Thursday, April 12, 2012

conditions are right!

The farm is absolutely brimming with activity right now. I barely have time to take a break and my afternoon meditations in the quiet of the yurt have morphed into jogs between farm chores and deep steady mindful breathing. Six kids to count by the end of the day if the two does who are due happen to be on schedule, a few more will be added to the number come evening chore time or....three o'clock in the morning...I'm hoping not. We got a good rain early yesterday, one that got me out of bed at three in the morning to make sure the kids were snug in their barn, all was well and sleep came back easily and the five O'clock alarm to quickly. Been getting about six hours with a few wakings to check on things in between. So we're tired around here right now. this will be the story for a time.

All in all spirits are high even the grouchiest of sheep have a little pep in their step. How do you know if an animal is really happy? I mean really. Is there a way to really know? By comparing the emotions of my animals with my own is a mistake many make who have never had farm animals. Farm animals are not pets, they fit into a completely different culture and way of life. Their lives are calculated to profit the farm.  Are they happy? I've seen a person so concerned of her chickens happiness she lead them right to their death. "but....they looked at me, and I could tell they wanted out of their run" she told me after we located the pile of feathers. "why didn't you move the fence", the coop and the fence both were mobile, the fence is protection not punishment. So what was more loving and compassionate. keeping them alive in their run and moving the fence or reacting to a perception of what would make them happy?

So, I judge happiness around here on conditions. Weather, plentiful grass and pasture, clean water, dry safe areas to nap and predators, fewer of them. This is happiness and the every animal on this farm reacts in a tell tale way to assure that conditions are right for happiness. They play. They still want too much grain and always want what they cant have, but that's me too, except I want too much wine. That's were I've learned the talent and instinct of the farmer comes into play. The real understanding of whats going on here, the awareness of conditions. I know when conditions are right, sometimes they are wrong like last year (the drought) but you do your best. Its walking a tight rope sometimes. Making calls right or wrong you do it from your gut instincts. Conditions are very right at the farm. Things are green and lush and grasses begging to be eaten. I am tired but happy.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Two down seven more to go, six kids. at this rate we'll wind up with about 24 kids is my guess, could be 27. Linda just poked her head in and said "can I just say I really hope we don't keep having triplets". They have been easy births so far but tonight is the watch. We have two does ready to pop and because of the triplet situation were taking no chances so, up every few hours. This is the life peeps. Only happens once a year at least that how we hope it goes.

But its official, I need to change my clothes again and Linda just announced she has discovered meconium on her pants. for your information that is the very first poop. We are always very pleased when we see this...except on our pants. Were a mess.

I shall post pics asap, Battery died in camera. Drats!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

found and foraged

I've lost all track of time. The last three days have been, I was going to say a blur but in truth nearly each moment is crystal clear to me. First off I found a teacher. Her name is Jackie Dill and she is a nature traditionalist, which ultimately means she has multi- generational native american traditions based in, on and about the natural workings of plants, herbs, medicinal and edible. Her mother taught her and now she teaches others. I have so much to tell you but I am so very tired right now I have to keep it basic and simple.

For the last two days I've been foraging wild foods with Jackie. Curly dock, wood sorrel, poke salet (the old time way of calling it) prairie sage, wild onions and garlic, lambs quarter, wild yam and green brier tendrils, buffalo berries or spice bush plants, honey suckle blossoms, wild mustard. Most of it is very new to me. I have had poke and a few things but not at this artisan level.

Her annual spring walk was today and about 60 people showed up in a small town and got a schooling on the amazing abundance of wild foods. Jackie is a natural teacher. Information and humor flows out of her at a comfortable pace. How fortunate I am to have learned of her through a CSA member. I had a great time and actually spent the day with people almost just like me. People looking for something. Out in nature seeking the connection that binds the earth with roots, without the confines of brick, wood, steel or whatever place we go to worship. No walls in our sanctuary, the preaching comes from mocking birds and red winged black birds that just simply sing and fly claiming no authority, and they raise us to our highest calling. Out there I am located, retrieved, found.

Second, when we got home last night one of our does, Sugar had kidded triplets. One week early (our my counting was off) all healthy and beautiful, she is a great mama and I can say nothing else but I feel incredibly inspired. Time to start working on a Menu for next weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Re-thinking sexy

A day off the farm did me good today. I helped out at the Wellness Center for Wellness Wednesday a lecture series we offer (OSU). I and several other helpers (students) prepared 100 egg salad sandwiches (using the eggs from my hens) The subject of the lectures was successful healthy intimate relationships, getting a little spice in your love life...whatever! Egg salad probably wasn't the best choice, Some kind of meat may have been more fitting (rare tenderloin) and chocolate. Hell who needs a relationship when you have chocolate. Okay both is good, I'll admit. But were talking healthy and relationships in the same sentence.

Sometimes being a farm girl leaves me feeling well.... not so sexy. Some days I'm down right disgusting, especially during lambing and kidding season where I can be found most days with some form of goat or sheep embryonic fluid and poop on my clothes. I try as well as I can to stay clean but last year the sheep were going one right after the next. I pulled more lambs that year and was extra disgusting. But I figure Linda signed the disclaimer from the git go and more than had an idea of what she was in for.

This time of year my sexiness has to come from my sheer stamina in the Oklahoma heat, hoeing, weeding, watering and spraying fish emulsion  on struggling plants so not only do I come with dirt beyond imagination but seaweed and bat shit perfume! This is my life. But I try. Yesterday I bought a nice very bulky (I'm assuming so people with severe arthritis wont drop it) pink razor that looks nearly animated with its exaggerated curves. Linda asks "your thinking about shaving?" I mumble something back. Uncommitted. I think yea. Truth is I haven't shaved my legs in some time and It will probably take four hours, who has that time??? maybe I'll split it up into one hour segments so I will take me four days to get the job done. Then I just have to turn around and do it again. Maybe I'll just stick to pits and "such" (it is easier to get ticks off with out that pesky hair in the way). But anyway.....

So I may not be Catherine Deneuve or Isabella Rossillini kinda sexy, but I can whip up some sultry vittles (sounds like a good name for a restaurant in Depew). My idea of a sexy is tender local grass fed beef tenderloin seared and and topped with mountain Gorgonzola, roasted beets carrots and potatoes all homegrown of course with a nice salad, garlicky vinaigrette, smooth nutty chevre, fresh baked rustic bread, home made goat cream butter, A split of Veuve Clicquot brut, or a crispy Oregon sauve blanc. And then....a nice Silver oak Merritage or cab..... hot chocolate lava cake! oh god! I just got chills.
I'm a simple woman with simple needs. Until I really gave it some thought.
I'm complicated. Very, very complicated.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

feeling it

I don't know what it is with grey skies but they make me feel sort of melancholy. I know this about myself so I don't spend too much time dwelling on why I'm blue, just that I am for no real good reason. But I hate feeling this way never the less. Even though I want badly to burrow under the covers and come out round dinner I force myself to keep going. Work on projects, tick items off on the list etc. Only because I must, things are turning a corner around here and I need to have my ducks in a row.

For the first time in a long time as I cultivated the onion beds in between a perfect amount of rain which made the soil very easy to work, I felt lonely. I felt a great empty echo in my thoughts so I tried not to think. Tried to just pay attention to my hoe moving against the soil in between delicate rows of onions. That was good and it worked for a while then I drug myself to the next project on the list. Putting a dimmer on the dinning room lights in the cabin and what one might call odd jobs, getting the place shaped up for the first of our farm table dinners in two weeks.

I tried to remember about what it was like in Seattle when I lived there. Was I sad every time it was cloudy? Surly not. But I had the restaurant and my time was organized and structured. I had distractions, employees, sales people, prepping and creating specials. There was rarely stillness or silence and I craved it more that you can imagine. So many days I wished to be on a desert Island.   Today was my desert island, not tropical and lovely but lonely and quiet. The more I allowed myself to feel this without making demands to get over it, the better I felt. Fighting my emotions inevitably  inflame them further so feeling this truth was good. Lately when I'm feeling sad, I'm learning to simple observe the sadness in me without judgement. Usually I'm trying to end the sadness I'm trying to overcome it, now I realize that takes way too much energy. That feeling it isn't all that bad. Whats worse is trying not to feel it.

Someone once told me when I first moved here if I didn't like the weather today just wait until tomorrow. That's an Oklahoma thing apparently and its pretty true. Its also true sometimes with emotions if you don't like what your feeling today just wait until tomorrow, implying of course it will be better or perhaps just different which some times all it takes to recognize the passing of precious beautiful time.

Tonight I'm going to let myself be saturated by this pink purple sunset filtering through distant clouds and feel.

Monday, April 2, 2012

trying not to close my eyes

I found this while looking for encouragement via the all mighty internet. I googled "inspiring women farmers" hoping for some words of wisdom and like minded discussion on the land and such things. But this just jumped right off the screen at me. There is so much about this poster that speaks to me. "National Service". Some times I wonder if I have any effect on the world out there with my toiling. I'm not popping out babies and volunteering at the church. Am I really making a difference growing vegetables. Shouldn't I be doing more meaningful work?  And there is that word, Service. When I think about it long enough, I think yes, but I am not just providing a service, I am serving. I take this seriously and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this manor. Then there's "Land Army" hell yea, some times it really feels that way. But I'm more of a diplomat trying to strike balances with the challenges farming hands out for supper.

Today however diplomacy was out of the question and I waged war on Colorado potato beetles. I'll never get to be a Buddhist.... I smashed those little suckers down to nothing. "Save the potatoes" I roared! Hear my cry!!!!  I have a special attachment to a good potato crop this year. It was that kind of a day. I cultivated potatoes and onions watered rows of lettuce, kale, chard, loved on tender tomato plants and got dirty. Dirty was good. After field work animals chores were smooth, cows showed up for dinner, chickens filled my bucket with eggs. and sheep as always followed me back to their barn to be put up for the night. I sat with them for a while, listening to the sounds of their cud chewing, each took a turn investigating the human sitting in the hay next to the feeder nose to nose. They had grass breath like you wouldn't believe. I cant imagine what they are saying about me right now.

 The evening felt young and work was done so I decided to go shoot off a few rounds and have a little target practice. I'm working on not closing my eyes after I pull the trigger. So, me on the four wheeler in the west pasture shooting and drinking beer all by myself. What I sight I must be. What a sight.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Turns out the grass was not greener

Sleep last night was just down right fitful. I worried about the cows, wondering where they could be, if they were safe. Linda was awoken (thus me) by pain in her arm (blind kitty attack, more on that later) and what made matters worst was the dang mocking bird out side the window going on like a damn banshee. The repetitions were maddening.  I tried to breathe, to hear the chapel bells in the songs but I was simply ready to go out and start shooting that frikin' bird. But I know gun safety and going out groggy in the middle of the night shooting at something you cant see proper is just not wise or a Buddhist thing to do, so I put a pillow over my ear and head.

Woke up around seven had a cup of coffee and headed out for the search. I found a gate to the neighbors pasture and invited myself in.  Me on the 4-wheeler with a bucket of grain scouring the pastures and creek beds. No cows. I was just about to give up and head back to the make shift barbed wire gate until I realized I had lost the grain bucket. How. in. the. hell. could that have happened with out me noticing? So I followed my tire tracks back looking for the white five gallon bucket. Then I saw it, not the bucket but thick wide tire prints. I followed them. Heart beating and very nervous. I tried to look closely at them to try to determine when they may have been made. Was it yesterday? last week? last month? this morning? They looked fresher than I wanted them to.

I came up on a pond. the tracts ended. There was a cow patty, one, wet and fresh. I knelt down and looked at it. I did not touch it even though I wanted to badly, like by touching the sticky mess I could gain insight to the whereabouts of the cows. No I just looked and decided it was fresh maybe 4 hours old. Were they taken??? I stood in the open looking around at this foreign secret, too quite of a place. I felt very alone. A hawk screeched up above, an unwelcoming sound. I got back on the 4-wheeler and headed back. They are gone. There are no cows.

I made some phone calls, arranged a posse for later that day. I needed people, I needed to find the cows. Gathered phone numbers, sheriffs office, sale barn, vet, hoping I would not have to dial these numbers. It was 10:30 I was famished Linda and I went to The Rock for breakfast, I had two. We tried to change the subject, tried to think of other things. Back home we went about our business. I was scheduled to have a friend help with transplanting at 2, and the posse would be here at 1:30 or so. I tried to act normal. Then Linda who had started to drive up to the cabin to get something honked! THE COWS!! she got out of the car before she was even at a full stop. I jumped on the 4-wheeler, grain bucket in hand and went to get my babies! they were on the other side of the fence. I lead them to and with Linda's help finally through the washed out fence through the creek bed. Poor babies ears were just loaded with ticks I stood there in the creek with them picking one tick after the next off their face and ear. They looked traumatized and very glad to be home.

Once I got them back they got a full bin of grain, fresh clean water and lots of ear scratches. The grass is not greener on the other side. I saw for myself. Things are just fine right were you are cows.
The cows are safe and sound, fence on the creek is fixed until the next big rain and that's how it is here. Transplanting was finished, beer was consumed and a feast was prepared. The day ends well.