Saturday, January 30, 2010
"The only stunningly original idea we've had as a species is to grow our own food."
I've been thinking about it all day. In many ways, the idea that we could cultivate the soil and husband livestock was (and is) revolutionary. Our ability to grow food for others makes everything else we think of as "culture" possible.
As Lynn and I were talking after the conference, it's hard to be pessimistic after such a gathering of small-scale growers. I think farmers, by nature, are optimists - you can't put a seed in the ground or turn a ram in with a bunch of ewes and be anything but optimistic. I always come away from this gathering energized and ready to face the new growing season. I feel so fortunate to be part of a community of farmers!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
- Have a strong desire to learn the business of grass-based sheep production and marketing;
- Enjoy working with animals; and
- Be very strong, healthy, physically fit, and love working outdoors.
- Rewarding; and
- Highly educational
You will leave our Apprenticeship Program with the skills and knowledge necessary to start your own grass-based livestock business or to expand your existing enterprise.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
At the 80th birthday party of a friend who has been in Auburn most of his life, we were talking about what makes this part of the foothills so attractive. For me, a big reason to stay here (both as a farmer and as an eater) is our year-round farmer's market. We're incredibly fortunate to live in an area where it's so easy to get locally grown food 12 months out of the year.
My parents have now lived in Sonora for more than 40 years, and while they aren't quite "old timers" compared to the families who have been in Sonora for 4-5 generations, they've been there long enough to not be considered newcomers. Auburn has a more transitory feel - our proximity to Sacramento has created a lot more growth pressure than other foothill towns have experienced. This difference, at least to me, makes it seem like one can be an "old timer" sooner than in other places. I have also come to think that being an old timer is more a matter of perspective and less a matter of chronology.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Mulligatawny soup is a product of the British colonization of India. The British preferred a separate soup course with their dinner which differed from the Indian custom of serving all the foods in the meal at one time. The dishes closest to soup in Indian cuisine at the time were thin sauces that accompanied rice and curry dishes; however, they were not drunk by themselves. The word mulligatawny is a corruption of the Indian word milagu-tannir, meaning “pepper water”. (Notice the large amounts of black pepper in the recipe).
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Today, however, was not one of those days. Today, Mother Nature brought 50 mph winds and horizontal rains to Doty Ravine, where we currently manage 200 +/- sheep, 21 goats and 32 cow-calf pairs. The wind made the simple act of walking across the pastures exceedingly difficult. The rain, which was also moving at 50 mph, stung wherever it found bare skin. I can honestly say that even the best rain gear fails to keep the rain out when it's accelerated to such an extent.
Most days, I love being a shepherd. I didn't dislike my job today, but I was definitely worn out, cold and wet when I finally got home. Maybe tomorrow, Mother Nature will feel like being my partner again!
Monday, January 18, 2010
I think it must have something to do with the changing barometric pressure - seems like ewes that are close to lambing will wait until crummy weather. Fortunately, most of our ewes are good mothers who produce a lot of milk and who take good care of their lambs. We'll keep a close eye on them during the storms that are due in this week.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This made me think - is there something genetic in the Macon clan that makes us hang onto things? Are we genetically inclined to being pack rats, or is this a learned behavior? I don't know. It also made me think about our livestock and our dogs. Our sheep learn to eat certain plants - the lambs seem to learn from their mothers and from each other. The ewes eat a more widely varied diet than the lambs. Do they learn this, or is it genetic? Our border collies possess tremendous instinct to go around the sheep, which seems to be genetic. Some handlers I know, who speak without an accent in most cases, have a Scottish burr when they are working their dogs. Is this because these dogs evolved on the border between Scotland and England and have heard a brogue for many generations? My friend Roger has a border collie that came from Argentina. She will sit when given the command in Spanish, which Roger has never used himself.
I've concluded that we learn much of our behavior, but our ability to learn and the ways in which we learn best are genetically coded in some way. It's fascinating to watch. Most ewes, when they have their first lambs, know exactly what to do. Those that don't know how to be a mother don't last long in our flock - we need sheep that know how to do their jobs.
Friday, January 15, 2010
This weather will present some short term challenges for us. The ground will be so saturated that we won't be able to drive out to the sheep and goats (to haul water, replace batteries, etc.). The sheep are well-equipped to deal with wet weather (their wool coats keep them warm), the goats are less hardy. We'll likely be erecting shelter for them in the midst of the storm. Wind and rain can also impact attendance at the farmers' markets.
Over the long term, these storms are exactly what we need. The soil profile will be fully saturated, which translates to grass when the days grow longer and warmer. Snow in the mountains means water in the reservoirs - essential to our summer irrigation season.
I'll admit - I love winter weather. There will come a time that I grow weary of the mud and dampness, but for now, I'm looking forward to stormy days!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
1 lb ground lamb
Splash of Snow's Citrus Court Zesty Mandarin Vinaigrette
Two Spicy Ladies Couscous seasoning (to taste)
Crumbled feta cheese from Dedrick's Cheese
Combine ingredients, form 1/4 to 1/3 lb patties and grill over direct heat for 5 minutes on each side. Serve with hamburger fixin's!
Bonk Burgers were great - we highly recommend them!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The Great Livestock Guardian Experiment of 2009 - Part II: Courtney and Lucy in a Tent (by Courtney McDonald)
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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