Friday, October 19, 2007

we want snow!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

whiskey before breakfast

The group I started jamming with on Tuesday nights really likes to mix it up and play a lot of fast-paced Scotch/Irish tunes along with their bluegrass. I am spending some time every night trying to nail down one called ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast” and so far I’m treading water. It's a fickle bitch of a tune, that one. But I’m glad I’m being forced to expand my fiddling outside of old-time music. It's hard learning a whole new way of doing things on the fret board. Regardless, it’s a good challenge and I can’t wait till the jam moves to the upstairs of my favorite pub, Eichardt’s and I can drink a Guinness and play reels like I was born in a ditch outside Dublin. Speaking of, anyone want to go to Ireland in the spring? I’m thinking on it, but I have to see what I can afford. Heather, if you come out and visit this winter make sure you’re here for a Tuesday night.

The farm is getting ready for winter. I still have an active garden of winter crops. A half dozen heads of butter crunch lettuce and some hearty broccoli and onions is all that’s fit to grow this late in the season. They’re covered in plastic sheeting to ward off the frost, but I think the next coming weekends is all the longer they’ll last unless I move them indoors with the herbs. I might use Raven’s idea of converting Rubbermaid totes into greenhouses and put them in the kitchen window for the winter. Gardening becomes an obsession pretty quickly, just a heads up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

one down

Sad news friends. I came home from the music jam last night because it was starting to rain and I was already under the weather. When I pulled into my driveway my headlights caught a sad pile of black feathers. One of the silkie roosters was killed. I think it was an inside job from one of the other roosters, most likely the other silkie. I can't imagine a coyote killing someone and not taking his prize with him to eat, and if William wanted that guy dead he would've killed him a long time ago. I guess this farm was too small for the two of them. It's the first chicken I've lost. A little sad to see him go.

Monday, October 15, 2007

There’s lots update you with, but the most exciting news is the most issue of Countryside Magazine, which just hit shelves. Countryside is a magazine for small stock farmers and modern homesteaders. In it you’ll find a nice folksy article I wrote about getting into self-taught bluegrass music. Along with the article are some photos I took of my own instruments. So next time your in Borders check it out. If you’re not really into playing music - there’s also articles in that issue about dogsledding, beginner beekeeping and a cute bit on urban chickens.

I spent the Sunday slow cooking a giant pot of Marinara sauce over at Bruce and Diana’s house. Before I headed to Tennessee I brought two paper grocery bags of green tomatoes from my garden into work for Diana to take home and let ripen. They turned red in their bags and then they were frozen till the blessed event. Bruce was kind enough to teach me how to turn them into thirteen jars of spaghetti sauce. We did the whole shabang, from food processor and sautéed garlic to using their giant pressure canner to seal them up for all year storage. How awesome is it to know that in mid-February I can go to the cupboard and grab a jar that started back in April as a seedling in a Ben and Jerry’s pint on the windowsill? I might have a really low bar for “awesome” but that pretty much clears it. I’ll be mailing a jar to Palmerton, so get excited at HQ.

Also, my banjo is here. It came in all its ridiculously heavy glory from Knoxville last week. It’s a sweet little guy with a mahogany back and a pretty tone. I’m taking up clawhammer banjo because it’s the way the banjo was played with fiddles back before the guitar came on the scene and mountain music turned into bluegrass. Clawhammer literally looks like you’re playing with talons on your right hand, but it sounds deep and rhythmic and goes with a fiddle perfectly. I’m using the same instructional aid source that I used to teach myself the fiddle. The publishing house is called Native Ground and the books are by a fellow named Wayne Erbson. His relaxed style of teaching by ear is really easy for me to pick up. So far all I can muster from my banjo is a slow version of Old Molly Hare, which ironically I hate playing on the fiddle cause it sounds too squeaky on my cheap instrument, but on the banjo it’s charming. This is pretty much the most riveting blog you check all day huh?

This weekend was Sandpoint’s last Farmer’s Market of the season, so there was a fall festival with free horse drawn hayride through town and lots of music and vendors. I brought Jazz and Annie in their packs and filled their saddlebags with carrots, potatoes, and apples for pie baking. I also grabbed a jug of cider and a pumpkin, which is carved into a jack o lantern in the kitchen right now.

The chickens aren’t happy. The cold and rain has dampened their spirits and most of them stopped laying. They all look like hell too, because fall is molting season and their getting new feathers. This is a process of course and right now their rears are bare and pink. They look like someone played a practical joke on them and shaved their butts after they passed out at a frat party. Mix that patheticness in with our cheery northwest weather and you have some sorry looking birds. Only Mindy, the new hen, is still laying everyday. The rest rarely lay at all making the farm’s egg production go from 18 eggs a week to 7. To get the other girls back into laying I ran some wiring out to the coop and set up a clamp light to give them some extra time to lay by. Chickens need 14 hours of light a day to lay an egg every 25 hours.

Last, I just want to share a music find. I got a cd of the Hems from the library this weekend. I had never heard of them before and just got their cd because of their name and the fact that a creepy looking pair of hares was on the cover. Turned out to be beautiful - a piano, a violin, some guitars and one soft voice. The song “half an acre” was especially touching. It’s about a girl who’s moved around a few times and is away from home but carries a torn out portion of her old home from a map of the town she grew up in everywhere she goes. The music doesn’t gnash and writhe like Iron and Wine does but the album “rabbit songs” seems to be perfect for driving in autumn for no reason but to drive in autumn. I suggest it for just that. If you need to satiate yourself in hope and creepy bible references, stick with Sam Beam.

Hope you’re well were you are.