Pin It Crippen Creek Chronicles: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

When The Farmer is Ready, The Tractor Will Appear

Every man that has set foot on our property asks, "what kind of tractor do you have?" or some variation of that. Sometimes I would ask them to repeat the question just in case Kitty didn't hear it. She was beginning to suspect a conspiracy. But recently we were looking at all the work here, the grass that never stops growing, the heavy loads that need to be moved around coupled with the fact that neither of us is a spring chicken. So we both agreed that the time has come for us to get a tractor. The very next day, a friend called to say that he and his wife wanted to gift us with a donation towards a tractor. I was speechless. He went on to explain that they don't currently belong to a church but do believe in tithing and Crippen Creek has become church for them so this is where they wanted to spend their tithe. One good thing begets another and soon more friends made a contribution. To say that we are humbled and grateful is an understatement. And so to all of our Friends of Crippen Creek, we thank you for the donations, your patronage , your helping hands, your advice and your encouraging words.

A Montana 3940HST
(we just call her HANNAH)

We're farmin' now!

And now for another tractor story. My first tractor experience was in 2002. I had recently retired from the Portland Police Bureau. My good friend, Norm (trust me, it's just around the bend) Sharp and I had decided to make and end of career pilgrimage. You know, figure out who you are now that you don't wear a badge and a uniform. So Norm headed out for Spain on the
Camino and I headed to Lafayette, Oregon for a 30 day Monastic Life Retreat at a Trappist Abbey. One morning I was assigned to work with Brother Gerard in woods cutting firewood. He was going to be driving an ATV into the woods and I was to follow on this old behemoth of a tractor with a bad clutch. He begins my instructions for driving the tractor by telling me about a monk who had flipped the tractor and lost his arm. So I'm figuring out real quickly who I am...someone who does not want to be driving this tractor. It must have registered on my face as Brother John walked by and asked if I would like a different assignment. "No," I lied. After all I came here to get out of my comfort zone and grow. Within a few minutes I was getting a feel for it and all was going reasonably well. I followed him into the woods, we cut wood, and I hauled it back to the abbey without incident. While I was unloading the wood, Brother G said he would head back to the woods and I should join him there after I finished unloading. I'm feeling pretty good about myself as I'm driving back into the woods, but when it seems like this is taking longer than it should , I realize that I am lost. One spur off the road looked like another. I realize that I have climbed this hill much higher than previously and now I am positive that I am lost. I managed to get myself turned around and started back down when suddenly the tractor starts sliding sideways. Panic sets in and in words more fitting of a sailor than a monk I exclaim, "Oh #%*#," as I am trying to figure which way I should jump off the tractor. Then the words of Psalm 38 came to mind, "Lord make haste to help me." Well I did manage to get the tractor stopped without rolling it or inuring anything more than my pride. I couldn't find Brother Gerard, so I hiked back down to the abbey and with the help of Brother John we got the tractor unstuck and a good laugh was had by all. The pictures below show jobs I was better suited to.

Baking Bread

Pressing cider

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June is Bustin Out All Over

The first two weeks of June had us wondering if it would ever stop raining. But it did finally stop, summer arrived and suddenly everything was growing.....the roses, the peonies, strawberries, broccoli raab and of course the grass which seems like it never stops growing.

Broccoli Raab

All that rain delayed many of our garden chores so we have been playing catch up since the sun returned. I mentioned in a previous post that we had a plan for growing tomatoes and eggplant this year. Here's that plan in action....a hoop house.

The plan for this greenhouse comes from the WSDA Extension Service and we have high hopes that it will be the solution for our cool nights and short growing season. Kitty and I actually built this ourselves which means anybody can do it. However, we did need help some extra hands putting the plastic on. And at just the right time, a couple of "angels" showed up to help.

Sandy and Larry

Meet Sandy and Larry. They are WWOOFers. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Sandy and Larry are volunteer helpers who are passionate about sustainable farming and have volunteered their help on farms throughout the world.

Our Red Broilers that we got in the mail 3 weeks ago are also growing. They left the brooder today and are now on fresh green grass.
And while we are working hard others around here are just resting and reflecting.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eat Local, Save Oil

"If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallons but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make very big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just start with a good breakfast."
- Barbara Kingsolver
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Sunday, June 8, 2008

You've Got Mail

I was knee deep in bread dough on Friday morning when the post office called to tell me to come down and pick up my package of live birds. Can you believe there are 50 chickens in this little box?

Fifty Red Broilers arrived safely from a hatchery in Vermont.

This brooder will be their home for the next 2-3 weeks until they feather out. After that they will live in portable pens and rotated on fresh pasture every day for 8-10 weeks.

These Red Broilers are an alternative to factory raised chicken. Our birds are humanely raised and get to enjoy fresh grass and sunshine everyday and are raised for 10 -12 weeks instead of the 4-6 weeks that you get from the supermarket. That results in a chicken with more interesting taste and texture and arguably more nutritious as they have more time to develop complex amino acids. This method of production is also good for our land. They fertilize as they till. Look at some of our layer hens helping me out.

ORDERING INFORMATION:The RED BROILERS are $3.75 per lb. They will average between 4-6 lbs. at maturity. They will be available for pick up/delivery sometime in mid August. Call or email us to reserve yours. (360) 795-0595