Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reflections On a Sunday Morning On the Farm

I started this post and tried to upload it late last spring when I encountered problem after problem doing so and ended up giving up on it as I was late for a lecture on preventing GMO seed from India's farming industry I was going to attend.  So here I am revisiting the post on this, yet another unusually lazy Sunday morning over Thanksgiving weekend, and it seemed appropriate to give it another try….let’s hope it uploads today…..

Sunrise on the farm - yes, I do get out there that early sometimes....

Reflecting, on this unusually lazy Sunday morning, I am reminded about how many wonderful things my life is filled with.  From modern day wonders like the internet’s ability to keep those distant from me in the physical world closer – even if only in words and photographs - to the simple, timeless things like the fresh, raw ingredients from which I make most of my meals with, (and share pictures of with friends using the internet's social network of course).

I grew up with a mother who prepared our family meals almost always from raw ingredients, albeit not generally farm fresh, but teaching me at an early age to cook from scratch is a gift for which I’m ever grateful. I’ve been making meals for my family, my friends and myself since I was about 11. Now I’m not a great cook, but I can follow a recipe – add or subtract a few things I don’t like or happen to have on hand, and make it taste much better than most prepared foods I’ve ever tried.

And while I’m more of a “shoot from the hip” eater than my mom’s week-ahead menu planning style tried to teach me to be, (I mean how do I know if I’ll still be in the mood for what I planned on Sunday, to prepare and eat on Thursday – or if I’ll even have the time! Living on a small urban farm can really change your carefully laid plans in a matter of moments.), she did instill a lot of good kitchen habits in me.

One morning I was replying to an email from my very first childhood girlfriend who'd written me about trying llamas (versus my dogs) to protect my chickens, and in wrapping up my email, I mentioned that I had to get back to making my breakfast and what I was preparing.
It went something like this....

Three varieties of "Irish" potatoes including a purple variety made up my hash-browns.

 “Hash browns from freshly picked potatoes (the day before with my CSA members and a new volunteer), plums and peaches from friends’ orchards and the last 2 eggs from my 1 remaining laying hen.”  

(Note: I do still have 3 hens after last year's massacres, but one is still raising a new chick and the other is “retired” from laying. She now just gets to run around and eat bugs, seeds and soak up the sunshine.)

And then, I came back down from my office and saw the colorful bowl of freshly picked tomatoes from the day before, a colander of the various potatoes and the smell of the muffins baking – no, I don’t grind my own flour, yet, but again, the eggs were from my place and the whey I used was leftover from cheese I’d made from milk collected by a dairy family I know about an hour away. I learned just yesterday how to make my own ricotta cheese!!

It really started occurring to me how very local and organic I am able to eat, at least when I’m at home.  It’s kind of cool, really, if I stop and think about it.

Olive oil from just south of San Antonio made by a wonderful couple I’ve come to know; fruits, veggies, eggs, dairy, even nuts from a mentor farmer – when I remember to clean out the cracked pecans before the bugs get to them. So much of what I have on hand to use to make my meals comes from people and places I’m actually familiar with! It’s not everyone that can say that – and I feel pretty lucky to be able to say it myself. And, one of my very best friends publishes the only local magazine here in Dallas that is ALL about eating local foods and is filled with more local resources and recipes from local chefs, too - how cool is that!?!

There’s a saying by Douglas Adams that I ran across awhile back that goes like this;

 “I may not have gone where I intended to go, (or “intended to be”, depending on the source of the quote.), but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.”

In either case, I am quite sure this Midwest city girl never intended to end up living on a small urban farm just outside of Dallas, Texas; chasing stray dogs away from her flock of chickens, picking fire ants out from between her toes, (I had never even heard of fire ants!) or wrestling a 100’x 60’ piece of plastic in a 40°F, 30mph wind with rain/ice pellets soaking through her clothes to try and protect her crops - sometimes, it seems, all in one day!! LOL

Peek-a-boo! How many baby chicks do you see?
But, I also never imagined how much I could enjoy watching chickens grow up from freshly hatched, dewy chicks into silly, colorful hens and roosters that help feed me; the wonder I would experience discovering the countless, amazing and beautiful insects that help my garden grow – not the least of which are the tireless honey bees, that have endured all sorts of assaults over the past several years since coming here to live on the farm to share their sweet honey with me and my customers and friends - and how much I’d learn working as a steward of this, what’s a bigger word than amazing? – breathtaking, ecosystem that has become my farm.

 Not to mention, all of the wonderful, kind and lovely people I’ve met along the way. It’s been an adventure many people will never experience. It’s a way of life that can be harsh, yet so rewarding at the same time.

Some of the ladies of local food in DFW

Kids get up close and personal with one of our baby chicks at Market Day
 So, as I finish this up, before my breakfast gets too cold, I invite you to fill the inventory of your pantry shelves, your counter tops and refrigerator with as many “clean” ingredients that are as close to home as you can seek out at local markets, from neighbors, or maybe by word of mouth in a cooking class.  Not because it’s the “cool” thing to do these days, but because it’s a great way to get to meet and know wonderful folks with whom you may have some fun and unexpected things in common.

Who knows, you may even fall in love.  And, you will surely learn some new and cool things you can pass on to someone else.   

So back to THIS morning, Sunday after Thanksgiving 2012; I've just finished my home made banana bread, with local eggs from a friend who's chickens are still laying - my 5 hens seem to be in their "off-season" as I only get 1 egg per day - and milk from a new dairy family - as sadly, my other friends closed their private dairy earlier this year.  And I just finished making and serving a mostly local, mostly organic Thanksgiving Dinner for eight, this past Thursday. The turkey was from my friends at Rhineland Farm in Glen Rose, most of the veggies and herbs from my farm or those of friends who farm nearby and sell at my Market Day.

It makes me very happy to know I'm helping support those I know and love - and I know they've put much love and passion into what I'm eating. And it makes me equally as happy to know I have friends sitting down later today to eat things I've raised with just as much love and passion. Congrats to Chris and Kimmi on their wedding today; I can't wait to see pics of what chef Greg does with everything!

I hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a wonderful winter of greens and root crops from your favorite farmers - or your own gardens!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Farmer Marie

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