Apr 21, 2010


The pause I wrote about last time?  Yeah,  well it's well over.  Now, I feel more like maybe my mind and body are still clinging to that  pause while I'm being pushed along by some great invisible wave.

I haven't been writing too much, okay at all, because I've just been trying to stay afloat and sort through many confusing and conflicting feelings about what I'm doing and where I would ideally like to be.   

On the farm front, some of the babies have been moved off the farm and new ones born, we hosted an excellent farm dinner with the chefs from Bonne Soiree along with two additional farm dinners, I'm busy in the cheese room and now going to Saturday market's in Raleigh, and I still have my 2 off-farm jobs... oh, yeah, and my wedding is quickly approaching!

So, for now, all I can offer are some photos from the garden.  We've gotten everything in the ground we wanted to including: hakeuri turnips, giant calico pole beans, red cabbage, parisian carrots, sugar snap peas, dwarf grey snap peas (mainly for their flowers to be used as embellishments on pastries), roquefort lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, a spicy mesclun mix, lots of arugula, two varieties of beets, brown crowder peas, and dixielee peas.   In addition, we've planted red clover as a cover crop in the old pig pen along with some bee balm and borage and a sunflower border bed near the barn.  And of course we have a variety of heirloom tomatoes in transplant flats. Things are germinating and looking good, much to my surprise!  I can't wait to see them grow...

Mar 25, 2010

Pause Forward

March has us living in a rare pause.  

You know that space between exhaling and your next inhale?  It feels like that.  Not uncomfortable, just still.  This month has provided me the opportunity to gather my thoughts and plan for the upcoming rush of Spring. Only five babies have been born all month.  The older babies, born at the first of the kidding season are so big.  They no longer need much of my attention, eating grains and playing happily be themselves.

This pause has also provided us with the chance to put a few seeds in the ground.  Wedding season is fast approaching and everyone on the farm is been busy with landscaping and beautification projects.  Joe and I are cleaning up the outside of our house and planting gardenias, lavender, bee balm and borage.  So far, our bees continue to do very well.  Surprising for a colony that has been moved twice since the fall!  I see them all over the farm now.  They greet us when we plant,  dancing from leaf to leaf, checking out what new things they will have to forage from in the coming days.

The owners of Celebrity Dairy have allowed my friend Caitlan, who works in the cheese room and Inn, and myself the chance to farm some of the property here.  

This is an amazing gift, the gift of free land, for two young aspiring farmers.  In addition, Brit has give us the use of a tractor, a tiller, and water.  We are planting in a pre-existing garden space and in two long 130 ft. rows Brit plowed up for us in one of the unused pastures.  Caitlin has been through the sustainable agriculture program at CCCC and hopes to one day manage her own farm.  This opportunity is huge for both of us, but it feels like equal parts gamble and experiment too.  I'm scared of failing but at the same time know I will have crop failures, make mistakes, and that failing is sometimes the best kind of learning.

The garden spot already in production has four rows of garlic planted by Rudy, another part-time employee who helps with the milking and care of the goats. Rudy's family are garlic farmers in Guatemala and you can read that experience in his perfect and precise hand planted rows.

If all goes well we expect an early summer harvest of hakurei turnips, a variety of beets, mini purplette onions, arugula, spicy mesculun salad mix, cabbage, and peas.  A little later on we'll harvest a diverse selection of heirloom tomatoes including a mix of slicers & paste, watermelons, and okra.   We are also putting in some herbs and flowers, mainly calendulas and sunflowers. 

All of our choices have been guided by what the Inn's kitchen can use and specifically what pairs well with goat cheese- hence lots of arugula and beets!  We'll be serving our produce at farm dinners and what is left over we'll pickle or preserve for the Inn's use and possibly for sale to guests and at market. 

We're calling it LoCa Farms for Lora & Caitlan and as a joke of our crazy, making it up as we go, experiment.  So far it's been hard for us to find times that we can both be in the garden and field together because of competing schedules.  But last week we built some beds together. Moving hoe and rake over dirt, we talked about personal histories and future plans.  Farming with other women is one of my goals in life and I'm grateful for Caitlan's work and friendship.  While most of the time the boys get all of the attention, it's important to return to how natural it feels to be a woman farming and remind ourselves that most of the world's agriculture work is done by women.

Other than the tractor and tiller, we have no real farming equipment outside of a few hoes and rakes. No real equipment means that we have no seeder.  Not even a little hand held micro-seeder.... Nope...Nada.  So for the last few days I've been hand seeding 40 ft. rows on my hands and knees, inching along each bed. 

Since moving to the farm, I've been living from check to check.  As anyone who's ever worked in agriculture knows, farm work don't pay what it should.  I do have two off-farm jobs right now which help keep me afloat, but don't provide much more.  With that said, I'm not complaining, things are okay for right now.  I don't need  much and don't have many costs.  But I'm hoping that in the next week I can put enough aside to purchase an Earthway seeder so we don't have to keep hand seeding- especially as we do succession lettuce plantings. 

While frustrating, going slow provides it's own rewards.  

On the ground, I find my own rhythm to the planting and focus on each seed dropping into place.  Today, one of the barn cats decided to join me.  I don't know this cat's name, it's one of the scroungy barn cats with a torn ear and I don't particularly like cats in the first place.  I appreciate them for the job they perform on the farm, but I prefer to keep my distance.  She, however, had other plans; walking in front of me on the bed as if patting down the seeds I'd just planted and then moving behind me to bite my bare toes, before returning to weave in and out of my arms as I ignore her and continue planting.  Bored with my routine she finally leaves.  I breathe.  I'm thinking of nothing, my thoughts are coming and going like the things happening around me.  A colorful rooster chases a red sex link across the ground in front of me.  To my right, one of the lamas is running in time with a herd of goats across the back pasture towards the barn.  A hawk is flying overhead.  My fingers push through ground.  My seeding is at a human scale- the smallest tip of my index finger to my outstretched palm.   It is imprecise, it is imperfect.  I can't calculate what the outcome will be.  I plant another seed, cover it up, say a little prayer, and hold my breath.

In another couple weeks 60 more babies will be born.  There will be wedding celebrations here almost every weekend.   I'll be busy planning my own wedding and going to Saturday Farmer's Market again.  And LoCa Farms will, hopefully, see it's first sprouts poking through broken ground.

Mar 17, 2010

3.14 = Pi(e) Day

 My friend Emily is a pie baking queen. No, wait, maybe Pie Ambassador is the best title for her.  A master's student in UNC's Folklore Curriculum studying women's creativity in domestic spaces, Emily writes the tastey blog nothing in the house to archive all of her pie baking adventures, share recipes, and post interesting finds from her studies along the way. 

March 14th marked Pi(e) Day, so named for the date 3.14's resemblance to the numerical figure for the mathematical pi.   Emily has been a long timer supporter of  Pi(e) Day celebrations and now that she's living in North Carolina, set out to organize a great event that would bring people together for the sheer joy of baking pies in the Piedmont.

Miss Emily at work.

We started on Saturday night with a team of folklore students who came to the Inn at Celebrity Dairy to make some pie dough.  After the dough was done we headed over to my favorite taqueria in Siler City, Loma Bonita, and had some pre-pie tacos and beer.  Back at the Inn we consumed massive amounts of Celebrity Dairy goat cheese and crackers, a little wine, played word games, and sang songs into the night.... way into the night....  making for some bleary-eyed bakers the next morning!

Celebrity Dairy was happy to host Pi(e) Day 2010 and welcomed some 13 bakers into our kitchen who produced an astonishing 26 pies! Not too shabby for a Sunday afternoon.

The spread!

Here's the list of what we made... hold on to your pie tins, folks! 

Bourbon Pecan Pie 
Baker: Joe Schroeder

Lemon Goat Cheese Tart with Blackberry Preserves
Baker: Brooke Simmons-Temple, Celebrity Dairy's Innkeeper and Chef

Avocado Coconut Vegan Pie
Baker: Emily Hilliard

Chocolate and Raspberry Tart
Baker: Emily Hilliard

Blueberry Pie 
Baker: Emily Hilliard 
*This pie was one of two given away during our Pi(e) Walk.

Mini Blueberry Pies
Baker: Emily Hilliard

Key Lime Pie
Baker: Ashley Melzer

Coconut Pie 
Baker: Ashley Melzer 

Pork Pie/Tourtierre
Baker: Chris Fowler

Allen 'n Sons North Carolina Bar-B-Q Pie with Slaw Dressing 
Baker: Chris Fowler

Sweet Potato-Muscadine Pie
Baker: April McGregor of Carrboro's Farmer's Daughter

Chocolate Meringue
Baker: April McGregor

Chess Pie with warm Strawberry & Lavender Preserves 
Baker: April McGregor   
*One of my favorites of the dessert pies! But I'm always a sucker for April's Strawberry & Lavender Preserves.  If you haven't checked them out you should at the Carrboro Farmer's Market where April has a stand or at 3 Cups in Chapel Hill where Farmer's Daughter preserves and seasonal pickles are sold.

Fried Pies! 
Baker: April McGregor

Jamaican Veggie Patties (hand pies) with Curried Greens
Baker: Phil Blank

Blackberry & Blueberry Ginger Pie
Baker: Lora Smith

Mocha & Molasses Shoofly Pie 
Baker: Lora Smith 

Kentucky Pie
Baker: Lora Smith

Pimento Cheese-Tomato Pie 
Baker: Emily Wallace  
*I have to say that this one won best in show for me of all the pies.  I can't believe how good it was and it was one of the first ones to disappear.

Buttermilk Pie 
Baker: Emily Wallace

Chicken Pot Pie 
Baker: Zans & Molly Mclachlan
*Molly was our youngest pie baker at age 10.

Deep Dish Pizza Pie
Baker: Mary Turner, Celebrity Dairy's Head Cheese Maker

2 Apple-pear Pies with Gruyere Crust
Baker: Shannon Barry 
*One of these was given away during our Pi(e) Walk.

Potato and Pheta with Preserved Lemon Pie
Baker: Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery
*Brought by Whitney Brown who is now working for Scratch as a baker.  
Walnut Cream Pie
Baker: Phoebe Lawless

Whitney Brown and Ashley Melzer, proud members of the Pie Bakers Union, Local 919.

In addition to our pies we whipped up some goat milk's ice cream as a compliment to cut the sugar buzz.  I'm not sure it helped as the ice cream was so rich and custardy it was a rich meal unto itself!

 We took $5 donations to help cover our ingredient costs- No one made any money, that wasn't the point, we just tried to recoup some ingredient money for many of the bakers who are students.

 The pies await!

I had to bake this one twice- I was working from an old Shaker Cookbook and failed at my first attempt. The top was made with crushed walnuts and I added my own little galloping horse cookies.

Can you believe this was Joe's first pie ever?!

One of the sweetest parts of the day was watching our neighbor Zans cook with his 10-year-old daughter, Molly. Watching Zans gently give his daughter direction on how to put together the pie made me all tenderhearted and reminded us why these home-based events are more than just about having fun, they can serve as important points of connection, memory, and continuity among communities and families.

Our neighbor Zans, a former baker at Whole Foods, with daughter Molly.

Somewhere between 30-40 people came out to the farm to enjoy the pies.  We also had a pie walk with live music performed by some very fine old-time musicians in the bunch.

My favorite of the day- Pimento Cheese & Tomato.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the love of pie!  And be sure to check out Emily's blog post about pi(e) day too.

But a big THANK YOU to our bakers: Emily W, Emily H, Chris, Ashley, Whitney, Brooke, Shannon, Mary, Zans, Molly, Joe, and April.

 Mary recovering from a pie hangover.

See you next year...

Mar 11, 2010


...and one of me (by joe, of course)