November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving has come and gone . Apple/almond pie, pumpkin pie, sauteed cardoon, sauteed mushrooms with parsely and garlic, spiced cider, two of our own turkeys, cranberry sauce from scratch, and a layered apple/squash/potato dish called Pommes Anna. Our farmer neighbor who was able to eat with us after working all day on our field brought a lovely sparkling wine, and a good time was had by all. Sometimes I have to step back and realize how odd our dinners are at home. No one sits at a table. We fill plates with food that is all laid out at the table, and then eat from the comfort of armchairs, sofas, etc. We hold our plates in one hand or in our laps. This custom is a permanent remnant of my time spent sailing, where eating at tables didn’t happen. The tables moved, the food moved, and spilled….what was the point? At our house the tables usually stand still, but the happy habit remains. One of the birds we ate was a year and a half old. She was full of fat, and I think we may have invented the self-basting turkey. Tasty! We improved our processing time considerably while still doing all my nitpicking rituals to ensure food safety. Live bird to refrigerated turkey in under one hour, not bad.

Definite arrangements have been made to acquire some breeding pairs of Beltsville White Midget turkeys, we will pick them up in Gold Hill, Oregon in early January. The thought has crossed my mind how in the world we can keep these birds all segregated by breed. Sooner or later some overhead netting will have to be installed to contain them….or something. Every day at our farm is an avian free-for-all. Flapping, running amok, rooting in the garden, having little turkey fits about imaginary problems in the yard, pigging out on fallen almonds….they’re outta control.

We completed significant work on our treehouse. The walls are sheeted and a roof is on. Next comes cutting out windows, the wood from which I want to keep on hinges to act as shutters of a sort. Also paint. When this will occur with the current rainstorm, who knows. I do know that this won’t be a fun paint job; the exterior is 8 to 15 feet off the ground, and our ladder really isn’t tall enough. Time to buy an orchard ladder or ask around, since I refuse to fall out of a tree.

Our new old tractor (old new tractor?) will be delivered Friday after a long and convoluted saga. After we decide we’ve learned to drive it, the next stage will be deciding whether to keep it. Them. We may like two, or we may decide to sell and use the sale of both to pay for a newer used bigger tractor. Or a bigger new tractor. Or something. Confused yet? So are we Smiley.

A purple echinacea bloomed last weekend. I love finding something I forgot I planted suddenly flowering.

Seed catalogs are arriving. A new one came, featuring heirloom varieties I’ve really never heard of, sorted by ethnicity. There are Italian sections, Mexican sections, Mediterranean sections. Some of the Italian offerings are completely intriguing. White eggplants, curling pole beans, candy striped beets. This time of year really begins everything. The plotting, the planning, the pondering what will be grown in the coming season. Our new farmer friend has a simple, yet well thought out, system for trellising tomatoes and peppers. Next year we want to grow several crops by rows, and not so much the schizophrenic system I’ve used to date. I like my schizophrenic system, but using it has become too time-consuming for the mainstays I want to sell at the Farmer’s Market. I am very glad to meet someone that already knows effective, sustainable methods for growing plants that aren’t difficult to copy or adapt. I always have to reinvent the wheel a little bit, but as the scale increases, the time available to tinker decreases. Our back 5 acres or so will be leased to aforementioned farmer and planted in almonds. Heavy equipment (or, heavier than anything we possess) has been out there for days beginning to grade, trench, weed, dig out crappy trees and old rootstock, burn debris, etc. It’s as if a long and annoying problem is disappearing away. This will be a great learning experience and may eventually generate a bit of income too.

There is so much to work on right now.  I want to make signs (to advertise our turkeys by the roadside), there is work to be done on our computer so I can make labels to attach to packages and jars of products we have made. I have chipotle salsa to make. And turkey soup. And lemon curd, all the lemons are ripe on the tree. It felt VERY cold last night. When it’s cold and dark, I don’t want to do anything but be in 1) the hot tub 2) in front of the woodstove 3) in bed with the cat, reading. This tendency seems to interfere mightily with accomplishing anything of a physical nature. Well……..I always did procrastinate. We have a used woodstove in the shop that needs stovepipe. The idea was to heat the shop so we could tolerate working on winter evenings. This task should be upgraded in priority, or I may not set foot out there until April.

That’s all for now!


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