Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What the heck?

So most of Saturday and all of Sunday was a day of rest for me. I wrote, I read, I made cheese, and made a nice little list of projects for the week ahead. The chores have all been manageable, and last night I made a nice dinner at an early 6:30 rather than the usual 9pm. We finished eating and I tell you I was ready for bed. I forced myself to stay up until 8:30 and then at 8:30 I laid down with a my Western Ridding for Beginners book and by 8:45 the light was off and I was in la la land. Am I getting all senior?

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


They don't look like much now but two of these little fluff balls are going to become live stock guardians. We picked them up on Sunday from my friend Judy at HLA acres http://www.oklahomarawmilk.com/ She had read a post a couple of months ago when I was in Coyote hell and let me know she had a litter of pups she had two left and did I want them?

So these are a Pyrenees/komondor mix. Two very strong dedicated dogs that are very fierce but friendly to humans. That's the temperament I need on this busy farm.

They have a way to go until they will be up to the task but for the time being they'll be in with some lambs and I'll have to start working with them without cuddling or playing with them and that is going to be so hard. Can you imagine having something so cute and not being all over its cuteness!?

See, I messed up with my other Pyrenees, they are 6 years old now but as puppies I treated them like my dogs, playing and bonding with them. If they didn't want to be in with the sheep they didn't and that has really hurt me six years later. They do guard the property and they go after anything unusual and if you are a stray dog its not pretty, but they are bonded to me not the sheep. So here is my chance to do it right. From all the articles and I've read about it I might have a fighting chance if I don't get my emotions in the way.

So this is what they will look like in three years!

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

Pumpkin blueberry pecan pancakes with caramel peach sauce

That's right its Sunday! Local peaches, blueberries, bacon and our farm raised, eggs, milk, yougurt! whola! I'm in love with my life!

For the pancakes ( this makes 12 cakes 1/2 the recipe if this is too much).

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/8 cup milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 country eggs

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup blueberries

1/8 cup pecans chopped

mixy mixy but not too much, a few lumps are fine.Cook as you would regular pancakes.

Caramel peach sauce enough for two

2 cup frozen peaches

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

pinch of nutmeg

melt the sugar, nutmeg and butter together then add the peaches cover and cook on low until peaches are soft and sauce is like hot molten lava you want to roll in!

save some for the pancakes

This might not be somthing you want to eat everyday but on a beautiful fall Sunday after thanksgiving oh yea! A walk might be in order after breakfast followed by a sweet nap!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

general report from the farm

I’m grateful for many things but right now I’m most grateful for electric blankets and space heaters. Still no heat and wont expect to see anyone until Monday. So much for planning ahead and calling someone two weeks ago when it was 79 degrees out. But with two space heaters we remained very comfortable. And well the electric blanket is a sure way to get to chores late.

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

staying warm

I’m sitting in the kitchen the sun is peeking up behind the now leafless oaks. The grasses stand tall, frozen. Both ovens are open and the red glow of the burners makes a nice warm light. The heater is not working. Two weeks ago when we found this out we weren’t concerned but days and a week went by until someone could come out to look at it, unfortunately they weren’t able to fix it and had other jobs ahead of us so here we are 53 degrees in the house, 17 outside. I slept in a couple of layers and stayed toasty in soft clean bed. I count my blessings. I had a deep and joyful thanksgiving and have more blessing than I can count. And 53 isn’t that bad, really.

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

Calamity Jane

I'll never be a Calamity Jane, but sometimes I try to channel a little bit of that brave spirit when I'm faced with some unusual circumstances. I don't hang out in bar rooms or have a need to protect my self in such ways she felt necessary but often times I need to pull out the strong woman card. stand solidly on two feet poised for any action warranted.
The action I use against my adversaries is a solid straight look and a deep wide loving smile. Full of compassion and empathy. That usually does it.
One warm summer day I pulled up to my local gas station to fill the F150, on the other side of the pump was a young man probably around twenty and shirtless. What covered his entire back was a homemade tattoo of the confederate flag with a noose overlaid and the words JUSTICE underneath.
This kid of maybe twenty looked at me and sort of smiled, one front tooth gone, he looked in bad shape, skinny, unhealthy, pail. I immediately felt uncomfortable. Did I look too butch, could he tell I wasn't exactly like him, would he follow me, burn a cross on my front lawn? The fearful thoughts of what this little fellow might be capable of flooded my mind. He has hate tattooed on his back. There was no arguing the meaning.
So I did a really strange thing. I smiled back really big and said, I'm ready for winter! these 105 degrees is for the birds. Is that a border collie? I just got an English Shepherd pup, they're supposed to be good. Suddenly he wasn't 20 he was 9. He loved his little bowe best dog ever. And yea, he's hot. "Air conditioners broke". The conversation lasted 20 seconds. But I walked away in peace.
I live among a diversity of beliefs. I have been very fortunate not to have experienced any ill will waged against me. Times have changed, there are no so called "Indians" that threaten my security as I rob them of their lands and freedoms. In the new world I'm the new Indian, the threat to their ideas and beliefs. I just want to live in peace I want to live apart from man made tragedies of poverty, ignorance and malnutrition. Even if it means pulling out old Calamity Jane once in a while. But seriously, I want her outfit!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Turkey tale

Several years ago my vet asked me if I would be interested in adopting Lincoln, a broad breasted bronze heritage turkey. He is a pet and I must agree not to eat him. So I met Lincoln and he and I got off to a brilliant start. He was absolutely the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Later that day we brought him home and he settled right in with our chickens. He was so sweet and friendly and would follow me everywhere. He loved cat food so I would give him little cat food treats every once in a while and he really liked that. He ate right out of my hand.

He didn't like sleeping in the coop with the hens so he would fly up and roost on the roof of the chicken coop. One very cold evening with an ice storm coming my then partner got the ladder out, so she could put him in the coop where he would be warm and safe. She reached up got a hold of him and started to lift him down. They both hit the ground with a loud thump. Lincoln weighed an unexpected 40 pounds! not like our two -three pound hens. That Turkey was huge!

During the summer we had a big birthday party, Buffalo-Fitz was the musical entertainment and put on a great show. Lincoln was roosted on top of the coop and at the right moment would let out a loud gobble or two just like he was part of the band. It was hilarious! But not all was right with our relationship with Lincoln. He had started attacking the ex. At first I thought it was really funny. But then he started attacking kids and dogs and then me. I was hurt. I took this very personally. Yes I could understand him attacking everyone else they didn't love him like I did. But me why would he bite the hand that feeds him?

A little history;

I did remember doc telling me the dogs stayed clear of him and I thought at the time this to be good and also Lincoln once had a kid down flat on the ground and was stomping him. 40 pound turkey stomping a 3 year old sounded hilarious. No so much for the parents watching or the person who has to tend to the wounds on the small now hysterically screaming crying child. That kid will look at thanksgiving dinner in a whole new light. And then there were the cars he began attacking and that's what led to the need for a foster home. A vet clinic is busy and one of those cars will surly bite back.

When Lincoln began attacking me I tried to work with him to no avail. He was clearly unhappy with us. I really wanted to put him in the pot but I made a promise. So I called Doc and we found him a new home. I have never looked at thanksgiving the same way either.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Its sunday

Linda's amazing Dutch pancake with warm peaches from the summer harvest, wagon creek butter and homemade goat milk yogurt. can I get an Amen!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ancient ties

We haven't had a coyote issue in over four weeks! but before I sound too at ease here I'll tell you we are taking nothing for granted. Our activity has increased out in the pasture and Pascal (llama) seems to be seriously on top of keeping everyone together. Whew! so far so good.

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

A safe time to dream

Now that I'm not as crazy busy I'm finding my mind has the space it needs to think, to dream. In the thick of it I can only take so much in and I really don't think past an hour. I have to really work hard to focus on the task at hand, and there were days that just being present was all I could do. Some days I felt like I just made it though by the skin of my teeth.

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


Yesterday I was working at Wellness Center for a luncheon and as I was clearing empty plates off of tables I found myself setting aside all the empty plastic water bottles. I collected and washed them and placed them inside a brown paper bag and set them by the door. I use these bottles to feed kid goats. (all our goat kids are bottle fed) I have no kid goats on bottles right now and wont until March so why I felt it so important to start collecting bottles is beyond me. But as I was washing each one I had this great sense of excitement run through me. I love kidding season!

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

settling in

I'm really starting to enjoy this fall thing. I'm doing all that I know to be the right things for getting ready for winter and I can finally let my anxiety rest and enjoy the world around me. On Saturday I decided just to spend the morning walking around the farm taking pictures. Its just so beautiful right now and it seems like everywhere I look is a photo op. I'm struck by all of the cool places hidden for me to find and explore.

There are a lot of dilapidated buildings on the land and I hate to look at them and see such things just rotting away, but for some reason the way the light was shining through the clouds they took on a kind of beauty I couldn't see before. I started to imagined what they looked like before, and what they may have been used for. I felt that there were hundreds of untold stories beneath the overgrown brambles, rusted barbed wire and flaps of tin. Iron artifacts of an old farm. A fence made out of a bed spring. A bright blue refrigerator door as a pen wall. My imagination is unleashed.

I do know some history of the farm, I know a family with 6 children lived in this 900sq ft home I share with only one other person and four dogs. I know during the dust bowl days people would come from miles and miles away for the clean water. and I know there was a bootlegger who burned his still house down with him in it. I know of few things and the rest is a mystery. A story that I will invent and piece together with the little clues I find.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Breakfasts are back!

Sweet potato biscuits with homemade fig jam, fried green tomato with paneer and Hawaiian sea salt (the only un local thing on the plate) eggs over easy and pork and greens bacon! A perfect way to jump into the day!

Friday, November 12, 2010


The picture above was taken this summer. Not yesterday :)

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

Rain drops

I woke to the gentle sound of rain, then pouring, and then raining again. It was a sweet sound and very welcomed. I thought for a moment, have I forgotten anything? Is all of the garden equipment and tools in? I went through my check list. All was well and I sunk softly back to sleep.

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

fireman or mechanic?

You know what, I hate to even say it out loud, but here goes. Things at the farm have been profoundly calm and serene. All of the animals seem very happy and very healthy and everything seem to be in order. Is it strange that I don't trust it? That in the back of my mind I am so expecting the freak ice storm of November? The goats are all bred the ewes are bred and the chickens are laying like crazy, and the coyote has seemed to have left us alone for the time being. There is peace.

Many many many, years ago when I worked as a corporate executive chef in a very large chain of Italian restaurants in Seattle the chef who trained me told me this " you always want to be a mechanic just keeping all the parts moving, you never want to be a fireman". That was the best advise I could have ever received. Really he was just talking about being organized and proactive. I took his advise and for years I was a mechanic and had very little fires. But now with 6 years of farming under my belt I realize I've been moving from one fire to the next trying desperately to keep things under control. is this what farming is all about? I refuse to think so.

In my mind what I'm experiencing right now is how it should be. Last year couldn't have been more different. Even though we need rain desperately I am really appreciating this reprieve from the seasons before. This weather has been a break. And when I woke up this morning to 50 degrees I thought to my self; be the mechanic, make sure all the parts are in working order. You know what most likely lie ahead, get ready. This is a perfect opportunity to avoid some fires.

I hate to spend this beautiful calm time on being worried about what might come, expecting fires to erupt at any moment so I've got to work on ways to change how I am looking at things. I've got to get out of my tracts here and change rolls. I've got to do it now, not mid fire that just doesn't work. So I'll be enjoying this time, taking walks spending a lot of time with the animals and preparing for the possible weather ahead. Completely grateful that nature has given me this break and a moment to look at things in a new light.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

fish bones

Last week we had a very large fish for dinner, I won’t tell you what kind. But It was cut into fillets breaded with Vietnamese chili powder and bread crumbs and lightly pan fried. It was finished in the oven and then right before serving I poured a mixture of soy sauce, water, rice wine vinegar and garlic into the raging hot pan. It bubbled up at once and coated the fish beautifully. It was yummy but I won’t tell you where we got it. It had a sweet taste and delicate texture and was the best tasting fish I’ve had since Seattle, but I won’t tell you how we got it.

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.
Fast forward to yesterday…..
Unloading the back of my truck, was the unmistakable smell of rotted skanky disgusting fish head! It had to be under my truck. I looked and looked and I could not find that thing. But I could smell it like it was right under my feet. Now I’m on fire. I’m cussing and stomping around my truck. I do the hot cold thing with my nose. The farther I am the less I smell. COLD…… the closer the more smell HOT. 20 minutes later I still had not found it. Disgruntled I drove off to my riding lesson.
Today I will find the head!

Monday, November 8, 2010

keeping it together

I woke up this morning as the sun was coming up. Very unusual for me but last night it was decided that a morning with no alarm was in order. A jam packed week and weekend of 14+ hour work days justifies a sleep in occasionally. I have to admit I’m becoming quite used to the hours of darkness I get in the morning. It’s become a great time to journal or write without the tug of the outside world who needs to be fed, watered etc. After the initial 5am let out of the dogs they are ready to go back to bed for another hour, so that time of peace and quiet is absolutely priceless.

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

Friday, November 5, 2010

yes, i will be wearing these this morning

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And the winner is........

Folks, I recieved some really cool and amazing stories of journeys and transformations. It was really hard to choose a winner and honestly I wanted to have 10 winners but I decided I couldt afford that quite yet :). But thank you so much for participating in this challenge. Your stories have inspired me and have given me a renewed sense of energy and passion for my own life path. I thank you, the greenhouse thanks you and all of the animals thank you, cause I'm a little lighter on my feet now!

Drum role please!

Lori!....... Haworth!

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.

Lori Haworth

Monday, November 1, 2010

About the 30 day challenge

Dear challenge takers
I've received some amazing stories. Each one has touched me. But I need more. You know who you are! I'm extending the deadline until midnight tonight. c'mon! we need your story! just do it! I know, it snuck up on you and it was a busy weekend and Halloween and everything and I do understand, that's why I am extending the dead line. You just never know how your voice might touch others, go out on that limb..... So, do share....
Love Lisa