20 Jul 2011, 7:26pm
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summering

moments from the past week.

we pulled up all the garlic, washed the dirt off the bulbs in (ubiquitous around here) 5-gallon buckets, and laid it all out to dry on the tables in the greenhouse, sorted roughly in size from the smallest bulbs to the largest. the largest will be used to seed next year’s crop; the rest will be eaten throughout the year. after a day or so, it was tied into bundles and hung up in the cottage to dry further. the cottage smells pretty fantastic, if you like garlic (i do).

i learned how to make sauerkraut.

one of the young fox pups stole one of jason’s brand new leather garden gloves yesterday—picked it up and carried it off in broad daylight. a couple of weeks ago someone who was here for one of the courses asked me what my favorite thing is about living here. without hesitation, i replied, “the wildlife.” even just a couple of months ago, i don’t think i would have given that answer—but i am thankful every day to be able to interact with the non-human culture of this place. it is a part of my every day life: the birds wake me in the morning, the skunks and foxes stare while i walk to my tent at night. the gophers eat our crops and the snakes and foxes eat the gophers. there is no us and them, no dichotomy between settlement and wilderness. i am uncolonizing my insides, bird call by fox bark by cougar yell. wilderness is sacred because everything is sacred. there are those animals and plants whose lives (and, yes, deaths) we are directly responsible for, and those for whom we are indirectly responsible. the responsibility remains. it is the same thing as the responsibility we take for ourselves—that each individual must take as part of the maturation process. interdependence!

last weekend A came out to visit. we met in fairfax on friday afternoon to see the last harry potter movie (!). we like fairfax. we imagine that we might live there for awhile in a few years. check out this awesome mural that’s painted on the side of the natural food store there.

in the evening we made cheese with cardoon rennet! i had been wanting to try it for awhile. cardoons, a.k.a. artichoke thistles, produce flowers much like artichokes, with meat and hearts and so on. you can also eat the leaf stalks, after a very long five-step cooking and preparation process, and they taste just like artichoke hearts; we’ve done that successfully once (we’re lazy). anyway, i found out a few months ago that the stamens of cardoon flowers that are left to bloom all the way can be used as a natural source of vegetarian rennet for cheesemaking! so on friday evening i finally harvested a few and pulled a couple gallons of raw goat’s milk out of the back fridge, and we set to work. we (and by we, i mean A) trimmed off the stamens and mashed ‘em up with a mortar and pestle. we heated the milk to 86 degrees (actually, we heated it up too much and had to wait around for it to cool to 86 degrees) and added mesophilic culture (a non-farm input. i wonder if we can cultivate this ourselves, too?). while we waited for the culture to do its thing (about a half an hour), we steeped the cardoon stamen mash in a little water that had been boiled and then allowed to cool to room temperature. then i strained out the mash and stirred the resulting purple liquid into the milk. it took maybe ten minutes to start separating into curds and whey. so exciting! it worked! rennet from the farm!

the next step in basic chevre is ladling out the curds, wrapping ‘em up in cheesecloth, and letting the whey drip out. it was getting pretty late so i didn’t let the curds drain as long as i maybe could have. in the morning, i separated it into a couple little batches and flavored them with herbs and spices. my favorite was mixed with honey, cinnamon, and cardamom. the resulting cheese tasted very mild to me, not quite like regular chevre. i’m not sure whether that was due to the freshness of the milk (i chose the freshest, no more than two days old), the cardoon rennet, the short draining time, or something else. still, it was really exciting to see the curds and whey separate as a result of homegrown rennet, and i hope to try it again.

on saturday A and i went to far west fest, a little music festival in point reyes station. on sunday we rode our bikes up mount tamalpais. it was a pretty awesome weekend.

today i dug up the roots of four blackberry plants. i won the battle (though not necessarily, i know, the war), but i have lots of little scratches, of course.

i have been making all these flower crowns and giving them away.

gorgeous day. cob oven pizza for dinner. yummmmmmmmm.

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