Thursday, January 20, 2011

Agricultural Alchemy

Forget lead-into-gold. We have succeeded in an alchemy far more precious: sunlight into earth, earth into bacon, and bacon magically transformed into...fresh shrimp!

Okay, so maybe we had a bit of help with the first part. The Great Golden Orb's radiant energy was captured and held in earth, solar energy coursing through each element of the ecosystem. Next, we brought piglets into the mix: greedy little earth-gobblers, leftover-lovers, four-footed fertilizers. They rooted for us, and we rooted for them.

Then, one day, the pigs came home in little white packages. That was another kind of magic, to which we shall merely make allusion. You could say it was an act of, slight...of hand. Six roisterous, boisterous hogs had been divvied up, cooled down and gift-wrapped.

Next, six little piggies went to market. Our farmshare customers bought most of the meat, ordering animals by quarters, halves and wholes. (Two other pigs were otherwise processed into traditionally-cured products we'll have to wait months to taste. We trust it will be worth the wait!) We ended up with about one pig's worth of meat for our own freezer, plus lard to be saved for cookery and soap.

Well, that freezer was stuffed mighty full, so yesterday I took a few extra white packages with me when I went to the Winter Farmers' Market. There, in the cooler, underneath all our beautiful farm-fresh eggs, sat a pound or two of nitrate-free bacon, some ground pork and some chops: the original countryside currency.

Standing at a table across from me, the Live Lobster Lady lilted a lament. "Meat!" She cried, "My family's so hungry for meat!" I listened with ill-disguised delight. Too much seafood on their table? How fortuitous! In our house, it just so happens that we're tired of pork and eggs! I took out a pack of bacon and sallied forth across the aisle. That's when the alchemy happened. One hand to another, a shared smile and a few magic words, and the bacon disappeared, to be replaced by two packets of fresh-caught hand-picked shrimp meat.

The shrimp meat was transported home with much fanfare. A little lime juice, some garlic and peanut butter and olive oil, a bit of egg and some rice noodles, and more magic happened: Pad Thai! (I would have taken a picture, but we "disappeared" it too fast.)

I'm enjoying our experiments with agricultural alchemy. Maybe next week, I'll go looking for that other transformative substance: the fabled Philosopher's Scone.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pay It Forward!

Over a year ago, MamaPea hooked me in to the fun. Now it's my turn.


Despair comes all too easy--grim and goth and oh-so-hip--
Cynicism is the fashion of the day.
Pollyannas make folks queasy: "Darken up, Girl! Get a grip!"
But I declare: I'm going out to play.

Hope is harder. How it stretches the weak muscles of the mind.
How we ache with angst as spirits reach and grow!
How we wonder, wander, bend as our fashioned fears unwind,
Giving grace the shape of all the seeds we sow.

Now's the season for beginnings. Life's returning with the sun.
Time to laugh in fear's false face; be a creator!
To receive a handmade gift, post a comment! Join the fun!
The first three will win, and Pay It Forward later!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Like Flynn!

It's the new year, and we're feeling bullish about the farm. You see, today is the twelfth day of Christmas, and a farmer from Northern Maine delivered a very special present to Iona and Maisie, our two Scottish Highland cows. His name--and I am NOT making this up--is Errol Flynn. This two-year-old blonde beauty has already been a hit with the heifers in his hometown, and we're hoping he'll help our cows produce some fine calves of their own. We intend to keep him around for a couple of years as a herdsire, then sell him on to someone else who needs a fine new bull for their cattlefold.

Welcome home, Errol! We hope you like our farm...and we hope Iona and Maisie like YOU. Here's a little glimpse into their getting-acquainted session, filmed about five minutes after he stepped out of the trailer and was led peaceably down into the pasture wearing a halter. (We're thrilled that he's halter-broke, in addition to his other good qualities. His breeder did some excellent work with him and we can tell he's been handled regularly and well.) She slipped the halter off him once he was inside the pasture gate, then we all stepped back to watch. Want to share in the fun?

Here you go: