Monthly Archives: May 2014

They did it!! I’Mpossible

The young folks running the I’Mpossible bag drive hit at or near their goal of collecting 1500 bags for foster youth!!!!!!!!!!

I am soo happy for them!!!  If any teenager decided “I’m going to do a big, huge project to help other kids,” it would be thrilling.  But, if you think about it – these kids don’t necessarily have their parents hitting up co-workers, connecting them with corporate bigwigs, driving them around to make things happen – and they made things happen anyway.  On their own.  With one or two adults acting as facilitators and advisors, letting the kids run the show.

And they did it!!!

I believe that current and former foster kids ARE our kids.  We’re the voters who elected the folks who make foster care what it is.   We are responsible for the program.  We the People took these kids in, and yet we allow a lot of these kids to move around with nothing but trash bags for suitcases.  And the kids running this program thought they could do better for our kids, and they did.

Big thanks to everyone who contributed.  I couldn’t be prouder if these were my own kids (and, in a way, they are).  It takes a community to take care of children.  It’s so awesome that these young folks stepped up for the foster kids in their own community.  And through hard work and dedication, they accomplished amazing things.

The work isn’t done.  They still have to sort donations, pack the bags with care items and blankets, and distribute them.  And I know the kids will do a great job with that, too!

Pics! Our babies are growing up

KitHoldingBlackberry

Clever baby – she’s holding the blackberry stem down so she can reach the leaves.  Kit in front, Jack in back.

I need a better camera; mine’s so slow it didn’t catch the action – Kit leaned on Jack’s back to stabilize herself while she grabbed onto the stem.  When he realized what she was doing, he slipped out from under her to share her snack.

RhoBG

Rhi has been a complete witch since about a month before giving birth.  She doesn’t have any friends anymore, except her babies.

Mamma's Boy, still

Mamma’s Boy, still

Rho was born with the face of an angel, and he's got the personality to match

Rho was born with the face of an angel, and he’s got the personality to match
Tiny Rho curled up under a heat lamp

Tiny Rho curled up under a heat lamp

Rho

Rho is still a little angel

Tiny Mocha, tucked into my jacket

Tiny Mocha, tucked into my jacket

Mocha

Mocha is probably our sweetest new BG this year. She’ll walk up to us and lean in and curl her body around us – Goat Hugs!

Today’s report from the farmer’s market

I needed breakfast.  I went nuts and had strawberry rhubarb pie from the pie guy.  I’m not a rhubarb girl.  It was a great pie.  Not too sweet – the rhubarb adds a bit of tartness – but just sweet enough and lush with strawberries.

Well, strawberries are in abundance right now.  Brought home a pint with some sugar snap peas.  I love raw snap peas for snacking or for an easy veggie side – serve with hummus, ranch dressing, or peanut butter, no fuss.

Stopped in Le Stuff Antiques mall.  They have an adorable pedal car and the cutest antique child’s travel chest.

We were outside the drugstore.  I didn’t know before that the drugstore also has a diner counter (old school drugstore!) along with cute gift items.

The flower grower, Cheng’s farm, did a brisk business, as always.  Great prices for fresh bouquets, and they really do an amazing job arranging them.  Gorgeous.

Some beautiful hanging baskets and I’m now lusting after the lettuce bowls.  So many started veggies, I just wanted to run home and get the “kitchen garden” finished!  Farms traditionally had a crop – might be livestock, might be fruits or veggies, might be both – and a “kitchen garden” which was a more varied, and, often, higher-labor garden for home eating.  Farms specialized for the market, but diversified for personal use.  Well, we can all use a kitchen garden.  Zucchini is the most amazing vegetable, I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t grow zucchini successfully, that plant is like our mini nubian goats – easy, easy.  And some of the tomato starts are pre-potted, loaded with flowers (future tomatoes!) and big.

If you come out to the market and you love food, you’ve got to stop by the New Seasons booth.  They have recipes and samples of things you can make from food you can buy that day at the farmers market.  They’re usually pretty darn easy to make, but yummy, fresh, and healthy.

Asparagus!  Fresh, local asparagus.  Yum.  Come out tomorrow, pick up some asparagus, toss it with olive oil and pepper, and grill up a side dish that will wow at your holiday barbeque without taking all day to prepare.

Handmade jewelry.  Handmade handbags.  Amazing woodcrafts.  Lots of freshly prepared foods.  All locally made.  All supporting the local economy.  I was pretty enthused to find a couple selling metal tables with stone tops.  We get wicked winds here on the farm, and now I will get a patio table that looks great and won’t blow away.  Made right in Hillsboro, too!

So come on out, pick up some soap (all that cooking and gardening deserves mild cleaning afterwards!), treat yourself to a fresh bouquet or new earrings, and get your veggie shopping done in bright sunshine!  See you at Orenco tomorrow!

Farmer’s market dinner: Potato leek-ish soup with onion stalks

Last weekend, we got onions with the stalks on.  They looked a lot like leeks, so we used them like leeks our favorite ham and potato leek soup.  Went great with challah bread from the farmer’s market (Great Harvest Bread).

Recipe: (serves 4)

  • 2 large leeks or 2 small/medium local onions with the greens attached; cleaned and ends trimmed
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 large carrots or a hefty handful of baby carrots
  • 2 cans or ~30 oz chicken or veggie broth/stock
  • 1 lb ham or 1 can beans (garbanzo, lima or white beans are nice)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream or goat milk; or 2 oz goat cheese

Make a roux – melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add 1 tablespoon of flour, whisk together and cook on low while chopping veggies.  (Roux is easy if you melt the butter first, sprinkle the flour around a little, and use a whisk to stir.)

Clean the onion/leek, trim roots, then chop the whole thing finely.  Throw in the pot, stir into the roux.

(Optional) Dice carrots into bite sized pieces.  Use 1 good handful of baby carrots or 2 big carrots.  Carrots add sweetness and veggie nutrition.  Throw in pot.

Chop 2 clean, medium potatoes into a bite-size dice.  Turn heat to medium.  Throw potatoes in the pot, stir just to cook the outside.

Add 2 cans of broth or about 30 oz. homemade stock.  Chicken’s good.  So is veggie broth.

Add 1 lb diced ham, or for vegetarian soup, a can of garbanzo or white beans.

Cover.  Simmer lightly ~20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring periodically.  Open lid to let cool for about 3 minutes while prepping dishes.  Stir in 1/4 cup of goat milk or whipping cream or 2 oz. goat cheese.  Cover and heat until it just starts to simmer again, then remove from heat (you don’t want to boil the cream.)

Serve with fresh bread, maybe a side salad.  We like to have sourdough bread – cut some into raw “croutons” to put in the soup, serve some as slices with goat cheese or brie.

The little goat that wouldn’t

I swear, when I walk into the barn for “preggo check”, I find Abbey standing with her legs crossed.  It’s like she doesn’t want this “All About Abbey” stage of the motherhood journey to end.  Ever.  She gets rubs.  A lot.  She gets us to sit with her.  She gets extra attention and the goats who are mean to her get extra scolding, and this is Abbey’s golden age.  She’s turned into Mammazilla.  After the big event, well, then it’s back to real life – wiping babies’ noses and saggy teats and you just know the dad isn’t going to call when he said he would.

In other words, we have a big, fat, pregnant goat, a huge udder, and no babies.

Goats have this strange thing – they give birth during better weather.  I know all about this in winter births.  A goat who is due on the 10th will deliver during the first great weather between about the 5th and 15th, or the first good weather after the 10th.  But summer – what is she waiting for?  It’s all pretty good weather now.  This is our first summer birth.

So I think it’s going to be Friday or Saturday.  If it goes much longer, we’re going to bring a vet out.  Because this goat could hold them in until the cows come home, which would be a long time, seeing as how we don’t have cows.

My poor husband

It’s a beautiful day for dusting off the tractor.  I think of a tractor as a feminist farm tool.  I may not be able to toss around bales of hay like hubby, but when I strap a tractor under my butt, I can lift 800 lbs (give or take) single handed.  Literally, single-handed – the tractor has a “front loader” which is a doohickey that hangs off the front, holds a giant shovel or a fork lift, and the whole works operates via joystick.

Us geek girls like joysticks.  If they ever made a really, really boring video game, it would be called “use the tractor to lift heavy stuff in tight spaces.”  Pull back to lift an inch, pull right to tilt a degree, repeat 500 times, and then execute a perfect 500-point turn to squeeze out of the barn without knocking over one of the main support posts.

There is a massive gash in one of the support posts.  That was not me.  The farm came with that gash, a warning to all new tractor operators.

So I got bored with the 500-point turn (it’s like a 3-point turn like you did in drivers’ ed and then, like, never again? except it’s not turn, backup, turn, done! it’s turn-backup-turn-backup ad nauseum).  The front loader adds another foot or two to the length of the tractor.  And our tractor repair guy once took the front loader off, and I watched, and it was easy.  If I took off the front loader, I could move around the barn easier.  So I did.  I did exactly what the repair guy did.  And backed up to escape the front loader.  And it followed me.

The repair guy didn’t actually remove it, now that I think about it.  Oh, yeah, he was doing a recall repair on the hydraulics.  So the hydraulics were still attached, I guess.  It looks pretty gnarly to remove them.

Grumble.  Fine, put it back on, this is not the solution.

But it won’t go back on.  When it followed me, it moved out of position.  I can’t get all the connecting pins back in now.

I tried to save my husband some heavy lifting.  Now he has to lever up the (extremely heavy) front loader and hold it in place so we can get the damn pins back in.  I tried.  A lot.  Not happening by myself.  I try to push it into position, and it laughs at me.

And this is after I beached the little riding mower that we bought back when we thought we could hire custom tractor work as needed.  I guess it needs gas.  Hopefully hubs doesn’t have to rescue that one, too.

This is one of those days where the female-liberation tractor turns into the little girly tractor.  “Honey, can you fix my tractor?” isn’t quite the empowered, capable female I was trying to be today.

We’re expecting

Our puppy-dog of a LaMancha, Abbey, is “making her udder”.  The important parts are there all along, but they start to grow as they begin making milk for the babies.  The udder goes from flat and unnoticeable to a small bulge to a big, beautiful udder.

Some goats start “making” an udder a month before birth.  Some don’t come in until after the babies arrive.  Usually, we see it a week to three weeks before birth.  The growing udder is a sign that birth is coming.  We have to monitor other signs to know when to start waiting eagerly and worrying (I always worry).

So we came home from Sunday’s market and built out a kidding stall.  We aren’t a big farm, so we set up kidding stalls as needed, then take them down to free up space.  We don’t need it quite yet, but we’re giving Abbey time to get used to it.

I’m always excited to meet our new goat kids.  Each one has a unique personality, and I swear they come in prettier every year!

(I think our mini Nubians have the cutest udders ever in the history of udders.  Little grapefruit-sized balls of milky goodness.  I have turned into a goat geek.  I “aaawwww!” at tiny baby poops and spent a solid week after Mini’s udder came in, making Phil look at it and exclaiming “isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!?!”)

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

With a name like Mamma Goat, you might think we have a certain affection for mammas.  Well, it’s true.  Mammas are special.  So, if you’re stumped on how to honor your special Mamma, here are some thoughts to get your creativity flowing.

Sometimes, the best gift is a hug.

Sometimes, the best gift is a hug. Curl up on the couch and watch Mom’s favorite movie. Or just bask in the sunshine together.

For the gardener, a pair of nice gloves to protect Mom’s hands, a knee pad for more comfort kneeling, and a promise to do the weeding this month (or some seedlings from the farmer’s market).  A nice lotion and our honey-shea soap (Buckwheat Honey) add a nice touch of luxury and care.  You’ll find lots of started plants at the farmer’s market this weekend.  Would Mom love to spend an afternoon planting her new treasures with you?  Maybe you should get a pair of gloves for yourself, too!

Give Mom a goat.  Well, give a goat in her honor, through Heifer International.  Goat shares start at $10; for $120, Heifer will give a needy family the gift of a goat – a long-term lift from poverty – in Mom’s honor.  Wrap up a goat milk soap with a note telling Mom about her gift.  Maybe bees are Mom’s thing?  Heifer has those, too, and we can hook you up with a honey soap for Mom.  For $20, Heifer can give a family an entire flock of chickens, or ducks, or geese, and llama shares start at $20; sheep shares start at $10.  We don’t have felted soaps right now, but Nuts About Berries does, and you’ll find them at the farmer’s market, too.  What’s a felted soap?  It’s soap wrapped in raw wool, llama fiber, or alpaca fiber, and then hand rubbed until it forms a soft, scrubby pouch around the soap.  It’s like a bath scrubby or washcloth, but much, much nicer!

Moms love spending time with their kids.

Moms love spending time with their kids.

Take Mom for a hike.  Our Take a Hike soap has a fresh burst of Citronella.  Add a foot massage, some heel balm, and a picnic lunch for a special day out with your favorite Mamma.

Try to spot Mom's favorite flowers and birds.  And lend her a hand on the steep parts.

Try to spot Mom’s favorite flowers and birds. And lend her a hand on the steep parts.

How about Thai?  Give Mom one of our Lemongrass soaps, one of our virgin-coconut oil soaps, and take her out to your favorite Thai restaurant.

Does Mom love farm blogs?  How about a copy of the Chickens in the Road book, and one of our Redneck soaps (made with shortening, like some of the Crisco recipes in the book!)?

Lavender!  Always a favorite!  Box up one of our lavender soaps with a lavender bath salt, maybe add a potted lavender plant, or seeds and a seed starter?

Did you enjoy tea parties with Mom?  How about a selection of gourmet teas and one of our green tea (artificial fragrance) soaps (99% natural, though!)?  Add a nice set of teacups and fresh baked pastries or flavored honeys from the farmer’s market for a grown-up tea party with the special woman in your life.

If Mom is more of a caffeine afficionado, pack up some special coffees, some luscious toppings like gourmet cocoa powder, whip up homemade whipped cream, and maybe tuck in a bar of our Mocha coffee scrub soap and some chocolates from the farmer’s market.

For the gourmet mom, some fresh veggies from the farmer’s market, a knife sharpening service or a gift certificate to her favorite kitchen store, and a nice kitchen soap may be in order.  Stop by the New Seasons Market booth for a recipe, and maybe it’s your turn to cook for mom?  Maybe a flavored vodka (available at the farmer’s market) to spice up one of her signature sauces?  Or some local chocolates?  Fresh free-range eggs?  If your mom’s a gourmet, you’re sure to find some great, unique gifts at the farmer’s market this weekend!

For the mother of your children, maybe carve both your initials into a bar of soap, old-timey style*.  Add a few kid-free hours to soak in the tub, or read a nice book (provided by you), uninterrupted.  Bring her a mug of her favorite beverage, light some candles, and take the kids to the park (or to the farmer’s market to pick up dinner fixins).

Personalize your gift.  Most of our packaging can be personalized with permanent markers.  All of our soaps can be packed in a cotton drawstring bag on request, and you can write your heartfelt message right on the bag.  Our brown gift boxes can also be drawn on, written on, or decorated with stickers.  Our handprint shopping bags take ink like a champ, whether pen or stamps, so you can spend time personalizing with the kids to make Mom’s gift totally unique.  If you want to go all out, you can even decorate our wood crates before filling them with plants, gourmet tidbits, or a whole lot of soap.  (A thin layer of sealant will make your message permanent).

Oh, and if you’re thinking flowers – yep, the farmer’s market has that, too.  Fresh, local flowers, gorgeous and fragrant.  By the stem, for you to arrange ’em as pretty as you want, or already arranged into gorgeous bouquets (I watched them made all day last Saturday, beautiful).

* Soap is hard, but it can be carved if you’re careful.  Use an ice pick or a mechanical pencil with the pencil lead retracted.  Wipe the tip of the mechanical pencil clean before carving so you don’t leave lead in the soap.  A narrow philips screwdriver will work, too.  Carve lightly and repeat until you get the desired result.

Farmers Markets in the News

Hat tip to the Hillsboro Argus newspaper for great coverage of the Farmers Markets’ opening weekend:

Orenco Farmers Market opens with country music, scattered showers, and plenty of fresh food

And

Hillsboro Saturday Farmers’ Market kicks off 2014 season with flowers, veggies, pie

The Farmers Markets are a local treasure.  We saw so many people greeting old friends, children out sharing in the community, dogs saying hello.  Radio Flyers galore, and vendors cooperating rather than competing.  Just the polar opposite of a mall full of chain stores.

If you haven’t made it out to the market yet, do fit it into your schedule.  You’ll be surprised at the variety of quality, locally-produced products available.  It’s free to come in and take a stroll.  Enjoy free samples, find new treasures, and say hello to your neighbors.

Rain rain and asparagus

We started seeting up on Sunday, and it was raining.  Well, duh, you might say, this is Oregon.

The problem was, we had already put up our canopy.  It was raining inside.  And we sell soap.

Visions of kopious bubbles running down storm drains.  We wracked our brains.  How could we salvage the day?

So we hid our soaps under the table.  Put our second table on top of the first.  And made like a fine jewelry store – you can peruse the water-dotted soaps on the table.  When you pick one, we’ll bring out the tray of fine diamonds for your final selection.

Ugh.  We had tested the canopy, but it looks like we’ll be water-proofing it or replacing the top now.  Because we sell soap.  In Oregon.

So big thanks to the folks who braved the rain on Sunday.  It was nice meeting so many new folks.

And we came home with some nice fresh asparagus (yummy!) and a tummy full of locally-made, locally grown, freshly-made food.

* I now spell copious “kopious” in my mind because our little Kopi is so full of love and energy, I call him Kopious.  I may rename our extra-super-lathery recipe in his honor.  He’s 4 legs and 2 big floppy ears of lovey energy.  He used to follow me like a puppy dog.  Auntie Hannah would help me out, play with him so I could slip away.