28 May 2009

Sights, Sounds, Thoughts

In no such order. Today is a tired one....allergies hitting the farm in full force.

There is a zipper cacophany, a chorus that greets my every morning, and closes every evening. Each tent stretching down either side of the Tentland Lane from my abode has at least 2 zippered doorways to pass through in entering or exiting...meaning that each zip up is followed by a zip down by a zip up by another zip down, per each enter and exit. Each morning, if the breakfast bell doesn't wake me first at 6:45, the zipper orchestra will bid me awake...ditto the evening. And those mid-night bathroom runs...

There are owl boxes throughout the farm landscape, obstensibly to attract the bird life that will feed on the copious gopher populations, which otherwise feed on our tender, gorgeous produce and flowers. The great circle of life - or at least the food chain at work. I can't confirm that the owls are doing a better job than our metal clamp traps, but their presence is felt - mostly via their on-going screeching from dusk til - I kid you not - dawn. One bird has taken roosting preference in the large conifer between my tent and Iwaloni's. That side of my tent's nylon is a real mess these days.

Other sounds that have caught my ear in recent weeks: coyotes howling urgently from afar, cows mooing urgently from a-close, raging MC'd rap parties at a nearby residential college, a suspected bobcat at my tent door - turned out to be Spencer, one of the resident cats, pawing at my door.

The many farm quail don't carry on with noise, but are thick underfoot, running from the kiwi grove into the Down Garden and back towards the Arboretum. I run into them scurrying about when I'm leaving my tent in the morning, and then again when I'm returning to it at dusk. Love their fancy headwear and blue-green tinged plumage. Always think of what they could potentially add to the dinner table, though.

The garden rows and field are looking groomed and increasingly green. The blueberry bushes are heavy with fruit, as are the intern raspberry bushes. Most plants are heavy with flower (lavender, Western Spice Bush, roses, snapdragons, nigella, various salvias, and a gabillion others), though our vegetable crop is on the thin side: lettuces, turnips, greens, straawberries, tat soi. Most everything else is still bought in from farms in the Valley, and I'm still regularly frustrated that the kitchen is always in short supply of cooking staples like onions, flour, milk, eggs. (Counting to 10, even now, and trying to focus on creativity in the kitchen...."egg" = flax meal blended with water. Unless you want it scrambled or fried, or served over potato hash (another missing staple in my book).)

I miss the bounty of ingredients that we pulled from the farm in Italy - days full of tending to and reaping the rewards of wine, olive oil, prosciutto, cardoons and kale, fruit, limoncello, carrots and lettuce, beets, pizza! Una vita diversa.

In my occasional forays into news and the happening of The World, I still tend to focus on food and economics...an article in the New York Times today noted that the sales of organic milk, after years of high growth, have now dropped to a level that is preventing the renewal of many contracts with small, organic dairies across the US. The cost of animal feed - coming from the midwest to places like New England - has risen, along with other operating costs, and consumer demand has slumped as folks are choosing to go cheaper on their grocery staples. This marketplace "vote" will soon be putting these small businesses out, strengthen industrial dairy operations and support their unsustainable and inhumane practices, and pass along hormone and antibiotic residues detrimental to those consumers' health. But - pay more or go without? Where is the solution?

My last tired thought of the day...I miss DC summers (!). The persistent fog and cold here in Santa Cruz is a real spirit-dampener. Please to trade the cool breezes for warm ones, evenings spent in sundresses and sandals, ice cream as a survival tool rather than a tasty treat, the desire to sit outside... June is next week, and I'm sleeping in long johns, sporting a down vest most all day long, and wouldn't get by without my knit hat. 2009 looks to be one long winter! Albeit with tasty veggies and organic milk.


Anonymous Jeff said...

I love your writing! On the milk: Organic producers get (something like) $13 per 100 lbs. for bulk milk. The "cheap" milk seller at my market (winter only - damn) charges about $60 per 100 lbs. Let's hear it for alternative distro! And on the soiled tent: what do you think of hanging a tarp, old sheet, or something else that would be easier to clean (and meanwhile add some insulation to your thin walls)?

6:01 AM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Love the descriptions. And, though this likely won't make the grey-damp seem or feel any better, summer humidity in DC has arrived, so you'd be trading cool breezes for hot stickines (ew).

Too bad I can't send you eggs or onions, but if you want a more traditional care package, send me your tent number. ;)

6:05 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

DC summers - and your DC friends - miss you dearly! Gravy chimes in with her own cacaphony - meow? grrrr...HISS! meow... I've become fluent in cat these days, so what she says is: Hi mama, how are you? I miss you! This other little kitty is cute but annoying the hell out of me and I like playing with him sometimes, but other times just want to be left alone. That's life, but I cant wait to see you...
If it's any consolation, the humity is thicker than the heat this week here - that is, we are all living with a perpetual dampness on our skin, unknown to be the source of inside (sweat) or outside (humidity). Helloooo stinky packed Metro rides!

6:40 AM  

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