Farm update: February 24

Greetings! We are currently stuck in that awkward phase between winter and spring. Some days it’s all teasing warmth and perfect blue skies, and some days it’s bleak and grey with icy, biting winds. Most of our snow is gone, though we expect (and hope for) one or two more storms, at least. It’s a changeable season, but spring is definitely in the air and we’re starting to hear more songbirds and see new growth everywhere we look. Here are a few things we’ve been up to recently.

Prairie Falcon 01 sml

A prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) in one of our towering cottonwoods.

We still haven’t captured a photo of our shy Northern harrier, seen regularly hunting mice in our pasture on sunny afternoons, but N did snap this lovely photo of a prairie falcon. The prairie falcon is about the size of a peregrine falcon, but with a much different hunting style (low swooping over the ground, rather than rapid dives). Unfortunately for the songbirds we’ve been hearing, much of the prairie falcon’s winter diet is the Western meadowlark, but we hope this one will focus more on our ground squirrel population. As with all falcons, the female is substantially larger than the male.

Baguette 01 sml

Not at all how baguettes should look.

We live in a very immediate culture, and we want everything now – especially learning a new skill. And we like to pretend that everything turns out perfect every single time, even though there is no possible way that’s true. I bake fresh bread three or four times a week – thousands of loaves over the past decade – and a couple of weeks ago this was the result. The problem? I wasn’t paying attention, and I left the dough to proof on top of the stove, near where the pre-heating oven vented steam. Some of the dough ended up partially baked in the bowl; I’m just lucky that my favorite proofing container didn’t melt. I know better, but mistakes still happen. The lesson here? Not everything you produce in the kitchen will be perfect. But learn from your mistakes and try again, because it’s the only way to achieve anything worthwhile. (Also, don’t multi-task. It is productivity’s mortal enemy.)

Baseboard Nails 01 sml

There is no way seven nails were needed to secure this little piece.

We’re in the midst of renovating a little cottage where we’ll eventually offer our classes. The cottage sat unloved for many years, and (understatement alert) it needs a lot of work. N spent days removing terrifying carpet and the accompanying tack strips, and now we’re tackling painting and flooring. In order to install the floor correctly we need to remove, clean and paint all of the baseboards; like so many DIY projects, this has expanded exponentially. One reason for this can be seen above: in a tiny, two-inch by two-inch piece of baseboard, seven nails held it to the wall. (One would have done it, seriously.) Because we’re trying our best to salvage the usable baseboard rather than spend hundreds of dollars on new product, we attempt to remove it carefully, instead of the pointlessly destructive “sledgehammer renovation” favored on so many home-improvement shows. This takes a lot of time. We often wish that we’d seen this house constructed – were workers given a bonus for using far more material than needed? As always, we’re learning a great deal about how not to do things as we progress.

Boat Flags 01 sml

Currently on display in the workshop.

Have you ever had a project that you didn’t quite have the courage to tackle? One that sat in the corner and nagged and mocked you, because really it shouldn’t be that difficult to complete? Such was the situation for me, when years ago N asked me to stitch these little flag patches onto some of his old boat crew shirts to show the countries we’d visited each season. Two had already been completed by an excellent professional sewing shop back in England, and I just had to finish the remaining two, then render all four sturdy enough to hang neatly on the wall. I procrastinated because I was nervous about starting; these shirts are literally irreplaceable (the boats don’t even exist any longer) and t-shirt fabric is notoriously difficult to work with. I finally completed the project, but not without maddening wrong turns and many torn-out stitches along the way. I’m proud I took the time to sew them correctly, even if it meant redoing my work again and again until I got it right.

Camaro SS 04

A classic Chevrolet Camaro (Americanus musclii maximus).

And though you may think that N only spends his time photographing food and birds and renovation projects, his heart remains with his first love: classic cars. Of late he’s been doing quite a bit of photography for a high-end custom restoration shop, and back when we lived on the Front Range he drove and photographed some truly incredible machines when he shot for a luxury dealership. See more of his spectacular auto work here.

Coming soon: it’s almost time to start seeds! Have a lovely week, friends, and thanks for being here.


6 thoughts on “Farm update: February 24

  1. Hi Elizabeth, as always, I loved reading your blog. Also enjoyed seeing N’s photography site. Very impressive. You two are full of surprises! Have a marvelous spring/winter day.


  2. hi Elizabeth,

    I love reading your stuff. I am now leaving Medford Or and on the way to visit friends in the Boise ID area . Shalom, Valerie


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