Big Bon-Fire Birthday

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A Year. Homeward Bounty Farm is officially a year old. The farm now can teeter from one season to the next on two strong legs, big dreams are starting to grow in and are able to sink their teeth into the meat of juicy ideas, the soil is building, and the land is recognizing and reidentifying – ‘I’m a farm.’ It’s getting easier to sleep at night as I know everything is going to be alright. I’ve had phases of worry and stress, probably natural for any first years farmer, but I’m realizing more and more that this farm is not wholly dependent on me, that this farm is truly being held up by a family, a community and a vision that is greatly deeper than my sole capacity can create, thank goodness!  I’m eager to be a midwife and support this project, as it develops and grows into something I believe will be sweetly rich and self knowing.

A mantra that surfaced during last year’s farm clean-up party was, ‘the farm provides.’ And it was true. You need a shovel? Look around and soon enough you would find one against the fence, a solitary tool that has stood the test of time, a patiently leaning relic of the last owners, or the ones before. Upon purchase, it was quite apparent that this property represented strata of hobbies from dwellers throughout the years. Anything I may need, and plenty I didn’t need, came with the farm.  The farm has provided, it has provided many trips to the dump and metal recycling, it has provided stray shovels, and loads and loads worth of fuel for bon-fires to keep us warm and in a festive glow.

This first year birthday was appropriately celebrated with one of the best candles yet! We tackled some worthy projects, cleaning out windrows of renegade tumbleweeds, dead trees, derelict fences came down and the mother load rotting wood pile traded its BTU’s with impressive ignition! And the farm provided and the vision shown true, as amazing members of the community came out for an afternoon of splendid productivity. This is how I know that as this farm grows it will not be from my hands alone and that this vision is creating itself. I know because it’s the younger brothers of my high school best friends, now men who came out with excitement. It was Paul’s uncle Danny, determined to tackle it all, the most loyal of CSA members that value the connection with the earth and have with out fail supported Homeward Bounty Farm. Three generations were represented, folks new to the community and neighbors…..and the farm totem, the wind, decided to hold off until the night hours, the rains came and the big birthday candle when out with the prayed for wish of rain. The farm provides! The farm provides! Happy Birthday and Many More!

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~Solstice~

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Solstice – The longest day to work, the longest day to play! It’s the time of year for beautiful both.

I love the edge times. The times of transition; when you’re leaving and before you’re there, you’re in the middle, the center. You’re drumming the sun down and each bow. Gold exits West, into the belly of the Klamath Range and towards the calling Pacific waves, a glowing corona that will linger on the cheeks of Mt. Shasta and has left ours a little rosier.

Drumming the moon up, silver and dilated. In the middle of these two bookends, the ones that hold up our stories, we drummed, in the center.

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Little Black Dressing –

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The first CSA distribution has come, can it be so? Exciting comes to mind, but it’s deeper than that, truly. It’s the entrance of life and food. Meals shared, meals given. It’s the pattern of harvest, sinks full of crisp greens and tables of beets waiting for a spray down anointment, then to be polished and grouped, cheeks together squished-up smiles- CSA BASKET! MARKET! GRUB CLUB! They’re off!

The fields are REcovering from last month’s frost. With some crops there has been a complete loss, a row of proud peas still fairly stunned, stalled and burned. Many of the beds however, are coming back, their confidence a bit shaken, but  it gathers momentum as the days prove their warmth over and over again.

One of the farm frost-free champions has been the lettuce bed, which now glows and I’m not personifying this one! Salad time! A farm fresh salad is one of my all time favorite foods! Big leafs of lettuce crunchy and hydrating, not the typical ‘soul food,’ but you can’t tell mine otherwise.

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My dear friend Kate Sanderson helping with harvest! She's a super star farmer from the days at Green Fire Farm!

My dear friend Kate Sanderson helping with harvest! She’s a super star farmer from the days at Green Fire Farm!

 

 

 

 

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Here are some lovely ‘go-to’ dressings- Little Black dressings if you will, the dress I never actually understood; why wear black when you could be in color! ENJOY!

Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

*Make a jar full and keep in the fridge for up to two week.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Lemon zest from half a lemon

1 small garlic clove, finely minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or lemon thyme, minced

3 teaspoons honey (or a bit more if you have a really sour lemon) – Meyers are wonderful!

2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2. While you are whisking, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Continue whisking until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Correct the seasonings (sometimes I add a bit more vinegar or honey) and add salt and pepper to taste.

Ashley’s Sweet Miso Ginger Sauce!

This recipe is from my dear friend Ashley of Root and Wings Jewelry. I’m pretty sure we put this on everything that special summer in Arcata.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic (or more)

2 tablespoons ginger

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

2 tablespoons miso paste

1 tablespoon tamari or Braggs

1/8 teaspoon cayenne to taste

(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

Blend in a Food Processor or whisk until creamy! YUM!

40 Acres and a Girl

Bob Swanson captures a nice view of Homeward Bounty Farm

Bob Swanson captures a nice view of Homeward Bounty Farm

Welcome to a bright new Homeward Bounty chapter dear readers, fresh Siskiyou grown food eaters, wealth of supportive radiant friends and deeply loving family. This is it; be careful what you wish for, as I officially have a 40 acre piece of property to call my lifetime stewardship project. How speechlessly unidentifiable. How quietly humbling, a calling that rains down from the mountain and up from the fertile Grenada soil. A true commitment to HOME and ROOTS – I’m not going anywhere any time soon folks, you now know where to find me!

I’ve been subliminally taught the O’Brien mantra of Rescue and Hard Work. As you drive up to the property, these are two words that are called out loud and clear. Within that mantra the key is to hear what is chanted next;  trailing behind those words, the farm sings a soft song of Potential, Growth and Love. The O’Brien magic is to set your rhythm to that song, work is a dance, create something beautiful.

When the property closed, we sang the working song of this new farm like mocking birds.  An overwhelming crew of dedicated friends came out to clean, organize, demolish, burn, collect, drink, arrange, create, eat, rip and dance. It was a farm mob frenzy!

Some major highlights:

John Tannaci, saving the day on his tractor.

John Tannaci, saving the day on his tractor.

John Tannaci, my new neighbor and owner/grower at Hunter Orchard, drove his tractor up the driveway with a smile and a mission. “You’ll be needing to get things in the ground soon Kate. Do you have a field you need ripped?”  YES! Through this thoughtful and extremely generous act, John has opened the soil to this season and graced 2013. Potatoes are going in this week! I can not thank the Tannaci’s deep enough for their truly kind spirits and support.

William Wareham’s boat vision: What do you do with endless amounts of junk? Well, you convert some of into art! Who else would have the tasteful and creative eye, but Bill. On the property was an old fiberglass boat (doomed for the dump), until Bill had a vision to clean that baby up. Fueled by the power of an artists ascetic and a Dodge Hemi, he drove it up to the top of the hill and perfectly perched it. It now rests on the hill and has become the ideal destination to sit and watch the last rays of light stretch out across the Shasta Valley. All abroad the Sunset Cruise!

Annie Moore made the kitchen sparkle! The Demo team was a pack of wild hammers, crow bars and will! Ron Presley was one of the first to show up and worked even through lunch. My sister drove three hours north, and brought with her two hard working

Bill on a mission.

Bill on a mission.

farmers.  Jonathan filled his truck up to the brim with debris. Bob and Jack documented. A friend from old soccer days, Shannon, proved what teamwork means (ten years later). Kate Bachman fired up her chain saw and Celtic salt was gifted to bless the new home, thank you Marian. Sweet baby Magnus even made the trip, with his amazing Jenny Mae mommy.

I could have spontaneously burst in joy, leaving behind jewels of love and blessing. My heart ached. My cheeks were sore. My gratitude swelled beyond and beyond. Here,  what we grow is infinite.  In many life endeavors it takes a village. Thank you for being my village, my family, the rich soil to my roots.

The Demo team

The Demo team

So much junk!     
So much junk!

"The beds will be this big."
“The beds will be this big.”

Food well loved – 2012

The year has turned and I’ve become resolute with resolutions. I know that I don’t need the significance of a New Year to inspire turn-inward reflections and analysis of a year past, in order to approach fresh this next go around the sun. It’s always argued that one can find inspiration for growth and change with every rise of every day, of that I have no doubt. I do however, find something grand and poignant with the beckoning of the New Year. Winter solstice has passed, and with it the daylight stretches out longer and our O’Brien Opas! become later. The cycle of the season has shown true this year. The winter weeks of resting farming bones are numbered, a green house to clean, crop plans to draw out, onions and cool weather crops to sow and hands grown soft begin their introduction to soil once more. Winter’s important role in recovery and rest, transitions into a tone of reinvestment as a new season whispers.

With the closing of 2012, I would like to share photos of loved food and loved friends, the glowing images of the bounty of love, laughter and satiated bellies that grew in abundance during Homeward Bounty’s first year. The support that carried this year will fuel many seasons to come. I greatly thank you, beautiful community, with the entirety of my heart!!

This upcoming year I wish you all vibrant meals of kale, aching smiling cheeks, arms grown strong with work and hugs and many, many adventures!

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Namaste New Friends

 

October has been a beautiful month. It is the most revealing and acute of convergences, the cusp. It’s the Fall of Summer and autumnal transition to Winter. For farm and farmer this shift is grater than that of seasons, colors, smells and sounds. It’s a true closing. The hard morning freezes instantly melts cellulose, fades chlorophyll and buckles plants towards the soil. The time for crops to decompose and become rich strata to sustain future seasons’. In delicate tow of that first hard frost is the perfectly tied bow on the package, the stamp on the letter – the period at the end of the exquisite sentence that details out a growing season overflowing with blessings and abundance. Not The End, but rather the last sentence of the long chapter titled somewhere along the lines of, ‘Season #1: The Bounty of Homeward Bounty’. There is something very delicate about this forced resignation, mother nature’s pink slip. It’s the fine print, “You too have your season, Farmer, relax already. Read a good book or two, seek out the best dehydrated food recipes, put on some weight and get excited for the wealth of new season possibilities!

Yes, those hard frosts have come and sadly the farm has seen lovelier days. I feel very thankful however, that Homeward Bounty hosted a very special visitor before those killing frosts. On that Autumn morning we were able to pick the last few handfuls of peppers, analyze numerous seed crops and shared inspiring conversations that left me warm and giddy inside!

Me with Sunita Rao of Vanasatree

It was months ago when Flick, a CSA member mentioned that his friend, Sunita Rao, would be visiting from India and he wanted to bring her to the farm. Before I knew it, that week had come. I met Flick, Jennifer and Sunita Rao on the farm for a nice morning tour. Over fresh pumpkin bread, homemade jam and amazing baked pears, we shared our thoughts on plant diversity, open pollinated seed varieties and about the great abundance that is yielded from 1/2 acre of land. Our inspiring conversations left me feeling all warm and giddy inside. Sunita Rao is quite the inspiring individual and I feel so honored to be in contact with her and to call her a friend! She’s the founder of Vanasatree – The Malnad Forest Garden and Seed Keepers’ Collective in Karnataka, India. Vanasatree promotes food security and autonomy through biodiversity and the use and preservation of traditional seeds. Visit http://www.vanastree.org to learn more about this inspiring collective.

Jennifer, Sunita and I infront of this year’s colorful squash harvest.

Looking at mangel beets. An experimental winter crop for the Copeland’s goats, horses and cows.

Trying the fresh seeds of ‘Black Cumin’ -Nigella Sativa