Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meet Maya

Maya is my English shepherd. She is four months old. She is my shadow.
Someday Maya will help me with the sheep.
She is sweet and loving and doesn’t leave my side if she can help it. She came to us last weekend from the grace of a CSA member, and for only being on the farm a week she is already one of the gang. I can’t believe how good she is and how well she responds to training. She has pretty much mastered SIT. Stay is another issue. Treats are unnecessary and end up being a distraction because she takes forever to eat them.

She is a little intimidated by the animals but we haven’t given her too much exposure yet, I want to get the basics down first like making sure she knows where she lives and SIT. She is very serious.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This is happiness!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fields of plenty

Lately, I've really been put to the test. Last week Kasey took some time off to rest a little so Nate, (our intern this season) and I kicked some serious butt and held everything together in the field. We had our biggest harvest day so far and our best market as far as sales went, we were really sorry Kasey wasn't there to see the fruits of his labor. But apparently he was in Oklahoma City finding a job and a place to live, unknown to us he was done farming.

I found out this Monday. I wasn't really surprised. I mean this is a hard way to make a living what I did find surprising is he just left, packed up a few things and left with no notice what so ever. No worry about our CSA members 2 of which are his own family, not to mention the 45 CSA members in Tulsa. I understand his need to try something else so I don't begrudge him for that. And the fact is the farm will be fine and all of the CSA members wont skip a beat. And luckily this was just a trial partnership, and better now than mid July when tomatoes come on.

As a matter of fact because of his hard work, the fields look great. Things are growing and the fruits of our labor have really taken off. Broccoli is heading up beautifully and carrots and beets are standing tall. We've had our failures but that's to be expected on new land. Thanks to Kasey we're off to a great start. I couldn't have done it with out him. Well I wouldn't have in the first place and that's a whole different story. But here I am. I've got an intern here and one more on the way. The animals are healthy and cheese is hanging and as I look out the kitchen window I watch the sun come up on my fields of plenty.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a simple salad and weeds

Out of the chaos comes lunch. This salad is a throw together at the last minute kind but you really couldn’t tell it’s beautiful and delicate. The base is just some simple head lettuce that we have growing. Nate (intern) picked some peas, I picked beets and turnips we sliced up and put in raw, and we grilled some left over bread drizzled with olive oil and cut them into strips. Threw some feta in there tossed it with a balsamic vinaigrette and lunch was served. Perfect for a long, long day of weeding out in the hot sun!

Now that things are growing and taking shape it’s a constant fight with the grass and weeds which are trying to make their way back into the beds. There is not enough time to weed the whole field so we have to pick and choose which beds to weed. What vegetable can tolerate some companion weeds and which cannot. Garlic for one likes to be alone. Garlic does not like weeds or grass getting in on its well earned moisture and nutrients, so garlic gets weeded. When you can’t tell the difference between a seedling that will turn into food and a seedling that will turn into hay, you’re in trouble, it’s too late. I have a few beds like that and I’ve just left them to their own devices. It’s like that on new ground, the pros and the cons of a clean slate.
Weeding gives me an opportunity to understand the soil. I notice moss down at the end of plot 1 and I look up ideal growing conditions for moss and find out why moss is growing there and is this a good or a bad thing? Same with certain weeds and wild flowers, why are they growing here and not there? Learning about the soil gives me the tools and knowledge to work in cooperation with it rather than to just keep battling it and trying to make it bend to my needs only. So weeding has been an adventure of sorts. This is how I get through it. That and my I-pod
I’m not sure how I went from a really great salad to weeding, I guess is on my mind:)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yesterday we invited our CSA members out to the farm, not to work just to hang out, eat and see the place. I mean this is their farm in many ways. In spite of the fact that in the last 24 hours we’ve had 11 lambs born (three of which are bottle babies) things were the calmest I think it has ever been. All of the dogs were put up, which I think helped with the initial greeting being jovial and peaceful instead of having two big dogs bark their lungs our at folks as they arrived, (like that’s really welcoming). At one point I looked up and a bunch of folks were in the goat yard, and the goats loved the attention. Total hams!

Lunch was right out of the field with a chard frittata, tossed green salad with balsamic marinated beets and turnips, pasta salad with arugula and fresh chevre, Asian greens with curry and coconut over brown rice, roasted leg of lamb and fresh baked homemade bread. One of our CSA members Julia Harris brought two of her band members and played for us which was a full on treat! We never did get a contra dance going but I was dancin’ inside.

Really, the day was perfect. And looking out at all of these folks who had invested in the CSA, who had given me their faith and trust was a sight to behold. I came to this place out of the dust of a shattered farm dream. Not knowing what the road would ahead would look like, I started dreaming again and with some real hard work, perseverance, faith, and the trust of 50 families we made a farm. Not just any farm but a holistic farm. A network of nature, human ingenuity and skill, creating a farm that was interdependent. All the pieces working together. The vegetable fields, chickens, goats, sheep, compost, manure. Fertility in action.

Fertility is gift. Mostly a gift for being patient, for not throwing in the towel and giving up. Fertility is something you have to work hard at and not expect to see immediate results. But the long term payoff is spectacular. This first year we’ve faced many challenges we’ve learned a lot about our soil and our land. It’s really difficult not getting discouraged at our failures or imperfections, and I constantly have to remind myself that farming doest come out of a bag, that’s gardening. Farming takes time and thought and planning and discipline. It’s way of life. It’s takes learning and building and changing on a dime. The CSA members help me with this. My commitment to them out weighs my discouragement and forces me to stick with it. I get the opportunity to learn and become a better farmer therefore I do get to see results. I bet they have no idea what personal growth they have allowed me through their simple need and desire for fresh healthy clean food.
I thank our CSA members from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meeting an Icon

I had the incredible opportunity to meet one of my favorite cookbook authors Deborah Madison. Last weekend. She was in Tulsa to give a talk at the Philbrook this last Monday and luckily some friends were involved and arrange two gatherings for her to meet some of her Tulsa fans. The first was a dinner at the Palace where James created a multi course meal highlighting local vegetables, cheese and chicken. It was amazing! such an incredible treat. Deborah was in a lady chef sandwich between myself and Teri Fermo from Bohemia. It was pretty amazing, not just to sit at the same table and share an amazing meal but to actually have a conversation. She liked my cheese!!!!!!! actually I was able to be on the menu with cheese and greens so I was really feeling the love. That's a lot of gratification in one night.

The next day she gave her talk at the Philbrook, I was unable to go but another friend Lou Hodges had a small casual dinner party for her that evening which again was such an amazing treat. Lou has a wood fired oven on her back patio and slow roasted a pork and greens pork shoulder that was to-die-for!!!!. Lou is quite a chef herself and among other things her cookbook collection made me want to howl at the moon. (i refrained).

I felt as if I were at a gathering of old friends.
Here's Deborah and Lou fixin; up some some local strawberries served on grilled polenta cornbread.

Mark Lakey rocked on the pork! James looks happy!

What a amazing night! I am inspired on so many levels!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Morning sounds

The first sound I remember is the high pitch buzz of my alarm clock going off at 5am, then the low hum of the heat kicking on. I don’t like this sound, either one of these sounds really but I’ve got all the bedroom windows open and I hear my mom’s voice me reminding me of my wastefulness. A cocky rooster holds court directly under the bedroom window. Cock a doodle do, which translates to English as wake the fuck up! He goes on like this. The whippoorwill is still out singing his song and I can hear the hens coo and peck at the ground around the rooster outside my window. It’s not even light why they are up already? Of course it’s that darn beautiful rooster who got everybody up, as gorgeous as he is, he has no sense. I hear what sounds like seven mockingbirds all going through the routine. Light is edging its way into day.

I walk out to the kitchen to get some coffee. I don’t turn any lights on so the kids won’t know I’m up and scream for their bottle. They’re smart like that. The dogs haven’t even stirred. I return to bed a single goose honks loudly as it flies over the house. The wind pushes the curtains in and I hear the wind through the trees and through the tall fallow dried pasture grass across the narrow dirt road as I sip what is a very strong cup of coffee diluted with sweet goat milk.

I lie in bed a little longer listening, until the kids wake up and start screaming like they are absolutely starving to death and won’t live very much longer unless I get out there and put a bottle of warm goat milk in their mouth in spite of the fact that they are near weaning. I will have a conversation with them later. Soon the milk goats will have lost patience with my lingering and start calling me out to the parlor. So the day begins.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I dare ya to come for a visit!

My brother in law came to visit last week. Haven’t seen each other since last Christmas in Seattle and although we’ve never really been close before, my sister’s death left me clinging to him. It’s funny how things like that can change your mind about someone for better or worse I suppose, but in this case for better, I think perhaps for both of us. It probably makes a difference that now I’m sort of a grown up and not up to no good all the time. I suppose that’s a matter of opinion though.
So the man flew in to Tulsa ready to spend a week relaxing on the farm.
Truth be told, he wasn’t here five minutes and helped us sort and load 6 lambs for the processor. He fixed gates, windows, doors,
built a washing station shelter,
helped slaughter 4 chickens and helped set up the electronet fence for the sheep

washed produce, bagged, tied and ate the produce,

and even mowed the yard.

He left Saturday. It’s so nice that he came for a visit. Do ya think he’ll be back?

We did eat and drink very well, had lots of good talks and laughs.

I'll miss ya bro

Friday, May 7, 2010

yum. yum.

This is how a recipe begins for me. An inspiration, in this case the seasons first strawberries from the Cherry Street Market. Then an idea of how I want these to go down. This morning they'll be atop 100% stone ground whole wheat pancakes. Its hard to make whole wheat pancakes light and fluffy but with a little tweaking here and there they turned out amazing! The only problem is if I don't translate the recipe within 24 hrs I cant interpret the scribble. Here's what I have:

this makes about 12 silver dollar size cakes.
1 1/3 cup of whole wheat
1 farm fresh egg (duh)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup goat milk (reg milk will work too) If you have yogurt or butter milk use that.
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon light olive oil

mix the dry stuff, then add the eggs and milk. mix it just until it seems incorporated but is still lumpy. Over mixing make really gross pancakes. I know this because I over think and over mix a lot of things!
So you can throw a few strawberries in the batter at the very end or you can just put them on top. I am not a huge syrup fan (I'm sweet enough as it is:). I actually like a big pile of strawberries and then a big dollop of yogurt. I use as much butter as I think I can live with.

So here's something trippy: if you don't want to eat 16 cakes but you hate to waist the batter. Brace yourself: add to the left over batter: some garlic, green onion an extra egg and a mess of chopped kale. Later for lunch or dinner make kale cakes. (yes, you can add spinach, or chard instead)These are really good with hot chili in them too. Seriously. Try it. You need the extra egg though so don't forget. add a little more salt too. I would even eat those for breakfast with a few fried, I mean "pan seared" eggs over em!
I think I'll make them tonight with some roasted potatoes and a huge ass salad.

I am starving. Some times I wake up like this.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The enemy of good

My brother in law is here from Seattle for a visit. Notice I didn't say vacation, although I hear farmcations are the new spa experience. But anyway.... He likes to stay busy so he's been working my butt off. We've gotten things done I wouldn't have looked at doing until fall. But I'm happy the place is looking good and coming together and I am really glad he is here.

You know sometimes, even though I know it doesn't exist I want that farm with the red barn and picket fence, you know the one on the butter packages. a grazing cow on a beautiful green lush pasture, hens pecking around the back door. The sweet old pick-up truck in the driveway that runs. I imagine the people inside. The sparkling clean farm house with apple cinnamon aroma from the pie in the oven and the radio playing softly (something other than NPR I would guess). I wonder what Sunday's are like? What time do they go to bed? I mean there are no junk piles, heck looking close enough there isn't even a tractor or any tractor implements. Maybe there all put up neatly in the barn, yea that's it. Wait. There are no people on this farm. Maybe they are in the barn cleaning or maybe that is why this farm looks so perfect and quiet.

I realize for me, that farm is a state of mind. My farm will never look like the one painted on the wall of Reasors. And I really cant say I've been to a farm like that but I haven't been everywhere so maybe it does exist. But for me that perfect farm represents a place in my head where I want to be not necessarily physically but emotionally. That farm represents, peacefulness, calmness, organization, and possibly a little boredom. I crave that quiet calm place. But a real working farm is not quiet and calm at least if said farm has animals in the mix, so forget the nap Saturday after the market, its either the rooster or the kid goats. Or the dogs barking at a threatening shadow, either way this farm is alive in all senses of the word.

It gets overwhelming at times, the times I want my farm to be that painting. The day before yesterday a friend told me "don't let perfect be the enemy of good". I think I said that right, but it did resonate with me. I spend a lot of time trying to create this perfect scene, either with the animals or the fields only to be disappointed, because perfect is a painting designed to sell not designed to work. Slowly I'm making my peace with it. Really the most important thing to me is healthy, thriving animals and soil. everything else is just make up, eyeliner and lipstick, and when this farm wakes up in the morning it still looks good. Just messy sometimes. and even that can be charming.

Monday, I took six lambs to the processor. I loaded them up, drove them to Big Cabin (4 states meat processor) Looked into their eyes, and unloaded them. They've had a good life intended for this day. It was a hard reality to swallow. I had a lump in my throat the size of a melon, and again I wondered if I might consider becoming vegetarian. That's got to be another post, but this is the relation ship I have with my food. Its based on honesty. Its based on truth. Its not centered on illusion and secrecy or sweet safe ignorance from the painting on the walls of grocery stores and bill boards, even though at times it is so tempting.