Thursday, May 14, 2015

Moons, Birds, Lambs and Cheese

This post was made in reaction to Joe who, according to a voicemail c/o LW, thinks I need to get my blogging act together.

We've had some good moons in the last few weeks. A super killer one happened I think last week, but I didn't photograph it. This is an earlier moon. All this moon talk reminds me of the Mighty Boosh Moon, and its feelings on the best of moons....which is a Youtube clip I can't seem to find. So here is another glimpse into the opinions of the moon.

We made some new moveable fence lines the other day, giving our oldest batch of lambs access to totally new grass. They were digging it, but even if you love all the grass, you still need a break every now and then.
They were not entirely pleased that I interrupted their break, but they didn't hold it against me for long.
Nope, they just went back to grass loving (and in one instance, butt sniffing).
We've been having such higher milk yields this year, that the existing system for chilling milk between cheese makes became a bit complicated. So a bulk milk tank was purchased and installed in our cleaning area next to the parlor. Now we can store crazy amounts of milk and keep it nice and chilled in a better way. Very neat.
I had a very good burger and started writing a letter on one of my weekly bar nights.
I loved Penny the Rooster. When he was a chick, we all thought he was a chicken. Eventually his comb, plumage, size and crow made it known that he was not, in fact, a chicken. And for a good long while he was still pretty chill. In the last few weeks, however, he began getting a bit aggressive. Jumping at me with his spurs and fluffing up his feathers whenever I came in to get eggs or if I had to pick up one of his ladies. He wasn't super crazy aggressive, but honestly I didn't feel like waiting to get spurred to make the decision to cull him. This became a learning opportunity for me. With E.'s instruction, I dispatched Penny into the beyond and learned how to skin and butcher him. It was not an entirely unmessy series of steps. Did I get blood on my chest, face and other parts of my upper body? Yes I did. Did I make a tasty stew out of him? Yes I did.
Did I ask H. to take photographs of me all bloodied up? Why yes, I did.

On another day I made plans to meet up with a neighbor for wine, cheese and conversation. It was about a mile-long walk. Rodo followed me of his own volition. At one point I paused in an area that had been logged last fall to enjoy a little sun. Rodo enjoyed it as well.
Then he got to play with a boy and a soccer ball...and another dog that really didn't understand what to do with the soccer ball (chase it, obviously).
On another day I was walking up to my room and I saw a bird struggling with a window. It was a bit addled and easily restrained.
I've been told it was a Wilsons Warbler.
Last year, with a larger farm crew, there was a bit more down time for quick jaunts or drives to nearby beaches. I kept telling H. that this was a true thing, but we never quite managed to have the time to actually have such an experience. One Saturday, during milking, I announced that we were going to do it no matter what. A few unexpected things came up that nearly derailed our plans and threatened to make me cry (on the inside) but in the end we met all our responsibilities and made it to Maxwelton Beach for a nice mid-afternoon sit and read experience.
Morning light as I fed the rams whilst walking down to the barn to milk. We're definitely seeing more sun and the days are feeling longer in that way. In other words, when we wake up it isn't dark, and it's still not dark at around 8 PM, so that's pretty cool.
Me and Persephone. She wasn't as into this photo shoot as I was, but that's nothing new.

An especially tasty breakfast I made for myself post-milking one morning. Radishes, greens of some kind, and perhaps hidden might be some fresh crab...there has been a lot of fresh crab in our lives over the last two weeks and I love it.
Our milking ewes enjoying some greener pastures and clover.
Stilton. Letter writing. Wine.
My day off last week was a good one as far as being warm and sunny. I went to a different beach and basically just stayed there for five hours, which mainly included a phone interview and finishing a book.
Stan and Brian using the tractor to get an old farm implement off a flat bed truck.
We split dinner making responsibilities on the farm, and on this particular evening it was my turn. I missed having fires in our lives, so I decided that dinner would be sausages cooked on a fire. And that is exactly what happened. Turned out well for everyone really.
Water for the lambies.
A breakfast of fresh crab, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, sushi rice and ginger. Altogether tasty and satisfying.
Earlier this week, my boss and I made the trek to Pike Place Market for the Women in Beer event, which also featured women in cheese or chocolate. It was a three hour thing where folks go around with tasting cups and try lots of beer and enjoy free samples of any number of cheeses, chocolates and other snacks. We manned our table together for part of the time, but each took a few circuits to try the wares. It was pretty fun.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunnier Days in the Pacific Northwest

While it hasn't become consistently a sunny summer paradise on the island and greater Washington area, the last few weeks have given us quite a few teases of what I hope true summer will have on offer. A few weeks back I saw that the forecast for my day off was supposed to be warm (66 degrees) but cloudy...but not rainy. So I asked W. if she might want to go to a beach and play games and enjoy the warm weather if not the sun. She was amenable, so we loaded up on snacks and activities and headed to South Whidbey State Park. Not only was it warm, it was sunny too! We played many a hand of Rummy 500 (most of which she won, regrettably) and enjoyed the sunshine and view.
A sunrise one morning.
Our ewe lambs (younger but pregnant ewes) were housed separately from our more mature and experienced ewes, but once they had their babies we would take them to the main flock's field. Sometimes we'd do this simply by steering them with our bodies, which generally went okay, though was a bit more laborious. Other times we would maneuver the animal into one of our laps and putt putt putt in the golf cart to the nearest gate. Here is Louise the sheep and me, right before such a trip.
More paintings were made. Likes: records and crystals. Dislikes: mayonnaise.
Another in my love quote series.
Etta - the 'red head' - often rests her head on the shoulders of another ewe whilst being milked.
Rodo asleep at the wheel.
Some of our lambs chasing after H. and a can full of grain.
Chick. Chick. Chickeeeeeeeeeens.
Just me, hanging out somewhere that I guess might seem kind of pretty, talking to some of my sheep friends about the latest episode of Mad Men.
A. and I hitching a ride.
Letter writing is always better with cheese and wine.
I met up with J. to see the tulip festival spectacle. Last year the day I went was brisk and cloudy. This year it was warm as can be and sunny. So sunny, in fact, that I should have worn sunscreen. I was wearing a necklace and had exposed a bit of my chest, the result was a slight burn shaped like a v...with a weird white splotch in the middle where the necklace blocked the sun's rays.
I asked J. to take a few photos of me, all of which I approved of, and here they all are.

It was good to catch up with J. as we strolled amongst the tulips and copious tourists.
Another from the love series. I've noticed my tendency to have figures in the foreground in much the same way in a lot of my paintings. Something to vary and work on.
Cocoa the puppy in the midst of a play session. Rodo in the midst of not giving a fuck.
The ewes going to get their breakfast.
Peony tulips may be the best kind of tulip.
What I look like most of the time...only usually without a puppy. And with dirtier hair.
Another day off and another beautiful day. I hustled to the mainland to do some errands before rushing back to the farm and down to the beach for a nice long session of reading, sipping beer, and generally chilling out. Rodo accompanied me on this journey though I had to put him in my beach bag to get him down the last ladder/stairs that gets you down the cliff to the beach.
H. and I gave a huge bunch of lambs some important shots. This is what it looks like when you entice lambs to get into a smaller space with grain.
Some of the last of our itty bitty baby lambs.

Last year we were a few hands stronger (five folks working instead of three), which generally led to a bit more down time for all. These days it's there, but you gotta grab it and make the most of it. In this instance, I had about 45 minutes before a PM milking, so I decided to just go down early, sit in a chair in the sunshine and read. The sheep were very, very interested in my reading material.
And my shoes and socks and jeans and hair.
We chill our milk in a freezer and work hard to maintain a not too cold not too hot temperature...but sometimes it gets a little too cold and we have to get out the big ice chunks that prevent us from putting the cans into the freezer efficiently. And sometimes that seems like a good photo opportunity.
Or a horror movie featuring double chins. Either or, really.

Ice. Watermelon. Corn on the cob. You decide.

This past week I drove to Sumner, Washington to pick up some packaging materials for our yogurt and fresh sheeps cheese. Industrial parks that used to be farmland are kind of weird, depressing places. I'm really, really glad I don't work in one.
I also dropped off some of our cheese to Bar Sajor and stayed for a snack and a drink. Very beautiful place. Very tasty sancerre and fermented veggies. I know so little about the actual layout or vibe of Seattle, it's always interesting to spend a little time there in a new context/location. More often than not I go there for farmer's markets and basically leave right after them, or visit M&A at their house and just walk around their neighborhood. Fine activities, both, but sitting in an urban restaurant, sipping a glass of wine, is always nice too. I don't feel the need to live in any city ever again, but I do understand some of their perks.
And then just this past Friday it was time to get a little karaoke into our lives. H. and I met up with C. and W. and a big group of farm interns from a farm a bit north of us. We were at least 10-people strong. We went to a local dive-y bar and sang and danced and it was a lot of fun. I sang I'm Looking Through You by the Beatles, and peer pressured H. into singing a Pat Benatar song.
Equally peer pressured was W....into singing Fancy by Iggy Azalea.