Monday, July 19, 2010

Looking Through the Ladle

I was just about done with a blog post about a night of cooking fresh from the garden when I accidentally hit delete and it swept away the entire post with no way to recover the text. So, to console myself, I'm posting a photo that makes me laugh instead. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farm-Fresh Eggs

No longer will "farm-fresh" be just the preferred phrase of commercial producers to entice shoppers to buy their eggs. As of last week, "farm-fresh" became a reality on our farm.

While the grocery store aisles abound in marketing what Michael Pollan calls "supermarket pastoral," we have the real deal. While they are rather successfully convincing the public that they're out mucking around in the coop just like we are every day and caring for the chickens as if they're pets, we really are.

On the cartons, they make claims like "100-percent vegetarian," which makes me laugh because now that I'm raising chickens myself, I positively know that these birds do not by nature eat soybeans and corn. I suppose it's a step up from feeding chickens chickens, but the industry is feeding us marketing with their pictures of fake farms and health claims on the label. My chickens eat bugs and grass. They love it. Somehow those two chicken delicacies turn into yummy, nutritious eggs with golden centers darker than any store-bought variety.

After five long months of anticipation, a few of our pullets have started laying. It is such a delight to look inside the nesting boxes and find a golden egg sitting there! Currently, there are only one or two eggs each day, but the ladies are still young and as they mature their production will become more consistent and their egg size will increase.

Our first product testing was one of my favorite meals: breakfast for dinner. Mike started with butter and rosemary in the pan then wiped it up with sourdough bread and toasted it. We added the bacon made earlier that morning just to warm it.

Then we cracked open these beauties.

We cut some slices of avocado and had one fantastic dinner -- especially knowing that we were eating was truly farm fresh. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reduce (your need for things), Reuse (by giving them to us), Recycle (for a different purpose)

For some reason, when you own property, people want to give you things -- especially cats and dogs who need new homes. Even though we joke about being the Cat Ranch, we haven't had any openings available in awhile. Five and a half is quite enough, thank you. But other unwanted items have befallen us that have been immensely helpful in getting us going on our little venture, and we are extremely grateful to not have to spend the cash and to do our part in reusing items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

(Oddly enough, there is a definitive theme of receiving from the parents of coworkers...)

Example 1: This past spring, the mother of a former colleague of Michael's was trying to sell her house and needed to get rid of some fencing to help de-clutter the space. Coincidentally enough, we needed fencing for our chickens. So we headed over one rainy Sunday and loaded up the truck with wire, fence posts and a rain barrel. Cha-ching!

Example 2: Straw isn't that expensive, but we've never had to buy it. The parents of a colleague of mine dropped off four bales last fall that we've used to suppress weeds in the vegetable garden. This spring, some neighbors who were moving were clearing out outbuildings and loaded us up with four more. They also handed over more fencing and some chicken feeders.

Example 3: Yesterday, we stopped by the former mother-in-law of a former colleague who was clearing out her attic and bestowed us with 14 boxes of canning jars, a hot water bath and pressure cooker. She was so excited to give them away to people who would actually use them and continue the tradition she had carried on for many years. They did such a great job of caring for their belongings that the original instructions were included in the original boxes! 

Examples 4, 5 and 6: Plants are another area where we're glad to accept donations. The asparagus is four-year-old roots from a friend, moonbeam and daylillies from another friend, and the irises and lamb's ear divided from a former coworker. 

Examples 7-?: Our career paths have also been beneficial to this endeavor. Mike scored leftover metal from a downtown garage project his company designed, while I've brought home numerous pots, gloves, seeds, knives and organic garden aids, as well as nearly every piece of cardboard that comes into the office (for the rows in the vegetable garden). And, of course, there's the famous Scotty I picked up at the Flower, Lawn & Garden Show that we'll fix up for family vacation or sleeper on the Back 4.

Thanks to everyone for getting organized and deciding you no longer need or want certain things. If you've got something else, let us know. Just don't try to give us anything that meows or barks!