Tag Archives: farm

Here Kitty Kitty

28 Apr

In the city I did not to notice a huge difference in safety, security or activity when dusk turned to night. The street lights popped on allowing us to see almost just as well as during the daylight hours, the number of cars driving by didn’t slow down all that much (until much later in the night) and the daytime noises seemed to carry on save for a few bird tweets who settled into bed somewhere and the honking of the boats pleading for the bridge to open, now all docked and done for the day.

But here, dusk is a very different time. The hundreds of birds and their endless daytime chatter shack up for the night. The frogs take their place with their croaking harmonies. The owls may start to make themselves heard. Sometimes you will hear the yips of the coyotes. But mostly it gets dark. Really dark.

This is no jungle but their are plenty of creatures out there. And my mind has a nasty habit of grossly over-thinking what lingers beyond the illumination of our porch light.

Turns out, a cougar does.

Well, not exactly outside our house – more like on the other side of the property, acres and acres away. But still! Holy shit Batman.

A few weeks ago while doing barn chores, my mom noticed that one of the older llamas (one with an injured leg no less) was lying down way off in the wooded area in the horse pasture. All the animals usually come straight in during this feeding time so the lying llama was a concern. As she predicted, it was dead. Killed and dragged about fifty feet and “hid” under some brush. Classic cougar kill.

So we hooked up a night vision camera on the tree overlooking the general area and collected some photos of the cougar coming back night after night just around dusk to feast on her kill. She ultimately dragged the llama a few hundred yards, under a fence and closer to the wooded area behind said pasture. Cougars are beautiful animals and ones that you rarely see, let alone capture on film. Needless to say, we were all pretty amazed at the images.

While the cougar sighting wasn’t a shock – we know they are out there along with bears – it was a reminder that we no longer live in a predictable urban neighborhood.

We live in the wilderness.

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Back in the Saddle Again

27 Apr

Wow, it has been quite a while since I sat down to write about our life on the farm…you may think that I am just way too busy but in fact, I got lazy. You see, we didn’t sign up to have internet in our cottage – so in order to check my email or browse online or post, I needed to walk a whopping hundred yards to the office to do so. I was pretty good about this in the beginning but then, well, I got lazy.

So, after nine months of living out here on the farm, I finally decided it was time to plug back in to the world wide web. I avoided doing so for a variety of reasons – but mainly because it’s a pain in the ass. And this exercise did fair any better.

I dialed up the phone company to hook us up, hoping that it would be a simple switch (the cottage has had internet in the past). Of course, this was not to be, but not for the reasons I expected.

This little town I now call home did not have any more portals for me to hook into. I had to have the poor guy on the phone explain this to me several times – no portals? So, you are telling me that all the people behind me that may move to this town or decide one day they want to be connected to the outside world simply cannot? Are you serious?

Yes, as he so patiently explained, indeed they cannot and either can you.

Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore. I guess this is one of the oh so subtle downsides to living in a small town.

In the end, I purchased a router extender to extend the service from the office to our house. Et voila, I now have the whole world in my living room again.

It feels good. It feels new and fresh. I can look something up in a click of a button again! Hooray for technology!

In any event, I hope this allows me to start writing again….so if you are still out there dear readers, I’m baaaaaaack!

Leather Shorts and Bog Boots

23 Oct

We have a wedding to go to next weekend so today I shuffled through the two bins where all my “nice” clothes lay packed and preserved for the rare occasion when I may need them. It has been a few months since I last laid eyes on these clothes – gorgeous dresses, velvet coats, delicate sweaters and a variety of former work wear (suits, dress pants, collared shirts). It felt a little unnerving to dig through these – I started to get an urge to be back in the city. This feeling of returning to the urban life where I may be able to wear such garments without being splattered with mud or horse poop.

But here’s the thing – last week I spent a day in the city and was so stressed and hurried about that by the time I got on that ferry to come home, I was so excited to drive down that peaceful driveway and settle back into the country life. My, how quickly a few months in the quiet depths of woods and valleys can change the way you view Ballard Avenue or lunch hour. And so many cars and people! Geez, I didn’t remember it being so crowded and rushed – everyone zooming on to something more important, more urgent. I couldn’t imagine ever living there again.

So I am experiencing this pull in opposite directions – I really enjoy being out here where the librarian knows me by name and fellow parents at my daughter’s school are eager to invite you over but that city allure – the nice clothes, the funky ensembles, the late pizza run still resonate with me. In all honesty though, I haven’t worn get-ups like that since before I had children – they are by far the worst offenses to my clothes. Sure, scooping horse poop in a red leather jacket may not be practical but it is still doable while berry picking with your children in your pale cashmere sweater and heeled boots just doesn’t seem responsible.

How does one feed their desire to have personal style and be “in-the-know” all the while magnetically pulled to farm life and raising animals? Is there a middle ground? And please don’t tell me that means moving to a suburb. Can I not wear my sequined cardigan to the Corner Farmstand? Or crazy beaded hoop earrings with red lipstick to drop off?

This reminds me of Emerson Fry – a clothing designer who lives in NYC and on a farm in New Hampshire. She is often pictured wearing such fabulous outfits such as long leather clothes while tending to the pigs. Now, I know this is for photo shoot purposes only but it makes you think…perhaps you can marry the two?

All images from EmersonFry

Reasons You May Be a Country Gal at Heart

27 Aug

1. You don’t freak out when your 1 year-old son comes jogging up behind you holding a dead mole by its ear.

2. Checking for possible spiders hiding under your comforter every night before you hop in to bed is not a nuisance.

3. Hearing what sounds like a rather large animal in the brush as you walk back to your house at dusk excites you.

4. Watching your son throw horse poop (cowpies) off the creek bridge just makes you giggle.

5. Everything closes by 7 and you are ok with that.

6. You now own five pairs of boots.

7. You let your daughter carry home 6 dead crab shells from the beach to float in your kiddie pool. Apparently that’s where they now live.

8. Finding a dead weasel in the lawn outside the gardens sends you rushing to find your kids to show it off.

9. Your arms are sore from picking berries all summer and you like it.

 

Hay is for Horses…and Llamas

30 Jul

We helped hay yesterday – well, I should clarify, my husband helped hay yesterday. I put the kids to bed and road by bike out to the barn to watch for a few minutes. You need moral support for these types of things you know. Someone has to cheer you on.

It’s a funny thing, this farm life. While I sat there, watching bale after bale ride up into the hay loft, it struck me how living on a farm really forces you to live in the present as well as plan for the future. Harvesting and haying are both activities that need to be done at that specific point in time. If you wait a week or two, the berries will be gone, the hay will be wet and ruined and the veggies will be rotten. You very much need to act when the opportunity presents itself. On the other hand, you are also planning for the future – you are jamming those berries, storing that hay and canning or pickling those veggies for the colder months.

The cycle of the farm is so interesting to someone who could, for almost my entire life, just walk or drive to a store and buy whatever I needed at that time. Craving a strawberry crumble in February? No problem. Corn on the cob in April? Yeah, why not. But even more than being able to find any given food at any given time of year, I could also grab some paper for the printer or more crayons for the kids or shampoo for my hair. Now that we live 35 minutes from the nearest grocery store (although there is a fantastic little mini mart that has organic and local stuff just in Quilcene, but it doesn’t have everything you might need) we need to plan quite a bit ahead.

This feels a little more authentic – if you will allow me to use that word. It feels satisfying to live off your land (granted, I have done none of the work to make this land productive – so I am fully reaping all the benefits – I just harvest what I can and will do a lot of canning, jamming and such in the Fall) and in turn, it feels as though we are living within our means. Even if we can afford to shop, buy and acquire, not doing so feels really refreshing. In the city, I felt like I was spending money everyday even though it was mostly stuff we needed (what? we didn’t need new curtains or yet another summer dress? nonsense!). Now we do one big shopping trip a week and while I imagine that I am buying and spending similar amounts, it feels like less since it’s only once a week and not a few times a day. And yes, yes, yes I could have done this in the city as well but I am a weak weak person and the temptation to do it multiple times a day was just too much. The convenience of having all those stores and all those options at my fingertips whenever I so desired was just too much for me to resist.

So basically I suppose I am grateful for this forced break from my habits. It allows me to realize how distracting it was to run over to the co-op real quick for a few items, then across the street to see if anything leapt out at me for the kids and finally a swing by the thrift store “just to look” – all that activity really drained me by the end of the day. Or even having to haul the kids in the car to go to the zoo, the beach, the park…it was all adding to the already exhausting task of caring for two toddlers.

So that was my a-ha! moment of the week. I now deserve the rest of the week off. Thank you.

Pressing Cider and Raising Kids with Finnriver Farm

18 Jul

Living on a farm is the ultimate dream, am I right? Ok, maybe it’s not for everyone, but I urge you to find someone who has not, even for one nanosecond, fantasized about farm life. Farms bring dinner to the table people! What is not to like about that? Today, I am thrilled to share with you a couple who did decide to live on a farm and in doing so, created a thriving business.

Crystie and Keith live on a farm, with their two sons, that boasts berries upon berries, veggies, fruit trees and also honey bees, layer and meat chickens, and, sometimes, cows, pigs, sheep or goats. Now this is a full-fledged working farm my friends. But the best part about it? It is home to Finnriver Cider! For someone who doesn’t drink a fair amount of beer, cider is my go-to beverage of choice for BBQs, boat rides, camping…you get the idea. I love me some cider. Finnriver makes some of the best ciders I have tasted and its local (to me at least) to boot. Here I am excited to share with you some insight as to how one runs a farm, a cidery and a business all while raising two young boys. Enjoy!

Q: Please introduce your family and where you live.

Our family includes parents Keith and Crystie Kisler and boys River (9) and Coulter (4).  We live on a 33 acre organic farm called Finnriver in the Chimacum Valley on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.  River was named both for Keith’s love of wild rivers and my sense of how birthing him carried me into the ‘flow’ of something much larger than myself.  Our farm was named “Finnirver” when River was a toddler, in honor of him and our then partners’ son Finn.  And Coulter was named for the ‘coulter blade’, which cuts the sod in front of the plough.  After he was born, we realized that Keith and I feel in love living on Old Coulterville Road.  At Finnriver, we live with a community of farmers who grow mixed berries and vegetables and raise chickens, goats, pigs and ducks for meat and eggs.  We also have a small-scale craft Cidery where we ferment hard ciders and fruit wines.

Q: How did you decide to live in the country and specifically on a farm?

Keith was raised on a farm family in eastern Washington (he was 4th generation born to the farm and his nephew, the 5th generation is now farming there) that was very connected to their place and their livelihood on the land. I, on the other hand, moved a lot as a child and lived in some major metropolitan areas, New York City, LA, Phoenix, San Francisco…Keith and I met working in Yosemite National Park in California doing environmental education with kids as we hiked up and down the Sierra Nevada mountains.  After we fell in love, we began to explore what kind of life we hoped to have together.  We wanted to continue the work of helping to re-connect people and nature and, in considering Keith’s farm background, we realized that people eat “nature” three times a day.  You don’t have to go into the wilderness to discover ‘the environment.’  We consume earth, air, water and light with each meal!  We began to dream of our own farm and ways to build community on the land.

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The Bounty Behind Our Cottage

16 Jul

One of the many benefits of living on a farm is fresh produce at your fingertips. Today we spent some hours harvesting for our meals – for dinner we had a salad of romaine lettuce, roasted beets with cilantro, sauteed snap peas and carrots and fresh white king salmon caught this morning. No joke.

Literally everything we ate was from our garden here (or caught out at sea just down the road) – save the olive oil and salt.

It’s crazy good, folks, crazy good.

And then, just to send it over the top, I made raspberry sorbet. Yes, yes, from raspberries I picked today. (The little helper above didn’t do much of picking, more along the lines of eating and eating and eating.)

 

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