Hello there, and welcome to March. (March?!? Really? We are completely not prepared for all of our spring tasks yet.) Also, welcome to the nearly one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdowns. A year of this madness. How is everyone doing out there? The “pandemic wall” is a real thing, make no mistake, and I think a lot of us have hit it. Hard.
The images in this post might convince you that we’re buried in snow over here at Quiet Farm; sadly, that is not at all true. We have gotten a bit of snow both here and up on the mesa, and of course we’re grateful for every last flake, but it’s still looking as though it’s going to be a painfully dry year. As always, the only thing within our control is how we use the water we do have, so we’ll be focusing our efforts on making sure that not a drop goes to waste.
Paris secured in our makeshift crush before the vet’s arrival.
One great accomplishment that we’ve had recently is to successfully geld one of our male alpacas, Paris. His behavior had become increasingly aggressive and since we are not running a breeding program, there is no reason to keep an intact male on the farm. We were able to safely secure him in a “crush,” and our terrific local vet took care of the rest. It takes about sixty days for all the testosterone to leave his system, but his aggressive behavior has definitely lessened since the fateful day. We’re also pleased to announce that we’re on the mobile shearing schedule for the spring, so the alpacas will be getting a tidy cut in late May or early June, which will make them much more comfortable this summer. We are working on halter-training all the animals so that we can handle them in a safe and calm manner – this is much easier said than done, and frequently both humans and alpacas stomp off in frustration and tears. (Okay, maybe not the alpacas. Definitely the humans.)
Our game fence is good for more than just keeping out deer!
I’m also proud to announce that I’ve finished a patchwork quilt I started late last year. I won’t lie: I made approximately ten million mistakes on this quilt and learned so much about what not to do in quilting. I also unknowingly caused a lot of my own problems by designing a somewhat complicated pattern that required an excessive amount of piecework and stop/start stitching. (It’s only my fourth full-size quilt, however, so perhaps I should cut myself a bit of slack. I am very much a novice.) I read an article recently about different crafting hobbies people had taken up during the pandemic; one woman tackled a complicated shawl using fairly advanced knitting techniques. She wrote, “I almost quit a lot of times. But I kept at it, and I was both miserable and joyful at times – it was a good emotional process for me. The challenge was a great distraction from the chaos and stress of the unknown.” That accurately sums up my feelings about making this quilt – and I’m already excited about starting my next one.
Snowshoeing is a surprisingly challenging workout!
We’ve mentioned on more than one occasion how much we adore our local library system; to make us love them even more, they’ve started loaning snowshoeing equipment! We’re about twenty minutes’ away from some of the best snowshoe/cross-country trails in the West, and borrowing equipment and just running up the mountain for a couple of hours has been a terrific break. (Even better: many of the trails ban loud, obnoxious snowmobiles.) We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to go a few more times before the demands of spring on the farm limit our time away.
This is an ideal afternoon snack with a strong cup of PG Tips.
There’s been more comfort baking than usual ’round these parts lately. One favorite is a long-ago classic that I’ve resurrected because for once I have a massive bag of spelt flour and plenty of fresh rosemary on hand: this rosemary-chocolate olive oil cake, originally from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. This may not be to everyone’s liking – rosemary isn’t frequently used in desserts – but I love it and don’t find the piney herb flavor overwhelming at all. The cake is tender, delicate and not too sweet, and is a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. I highly recommend a good-quality 70% dark chocolate bar here, cut into rough chunks, plus a generous sprinkling of turbinado sugar on top for extra crunch and texture. (For high-altitude bakers: I reduced the baking powder to 1 tsp. but didn’t make any other changes.) As with most things I bake, more than half of this cake promptly went straight into the freezer as a gift to my future self.
Stay calm and stay sane out there, dear friends. The best thing we can do is just to keep going.
12 thoughts on “Farm update: March 1”
Halter training your Alpacas, OK, it will take your mind off the pandemic. Hope you still have your wood pile.
Jim, I’ll be honest – everyone is required to go into time-out after a training session. It’s not friendly. I’m sure we’re making some progress, but I haven’t seen it yet!
I love your quilt! Every quilt I learn new things. I have a bee quilt sandwiched and ready to quilt.
Another baby quilt in the works. Just need more time in my days, or perhaps less distractions.
Gardening will draw me away from my sewing machine soon, oh….and that thing called my job.
Hi Nancy! Your bee quilt sounds fabulous – would love to see a picture when it’s finished. And yes, I too am making the transition from indoor sewing to outdoor gardening. There is just never enough time to complete all the projects I have going!
What species of juniper is that? It looks like the Eastern red cedar, but it does not venture that far to the West that I am aware of. I am unfamiliar with the junipers in the regions.
Tony, that’s a great question – and I don’t know the answer. I should be far more knowledgeable about our native plants than I actually am. Stay tuned and I’ll see if I can find out!
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Oh, there is no need to put too much effort into it. I just happen to be very fond of the Eastern red cedar (which is rather unpopular with those who are familiar with it), so I take notice of other North American junipers.
You may know this already but…..there will be a virtual presentation by the wonderful chef Yotam Ottolenghi on May 11th at 7:30p.m. I believe it is a 35$ fee but it would be a great deviation and educational for many of us! If interested, contact the Newman Center. We all need some mind nourishment……..take good care! Karen
Hi Karen! A dear friend invited me to “go” to that presentation with her so I will absolutely be attending! I adore Ottolenghi and am very much looking forward to the event. Hope you and yours are healthy and well.
Elizabeth, you are so talented! I love your quilt! The colors and the pattern are really cool. Good luck with Paris – is N still sane?
Thanks so much for your kind comments, Kathy! Paris is definitely a challenge but now we have a firm date set for shearing so we really need to get our act together!
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