26 July 2009

barn notes: the luck of the irish

Out of all the animals on my parents' farm, I've found myself feeling empathy for one in particular: a goat who goes by the name of Irish Cream. 

Irish was born in the spring of 08' and since her introduction to our barnyard has been one bundle of trouble. We like to say she has the curiosity of a cat, but not the luck of the Irish. 

For instance, which animal do you suppose got her head stuck in the hay feeder three times last summer, culminating in my father's use of a bolt cutter and a few missing fence panels? None other than Irish. Which goat seems to always be getting chased by all of the other goats and the sheep? None other than Irish. 

Who got her head caught in something (we don't know what) a few days ago and broke her horn off? None other than Irish. 

So now Irish has only one horn. I'm hoping this actually works in her favor, and she'll be able to stick her head wherever she wants in the future and not get into trouble. I went to visit her in the barn this morning and found her in good spirits at the hay feeder. Of course she wasn't standing docilely like the other animals chewing her cud, she was up on her hindquarters searching for tidbits in the all the hard-to-reach places. 

Now you've got to admire that.

25 July 2009

dragon carrot soup

"What garden isn't out of control in July?" I asked my mother earlier today. 

"No, name me a garden that isn't out of control in July," I said a few moments later as I slathered fresh basil pesto on a Ritz cracker. 

They all are, so I won't feel bad that some of the weeds in mine are bigger than my nasturtiums, or that creeping charlie has invaded my shallot bed. (The shallots will be harvested later on today, anyway, and the creeping charlie will go with it.)

It doesn't matter if my garden has a few (albeit ginormous) weeds. This morning I pulled a weed too aggressively out in the carrot bed and I ended up toppling over into a patch of dill. As the aromatic scent of dill surrounded me, I considered the possibility that right then and right there was the best possible place in the world to be.

I think all gardeners ultimately come to this conclusion, that's why we garden so compulsively and with such joy. 

If growing things is exciting, then preparing meals with what you've tended is an even greater thrill. Today our kitchen is filled with carrot tops and bits of fragrant rosemary, sage and thyme. I'm making carrot soup with some early summer carrots, and roasted baby potatoes tossed in olive oil. These beautiful sides will be paired with our own grass-fed lamb chops marinated in red wine, rosemary and garlic. 

Are you hungry? 

After I post this, I'm going to bake a few loaves of Italian feather bread. I can't wait for dinner. This sure beats week days in the city, where I eat like a starving graduate student. 

Hope all of you are having something good for dinner and that you got the chance to take part in the process of getting it to your table. 

P.S. that's my brother with a clutch of dill, me with the bowl of pink baby potatoes, and the last is the carrots tossed in olive oil with fresh herbs just before I placed them in the oven to roast. 

12 July 2009

some progress (and no more headbutts)

Well, I didn't sit out on the lawn and drink all weekend. 

I got some knitting done as well. Mountain Colors yarn looks gorgeous in any pattern, but I'm especially loving the way its coming together in this After Hours Shawl by Cynthia Joseph. 

My sister and her husband came over this afternoon and we grilled out in the front yard. I made my first batch of pesto for the season and some homemade pasta.

The fields are bone dry around our farm. We need rain so badly my mother has started to supplement the sheep with hay because the pastures are drying out. We got a light sprinkle of rain this morning, but it wasn't enough to wet the ground beneath the trees. 

The extended forecast is calling for some precipitation later on this week, I hope for the grass's sake (and our animals winter supply of hay) we get some. 

As for some barn notes: my mother separated the ewes from their lambs this evening. For the past month it's been hilarious to watch them attempting to nurse on their mothers. They're so big they have to kneel down to get what they're after, while at the same time their mother is usually walking away or shrugging them off. 

Our sheep tend to nurse very aggressively with lots of headbutts, which I don't think makes them endearing to their mothers at this point. 

I guess the moral of this saga down at our barn this evening is that there are a lot of crying lambs and a half dozen very contented ewes chewing their cud. 

P.S. this photo was taken earlier this spring. Here's the lambs when they were small and manageable. They're still not the size of their mother's, but they're handful enough.

Buck up, dearies. 

11 July 2009


Lazy summer days.

Had a great time this afternoon sitting out in the front yard under the shade of the oaks drinking mojitos. 

We don't have a set of glasses that match, so we had to settle for an assortment of jelly jars. I have to admit, I don't mind drinking out of a jelly jar. 

Somehow it adds to the experience. 

As you can see, Jack got in on the fun as well. 

Hope all of you are enjoying your summer afternoon. 

05 July 2009


Finally, a weekend off to catch up on the blog and do a little gardening.

I didn't think anyone was really following this blog until I made a mistake last week and published a draft of one of my posts in error.

(My mom told me she read a strange blurb with no pictures and a lot of gibberish about the summer solstice etc., but was then surprised to find it missing the next time she logged on.)

Let's hope most of you missed that post too. I was behind on sleep and apparently eye/finger coordination when I shut my computer down for the night. The long hours that I'm required to be in the design studio have taken some time to get used to, but I'm back on my game today after a weekend of lazy summer mornings and evenings playing croquet on the back lawn.

I'm posting these socks this weekend because the photo I took of them makes me think of a colorful explosion of fireworks against a clear night sky. 

(That's my sister again, modeling. Give her a new pair of socks and she'll do just about any crazy thing for a photo shoot.)

The neat thing about these socks is that they are hand dyed and hand spun. This is double ply merino top. The pattern was inspired by Lynn Vogel's The Twisted Sister's Sock Workbook, a publication that I believe I've mentioned before and highly recommend . . . at least if you want to take your sock knitting to the next level. (That is, If you want to shoot for the stars like a bottle rocket.)

Back to school tomorrow, but I want to tell you all that I have located my knitting bag amidst the clutter of packing boxes and general disarray of my new apartment and I'm dedicated to completing a few pattern repeats  on my current project each day.

What can I say, my life might be completely frantic right now, but knitting keeps me sane.

P. S. The oak tree featured in this post is a very dear friend of mine. She's stood in our back woods since my grandfather was a boy. Can you see the twist in her trunk? Like most mature oak trees she has a hollow trunk surrounded by a living shell of fiber and protective bark. Her branches are a great place for a photo shoot. (And no one fell out.)
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