March 12, 2007

I have to weigh in on the early time change….my opinion would be : IT’S ABOUT TIME someone thought of this. Seriously. I know that for people who lead urban lives, it’s annoying to have to awaken in the dark for work again. But for we who are trying to farm on top of full time jobs, this is shangri-la. Every year I wait for the time change so that I can have time after work for farming; it’s the start of having something like 14 extra hours a week for work at home. And this year, it came early. I’ll be able to get seeds planted, weed, irrigate, and all those other things I do before I drop dead for the evening.

Which reminds me, I have certain libations for the evening. Lately my favorite is the "lemon drop". 1.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1.5 oz limoncello liquer (get the good stuff from Italy, no cheapo imitations), 1.5 oz vodka ( we use Gray Goose), and a 2 oz. good sweet and sour mix. Mix in a shaker with ice, and pour into a martini glass rimmed with table sugar. We use farm lemons, and are proud to point out that one of our own lemon trees is the special Sorrento lemon out of which limoncello is made. Guaranteed to make you a happy farmer, we promise.

This weekend…still at in on the greenhouse. We didn’t get as much accomplished as we wanted because we had a late start "doing" another four roosters. I have made a mental note that if I raise meat chickens, they are going to be some gigantic breed because it is a pain to try to dress a bird in which one’s hand can barely fit. Our new knives got an A+, I am so glad we purchased them. I have also decided that I have to come up with a better method for the killing part. I don’t on principle like the use of cones, but after the deed is done I am finding that I am absolutely sprayed in a fine mist of…..you can guess. The birds never know what happened. I tie a little scarf on the rooster so it can’t see what’s happening. I realize that likely, the bird doesn’t understand what a hatchet is, but I believe that just in case, Mr. Rooster doesn’t need to see. Just like, I don’t think animals should see other animals being killed. It takes so little effort to arrange matters thus, and in the event there are more rooster brain cells than we humans know about, it’s better that way.

I FINALLY planted seeds for the big herb garden at Drew’s house. Or should I say, the Kitchen Garden, since arguably a lot of Drew’s real estate is already an herb garden. It’s hard to compete with the hundreds of thyme and rosemary plants already installed for the bees to feed on. So we have borage, sorrel, salad burnet, lavender bergamot, dill, a golden purslane, and a few other items. Next are some fennels, and then soon will be another seed order to accomodate some more medicinal herbs we’ve been asked to grow.

Bags and bags of citrus are ready to head to the market in Ashland, Oregon. We are really enjoying being able to supply some of our really excellent oranges and lemons to an area that can’t produce home-grown citrus on account of the climate. It’s not "local" by some definitions, but I suppose that’s a relative term.

Well, tonight’s job is to plant another block of mache greens, off to work!

 

March 6, 2007

I tried to write this post a few days ago, and just couldn’t. I felt too disgusted.

We are currently embroiled in a less than genial conflict with our immediate neighbors. I could go into a lot of detail, but the particulars don’t matter all that much since they are quite inconsequential in nature. Stuff like dogs, chickens, fences, and stupidity. Let’s just say that in the country, there are two ways to view matters. The first way is when the inevitable conflict between neighbors occurs, the choice can be made to have a moment of anger, and then move on and find a way to work it out. There aren’t many people living in the rurals, and when a problem happens, it’s best to be able to find a solution and move past the differences. The second way is to start down the Path of Pettiness; try to find a way to capitalize on every miniscule occurrence and insist on redress by the most inconvenient means possible. The problem with the Path to Pettiness is that when someone embarks upon it, they had sure better be airtight right with the law on their side.  I would say that at the moment, our neighbors are engaging in the first half of that last sentence, without the benefit of that second part I mentioned. Well, it’s too bad, but sometimes life is like that. Well, more of this will doubt be reported on in days to come, but for now I hope this is a little nugget of reality for all those who think, “Ah, let’s move to the country, it’s quiet and there is lots of room and no one will bother us.” Hoo boy, what a laugh!!

 

If the above wasn’t enough to occupy my headspace, we are in the middle of constructing our greenhouse. Or should I say, Ken is….I think I put two bolts together and assembled a cedar bench. Which reminds me. The greenhouse kit is from China. The most precious part of the whole kit is the outside of one box which reads, “Fragile–Do Not Dropping.”  And that is closely seconded by the instruction to “Arrach the screws” (which, by the way, were really bolts)….oh, it’s a beauty. We’re pretty tempted to edit the documentation so that it actually has useful instructions and sell our edition back to the company for money; but for now I’ll say, DO NOT PURCHASE a Farm-Tek Pro Greenhouse unless you are REALLY mechanically inclined and assembly instructions are merely suggestions for your genius.

 

All the trees for the year have been transplanted, planted, or otherwise stuck in dirt in a permanent location. It’s over. That was, by the way, over 65 new trees.

 

Two more roses were purchased for the year. My roses were hit hard by those damn flathead borers, but only three outright died. Roses are the hardest easiest plants to grow. It takes some learning to have them be at their best, but they will take a lot of mismanagement and still make pretty flowers year after year.

We have made good on our threat to start eating chickens. Roosters, to be specific. We decided to start on someone else’s roosters so as to get in the groove, and "did" four a few weekends ago. It’s pretty easy after the turkeys; we used the time honored axe-and-tree stump method. However, the dressing experience led to an order for some real processing equipment, knives and a de-lunger. Ever wonder what a de-lunger looks like? So did we. "The right tool for the right job", that’s all I have to say about that. Anyway, the barbecue was held the next day, and the birds were declared entirely satisfactory with a spicy herb rub.

I have been fussing over my row crop garden a lot. I spent hours transplanting and weeding a kohlrabi patch. Not bad for a vegetable I hardly ever eat. The spinaches and salad greens are doing very well, they taste good and the leaves are green and shiny. Except for the leaves the peafowl have eaten. I caught them red-beaked last night. There I was, harvesting before sundown, when I heard noises. I looked up and there were the three white ones, stuffing their faces. Well, that will come to a stop quite soon, the salad bar is about to get fenced off.

 

I have an expanded metal bench which is supposed to be for my greenhouse but is becoming very popular for my use as an outdoor processing area. Instead of bringing dirty greens and eggs into the house, I have a large draining area where I can wash and spray soil off of  items for sale. It is much faster, much cleaner….those benches may never make it inside for their original purpose!

We have been contected by a second Davis restaurant which is interested in our products, I am very excited. I have a refrigerator full of beautiful greens and other vegetables, and would very much like to sell them…so here’s hoping.

The only other news outside of farming is that I started taking voice lessons about 6 weeks ago. Real voice lessons, from a real professional. My teacher is amazing, she even has her own website, www.anjastrauss.com . I wish all of you could hear her sing, WHAT A VOICE!! I have had four lessons so far. The work is very, very challenging for me. My best comparison is that it feels like learning to stand on a beachball while juggling with one hand and reading aloud from a book with the other. But I’m really enjoying myself and can’t believe how much I am learning. I wish I’d done this a long time ago!