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Archive for June, 2014

Monday, June 30 2014

June 30th, 2014 1 comment

After a jam-packed weekend filled with food trucks, family, and farm chores squeezed in between, this morning I hugged my mom and sister goodbye and headed inside for our weekly staff meeting. Grandma, Megan, and I are all somewhat under the weather, so we (tried) to take it slow. Megan and I harvested green beans, squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes while Beth worked at East. We got interrupted for a few minutes to help Joe move the pigeons into their new palace. The old cage is fairly small, so I had to run around with my head tucked down, weaving over and under various perches without smacking my head on anything while six pigeons flapped their wings in my face. I felt like I was in a much sweatier, less glamorous remake of The Birds. But in the end we nabbed every bird without any major mishaps and they’re now living in luxury so it’s a win-win.

Ryan spent the day figuring out how to install the plumbing for the washer and dryer in the barn that will be used both for the milking rags and for the male WWOOFers living in the bunkhouses. Grandpa ran errands while Grandma rested and organized some of her sewing supplies. For dinner we had the world’s best-tasting cold medicine: chicken noodle soup made with Woodcrest chicken. I feel better already.

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Sunday, June 29 2014

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Grandma and Grandpa were gone last night on an overnight camping trip so everyone dispersed for the evening. I explored downtown Raleigh and had dinner at The Remedy Diner, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant with a great outdoor seating area. Our original plan was to visit the Raleigh Art Museum, but it was closed due to an Iron and Wine concert.

This morning I did my usual farm chores before choir practice and church. Afterward, I fulfilled a longtime dream of eating at a food truck. I did my research and chose KoKyu Korean Barbeque in Durham which satisfied my odd food truck cravings. Several Green family members dropped by around 4 to visit with my mom and sister before they head home tomorrow. The girls performed songs from Frozen and the rest of us ate pizza and ice cream. Work picks back up tomorrow with more planting, squash tending, and pickle-making.

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Friday, June 27 2014

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We are swimming in extra milk right now, so we were forced to make more mozzarella and ice cream today. I know, it was such a tough decision to spend our day out of the hot sun and in the kitchen making dark chocolate mint ice cream, chocolate cake, and real whipped cream to top it off. Before we started our baking spree, my mom, sister, and I ran around Hillsborough trying to find a part to the pressure canner that had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle. Even though no one had it in stock, Beth rescued us and taught us to use the vacuum sealer instead. It’s a pretty nifty little contraption and we now have an enormous amount of chicken ready to go in our soup and enchiladas. While I was inside, Ryan and Joe fixed the fences and Megan, Beth, and Ryan spread hay at East. This evening we finally got some rain which means that I don’t have to water the trees but the weeds will be back with a vengeance. This is a real Catch-22….Maybe I’ll just avoid the problem all together and open an ice cream shop instead.

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Thursday, June 26 2014

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Since we’re planning on canning some of yesterday’s chickens, I spent my morning trying to shove five birds into two large metal pots to boil for a few hours before they go in the pressure canner. I also grated up a massive zucchini for future zucchini bread cravings. In the last three days alone we have gone through almost four loaves. While I was inside, Megan harvested green beans, Beth harvested at East (and found a tomato hornworm, my least favorite bug of all time), and Ryan tilled up the hoophouse so we can plant more eggplant and tomatoes. Grandpa and Jon took the cows to Matkins (the beauty parlor); may our bovines rest in peace. Late this afternoon Grandpa headed off on a weekend backpacking trip just before my mom and sister came to the farm to visit for the weekend. It was great to see them and feed them the last serving of the coffee ice cream.

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Wednesday, June 25 2014

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The oft-expressed phrase, “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” is one of those things people say without giving a single thought to the meaning behind it. But I can now attest that yes, a chicken does continue to jerk, contort its body, and act very much alive even when it is most certainly dead. We slaughtered 12 chickens in all, including the rooster who has terrorized me for ages. It’s a messy business, involving many steps and feathers flying all over the place. First, Grandpa dispatches the creature’s head by turning the chicken upside down and shoving it through a cone so the head comes out the bottom. Next, we dunk the body in a giant pot of hot water (150 degrees) for a couple minutes in order to loosen the feathers. After this, the headless chicken gets thrown into “the plucker,” a weird contraption that’s a giant  bowl with many rubber “fingers” on the inside to pull the feathers off as the bird spins around the bottom. My job was to gut the defeathered chicken, which involved cutting off the feet and neck before reaching inside to pull out all of the internal body parts. All I can say is that thank goodness for the breeze. Joe then took the cleaned bird and gave it a thorough rinse before it got shoved into the freezer.

But the chicken butchering was only the prologue to the real show: cow roundup. Grandpa and the rest of the guys headed into the pasture to wrangle to wild female Dexters to get them in the trailer for their trip to the “beauty parlor.” Two cows against seven guys might seem like an unfair ratio, and it is: for the humans involved. The craziest cow threw Grandpa and caught him with its horn. They finally managed to lasso them and pull them into the trailer, but their shirts were soaked through with sweat and you could tell it had been a fight. We were all grateful for the macaroni and cheese dinner that followed since it was the first time many of us had rested all day.

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Tuesday, June 24 2014

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Being on a farm is often equated with being outdoors, but today we mainly worked inside.  In the morning, Megan organized and thoroughly cleaned the Woodcrest Store building before we put some of our surplus produce there for sale. She battled cobwebs, dust, and ancient farm relics and emerged victorious: the store looks brand new. Ryan made this snazzy sign so passerby know what we’re selling. Meanwhile, Beth harvested, debugged, and transplanted at East. I worked on harvesting all our garlic (at least 100 bulbs) and Megan and Ryan joined me later. Joe cleaned out the pigeon cages and moved their boxes to their new home. This evening Ryan baked zucchini bread with some of our overabundant squash and I organized the pantry. Who knew we had tinned herring shoved back in the corner?

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Monday, June 23 2014

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Mondays are rough on anyone, but transitioning from coffee ice cream and swimming holes on ethereal summer days back to weeding is a bit of a letdown. But hey, someone’s gotta do it, and the flower in the row we cleared last week look so much happier. We had our weekly 10:00 a.m. meeting and came up with a long list of projects to keep everyone busy. Grandpa ran errands in Durham, Grandma went to her sewing class, and Dillan and Chris tried to move a couple Dexters up to the barn in preparation for their trip to the beauty parlor (Woodcrest-speak for the butcher shop). They were unsuccessful, but hopefully the hay we put out will lure them. Megan, Ryan, Beth, and I harvested squash and green beans and prepared several rows in the hoophouse for a second planting.

Next, Grandpa and I slaughtered eight rabbits for a customer who owns an Indian restaurant. Or I should say Grandpa did seven of them and I butchered (literally and figuratively) one of them. I continue to be struck with the mystery of death when I observe and assist in this process. While I definitely do not enjoy it, I feel like I have a clearer grasp on sacrifice and atonement. Innocent blood was shed today, albeit in a highly respectful manner, and I was the perpetrator. The shadows fell across the barn while Grandpa worked, and the blending of golden light and dusty darkness is a perfect picture of the state of my heart. This rabbit died in order that someone else might be nourished and live. In the same way, Christ died so that I might be made whole. Before resurrection must come the burial.

“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure,

that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure…”

“It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished,                                                                                                     His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished…”

 

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Sunday, June 22 2014

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What a lovely day. After church was over, Ryan, Grandpa, and I went to the swimming hole at Eno River State Park. The water was perfect, the sky was baby blue, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend an afternoon. Grandpa worked on the little red car when we got back, which has been out of commission due to a cracked thermostat housing that caused all the coolant to leak out. Thanks to his mechanical magic, it’s now back in business. For dinner, Ryan made donburi, a Japanese stir fry dish that Grandpa requested be added to the regular line up. Nearly every dinner we eat uses a majority of ingredients from the farm, and returning to college cafeteria food is not going to be easy. Maybe I can convince my school to buy a dairy cow; I’ll even volunteer to make ice cream. The new chickens are still befuddled, but they’re strong layers. (We collected over three dozen eggs this afternoon.) I guess I’ll forgive them for pecking me.

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Saturday, June 21 2014

June 21st, 2014 Comments off

While Grandpa bested the rest of us with his 15 mile hike along the Eno River section of the Mountain to the Sea Trail, the rest of us had a slower paced but no less wonderful day. Ryan, Noah, Megan, and I took a trip to the Hillsborough Farmers’ Market only to discover that Mapleview Ice Cream was having “customer appreciation day.” We scored free bowls of Carolina Crunch complete with whipped cream and oddly textured brownies.

Back at home, Grandma welcomed our 30 new hens, who are currently huddled together in their pen looking as traumatized as a kindergartner on the first day of school. Hopefully they’ll acclimate soon and begin laying eggs for us. Beth continued her fight with the leaf mold on the squash plants which has been a real pain over the last few days. We also began working with our wild puppy, Fudge, to get her ready for her new home. Since she started  running with the big dogs she has refused to listen to our commands. As soon as I put her on the leash this morning, she gave me the classic pleading puppy dog eyes and immediately calmed down. Look who’s the boss now, little girl.

After some evening exploring in the woods behind the pasture, we made our second batch of homemade ice cream (coffee this time) which is equally as delicious as the vanilla (already long gone). At this rate, our surplus milk will be gone in no time but we might have surplus flab to make up for it.

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Friday, June 20 2014

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After a long week without much fun in the sun, it was nice to finally spend a few hours in the A/C. We have an overabundance of milk this week which goes to show you it’s feast or famine around here. But the plus side is that Megan and I made vanilla ice cream using the recipe from my favorite ice cream in Ohio: Jeni’s. Of course we couldn’t wait until it was fully frozen to taste it, and I knew it had passed the test when Beth’s eyes lit up after one spoonful. While we were at it, we made some goat cheese and this evening we made goat yogurt. Don’t ask me why we bought more cheese during our grocery shopping trip this afternoon. Walking into Walmart was a bit of a culture shock after living more or less off the land over the past few weeks. Food comes in a can instead of on a vine. I didn’t sweat through my shirt to grow the watermelon we bought; I just lifted it into the cart and sped down the aisle.

The guys had a maintenance day and changed the oil of every vehicle in sight. Joe also finished sprucing up the chicken cages for our 30 new cluckers coming tomorrow. Soon we’ll be rolling in milk and eggs, so if anyone has any good omelet ideas, let me know. Our  friends, the Griffins, came over after dinner to tell us about the conference they attended featuring Joel Salatin, a renowned sustainable agriculture farmer and advocate.  Hearing about others who share the same vision for community-based farming gives a spark of renewed confidence in Woodcrest’s mission.

Right now, Beth is in the kitchen making fresh pesto during the commercials of “Blue Bloods,” one of Grandpa’s weekly TV shows. It’s been a good day down on the farm.

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