Brad used to be a home brewer. Now he is a meat smoker. If you were to ask him about his passion for smoked meats he’d talk you into a corner. He’d explain why smoking meat is the perfect weekend hobby. He’d tell you how it allows you to feed and water pigs, let out chickens, hay equine, move goats, clear brush, & hang out with your family all while you’re doing it. He’d say that with a little prep work and patience (and of course high quality heritage pork) you can begin your day with cut pecan and a little fire and end it with a cold beer, a tender cut of meat with a serious smoke ring, and a smile on your face. Chris from Fort Creek Farm came over last Sunday with a Hereford brisket offering. We brought out one of our boston butts and together we spent the evening full and happy. Being a farmer has it’s advantages and both Brad and I aren’t afraid to say it.
Just wanted to share this poem from Roald Dahl, one of our favorites.
In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read.
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found.
Till suddenly one wondrous night.
All in a flash he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, “By gum, I’ve got the answer!”
“They want my bacon slice by slice
“To sell at a tremendous price!
“They want my tender juicy chops
“To put in all the butcher’s shops!
“They want my pork to make a roast
“And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
“They want my sausages in strings!
“They even want my chitterlings!
“The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
“That is the reason for my life!”
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great piece of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor…
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile he said,
“I had a fairly powerful hunch
“That he might have me for his lunch.
“And so, because I feared the worst,
“I thought I’d better eat him first.”
Weekend Brunch with the Pigs
One batch of smoked chicken for Labor Day.
My beautiful sister-in-law holding Stevie Wonder, our blind goat.
Brad helping to push the hogs on the smoker the morning of the wedding.
Inside one of the hoophouses at Elm Street
I feel like Dorothy. Kansas Dorothy. Wizard of Oz Dorothy. Remember in the tornado scene when Dorothy spots a twister heading straight for her house, and she runs in to seek refuge and to look for Auntie Em and Toto, but the window pane flies off of its hinges and knocks her into a technicolor dream? Well, that’s the best way I can describe the past month. On September 17th, Brad and I officially tied the knot. And, somewhere in the midst of that big event, and smoking 80lbs. of chicken (that we raised and processed) for the Sparta Labor Day community picnic, and learning how to take care of a blind goat, we’ve both started a new job.
For the past year and a half Brad and I have been commuting an hour and a half up to Athens on alternating days for our “off farm” jobs. Now, we don’t have to do that! (I’ve put a note on “off farm” jobs at the bottom) Brad and I will be managing Elm Street Gardens in Sparta, Georgia. To call Elm Street stunning is an understatement, and we feel honored that the garden’s owners, the Curreys, trust us with the reins for a few years. Growing, marketing, and selling for the garden will certainly be a new challenge, but it’s a challenge that compliments our endeavors at Three Centuries Farm. We look forward to the coming commute-less months, to expanding our skill set, and to eating some of the best tasting produce this side of the Missisip, or Oz for that matter.
* note: I wish I could say that Brad and I have already figured out a way to make Three Centuries pay for itself and us, but small farming takes a lot of work and patience. Many of the farmers we’ve met along the way either have an off farm job or have a spouse who has an off-farm job. Brad and I honestly believe that you can be a farmer, and only a farmer, if that’s what you choose to do, but we’re going to have to spend a few years building up our nest egg and customer base before we can take away that safety net. That’s a reality of this business that we’re ok with.
I saw a hen lay an egg today. Back when I was a non – hen owner, I never would have thought that piece of information to be note worthy, but believe you me, today as a hen – owner, I can safely say, it deserves a mention. There I was, 5PM, walking up to the chicken coop for the afternoon feeding, and there she was, a lone settin’ hen. Normally, if a hen thinks you’re going to disturb her while she’s laying, she’ll either remove herself from the scene until you leave her in peace, or you’ll be challenged to a poultry staring match.
It just so happened that this particular hen’s view was blocked by the partition of her nesting box, like little horse blinders if you will, leaving her unsuspecting of my interest. I’ve been waiting for over a year to watch a hen lay an egg. I’ve waited, and waited, standing outside the nesting box like a creeper. I guess part of my interest comes from the biology side of my brain and the other part comes from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not side. I had to see for myself to make sure there wasn’t some great mystery I was missing out on. So, there I stood with the 5’oclock sun beating down. The hen was concentrating and so was I. Occasionally I would wipe my face with the back of my hand or remind myself to give my knees a little flex every now and then (it would be a shame for Brad to come home with me passed out in the chicken area all because I was a peeping Tom). In all honesty, it’s about as interesting as you think it’d be, the hen quivers, making her feathers look as if they’re having contractions, and she stands up just a bit as the egg falls gently beneath her. And that’s that, where there was no egg, now there is one.
On the wedding front: Sunflowers were planted on our fence line about 2 months ago with the hope that they’d blooming come September. They’ve bloomed, and they’re beautiful, but it just so happens the blooms are all turned towards our neighbors property. This means that from our side of the fence, they look like children facing the chalkboard. Mental note: when choosing location for sunflowers remember they’ve got a namesake for a reason. The blooms face the direction of the rising sun! Oh well, one more thing to laugh about.
Early Summer in Georgia is a study in green. Late Summer in Georgia is a study in brown with the memory of green.
Today while the yard looked up at me exhausted, a blue sky looked down on me seemingly unaware of it’s role on the landscape’s palette. This same blue sky does the chores with me, greets me eagerly when I wake up from a catnap, and patiently waits for me to finish breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She is a beautiful blue– a happy reminder of the season and it’s need for popsicles, but she is a stubbornly persistent blue.
I caught some glimpses of blue this afternoon that were a treat, even for these “blued” out eyes. Enjoy, and if you see any rain clouds, you know of one parade that will be waiting for them.
Images: Top— peeling paint in the hallway reminds us of occupants a century ago. Middle — Our first blue egg! Bottom— Vanilli finally gave birth to a female kid this week with blue eyes. We re-introduced mom and baby back to the herd this afternoon.