Garlic, Gardening and Sunrises

Scape paste also known as HEAVEN!

Morning Ramblings:

We wake up at 4:30 around here to get chores done before our ‘off farm’ jobs require our attention. By 5:15 this morning it was just getting light enough for me to head down to the garden. I figure I had an hour or so before I had to get to my other work. I turned on the sprinklers, puttered with weeding and trimming back some kale and herbs. The garden has always been my happy place but if you get a chance to watch the sun come up from your garden, I highly recommend it. It takes gardening to a whole new level.

I also spent some time fixing and re-securing the strawberry netting – side note: years ago I met someone who grew berries and told me he believed in sharing his berry harvest with the birds and living in harmony with them. This sounded perfect to my peace loving, hippie soul and I decided right then and there that’s what I was going to do if I ever grew berries. Well, I’m here to tell you that he either didn’t have a clue what he was talking about or he didn’t like to eat berries very much. Sharing only works when both parties buy into the philosophy and at least on my farm, someone has neglected to tell the birds how this is supposed to work. The winged berry thieves completely devastated the first of the season’s strawberries. Even after they had their fill the greedy little buggers would still take a ‘taste’ out of each and every berry, leaving none untouched. Apparently sharing with wildlife is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory but in reality works out different than anticipated.

It was also finally time to start harvesting garlic scapes. Anyone who’s been following our blog or Facebook page know that I am a confessed garlic scape addict. I want impatiently all year for the incredibly short season. The only downfall of scapes is that they seem to bring out my inner kindergartner, the one that failed in sharing with others. My mother would be mortified by my lack of sharing with my friends, but since she is rarely on the internet, they’re on their own. This picture of a bowl of vibrant green, mash may not look like much to you but to me, it represents a year of impatiently waiting for a taste of heaven.

I love scapes fresh but also appreciate how easy it is to put up scapes for later use. I wash, chop and throw my scapes into the blender with olive oil and a pinch of salt. When blended into a paste I put them in ice cube trays and freeze them. This scape paste is indescribably amazing! I haven’t found the recipe that isn’t made better with scapes. I throw them in soups, mix with other herbs as a pesto, put it over potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, and right this very minute I am enjoying them with a mashed avocado spread over hunks of fresh sour dough bread. I’ve devoured an embarrassing amount of this scape paste already today, but on a positive note I’ll be free from any potential vampire harassment for the foreseeable future.

Garlic, gardening and sunrises. I got to enjoy some of my favorite things before many had even woken up. I’m feeling particularly blessed today. ❤

Advertisements
Goat Gremlins

Goat Gremlins

This is how it all started.

Last weekend I was trying to address the never ending tasks of cleaning the kitchen. Usually this feels like trying to stop a waterfall with a tea strainer . I mean, how do you clean something that is in constant use?

I digress, as I was saying, I was trying to clean the kitchen and came across a box of stale store bought donuts. I had bought them on a whim and we weren’t impressed. Which is both amazing (since I’m not the pickiest eater) and fantastic (since I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to diet). Anyway, I decided that the goats would probably enjoy these delicacies since they’re slightly less picky than I am.

I grabbed the donut box,  slipped on some shoes and headed out to the goat pasture. As I drew near the gate the goats all came running to see what gifts I came bearing. It took only a single taste from one of the gals before they all figured out I had something that something special that met with their approval. The herd swarmed the gate, pushing and yelling, trying to snatch the treats from my hands before anyone else could get any. I had wanted to evenly distribute the donuts and make sure they all received a share, but I quickly became preoccupied trying to keep track of my fingers and ensuring they didn’t get  snapped up by an overly enthusiastic and hungry  goat. All in all it I was feeling a bit too much like being in a Wal-Mart during a Black Friday sale. A mixture of exciting, kind of terrifying and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

All sweetness and innocence before the donuts.

During all this excitement, and while I was distracted with trying to keep track of the well being of my fingers, I failed to notice that the goats in their drunken, sugar fueled frenzy, were straining the industrial strength farm gate and latch. Without even a hint of remorse or warning the chain gave up any pretense of trying to keep the gate closed and it flew open and directly into me. Thankfully, I still had all my fingers and was able to catch the runaway gate before it caught me fully in the face. However, now I was stuck with a dilemma. There wasn’t enough intact chain to re-secure the gate and if I let go of the gate to go get more chain the goats would make a break for it. I yelled for Hubs….and yelled……and yelled….. Did I mention he’s a bit hard of hearing?

At this point, I recognized the seriousness of my situation. I was all that stood between the hangry goat herd and the lush, overgrown grass and more importantly, the brand new, baby grape leaves in our new vineyard. This was dire indeed.  I threw the rest of the donuts over the fence in hopes of placating the super sugar charged herd and prayed hard that Hubs would hear me. He eventually wandered outside and found me fighting to hold the gate closed. He grabbed some items out of the goat barn, rigged a temporary solution and hurried off to the shop to locate a more substantial chain and latch.

Now that I was relieved from gate duty, I wandered down to the vineyard to catch my breath and appreciate the fact that my precious grape vines had been saved. At least that was the plan, until I heard excited goats yelling what resembled a war cry. I looked up to find the goats had once again broken the temporary latch and were making a mad prison break from their pasture. I ran as fast as my slip on shoes would allow up the hill, shouting threats and obscenities all the way and managed to catch the gate before the entire herd had escaped. I found myself once again yelling for Hubs, and also yelling for the goats to stay away from the vineyard.  Hubs eventually returned and fixed the gate. We rounded up the escapees without too much drama and only minor pruning to the grape vines and secured the gate with a heavier duty chain and latch.

I wish I could say Boomer rounded the goats up during the jail break , but unfortunately he thought they had just come out to play.

The lesson to be learned here is this, much like you should never give a Mogwai water for fear of being overrun with Gremlins (if you don’t get this movie reference you really must watch Gremlins), you should never feed a goat donuts…..unless you have much better behaved goats than my heathens. Because in my case, just as the cute little Mogwai turn into scary gremlins, feeding donuts to my cute and cuddly goats turn them into super strong, sugar frenzied goat gremlins. Lesson learned. Sorry goats, no more donuts for you, from now on we’re in this diet thing together.

Anniversaries and the Farm Life

Anniversaries and the Farm Life

It’s our anniversary weekend and so like many people we’ve been making plans on how to pack the day full of things that we enjoy. For some people that may mean, fancy dinners and expensive gifts, but for us it means spending the day working on the farm. Yes, our anniversary sounds a lot like every other day on the farm, but I truly believe the best life is one you don’t need a vacation from. Our anniversary happened to fall on World Naked Gardening Day but we decided the best gift we could give ourselves (and our neighbors) was to bypass this celebration. So we dressed appropriately and headed out to enjoy our day.

Hubs managed to finish the repairs to the chicken coop courtyard. Last winter we had an unprecedented snowfall and after almost 40 inches in a few days the metal netting gave up the ghost. Since then the chickens have been complaining that they need a coop remodel and the regularly visiting raccoons have been echoing their sentiment, so it was a top priority.

While Hubs was busy working with our feathered friends, I was planting in the high tunnel. It was a beautiful sunny day and Hubs was commenting on how the breeze felt so good…..I of course, got to enjoy none of that inside the high tunnel. Instead I was roasting! It was at least 20 degrees hotter inside the high tunnel than outside and with no breeze to give me reprieve. It was tempting to go back on my agreement with Hubs and join the naked gardening followers, but I refrained. As much as I love playing in the dirt I was so glad when I finished up inside the tunnel. Then it was on to the next project.

The goats needed some pedicures so I headed off to trim goat hooves. Nothing like trimming feet while Berry the Buck blows rumen scented sweet nothings in my ear. During this time I discovered spring really had arrived….because I got my first, second and third mosquito bite of the year. *sigh* If any of you are long time followers of the page you’ll probably remember (because I whine about this every year mercilessly) that the mosquitos LOVE me. I’m usually covered in at least a dozen bites at any given time during spring and summer. I’ve also discovered that I apparently have particularly tasty elbows since the bites seem to be focused in that area. Over years of trying different things, the only one that has worked to reduce the itch and give me some relief is After Bite. I’ve learned to always have a tube or two of it handy.

We had just had 9 tons of 3 man rocks delivered to work on a landscape project and we were excited to pull out the tractor and get to work setting them in place. I know, I know, some of you may be asking yourself how this sounds like a fun anniversary but for years we have focused on making the farm livable (it was quite a mess when we got it) and also making it functional. We didn’t have the time, energy or money to make it pretty. It simply wasn’t an option. So to finally get to work on these optional projects felt like a treat.

We ended the evening with a homecooked meal and a glass of my favorite wine….and then we took turns rubbing each other’s back with this modern day version of dad’s old Ben Gay. Apparently we aren’t as young as we used to be, but all in all it was a fantastic day and we wouldn’t chose to spend it any other way.

*Note: some of you will notice that I have links to some of our favorite products. After spending years answering emails or Facebook messages asking me where I find the products I mentioned in my blog or posts I finally decided to try being an Amazon Affiliate. This lets me link right to the product and if you decide to buy from the link I get a little commission. Win-win. I hope this helps us both. Thanks! ~M

Disclosure: Fable Farms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Kidding and Snowmageddon

Kidding and Snowmageddon

For those that don’t keep up with our Facebook page, we have been one of Western Washington Snowmageddon victims. We’ve been snowed in for a week now and were without power for 4 days. There were some challenges for sure, such as cooking on the woodstove by candle or flashlight and very cold PTA baths (for those that aren’t familiar with the term….let’s just say the initials represent parts of the body that need addressing sooner than others) but overall we managed ok.

One of the biggest challenges was that kidding season started during the snow storm. Those of you who raise livestock understand all too well that the coldest, wettest and most inhospitable conditions seem to bring on goat labor like nothing else. Thankfully, for the most part, the goats needed little help because assisting by headlamp when your fingers are barely working from the cold makes things difficult. So I was grateful that little help was required…..until yesterday.

Yesterday Ursa let out a scream like she was being tortured, and I guess in a way she was. We arrived in the barn in record time and found her with one hoof out and the kid obviously stuck. We managed to push the hoof back in and fish around to locate both feet and a nose and Ursa thanked us by expelling the kid like she was shooting a rocket out her rear.

Since kidding season is usually pretty uneventful around here and we mistakenly we thought , statistically speaking, we had managed through the only issues we’d have this year. We were wrong. This morning Hubs went out to do chores and yelled in the door that Vessie was kidding. Since birth is rarely quick, in human or animal, I figured I had time for at least one cup of coffee before bundling up to face the cold, but alas that wasn’t meant to be. When Hubs didn’t return I figured I better get outside and help.

Vessie is an excellent mother and usually manages to have her kids external, cleaned and fed before I can even get on scene. This time was different. We arrived to find two kids born, she had apparently started cleaning the first one when the second arrived. It was stillborn and she was stunned. When we got to the barn we tried and tried to revive the baby but nothing worked. At this point Vessie seemed as confused as any first time mom. While we all would have appreciated a minute to process the loss of the baby Mother Nature rarely works that way. Life, as usual, continues on whether or not you are ready and able to keep up. Vessie had stopped cleaning the first kid and stood vaguely stunned when a third baby arrived. We got the 2 healthy babies cleaned, cords tied, trimmed and dipped but the last (and smallest) baby obviously had some fluid still in her lungs. We swung her for a bit but she still sounded a little raspy.  It was concerning. Vessie at this point had awoken from her stupor and was back to be the awesome mom she usually is, cleaning the looking after her two babies.

We made sure they had latched on and were fed the all important colostrum and even gave them a squirt of goat vitamins and nutrients. We cleaned them and placed them in the warming box and then we went into the house for our first cup of coffee while we waited. Sometimes Mother Nature goes against all your best efforts and sometimes she is merciful despite a million things that could go wrong.  Experience has taught us there really doesn’t seem to be a rhythm or reason to these things.

I went out to check the babies a while later and found the Vessie’s first kid up and actively nursing. The smaller kid was in the corner, pushed up against the water bucket, with her head flopped over backward. My heart caught in my mouth and I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. I had so hoped that she would make it. That despite being small, being born in the cold and having a bit of rasp in her breath she would persevere.

 I unlatched the gate and went to gather up the little one. I reached down and picked her up, she was still warm to the touch. I ran my hands over her wondering if maybe I could still resuscitate her when suddenly her eyes popped open and she opened her mouth to let out a surprised yell. I think I might have given off my own yell of surprised mixed with laughter. Apparently she had just been sleeping super deeply, in a position any yoga master would envy and decided the cold water bucket made a better bed friend than the warm heat box.  Goats…..they sure do keep you on your toes. She bounced back quickly, once she (and I) recovered from the surprise- her the surprise of being awaken in a strangers arms and me the surprise of her being alive. When I left the barn she was playing with her sister and romping around the kidding area full of vigor.

I share all of this for two reasons, like Vessie make sure you surround yourself with people who will step up and help when life knocks you a curve ball. Sometimes we just need a minute to catch our breath and since life doesn’t slow down for us at these times make sure you select your tribe based on who will be there when you need them. The other thing is to remember not to  ever give up. Even when people may think you are done and out of the game, you may just be taking a little rest to gather your energy.

And the Wheel Goes Round and Round

And the Wheel Goes Round and Round

You may be looking at the picture and wondering what the heck you’re looking at. Don’t worry you’re in good company, I wondered the exact same thing. Turns out the answer to that question is quite the tale.

I arrived home from work, late in the evening one night last week and stopped at the barn to say hi to the horses, as I usually do. Hubs drove down the hill to the barn and rather than his usual greeting, he started with, “You just missed the show.” This statement always strikes a bit of fear in my heart. It either means I missed something adorably cute that one of the animals did or he narrowly escaped death. There never seems to be any middle ground between these two. In this particular instance it was the latter.


Some of you may remember the very large spool we have in the goat pasture. Hubs brought it home many years ago and it was quite the hair raising adventure getting it across the horse pasture and put the hillside to the goat pasture. The goats have always loved playing on the spool, but alas it’s time in the goat pasture is coming to an end. We’ve decided to repurpose the lower portion of the pasture and so we needed to move the spool (along with a rather large stack of old split rails and a ton + pile of rocks).

With us both working off the farm and only having a few hours each evening of daylight to work by, it took most of a week to get all the wood rails and rocks moved. The last thing to move was the spool. I figured we would get it this weekend when we were both home because the spool has a few of the bottom pieces broken out and won’t roll well  and if it happens to get out of control  on the hillside there’s a fence right below it that I would prefer to keep in one piece and just past the fence is the pond.

Despite my concerns, Hubs decided he could get it done alone.  Inevitably whenever he decides that a two or more person job can be done alone, I picture the little imp that sits on my shoulder whispering into my ear, “grab a beer and watch this!” Sure enough, he proceeded to tell me the tale of how he had wrapped a chain around the spool and begun to drag the spool. Of course we don’t have a 4WD tractor and between the rain slick, mud and the slope of the hill, the tractor started sliding. The new angle between the spool and tractor cause the chain to strain and then break. The chain went flying by and when his life stopped flashing before his eyes he looked back he saw the spool tipped and had started a slow motion, drunken roll down the hill. He watched in equal parts fascination and horror as it continued its ungainly wobbly roll, down the hill toward the fence. Then, just when he was convinced the fence was going to be demolished  the spool, rather miraculously hit a bump in the ground, launching the huge spool several feet in the air, causing it to only graze the fence before landing on the other side. It finished its Olympic worthy rambling downhill journey by rolling into the pond before falling over.

So the answer to the question, “what the heck is that a picture of?” is the spool, sitting in the pond and half covered in brush, half covered in mucky and water. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, farming isn’t for the faint of heart.

Ramblings – January 2019

Farming is a constant learning process. Take today as an example. I learned two things today. The first, is that the cow hooves I buy the dogs to chew smell horrendous!! Seriously, I searched the house high and low convinced that Boomer had an accident. Then  I discovered the smell was coming out of his other end…the end chewing on the cow hoof. Oy!

Second, I discovered I am capable of having some pretty in depth and interesting conversations….with myself. For instance this morning I in the back yard with Boomer, dressed in my pj’s I was encouraging him to do his business before I froze, when I looked up and saw the goats walking along the fence line out towards the woods. I began my good mornings to them, calling out each goat by name. I got through the group and realized someone was missing. I did a quick head count to double check. Yup definitely missing one. Then I realized Beauty was the doe that was missing. She’s the first due to kid and so large that yesterday I joked her belly looks taunt enough to split open and purge the kid in true “Alien” (the movie) fashion. Seriously, look at the size of her! The doe standing slightly behind her is also pregnant and due about a week afterward. I’m not trying to give her a complex or anything but she looks like she’s carrying a full litter!

I gave another good look around the pasture for Beauty, but couldn’t find her. With her coloring, she’s usually pretty easy to spot. Not ready to panic yet, I gave a few yells, calling her name. This usually brings her running or at the very least, she’s yell back to me.  This time I was met with silence. “What ifs” started running rampantly through my head and so began my interesting conversation.

Me: I’m sure it’s nothing. She’s not due for another 11 days.

Also me: Have you seen the size of her? And let’s face it you aren’t the best at recording breeding dates accurately.

Me: That “may” be true but really….11 days! Do you think I could have screwed up the date by 11 days??

Also me: Yes.

Me: That’s mean. Have a little faith!

Also me: How are you going to feel if she’s up there having problems birthing and you didn’t check her because you were sure you couldn’t possibly have screwed up the due date?

Me:   …………..

Apparently, I really know how to push my buttons because I  turned around and hightailed it into the house and shimmied into my farm clothes in record time, racing back outside and heading up to the goat pasture. Fortunately, before I ever got that far Beauty came waddling out of the woods. Once my heart meandered back from my throat to my chest, I looked suspiciously at Beauty, convinced she had done this intentionally. She’s got a great poker face though and gives nothing away.

Yup, farming is a constant learning process, all this excitement and it’s not even lunch time yet. Who needs Hollywood when you’ve got goats.

Farming Lessons & Life Goals

pepper starts 012019Once upon a time I hated pepper plants. They are notoriously slow to get started from seed and no matter how much I babied the seeds they were always weeks behind the other plants. While all my other starts were tall, strong and bursting to get outside and into the sunshine, my pepper plants were always tiny and struggling. It became an annual frustration. I would move them to the best location for light, place a seed mat under them, have a small fan blowing nearby for air circulation, etc… But every year when it came time to move the seedlings outside I would look at my peppers and feel as if I had failed once again. I took to starting them much earlier than the other seeds but I did it with so much frustration, mumblings and complaining the whole time at the extra work and attention they needed.

A few years ago I decided to approach the growing season differently. Rather than trying so hard to get my peppers to go against what is their inherent nature (being slow to start), what if I embraced that trait? Rather than complaining about starting them a couple weeks early, why not start them a full 4 weeks early and do it with a happy heart? After all usually by the beginning of the new year I am itching to get outside. I’m perusing seed catalogs with glee and dreaming of when I can sink my hands into some dirt. So why not start the peppers super early, enjoy playing in the dirt and let the peppers take their sweet, and molasses-like, slow time to reach maturity. It took me a bit to finally stepped outside the box of my normal schedule and routine and try this life shifted without a grudging heart, but once I did….. what a change.

I was able to enjoy having a valid reason for playing in the dirt in the middle of winter and the peppers were finally allowed to follow their natural inclination. Best of all they were ready when the rest of the plants were, standing tall and strong and I didn’t feel like a frustrated failure. Win- win! Wouldn’t life be awesome if this idea could be applied to people? Rather than trying to get people to fit into other’s ideas of what or where they should be in life, we just support and appreciate their individual quirkiness? I love it when farm lessons teach me about life. ❤