Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pickin' Up the Needles

The fall weather beckons! There is a crispness in the air and it causes me to want to knit. For some reason I always put down my knitting in spring and pick it back up again in the fall. Even though it makes sense since so much goes on outside during that time, it's actually a really poor strategy, because if I had kept knitting through the summer, I'd have a slew of Christmas gifts ready by now. But ... I've had a few things going on in my life over the summer, so knitting has taken a back seat. 

I searched for a long time for a craft that is a) cheap, b) doesn't require a bunch of obscure/expensive tools, and c) is portable. Knitting is perfect.

Since I'll be moving to the Topeka area, I found out about a great shop from friend Jenny Burtwistle called the Yarn Barn http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com/ in Lawrence. They offer tons of classes and I want to sign up for the Beginner Brush-up class where you can bring in an unfinished project and they'll help you finish it and start another. I started a basic shell (tank sweater) last fall and I would love nothing better than to be able to wear it finally.

I love the idea of sitting in a yarn shop, needles clacking, putting my hands to work. Working with one's hands is so important to me. Anyone can type on a keyboard, but learning an actual skill is so much more rewarding. I loved the classes I took at the Stitch Niche in Lexington. Amy taught me everything I know and all the women working there are always happy to answer questions. I know knitting is sort of "trendy" now, but deservedly so. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Husbanding Lunch

Today I had lunch with veterinary columnist, Dr. Dianne Hellwig. Dianne and I have been friends for a few years, and we've even spent holidays together. She raises Rambouillet sheep, Spanish goats and horses. I can't remember the last time I actually had a 2 1/2-hour lunch with someone and didn't want it to end. I had time to have a leisurely lunch! In some ways she and I are in similar places in our lives. She has just emerged from the so-called hallowed ground of academia, while I've just come out of the rat race of corporate America. What did we learn from our experiences?

1. You're never too old to reinvent yourself
2. Your work stands on its own
3. Don't define yourself by your "job"
4. There are a lot of people out there who just don't care, but we can't dwell on that

Dianne spoke about while she was in school in the 1980s, the poultry experts were trying to figure out what magic formula they could feed chickens so they wouldn't develop aneurisms and die (from growing so fast). At the time she spoke up and said, "how about we don't engineer chickens to grow so fast?" That wasn't too popular, because common sense doesn't reign supreme in American agriculture. Profit does. Instead of a common sense solution to a problem, the current rationale is that we must invent a technological one.

I'm reading Gene Logsdon's novel The Last of the Husbandmen . It begins in 1940 and ends in 1985 and chronicles the "get big or get out" model of agriculture. When I told Dianne about the book, she remarked that when she was getting her degree, it was called "Animal Husbandry." Just after she graduated, it changed to "Animal Science." It echoes the fact that during that time, animals stopped being individuals for which we needed to husband--to care for--but merely science projects to be engineered to most efficiently feed the masses. It's a good read, and an entertaining way to learn about that period in our agricultural history. I certainly hope the pendulum is swinging back toward smaller, diversified family farms.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Money-saving Mode

quiche, salad and vinaigrette for the week
For the past few months, and especially in the past two weeks, I've been in serious money-saving mode. Like clamp down, for real. You gain a whole new perspective on life when suddenly you can't really afford organic broccoli or $5.99 packages of chicken sausage from Whole Foods. 
So today is Sunday and I thought I would prepare some food for the week in real frugal fashion. The day began with me selling a tine dethatcher on Craigslist for $50. Bingo! Grocery money! So I went to the store and bought two frozen pie shells (store brand of course), a pint of half and half, conventional broccoli crowns, an on-sale bag of shredded mozzarella and an on-sale package of turkey polska kielbasa. For $9.81 I made two delicious quiches, which will last about a week and a half. Here's the recipe:

Farm-fresh quiche (makes one pie)
3 eggs (I used farm-fresh eggs from my sweetheart's flock in Kansas that I carried back last time I drove--10 hours!)
1 1/2 cups blanched broccoli
1 cup half-and-half, milk or cream
1/2 cup grated cheese (whatever you have)
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt
9" prebaked pie shell 
1 cooked polska kielbasa, sausage or bacon (optional)

Prebake the pie shell according to package directions (about 10 minutes) on a baking sheet. Lay in the blanched broccoli, then the cooked sausage. Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, cheese, and spices. Pour the custard over the broccoli and sausage in the pie shell. Bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

I also bought the cheapest lettuce on display at Kroger--a head of red-leaf lettuce for $1.59. I never buy salad dressing at the store, so I pulled these basic ingredients from the pantry and made my own:

Versatile Vinaigrette (from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup olive oil

Whir all the ingredients together in a blender. Dressing will keep in fridge for weeks. Let it sit out for about 15 minutes before using to let the oils come to room temperature.

Now I will eat happily and well for the week!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome to My Home Farm

My Home Farm is about life, love, and the constant change on a farm.

This is my barn in Kentucky
For the past two weeks, I've had time to think. I mean, really think. For the first time in about 23 years, I have been without a job. I've never slept better in my life! No countless emails demanding immediate responses; no managers assigning endless tasks; no surly co-workers to contend with. Just time on the farm, doing what I want to do. 

So what does a suddenly unemployed farm girl do with her time?

1. I've created this blog
2. I've made multiple batches of pesto and quiche for the freezer
3. I visited with my mom who flew out from California
4. I went prairie chicken hunting in Nebraska
5. I spent a week in Kansas at my sweetheart's farm
6. I sold my farm in Kentucky
7. And I just booked a moving truck!

Stay tuned for my adventures in moving and my new life in Kansas. There will be lots to say ...