Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Comfort in Any Wether

Sheep find a place to park for the night, and rest so still on my mountain that by morning their wooly coats are covered in the same frost that covers the fields and forest. When I walk out to feed them I am always shocked by this. Sal and Joseph (senior wethers) come right up to greet me and I stare at the flakes and ice on their backs. It looks like someone broke into my farm with those spray cans of fake snow and tagged them. In the name of winter herself, my sheep have been graffitied with living proof.

They are eating Nelson Greene's nutrition-packed second cut hay. It's so green, so lush, I always tell people I'll never starve with it in the barn. I just need to re-hydrate it and throw some balsamic vinaigrette on it, and BAM, mealtime.

It surely is winter here. The farmhouse seems to always have smoke coming from its chimney. The menu has changed to warm soups and teas, crusty bread and more protein. My body seems to crave more greens than ever before so I am sticking to the two-vegetables one-protein method for the afternoon meal, my only true sit down meal of the day. Mornings are all about coffee, maybe some oatmeal or yogurt, but mostly coffee. I don't get hungry till around 2-3PM and cook a nice meal and then I'm set for the day. I fall asleep around 9PM most nights after a full day of farming and writing, so I don't ever find myself hungry before bed. It suits me. I feel lucky to find a way to eat that makes my body, mind, and winter self feel correct about it.

Tonight will be pretty basic. A broc and cauliflower stir fry over a little rice with a few slices of good beef from Yushack's market in Shushan. Tonight I'll put a chicken into the crock pot and let it take the journey from breast meat roast to curried chicken to stockpot and then the bones go to the pigs who chomp them with a glee unknown to most.

Unlike the sheep, pigs do not gain a layer of frost. They sleep under a blanket of straw, close enough to spoon, and savor comfort more than many humans do. You can learn a lot from a sheep and a pig. You can be a soldier on a hilltop, or a glutton under the covers. I try to find myself somewhere in the swirling seas of moderation. I'm a firm believer in moderation in everything, including, moderation. Sometimes you just gotta be a swine in the hay. You dig?


Blogger Cathy said...

I dig. I like this post, it made me smile. Thanks.

November 28, 2012 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger ebwhite said...

Oh, I do love reading the stories about your days on the farm and the animals.
Good Cheers, Beth

November 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know, I am always amazed at what pigs eat. I had no idea they loved chicken carcass! I wish I knew someone in Austin who raised their own pigs--I always have plenty of whey left over from cheese making, and now I would love to find something to do with my leftover chicken carcasses (after stock, of course)

November 28, 2012 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Hetty said...

I used to raise a few lambs - only keep a couple of old sheep around now. I also used to be impressed with how well insulated the sheep were. They could fall asleep and pick up a couple of inches of snow on their backs, which did not melt. It just went flying when one had a good dog shake. When we found black sheep with white tops in the morning, used to say they were "sugar-coated".

I enjoy your blog.

Rock Island Farm, Maine

November 28, 2012 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

Oh, I love the idea of moderation even in moderation. I'm stealing that!

November 28, 2012 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

I was always told the rule with feeding pigs (and I know Hugh from River Cottage also holds to this one) is no meat of any kind.

November 28, 2012 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Kelsie said...

You seem to have found the same eating method that works for me. One big meal per day, punctuated by coffee and the occasional nibble of something. Yes, I eat butter and cream and drink wine and stand in my kitchen in my underwear gnawing on venison bones...and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've stayed the same weight for years and I eat what I want--real, whole foods, fat and calories be damned. When people ask me how I stay trim, I tell them exactly that--I eat exactly what I want, but only when I'm truly hungry and only if it's something I can cook myself from real, whole ingredients.

November 28, 2012 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Eileen Hileman said...

Jenna, did you start out with a particular breed in mind when you first purchased your sheep? The weather in upstate NY can get quite cold in winter I know. We're researching sheep breeds particularly heritage breeds. Any suggestions with regard to breeds for your area of the country?

November 28, 2012 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Little Dash Rambler said...

Always a joy to read your posts! Happy animals, simple comforts, warmth of a winter meal, smoke curling from the chimney - comfort and joy!

November 28, 2012 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

It is illegal in the UK to feed pigs any sort of table scrap at all, due to issues with disease from tainted meats. But here, a cooked carcass is as natural a food for a pig as it is for you and me, with no legal taboos. I would never feed my pigs raw meat, or dead livestock. But in the wild pigs could happily tear apart a deer carcass or eat rats and mice.

November 28, 2012 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Eil - I suggest buying sheep other upstaters have! I bought mine from Hebron and south of here, a bit, near Sharon Springs.

November 28, 2012 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

I know this is off thread; but I wanted all of your readers to
know that the Splitting Ax I won on
Cold Antler Farm Blog was AWESOME. It was world class craftsmanship / splitting ax. A very happy camper to say the least.
Thanks to both of you Jenna / Alex DBA Old Federal Ax Co.
Cheers with a health drink or the drink of your choice.
Ronnie A very happy X seat weaver

November 28, 2012 at 3:31 PM  

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