from pneumonia she had gotten last year in August when I was in Seattle helping my family with my sister. It looked like she recovered but It never really went away and there is no way to treat an animal with emphysema.

The good news is none of the herd is in danger. Everyone else is healthy and strong. I'm really going to miss that goat, so I'm just trying to think of the rest of the herd. They know shes gone, I can tell. She was a powerful force in our lives and we'll notice her absence for a long time to come.


Monday, November 16, 2009

A walk in the woods

Yesterday before evening chores Linda and I went out for a hike. We like a path that outlines and snakes through the back 230 acres of the property, We think it may be three miles. Since we moved here we've had the opportunity to see the Forest change day by day. It was raining lightly so our steps were quited as we mushed through the thick fallen leaves.

The light through the filter of clouds and misty rain made the Forest flora stand out in vibrant color. Blues were intensely blue, greens were vibrant and bright. and oranges and reds screamed out for attention.

There was an intensity of spirit that came alive under the heavy fallen wet leaves of Autumn, a time of year I associate with death and transcendence. That ol' end of season that looms over and dances in the gnarled leafless trees and tall prairie grasses that are dried frozen in mid stand was invisible to this new budding life.

Under all these decaying leaves was an ocean of pulsing breathing shining life.

all these years I had been fooled

all these years I had been fooled into thinking this was a time of rest.

Not so.

I'll never be fooled again or be sad that summer is over
I'll see a cold rainy day not a day to stay indoors but a day to visit my new found friends and to celebrate my life that is now cafefully and thoughtfully interwoven with theirs.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting ready

Cool weather is forecasted for this coming week and likely thunderstorms today, so that makes this morning about getting ready for it. This includes making sure all of the animals will stay warm and dry, putting the covers on all of our veggie crops (this afternoon). Even though there is no freeze in the forecast I still want to maintain the soil temp and prevent any possible frost damage from the evening lows this week. I’ll put all the tools and equipment away and getting the hot chocolate ready. I still have a lot of outside work, fencing and such for the sheep, and I might just be out there in the rain.

I let the new sheep out into the ten acre goat pasture yesterday. Over a week and a half of observation and getting to know each other they seemed very healthy and incredibly ready for some serious grazing. I’ve had them in a small pen behind the house were they had a beautiful and taunting view of the eighty five acres that someday soon will call them in.

I feel in some ways I’m hunkering down for the winter or something. My dog it’s been like spring around here, I have enjoyed every second of it! The winter garden is off to a raging start and the warm weather and sun has given me a chance to really get some things done, but its November 15, 2009 its time for spring and summer to move aside and let the natural process take its course, right? Winter is just around the corner. I am ready to see snowflakes and thick steamy breaths come out of my mouth and nose. But for now I’ll enjoy this day getting ready. I hope my Carharts still fit.

Late this morning I’m on a panel at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa ready to discuss the movie food inc. for a forum series they have after the first service. I watched it again last night so I’m fired up and disturbed but I have to admit I’m really bad at public speaking so I hope I don’t make an ass of myself.
Off to milk now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

quick racey report: improvment! not getting hopes up but still have hope.

Hay day

Every year round this time I make a trip with truck and trailer to get my alfalfa for the year. I must say its something I always look forward to. It makes me feel so darn farmy. I get my alfalfa from a grower in Blackwell, which is about 20 miles south of Ponca City, just over a two hour drive. The drive through the prairie lands is unbelievable beautiful, a sight in Oklahoma I expected to be more prevalent before I moved here. There seems to be thousands of miles of rolling hills and prairie dotted with cows and the occasional coal burning power plant. Have you ever seen the huge mountain of black coal, its huge! no wonder they need to take off mountain tops to get to it. (don't worry I'm not going to preach)

I do have to confess, I moved here in October of 2003. I had been to Europe many times and never in the middle of my own country, not once! I had imagined Oklahoma being like the last frontier, with cowboys and cowpokes, barroom girls and religious fanatics in one man bands on every street corner, lulling and scaring the begibers out of you so you could be "saved". I also expected the the streets all to be dirt and I was convinced before I moved here I would have to stock up on essentials that most likely I would not be able to find here, like socks and skivvies, shampoo and the likes. Ha! I couldn't believe it when I drove in to town and saw Tulsa. Oh my God! I talk to more people that move here that thought the same thing before they came. I couldn't have been more wrong (about most of it anyway). However, I was slightly disappointed at first.

Once I get to Blackwell, I pull into a monstrous barn. This time I have to back the trailer in trying to get as close to the wall of hay as I can so the heavy 80 pound bails will be easier to load. It's difficult to back a 16 foot trailer perfectly parallel to the hay, oh heck, or anywhere for that matter. I have gotten much better at it but it takes me a few times. The hay is about one story high, Lance, the grower climbs up on a hay stairs he's made to get to the top. He sorts out the sun bleached bails that I reject and tosses down the bright green moist bails for us to place like a puzzle in the trailer. We need to take home 70 bails today.

BAM! the first one hits the trailer bed startling us. The bails are heavy and its hard to just toss them around like he does. but we manage to finally get all 70 snug as a bug and tied down for the ride home. He checks all my tires, which are of course all low he tells me with a eye rolling sigh that says, dang girls. He also tells me I don't have the safety pin in the trailer where it hitches to the truck. I say "oh is that what that is". more eye rolling.

We drive off into the sunset, literally. Stop in Ponca City for some "authentic Mexican food" and were off back to the farm where we will quickly be the most popular girls on the place. All of the animals LOVE alfalfa, even the chickens. Its dark, and were tired. I'll unload in the morning. A days work done.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little bit o yesteryear

I saw this little horse and buggy riding down rout 66 the other day on one of my many trips to the vet this week. The driver was thrilled I took a picture and after I had taken the shot he waved and gave me a tip of his hat. I felt like a tourist! Part of me was a tourist.

There is this fascination I have with the romance of yesteryear and when I see things like this my mind goes there for a spell. I think about it in terms of closeness and interdependence of community. I wonder what it would be like not to have the option to speed down route 66 going 65 or 70. The fact that our bodies’ race through time by train, plane and automobile must be proof of our own species rapid evolution that we are encountering in real time. But thinking like that just makes me crazy.

The year is 1868, Who would I be? what would I be doing? Probably the same thing I am doing now but knowing how easy I have it now, a whole lot harder. Daily chores and tasks like washing clothes would sound and feel very different. Maybe I wouldn’t go through so many clothes if I had to wash them all by hand, or I wouldn’t have so many clothes if I had made them myself or traveled far and paid a pretty dollar for them. If I had to boil the water, carry buckets in from the well etc. What would it be like when the folks you knew called and it still meant they came over? “The Dr. called on mother today”. “The tinker called and mended some tin”. Wouldn’t I value things and people more? Wouldn’t I care more? Or would not knowing the difference keep me benign. I don’t know. I will give myself a little credit I do put an extremely high value and gratitude for the people in my life and the task at hand.

Folks welcomed “progress” I’m sure I would have, fast traveling electricity and so on. I get that. But, the tradeoff I think is how “progress” has polluted us as a people, poisoning our bodies and environment. There are so many wonderful advancements that I can’t even pretend to imagine life without but…what is the trade off? For each of it is probably different. For me the trade off is the cancer my sister died of last year, it’s the obese children in our schools that are malnourished, and the fact that we’re just so busy and overwhelmed to do anything that actually addresses the cause, Because in doing that we would have to compromise “progress” or admit that “progress” is actually killing us and saving us at the same time and for that there may be no compromise.

This fine gentleman in his horse drawn carriage reminds me of the balance I need in my values for a way of life and the ease in which I’m able to conduct it.
If you were to reach back into the past what would you like to bring into your life right now?
What would you leave behind?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today is all about garlic! I’ll be finishing the garlic beds with some llama doo, planting, mulching and hoping for the best. It’s one of those things you plant where immediate gratification is not a driving force behind the intention. I won’t get to harvest the bulbs until mid June of 2010. I’m planting this garlic for next year’s farm table dinner “garlic lover’s dream” and our farmer’s market booth. Kasey and I will be planting about 12 different varieties of heirloom garlic.
The great thing about growing garlic is it over winters, so it’s not really affected by those snow storms and freezing cold wind we get, it just keeps in truckin’ till spring. So in February when everything else is dead, the garlic shines bright with its green leaves spiking up tall out of the ground. It’s really beautiful!

Garlic is planted in the fall. Each bulb’s cloves are separated, and these are the “seeds”. Each one of these cloves will produce an entire clove of garlic! How cool is that. There are hundreds of different varieties. We’re usually offered only one variety in the grocery store called California early or late, surprisingly much of the garlic we see in the grocery store comes all the way from China. You can order garlic on line and get a choice of all the different offerings which each has its own unique character and flavor. You can only plant grocery store garlic if it is organic. Any garlic that is not organic is treated with a chemical to stop the plant from ever sprouting. Yup, and we’re eating that!

Garlic loves rich soil, they call it a heavy feeder so it really benefits from composted manure or if you are lucky like I am to have a barnyard worth of fertilizer, sheep, goat and llama works great. Anyway if you ever want to plant go to or (seed savers exchange) to learn more.

Racey report: She seems to be slightly and I mean slightly better. She gets her last round of antibiotic this morning and we’ll just have to cross our fingers. I spent a lot of time with her yesterday telling her how much we love her and what a wonderful goat companion she is. It’s really sad to think I might lose her. So were all just hoping for the best giving her whatever we can. She’s pretty used to being spoiled rotten.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Racey, I love you.

Life on the farm isn't always blissful and euphoric. Sometimes there are problems that rattle you down the very marrow of your bones. Some problems you can fix and some you cant like when an animal fall sick. Most of the time they recover but sometimes they don't and the reality that someone very special might be edging there way out of the herd, out of the family is a heart wrenching reality for me right now.

Racey, one of my milk goats has been very sick with a respiratory disorder, I've treated it with antibiotics, antibacterials, and a host of other things all to no avail. She's getting worse and in obvious distress and dis-ease. After a long talk with my vet we came to determine this had every sign of chronic respiratory disease. She had this before one year ago but was able to recover. This time its a lot worse. As a last ditch effort I've given her one of the strongest antibiotics available hoping something anything can break through. But in the event it doesn't work I'm sure I will loose her.

She is a sweet one and had been one of my best milkers. She is so affectionate and can just sit forever with you and have her cheeks rubbed and her cute little face kissed. I am really crossing my fingers this will work. I have her isolated in the hopes that this doesn't spread and no one is too happy about this at all, but she seems comfortable just very labored breathing and obviously she seems really sick and tired of being sick. I should know fairy quickly if this drug is working, by tomorrow evening she should show some signs of getting better. I'm not getting my hopes up but I'm not giving up either. I've seen a goat recover that I was sure was a goner and now thrives. So today is a day on edge, fingers crossed and breath held.

I have had friends who have lost goats and other farm animals and I know its part of the life, its never easy. If it does come down to that I pray I can handle it with grace as they seem to have done.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

a living or a life?

meet Martha.

The weather the past few weeks has been so beautiful, feels like late spring. Yesterday (Saturday)I Slept in until 7am and awoke to the bright morning staring me right in the face like a hungry chicken. I wanted to be outside immediately. I wanted to do something, walking, planning, counting fallen leaves, something, anything to give me a reason to go outside. The new flock of sheep was a good reason, so after morning chores and after breakfast Linda and I went out to the sheep yard and sat with our eleven new additions to the farm.

They have been keeping their distance but after a while I was nose to nose with Annabelle and some others showed a slight interest in me as well. I was pleased their response wasn’t fear. I know it will take a little time for me to earn their trust and I’ll give them that, I expect to have a fruitful partnership with them for many years.

Ya know I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with the previous shepherdess of my new flock, Heidi. She asked me if I was a full time farmer. Strangely I was taken aback a little, I didn’t know quite how to respond, a simple yes or a simple no really was not a kind of answer this question deserves. But it’s complicated. Yes, I farm full time, like more than eight hours a day but I make a part time wage, so I don’t as some would say make a living, but it’s how I live. I work very part time at OSU Stillwater teaching cooking classes, for this I get a tangible usable wage that I couldn’t be more grateful for especially deep in the throes of February when the cash spring has dried to hard cracked red clay. But for me it’s not about making a living, it’s about making a life. I don’t know how to express that in a sound bite but I think it’s a good conversation to have.

Everyday I’m torn about this very thing of making a living and making a life. I’m happy. I mean really happy. But I stress about making ends meet. I’ve never felt more happy and content in all my life but I worry how I will pay the hay bill. What’s the compromise? Is there one. I could be unhappy and be stressed about the same things right.

Yesterday Belize one of my milk goats looked a bit under the weather so I put her on the stantion, let her eat grain while I stuck a thermometer up her butt. She had a high temp. So I mixed several aspirin with warm water and molasses and sucked up the mixture into a syringe that had the needle removed and squirted it in her mouth. I checked her every few hours, shes doing better this morning. Several days ago I found a hen unable to walk. Can’t for the life of me figure out entirely what’s wrong, been giving her water and food but no success, she’s one of my oldest hens and she seemed content and calm, but I made the decision to put her down, if I hadn’t I was sure she would die a slow death of starvation and dehydration, now she is in my freezer.

I have such a profound respect for the cycle of life and my role in it. There is death in my future I’m sure of it. So that settles it for me. Making and celebrating a life comes before making a living. Yes I am a full time farmer like most making a part time wage, but living a life I love.

BTW I went to the Garden Diva open house Friday night. Denise from Clear Creek Lavender brought some of her yarn which she had dyed herself. May I just say I was moved in ways that made me wonder what the hell is happening to me, how did fiber get so firkin cool?????? cant wait till my first sheering. .

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sheep Raisin' good time

Well, I did it. I bought 11 Southdown sheep. I Went and picked them up on Tuesday from a beautiful family who just could not keep them any longer due to some major fencing issues.

I've talked about having fiber sheep and goats for a while now but strangely in spite of my desires, I have actually been in the market for more St croix or Katahdin Hair sheep to add to my flock. Its funny because even though I really wanted fiber sheep I was too scared to even think about getting any. The shearing, the fiber, I dunno the unknown, uncharted territory, insecurity, fear of.....who knows.

Well this young shepherd and his family needed to sell their flock I heard about it and called. I went out that afternoon to give them a look and came home will all 11. It was one of those meant to be kind of moments for me, where I feel like I am not in control but everything is right, the good, the bad the The. I swear just when I feel like a budding atheist ready to bloom and I go and screw it up by feelling that giddy presence of that, thing. That something greater, that mysterious mystery. Like the universe is like "um I think its time now for you to have fiber sheep and here they are".

So I hope to raise a large flock for all natural pasture raised lamb and fiber. I have a plan, I have hopes, I have dreams and all doubt seems to be clearing the way for what I feel is the next fantastic journey

The new sheep are in quarantine for a while so I can make sure there are no potential problems or diseases but the goats are really curious and ready to be introduced, and keep getting into their pen but so far the sheep seem very healthy so hopefully all should be well.

This is all pretty exciting for me. I'll keep ya posted!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The chicken strike

Anyone who has followed this blog understands breakfast is a very important and a well regarded meal 'round here especially on Sundays. But lets talk the everyday grind. Aside from last week when I was under the weather, I usually cook us up a fairly big lumber jack like breakfast. Maybe potatoes, maybe bagels maybe eggplant but whatever it is it always comes with three to four eggs. Perhaps fried, or scrambled, poached or basted ( I was once a breakfast cook many many moons ago). That might seem like a lot but its got to hold us over for a while and we need as much energy as we can muster, but more than that they are just the best eggs I have ever my life!

Last I counted we had 49 hens, all about a year and a half old. They were laying real good this summer and I had plenty of eggs for breakfast and enough for my CSA members and farmer's market customers. But, after the move egg production just about came to a screeching halt. 49 hens were producing one to three eggs a day. Yea! how am I gonna survive.
Today..... I ate an English muffin, topped with chopped onions, bacon and TWO yes TWO fried eggs! Ahhgh!!!! (me flailing on the floor).

I asked my self all the logical questions; Is a snake eating them? is it because they are molting? (loosing and growing new feathers) are they not getting enough protein? Are they afraid? Chickens will stop laying if they feel threatened, they figure the chick will be too vulnerable. (tell me a chicken is stupid and I'll show you someone who knows not much about chickens).
Back to the questions: Is their house too bright? are the nesting boxes too exposed? Do they hate it here?

WHY! Why chickens? why no eggs????

By the looks of them they are healthy and full figured. They get lots of whey from cheese making and they eat the cheese mistakes. They always seem excited to see me.

There is one thing I can try and that is extend the daylight hours. So I'll put a light in the hen house. I've read this works. It tricks the hens into believing its NOT time for bed, its time to get busy! OK, OK, I know what your probably thinking, that's something stupid those chickens do. But I've seen some pretty smart people get tricked into believing more preposterous things than that! (enter, talking snake just for starters). So this doesn't make them any less intelligent than the next chicken just slightly delusional. So I've got a few tricks up my sleeve.

Operation Egglay!

1) light, I'll turn if off round 9pm, Don't want them sleep deprived either!
2) put the door on and close the windows making it a little less exposed and a little darker.
3) ah....hmm, look for snake tracks.
4) put a ipod in the hen house to play that cute chicken song, whats that called? you know: dun nu nunununu nu. nu nu nunununu nu. You know it right?

So, we'll see if these things work. Its important to me that the girls are happy. I know they don't care for the rain, I sympathise with them completely.

I hope they know how much I love them!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Staying current?

OK, its hard. Time goes by so fast that its hard to stay current. But last weekend was my last farm table dinner of the season. It was cold and my guest were real troupers out on the back screened in porch. We had lots of candlelight and lots of warm spirits but lots of shivers too. We made a bon fire out front and took breaks and warmed up.
The menu:
Mushroom Feast
Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy
Aperitif- Prickly pear infused vodka
Amuse Buche- Crostini with seared lion’s mane, homemade feta and a light drizzling of
truffle oil.
First course
Wilted kale and chard with chicken of the woods chips and fresh chevre
Shiitake mushroom bisque with smoked salmon
For the tongue-Champagne ice
Mushroom trio of yellow and grey oyster, chicken of the woods, king oyster and beef stew served with barley pilaf stuffed delicata squash
Baked pears in brandy with homemade caramel goat milk ice cream
October 10th 2009

The fall colors were amazing and the cabin looked absolutely magical. What a gift it is to be here. Looking forward to next spring and sharing this wonderful place with you!
Things have finally calmed down. I'm feeling much better (yup, flu) and I've really gotten some rest and some time to take stock of whats ahead. I'm like a kid right now and its a few days before Christmas, I see the presents but I cant open them yet. I'm like so excited I could pee my pants. Maybe I shouldn't have shared that. But ya know what I mean.
Stay tuned!