Snap peas are just reaching munchable phase and there are enough greens to provide a daily dose for two. When the big farm happens I am going to plant snap peas all over the damn place. They are oh so delicious and snackable.
The bunnies have not yet grown out of their adorable phase, but they sure are rambunctious at 5 1/2 weeks old. The six largest kits have been weaned with the last two little runties staying with mom for one more night. It is incredible how fast they grow. I am so grateful that Socorro has been such an amazing first-time mom and that all eight little ones have pulled through. Even the runtiest of the lot is plump and jumpy
Farm and travel. Farm or travel. Can there be only one? As I understand it, yes. There can only be one. Committing my life to farming will mean sacrificing travel. I’ve heard farmers say they are not bothered by that. Not bothered a bit by 365 days a year on the farm, knowing that for them, farming is life. Farming is their happiness and raison d’être. Who would need anything else? Well these farmers certainly have never had the travel bug. But I’ve been afflicted for as long as I can remember. I’ve lived in Hungary, Greece, France and England. I’ve traveled across the country and to Central America, Israel and Southeast Asia. And still there are countless places waiting to be explored. So how can I reconcile this love of travel with my goal of having a small family farm?–possibly the one enterprise I could choose that would tie me down completely. Honestly, it is hard. Really really hard. But I am coming to terms with the idea.
With the advent of programs such as WWOOFing and helpx, thousands of people successfully farm and travel the world every year. If I truly wanted to, I could join them. So, you might think, why not? Well frankly, I feel like I’ve paid my dues. I’ve worked hard, volunteered and worked hard again. For me even more powerful than the travel bug is the I-want-a-place-of-my-own-bug. I want to develop a home and a business that I won’t need to pack up and move every few years. I want roots. I want to have a community and animals and neighbors. I want to wake up in the morning and work hard on land that I don’t have to worry about losing.
But I’m not there yet. And I think I need one last adventure before Quiet Owl Farm solidifies into a real 365 days a year farming reality. And so, this summer, I am going take a solo trip. I’m not sure where yet, but the destination is unimportant. I’m going to take a week and a half or two weeks for myself and really make the time to think about my future. Although the decision to give up travel is the most difficult decision I have ever made (sorry-rough life, I know), I think the opportunity I will have for self-reflection on this adventure will help me come to terms with the big decisions ahead. And I must note that if you’ve never traveled alone, try and take the opportunity to do so someday even if it’s only overnight. Following your own itinerary (or lack thereof) is incredibly rewarding.
Yet even as I struggle with farmheart and travelheart battling for my soul, I know that starting Quiet Owl Farm on a bigger-than-backyard scale will be a journey in itself–super corny as that may sound. Finding “the” farm might involve an actual physical journey to another part of the country. Or it might not. But it will, I have no doubt, require all of my physical and mental determination, resilience and creativity. And another thing I know is that having even a little inkling of what is in store for Quiet Owl Farm makes me feel excited and optimistic. So, adventures, whatever form you may take, I am ready for you.
The little ones are now popping in and out of the nest box and running wild–gumming hay and feed pellets with comically little success. The nest box will come out this weekend. Poor Socorro. No more alone time after that. They sure are lively little guys!
When I wake up in the morning and when I get home in the evening I visit the baby rabbits. I pick up one of the eight cutest, softest, and ridiculously fast-growing balls of soft gray fluff smile. It’s easy to forget that just over a week ago, I (with M’s help) slaughtered and butchered Gunga, one of our two American Chinchilla does–my first experience with a non-fish creature. I chose to cull Gunga because I was not able to breed her successfully and because she had become overweight and had a surly temperament. The time had come when we were providing her with more than she could provide us.
That being said, we named Gunga and raised her for six months. Killing and butchering her was not fun nor easy. It was an emotional and physical challenge. But the process went smoothly and I’m quite sure that M and I suffered much more trauma than her. In the end, I was left with a powerful learning experience, a beautiful pelt (which I intend to tan at a later date) and 6+ pounds of delicious, wholesome, backyard-raised meat, Quiet Owl Farm’s first.
M and I ate the liver and forelegs fresh, pan-fried in butter with only salt and pepper. The flavor was amazing. Later I slow-cooked the body and roasted the legs in different sauces. Although I won’t deny that some moments felt weird, the experience was overall one that gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Pints of hearty stock now sit in the freezer. It’s the ghost of several delicious meals that circle the small kitchen table, not the spirit of Gunga. She’s long gone to the Otherside. Because, you see, Gunga didn’t die because of cruelty or wantonness. She died an easy death after a happy life and with her death came so much.
As I play with the little ones now, it’s hard to imagine that in six weeks they will be big enough to eat. That’s the reality though. But although we have that knowledge of their future, it certainly does not mean that we cannot enjoy their company and be thrilled at this new and adorable life on Quiet Owl Farm. This is the way of the farm after all. And I learn.
So thank you, Gunga, for what you provided and thank you, babies, for brightening our spring days!