Monday, June 29, 2009

Gearing Up for July...

Ryan and I are gearing up for July and our first set of guests for the weekend of the 4th. We had a bunch of last-minute details to finish on the Apothecary Suite (finishin
g up the base moulding, installing curtain rods, etc.), and we spent most of yesterday accomplishing our to-do list. It turned out to be a bit larger of a list than we expected, as we kept remembering little details that needed tending. Now everything is perfect and ready to go! Today we are going to get our grocery shopping done, as I really don't want to be out and about much later this week with all of the crazies coming out of the woodwork due to the impending holiday.

We finally found a good home for Michele and Pearl (two of our llamas up for adoption). We really liked the family, and I think that our girls will have a good & happy life at their new home. It was very difficult to say goodbye to them, but I managed not to cry, and in any case, I knew that this would happen eventually...we have 10 llamas, and they are eating us out of ho
use and home! We simply can't afford to feed them all. Michele is a pack llama with some experience, and we gave the family a pack set-up (as well as a book on llama care!), and I have a feeling that they will take Michele backpacking soon. That will be a fun experience for all of them! Comet is still up for adoption, but I have not yet been able to find his "forever" home...

We are still attempting to get our advertising scheme figured out. Everything is so expensive, and we can't afford to do much, so we are trying to figure out the best "bang for our buck." As soon as we are able, we are going to get on the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce website, and hopefully the Britt Festival website. In the meantime, we are online, and we also have fliers at almost all of the local wineries.

I have the breakfast menu figured out for our first set of guests. We'll have to buy a bit more at the grocery store than I originally wanted, as we are inbetween berry crops right now (just finished the first strawberry harvest and are waiting on the early raspberries and blueberries), but all of our herbs and other dairy items will be fresh out of the garden! Of course, each breakfast includes our daily snack bar (set out at 7:30 am for those earlier risers), which consists of fresh (strong!) Good Bean coffee ("Midnight") w/choice of goats milk cream or skim goats milk, fresh sourdough rolls, homemade strawberry jam, goats milk cream cheese, butter, orange juice, fresh fruit from the garden/orchard, and more! I have decided that the breakfast for the first set of guests (we generally do two courses, the first one being smaller, and generally sweeter, and the second being more wholesome and filling) will be:
Day 1, Course 1: Healthy Blueberry Breakfast Cake w/lemongrass & a glass of Mango Juice
Day 1, Course 2: Lemony Quinoa w/Maple-Sauteed Apples

Day 2, Course 1: Individually-sized watermelons scooped-out and filled with melon balls, fresh raspberries, and mint
Day 2, Course 2: Apple-cranberry Pancakes w/Lemon Thyme and a side of our homemade applesauce (from last year's apple harvest)

Day 3, Course 1: Ginger-Pear Breakfast Muffins w/Mango Juice
Day 3, Course 2: Granola w/Fennel Seeds, Pecans, & Blueberries topped w/fresh goats milk yogurt

I went over to Pickety Place in Jacksonville (LOVE that little antique store!), and got a set of 4 vintage linen placemats for $5 to set the table with. My original white placemats have been defiled by a number of messy family members (my husband included, in an unfortunate incident involving a beet salad...*sigh*), and needed replacing.

Well, off to run errands now!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Herbs, Rocks, & Scorpions, Oh My!

Ryan and I have decided that we do not have enough projects (sense the sarcasm?), so we are going to turn the old baby goat pasture (directly behind the solarium) into a new formal herb garden. This herb garden will have four raised beds marking the Four Corners, and a center lavender/heirloom rose bed with statue. We have been hauling river rocks up from the ravine on the far side of the property to make the raised beds, and have been filling the beds with our very own compost mix (which we - big surprise - have in large supply!). It's been backbreaking work, but Ryan and I have been immensely enjoying ourselves. It's a bit like playing "Fort" for grown-ups! Although, no one else we know seems to think this...All of our friends have become mysteriously "unavailable" since we have begun this project...? Anywho, Ryan has estimated that between the two of us we have hauled about 2 tons of rock thus far. We have three of the raised beds finished (1 culinary and 2 medicinal). The third bed will be for raising herbs used in natural dyes. We will hand-tear-out all of the grass and weeds, and lay gravel down on the walk ways in between the raised beds. We are going to dismantle the old baby goat shelter, and rebuild it in another pasture for the angoras to use. Then, we will landscape the area that the shelter used to be into a beautiful walkway to the site of our future trout pond. I have been training my multitude of grapes and climbing roses to take over the ugly old wooden fence that lines the baby pasture, so that instead of the fence all you will see is green and pink! Everything is going to look truly gorgeous when we are finished!

Speaking of rocks, we have discovered where the local scorpion population on our property is located! I always thought that scorpions in southern Oregon was a bit of a myth, but apparently not! Pretty much every single rock we turned over as we hauled them out of the ravine housed at least one (more often two or three) little dark brown scorpions. I am happy to say that I was already wearing very thick leather gloves!!

Now that three of my raised beds are complete, I have begun to plant in them! For those who don't know much about me: I am at my absolute happiest when I am covered in dirt, playing in my garden and talking to my plants. I have transplanted my five
valerian plants, and 4 of my 5 comfrey roots, into one of the medicinal beds. I am currently in the process of transplanting my newest batch of sprouts: chives, lemon mint, lavender, red bergamot, elecampane, white horehound, black mustard, epazote, stevia, toothache plant, marsh mallow, black cumin, coriander, arnica, mexican tarragon, and dotted mint. I am still waiting for my chaste tree and cramp bark seeds to germinate. I have had excellent luck with my madder seeds, which will be going into my dye garden as soon as it's completed in the next few months. I am also waiting for my angelica, meadowsweet, and gravel root seeds to germinate. As I have mentioned many times previously, Ryan and I are trying to be as self sufficient as possible, and one of the ways that we try to accomplish that is by growing 99% of all of the herbs and produce we need. That is yet another reason that people will enjoy staying at our bed and breakfast: practically everything we serve comes out of our garden or fresh off of the farm! We have dairy goats and chickens, as well as a large orchard and garden, and an enormous selection of culinary and medicinal herbs! We produce our own line of all-natural home grown & processed botanicals (soaps, lotions, teas, tinctures, etc.), which we stock our guest bathrooms with. Speaking of the garden, it's really going to be phenomenal this year! Ryan and I worked incredibly hard to put in the largest garden yet this year. We have just finished harvesting our kohlrabi, arugula, spinach, heirloom lettuce, peas, and fava beans. There won't be any new crops until fall. Now we are waiting on our bean crop (we put in SIX large beds with Dragons Tongue, Black Turtle, Kentucky Wonder, Liana, Painted Lady, & Lima Beans), squash, 25 cucumber plants (representing three different varieties), 5 cantaloupe plants, 8 Moon & Stars watermelon plants, as well as beets, turnips, quinoa, and corn. I just planted our first batch of Red Garnet amaranth about two weeks ago, and it's finally germinating. In another week or two I will plant the second batch of amaranth (Hopi Red Dye). The plums, apples, and pears are ripening on the trees, and we are at the tail end of our strawberry harvest, and just beginning our blueberry & summer raspberry harvest. In another month the blackberries will probably be ripe too! I love summer! Ryan is thinking about possibly setting up a small produce stand on the property to help us stay on top of the harvest season. I agree with him that we will most likely have more fruits and vegetables than we will know what to do with! Nothing wrong with that! ;)
Aging Hippies Need Skin Care Too!

Salutations, Everybody! Just wanted to let you know that the "soap bug" has hit the Garrett household again (after remaining dormant for several months, until sheer necessity - who wants to buy STORE soap??!!! - forced us out of our funk and back into gear!). I need to tweak with the scent a bit for the next time, but this current batch is a mixture of white lotus and patchouli, with hints of rose geranium and bergamot. We have made the soap with half olive oil and half sunflower oil - something we haven't done before - and we also added powdered marsh mallow root. Both of these new ingredients act as emollients, softening dry, irritated skin. Due to this fact, and the mixture of scents, we thought that "Aging Hippie" was an excellent name for this batch of soap! After all, even aging hippies need the occasional, all-natural, skin pampering...

Next week, we have plans to make more of our Cinnamon-Orange-Spice soap (which was very popular last time), and from there I think I will move on to more 3 Kings Antibacterial (an excellent farm soap!) and possibly some Dragons Blood (a new batch).

Take care, and stay clean!

Zatarra's Big Adventure - and other General Madness - at the Apothecary Inn!

Yesterday morning was one of those days where you wake up and immediately wish to go back to sleep. Normally, our alarm goes off promptly at 5 am, and Ryan repeatedly hits the snooze button until 5:30 am rolls around. This morning was one of the few mornings we were actually going to be able to "sleep in" (i.e. get up at 6:30 or 7 am!...Rather pitiful, isn't it?), and I was planning on enjoying every minute of it. Ryan finally pulled himself out of bed at around 7 am, and crept upstairs to make me my morning coffee. He had plans to bring it to me in bed (my idea of romantic). Unfortunately, those plans were shot down when he looked out of the window as he was pouring water into the coffee pot and saw a small dark streak racing around the 4th barn pasture. For a moment, he was terrified it was some sort of predator about to attack Cappuchino, but then he realized it was a very much escapee baby donkey!! He shouted an expletive that I will not repeat here, which promptly woke me up and had me racing upstairs to see what was going on. We put our shoes on and ran outside. Zatarra is still a bit skittish around people, so she wasn't easy to catch. We ended up opening the gate to the pasture and shoo-ing her back inside. Her mother (Cappuchino) had a look on her face that said "You are in SO much trouble, Young Lady!!!" I honestly don't know whether Cappuchino was more upset about her baby escaping, or if she was mad because Zatarra got to play in the big pasture full of tasty grass without her! Either way, Zatarra got a little bit of a donkey-style lecture. Ryan and I figured out that the last time we had gone into the pasture, we hadn't latched the gate tightly enough. Zatarra had managed to squeeze herself through the gate and fence and race outside, but was unable (or, more likely, unwilling) to squeeze back inside.

In other news, we were finally able to find a good home for Michele and Pearl. It's so heartbreaking to have to say goodbye, but I really like the family who is adopting them, and I am very happy about the fact that we were able to adopt them out together. We originally tried to sell them, but with the economy so slow, no one was in the market for show-quality llamas. Finally, we decided to adopt them to an approved home. I feel confident that we have made the right decision. I never expected to have to sell/adopt out any of our original animals - the thought of selling some of our babies born every year was difficult enough for me! - but we have been going through about 2 tons of hay per month, and with the rising cost of hay (and our other bills), we just couldn't afford to keep all of our animals. We have ten llamas at the moment, and those llamas eat as much hay per day as all of the other farm animals on the property combined. It's a bit ridiculous! Anywho, we are still looking for a "Forever Home" for Comet the Wonder Llama. I thought I had found it, but the lady backed out. So, back to the drawing the meantime, I get to enjoy being with my four-legged friends a little bit longer...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Apothecary Farm Zatarra!

Our long-awaited miniature donkey foal has finally arrived! Apothecary Farm Zatarra (Dam: Circle C Cappuchino, Sire: Windcrest Little Dynamite) has gorgeous conformation, and is a deep chestnut brown w/light points. After careful consideration, we have decided to retain her in our breeding herd. Look for her cross with Wannabe Ranch Moon Shadow in three years!

We are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of our next miniature donkey foal, Apothecary Farm Jacopo, out of Circle C Chicklet later this summer...