Sunday, June 29, 2008

The First Supper

Here it is - our first home cooked meal at the farm. A roasted veggie pizza with mushroom pesto and crumbled feta. I have to say it was divine. Now allow me to explain why it was so divine.

I took Friday off work to go sit at the farm house and wait for someone to come hook up our internet service. After a few stops at the post office, grocery store and such, I arrived at the house around 11:00 am to find that the electricity was off. After further inspection (of the refrigerator) it became clear that the power had been off for at least a couple of days. It was about 95 degrees. To make matters oh so very much worse, the large, wheeled trash cart I ordered had not been delivered, which left me with no means to dispose of the HORRIFIC contents of the fridge (the previous owner was kind enough to leave meat in the freezer - seriously).

So, here I am. It's a million degrees, inside and out, I have no power, I have a rapidly rotting fridge, I have no trash bin, I have to trapse into the scary, poisonous-snakey area next to the barn to turn the water on...which is leaking. A lot. So I did what anyone would do. I did the only thing I could think of to make myself feel better. I went inside the sweltering house, opened up all the doors and windows so the wasps could join me, and I...TEXTURED. THE. CEILING. It was awesome. I was hot, I was starving, I couldn't leave because the internet man was supposed to be coming, I was texturing the ceiling, and he never showed. Total no-show.

That day was the suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked.

Ah, but then things started to shift. Around 2:00 the surly man from the power company came to turn it back on. About an hour later the really nice man from the trash service came with our bin (both after some angry phone calls). I got all the texturing done on the ceiling. Darling hubby arrived and fixed the water and we had this wonderful pizza for dinner. It was the best thing I'd ever eaten. Of course, all I'd eaten all day was a piece of leftover pepperoni pizza and a few bites of potato salad, so what did I know from a good meal? We settled in on the air mattress and watched a movie on my laptop (which I'd taken along in anticipation of having internet) and all was right with the world.

Until the next morning when we had to put up a fence, paint the ceiling, fix the water line for real and fix the mower (again).

I keep thinking about when I might have a day to just rest and relax, and I keep coming up with...never. It's okay, though. We're killing ourselves now, but it's going to be SO worth it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

No More Problem

I'm sorry to say that the resident farm dogs are no longer with us. After much agonizing, we decided to make a good faith effort to try to let them stay, but they blew it immediately by attacking our dog. They were summarily dispatched. Our dog was terrified, but otherwise okay. He managed to run off into the trees to hide, which presented another problem because we couldn't find him for hours and didn't think we'd ever see him again. Needless to say, we were extremely relieved when he came tiptoeing out of the underbrush later in the evening.

Verde, I'm sorry - I know this is not the outcome you'd have preferred, and truly it was not the outcome we'd have preferred either, but they left us with little choice. I'm sorry it had to end this way, but their future just wasn't looking good no matter what happened.

The big upside to the day came in the early evening, while we were sitting out in the yard. We happened to look out over the pond, and saw one of these come in from the opposite side. It came in really slowly, landed briefly and then took off again. Really incredible.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Don't Have a Problem...

I have prob-lems. Plural.

Two, to be exact. There are two stray dogs that have taken up residence on our land. We don't know much about them, except that one is male and shy (he won't let you touch him) and the other is female and quite an attention hog. They've been living there for quite awhile, and have had at least one litter of puppies (that we know of). None of the puppies have survived. They are quite friendly, but still very wild. The chance that they will become totally domesticated, household dogs is slim to none. The chance that they will get along harmoniously with our dogs is also slim to none. The chance that they will not try to kill any livestock we keep is virtually nill. These dogs have to go.

Here is where things get sticky. We live near a small town, but outside the city limits. The animal control person there has already told me that she can't help. The county sheriff's office has told me that they don't have a dogcatcher and won't come out unless we have a problem with a dangerous animal. This leaves us on our own to remove them from the property. We'll have to lure them into the truck with meat or something and enclose them in some sort of crate so they don't jump out. I don't expect this to go easily because I'm sure they'll be suspicious and wary. Plus, we don't know what we'll do with them after that. The nearest Humane Society shelter is nearly an hour away. We could try driving them a few miles away and just letting them out somewhere, but who knows what will happen to them. They might even find their way back. We sort of like them and would keep them if we thought they'd get along with our dogs, but that's not going to happen.

If anyone has a solution that doesn't involve shooting them, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fun With Poultry, Part II - AKA "The Importance of Plucking"

I spent all day Saturday taking a class on backyard poultry raising. I discovered that I already knew much more about this topic than I thought, but the class was worthwhile all the same. It filled in the gaps in my knowledge and helped me to make some more firm decisions about what we should keep and how many. Not to mention all the wheres, whens and hows.

A couple of things struck me about this class. First, there was NO hands-on instruction whatsoever. We did go outside and observe some chickens, but nobody really got too close to them for any reason. Considering that this class is designed for people with no poultry experience (and indeed most of the attendees had none), it seems strange to me that they didn't teach us how to catch and hold them. Another thing I thought was odd was that when we came to the topic of processing birds, everyone in the class was very anti-plucking, including the instructor. They were all firmly in support of using a machine to pluck, or to just skip the plucking altogether and skin the birds. I won't even get into the financial and environmental arguments against using a machine. I'll just say that I think they'll be missing out on the most important part of processing. To me, plucking is your "break". It's really not nearly as hard to do as most people think. It only takes a couple of minutes to scald and pluck a chicken, and that gives you time to sit down, take a breather and chat with your accomplices. More importantly, though, it provides a couple of minutes of very mundane work to keep your hands busy and your mind focused before you have to get up and swing the ax again. It allows your jangled nerves to settle, and anyone who skips this step on purpose I think is cheating themselves.

The other big news of the week is that we spent our first night in the farm house! We just carted an air mattress and some basic supplies down there because it's a whole hour closer to my poultry class, and I wanted to be able to sleep a bit later. I can say definitively that I LOVE IT THERE. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to come back to our little city house. I love the house, the property, the town, the people we've met so far, the stars, the frogs, the quiet. I can't imagine ever getting tired of it. Ahhh, but now the work starts. Today I start packing. For real.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Food Independence Update

Well, once again there was nothing planted or harvested this week. Our tomato plants are covered, though. I just have to wait for them. Everything is just sort of plugging along.

I did do some preservation and management by freezing a bunch of beans from the CSA. I also worked on vacuum sealing my dry goods into smaller, usable portions. I have a lot of that still to do, and I need to pack it all into bins and buckets, but I can only manage to get done a little bit at a time. I also baked a blackberry pie (which was new for me). The two or so cups of berries I have left will get eaten with yogurt, or baked into a bannock. I have about 2 cups of blueberries to use up as well, so I think I'll make muffins and freeze them for on-the-run breakfasts.

Our new skill learned this week was, er, rabbit breeding. I use the term "learned" very loosely here - we don't actually have to do anything except, uh, make the ladies available. The only trouble is, we're not exactly sure if it "worked" or not, as it didn't go exactly like we were expecting. I suppose we'll find out soon enough!

No real preps this week other than a bit more reading and learning. There was no volunteer day at the CSA this weekend (those have been suspended for the time being), so my local food networking came in the form of a trip to the farmers market in my neighborhood. I am also talking to a lady I just met about getting together to make bread, and I've put her in touch with my mother to possibly supply bread for mom's restaurant.

Mostly we've just been doing our normal, everyday things. I feel like I've been extremely busy lately and all I'm trying to do is just keep up. Every weekend feels like a marathon, rather than a rest. I don't exactly mind it, but I could use a break! It looks like we may finally be on the verge of closing the farm deal, though, so I don't expect there will be any rest for me for the forseeable future.