Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm always negotiating time and how to spend it, establishing lists within my lists and setting priorities. What is more important, the fence repair or transplanting? its a tough call, it really is.
The thing is multi tasking is out of the question most times. That's what I loved about the restaurant biz, I could have five things going at once; soup on the stove, meat roasting in the oven, dough rising, chopping onions and talking on the phone. A life of farming requires one project at a time. The fence project for example is way off far from the rest of the farm so the fence is all I can work on. and lets face it multi tasking on a farm just leaves a lot of projects unfinished. But in the same breath I have to say that fencing is one thing that is never done. That's what has been so hard for me to get used to. In the restaurant the end of the day was the end of the day. On a farm the end of the day comes when you are dead asleep, and for however long you remain that way. This is more true when hundreds of animals are in the picture as well.

I'm just starting the busiest time of the year and I'm tyring to strike a balance and at least eat dinner before 9:pm, it makes for a slow start morning. Every year I go through this. How can I do all I need to do within 8 or 9 or 10 hours? The answer is always the same. I cant! I try to wrestle my thoughts and desire to control every moment of the day and wind up defeated every time, so I realize I have got to chill the fuck out! Lovingly. I'm starting to slowly change my expectations, but its a struggle at times. I love this life and I wouldn't change it for the world my challenge is simply to shift my expectations and my old way of thinking. To feel OK when I just have to stop for the day and breathe.

Out there yesterday working on the fence, I was alone with the frogs and all the life around me. The wild dogwoods filling my nose with a sweet honeysuckle scent. The warm sun on my shirtless skin, felt like heaven. The loud quiet was beautiful. and I almost finished the fence repair. I'll go out this morning put some finishing touches on it until the sheep tell me I've missed a spot, then I'll go at it again.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not a good day to put greenhouse plastic on

We have a saying around here. It's a saying that measures the strength and brutality of the wind. We simply say it is, or, it is not a good day to put greenhouse plastic on. Last week was a good time to put greenhouse plastic on, but.... let me just say that today is not a good day to put greenhouse plastic on. Really that's anything over 5mph. We know this because we've tried. There was cussing involved. kicking the ground and shitfits! There was a time, a dark time that if a little lady had a shitfit she'd be rushed off to the sanitarium. Thank god times have changed! at least in that manner of speaking. I've had a few shitfits in my time.

Back to this ain't a good day to put greenhouse plastic on....

We are not putting greenhouse plastic on, however we are trying to plant and I am trying to put a tarp over the new chick hoop house and let me tell ya I am a woman on the verge!.....of a flipin'shitfit. The thing is, it does no good. The wind just laughs and sends in another mighty gust. I just end up on the ground sprawled out and defeated.
Otherwise it sure is a purdy day init?

Headin' off to the feed store before the thunderstorm comes rolling in, that's another fun thing to work in. Verge, I tell ya! A woman on the verge!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Behind every farm is a princess

I start the morning off bright eyed and bushy tailed. I should say, as bright eyed and bushy tailed you can be in your mid 40’s that is. I have my hot cup of coffee served to me (because I’m a princess). I start out like any princess would by writing the to-do list for my kingdom. “Ah, what shall be done in the magical kingdom today?” I enquire to the gods and angles. “Muck the barn you say?” And a couple hours later after chores and milking, princess here is ankle high in muck. I don’t know what it’s like in your kingdom but mine has muck! Some farms have queens and the difference is they are much better decorators than the princesses’, and they will be the first to tell you this!

Let’s get real here, the real princesses are the milk goats. Shameless too! And demanding….. I mean sometimes I feel like Cinderella working my tail off for my older sisters so they can go to the fancy ball! GET ME SOME GRAIN!, MORE HAY! CLEAN OUT THIS BARN IMMEDIATLEY! But we know how that story ends now don’t we. Wait, mine may not end quite the same! (but fear not, I make out just fine)

I’m now milking three beauties, two more hopefully by tomorrow, so the milk is finally flowing. It will be several days before I start making cheese, there is still a strong taste of colostrum in the milk. Can’t wait though I’ve missed it.

Today I’ve got chicks on my mind. Every time I try to think of something else it goes right back to chicks. Chicks, chicks, chicks! So today it’s going to be all about the chicks. They are getting quite big, quite fast and are growing right out of their brooding pens. Today I’m constructing a hoop house for them so they can go outside and still have adequate protection from predators and weather. Then in about three more weeks they will go to the school bus with the ¼ acre of electro netting. The bus hasn’t arrived yet. As soon as there is no risk of the delivery wrecker getting stuck it will be here. A week of dry warm weather could help that along.

Well, I guess it’s time for this princess to get out there and get dirty.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Today, I'm up. Palms sweating. My stomach is in my throat. Cant quite get my hair right and I don't know for sure if this natural deodorant is going to hold. My shirts too loose and my pants too tight, My left foot keeps tripping me and I have gas!

I'm giving a talk today at OSU's Seretean Wellness Center (this is where I work PT) The talk is for Wellness Wednesday a lecture series we offer once a month on subjects mostly based on nutrition. My talk is on what I call the Sustainable Kitchen. I'm excited about the subject and more than willing to let it flow but talking to a sold out house of 120 people seems a little overwhelming. I have lots of pretty pictures though. Mostly I'm afraid of making a complete babbling fool of myself and scaring people away from even attempting to bring sustainability to the kitchen.
But I'm going to do this.
I'm gonna keep it simple. Three points: Eat well. Know where your food comes from, Eat and cook with joy.
Joy has been left out of the sustainability conversation for way too long. Hear me now. Joy should be the center of the sustainability conversation period.

So if my talk is any good and I don't get boo'd off the stage I'll share some of it here. Let you be the judge.
Wish me luck and .......grace and that I don't let one rip in the middle of the grow your own demo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New kids!

Two girls and a boy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

after the storm

I'm down with a cold. It took me on Saturday after a night of back and forth to the barn checking an a Doe who I was sure going to kid. The weather was cold and terrible. and for a while I just curled up in the barn next to Sugar and dosed off until my own shivers woke me up. She finally kidded yesterday at 2pm go figure.

Aside from the cold I'm feeling mowed over and bent, Last week was one of the more physically enduring weeks I've had in a while. We planted 250 pounds of potatoes and on Friday it was a race against the clock to get the last plantings in before the storm. I'll say like many I was not at all pleased to see the snow. Snow=mud period. It makes chores heavy and icky. But as I'm sitting here looking east I see the most beautiful sunrise, there is a rooster outside the window singing some tune I recognize, and I'm seeing blue skies all around!

There is something magical happening right now. Something completely profound. Spring, new life, new ways, new ideas, new experiences, new growth. I'm giddy with excitement thinking of the farm table dinners this summer. Breaking bread with familiar and new faces all in the name of food and our expression of its profound meaning in our lives. From the microbes in the soil to the sun. In spite of feeling like I have a bowling ball for a head I feel great. The sun will do it to me every time.
I'll post pics of the new ones later this morning.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What lies beneath

Found this on my walk yesterday and thought it was spectacular! The photo doesn't quite do it justice. It was an overcast day but this clump of earth glowed with bright vibrant color!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kids on the way!

It’s not a cold morning but I’m bundled up in my flannel jacket hunkered over my hot coffee. It’s around 47 ⁰ outside and 71⁰ in the green house. Sweet! It’s 65⁰ in the kitchen, which is completely acceptable but my preferred temp would be about 81⁰ which is an unacceptable number to set the thermostat on, so I’m told. I’ll be waiting for those warm summer mornings of coffee outside on the porch before the flies wake up. Soon I tell myself…soon.

When I finish this post and breakfast my world will then be centered completely around goats. From today until next January, goats will be the center of my world. Wednesday the first Kid will be born then two days later another, then two days later another, so on and so forth until all six goats give birth. I will be on my normal milking routine so by 6am I’ll be out listening to the beautiful sound of milk against the pale. I love that sound! Also today I am being gifted (Much gratitude to Nanc and Sue) two milk goats in milk. So officially I start milking tonight. I still have maybe two more ewes that look close to lambing, Lady left teat had two healthy boys day before yesterday.

Nate our new intern starts this morning. I always go through a plethora of emotions when someone new joins me in this crazy life, mostly because before I’ve tried as hard as I could to make it not so crazy which always made things worse. For example, I have been known to apologize profusely for the amount of rain fall or the hail. Like I, in some way am responsible for it. “Oh gosh, another rainy day, I am so sorry”. “We are going to have to work outside with our rain gear on and rubber boots I am so sorry” OK FREEKIN”KNOCK IT OFF!

This year is going to be different! I’ve grown a lot in the last 12 months, for the better I like to think. I feel much more focused and much more driven and much more at peace with everything in my life. I’m really looking forward to Wednesday and meeting all of the new members of our family. I especially can’t wait to drink a nice ice cold glass of goat milk and have fresh chevre on my toast in the morning. I can’t wait for kid kisses and the playfulness they bring to the farm, which this year I’m sure will be especially infectious.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The buds are noticeable now on the large black jack oak in front of our porch. I've been keeping my eye on it noting daily progression. Last year the oaks began to leaf out slowly on March 20th then April 1st it snowed. And the year before there was terrible hail that ripped the new leaves right off the branches. Go figure. I have to look back in my journals to the previous year to help me believe that things really do start growing and turning green. After the winter we had its hard to see anything else. I just read through last years journal- March 12 until April 29th. Kasey started March 13th! His one year anniversary is tomorrow!

I tend to start my Journal entries off with; first, the date, then the time and then the current weather and then the forcasted weather and then the weather yesterday. I'm totally OCD at it now. Which I am grateful for because it helps me gain perspective or something.... or it just helps nurture my OCDness. I dunno I think its worth something. Carry on....Then I launch into yesterday; what happened? who did what, then I make plans for the day and then I work on the tough stuff like all the crazy shit happening in the world. I rant, save the best for last. I figure by time I get to the ranting I'm ready to stop journaling and It wont matter anymore.

I'm really happy to read my journal from last year because I see that in spite of all the tough stuff going down I still wrote about the trees budding out and the grass changing color before my eyes. It gives me hope. It reminds me that life is always bigger than me and I need to be reminded of that quite frequently.

Along with the black jack oak buds, tufts of green grass are coming out of hiding. The big field is plowed and almost ready to plant and the smaller plot is planted, lettuce, arugula, turnips, radish, green onion, sweet onion, garlic, beet, carrot, chard. In the greenhouse sprouts of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, a ton of different Asian greens, eggplant, tomato, pepper, and head lettuce is growing getting ready for that day of transplanting. OK I don't know about you but that just gave me goose bumps!

Next week the call is for some nice weather! I have to remind myself of the April hail storms and damaging winds, torrential downpours etc. so no to run out and plant to hastily. A wise woman once told me "early birds..... usually plant twice". "don't be in a hurry" she told me. That was my big sister so i best pay attention.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back from la la land

Yup, I went there.

Sedona Arizona is my favorite place on this planet. The town was founded in 1902 and named after Sedona Schnebly, the wife of the first postmaster in the area. I go to Sedona to recharge. I get so much from being there in such a short amount of time. Some would say its because of the immense and profound beauty, but for many including myself, it reaches us on a deep spiritual level. Locals like to refer to the powerful Vortexes that have really made this place special. In a nut shell these "vortexes" are areas where a lot of energy is felt by visitors. An electro-magnetic thing ? there are many opinions and writings on this subject. For me I feel completely at peace. I leave feeling profoundly moved and profoundly recharged. five hours hiking for me is life changing.

I've been there many times and I like many who visit mostly stick to a routine, visiting the places that call to us and help us on our path. For me I start out at Chapel of the Holy Cross. This amazing place. Its hard to find a dry eye in the chappel not of sadness but of immense joy. Even thinking about it I'm tearing up. Weird. Just regular ol' folks like me walk in and start bawlin' and don't know why. I sit and spend maybe an hour or longer and just feel this loving energy. I have made an observation. the folks that are moved by it sit, stay and pray or meditate. Maybe light a candle, they linger a little, use a tissue or two, and then go down stars to the gift store and buy something that later, they will have no idea why they have a small $25 book of the life of Padre Pio, (that happened to me the first time). The ones who don't feel it are out in two seconds, they walk in take a glance and are out of there in a flash. When I leave my heart feels full and alive and I am telling you no matter how hard I try I cant find a dang thing to bitch or complain about.

The next stop for me is bell rock. This is my recharging station. I love to hike on the miles of trails, and climb up on the warm smooth red vibrant rocks. This area in particular is literally "electric". For me its a place to re energize, and revitalize. This year I met a woman on the trail around Courthouse Butte, Its the first time I've ever actually stopped and talked to anyone for any length of time let alone walked side by side on the trail with but I must say, it really made my day. I didn't bring my camera, mostly because I probably have close to a thousand photos already and that was just fine because my new trail mate was creating her own collection and was well up into the hundreds within the first mile or so. It made me laugh when she questioned whether the any shots would turn out. Fact is, these places want to be remembered and Bell Rock practically sits up and smiles when some one points a camera at her. I was right, my trail mate e-mailed me and got some great shots!

I usually end up hiking most of the day and you would think I would be exhausted, but no I'm so energized and awake and busy making plans for my new life. I'm glad to be home with renewed energy and a feeling of profound love and peace for my life and the people in my life. What a perfect way to start the season!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Aside from the little mishap in the greenhouse yesterday morning, the days have been glorious! Sun shining, birds chirping, I’ve even seen green blades of grass here and there. Spring is on its way! I’ve fixed the greenhouse problem by putting one of our kerosene heaters in there. I turned it on low at 9:30pm and it was still going strong at 5am. Should have done this to begin with! Of course it’s like 40⁰ out there this morning. Go figure!

We’ve got maybe two more ewes yet to lamb. I came home to twins the day before yesterday already up and getting lost from mamma. Lambs are funny and goat kids are sort of like this too but right after a lamb is born, and once they feel moms loving tongue cleaning them up they are making every attempt to get on their feet to get to that milk, sometimes mom gots to follow behind licking as she goes making her voice familiar to the little one, then soon baby lamb is all cleaned up and eating. They are up and walking in no time. It really amazes me. Still though for the first 24 hours or so they’re a little out of it, almost spacey, kind a not sure about things. By day two though, they’ve joined the rest of the lambs playing and screaming at mom to come find them. By day three they are thinking hmm.. this alfalfa thing seems all the rage maybe I should try some. By day four they are the center of the universe. This is especially true for goats but it happens a day or two sooner.

I believe we are at 20 lambs, 5 male and 15 females. Something like that.
The chicks are doing well. I picked them up at the post office at 6:30 am yesterday morning. I could hear the chirping from outside the door. I love my small town Depew. I walked through the doors of the post office and the gentleman postmaster who called 30 minutes earlier greeted me like an old friend. Asking about the farm and how things were going. If I still lived in Seattle I would have been afraid and probably taken my chicks and stormed off thinking “the nerve, getting so personal”. Oh wait, I wouldn’t be receiving chickens nor would the post office in Seattle ever call me. A post office worker in Seattle would barely meet my eyes as I mailed a package or purchased stamps let alone wish me well or ask how things were going. Not just because they are burned out, overworked, overstressed government workers but the wrap around line (the mob) of impatient customers who would feel no hesitation telling us to clam up.
Today, I’ll be getting ready for my trip to Phoenix to visit my niece. I’m really looking forward to a break and lots of walks and hikes through the Sedona foot hills. I would like to visit the Grand Canyon but it’s about four hours away. I only have until Tuesday so I want to spend as much time on Bell Rock as I can.

As for planting goes, today we’ll finish planting onions and start on the potato beds.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sometime you got to start over

The first thing I do when I wake up is check the temp in the green house. Then I head out to the barn to check for new lambs. This morning at 5:50 am, the green house temp read 27 degrees. That cant be right? Acuweather says its 30 out, with two heaters going how could it possible be below 30. I tredge out to see what the problem is. I step into a mud puddle slightly crispy with a thin layer of ice. OK 30 degrees out, I buy it. I walk into the green house and no hum from the fan that blows between two layers of plastic, no quiet buzz from the heater. Its silent. Upon realizing this I know. Today I start over.

I checked my tomato seedlings. Frozen. The cabbage and brasicas all look unfazed and are not frozen. but the tomatoes most likely are dust. Just for the sake of doing it though I water them. It hopes that if they do come back they wont be killed by frost when the sun hits them. But most likely I'll be starting over.

But the great thing about this is I can! I have the seed, the soil and everything else I need, I'll just need a new way to heat the green house! Tomatoes might go out a little bit later that usual, but gosh darn it that's OK. There will be peppers and there will be tomatoes and lots of them.
This is the first year since I've lived here that I have not sold plants every spring, last year for myself and the years before that for the late Tomato Man. All I can say is THANK THE GOOOOD LORD! can I just tell you my stress level is like near zero.
So I'll start some new seed. count my blessings and move on.

Onions get put in the ground today. all the greens have been planted, radishes, turnips and potatoes hopefully this week to.
Just got a call from the post office "hey, you expecting a load of chicks?"
Yup. I'm off to go pick them up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Here, chicky chicky chicky

I’ve got some major preparations to make today. Within the next several days 200 chicks will be making their way across the United States to Depew Oklahoma, one by one day old chicks trudging down route 66 to their new home at Living Kitchen. Each has been promised a good life of pastures of plenty in exchange for eggs. Most come willingly and will thrive, they will be happy chicks turning into happy hens but some will take some coaxing, some extra TLC. I’m sure over time I’ll win all of them over. Once they see the School bus turned into a hen house, a laying mobile they will be the happiest chickens around.

So where is that dang bus? Well being so wet and everything Mr. Ed Whitehead can’t get it out of his field, and even if he could he can’t get it into mine unless it dries out a little. So we wait. In the mean time day old chicks have a little brooding to do before their life of stellar egg layers. I’ve got several brooding pens that I’ll get ready today with clean dry wood shavings, molasses infused water (only the best for my babies) and sweet yummy chick grower. Their new homes will be warm at first about 85 degrees until they start growing some feathers. Chicks grow very fast so from the brooder they’ll go to roomier quarters for a little while and then they’ll hit the bus. These little ones should be laying their first eggs at about 20 weeks. So were talking full on production come July or August. Yikes I have to wait that long? Hopefully my current 50 hens will take their jobs seriously. That’s a lot of pressure on them isn’t it?

So I’m a little excited to say the least.

Today were hoping to get out and plant. We’ve had several days of no rain so this should at least give us a short window to get our first succession of radish, scallions, lettuce, arugula, spinach, turnips, kale, chard, beets and carrots in. All the seedlings in the greenhouse are doing fabulous!