Thursday, January 28, 2010

The winter storm is here. I’m watching it from the kitchen table with a cup of chai masala and the taste of fresh baked coffee cake still on my tongue. I wait. It’s taken me the better part of two days to prepare for this storm. The original forecast was for ice and then snow, but now they say we’ll get mostly ice and a little snow. We’re prepared and expecting to lose our power, we’ve filled up gallons and gallons of water. I’ve got candles and lanterns in place ready to put forth their warm glow. Bread is rising on the bench. The sheep and goats are hunkered down in the barn safe and sound. I’m celebrating hot water so I’ve cleaned the bathroom, washed all of the dishes and took a very hot and very long shower with pure relish, I haven’t been this clean in months.

Folks in Tulsa are reporting brigades of line workers waiting and ready for downed power lines and utter chaos. Many are remembering the last ice storm and the length of time thousands were without power. This time will surely be different. I’m looking out at ice capped cedars and silver branches stretched down in a beautiful bow. Long gold grasses swayed over slightly, frozen in place and the power line under a medium sized branch that from last inspection minutes ago is not showing any signs of failing. Any minute now however, darkness. Candle light, propane camp stove and cheese burgers, spinach salad and red wine. Sleep under thick covers, dogs entwined, warming feet and legs. Or maybe it will be just like any other night, the same but without the buckets and buckets of water and the camp stove.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ice storm

Yep, they finally said it. NPR's local weather reported an expected ice storm coming in Wednesday night. Yesterday they were just saying we were expecting sleet turning to snow, "expect possible power outages and bad driving conditions". They hadn't mentioned the big "I" word. The last ice storm left me and hundreds of people with out power for weeks, so the "I" word makes some of us a little jumpy. I'm pretty ready for it. Finishing the last touches tonight when I get home from OSU.

One of the new ewes had two bouncing baby lambs yesterday. She had a little trouble but Kasey and I were there to help her out. A boy and a girl. Checked on everyone several times last night and all looks well. One more is expected to pop any minute. Pascal our Llama loves lambs and is so ready to watch over them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night.....

Lightning streaked across the sky in all directions and raindrops as big as my head fell onto my windshield making the wipers futile. I could barely make out the lines in the road on Route 66 I managed to stayed out of the shoulder only by inches. I crawled home inch by inch mile by mile. Slowly, cautiously, heart beating strong, Determined to get home, eat and crawl into bed.

Two back to back board meetings in Tulsa, jacked my routine. I had done chores at 3:00 right before I left for Tulsa. I felt disconnected from my people. Tonight I would be checking on everyone in the pouring rain. Its been a while since I've had to do that. Usually, that's when lambing occurs. Seems like it never happens in the middle of a nice warm sunny day but instead late at night in the pouring cold rain, with an ewe that refuses to get in the barn.

But no lambs yet. Rain had stopped. Everyone was hunkered down in the barn chewing their cud not hardly taking notice of my darting flashlight on the back side of my ewes.
Thank goodness, tonight I sleep.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Global Gardens

Last Spring I was invited to be a board member of a really interesting non profit called Global Gardens. If you are not familiar GG its an after school gardening program for kids, started by Heather Oakley. This story begins with 5th graders at Eugine Elementary school. I knew of GG from friends and acquaintances but the late summer of 08 had a close up and personal opportunity to meet the young gardeners when they came out to my farm for a year end retreat and camp out.

I'll be honest, I haven't spent much time around youngsters much at all, except my nieces and nephews. I suppose I expected chaos. 10 crazy fifth graders chasing chickens and making the goats a nervous wreck. I have had kids come to the farm and do this...their parents happily thinking this was funny and such a great "farm" experience for their - normally glued to the gameboy/TV/computer kid. After being ignored by the parents and the kids I just try to make their visit brief. It's good that zoos have bars to protect the Animals inside. Honestly. It takes days for the farm to recover after children disrupt the harmony by chasing the animals.

So what am in for, I thought?

I picked the group up at the camp ground at the end of the road and brought them up to the farm. The moment we pulled into to the farm they jumped out of the back of the hay lined truck bed all 10 of them. Each 5th grader pointed in a different direction. 360 degrees of opportunity in front of them. They seemed paralyzed for a moment on where to dart to first. Would it be the garden? would it be the barn chasing after a cat? would it be the goats in the front pasture? would it be all the potential trees to climb? But the universe made its decision and up runs my two over sized, over furred bumbling great Pyrenees/Anatolian dogs who by all accounts were meant to be guard animals for my sheep and goats but have changed their official positions to join the greeting committee, which they are now chair and co chair and thriving.

After a few moments of this dog love, a calmness took its place as we gathered in a circle and I set the ground rules. #1 NO chasing animals. Any animals; dogs, cats, chickens, llama, sheep, goats. I talked about harmony and how a farm can be a very harmonious place and that we could become part of that great experience. I talked about how much trust there must be on a farm and all of these animals were going to trust us and we had to do everything we could to honor that trust. The kids looked at me I looked at each of they're faces looking for disobedience and chaos and found peace and harmony and understanding.
Yea, I had a lot to learn.

The experience I had with these kids changed me. Completely influence me, that night we had a cook out and with a guitar accompaniment the kids sang the most beautiful and touching song I have ever heard, written by them.
These kids have a lot of lerning and growning ahead of them and along the way they also have a lot to teach people like me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tilted moon

I looked up to the night sky, black and full of bright stars. The moon just a sliver turned up like a cup. In front of me a huge beautiful bonfire roared warmth into the cool air and moments before was joined in song by Kasey playing his fiddle. Now the three of us sat with plates on our lap that contained Pork and Green Bratwurst that Linda and Kasey cooked on sticks over embers and roasted potatoes and spinach frittata I had made earlier. Our glasses full.

The fire represented so much to me as I stared at the bright coals and licking flames. We talked about getting ready for spring and all of the opportunities that just lay ahead. The fire was a cleaning fire. Literally and metaphorically. We started it to burn small pieces of scrap wood that couldn't be re-used, paper feed bags, and whatever else we could put in there within reason. But now the fire was burning away concerns from the past. mistakes, follies, all being offered and taken by the fire. Moments like these keep me aware of why I live this life.

Yesterday couldn't have been a more beautiful day, perfect for evaluating the winter garden, deciding what rows would be tilled in and what rows would be protected. Then to fencing. getting the south line stretched with field fence. There were so many moments yesterday that I stopped and said to myself . This is why I do this.

Linda and I worked on the fence until we couldn't see any more, the sun fully down. We were close to being done and decided to finish up the rest before she has to go to work in the morning. From the distance we could see the big bonfire Kasey was managing and we could hear his fiddle, and the occasional hoo hoo hoooot. from the hoot owl over by the three ponds. This is why I do this.

Walking back from the pasture looking at the night sky. My bank account nearly empty but I felt like the wealthiest person in the world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A path through the forest

Some times when I am really stuck and I cant figure out what to do. Maybe with an animal or a financial situation. I try to stop, close my eyes and visualize a thick forest. In the visualization I turn a full circle until I spot the "path". When I do, I walk it. I observe the leaves on the forest floor, I stop and touch the moss and I try to smell the musky damp leaves, grass, wet bark. I try to focus on the path. At the end of the path there is a bench, its like a park bench and its painted green. I sit. There is someone sitting next to me. A real gentle peaceful quiet person and she asks me what on my mind. So I tell her. Sometimes she's silent and sometimes she gives me her two cents. Its always un-passionate and logical, matter of fact kind of way.

I know I'm talking to myself. A part of myself that isn't afraid to tell me the truth or the things I don't want to hear. I listen and I take it to heart and when I'm ready. When I've sucked in as much of the lush forest I can, I get up and take the follow path back home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The good fight

I slept late today, not for any good reason. Just did. I walked into the kitchen to pour some coffee and I was awe struck by the thick white fog and how it seemed to be hugging the farm. The reflection off the pond was beautiful and eerie, I stopped and stared for a while looking for a message.

First thing to do is check on the Sheep. She’s still alive. She’s still down but she is responsive and takes whatever I give her by mouth. She is fighting the good fight. She no longer believes I’m there to harm her so she lets me treat her and hold her head in my lap and rub her cheek and talk to her. She’s calm, she wants very badly to get up but is too week. Today I’ll keep to the treatment plan, more nutri- drench, Vit. B, electrolyte water and I’ll add yogurt throughout the day. I collected a stool sample I’ll bring to the vet today and maybe get some answers but it’s still a mystery to what is really going on but suspicions are high in the milk fever area but nothing is for sure.

I had to give my sick sheep friend a companion last night a very large ewe obviously with triplets inside and ready to lamb any moment. She’s a bit week and might need assistance lambing so I’ve got her in a nice pen where she can’t run too far from me when and if she does need help. I felt the lambs move inside her, It was really freaky, I’ve never felt that before and I’ve been involved in numerous kiddings and lambing so I called the Vet. What do I do? She just laughed, “well…you wait for her to go into labor”. Check her every hour.
Why does this seem like my very first time doing this?
Off to fight the good fight. and fencing projects too.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A day of Life

This wouldn’t be a real farm blog if I didn’t talk about the part of farming and raising animals that included the struggle to save a sick animal and share information about it. Raising farm animals has its many rewards and with that comes the challenge of keeping everyone strong and healthy. I have an Ewe that is ‘down’. That’s a term used when an animal won’t eat or won’t get up. She’s not been 100% for a while. I purchased her with a larger flock a couple of months ago and I noticed she was losing weight. I placed her into a separate pen where I could treat her with a wormer, antibiotics and extra feed to get the weight back on. She seemed to stay about the same not really noticeably better or worse.

Yesterday morning when I went out I found her on her side and unable or willing to get up. What to do? She was outside of the barn and the wind was right on her so I moved her as gently as I could and got her into a protected place. I looked at her gums, pink. I felt around her stomach and abdomen thinking she may have a stuck lamb, couldn’t feel anything, no rank odor coming from her so I ruled out a dead lamb inside her. I sat there for a minute, going through all the possibilities. Milk fever?

Sheep, goats and other ruminant need minerals just like any other living creature and when they are with child they require a lot more of everything. Milk fever is a calcium deficiency, either they’re not getting from their free choice minerals or feed or their bodies are not able to produce or use the calcium and thus come down with this so called milk fever. Goats generally will come down with it after they kid. But sheep get it pre lambing. She had all of the signs.

I’ve had one experience with milk fever last year with Dottie one of my milk goats. It was bad and I thought for sure I was going to lose her. She thrashed, cried, her eyes were goopy and seemed as though she were blind. Her legs stiffened and she would throw her head back so far she looked like a contortionist. It was absolute torture to watch her be in such a state and not sure what it was or what I should do about it. Thankfully I have a friend not far who has been raising goats for years and I think might know every little thing there is to know about goats and how to treat them. So after a time on the phone we surmised its must be “milk fever”. Not being equipped at that time to treat this we rushed against the clock over to Jana and Marshals. Upon arrival they went right to work gathering the medicine that could save her life.

It was a long ride home and I would be surprised if she was still alive, but she was! So first off: 1cc of a sedative type, IM (intramuscular) then 48 CC by mouth calcium gluconate, 6CC B complex to stimulate appetite. At this point its triage you do what you can, try to keep faith but keep expectations down. She was calm now. We did all we could do. Now we wait.
The next morning when we went out to check on her, not knowing what to expect. Would she be dead? she was up. Wobbly, but up and eating. We kept up the treatment. More calcium gluconate, more B complex. It took about a week to get her back to where she was almost normal. She would stumble and walk like she was drunk. But soon she was 100% and back to the same rowdy party girl she was before.

So…..If my predictions are correct and this sheep has this milk fever, she has a fighting chance. I treated her much the same with the addition of sheep drench only because she seemed deficient and she’s underweight so I figured it couldn’t hurt. I gave her 1 CC of the pain med and she calmed down and rested peacefully. I laid her head on my lap and stayed with her for a long while listening to her breathing and feeling her strong heart beat. I don’t know what I’ll find when I go out to check on her this morning. I’m not going to even allow myself to think about it. If she’s still alive then we’ve got a chance to get her back to herself.

Last night when I came in I took a 45 minute shower. What a day, I don’t think I’ve ever been dirtier. After haling and moving hay, a trip to the dump, dealing with this ewe, plus just the normal farm chores my skin was hot and dry and I needed to just burn my clothes. I pray she makes it and I’m also grateful for Jana and Marshal for openly sharing their knowledge with me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Do's

This is where I write most of the time, watching the pitch black world of the early morning come to life in brilliant technicolor. This is where I eat, think and where I make my to-do lists.

You do not want to see my to-do list. If you did you'd run away screaming, and you definitely would think this farming thing is for the birds. The list is important to me but sometimes I feel like I spend so much time writing it I could have gotten three things done.
The most recent list is a particularly long one even to my standards. I at least have the tasks divided up into months: January, February, that should help. Every day I try to 1) prioritize 2) by the end of the day mark at least two items off the list. 3) make sure I leave room to write, take a walk or have some non-work thing to do. Knitting would be on my list but I have no idea how, Maybe I should ask Denise if she would mind teaching me :) (that's a hint Denise) (hee hee)
But anyway..... part of my day is spent trying not to get overwhelmed. Somedays are easier than others and often projects take days if not weeks. In the restaurant biz, you have a prep list. Its simple; you chop, dice and cook and then by the end of the day your done. Immediate gratification. I have the kind of list that most days does not offer me that immediate gratification, but I can tell you when it does its a jump for joy kind a response and elation beyond measure!

Today, aside from normal chores, I'm cleaning out the barn, making room for more hay, going to the dump, and seeing what I can find under the crop covers in the garden. After that is recipe testing and by default dinner. I'm going to make Avogolemino a Greek rice/lemon soup, Spanikopita, and Dolmas; stuffed grape leaves.
It's gonna be a good day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Heat wave

I can’t tell you how nice it was to have a 54⁰ day. I wanted nothing more than to be outside working, cleaning up all the stuff hanging around for the ice and snow. Shovels, sand, buckets ,strung up hoses etc. I had to remind myself however that sure enough there will be more to come, but I was determined to enjoy the heat wave anyway. I had a sense that spring was on its way. Delusional ?

The hard truth of the matter is, this is spring to us, well, getting ready for it anyway. Fields need to be plowed, beds made, and by the first week in February seeds ordered. The second week in February seeds started in our green house like tomatoes and peppers. Potatoes get planted and things like beets, turnips and spinach get planted under covers so when the second Saturday in April rolls around we have something to bring to market.

It’s hard to imagine it right now a market booth full of vegetables. But when I do I get this jolt of energy and I’m ready to get out there and get to it. The plot where we have our winter crops is still covered in snow and ice, some of the rows I haven’t even looked at but by Thursday or Friday it’ll be like Christmas and I’ll get to assess all the gifts that survived and share them gleefully with our CSA members this week.

Speaking of CSA , that’s another thing, it’s time to start soliciting for members. For those of you who do not know what a CSA is check this out; and if you happen to live in our neck of the world check ours out
The money that comes from our members is the upfront capitol the farm needs to buy seed, irrigation etc. Our CSA members are farm partners and they mean a great deal to us. So wherever you are, if you want an opportunity to go the distance with local eating defiantly check out CSA’s or subscription farming in your area.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter garden woes

I've somehow gotten out of milking this morning and as I write Linda is getting herself put into full body gear to go out and brave the 4 degree morning. It takes about 10 minutes just to put cloths on around here. The carhartts while being totally amazing are a bitch to put on over layers, especially when your back and legs are tight and sore from the farm projects of the previous day. Each of us find the best position for getting a leg in and through and then the other leg in and through and then tucking the sweat shirt in over the love handles, getting all the snaps, snapped and the buckles buckled and then putting on the boots. then the scarf, then the hat then the gloves (usually at this point I have to go to the bathroom). Its quite a show. I should totally make a u-tube video!

But..... the good news is we are expecting some thawing temps starting Sunday. The garden needs it! it is still covered thickly with frozen snow. Its going to be a mess but I cant wait to get out there and assess the damage. I'm chalking it up to a mostly loss this winter. We tried to grow a winter garden and have had some success but not nearly what I had imagined. I know where we made our mistakes and we should have foreseen the potential problems but I'll chalk it up to more hands on education. Priceless, you just cant learn this stuff in school.

Winter for the most part is an absolutely fabulous time to grow but certain systems must be in place and things like wind and snow must be taken seriously. That where we went wrong. We had crop protectors but they couldn't withstand the weight of the snow. We laid big sheets of plastic over the rows but that couldn't withstand the wind. Next year the plastic will be cut for each row and secured. in that case snow can slide off and its sturdier and of course much easier to get in and harvest. The huge pieces of plastic are frozen to the ground making it impossible for us to get under it. Any way lessons learned, but I still think winter growing is a good idea!

Today were off to Tulsa for our winter CSA drop off. We'll have feta, chevre, milk and eggs but no produce. Hopefully next week we can get in and harvest some things that may have survived.
On the bright side, we've got beds ready for the items that need to be planted in February!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dear Camera, how do I begin to say I'm sorry

For those of you who have chickens; have you ever gone into the coup and forgot the egg basket and thought, oh I'll just put what I can in my pockets and carry the rest into the house? Then minutes or hours later you put you hand in you pockets to warm them from the bitter cold and realized you left an egg in your pocket and now its cracked and cold and wet and totally sticky. EEEEWWWWW!!!!! I have to admit I've done this on more than one occasion. This time however my camera was in said pocket. Yea, bet ya haven't done that have ya.

After quite a bit of wiping I thought it best to take out all of the moving parts and let it dry. It is really hard to clean egg off a camera let me tell you. So light a candle for it and pray it survives. I'm going to work on it again this morning. What makes things worse is its a new camera and it was a gift from my beloved. So if I may so request of you; burn a stick, incense, candle, dance, sing and pray that I didn't totally f-this up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Oh what a wonderful morning.....

It’s a bitter cold morning with icy wind coming from the east. It’s still pitch black out, but the moon and stars are visible and there seems to be few clouds. The chicken coup is all closed up with two light bulbs for warmth and I can see the orange glow from the living room window it’s a comforting site knowing the chicken coup is probably as warm as the house.

I’ve got a good feeling in my heart this morning. I’ve spent the last several days preparing for this cold weather and I actually feel like my efforts have paid off. I hope I’m not speaking too soon, but there are many days I work hard the whole day and feel like I didn’t get squat accomplished. Thankfully we didn’t get the sleet and blowing snow they predicted last night but if we would have, we would have been ready for it. And there is not a better feeling I can think of than that.

Yesterday while I was adding more bedding in the barn I noticed a gory mess of blood and guts. I was totally freaked. I looked closer and realized it was afterbirth! A lamb must have been born when I was in Stillwater. I walked out to the valley, located the flock and sure enough there was a pure white lamb! One of my original Ewes had him and he was already bouncing around and nursing quite vigorously. I checked him for shivers making sure he was warm and healthy, all looked good. When I went to check on everyone before bed mom and lamb were in the middle of the flock and looked very cozy. When the sun comes up with just enough light for me to see I’ll go check on them make sure they had no problems during the night.

If there are no problems this morning with any of the animals I’ll get to spend the day inside working on admin type stuff that I have been putting off. I can’t imagine what it will feel like if I get all of my paperwork done too, I will have checked off my list for the week. I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to do that. I might even have time to learn how to knit. Nah……

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The difference between sheep and goats

I’ve been finding this weather and the winter that’s fallen before me requires me to look at each animal with a whole new set of eyes. Theses eyes see wellness and sturdiness. They’re always looking for weakness, coughing, separating from the flock or herd and overall involvement. I’m constantly watching the goats and sheep almost to the point where I think it makes the sheep a little uncomfortable, they’re wondering if I’m eyeing them for the butcher block.

Speaking of sheep, they are really amazing, I just love the St Croix and Katahden’s I have. They are very sweet animals and are extremely hearty in hot and cold weather in spite of the fact they don’t necessarily have wool, something a little different, hair in which they shed in the summer. They all seem to be getting along just fine in this cold weather. They have not given me any indication I need to worry about them. Especially the woolies who are in Jail again until I can get to the fence fixing around here.

The goats on the other hand are more like domesticated dogs, sweet, loyal and ready to make trouble. Now, I have to say they can’t be trained like dogs and they might balk at the analogy but they require a lot more attention. They require a lot more thought on their shelter and the way things are done on the farm. If goats are in the formula the farm must be goat proofed.
I worked in the barn most of yesterday. I needed to make sure there was enough wind breaks for the next few days of chilling temps with wind, I even built a long overdue hay feeder which I’m quite proud of (hope it lasts through the day). The sheep wandered off and really didn’t want anything to do with me for the most part, but the goats stayed right with me watching and investigating and giving me sweet nuzzles and lots of affection. I like having these projects close to the animals. Sometimes in my day to day I don’t give them much mind other than to milk, hay and water. But this I love these creatures and it’s such a treat to be in their company.
I’m ready for whatever the weather goddess brings tonight. Hopefully no loss of power.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

High Alert

Just checked the weather for the first time this morning, and I now consider myself warned. Temperatures will be dipping down to 0 late in the week not to mention a 50% chance of snow with 30+mpr winds Wednesday evening. I’m on high alert folks, maybe wound a little tight.

Waters filled, tank warmer on
Wind block in barn adequate
Hose rolled up and not frozen
Fresh bedding in the barn
Kerosene in the milk barn (so I can stay warm while I milk)
Propane bottles for lantern
Water buckets filled in case we lose power
Candles and lamp oil
Plenty of hay down from the hay barn
Plenty of grain
What else???????
Electric bill paid
Enough propane
Bread rising
Cocoa brewing
Carhartts warming

All of the animals seem to be doing great, there barn is completely closed off in the north and west and with an afternoon of sun they were all just soaking it up. It was a beautiful sight! I’ve had to feed an unusually high amount of hay which also helps keep them warm due to the fermentation in the rumen. When I went to check on them last night it was pretty toasty. 30 animals make some good heat!
Next week will probably be pretty nice with temps coming up into the upper 30 and 40’s I’m looking forward to this being some good fence mending weather.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a quest for a freedom of sorts

There is a term I’ve been hearing since I first moved to Oklahoma where folks would refer to something being “Okie rigged”. To me it sounded like a belittlement, a derogatory term meaning doing something halved assed or backwards. But after doing quite a bit of “Okie rigging” myself the last several years, I’ve I learned this term has a much wider and deeper meaning. It means making something out of nothing. It means in spite of not having the money to buy the new item that is required for a job, let say plumbing, or barn building or what have you, folks will complete the job anyway using the resources on hand, whatever they might be to best complete the job.

Now I’ve also come to realize there are different levels of “Okie rigging”. I’ve seen some jobs that blew my mind in a MacGyver kind of way and I’ve seen some poor jobs that might as well have just stayed broke . So there is an art and a craft to “Okie rigging”. What I like about it and what appeals to me is the ingenuity. Then there is the recycling, then there is the independence and freedom that comes with not only doing it yourself but not being held captive by the lumber yard or the hardware store, when that money could go to something more important like animal feed and /or gasoline the things we haven’t been able to rig exactly yet.

Last week the heater stopped working, we had run out of propane. We thought we had plenty but with the cold weather I guess we had just depleted it and had not thought to keep an eye on the gage. None of us have ever had a propane heater before and really weren’t in the mind set of what it would mean if we ran out. But we did. When I called on Wednesday morning to get a propane truck out I was told it would cost $400. $75 for the gas check to make sure there are no leaks, and $100 for a fee to get the driver off his rout. So, almost half of that did not buy us propane. We’ll we didn’t have $400 dollars and so we would have to wait until Monday when the driver was on our route.

Living without heat for these very cold five days (propane comes today) was a challenge. We had a few space heaters and had to open the oven to heat the kitchen. Not very cost effective either but it left me feeling , not free. It made me feel at the mercy of something I couldn’t feel see or touch and I felt dependent on a system I didn’t agree with and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it period. I missed the independence I had at the old place with my wood burning stove. I could heat, I could cook on it and it gave me a sense of security that I don’t have right now.

If we lost our power right now it would be a disaster. We would have to leave, no heat, no water (elec pump) no way to cook. And that to me is no way to live. But most of us do live that way, completely dependent. One who is a craftsman at Okie rigging has a certain freedom in spite of the bonds of poverty which in some cases is a state of mind. I’ve come to realize that we can create our own wealth through learning to live without. There are certain things we can do to live well without living large, like a garden for food, canning and preserving, harvesting dead trees for heat, raising a few hens. This you can do in the middle of the city. My mind right now is set on getting us to a more sustainable place on this new farm. So starts the journey. By the end I hope to be a journeywoman Okie rigger!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A happy year

So much has happened here on the farm the last two weeks I am having a hard time compressing it into a blog post. Let me say first off, it feels great to be home. My trip to Seattle was good and I caught up on much needed sleep and rest. Spend a week with my family in Seattle and on the Sunday before I left to come home we took my sister’s ashes and gave them to Puget Sound. This is what my people do. We want to go back into the Ocean in which we were born, its pre arranged. My grandparents, my mother and other members of my family who have passed into ashes have asked to be given back.

As I watched the grey ashes touch the cold water and disperse in such a soft way I knew this is where I would also be given back. All of us there seemed to know in our time when our bodies become ash we will be with the tide. What we did was illegal as hell but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it done. On the beach, in a boat, anyone who has done it or been a part of it knows when you see the lacquered box and the solemn faces of the folk carrying it, them ashes are gonna fly! Pray for light winds or you'll get a mouth full of that stuff.

Seeing my sister fly was good because I know this was her final journey or rather our final journey through her death. It was a type of closure and also it felt good to follow through on her wishes. Surprisingly no tears were shed and it was very peaceful.

Anyway…. back at the farm trying to clean up after the blizzard. Trying to put things back in order and trying to make up for not being prepared for it in the first place. The frozen snow still on the ground makes it difficult to get things done and it makes me blatantly aware that things need to change around here. Mostly to do with organization and prioritizing.

The good thing that happened was Linda, Kasey and I had a Living Kitchen retreat of sorts and spent a day last week discussing our dreams goals and vision for Living Kitchen for 2010. It was great to get it all down on paper and to make plans. It’s really exciting. First off Living Kitchen had an amazing 2009 one of the best years ever. The ¼ acre garden we had at the old place had never been more productive, we made every market except for one when we sold plants at the Sand Springs Herbal affair. The farm table diners were the best ever with a totally sold out season, our summer CSA went great and we met some incredible folks. We increased our Sheep flock, had a great kidding season and made a huge leap and moved to a farm that offers us an unlimited supply of possibilities. 2009 had its challenges too of course so I can also say we’ve learned a great deal and have grown in ways we can’t see just from the outside.

As I run into 2010 I know I have a lot to look forward to. I hope I can do it all with grace. I hope I can be mindful of my chores and tasks and I hope I can be gentle on myself during hard times and mostly I hope I can grow into a deeper relationship with this land and forge a lasting sustainable partnership with its resources and Great Spirit. And I really hope the Camembert cheese I made turns out!