Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's not what you think...

OK, well, yeah...it IS my daughter in a cage.
But she's not doing a time out or anything...really.  She's catching the next chicken in our long line of beauties for the Fair Salon.

The world of competitive poultry requires either separate, full-time cages for everyone to insure cleanliness, or a day at the spa where we bathe, primp, and pedicure all the contestants before shipping them off to the Fairgrounds.

So this is Sapphire, the white silkie, getting her pedicure.  Everyone must have poop-free/mudfree toes and nails.

We only bathe those chickens who really need their feathers washed, since the process removes natural oils.  Not to mention the blow dryer time.

Here, we are dipping Cotton's nether parts in the soapy bath, since only her vent was a muddy, poopy mess.

(Doesn't that face say it all?)

So, yeah, I spent my Monday washing chicken poop off chickens and trimming toenails and fluffing feathers for a dozen of the family fowl.  Isn't that how everyone's week starts?

" Just a little off the top, dahling..."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Attention, Everyone!

Excuse me!  Can I have your attention?
I have something to tell you all that you should hear:
Michelle is AWESOME!
(For some of you, this is not news, but bear with me...)
She is one of the wonderful people I have met through blogging.  She and I share funny similarities (some we will mention, some are ours to know...)  That is enough to warrant the attention.
(Ahhem. Clear throat)
But several weeks ago, completely unsolicited, she did something very sweet. (Literally!)
When I commented on her blog about the cherries she had been  picking, she packed some up and sent them along!  I was very touched.  (There might have been wee tears of joy, but we're not confirming or denying.)
Now if I were at all artistic, there would be a cool award picture. (I am not.  So you will all have to settle for the next best thing - sheep.)

Shetland Sheep can stand in for a nice award picture any day.  If you do not own some, trust me on this.

P.S. The cherries were accompanied by a deadly cookie recipe, which I was unable to resist and forced to make as soon as they arrived, at which time I realized I was out of regular chocolate chips and had to substitute white chocolate chips in the recipe.  I could tell you that the reason I have not posted all of this news until now is that I was stricken by an uncontrollable urge to eat said cookies right from the oven and burned my mouth on their chocolately cherry goodness.  If I did go with that story, I would not be going to h-e-double toothpicks on THIS day...

The Market

That, my friends, is a Savoy cabbage.  My daughter grew it, or rather she encouraged me to grow it as I had never tried cabbage before. (And who can resist a little girl with a flat of seedlings?)

My new friend, Maryann (God help me, I don't know if I chose the right spelling on her name...) said I should take the photo and post it on the blog - so here it is!  Isn't it spectacular?  I will grow these again next year, even if just for the look.  They are the cabbages that artists use when they make those beautiful pictures of produce, all crisp and textured and every shade of green...

Madison sold it at the Market on Saturday - to a fellow who bought it on memories of his mother cooking that type of cabbage when he was young.  That's not unusual...I hear all kinds of stories from our customers about why they are at the Market, and why they buy what they buy. It's what I like best about Saturdays.

Sure, we have had our share of nutters, but that's an aspect of dealing with the public that you just have to bear. Like the guy who walked up and ate a handful of Madison's berries she was selling without paying for them, and then walked off and threatened the gal who sells organic meat and accused her of killing babies. Or the woman who shops at our booth every week, but refuses to touch us. I offered to shake her hand one week as an introduction and she almost had a stroke.  But the funniest part for me is that she uses the excuse every week that she is an artist and she is shopping, so THAT is why we can't touch. 

And my fellow Marketers are loads of fun - there's Maryann to one side (who sells veggies and soaps, honey, maple syrup, salsa, jams and was the one to turn us on to garlic scape pesto) and the meat CSA to the other side (with two of the cutest kids around - not for sale!)
Here they are under the table (when business is slow) with my daughter...

I have resurrected an old play tent of Madison's and we bring it with us now for the kids, so they do not scare the customers by popping out from underneath the table without notice...

Can you see the cage on the table? (look back at the last photo)  We try and bring a chick or bantam with us every week, and it has become a highlight.  People like to see the variety in chickens, or the kids like to touch and pet them, or people share stories of when they were kids and used to raise chickens.  We've even had repeaters who come looking not for the veggies, but to see the chicken we've brought!

As a beginning farmer, the best part about the Market is all that I learn about what people want, and what to grow next year (more dill and cilantro, please ) and what to avoid (stop trying to push my love of bulb fennel on the world),  I also see a trend that is both heartening and frightening - people are patronizing the market more because they are no longer willing to compromise their health for domestic and foreign produce treated with Lord knows what and they are taking an interest in shopping locally.  That is good.  But many of them are also shopping to supplement their own gardens, grown not only out of love for gardening, but necessity as their wallets grow thinner and thinner.  We are headed for some rough times (if we are not there already) when the idea of shopping locally because you can't afford the gas or having to rely on your own garden to supplement your budget is a daily reality.  THAT'S gonna wake some people up...