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!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

new chapter starts almost now

A cold seems to have come up on me suddenly forcing me to retreat under covers snuggled up with max (my scrappy terrier mixy mix). It’s been a day of miserable coughing and an unrelieved effort to feel better NOW and get some work done. But I’ve been stopped in my tracks. I guess that’s what it takes sometimes. I’ve put on a big pot of chicken broth to help cure my ails.

This week I’ve had a mix of melancholy, anger and joy over the final load at the old farm. On Sunday a bunch of us packed up the yurt and drove down the cedar lined driveway for the last time. The garden still bearing the fruits of our labor but left to rot on the vine, truly was most heart breaking of all, but I was told that if I came onto the property after the first of Oct I would be trespassing. It’s funny how grace can just disappear into the folds of one’s existents, tucked safely away for a more convenient time. Alas I can finally say a new chapter has begun. I will put the last six years behind me and carry on! Probably easier said than done but time heals right?

The move was difficult for me I have to admit although I tried really hard to be incredibly positive and cheerful about the whole thing it was also very heart breaking. Most of the time I felt like the move would never end, there was always something more to haul, catch or clean and unfortunately I had some run ins with the ex that were non too pleasant. I did not realize how difficult it would be to try to move a farm while still operating the daily farm responsibilities like milking twice a day, making cheese, harvesting, selling at the farmers market, trying to get the new place in order for the animals; goat fencing, barn building, and plowing up the new land for a fall/winter garden, while at the same time trying to maintain the old place in sellable condition which I was not too successful at. OK a lot for anyone I know. Why I felt it was necessary to do some of those things was a matter of survival. Hard to explain.

The new farm feels like home to me. It’s taking time to settle in and getting unpacked but the animals love it and that right there gives me so much joy. Once the initial shell shock of the move settles down we’re gonna do some serious farming. I can see the dream so clearly here, that the sadness, the questioning, the self doubt all just melt away. I dreamt of sheep last night, there were many and it was good.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Goat give-a-way

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the great goat give a way. I didn’t get into the final round but I did come in 12 out of 61 so I don’t feel bad at all. Above all, thanks for all of the heartwarming compliments. Reading the comments I was overtaken by the sheer sense of gratitude for gifts I have been given already just by having the opportunity to be in so many wonderful loving people’s lives. Thank you

I haven’t given up on fiber goats but through this I have realized I might be more inclined to fiber sheep. I love goats but they can be a hand full, sheep are a little more laid back and might go easier on me than goats so I’ll continue researching and finding the right fit at the farm. But were those Angora goats cute or what! I have not ruled them out yet!

There were so many really good essays and so many of the writers shared similar stories, of rebirth, transformation, struggle and ultimately peace and happiness. There were folks of all ages and backgrounds, it felt strange to me that I could share so much in common with a person or family across the United States. I felt like we could all be enjoying a good pot luck together talking unabashedly about our sheep and goats, chickens and Llamas.

What a great experience and opportunity Fiber farm gave all of us. I’m sure it was a bit of a challenge on their end and much bigger deal than they thought it would be, but they did a great job keeping us in the loop and following through on the counts and such. I’m really happy to have found their site and blog.

Well, off to milk, got a really busy day, fall planting is well on its way.