Monday, April 18, 2011

dinner and sweaters

After work I had a special task lined up. Besides the usual cores I had two crates to load into the back of the truck. 12-15 birds I had raised since they were chicks would be driving to Ben Shaw's farm in Greenwich to be slaughtered, bagged, and labeled "Cold Antler Farm" first thing in the morning. Ben usually doesn't deal with such small numbers, but being so early in the season I think the work was welcomed. For three dollars an animal I would return tomorrow afternoon to pick up meat. The Jumbo Cornishes I had first held in my palm at the tail-end of February are now 6-pound broilers. They had been outside for a few weeks now and yesterday I watched them run through the grass just like the lambs do, picking up worms from the rain-soaked new grass. They were strong, fast, and perfectly white. I was proud of both their life and their deaths.

So in a light rain I fed the birds their usual night ration in one small pile of grain. All the meat birds flocked to it and started to peck. I went into the barn to grab the two big plastic poultry crates leant to me by Bruce at Wannabea Rabbit Farm. They were kind of like giant plastic cigarette boxes with hole in them, a design that would not allow the birds the ability to crawl on top of each other while they waited at quietly at the Shaw's for morning. I watched the party of feathers and yellow feet and then dove into the pile to pick up the fattest chicken and carry it over to the crate like I would a rabbit. You don't need to rush, and you don't need to stress them out when you deal with such small numbers. Within five minutes I had 14 birds in the the two crates. I loaded them into the bed of the pickup (it has a cover so they were not in the wind and rain) and let Gibson join me in the front seat. We were off to deliver a truck of birds to the butcher.

While driving I kept thinking about lunch. I had made a giant crock pot of pulled pork, at least a 3 pound shoulder from Pig slow cooked all night and morning in a stew of apple cider, bbq sauce, my bee's honey and brown sugar. I plugged it in at the office and at lunch at least fifteen people got to enjoy an animal I raised on my farm. It tasted amazing. The meat was literally falling off the shoulder bone in the ceramic pot and some people eagerly awaited seconds. I was so proud. And not proud of me, but of Pig.

So a bunch of people in the office enjoyed a farm pig lunch, and wednesday I'll drag in a cooler full of fresh chickens in for folks who wanted roasting birds from me. I always am handing out eggs, and my boss has a jar of my honey at her desk. The new VP in our department always seems both bemused and shocked when something else I grew comes into the office. I am starting to be a place people think of when they need things, even if it's just a dozen eggs or the occasional free lunch. I love that. I love that I am able to feed people, even occasionally, from a couple acres and happy work.

I must sound so over-the-top lately. I can't help it. This winter is over and I got through lambing. Now aI have a whole summer of work I understand and enjoy: gardening, rabbit breeding, chickens, workshops, cooking, baking and canning. I am looking forward to the time for my banjo and fiddle and maybe a date or two if I'm lucky. I'm just happy, and for a while my posts might reflect that in a farmy-Disney way of sappy posts. It's collateral damage of getting through four feet of snow and afterbirth. Your patience is appreciated!

I'm a dinner and sweater farmer. How about that.


Blogger Diane Hannon Allman said...

Awesome post!

April 18, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

So Miss Jenna,

As I was quilting tonight I was listening to the Off Kilter Quilter podcast. Imagine my surprise to hear the podcaster, Ms. Frances O'Roark Dowell, who is an accomplished, accomplished children's writer, mention that YOU were her inspiration for her new book, Ten Miles Past Normal. Wow. My favorite farm girl and my favorite children's author know each other in some amazing mesh of the Universe.

April 18, 2011 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

Great work Jenna. I think you're fantastic...

April 18, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I love what you are! And. . . I love your sappy posts.

April 18, 2011 at 11:06 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

There are worse things, Jenna. I think dinner and a sweater sound pretty good!

April 19, 2011 at 2:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your writing never fails to entertain and inspire me Jenna.

April 19, 2011 at 4:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Lady bug ! wow! I need to email this woman and thank her!!

April 19, 2011 at 6:21 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love reading your's a great way to start and end my day!

April 19, 2011 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger chesapeake said...

You should never have to apologize for being happy.


April 19, 2011 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Reaching into the freezer for that chicken,turkey,rabbit or veggies that you raised is pretty rewarding. Making breakfast from your own eggs is pretty rewarding. Having appreciative customers for what you've raised takes rewarding to a whole new level. Being able to share your bounty with friends is special too.

April 19, 2011 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Congrats Jenna, you SHOULD look back and enjoy what you've accomplished!

April 19, 2011 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...


You should catch at least the first part of her current podcast, episode 39, as Frances talks about how amazing you are. Ms. Dowell wrote Shooting the Moon and other really great children's books. I first heard of her through quilting and then realized that Frances the quilter was also Frances the author! And you inspired her. How great.

April 19, 2011 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Let the sun shine, the animals run, and the knitters knit. Winter's a long way off and the long days of summer await. My six year old hopes to cut his own watermelon on his birthday. What a satisfaction that will be.

April 19, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Congratulations Jenna on all you have accomplished in this past year! You really are a farmer. Now that winter and lambing is over, you should really bask in all you have been able to do and enjoy the upcoming summer with all your animals, garden and music.

You are very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

April 19, 2011 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

This is exactly the happy times we all were dreaming of for you during those miserable winter days of snow, ice, illness, death, and mud in the basement. No excuses needed for enjoying it!

April 19, 2011 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Odd Ducks Farm said...

So happy for you, Jenna. We love sharing in your triumphs as well as your trials.

Now (in a completely selfish tone of voice), does that mean we can expect the next Banjo Equinox soon? :oD

April 19, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Keep posting it all :) It gives some of us hope that our dreams of farming aren't completely nuts.

April 19, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger KnitItBlack said...

I think that's fantastic! A dinner-and-sweater farmer is exactly what I aspire to be, so it's nice to read about how you're making it work. :)

April 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Casii said...

Love your Disney sappy-esque posting, so please don't stop. :)

April 19, 2011 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

You absolutely don't need to apologise for sounding over-the-top. You love what you do, and it's wonderful to hear exactly how much you love what you do!!! Gives heart to those of us who haven't yet found whatever it is our equivalent of barnheart is.

April 19, 2011 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Pat Woginrich said...

I could never do what you do.

April 19, 2011 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

You have to be your genuine self, even if it is is Disneyish. Keep posting, it helps motivate me to keeping my dream alive.

April 22, 2011 at 7:40 PM  

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