Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dirt between their toes

The weather has been beautiful and my kids have been outside most of everyday. They have climbed trees, played with the baby goats and stuck bare toes into the dirt while looking for worms. So when the calendar reminded me that we had a regular check up at the doctor’s office I did what every good parent does and pushed them into the bathroom to wash their faces and scrub their little hands. We even changed clothes and packed snacks. I was feeling like mother of the year, totally prepared, on time with all my medical cards and had even brushed my own hair. Then it happened, the nurse ushered us into a little room to measure and weigh them and said “please take off your shoes” That’s when I realized that not only was my 4 year old not wearing socks, but his feet looked like they hadn’t been washed since the start of the Californian drought. Mud and grass clung to his little toes and he left a muddy foot print on the scale. I was horrified as the nurse pulled out the sanitizer wipes, wiping off the scale then offering me a wet paper towel to clean my sons’ feet.

As I knelt down cleaning the caked on mud off of his feet, feeling embarrassed that the nurse thinks I don’t bath my son, I realized that those muddy toes had memories. Memories that will feed his soul as he grows up, they know wet grass, the slippery cold feeling of dew drops in the morning. They knew warm sticky mud, the kind that oozes between your toes when you scrunch them up tight. His feet know the pain of a thorn that feels so sharp that you think you will never walk again and then it’s gone and you’re running again in the dirt like you have never been hurt before. They know the way bark is ruff, but is so much easier to climb with your bare foot to the top of the trees, because shoes slip but little toes can grab. It will be this knowing of the earth, as an experience, that will allow his feet to be roots, roots that dig his heart and soul deep into the dark rich soil of our home and our family. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Buying on the Hoof 101 (part 1)

One of the best ways you can make a difference is by buying your meat on the hoof from a local farmer. I love some of the phrases out there that support this exchange like "Meet you Meat" Just last week we bought a pig from a local farmer, it was butchered on the farm by a local butcher and then sent to a butcher shop to be smoked. Let me list all the ways this helped the community and the environment.

1. First all the money stayed completely local. I bought the pig from the farmer living 20 miles from me, who bought his feed from the mill 20 miles from him. The butcher came to the farm and butchered the animal and then sent it to a shop in town for smoking. Not a penny, for over a years worth of pork, left my community.

2. Animal welfare is very important to me. I am not interested in eating tortured meat. The pig was raised on a farm, in a pasture and killed quickly and efficiently. When one person is killing and butchering one animal, there is a lot less room for error and if there was an error the butcher would control the situation immediately as apposed to what often happens at processing plants. You can do your own research on that topic.

3. Environmentally it is extremely important. I bought over a years worth of pork for my family and left a carbon foot print of less than 50 miles. Even if you added in the drive time for the butcher and for myself the pig moved less than 50 miles. I've seen blueberries with more stamps in their passport than I have. we need to eat local. Now lets talk about the feces waste from industrial meat plants. When you have hundreds or thousands of pigs in one spot that's a lot of nastiness that goes no where but into the soil and then into the water table. Raising only a few pigs allows the natural environment to recycle the waste.

Now lets go back to the cost. I will admit that upfront you do need to have the cash available to pay everyone. The farmer got $1.40 per pound hanging weight, that means the whole pig. My pig was 240lbs. Then the butcher charges $60 and finally the butcher shop costs will be between $250 and $300. (I'll give the run down on the cuts in tomorrows blog)
Overall it is a win win for everyone, well maybe not the pig, but at least I know that he was able to injoy his time on earth and was not left standing in his own feces for days before getting electrocuted in a shoot with twenty other scared animals.
Part two will give you a step by step account of how we found our farmer, and what you need to know to buy your own pig. If were going to eat meat we need to make conscious decision about how the animal was cared for and how it was killed.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I just love pomegranates. The dark red color, the sweet and tart taste even the way the seeds pop in your mouth...it is all sooo sensual. I remember the first time I had one. I was about 10 years old and playing at a friends house. I was raised with fruit trees so picking a warm juicy fruit right from the tree was an experience I knew. When I saw my friends fruit tree I was completely confused. It certainly didn't look like any fruit I had known. We shared one, sitting on her grandparents back porch. We pulled each little seed out eating them one by one. I think we must have spent the rest of the afternoon like that. picking one tiny seed at a time. Staining our mouths our clothes and our hands to the great disapproval of my mother.

I have lost some patience for the fruit over the years or maybe I have lost that freedom from time that children have. Picking the seeds one at a time from it's shell would use all of my will power as I attempted a meditative state of Divine acceptance.

So since meditation is not one of my strengths I've opted for a faster, easier approach.

1. Fill a bowl with warm water.
2. Make a small slice through the skin of the fruit
3. Submerge the fruit in the bowl of water and gentle peel it apart. Using your thumb to push the skin and membrane away from the seeds.
4. The membrane will float and the seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl.
5 Drain and serve.

There are so many wonderful uses for pomegranate seeds which are actually called arils.

My favorite is sprinkled onto vanilla icecream.

Put them on your salad, infuse vinegar, infuse vodka and I'm trying my hand at infused white wine vinegar. I'll post my recipes over the next few days.

The pomegranates that I am using where gleaned from our neighbors trees but we will be planting some ourselves this year so that we can include them for our members.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I am so very happy and excited to be joining up with kickstarter to help fund our first big project. I learned about kickstarter at the end of last year and was VERY impressed with the idea.
I have always loved to support individuals who are working to make their dreams come true. I love art, music and food. Kickstarter puts all of this together in a grass roots way to support each other. This is the true American Dream in a high tech way.
All of the systems that are currently in place cater to BIG business and ignore the enterpreneur, the dreamer, the musician, the artist. On kickstarter YOU can support the independent film, YOU can help the dreamer, YOU can say YES to the American Dream!!!!!!!
This is the real occupy movement. If the 99% would help each other, buy from each other the world will change.

Please take a look at our dream and give just a little. Can you give $5? can you pass the website on? Post on Facebook share with your friends. Skip the triple grande mocha today and make that $5 mean something!!!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To Vet or not to Vet

That is the question. I recently took a poll asking if I (as a farmer) used a vet for my livestock. It was a multiply choice with answers such as:

No, if it's sick I put it down my self
No, I do all of my own treatments

Yes, all the time
Yes, for financially important or emotionally important animals
Yes, when I can't handle the situation

I realized that I am a Yes for some animals and a no for others.

I've never taken my rabbits to the vet. I treat them myself giving shots as needed but when there is an illness or trauma that is beyond my abilities I dispatch the animal. I have never contemplated calling a vet, though financially they are my money makers right now.

My Nigerian Dwarf goats on the other hand have had Vet visits. The first was an ultra sound on my very first goat to see how many we were expecting and that everything was going smoothly. I haven't done that since, mostly because I feel confident that birth situations will be normal. I hope that if I am faced with a breech I will get right in there, literally.

The second visit was for a dislocated hoof. I tend to think that as my herd grows larger I will be less inclined to take them to the vet for minor injuries.

Most recently was the birth of two Nigerians from a first time mom. We had been gone for the morning and by the time we got home, after lunch, one of the babies was happily chasing mom around for another drink, but the other was almost lifeless, and cold.
It was great to see my kids go into action as they grabbed blankets, hot water bottles, baby bottles and most important the bag of fluids and needles needed to give the baby subcutaneous fluids.
Thankfully the heat and fluids did the trick and the baby girl was eating, pooping and walking by bed time. I will admit that I thought about calling a vet for a brief moment and then recognized that I would but it down if the fluids didn't help.
I'm not an animal rescue I am a farm and choices are made with a heavy leaning towards the financial concerns. I do care deeply for my animals and their well being, and would not let an animal suffer. Ultimately the care of the animals will be done by my hands and it's my responsibility to be prepared with the knowledge and tools to care for my livestock.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter on the Farm

After days of thick fog we had our first bright and sunny day. It was as if nature herself was celebrating the return of the sun to our farm. The girls all got outside to play with animals and clean up a little after the winter winds we have had.

We are still expecting baby goats soon. On of our Nigerians looks like she is carrying a bowling ball on each side of her. Once they are born we will let then nurse off of mom to ingest the colostrum and then bring them inside to be bottle fed. We feel that this creates the most friendly goats and most willing to share their milk once they become mothers themselves.

Unfortunately we have lost our two beautiful Russian Orloff Roosters. We had been given them by a friend and had let them free range around our property. We have been visited recently by two stray dogs and we believe that is what got our roosters as well as two of our hens. They had also attacked our goats but we were able to run them off without the goats being hurt.

We do have lots of persimmons left on the tree if anyone would like to come and get some. I have been drying them for snacks as well as freezing them for midsummer smoothies. I am really looking forward to making a banana and persimmon smoothie when the weather gets warm.

Finally our pamillos are ripe and delicious. I think the flavor is like a light grapefruit but it has very thick skin. So far we are just eating them fresh but I will be on the look out for recipes to try.

I am starting to dream of all the wonderful things we want to do on our farm this year. Starting with a dog proof chicken coop. Our dream of an organic farm has begun we have a long way to go but hope to have a CSA on a limit basis for friends and family by fall harvest next year.

I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Farmer Shayne

What is a Farm? According to Dictionary.com a Farm is a track of land usually with a house, barn or silo on which crops and often livestock is raised for livelihood. I have called myself an urban farmer for years. On my little city plot I raised goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits even quail not so much for my livelihood but more for lively living. I was proud of my urban farmer title and was honestly sad from the loss of that identity.
So now the new dilemma is when can I call myself a farmer? What act defines me as a farm, as opposed to a crazy city girl with lots of animals. We have the track of land, with a house. No barn yet but there are plans for that, a few fruit trees and livestock but does all that make me a farmer.
I felt there was something missing from the definition, something that states YES I am a farmer. That something was a cow. Not just any cow, but a dairy cow, ready to be milked morning and night, rain or shine.
Today I became a farmer.