Friday, September 28, 2012

Radishes of inspiration!

I harvested around 60 bunches of radishes the other day. As I was washing them I was just stunned by the color. Radishes always seemed to boring until now. The sun was shining just perfectly. and everything seemed to be illuminated. Its funny how just the right light can make all the difference of how you look at something.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finding quiet

A farm cam be a really noisy place. Roosters crowing, dogs barking, life moving all around. Its hard sometimes to find a quiet place. This morning like many mornings I try to sit in meditation for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I'm lucky and at 5:30am all is quiet but most of the time its when the rest of the farm is waking up too. Bella the cat might be meowing outside, and the dogs are scratching, biting, chewing, eating and generally making really annoying sounds, the roosters starting their mornings call outs. Geez how a girl supposed to meditate?

But I sit any way, and try to become the sound. I learned to do this when I was very young at the yoga studio my aunt used to drag me to at 13. The studio was near a huge construction site so we learned to concentrate on the sounds as part of our meditation practice. It worked. Since then rarely do sounds like that bother me. But the dogs seem pretty motivated to get my attention in various ways, so this morning I gave up. I came to the house to sit. Left the dogs in the yurt and I was absolutely amazed how quiet it is here. So I'll now move my morning sit to the house. afternoon and evening sits can stay in the yurt. Finally I've got this worked out!

Last night we got some much needed rain. Some how we just cant find time to fix the leak in our yurt roof so there was the constant drip. I was too damn  tired to do a thing about it so instead I scolded myself for not just getting it done. Sometimes you just cant wait to coordinate things with another person you have to suck it up and git er done. This has been going on for a while. We've even had to throw out a really nice rug because of mold. So this projct just jumped to the top of the priority list.

October is just around the corner and I'm trying to stay calm about all the winter prep I have not done yet. There is wood to be cut, hay to put up, alfalfa to pick up and the ten thousand other things that will make winter more habitable. But this is how it goes sometimes and I know I will eventually get there but just not today. You might hear a little angst in this post and yes I am feeling it. So I'm just trying to breath and not get to wound up about things I just cant control. So no matter the craziness farm life offers I'll try to find the quiet in all this noise as best I can.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good morning sunshine!

Its a glorious day here on the farm. There was a bit of a rough start but hopefully the rest of the day will only get better. Jai is home and doing well, maybe too well. He is on limited movement. He has the degenerative disc disorder that dachshunds tend to get. Only whats baffling is he is only three years old. But its bed rest for him. Unfortunately he doesn't know this and took his second dive bomb off the bed. Ugh both of our stomachs just sank. So the boy cant be trusted and seems to be feeling a bit like his old self. No more being up on the bed for him.

Today will be another full day in the field. I took this picture this morning. I'm feeling mighty good about fall prospects. Soon to put the third greenhouse up and start up for the winter harvest.

Even if you cant see the sun today, rest assure its still there. Have a great day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shut the hell up already

I got back yesterday from a zen meditation retreat (Sesshin) at the Osage Forest of Peace. Seems like I've been going to a lot of these lately.The more I sit and the deeper my practice becomes the more I feel a need for a community. I suppose this is pretty natural. I suppose  that's why synagogs are packed on Saturdays and churches are packed each Sunday. Having that support in our practice, whatever our spiritual belief, is helpful. Having a safe place to experience the sacredness of this life has helped me greatly.

I faced off this weekend with that inner narrator that is constantly jabbering away in my head. Telling me the wind is going through the leaves, telling me the sun is rising or setting and lots and lots of other things in between.  I know this inner voice is there to keep me safe. Its there to try to help. Even though I know this is my own voice somehow it always seems separate. Like someone else is doing the talking. Apparently there is a word for this, its called duality. That same voice that is pointing out and makes sure I'm witnessing all the beauty and such is also the same voice that is telling me that I am guilty, that I'm not good enough, that I am a failure, okay basically this voice is my best friend and my worst enemy.

So I'm trying to quite the voice. shhhhhh......... I spent a entire 15 minutes the other day just shhhing. It worked for a while.

But what I came to realize is that voice is so loud sometimes and so forceful that I have noticed that I pay more attention to it than I do the real world. So my practice is now shisshing the voice and experiencing reality just how it is offered. I'm not saying the voice isn't helpful at times and needs to go away all together I just need to listen more wisely maybe. Some times that voice paralyzes me with fear.  I have to say the first time I really experience it (not having the voice blabbing away) I felt completely naked and light as a feather. So I tasted it and I liked it. It takes some getting used to and at times its a struggle. That voice always pops in at the most inconvenient times. and I think gosh can I ever just shut up? 

Today I'll work in the field where I will try to experience every stroke of my hoe, every step my feet take and hear every rustling leaf. You know, live in the real world, not the one I'm creating in my head. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When things go wrong

Last night we realized our little dachshund Jai wasn’t walking right. I thought it might be an intestinal problem. Linda the techy one among us looked on her android and suspected it might be a herniated disc which is common with this breed. He is having trouble walking and is in pain. He is eating and drinking and chewing on his bone which is a good sign, but the poor boy is not right.

So Linda will take him to the vet first thing and we’ll hope for the best. Whatever it is we both know it will be costly. This dog however is the light in our lives and we love him with every cell in our body. No he is not a farm dog. Although he is one of the best herd dogs we have, mostly he is a dog we can pour our love into. Even though I am on the edge of panic, I am making every attempt to wait and find out what is really wrong before I lose it.   I have a cooking class today (that’s being filmed) and I need to be at my best. Plus I realize freaking out will do no one a bit of good right now. So I wait.

So this is where things get complicated. Money. I do have some right now. I have just enough to get through the first part of winter. I have a budget and a plan. There is a tiny bit extra for unforeseen things but huge expenses would be difficult. This has been one of my reluctance of owning a horse. It is important for me to make peace with my financial reality. Living a life like I do is like no other. It’s wonderful in almost every way. The sacrifice is only financial gain. Learning to live without extra financial resources means I can’t have things I don’t really need. It forces me to look hard into what I really can’t live without. I have struggled so much in the last eight years financially and I am finally at a point where the struggle is tremendously less but still a shadow that looms over every decision. And in all honestly I like it like that. I do. 

So wish us luck with our Jai. We’ll be taking him to the OSU vet clinic on campus. We take our large animals there and they have been wonderful. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

a star is born ?


Yea I don't think so! but this is what things looked like before my class yesterday. I think the taping went well. Although I was very nervous and had a hard time relaxing. Any major flops I've been told can be edited out. So we'll see. what a cool opportunity though. Hopefully I don't suck too bad!

This Land TV is coming out this morning. they should be here in about 30 minututes to film us milking the goats, I'm sure the goats will do fine. I am actually going to take a shower and do my hair that will be a first. The goats wont recognize me without bed head and coffee breath. Ha! oh gosh!

So just when you think everything is falling apart something turns out beautifully. The PTO on the tractor started to work. No doctors appointment needed for big red and I managed to get beds tilled up and the area where the third greenhouse is going to go ready for action. whew! that was close.

Sing it with me now!     "Ohhhhh.... its a beautiful morning, Oh its a beautiful day! (my sister would add something obscene) Everything's going my way"!!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

good news

I might miss the salty air I was raised in, but I could never trade this life. I left the coastal Washington greyness for the deep inland sunny Oklahoma. It’s all a tradeoff.  It will be nine years in October. I can’t say I never had any regrets. I’ve had some pretty painful experiences, but I’ve stuck with it and learned my way through tough times. Choosing a life of farming in Oklahoma has its own unique set of challenges, but I manage to be excited about them. Some excitement admittedly has also meant crying out loud at times. 

So… some exciting news; since I moved here in October of 2003, I have had a fun opportunity to teach cooking classes at OSU’s Seretean Wellness Center. It’s a fabulous place to work and I just love it. I teach healthy cooking classes a couple of times a month in a beautiful kitchen. I just love going there and it helps get me off the farm to do something fun. Every year they ask me to come back and even though the farm has me so busy sometimes I do it simply because I have fun….okay a little extra money coming in doesn’t hurt either. Well, my classes are going to be filmed and shown on OSUTV, I don’t know much about how to get access to this station but I’ll keep you posted. I’m kind of excited! I think I’ll clean up a little more this morning. Maybe a little mascara…..

Then...then…. This Land TV is coming out in the morning (6:30am) to film a day on the farm starting with our morning milking. How cool is that.  I am seriously going to have to clean up. Laundry is in the washer. Gonna ware my new blue jeans and boots, make sure the goats all have their purdy collars on. So, kind of exciting. 

In other news; I am having trouble with the tractor’s PTO so we have a doctor’s appointment at New Holland to check it out. Ugh. Of course this happens when I really need it. So, my little tiller is going to get a work out for the next few days. Still planting fall stuff and getting greenhouses ready.

I’ll be having a greenhouse raising party, if any of you live close by we could use some help at the end of the month.

Off to milk on cloud 9

Monday, September 17, 2012

Holy Mackerel

It was strange walking out of the yurt this morning to a heavy fog over the farm. It felt very much like an October morning. Don’t want to rush things now, I still have lots to do before October and it’s only a couple of weeks away. The fog always reminds me when I was a kid walking to school in the morning sneaking into the vineyard of some folks who lived on our road and stealing grapes. I remember them tasting so sweet. I don’t like grape skin now and I didn’t like grape skins then so I would leave a trail of them as I walked the rest of the way to school.

 I don’t know much about the family whose vineyard I would raid on cool foggy fall mornings. They were very different from anything I had ever seen. Now as adult I would think they might be Quaker, that being only based on my extremely limited knowledge on these things. The women I remember to be all large and robust with long dresses and bonnets and the men looked like they just stepped out of the last century. We never blended much with our neighbors so I really never got a chance to know them. 

Across the street from that family lived an old Swedish couple with thick accents. I delivered the newspaper to them and once a month they would open their door to pay me for the paper and the smell of something awful would waft out  I would turn running, gasping for air. Now I know that smell to be fermenting cabbage and mackerel which has a pleasant smell that immediately makes my mouth water.

These are strong memories I have when I wake up to foggy mornings. I wish I could have gotten to know my neighbors better, so I could have worked off my grape bill.

Last night Linda and I watched a movie on her computer called The secret of Roan Inish, 1994. An American/Irish film. I loved it. and since last night I have missed the ocean greatly. I miss smelling that familiar salty air more that I realized. And with this foggy morning I am missing my home town a little and wonder if I'll ever live there again. I wonder if I'll ever wake up to the smell of the sea again.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

grey day

Beautiful September days seem to be calling to everyone. The goats, chickens, even the llamas all seem to be loving this cool weather! they are so full of energy and delight. Its impossible not to join in the celebration. Yesterday and the day before we received about an inch and a half of much needed rain. Its amazing to me how much I look forward to rain now. Back in Seattle rain is just a normal part of living in that part of the world but when I go back and visit now I can really appreciate the lushness. The huge towering pines, the thousands of different mosses and fungi, the wetness. I took it for granted.

Its a grey day, the goats are cuddled up in the barn, munching on hay. Its not raining but its cool and cloudy and they are not much different than me in wanting to sink into the day. From the kitchen window I can watch them as I work to prepare for tonight's dinner. They see me and sometimes call out a little  "Heeeeyyy!" I wave.

The garden has come alive again, the tomato plants are now loaded with blossoms, and the seeds I planted have spouted and look like a green blanket has been laid over the beds. We're in for a cooler week ahead so lots of good out side work can be done. I'll be working on more fall beds and getting the ground ready for the third greenhouse. Tonight I cook dinner for 36 guests. Life is good.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest chef tonight at the farm

This is the beautiful Chef Amanda Simcoe. She is also known around T-town as the Cheese Wench and is the co-host of a radio show called OK Foodie. This picture was taken last spring on a foraging walk we did with Jackie Dill for our "Found and Foraged" dinner back in April. Amanda came out to interview Jackie for the show and helped us forage for the dinner. It was a wonderful day one that will remain in my memory of really great times!

Well she's back, and tonight is her show, the chef. I've harvested, shopped at the farmers market and procured an amazing array of vegetables. She likes pork so I have pig thawed and ready for her to work her magic with. In a few hours she'll scratch out a menu and we'll get to work cutting, chopping,  getting the smoker ready. Now that my friend, sounds like a great day! I mean seriously do you have any idea how exciting this is for me. Okay fine, well here is how I look at it. A round head (human) being extremely creative in my kitchen. I've been cooking for a very long time but I'm still learning new tricks, gaining new ideas, always.

Some times I feel isolated and alone in my trade. When you work in a restaurant you gain knowledge and inspiration by the watching the folks around you. There is an element of a team but also drive to create the best special. There are a lot of very creative people in the world. I dont want to go back to the restaurant biz I'm pretty happy where I am at, but I really value time I get to work with other creative chefs. Jennifer my sous chef/neighbor/ and friend has been a dream. Not only is she creative have a eye for beauty and tongue for flavor she brings her unique experience. I am one lucky girl.

So we have a full hose tonight. The temps are going to be cooler so it should be just magical.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The simple life?

Years ago I craved a more simple life, I dreamed of living on a farm far away from “the rat race”. Because up until 11 years ago I had never even been on a farm, in my mind farm life went a little like this: I would wake at dawn to a roosters crow get out of bed , have a big yawny stretch and come into the kitchen where a simple breakfast of biscuits, eggs, coffee and orange juice was waiting for me.  Kiss the wife and head out to the field. Later I’ll sit down to a county lunch go back out and work and come in to dinner, smelling like hard work, sweat and Stetson cologne. Relax with a good book, maybe a board game or cards or maybe just listen to an old timey radio show. Or maybe I’ll have a few to many swigs off the ol’ moonshine beat the wife a little and belittle the children. I digress… 

The simple life called to me like it does everyone who finds themselves overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with the demands of their life, whatever that may look like. My life 11 years ago was complicated by a new relationship, the residue of a bad break up of the old one, an aging parent and a struggling business. I had formed new friendships through the farmers market and after a visit to a friend’s farm I knew that was the life for me. One unfettered by the drama of a city girl. Visiting this farm was like a dream. I wanted what these folks had, bad. So I did the things that would take me there eventually.

Here is something I learned; folks this aint simple, there is not a tiny little bit of working a farm that is simple.  I am surprised sometimes of how much attention and focus is required to really get things done. When bad things happen and they sometimes do I can always link it back to lack of attention. When you look out at something you are not just looking at the place your eyeballs are pointed you’re looking at the whole canvas, looking for clues, things out of order. You don’t just look down or look up you look everywhere. Your brain is constantly measuring risk, and danger and when your brain says it ok then its ok. You move on. Auto pilot is forbidden, when auto pilot is engaged foot goes in milk bucket, folks get run over by tractor, drip tape gets cut up by hoe, an animal dies, water troughs runnith over and cheese gets fed to the chickens. Take my word for it this I know. Oh, I’ve never run over anyone.

So, if I were to talk to myself ten years ago, I wouldn’t say my life is simple by any stretch of the imagination, I would explain;  I don’t have a boss chasing me around or co-workers to gossip about, traffic, computer screens, or bad coffee, but …..It’s tremendously difficult.  It’s the most gratifying work I’ve ever done. I’m constantly being tested and challenged. I’m always learning something, usually from making mistakes. I would say for me this is an authentic life one that is best suited for my nature. It’s not for everyone but I have found a place where I feel I fit.  But “simple”?  no.  Beautiful, gratifying, complicated, profound? yes. The illusion is preferable to us all as window dressing but what’s behind and with-in lie’s the real prize.  

I’ve come to understand the truth of the matter is the “rat” race is a state of mind. So is the simple life. These are all ways of thinking, not necessarily by default. Ten years ago life was complicated. It’s complicated now but my way of thinking has changed in epic proportions. I still struggle, cry and feel sorry for myself when I feel things haven’t gone my way. The difference is I don’t feel like a victim anymore, I can always trace it back to me. 

There has been times when I have regretted my decision of moving to Oklahoma giving up a life I had worked very hard for, and times I feel like it was the best decision I have ever made. Today has been the later. I'm excited about the work I'll be doing today even though I know I will struggle. I'm at peace. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

morning walks

Each morning I have been taking a short walk, just to get my juices flowing. There is so much green right now that I cant walk by a weed or a blade of grass with out thinking, ooh the goats would love this. So I let them out and they walk with me. I only walk about a mile total and its a slow go as we stop and investigate the delectables. Fallen persimmons have been the big hit, so we linger a bit under the persimmon trees whose branches are bending with the weight of so much fruit. Even though I have too much to do I take my time, I try not to rush. But finally the walk is complete and were are back in our yard.

I leave the goats out and let them wander and forage for the rest of the day, they go back in their yard to get water (they don't drink from the pond for whatever reason), and I go about my day keeping an eye that they dont go wondering down the road. But they stay along the path we have walked going back to prime places to eat, and by evening chore time they are back ready for hay and to be milked. So far this situation has worked out pretty good and I've been so pleased with the peacefulness of the whole activity.

Breeding time has officially started at least for the goats and sheep. It hasn't started for me and wont until the end of November this is so kidding doesn't interfere with planting and I can focus on these two crucially important things one at a time. Both need my attention and I've finally figured out that I can control this to a certain degree. But the smell of love is in the air and the bucks are peeing on their faces. The smell is pretty strong but its like music to my nose. This is how things continue.

My days are spent now getting the greenhouses ready to plant. They are weedy and its taken a lot of work but in a few days they will be ready to roll. My third green house should be here by the end of the week. This is pretty exciting. I love working the greenhouses on winter days. I have good germination out in the field so now its a matter of staying on top of pests and watering. lots of things to focus on.