Name that Farm!

It’s about that time. Test garden is in full swing, I have 90 eggs in my fridge and that doesn’t count the 15 or so that I will be getting in today’s coop. We just got ourselves two piglets, are in the market for a couple of goats, and later next spring, a cow or two.

So, I’d say the farm is damn near a real “farm.”

It had come to Brad’s attention that we now have to trot our little selves down to the government offices and make ourselves official. But the question is, what do we call ourselves.

Plans for next year include building cabins/bungalows (only 3 to keep it manageable) and opening it up as a B&B Farm Stay. Keeping that in mind, I thought we should keep Reluctant Farm.It’s cute, it’s quirky it speaks to who we are.

Brad says no. Says Reluctant means we’re not totally in it all the way. “Who wants to visit a farm where the people really aren’t into it?” he said.

Well, I would. I would find a kindred spirit. We’d drink wine and laugh about the pig crap and goat crap and chicken crap and drink more wine and ignore it.

But – that’s me. He’s more staid. And thinks that “Sustainable Earth Farm” reflects more of our values. But truly, I have no values. You bring me chocolate, tell me you like me,  you’ll be my new best friend. And if you brought me a really good bottle of Pinot Noir, or even a cheap cab, we’ll be friends for life.

In an effort to be fair, I said I’d open it up to the public. So – public – please cast your votes. there are two choices, but to be honest, we would love suggestions. And in the “write in” section, please do NOT put Donald Trump…

Keep in Mind – Chickens, Eggs, Goats, Pigs, Cows, Bed and Breakfast, One Reluctant Farmgirl and a Gung Ho Farmer …

Reluctant Farm
Sustainable Earth Farm
Anything Else but the above two
Your suggestion please

AND – as a special prize, we’ll send you something if you come up with a winning name that we like better than ours. I don’t know what it will be, maybe a jar of jam or salsa (it’s totally good) but I feel compelled to give away something if someone is truly creative. Because I’m not. Creative. In any way, shape or form.

What a Chick Wants …

I’m the first to admit that sometimes I can be a complete imbecile.  Basically,my skill set is pretty low. I’m not a jack of all trades.  I have very few talents, and the few that I have, I try to exploit mercilessly.

As far as anything to do with my new life at Reluctant Farm, I have to google it because I know nothing. So it is with my chickens. My husband prefers to fly by the seat of his skinny-ass Levis. For me, I want to be accomplished – at least in my mind.

Which brings me to chicken feed. When the chicks were little, they stayed in a big cardboard box in our garage with a heat lamp. We had the baby chicken feed, and then I read they could eat other stuff – so I would occasionally toss in some leftover lettuce. Once a mouse happened to crawl into their box, and they pecked it to death. So I figured they were probably not big meat eaters.

When they were finally big enough to go into the magnificent pen and coop that my husband built, I wanted to step up my game as far my interaction with the chooks. And I wanted to feed them the proper “extras” to make them happy with their new home with us and keep their lives in balance.

I continued to toss in some leftover salad stuff, and inhaled everything I could about what I could feed them, and what I should not.

The first evening after the first feeding I went out to see if they finished their snacks and every single chicken was dead. Laying down, head down to the side, dead as a doornail. I almost projectile vomited. What did I do wrong? All 20 chickens down for the count?

I ran down the hill to where Brad was busy with his favorite activity – riding his riding lawnmower. Swear, this man mows lawns incessantly. The grass is so well cut you need a magnifying glass just to see it. He rolled up the hill, and damned if every single chicken  wasn’t standing upright, looking at me as if I was the village idiot. I was. They were just sleeping.

Anyway, not to divert from the curious case of the Reluctant Farm Girl and how to feed the chickens, I began exploring culinary treats for my flock. And much to my glee, they loved everything. So I made it a routine. Every morning at 9 a.m. I would come down with my cup of Earl Grey, and their morning snack. It was the highlight of my day – a break from sitting in front of the computer writing, responding to emails and doing all the bookings and marketing for our resort.

I brought down yogurt and they circled it, a bit wary, but once one brave Barred Rock settled in, they all stepped up to the plate and loved it. As the weeks progressed, it became a ritual that the chickens understood. I’d stand on the deck of the house and call “Girls! I have treats for you!” and walk down carrying their brightly colored crocks with their morning treat.

It was amazing – I was the Rock Star. They would cluster around the gate, waiting for me to enter, running around my feet and looking up at me with their cute, one-eyed stare. I was their messiah, bringing messages of hope and manna from heaven. It got me going. Now I would not just focus on what we had for dinner, I would focus on how the chickens would like the leftovers.

Some things they turned their little beaks up at. Radish greens? No thanks. The can of bamboo shoots that I was going to use in some won tons, but I thought they tasted gross? They apparently agreed. But they definitely had their favorites. I brought out soft scrambled eggs, and they gobbled it up. Encouraged, I brought out the leftover rice noodles from my Pad Thai – and I was Katy Perry – they loved me unabashedly.

So I upped my game. Each day I’d come out with two crocks of treats – and I would announce to them what they were having. One day it was salmon carpaccio with an apple/lettuce salad, the next it was homemade potato gnocchi. I’d hide food from Brad just so I’d be sure we’d have enough leftovers for my girls. I made shredded zucchini with the squash I claimed was “too soft for us to eat” but was, in actuality, just fine – I had run out of treats for them and couldn’t face them without something luscious in my hands. I cooked oatmeal, emptied out the freezer of frozen peas, to which I added slivered almonds for taste. I baked 2 dozen bran muffins – we had half  a dozen, I froze the rest for the chickens.

In the early days Brad would toss  a few slugs over the fence as he passed by, and we were amused at how the chickens would shoot out of the coop and dive on the slimy snacks. So yesterday, in desperation, I thought, hell. I have nothing  –  but there are literally hundreds of slugs in the grass. I put on a glove, grabbed the crocks, and set out to pick slugs – 1 per bird. I mean, they loved the slugs and I forgot all about that! I no longer had to fret over what to cook or create to keep them adoring me. So I walked in, told the birds that they were getting slugs, which was met with more merriment, more running around my feet, over my feet, running in circles around me, ostensibly waiting for an autograph from “She Who Cooks So Well.”

I put the slugs down. They looked at the slugs, looked up at me, and started clucking. I can only imagine what they were saying. Probably along the lines of “You have got to be kidding? Yesterday you brought us swiss chard and cheddar quiche. The day before you brought orzo with basil walnut pesto. And today you are bringing us slugs?” They started pulling at my pants.  I am not kidding. They were grabbing my pjs with their little beaks. I was in a mosh pit.

I had to run out the gate before the mutiny took full hold.

As I sit here, at 11 a.m. I know that Brad ate all the spoon bread I made last night. The freezer is empty of zucchini bread and muffins and frozen corn. I’ve used all Brad’s Oatmeal. We only have 2 eggs in the house. I have several loaves of bread, and I have a can of tuna that was home canned by a neighbor. I’m thinking I can fool them into thinking it’s tuna casserole – which will give me enough time to run out the door before they notice I didn’t actually cook anything for them.

I am so doomed.

From there to here …

I was born in the Bronx. Our family moved around and by the time I was 11, I had lived in 10 different places all over the US.  I was like that commercial – I’ll never live in the suburbs, I’ll always live in an apartment, I never want to be far from a metropolis. But halfway through the nevers, I met my husband Brad and 10 years later found myself in a pole house, on a hill, overlooking the South Pacific, on an island in Fiji.

For about 14 years it sounded like a good idea. Then we decided we were over it, and would move back to a more traditional life in the US. We still own a resort on an outer island in Fiji, but our jobs marketing and taking reservations can be done anywhere where we have access to the internet. So the search was on for our perfect American home.

Originally we lived in Southern California for 10 years before our move to Fiji, and we knew that this was no longer our cup of tea (or kava, to be Fijian about it.). So we traveled about and had a list. We knew we wanted to be westerly (although I’ve long had a penchant for Portland, Maine and I could still see myself in a gorgeous apartment in Manhattan), so we took the “list” – Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Washington – and did what we do – we researched and compared notes.

Montana was immediately out for me. Too, I don’t know, just too. Too much mountain mannish. Idaho was out for Brad. I don’t know why, but it didn’t call to him. We loved Oregon, our son lives in Seattle, and I was really crazy about Colorado. But after talking to our accountant, who advised us that Washington state was our best option, we flew up there, with the intent of finding our version of the next best thing.

Initially wanting to buy a bed and breakfast, we joined our realtor, John, for 10 days of homes – homes that were bed and breakfasts, homes that could be bed and breakfasts, and after a few days of that, just homes.

I NEEDED to be close to Seattle. I NEEDED city life. Brad needed acreage to plant a garden.

So, after 9 months, I still wonder, how did this happen? I am living on a 16 acre farm. With 20 chickens! and fenced pastures where Brad wants to put cows and a pig (A PIG!) and some goats,  and acres of blueberry bushes and fruit trees. Me …whose criteria for a move was always “where’s the nearest Nordstroms.” Where chickens come wrapped nicely, 6 thighs per package. And where nature and the wild was always something to be respected, and appreciated, but not to be someplace that I actually lived. Camping? Nice – now let’s go back to the hotel.

But you know … I kinda like it. I’m getting there. And think that by writing it out (the former journalist that I am) it will actually bring me closer to … well, what? The great outdoors? Maybe. Sanity? Maybe. Chicken poop? Definitely.