Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pea Soup

Remember that picture I posted yesterday, where you could just barely make out the mountain through the haze of smoke.  Well, here's a shot from today, and guess what - no mountain.  The air quality is terrible...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Another Smoky Wildfire Season

I thought 2012 was a scary year of smoke and flames, but 2013 is shaping up to be even worse.  A very mild and dry spring turned into a hot and even drier summer, and a freak lightning storm last week started something on the order of 50+ wildfires throughout southern Oregon.  Several of these fires have coalesced into larger fires, and in any event, the smoke is HORRIBLE.  Today is definitely the smokiest day yet - even walking outside for a moment has me coughing.  We've kept the windows closed and the air conditioning on to try and filter the air, but I feel so bad for the livestock...  As always, we are SO incredibly thankful for the brave men and women out there helping to fight all of these fires.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of smoke, there's supposed to be a mountain out there...

Newest Millinery Creations

I finally found some free time to finish up some of my hat projects.  Most of these are already listed in the Etsy store, so go check it out for details!

Down the Rabbit Hole...

I recently completed several new hats for my Etsy store, some of which have already sold.  One of the most popular hats was this Mad Hatter Tea Cup hat.  The hat body is styled after a vintage 1940s-era tilt hat.  The wired crown is pinched and tucked to create that fabulous flared silhouette.  The steaming beverage is composed of an iridescent fabric for the liquid, and white curled peacock feathers for the steam.  I bent the wired brim a bit to give it more of that rakish air.

The in-stock hat used in the photographs has already sold, but you can still get your own version via custom order.  I will try and make a few more in-stock hats of this style for the shop soon.  I find it somewhat humorous that in-stock always sells better than a custom order listing of the same hat...I guess it has something to do with people's love of instant gratification?  Who knows!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


One benefit of our extremely hot (and extremely early) summer season has been the fig harvest.  This year was a bumper crop for figs, and we've been enjoying the evening ritual of eating fresh figs off of the tree during farm chores.  Now, at the end of July, we are almost done with the first fig harvest.  Each year, the fig trees produce a second crop of tiny green fruit, which never have a chance to ripen before October's frosts.  This year, with the season being roughly 10-14 days early, we might be able to squeeze in a second fig crop!  Fingers are crossed...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Day in the Life of A Farmer-Innkeeper

Being a farmer is hard enough on its own, but when you add to that attempting to run a bed & breakfast, it becomes down right hectic.  Here's a brief glimpse into the life of a farmer-innkeeper:

The alarm clock goes off promptly at 5 am every morning.  I jump out of bed, rub the sleep from my eyes, and get dressed in my chore clothing.  It's always a game of "surprise the donkeys" in the mornings.  I usually try and sneak out of the house without turning on any lights, and then make a mad dash to the hay pile.  Donkeys are wily creatures, with eagle eyes, and will heehaw at the slightest provocation.  Cappi, nicknamed "Foghorn" on the farm for obvious reasons, is one of the worst offenders during morning and evening mealtimes.  Once at the hay pile, it's another mad dash to throw hay in the feeders before the donkeys sound off the alarm.  Sometimes, I get a few squeaks of protest - as though they feel they should be braying, even though their morning hay has already appeared!  Once the donkeys are fed, I always head back inside to get washed up (it being generally too dark to do the rest of the morning farm chores just then), and work on forming bread rolls from the sourdough we started the evening before.  After the rolls are finished and raising in the warming drawer of the kitchen, it is generally light enough to head back outside to finish up morning farm chores (this being roughly 6 am or so).  I feed the goats and open the doors to their pasture, feed the llamas, and feed and let out the poultry.  I also check all of the animal waters, refill the duck pond, and set the sprinkler on one of the garden plots as needed.  Then, it's back inside the house for a quick shower, after which I start working on the guest breakfasts.  Sourdough rolls go in the oven at 7 am, and coffee is put on to boil at 7:15 am.  Breakfast needs to be finished and ready to be served at 8 am.  Guests usually take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to eat.  After that, sometimes we give free farm tours if guests request them in advance (this takes about an hour).  Otherwise, I work on cleaning up the dining room and kitchen.  After that, while waiting for guests to head out for the day, I usually work in the garden - trying to get things done before the day heats up too badly.  Usually, this involves weeding, or bringing in the harvest (depending on the time of year).  If it's harvest time (which begins in July), that also entails cooking/canning/processing the harvest in a sweltering kitchen all day.  We try to be as self-sufficient as possible when it comes to food, so "bringing in the harvest" doesn't just mean one small basket of tomatoes.  Generally, we are harvesting and processing on average 10-20 lbs PER vegetable daily at the height of harvest season.  If the baking apples are ripe, I'm working on volumes even larger than that!  That is a lot of work.  Once the guests head out for the day, the rooms need to be cleaned (bathrooms wiped down, beds made).  Then, it's back to work!  On especially hot days, the animal waters need to be checked and refilled 2-3 times during the day.  I also have to go out into the garden and pick produce for our dinner, and work on getting that prepared.  Sometimes, in the late afternoons, it's a bit of a siesta (when the outdoors and/or inside of the kitchen gets to be unbearably hot).  Evening farm chores are usually performed around 7 pm in the summertime, and generally take 45 minutes.  After that, it's inside to get cleaned up, perhaps get a few things ready for the guests breakfasts the next morning.  Then, we generally try and relax for a half hour (reading, checking email, etc), before it's off to bed at 8:30 pm.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pink Carnies

I have a confession to make: in all of my life, I have never once attended a county fair.  Ever.  And I have lived in the country for quite some time...

Yesterday, that all changed.

Ryan and I went on an impromptu date to the Jackson County Fair...and it was AWESOME!  I wish I had felt more energetic, as this was the one place where I could have dressed in my wildest outfit and not even been out of place.  Alas, I settled to be pretty in pinks & purples.  

Throughout the day, my pink hues kept growing: pink cotton candy, pink pig (Ryan won it for me at the Lucky Duck game booth), and a pink parasol that my dear husband insisted on buying for me because it matched my outfit.

We ate the most delicious plate of fish and chips at the food court, and Ryan even got to ride Tonto the camel!  

We visited the livestock section (ok, I dragged Ryan there first) and looked at the goats (two Nigerian Dwarfs represented our small but mighty caprines!).  I loved being all dressed up, and receiving looks from people who logically assumed that this dame had never ever gotten her feet dirty before.  Ah, I love being a stealth farmer!

Long story short, it was the BEST day either of us have had in a very long time.  Being workaholics in the middle of summer tourist season, we have been exhausted and stressed and not allowed ourselves any time for fun.  I was so thankful that we decided to seize the moment and have one of the best dates ever.  I will always cherish that day in my heart and in my memories.

Sunday Breakfast

Homemade sourdough rolls, hot out of the oven, with choice of butter or our strawberry-tarragon jam.  Farm fresh scrambled eggs with brown butter-fried sage & chives, followed by an apple-oat crisp.

Saturday Breakfast

Homemade sourdough rolls, hot out of the oven, with choice of butter or our strawberry-tarragon jam.  The first breakfast course consisted of raspberry-cornmeal muffins (made with our own homegrown & handground heirloom cornmeal and red raspberries, & sweetened with local honey).  The second and final breakfast course consisted of lemony quinoa (cooked in our own freshly-pressed apple cider) with maple-cinnamon sauteed apples (off of our heirloom apple tree).

Friday, July 05, 2013

Patriotic Breakfast

In honor of the 4th of July holiday weekend, I made red, white, & blue-hued melon cups!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Seven Year StayCation

For the folks who tried to book with us the week of June 10th, we apologize for being unable to accommodate you.  We did, however, have a most excellent reason: it was our 7-year wedding anniversary!  After the headache of last year's away-from-the-farm week-long vacation, we decided it would be easier to stay home for this year's vacation, and instead take lots of day trips out and about.  We did manage one overnight getaway during the latter half of the week, continuing the now annual tradition of dinner/lodging/breakfast at the lovely Morrison's Lodge 

(as well as hiking the Rogue Trail out to Whiskey Creek).

Amongst other things, we attended Hanley Farm's first annual BeerFest (and enjoyed the live music, good food, and cold beverages)...

Had drinks and dinner at Elements Tapas Bar in Medford...

Hiked the Payette Trail Loop around Applegate Lake 

(and got a little lost at the 5-way intersection in the process)...

Had drinks and lunch at Dancin Vineyard...

Managed to get out for a dress-up date around town...

Caught a classic car show in Jacksonville...

All in all, it was a wonderful staycation!