6 Sep 2011, 11:28am
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transition/celebration

two weeks ago was our “transition celebration” on the farm. i made flower crowns for everyone and we held a little private ceremony in the yurt before folks starting showing up for the feasting/drinkin’/music-makin’ part of the festivities. we ate all kinds of food laid out in the warm and cozy greenhouse, and the music around the fire circle went on until late at night, of course. of course everything was fresh, abundant, there for the taking. stories there for the telling.

i am grateful for the fresh, nutritious, abundant food that we grew, shared, and ate.

i am grateful for everything i learned about growing, sharing, cooking, and eating that food.

i am grateful for the times i sunk my hands, knees, and toes into the wet soil.

i am grateful that i could call that lush place by the ocean my home.

i am grateful for the people with whom i shared that home.

i am grateful for sacred questions, and for the gratitude, yeah yeah.

i am grateful for the birds, the foxes, the deer, the mice, the skunks, the snakes, the lizards, and even the alleged mountain lion with whom we shared the land. (the gophers, maybe not so much.)

i am grateful for the music! and lots, lots more.

17 Aug 2011, 10:46pm
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mullein

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i took those photos at the farm, but i’m in berkeley at the moment. headed back to marin tomorrow for just five more nights before i move here for keeps. lots to think about that, of course, and maybe i’ll do all that thinkin’ once i’ve secured a job and moved through this heady and heavy transition. in the meantime, here’s what our bedroom window here in berkeley looks like at the moment:

and here’s two windows (well, a window and a door) that i helped trim, in the bunkhouse at the farm:

13 Aug 2011, 7:47pm
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growin’

can anyone identify this flower for me? [edit: it's scabiosa. thanks, mom!]

the bees like it.

i like it.

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in the bunkhouse—the walls are plastered, the windows are trimmed (photos to come—i helped!), and soupy is just about finished with the ceiling.

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hell yeah.

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hell yeah! the chocolate ones were vegan. these were made (along with other tasty things) for flo and jason’s birthday celebration last week.

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august is halfway gone and really i am halfway outta here. i am applying for jobs and i have a shelf full of clothes in berkeley and a container garden on the balcony. i took these photos in my little container garden this week—

kale volunteers sharing a pot with a pepper plant. a bonus of making and recycling our own potting soil!

cayenne pepper!

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cosmos—

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p.s. i keep stumbling across bicycle touring blogs while (i swear) looking for other things. oooh, i am travel-bug-bitten. i guess i am one-third here, one-third in berkeley, and one-third ON THE ROAD. transitioning. yup.

2 Aug 2011, 10:11pm
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three flower crowns

that i made today.

1.

2. (also for ashley; bigger.)

3.

1 Aug 2011, 11:26pm
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sacred questions

a couple of weeks ago i headed into the greenhouse to sift some compost (we use on-site sifted compost and soil, plus perlite and sand, to make our own potting and seeding mixes). when i lifted the lid of the almost-empty sifted compost bin, i was startled to find a small wood rat hanging out at the bottom. i ran back to the bunkhouse to report my findings. “what should i do with it?” i asked. “kill it” was the answer, of course. it was probably the culprit who’d been sabotaging newly-seeded trays of veggies in the greenhouse. i couldn’t bring myself to do it. i scooped it up in a yogurt container and walked down through the farm to the driveway, where i let it go in the weeds at the edge of the woods. fox food, maybe.

later that day, or maybe the next day, i pulled back the shower curtain in the bathhouse to find another wood rat in the tub. this time i put it in a bucket and, feeling sort of silly about the rat i’d let go, gave it to the others to, well, do with as they saw fit. i.e. kill it. then i took a shower. i found out later that flo gave the rat to the chickens (theoretically they’ll kill and eat small rodents), but they weren’t particularly interested and it got away easily. while i was drying off from my shower, i watched another rat walk across the roof of the bathhouse (it’s translucent plastic greenhouse material) and climb down the jasmine plant growing inside and outside at the corner. someone else found another rat, maybe the one i saw on the roof, in the tub the next day. i’m not sure what happened to that one.

soupy was cleaning out her toolshed when she found a huge elaborate wood rat nest behind some boxes on a high shelf. she cleared it out, and the next day it was almost completely rebuilt. traps were set, rats were killed. today she found a half dozen tiny babies, eyes still closed, possibly or probably mostly dead, almost certainly orphaned. they were beautiful, fragile, and brave—or, really, too young to know they were being brave in crawling over our fingers and opening their little mouths to whatever we might offer them. there was nothing to do but kill them. we talked a little bit about whether we should give them to the chickens or the foxes who live under james and penny’s porch, to make their death a little less useless or wasteful, or whether we should give them the quickest and least painful death we could.

after a little while it was just soupy and i sitting with them. i said that i wanted to say a prayer or something, and soupy talked quite eloquently about how she was thankful for the opportunity to confront death, and that she hoped that maybe by the time she was approaching her own death, she would have found the wisdom to know what to do and how to feel in situations like this. i said i wished they might know or sense our compassion for them, and then soupy drowned them in the pond.

i do not know what is right. i can’t really decide if it’s radically egalitarian to imagine that we as human beings can live without contributing directly to the suffering of other animals, or foolish and unrealistic. this sacred question is one of the blessings i didn’t expect to receive in my time here on the farm. i carry it with me.

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(other blessings, expected and un-)

flowers (and people!)

food (so much abundance i mostly take it for granted and don’t photograph it!)

fauna

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me & my sweetheart
(by the way)
(so happy to have and be a partner)
(so grateful for the lessons i learned with past lovers, and for the patience A & i have had with each other and the lessons we have learned together)
(just sayin’)

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.