Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing with a heavy heart tonight

We're looking forward to our annual family camping trip and, in preparing to board our dogs, we took them to the vet for shots.  While we were there we discussed some new concerns about our blue heeler boarder collie mix, Lacey.  We ran some standard lab tests and got the news yesterday that she has Cushing's Disease caused by hormones gone awry and maybe a tumor on one of several glands among other things.  Our vet has been wonderful in explaining our options and for now we are in a holding pattern.  We'll watch her gradual progression and most likely in a matter of months we need to decide when her quality of life has degraded enough to put her down.

When you have dogs on a farm, you never know how long they'll live.  There are so many ways they can be injured or fatally wounded.  We're grateful to have had this sweet dog for almost 11 years.  Yesterday Lacey and I had a talk, I cried and she licked away my tears.  Dogs are great that way!  So no more tears, just unconditional love.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Too cold for turkey chicks in the PNW!

I wonder when Spring will really come. Maybe we're skipping it and going straight to summer.  In any case, we have too many turkey chicks and the weather is making it difficult to put them outside.  Chicks hatched 6 and 4 weeks ago are under the satellite dish brooder which is outside but has two heat lamps going 24 hours a day.  Two week old chicks are inside with a heat lamp.  New chicks are hatching today - there's another heat lamp.  ACK!! The electric bill is going to be high this month.

It's Memorial Day weekend and time to remember those who have died in the service of our country protecting our personal freedoms.  No matter how I feel about the current conflicts of our government, the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice are to be honored.  In my mother's day, it was called Decoration Day as it is the day to decorate the graves of deceased veterans.  Please take a moment to explain to your kids what this day means.  The freedoms that we take for granted were paid for with blood.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who went before us, and we all have an obligation to serve and protect those freedoms.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Who am I?" asks the farmer's wife.

The calendar points to the middle of March but it feels like December.  We had snow again yesterday and freezing temperatures overnight.  I wonder if the earthquake in Japan has affected our weather.  Not that I'm worried about radiation but a shift in the earth's axis is pretty dramatic.  No event is without it's consequences.

I wonder how I got to be the woman I am.  If you had asked me when I was 18 if I would end up 40 years later as a farmer, I would've laughed out loud.  I come from farmer stock so it shouldn't be surprising that I would end up here but so much has happened to me and our world since then.  I don't reject technology but I do reject the fast paced world that my grandsons are growing up in.  I reject mega business that tries to control the world.  I reject the thinking that we can't do anything about the big problems.

I understand quiet and a slower pace.  I understand that I might miss something really important if I hurry.  I don't seem to be as afraid of the world as other people.  I think that's the legacy of a gardener. 
You can't plant in the dead of winter with the expectation of harvesting in Fall if you're afraid.  That's optimism.  Something good is going to happen.  That's joy.  There'll be bends in the road but around each curve I look for something positive to cling to.

The turkey hens are looking for lovely nesting sites.  Turkey toms are reminding them that they are fine studly partners.  The young chickens are laying beautiful little eggs.   Cool weather crops are thriving and garlic has poked through the snow.  Our aging dogs are slowing down but always hoping for a little treat or pat on the head.  I look forward to a world where folks take notice of their surroundings.  Winter or summer, there's always something happening, things that calm our spirits if we let them.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just a Little Reminder that Winter Is Still Here

Brrr, baby it's cold outside!  14 degrees this morning.  Not a record but still very cold.  I don't worry much about poultry as long as their water is thawed.  They have a huge inside coop to hang out in if they're so inclined.  Bear rabbit seems to enjoy the cold but temps were predicted to be in the single digits so I moved him inside for a couple of days.  We're pretty much reduced to Spring planning and watching the show that the little birds put on at the feeders outside our front windows.

The cold weather causes all the poultry to eat a lot from the feeders, partly from boredom and the chickens to lay fewer eggs.  We go out frequently to collect the eggs so they don't eat them (I suspect a rooster is our egg eater!) One of the new hens has started to lay and that little girl has the most perfect eggs, whites are thick without excess water and the golden yellow yolks stand up tall.

Yesterday I put the tomato seeds planted almost two weeks ago in a little greenhouse on a heater to warm up the soil and this morning 3 little seedlings have germinated!  Now, that's a promise of warmer weather to come.  Here's a wish that you'll find something growing in your life that makes you feel optimistic.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where's Winter?

I can't believe I have neglected this blog for so long.  I get excited after the New Year and can't wait for spring to arrive, then we get so busy that time flies by.  Before I know it, the year is over and life has a way of moving along whether or not you are ready for it.

We sold 20 turkeys over Thanksgiving.  I feel so responsible for every family's holiday dinner and want their birds to be the best they've ever tasted.  While much depends on the cook, I know our birds are quality meat with great flavor but sales are a little nerve racking.  We butchered one day and I delivered the next day which was a nice change in our process.

Hog butchering finally took place in late November after a series of mishaps that delayed our getting the hogs to the processor.  Those were big pigs and we have one chest freezer and a smaller freezer full of piggy parts.  I tried to get as much of the pig as I thought I could handle, not quite nose to tail but just about.  It does no honor to the pig to waste parts just because they are unfamiliar to our palates.  I also rendered several gallons of the best lard pieces for cooking and baking.

Winter pruning took place in January along with a dormant spray.  I never seem to get the three applications of dormant oil over the winter but we are pleased with the pruning as their shapes are starting to look very nice with big open centers and branches we can reach for picking fruit.  I hold fond memories of my oldest grandsons coming to the farm last September for apple picking.

There's another forecast for lots of snow the end of this week but these storms haven't delivered much of a punch on our farm since Thanksgiving week.  I am having such a hard time containing my urge to plant seeds.  Last week I took a baby step and planted one variety of tomatoes.  The artichoke plants are doing well in a window that I started in January but the greens I put in a raised bed have stalled.  They liked it indoors and night time freezing temps make for slow growing.  In the past I have overwintered greens so that I could take cuttings by now.  Perennial rhubarb and chives are pushing up as well as a number of garlic varieties.

So I'm about the turn a page on the calendar to March and wait with anticipation for warmer temperatures and the opportunity to spend all my days outside.  I hope you'll meet me back here more regularly.  Finding joy in the day!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Farmers Market Tomorrow

Temps are still a little low for summer but I'll take 'em!  Our corn is over 7' tall and throwing tassels.  Toms, cucs and peppers are forming fruit, and potatoes are about ready to dig.  Best of all, 13 garlic varieties are dug, hung, cured, cleaned and stored in big wire baskets so I'm looking forward to selling tomorrow at the Hood River Thursday Night Farmers Market.  Hope to see you there!  I haven't decided on our recipe of the week as I've collected a number of unusual and yummy recipes over the winter.  The first week is usually a basic roasted garlic and I'll probably start there with tomato garlic chutney slated for the second week.

Sunday was my birthday and a turkey hen presented us with 6 new chicks, all still doing well.  She's a young mama and not upset at all about us taking her babies.  The turkey hen "queen" is doing her part to teach the young ones, clucking a warning cluck when we come around and announcing when the young mama let the babies come out from the nest into the sun.  Turkeys have such interesting personalities.  The young mama was very ready to join the rest of the flock after 28 days of sitting but the flock had to re-establish their pecking order the minute she entered the yard.  Such fighting and puffing up and submitting for a few minutes; then, the coop was quiet again.  Sounds like most households with kids ;o)  Happy Summer!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garlic's out of the ground

All our garlic is out of the ground, hung and curing!  We expect to be at the Gorge Grown Farmers Market starting Thursday, August 5th.  Still trying to decide what to make for our first recipe of the week.  Hope to see you there and bring your friends.