September 2012 Archives

I had never been a coffee person until I moved to New York City. The coffee there is just a different animal. With all of the small roasters around the city it's easy to get a cup that stands far above the standard gas station watery brew that are pretty much par for the course outside of larger cities. Once I had a taste of the real deal I was hooked. Powerful, toasty, rich. It was easy to love. You don't usually get the same level of commitment to a good cup outside of New York City. (with the exception of perhaps Seattle or Portland) I think one of the tenets of being a good new yorker is that you can recognize a good cup of coffee and can handle drinking several strong cups a day without having a meltdown. It took me a while but I finally got there....and let me tell you, it feels alright.

Mornings around here at Seven Arrows have been impossible without some rocket fuel to get our collective motors running. We've been hustling to get outbuildings finished enough to be inhabitable for the chickens and goats (which arrive tomorrow!!) while still tending to our jobs and responsibilities. It's also been chilly here on the shore, and getting out from under our cozy wool blankets only happens with promise of a mug of piping hot black lightening. We need this stuff. Our farm runs on it. It's reminiscent of donut chain slogans, but it's the truth.

My friends over at Cafe Grumpy have been hooking this farm up in a big way. Every two weeks I go out to the mailbox to find a couple of bags of their most recently roasted beans, some just a two or 3 days out of the roaster. The first time I received a package from Caroline Bell, cofounder of "Grumps" as Neil and I so lovingly refer to it, I was touched. I don't know that the importance of such a gift is obvious to anyone who hasn't embarked on a path that pretty much guarantees hardship. It's a little luxury, but it helps a ton.

Cafe Grumpy was a big part of our life in Brooklyn. We were located just a block from our old place in Brooklyn so we spent 95% of our coffee budget with them. Our loyalty was rewarded with all of the coffee chaff out chickens could shit upon, saving us money on bedding. We still pick up sacks of chaff when we are in the neighborhood. It's nice that we get to enjoy a little bit of our old life here in New Jersey.

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Each morning we grind up some beans and load up the percolator that was given to me by my grandmother. A few minutes later, with hands cupped around warm mugs, we traipse out onto the farm to feed the dogs, chickens and rabbits, who seem to appreciate the added pep to our step.

Yet another dose of reality.

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Real talk.

Starting a farm is damn hard, and not for the reasons that you think. You plan and plan and if you are foolish like me, you nearly convince yourself that the whole thing is bulletproof. But it's the little surprises that get you. Animals, even domestic ones, by nature can be unpredictable, well...the one thing I can predict with some certainty now is injuries. There will be sickness, especially with animals spending any time outdoors. And it's expensive to have professionals take care of the problems when they arise.

We had a double dose of critter chaos today. Both Peach and and Huxley, my 11 year old purrfect feline pal, had to be taken to the vet in a pinch. Peach, having learned nothing after the last tussle, scrapped with Stevie again and lost. The end result was a nasty cut on her arm that needed stitches. Huxley got very ill quite suddenly and we needed to act fast to avoid losing him. His condition is still uncertain, but I know that his kidneys are not functioning properly and the vets are focusing their attention there. It's all murky. Tests are still being run. I'm frightened though. I love him more than nearly anything (I don't post much about him, oddly enough) so if anything happens to him, I'll be crushed. He's been a true friend through many rough times.

huxmyraneil.jpeg (Huxley on the lower left, Myra and Neil napping this week)

Peach came home this evening. My friend Ryan, who has staying at Seven Arrows to help with outbuilding construction, accompanied me to bring her home. She cuddled with us both in the cab of the pick-up, seeming quite glad to be in the company of her people. She's got to wear one of those dreadful cones to keep her from picking at the 5 staples in her arm and is separated from her sister for now. They will both need to be fixed in the hopes to calm them and we will continue to work with them together. We are hoping after a very clear loss (Peach has been showing submissive behavior since), they will have fewer fights, but we are not taking any chances.

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It's only Monday. I am exhausted, money is becoming increasingly scarce, but I am trying to remain hopeful.

Things aren't all strife and anguish over here at the farm. There is progress being made and land being enjoyed. There is no salve quite as soothing as good food, especially if it's derived from your own hands, or the hands of those close to you. Here are some of the beautiful edible things I've been reveling in this week.

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I've been on a major fermentation kick this month. I've made 3 different types of sauerkraut (red, curry, and traditional white cabbage) kombucha and hot sauce. I can't get enough fermented goodness!

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The persimmon tree along side of the cottage has been dropping fruits everywhere. I found a ton of them in the bed of the pickup yesterday. I'm trying to decide what to do with them, but I may just end up roasting them or making a syrup for cocktails. What would you make with them?

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A neighbor and avid hunter came by to drop off the log splitter for the felled maple on the property and when I mentioned I had lots of eggs from my hens (he used to have a small flock of Rhose Island Reds before the foxes got 'em) he offered to trade me some venison for a dozen and a half of our blue, green and brown eggs. He left, and a while later returned with about 10 lbs of venison steaks, bacon, and ground meat from a doe he bagged here on the property last year. With this special delivery came promise of more in the future after this hunting season, which promises to be a good one, especially with all of the deer activity I'm seeing around these parts. I love a good trade.

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Over in veggie-land, just when I thought my watermelon radishes were a flop....surprise! A nice little harvest with plenty in the ground to last a bit.

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We made this spicy, sassy salad out of zippy Osaka Purple mustards, cherry tomatoes and the watermelon radishes from the garden and dressed it up with toasted pepitas, red baron onion, fresh sweet corn and butternut squash seed oil. It was one punchy salad, and it looked amazing! Who said salads have to be boring!

It's hard to know what to share.

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So much has happened in the past week. It's hard to know where to begin and how much to share without creating an off-putting deluge of information. Last week was intense and full of inspiring, painful and challenging events. I'm not able to stop and blog about it as it happens so you will have to forgive me for giving you all the severely abridged version. Perhaps I'll feel capable of expounding later, but for now a rundown will have to do. My apologies.

Let's start with the worst. My father, who I've always had a very trying relationship with, is on his death bed. He fighting through his final stages of cancer. I have many feelings about it, but this is not how I'd like to share them. Needless to say, it has created a heaviness around me all week. Relationships with parents can be really complicated...you'd think it'd be simple, but it rarely is.

pupsbycolleen.jpeg (Photo by Colleen Walsh)

In farm news, the dogs have been regularly duking it out in order to establish dominance. Whether it be over food or attention, they have been going after one another to varying degrees of intensity. There was a bad fight last week and Stevie ripped Peach up pretty badly. I was there alone in the paddock with them, freaking out as soon as I saw the contrast of red blood against white fur. I miraculously pried them apart, shaking and covered in dog blood. It was not their fault. I tried to take a short cut in training and it was a poor decision. The good news is that both dogs are in perfect health now (only superficial cuts) and we're going back to training the slow and steady way. In the meantime, we've been withholding excessive affection and feeding the girls separately with two people in the run to command "sit" once their bowls are empty. We hope there will be fewer triggers and we can get them feeling comfortable in each others presence once more.

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We've also been constructing outbuildings, which is something I admittedly have no experience with. In fact there are many moments during the process where I feel downright useless...oftentimes resorting to facilitating lunch and transport to and from the ferry for visitors rather than manning the chop saw and potentially messing something up. I've got quite a bit of anxiety over basic carpentry, I really do. I'm ashamed of this shortcoming of mine and hope that I can overcome it over the course of the next couple of weeks. There is still a ton of work left, though we're hoping to complete much of it this weekend. Anyone want to come lend a hand? Show me the ropes?

There's plenty of other stuff going on but those things will come in the form of actual blog posts. Thanks for sticking with me, folks! It's going to be one hell of a ride!

It's been a busy time, everybody! We're getting prepped for outbuilding construction next week. It'll be a mad dash to get everything built over the next couple weeks. Goats come at the end of the month! All of the critters need proper lodging before the temperatures drop. So it goes. Time to get'r done!

Here are some snapshots from the past week, which has been pretty glorious.

somanyeggs.jpeg (We've been getting so many eggs from our layers that we often have to give them away! Not quite ready for selling just yet.)

collardsbouquet.jpeg (Been harvesting some of flowers and greens from the garden as of late. This is my kind of bouquet!)

heavybales.jpeg (There is a certain satisfaction that comes from being able to stack a couple dozen 70 lb bales of straw and hay when you're only about 5'5" and fresh from the city.)

balebrooder.jpeg (Made an outdoor nursery for the chicks and ducklings to move into after their initial stint indoors)

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neilduckling.jpeg (The babies arrived! We're smitten with the ducklings, who love splashing and blowing bubbles in the waterer. They sure are messy though!)

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(Still finding at least one huge Chicken every day in the woods behind the farm. I've recently taken to making mock Chick-Fil-A sandwiches with them (because they won't ever get another cent from me, the bigots!) by breading the mushrooms in a paprika and sriracha mixture and frying them in my cast iron. Add a toasted buttery potato roll, dill pickles slices and some salty chips and boy howdy is dinner freakin' served!)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2012 is the previous archive.

October 2012 is the next archive.

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