Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The blog has helped me get into a writing routine which is important, but I've decided to hang the blog up for a little while and limit it to Sunday breakfast, so I can concentrate all of my efforts on the book. Or might I say, what might become a book that is. The point is I'm writing in a more deliberate manor.
I'm writing about my life in the restaurant biz and the transition into a full time farmer
So.....I'll tell you..This isn't the Title..but..' four seasons of meals, stories and meanderings from an Oklahoma farm.' what do you think? So lots of recipes from farm table dinners, lots of stories. I dunno I'm just gonna see what happens.
I put in six hours of writing yesterday so I'm off
Wish me luck and I'll see you Sundays for breakfast!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
It’s everything I’ve dreamed it would be. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I have made quite a hobby out of being self reflective and contemplative. It’s an easy thing to do when you spend most of your time with yourself, by yourself. I learned to get real comfortable with my flaws and my bright moments seem something to celebrate, and when I have them, bright moments. I do, I celebrate, with a whoop or a big knowing smile in the mirror, a sly wink at the goats as I walk by. When I have a bright moment all the animals on the farm know about it. I make a point to go around and give everyone a little extra attention. The dogs get a pat on the head and the chickens might just see a piece of dry cat food flung their way. I have more bright moments than I give myself credit for but the knuckle head moments just seem to stand out more. It’s like they have some kind of fluorescent marker on them so you can find them in the tall grass. They just never go away.
For the past month I’ve had the opportunity to really hone my hobby. I have neatly dissected the past year, thought about all that went wrong and all that went right and now I’ve had a whole two days of Christmas bliss of laying around the house reading and contemplating, and you know what I’m ready to put it to bed. The past that is, the blood, guts and smelly things. Gone, and what I have left are wonderful glorious, beautiful lessons! Little presents of wisdom that will keep me safe I hope. I won’t miss these things I’ve given myself heck about for the last umpteen months. I know there will be plenty of new things that will cross my path, but it’s kind of nice to leave some stuff behind. It doesn’t need me anymore and I don’t need it. The best thing about it and the thing I notice the most right now is how much easier it is to look forward. The future doesn’t seem so ominous and mysterious and fateful.
I’ve started the process of planning the coming year. Just for the record I have to for my organic certification records; estimated crop yields etc. last year when I was doing this I felt as if I was walking on a frozen pond. In Oklahoma. Just as I would take another step I would hear the creaking and cracking of the ice. I could go no further. Today feels so incredibly different and I feel as free as a bird. The funny thing is there are no plans for growth, no big new ideas, as a matter of fact not a whole lot will change from last year, and it will be better. I’m growing down. Focusing on the roots of the farm, the stability, the viability. I want to take what the farm does best and perfect it. I want to take what the farm doesn’t do well (or more aptly what I don’t do well at) and scratch it. Grow down.
I’ll be taking far less CSA members but providing them with a higher percentage of their diet. I’ll be growing in a smaller space but able to build the fertility in the soil so more production is possible. I’ll still have just as many farm table dinners and I’ll still take two interns, but I’ll be able to breathe and this sounds so completely glorious to me. Simply put I’ll just be concentrating my efforts. I’m not saying the work won’t be hard and there won’t be struggles and I won’t stop being poor, but I actually feel like for the first time in many years my clothes are finally fitting. That means something to me.
I have found no greater joy than living this life on a farm, I have never felt more satisfaction from working a twelve hour day filthy dirty and sweaty than I have from a day cleaning out barns and weeding beds of corn. There is no sweeter smell of that which comes from morning soil heating from the sun, or that of wool on the sheep as I push my nose deep into the warming girth. There is no flower more beautiful than an okra blossom. And not a more beautiful a person than the one whom I get to spend this life with and share these wonderful things with. I feel as free as a bird.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I missed my list.
Neurotic was suggested to me over dinner when I was explaining how much comfort a list gives me. Actually most of the day I was trying to figure out why I should not write a list and have time to rest also. Like eating my cake and pie at the same time, or however that saying goes. That cannot possibly be a bad thing. Cake and Pie and all the eating! That sounds like heaven to me. I'll have another piece!
I mean who am I trying to fool here. This is a farm. There is never a time when a list is not needed. So much goes on here, things must be noted down. A hay feeder that needs a new screw. A shelter that needs to be moved. I mean come on the work never ends. Why should I feel bad about that and try to pressure myself into "relaxing" I mean what is that?
So this morning after my normal journal entries I wrote a list! I even put time lines to the tasks so I could see if I could get most done with in a reasonable eight hour day. Oh the pleasure and satisfaction that brought! like thumb sucking! (i quit that a long time ago, but I remember).
However I'm actually a few minutes late for my first chore. So already I'm running behind. Oh the joy!
Rain is likely tomorrow and the possibility of snow. I want to enjoy Christmas Eve with not a worry in the world.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas I hope you have a wonderful day full of love and the spirit of Jesus. For those of you who don't I'll see you at the movies!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
So get your flat iron hot. (dont use any oil) With a chef spoon or small ladle pour the batter into the middle of the pan, then spread it with the spoon in a circular motion moving out to the edges of the pan. Let it cook until the top is not battery, then flip and cook on the other side for just a second or so. If you cant get the crepe to flip you need to let it cook more on the first side. It took me two practice crepes to get it down.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
So I have several cheeses that are aging for my CSA and other than that I'll be buying raw cow milk from Judy @HLA www.oklahomarawmilk.com to have in my coffee, drink and make yogurt. When I cant drink my own I go see Judy.
So this is the time of year things really slow down. I can go to once a day now with feeding hay and grain, the chickens still need me. and don't forget the baby chicks so I'll still have plenty to do. But maybe now is time to start that reading list? maybe now its okay to keep the office a little more organized. Maybe I'll be able to keep up on laundry now. Maybe a couple more walks now and then. Maybe I'll draw or paint. Maybe more bread baking. Maybe a morning waking up after the sun comes up? Maybe a cleaner house. Maybe.....a vacation? A short trip to Seattle for a weekend? Both of us at the same time. Together?
Feb 19th Kids hit the ground! Lambing begins and the farm explodes with life. Maybe I could get some rest before then?
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Oh, one of those projects I had was puppy proofing. So, you may have read before that we are the proud new owners of two livestock guardian dogs, however they are 6 weeks old right now. Let me just say they are the cutest things I’ve ever laid eyes on. They are adorable! But I didn’t have the area they were supposed to be in with the kids and lambs puppy proofed enough so they spent a lot of time on the porch looking for us and we spent a lot of time trudging them back to their pen. But I finally got it nailed yesterday and they haven’t gotten out yet. I’m trying to follow the correct way to raise livestock guardian dogs and will have them in with five lambs. I won’t bore you with the details but it takes a lot of commitment from the owner to let the dogs bond with the sheep and not the round heads (people).
But aren’t they cute!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Each time I take a trip to the processer I can’t help but be a little sad. And every time I question whether I should be a vegetarian and every time I say no. I’ve given a lot of deep thought to my diet and what I eat, but now is not the time to go on about this. Now is time to give gratitude and appreciation. Now is to have a sense of pride on a job well done. Now is to live in the real world without illusions or distractions. Right now I am living my truth; I accept that there is pride and sadness.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The mornings have been difficult to get out in, regardless of the carharts, I stretch it. I have breakfast, I do paperwork, and I return phone calls and e-mails and basically procrastinate the heck out of it. The sheep are literally screaming at me to bring them alfalfa, to break the ice on their frozen water. They have a schedule, hello. They know just what window to look in angrily as I peer out assuring them I will be right there. Frankly I hate the cold. I love the hot sweaty summers. 105 no problem! 35 oh gosh no! But I have no intention of moving to the tropics so I’ll just have to tough it out.
Now that I’m ready for winter as far as the farm goes I’m kind of looking forward to a little time snowed in. I hope I didn’t just hex myself! But there is a part of me that would really like to be forced to stop, to rest. Each day I busy myself with a list I can’t possible complete, I take a short break for lunch and I’m back at it. Before I know it its evening chore time then dinner then bed. If I haven’t made a significant dent in the list I feel lazy. Slow. I hate to have to transfer yesterday’s items onto today’s list. It’s the ultimate failure. There are two things that stop me and that is snow or ice or being sick. I don’t get out much so this reduces me catching a cold, unless Linda brings one home with her but I would prefer not to go that route. Gosh I totally just hexed myself didn’t I?
Today I just have a few things on my list. They might take a while. I’m the expectant mother of 100 baby chicks that are scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning and I’m getting things ready to load up the lambs I’ll be taking to the processer in the morning. That’s really all I have scheduled for today. I realize that may be enough. It’s funny though I’m sure by the end of the day that list will have tripled.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Apparently for people like me, yesterday was a bad news day. I don’t read the newspaper. I do listen to NPR if that tells you anything about me, but yesterday I was working all day, and on the way home from my hour drive from Stillwater I was jamming to Ryan Adams’ Cold Roses CD, if that tells you anything about me. I heard about all this bad in the news last night as Linda ticked off each item until I said “STOP”. “That’s enough I don’t want to know”.
But I heard about the hate and intolerance and this never ending squabble about “Christmas” VS “Holiday” and each year this happens I move farther from Christmas because more and more it seems a holiday for complete whack jobs starting at black Friday. I try not to stereo type Christians as social terrorists like most try not to stereo type Muslims, but I tell you there are some bad apples out their taking the joy out of our primal need to feel the spirit of God. To me people like Fred Phelps make God a dirty thing, an unholy thing. Something to stay as far away from as I can.
I wish I didn’t know about all the bad out there. I wish I could stay in my farmy utopia and be untouched by it all. But I have to maintain a certain sense of belonging to a greater community with The United States of America even though by default I was born one of the last groups of people openly denied basic civil rights. As I watch my friends and family live in complete freedom I’m faced daily with the knowledge that if I want that freedom offered to United States citizens I must conform and deny my own truth. And believe me I tried for years to do this. I was miserable and desperate to escape my prison of lies. So now I live as authentically as I can. I try not to talk about politics and I try not to remind most of my friends that they have a privilege I, probably in my life time won’t have. I can play it off like it doesn’t matter but it does. It hurts. I feel bad about it. Quietly.
Today and tomorrow and for as long as I can stand it, will be no news days, no NPR no Tulsa World no nothing. The news I hear will be from the goats, the wind through the last remaining leaves on the big oaks and the soft patter of chicken feet following me to the feed. This is joy, this is spirituality and right now as far as I know, no one can take that away from me. I’m not an activist. I am a farmer and I have one desire bigger than the news and that is to feed people, love completely and be loved. Live a life that is good. That’s my Joy.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I thought I might be able to wait on the putting the plastic on and the ends but I was told on Monday afternoon I had to put the ends and a door on. So yesterday that's just what I did. It wasn't on my list of things to do so I had to readjust my OCD leanings. Now the only thing that is missing is the plastic. I don't plan on planting in it until late January so the longer I can go with out putting the plastic on the longer the plastic wont have to be under attack from the Oklahoma weather. But I am anxious to have the whole thing done and ready when I need it so I may just wait until the next somewhat still day and call a few folks to help me pull it over. Its definitely not a one person job unless you want to see that one person loose their mind in a matter of seconds. With three or four hands it goes over in minutes.
Spending as much time out in the garden yesterday got my mind going again. Thinking about what I will plant, remembering and making mental notes of what did well what did not. What varieties of this lettuce do I want and so on. I got excited. I looked back at my planting list from last year and read the notes I had made. I read the desperate cries of failure and the notes of what not to do. What a gift to have a year of mistakes behind me. Fabulous lessons I can now appreciate.
I've got a list of winter projects and I've been able to tick them off with great satisfaction. My goal is to have most everything done in December so January I can relax, take some time off, read, write. Come Fabruary the games begin and I would be a fool not to take as much time as I can in January to re- fuel my body, spirit and my mind.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes terrified that one or all of the goats, sheep or any of the animals is sick and dieing. Its a horrible feeling and I'm helpless. It takes several minutes for me to wake up enough to talk myself down. Its okay, everyone is fine. I some how convince myself of this and fall back to sleep. Its the strangest thing and the worst feeling and thankfully its been a while since I've been in that situation in my waking life. But I think once you experience trying to unsucsessfull nurse a sick animal back to health you know the awful helpless feeling and it sticks with you. It changes you. Maybe for the better. But for me I think I might have a touch of PTSD.
I'm preparing for winter like I'm preparing for the worst possible scenarios, My preparations are fear based and very serious. I wish I wasn't so stressed out about it. But I suppose I just have to live through this in order to know that it is possible for winter not to be a terrifying mess. I mean logic tells me, we're doing all the right things. We have back up plans, that's something we didn't have before. So I just need to chill, I know.
See on the other hand, when I'm not drowning in fear I'm really feeling wonderful and am really enjoying some down time on the farm. This will be the first year I haven't traveled to Seattle for Christmas and it feels really good to know I'll be home. I'm actually looking forward to spending a nice quiet Christmas on the farm. And for the most part these cold days and nights have been filled with hot cider, dominos, and books. So I do have to keep things in perspective.
Today is just a normal day, clean the milk parlor, spend a couple of hours on a project, organize some paper work. Tomorrow, 30% chance of snow in the morning and in the afternoon and I'm ready to enjoy it.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
So this session we had planning what 50 would look like seemed to help give clarity to what 45 and 46 and 47 and so on would look like. So it’s like we’re working our way backward. But everything and all the decisions we make along the path hopefully will align and further our goals of how we see our future selves. We looked at it like a road map, there will be detours and road blocks, planned or unplanned but the destination probably won’t change. Healthy and happy. Broad, I know. But that’s the beauty and the gift we have by growing up, getting older is it doesn’t have to be complicated.
So this coming year and the next I have goals, I have a plan. It feels good. It feels attainable. I still have a little voice in the back of my head that tells me to prepare for the worst and I’m finally starting to shut that voice down more and more. And believe me it’s not happy about it! but, at some point I realize I need to be spending time preparing for all of the good things to come too. Maybe this is my own Advent. Preparing for the coming of my own birth, and the good that could come of it.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
They look like they are benefiting greatly from this type of managed grazing. They are all good size and weight and look pretty darn healthy. There is a lot of weeds and dried grass for them to eat and they clearly love being let out on to new pasture. The fence most people use in this situation is called Electronet. It looks like regular rolled field fence but it’s plastic and all electric. The sheep stay in and predators stay out. The fence I use is 164’ long and its fairy light, so it’s easy to fold and drag place to place.
Now, the problem I have is it takes me all frikin’ day to move sheep. First off, all the grass and weeds can’t be touching the hot parts of the fence because it will ground out and loose its zapping strength. Also they have been known to cause the occasional grass fire. So out comes the measuring tape, brush hog to mow a path for the fence, and then off goes the brush hog and on goes the chain to move the shelter and then there’s moving the waterers, mineral feeders and now the grain feeder. Then there’s moving the sheep, getting the water to reach, and then hooking up the electric. All day. This project takes me all day. The garden is most difficult area because of the raised rows so it’s quite a bumpy ride on the tractor going across the rows! And I only have one extra fence to start with on the new rotation.
Yesterday it was time to move them. I only had an hour before I had to get ready for work in Stillwater. I had previously mowed so that was taken care of, no chance for rain so if I didn’t move the shelters no biggy, as long as they had everything else things would be fine. I started to move fences and then realized I had planned it a little wrong. Frustrated and in a hurry I just dropped the whole fence and began to start over. Out the lamb rams meandered, unsure of what I was going to do. I refused to look at them, wander as they might I still have the grain and that they cannot refuse.
So I went about finishing the fence making myself oblivious that the lambs were now trying to get into the winter garden. Pay them no mind I told myself the gate is shut they cannot get in, carry on. I managed to get the ewes set up, they were happy to see the new area and went right to the job at hand eating. I couldn’t see the rams anymore and because I didn’t care where they were, I wasn’t looking. Several came back and ate some more alfalfa and then left again I ignored them. I almost had their fence set up. They won’t cross over a fence that is just lying down so I have to make sure there is an opening where the don’t have to walk over or touch the fence. So I had the last part of the fence ready to go. Off to get the grain. They were way on the other side now I gave them no mind.
Then the strangest thing happened. As I started walking away from their new pen they started making a B line for it. All 10 of them in a single file line walked back to the area and right into their new pen, they drank water and started munching on the remainder of the mornings alfalfa. I walked back calmly put up the remainder of the fence, looked at my phone. One hour! I did it. I turned the power on checked the charge and all was well! Let’s do it again in three days.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The part of the farm that is used the most is a valley. Cool air always travels down which isn't bad in the summer and it isn't really bad at all I suppose if your aware of these things. This knowledge will help to decide what fruit if any to grow. It obviously needs to be somewhat frost tolerant. Blackberries seem to do well. Blueberries would be my choice, so a researching I go.
Growing this winter in the high tunnel has proved to be an absolute joy! now I don't want to speak too soon but it is a jungle in there and during the day when its 40 degrees out, its an ambient 74 inside. These 19 degree mornings do have me a bit on edge. When the temps fall below 32 I cover all of the rows inside of the hoop house with a frost protector. The vegetables still freeze but when they thaw they are fine and have no frost damaged tips. Certain vegetables though wont freeze, it can get really frigid and the cells of the plant are extremely tolerant. This is really amazing to me. However, frost is the enemy of all, it turns the tip of the leaves white and they shrivel and become unsellable. Also I have found watering before a really cold night builds up humidity, and for root crops can really make a difference in the leaves above ground staying beautiful, especially carrots.
Right now I'm growing in a high tunnel that is 14 ' X 60 I am absolutely amazed at the production I'm getting. I'll be planting in the second high tunnel come early February, just to give me a head start for the first farmers market in April. It's safe to say this is a lot of fun to me. The one warning I have for anyone who is considering growing like this is to have patience. The key is to over plant and thin, and as most know, thinning is a tedious process, but the thinnings are delectable morsels and make the best salads, braising mixes etc. I have spent an entire day harvesting on my knees which normally would have only taken me two hours in the field. But you have to make the most of your space and the money that you've put into the cost of the greenhouse, The high tunnel should pay for its self in two growing seasons at most.
I'm busy winterizing the rest of the farm, getting the tank heaters in place, putting up wind blocks and just generally trying to do whatever I can to reduce the drama this winter. Sadly no heat repair guy yesterday, the office says I'm on the schedule for today.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I hear the older you get the more sleep you need? Is that just a crock. Maybe I need to take a nap after lunch, so I can stay up until 9:30 which is practically torture these days. Or maybe I need to shut up and just get this rest while I can. The last few nights we've been playing dominos. and I suppose it might be time to pick up the ol'Martin again and play some tunes. It might even be time to pick up a new hobby like knitting. Naaah
The pups are doing well they are paying more and more attention to the sheep in the next pen. I just go out to feed them and give them fresh water. But I am telling you it is so hard. Still no heat, but the space heaters are doing the trick and everyday I look at Craig's list for a wood burning stove, hoping for a deal I cant refuse. but so far nadda. If we get a couple of private parties I'm in business. But its winter and the belt is so tight its cutting off circulation but that's how its got to be. Hopefull the repair guy will come today and if not I'll call someone else.
Monday, November 29, 2010
The pups dont have names yet, we havent really gotten to know them. A few days on the farm and I'm sure they will have chosen their names.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
In spite of these last two frigid mornings the greenhouse remains unaffected. I did put fabric covers over the rows and I’m sure that helped to hold the heat and moisture in. I was happily surprised when I opened the door yesterday morning and warm steam came out. Oh thank god! For the last CSA I drop off I was able to harvest about 170 pounds of greens, which were actually the thinnings of crops like broccoli rabe, arugula, boc choi. I couldn’t believe what production I was able to get. Amazing! But because it’s been such a warm fall things are almost too big. When things are small like baby lettuces they can freeze solid and once the temp comes up be completely un-fazed while a mature head of lettuce will turn to mush. I have full grown stuff in there, so I’m a little nervous. But as far as things go I am seriously impressed with winter growing and think I may make a habit of it!
I’ve had some die off however with the lettuce caused by moisture and the heat, nothing I could do about it and it wasn’t unexpected but I will experiment with some other varieties. The next harvest will include baby chard, spinach, kale, mizuna, and more arugula and boc choi. That is pretty exciting! My camembert made and it looks lovely, I’ll wrap it and start the aging process today, so CSA members should each get a wheel of Camembert by Christmas. I think that should make for some happy CSA members!
The goats are really starting to slow down in production. Everyone has a little baby growing inside them so they being the ultra intelligent species on the farm know when they need to reserve their resources and keep warm, I’m getting about 1 and ¾ of a gal a day so that’s half of what I was getting a month ago. We’re milking 6 girls. This is pretty typical for winter, which actually works out perfect as far as what I need for cheese and CSA members without having too much left. The milk is incredibly creamy more than I ever remember it being. I had a glass right out of the chiller from the mornings milking and I thought I had just taken a mouth full of heavy cream! The goats will get dried up Jan 1st so I’ll be working on some aged cheeses to get us through January and February. They kid early march along with the ewes. March should be a very _______(fill in blank) month.
The weather has just begun to act characteristically like its old self. Winter is only now on its way but March seems so close. Time has just been speeding by like a rocket. It’s not even December yet and I’m sitting down making some serous plans for next year. I feel so great about the future right now. Gosh that’s a good feeling. One I haven’t had in a while. And as of right at this moment there are no tragedies to report. There are no failed systems that need to be reworked and as of right now there are no hard lessons to be learned. I don’t know how long this will last so I’m going to embrace this moment with utter delight.
Today will be spent making cheese and tending to greenhouse business, what a beautiful life.
Friday, November 26, 2010
I do hate being at the mercy of these things, but I find it hard to complain. I know eventually the heater will get fixed a few cold nights and mornings can’t take away the amazing blessings I have all around me. I’ve been watching the John Adams series, I love the show and I love all the details of it down to the black soot flame marks on the walls from the sconces that actually provided light. No light switch, no heater to crank on. That was a lot of work when you think about it, but at the same time I’m so drawn by the self reliance of it all. There is a lot of that I crave deeply.
This is the first time in many years I have not had a wood stove. Several years ago when I lost power for two weeks after a terrible ice storm I stayed warm and was able to cook all of my meals on the stove. I lit with oil lamps and made out quite fine. I had filled many buckets and 5 gal water totes with water. I had to boil water to do dishes. I had to conserve water as well. I had just enough for the animals, I had a lot less animals than I have now so it really wasn’t that difficult. I had been accustomed to heating with the stove so a thing like losing power had very little affect on me. I actually rejoiced in absent buzz of appliances.
I suppose I can honestly say I don’t want to live in a time without refrigerators and modern comfort. I think it’s that I just don’t want to be completely dependent on them. But right now I am. If I lost power I would be out of commission completely. No heat, no water, no way to cook (other than the camp stove). No way to chill the milk, on and on. This dependence worries me. It gives me a great heavy feeling in my heart. I don’t know where this comes from. If its arrogance, independence, fear, past life, what? But I fret over it.
We had intended to buy a wood stove and be heating with wood this year, but I wasn’t able to find one used and didn’t have the funds to buy a new one with all of the piping required. I’m sure next year we’ll be able to, but watching our pennies is of utmost importance to us. So we’ll bundle up and do the best we can. I’m sure the repair guy will come back today before dark and put an end to this crazy meandering on self reliance, or rather increase my obsession of it.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I've shot the 22 twice, that was early on and really I aimed into the creek bank and it was just a scare shot to let them know I was here and I could make a really loud noise!
I hear em, up on the hill by the hay barn singing the crazed song of cornered pray. I used to think it such a beautiful sound. a natural raw beauty like the bright stars in the evening sky. That was before I got into the sheep business.
At the old place I could hear packs of them crossing the prairie at high speed whooping and calling, it sounded like they ran right past my bedroom window. They kept going so I never worried, but here they are bold and I might add lazy. Silent and deadly. Recently I was having a conversation with someone about the humane way to shoot an animal. She was mostly concerned with a bad shot a "clip"leading to a slow and painful death. That may be true for deer but if a coyote is injured and bleeding I have been told the other coyotes put it out of its misery so to speak. Well regardless if that is true or not she reminded me that they were just being coyotes.
I agree somewhat, but this is an age old problem between the Shepherd and coyote that has been going on for thousands of years. Some Shepherd's have such problems it puts them out of business. Now I am not in any way suggesting we try to eradicate the coyote. They have every right to be here as I do, neither one of us have more authority on life, and they might be just acting like coyotes and I might be acting like a Shepherd and that's the way its going to stay. I will not sacrifice my lambs. I will protect them to the best of my ability. I love them. And I know the coyote is trying to survive the best they see fit. but they have an unfair advantage, we work different hours. They have no more natural predators and they can overpopulate an area in several seasons. They can die from worse things than a "clip" terrible cases of mange have been sighted, rabies, malnutrition, starvation, degenerative diseases from inbreeding etc. Overpopulation is the cruel mistress here. Its the saddest thing you've ever seen. There is no dignity in this.
So me and the coyote have an ancient relationship that has not changed in thousands of years. And all the shepherds that have come before me felt the pang of loss and helplessness and anger. And this is how it shall be.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
But that's a lot of how farming works especially when you have as much diversification as we do. It seems like it all happens at once. Like lambing always happens during the busiest time of planting. and planting is always the wettest part of the year and a dry day has to be taken advantage of. No plans are made off of the farm during that time and the barn will have a soft place for us to sleep if need be. That's the time of year I need a shower the most. Between dirt and amniotic fluid and poop I'm a mess and usually cold. But I love that time of year.
This is quickly also becoming my favorite time a year because I can now step back and take a real good look at it. The good the bad and the disgusting. But you know what? The farm did really well this year! we had some major challenges but we made it and came out on top! Unless some major catastrophe happens between now and Jan 31st, I think 2010 was the best year for Living Kitchen on so many levels. We had the most loyal CSA members and they were our rock of support and really kept us laughing and at ease. And no matter how hard things got we felt like every bit of it was worth it because of them.
So its safe to dream. Soon Linda and I will start planning for next year and what we want the farm to look like. Last year we didn't know what to plan, we were so new on this land. It hadn't shown itself to us yet and the weather was so terrible we could hardly see. So it was just a lets do this and see if we can make it year. And then my farm partner bailed, but in spite of that we've made it. And now its time to think long term. How can we best serve our community? What should/ could we do to maintain the long term viability of the farm and provide pure clean safe food for all of our customers? How can we feed more people better food than they've ever had before? What does that look like to us? Its time for a spirit walk, a vision quest, reflection and prayer. Its time.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Is it right I'm so excited about this so early? and I'm already preparing! making sure I have all I need. I have a long time to wait. I think what brought this up was the photos I had found buried deep in my commuter of last years kidding. Look, in my book there is nothing cuter than kid goats or lambs, I mean they have the cute so down it'll peal the skin off your chest and expose your heart.
The thing I've really come to accept and realize is that I love raising and working with animals. I love working with the sheep and goats I love raising chickens. I love all of the chores and there really isn't one thing about it I dread. I have loss and that is terrible. I feel a huge sense of responsibility toward all of my animals but really I have a deep love for them. Even more for the ones I raise for meat.
Milking is one of my favorite chores. Its the one stable for sure thing in my life. It dictates a strict routine and its not open to negotiations. I never have to re-invent it and it never changes. Not to say that things don't move with in it or I don't make changes when needed. There are days of grouchy goats or low production and spilt milk but that's OK. The thing is, no matter what is going on in my life, if its 4pm you can find me in the milk parlour. And that gives me comfort. And as other things start to slowdown I have more opportunities to experiment and try new cheeses. This is another thing I get to do that brings me extreme bouts of joy.
But here's the thing dear gentle reader. I've hit a wall with my cheese. I sell all I make and I have restaurants call me all the time wanting it and I cant sell it to them because I don't have an on farm processing licence. Also Its raw and I'm not willing to take the risk on that level. I am going to start experimenting with pasteurization, I do have a small three gal pasteurizer but that has always been a really bad word I generally try not to say often, but its come to that. I feel like I am the healthy person I am today because I drink and eat my raw dairy products. I have never in my life felt as good as I do now. Its been 7 years. So I feel like I carry the torch for raw dairy products, but its a matter of do I want to be a food activist or do I want to sell cheese legally? How do I find that balance?
I eat A really good diet of whole foods, raw milk and cheese a micro amount of processed or restaurant food and I feel absolutely wonderful. I like to share that, I suppose its only natural. But I have every intention to make a living making cheese period. There is no doubt in my mind that will happen very soon. But I've got to make some compromises. and I have to do some hard work getting there. I'm gonna take some small steps first then some larger ones and then some leaps.
But the key thing here is action.
When I first started this blog it was just going to be documenting my path of becoming a licenced on farm processor, but life changed and I became discouraged and felt the looming impossibilities. Very few people were encouraging most, more than willing to point out the many obstacles. So moving forward this time I have to learn to just nod my head and keep it going. I mean I've been able to accomplish amazing things in my life so why should this be any different. So I'm back on. I'll share what I can and ask for some encouragement and moral support. Wish me luck but also help me see all obstacles can be gently moved out of the way.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
In spite of the rain and the misty day we had yesterday all went well. The catastrophes I expected did not occur and Linda, having had education in psychology and religious affairs and being the farm chaplain (I hope you don’t mind me calling you that honey) managed to talk me down. I love it when she just looks at me with that look they get, head tilted slightly and a misty unconditional love look in their eyes, you know the look, they learn it at seminary in the how to look compassionate class. But she said to me, “You seem a little on edge” and then gives me what is the most clearly logical analogy and helps me put it all in perspective. And never once did she mention Jesus or god. She’s good! I am the luckiest girl in the world! The great thing about being a farm chaplain rather than a religious one is she can put her religious background aside and give no nonsense insight and advise that is actually applicable. The best sermon is one lived not preached. I’ve said it before but I am the luckiest girl alive!
All in all it was an astounding blissfully wonderful day. I spent most of it rearranging and moving fences and sheep in utter delight. The sheep look amazing and all are bred. I’m moving them through what was the 5 acre garden plot, one acre at a time. It might be just me but they seem extremely pleased about this. Unfortunately for me it’s very overgrown so moving fences takes a lot more time than it should. In order to keep the fence charged adequately there can’t be any brush or say old corn stalks grounding it out, so out comes the measuring tape and the brush hog. I swear there are no small jobs here.
Being the compulsive list maker I am, early this morning after journal I made a list of all the things we need to do to get ready for the blizzard/ice storm/freezing temps/tornado/tsunami/hurricane/alien invasion. I feel good about it and I’ll start right away. And because I was in such a mood to write lists I actually made a list of the things I want to do this winter, including my reading list. Most of my reading will be about cooking and food. I need to get reconnected with the spirit of cuisine. I’m feeling a little lack luster in that department and want to really get the creative energy fired up. I’m going to start now on the reading list. I’ll be finished with ‘Hit by a Farm”, by Catherine Friend in a day or so. That is a funny book and remarkably closes to our own experience. Kind of freaky really, anyway……..
So I’m feeling like the end times might be a little further away than I thought, but there’s nothing like being prepared right?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
It’s funny how weather sensitive I am. The slightest little change can make a big difference in my day. Back in my previous life in Seattle as a chef and restaurateur I came to think of weather as simply a tool to measure whether it would be a busy night. Warm sunny days not so much, prep light. Rainy cooler nights very busy, prep heavy. Snow, (on that very rare occasion) extremely busy, staff up, prep heavy. It was all so simple. There was no tractor to put up or tillers to move into the barn. No hay to cover, no need to make sure all 200+ animals had dry shelter. None of that, It could rain (which it did quite often) it could snow, it could be beautiful and clear and it was no big deal. A snow storm here can be, and has been a life or death situation, not for the humans but for the animals.
I’m still working out the trauma of last year’s Christmas Eve snow storm when we lost two very loved bucks from hypothermia. I was in Seattle celebrating the holidays with my family and Linda was here by herself for a very relaxing quiet Christmas. OK, none of that celebrating or relaxing happened. It was a big lesson, one I needed but it was so traumatic loosing these guys that it’s really made us both hyperaware and frankly terrified. I’m dealing with it just by thinking about it a lot and making sure the same mistakes don’t get repeated. So you might notice I tend to talk about the weather with a very ominous tone. Especially winter, its coming its right around the corner. I need to make my peace with it and fast.
But a little rain shouldn’t freak me out so much. I’m really grateful for it. Among other things it makes moving the sheep and chicken fences so much easier, which is how I shall be spending the better part of the day.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Right after Linda cleaned the fish I went about the task of filleting, I threw the scraps, bones and giant head into the compost pile because lord knows that would be a beautiful addition to the compost. I thought about how much nutrients had gone into that pile and how when I finally used the compost how absolutely full of good microbes and nutrients it would add to the soil. But it was dark and it was late and we never went to the trouble of burying it in the compost and covering it, instead it lay on top and was told we would get to it first thing in the morning, I was starving and wanted to eat. What could happen to between now and 5 in the morning?
The next morning I went to cover it but the head was gone. So much for my adding nutrients to the compost. Cats? Probably, but how the heck could they have pulled that huge head out? I couldn’t find it. I didn’t look too well and just forgot about it.
A rogue fish head is something you can never forget about.
A few days later the dogs, all of them especially Maya our sweet English Sheppard really stank…..like fish. Bad fish. I searched and searched for the fish head and could not find it. I watched the dogs secretly from inside the house hidden behind a curtain; I knew they would give it up. I hid behind barn doors and spied on the chickens. I especially kept a nonchalant eye on the cats. You can’t fool them. I would find the fish head.
I found the fish head or rather it found me I tripped over it in the front yard. Rather than pick up with bare hands I went into the house to get a bag or something so I could return it to the compost pile and this time I would bury it and it would indeed add nutrients dam it! I got side tracked like I almost always do and between the time I changed the washed clothes to the dryer and started a new load It had disappeared again. DAMMIT! I couldn’t fine either of the Pyrenees they had to be the culprit. The other dogs were inside and the cats were sitting on the porch just looking at me. They had seen the whole kidnapping of the head go down. Whose side were they on?! Finally I just had to let it go.
Monday, November 8, 2010
The last four weeks I’ve been going at break neck speed, between all the farm stuff there has been private dinner parties here at the farm and my work at wellness center. I race through one project to the next and literally just try to survive the day. But today is different. This week I have no real pending projects or tasks. There are no dinner parties, no harvest, no work. Just regular farm stuff. So when I sat down to journal this morning I was lost. My journals always start out with the date, time, temp and weather forecast and who got bred, or who is in heat (goats), and then move on to what happened yesterday and then onto the ‘to do’ list for today.
I am a fervent list maker. It borders on OCD. My lists have lists. And sometimes when I have nothing better to do I make lists. Because if I have nothing better to do there must be something wrong and I must find work, and work within the work. That’s why my lists have lists. The multi layer method…. I know, OCD. I won’t even talk about the “deltas” (ok just a little) they are upside down triangles you fill in when the task is complete instead of making a disrespectful line through the task. Forget about it! There is a fine line between habit and addiction.
Regardless, I feel kind of weird I don’t really feel grounded and I’m finding myself a little uncomfortable. So, as I was starting my list because I knew that would put me right, I decided before I would make any list l would take a long walk this morning, I would go to my spot on the bright red rock of the probably very dry creek bed and meditate. I would breathe out the last few weeks and breathe in some calm and peace. I wouldn’t make any plans. I would just breathe. I would listen and reconnect myself with this sacred spot, the air, the sun the sky, the grass , the sand, the rock and all of that. I’m just going to sit with it for a while.
And on the top of my will be list, I wrote:
· take a walk, meditate, clear your mind
· write list.
I just couldn’t help it
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Drum role please!
First off two things I have to say before y'all read this 1) its over 500 words... but.... I was so moved and inspired I felt every word was nessesary and welcomed. 2) Lori, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story with us, you are truly an inspiration and a teacher. Thank you! I'll be sending you more info about the V-day dinner soon. Congratulations!
I know I am probably going break the rules and go over the 500 words (so sorry), and go beyond the 30 day limit, but I guess I just need to get this off my heart and out of my head... maybe I won't even send it, but it's out there... Maybe because I haven't really shared the gory details, they have just rolled around in my head for a while. Maybe because of embarrassment or shame? I don't know, but I'll explain... A little over 18 months ago I was seriously OUT OF CONTROL. I was VERY unhappy, extremely depressed. One evening after eating 20 hot wings and a large bowl of ice cream (seriously) I got violently sick, went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack at 40 and ended up having emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. I weighed in at a horrific 315 pounds. Wow! How in the hell was that possible?!?! Being a rancher's daughter, I thought only livestock weighed in that heavy. Crap @#$%&^*!!! , I was REALLY humiliated, but still didn't "get it". Soon afterwards, my husband went for his yearly physical. The Dr. sent us straight to the heart hospital in Tulsa. His blood pressure and cholesterol were bad. Really bad especially for a guy who had a family history of heart disease and early (30's) death. As he went back for testing, I sat in the waiting room and sobbed. Really??? He "looked" healthy. What the hell had happened to us? How did I/we get to this point? How did I not see it when I looked in the mirror? I definitely felt it though. My life changed drastically right then and there. I've heard people talk about hitting rock bottom, but truly understood what it meant at that moment. I really, really loved this guy. We'd been together almost 25 years and raised two great boys. I couldn't imagine life without him. And what had I done to myself? Eight medications each day. Ankle, hip and knee pain. Embarrassment to go anywhere. Full of excuses. What else did I need to wake me up? But fortunately, I honestly changed that day. Not everything overnight. It was a big learning process. I had to save this man I loved. And save myself. We started eating healthy. Thinking about whole foods - foods that grew out of the ground or had a mother. The way food was meant to be. No more soda or big macs for us. I started learning to cook instead of doing the "drive through". We began exercising - something I had never done before. I was scared to death of the gym and wouldn't even look anyone in the eye when I first went... just go ride the stationary bike like a crazy woman, get beet red, manage not to die or have my eyeballs pop out off my head because my heart was pounding so hard, go to the car with a headache and cry. But somehow I stuck with it. Amazingly I love it now because I discovered this "crazy” stuff really works. We're proof and honestly sometimes I still can't believe it. I don't take any more medications. Not one. My husband's blood pressure and cholesterol are great. No more meds for him either. (Yeah us!) In fact, in less than eight weeks, I will take my certification test to become a personal trainer and health and nutrition coach. A long story short, I have lost a total of 153 pounds. I carry a picture of myself at my heaviest as the screen saver on my phone so that I don't forget. No surgery. No gimmicks. Just good wholesome, real food. And exercise. It is seriously possible. Really, I did it and so can anyone else. And, this is what I hope to do. Help people get their lives back. People who were where I was a year and a half ago.
So, fast forward to the end of this summer. I heard about CSA's. What a cool concept. I googled to see if there were any in our area. Up pops Living Kitchen and hey, they are local. WOW! How freakin' cool is that! We met you and Linda (and just love you guys!) and are soon CSA members (yeah! I made sure I was sitting at the computer right at 7:00 the morning of winter registration with big hopes that we would get in:0)). Then, along comes the 30 day challenge. Sign us up! Sounds like fun. A chance for us to refocus and learn new things. During this time, we discover the Clean Food Tulsa Market thanks to picking up our CSA, and we have gotten very good at planning our weekly menus so that we can order as many of our groceries there as possible. Along with that, the CSA items and the venison we received from a friend, we are eating very local. We even eat a few meals a week with proteins other than meat, like beans and the numerous eggs I order from you :0) - love them poached and served over green chile and corn tamales with crumbled goat cheese. Yum! In summary, we have learned to really appreciate what it is that we are eating and where it came from. I guess that is called eating with a conscience. Clean eating at its best. Cooking and planning our meals has gone from a chore to a real passion that my husband and I do together. We pick up our CSA and Clean Food Tulsa order then supplement with what else we need at Whole Foods focusing on local and seasonal items. Then, off to our weekly date and the one time we eat out during the week. Come Sunday, we cook together for the week and share plenty of laughs, especially since we tend to sample the great beers my husband is known for making :0). It has become a passion for us instead of a chore. Something that the challenge has sparked for us and definitely something we will continue to do. And, in addition, we started cooking extra and freezing it with the wonderful suck and seal machine we bought. Now we have meals already prepared and in the freezer - talk about fast food!
Thank you for issuing the challenge, for helping me refocus. I was hoping to reach my final weight goal during the challenge. Unfortunately, I didn't (got closer though), but found a lot more really cool intangibles and laughs in the process. Still have a long ways to go. I don't know that "perfection" will ever be reached, but we are definitely getting better.