Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Feeling a little windblown

Well, we made it back!  All of Nevada and Idaho had 60 mph winds but we managed to shoot the gap between two storms when we came over the last pass at Monida and into Montana.
Thankfully, Grandpa Julius is much better and seems to be pretty close to his old self.  We are so relieved.  It was wonderful to get to spend time with him, he is such a fun man.  Seeing the whole family was lovely!  The trip was really hard on us though, not sure when we'll be heading back.  California is nice and warm but ugh - what a rat race.  We missed being where there are much much fewer people than cows.  Perfect.
More to come, but am currently fried - off to bed!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Headed to CA on Monday

Richard's grandpa isn't doing so hot so we're off to visit him and the family in California.  I'm not sure how long we'll be gone, it all depends, but I will try to keep blogging while I'm there.  I'm  so worried for Richard, his grandpa has been a major part of his life and is the cornerstone of the Boschi family...losing him will be so hard for all of us.  I hope and pray that he perks up from this funk he's in.  We'll probably be bringing our tractor back with us though (since we have to take our pickup)!  Thats exciting - Richard would want to haul it back in December otherwise, and hauling a tractor in the snow just sounds a little too thrilling for the kids and I to be in the truck! haha  I will blog when I can, but will be scrambling around these next few days.  
 Maybe I'll go get time to visit our friends at Full Circle Dairy (they're an Organic Valley dairy) and get some good pointers as well as lovely raw milk!  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Being the change.

In a wonderful moment of clarity, I decided that the most important thing that we can do is something - anything - that puts us closer to our goals.
This evening I got to go out for a walk/jog with my dogs alone.  It was wonderful!  We all need quiet time to gather thoughts, but too often I don't take them and end up jumbled.  So.  I realized that we need to have a piece of land that is close to our grocery store - because surely if its in the same area, stopping by will be that much easier for our customers.  Also, we should be talking to people who own land locally and may be interested in providing a place for a small farm to produce food for local consumption.  There are several places that are on the market as commercial space that are close to town, but there isn't much of a "commercial" market boom going on so maybe they'd be interested in leasing to us for a couple years or until it sells.  There are also several pieces of land that are fallow/empty/neglected.  My goal for this week is to find out who owns some of these places and get contact information for them.  Even if they tell us no, there is bound to be a yes somewhere in our future.  It's good for us to talk to people about our plans, not only does it get the word out, but it also makes us better at presenting our ideas - refining them.  I've been randomly talking to people in the grocery store, getting input and realizing that really, we'd all like to eat fresh, local food...but either it isn't available or it isn't affordable.  Being affordable is a HUGE goal of ours.  Good food should not be a class-defining thing.
My mom is always harping on us to practice "The Secret" so thats what I'm doing - there is a place thats just right out there for us, we just have to "put it out there" that we're looking for it and ready to accept it.  What we are all truly asking for will materialize.  We just have to work to be the change that we wish to see.

Death and Breadmaking

We make bread for the couple whose land our heifer lives on, and up until recently made bread for the man's mother (who also lived on the property) too.  His mother died a week or so ago and we didn't even know!  I called for his order this morning and he mentioned it in conversation - like surely I'd heard.  I felt horrible, but I'm not part of the gossip mill here really and have been so busy I haven't read the last couple papers.  She said that she was happy I made bread for her because she didn't like the store bread but couldn't make it for herself anymore.  She said that she "slices it and freezes it, so it toasts like those Ego-things."  We didn't know her well, but she was a nice woman and a loss is still - well - a loss.  Making bread this week will be a solemn thing...not making them two loaves, just one.  She was blessed to have gone quickly and quietly though - I wish it were that way for all of us.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patience and Frozen Soil

Last week I got excited about how warm it'd been and that the soil was starting to thaw - Savanna & I planted some hollyhocks, a few bulbs, and started digging a hole for a lilac bush (that was supposed to have been planted last year).  I got about 6" down the first day so I just left it dug out and let it thaw until the next day.  Working at it every day it took a week to get the bush planted, but today I finished and am now chiseling away at the next lilac's hole.  Pre-children I never would have had the patience to just dig a little out every day, I would have broken out the pick and had it done!  Now I realize that it's OK to go slow - very slow sometimes - as long as the end result is accomplished.
I spoke to the head of the local Farmer's Market this afternoon and now have a "Informational Meeting" to go to on the 22nd!  She said that it's a meeting to share ideas for the market and go over what is required of vendors.  I can hardly wait to go and see what the goals are etc for the Market.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Shitake Mushrooms in the Bathroom

We have these mushrooms - looking like a big toasty marshmallow - in our bathroom.  Yep.  Dampest place in the house of course, but it's still a little odd to bathe with the hunk-o-mushrooms right there.  They're growing like crazy though!  We've had the kit for a week now and will be able to harvest later this week.  Pretty amazing to watch how quickly they grow.  Have to spray them down 3 or 4 times a day but hopefully they will be delicious.  At the store - dried - they are $96 a pound.  Package of 3 mushrooms or so is $7!  So we've never tried them, but will soon :o)  Can hardly wait - what should I cook with them though?  Risotto?  Garlic, butter & shitake over noodles??  Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cold Frame is Almost Beautiful Again!

Last summer we decided that it made more sense for us to build a stick-built cold frame out of "recycled" lumber from a local feed lot and buy a cheap roll of plastic to cover it.  For $50 we had a wonderful structure with a large window and door.  This works perfectly for us because we don't want to spend thousands until we're making money too.  Rick worked all afternoon getting everything screwed down like we want and is going to do a layer inside this week as well - THEN I can start seeds!  We're going to try planting lettuce and other greens out in the beds and putting "bells" over them at night.  Last fall my husband drug home 30 or so 5 gallon water jugs (the ones with the handle on the side and a spout) that will be our "bells" this spring/summer.  They will keep our plants warm at night hopefully, at least warm enough to do well.  The French have beautiful glass bells that they use for intensive, cold weather gardening, I would love some but for now the jugs will do!
We have several neighbors who would like to buy produce, maybe we could be the neighborhood produce people!  That'd be lovely - each neighborhood should either have one or a community garden so they can grow their own.  I have visions of block BBQ's in my head, maybe we could drag everyone out of their shells (not a lot of people outside often for some reason) and hope that we all enjoy meeting one another.  Might be fun : )
Last Wednesday we went to First Street Market in Butte.  I just...don't even really have words for how many amazing Italian products they have.  Over 200 cheeses - several imported - and you can sample most of them!  Oh, it was beautiful!  Aged meats from Italy mmmmm....divine little store.  Floor to ceiling shelving full of balsamic vinegars, handmade pastas, olive oils...so many lovely things to smell and taste!  We came home with a Parmesan, beautiful balsamic, amaretti, pasta (of course) and foccacia from their deli.  I tried a spoonful of $40/bottle balsamic that was thick and sweet - a little tangy - just absolute heaven.  Wish I was willing to spend that on balsamic, but we're quite happy with what we came home with too.  I love stores that are run by the people that own them, talking to someone who is passionate and invested in what they're selling makes all the difference in the service and selection.
I'll post pictures tomorrow of our 1st meal made with our buys: asparagus, portobello, onion, garlic, and tomatoes over pasta with a drizzle of balsamic and a sprinkling of parmesan.  A little red wine...perfect way to break up our meat, vegetable, salad routine!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eating well in winter

We have a ton of canned peaches, apricots, tomatoes and plums.  Our freezer is FULL of venison, homemade sausage and homegrown beef.  Yet we're low on veggies.  So I'm going to try to grow some in our window (like we did chard last winter) with the hope that we won't have to keep buying expensive greens from the store.  When the winters are 5 months long it's hard to not fantasize about salads and bbq'd veggies, fresh tomatoes off the vine still warm from the sun.  Ugh.  Only a couple more months!  Planting lettuce in a window box this week though.
The seeds we ordered arrived yesterday so we're planning our beds this week, locating bulk 4" pots, meeting with the SCORE advisors and looking a little closer at renting land this spring for livestock.  Even if its just stocking feeder calves on a rotational system, it would be a good way to get some experience.  Lambs may be better - lower purchase price.  I can't wait until we can live out of town.  How wonderful it will be to be able to see farther than a hundred feet or so.  At least we can see some mountains from our house, it's a straight shot down the street to the "B" hill (as in Dillon Beavers).  Wish it was a hill with some trees on it lol.
Richard has been working on greenhouse-warming ideas and we've nearly come to an agreement on the set up.  We're going to warm it with water.  Small "ponds" kept warm by a trough heater will keep the room and plants above them warm.  We will grow duckweed in the water because it is an excellent addition to your soil and  has a rapid turnover rate.  Plus, Savanna can have fish now and they don't need to be in the house! We'll keep you posted on how it works, but  it's much cheaper and safer than a space heater or wood stove so we're hoping it works well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Soil is Thawing

Yesterday evening - in a fit of "I can't wait for planting season!" - Savanna and I turned a bed and planted daffodil bulbs and hollyhock seeds. Yes, I know the bulbs were supposed to go in last fall, but I got them for Christmas so what the hell. Now they're not sitting on a shelf! It'll probably snow and freeze again, but it doesn't matter, they're in the soil and will come up when the coast is clear!  Savanna really loves to work with me outside, I just love that she tells everyone what we planted and that "they're sleeping now so they can grow." It was a nice time for both of us, and felt so good to be working dirt again!