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.