Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Dream Continued

And now back to our regular programming...

I'm still dreaming a little dream.

Although the reality of mortgages, car payments, and the need for health insurance keep me solidly entrenched in the life I long to shed...dream with me anyways...

I've mentioned my parent's farm before but I am going to elaborate on a few, hopefully fun, things.

The farm was once two 1240 acre homestead grants, dating from the mid-1840s. Time and life changes have reduced it to 22 south slope acres in the fertile Willamette Valley. Currently most of it is leased by a “Bent Grass” farmer. Bent Grass is golf course grass. This is not an organic operation, which annoys me, but it does pay the taxes every year. Were we to move there, the farmer would be eliminated from the equation since we would need all 22 acres to support a sustainable lifestyle for numerous family members. The local market is always open to selling local produce and farm products, so we would definitely keep that in mind as we determine what crops and animals to grow.

I'd start with chickens, since we could whip up a coop and fence an area in no time and with very little cash outlay. The chickens could actually feed us completely if need be. Eggs are an excellent source of nutrition and if you toss in some veggies and a teeny bit of cheese, you have a meal fit for a chicken farmer ;)

After the chickens were settled in, we'd need to start fencing the acre and a half or so of orchard with hog/ cattle fence so we can raise piglets (and maybe other critters). The idea for the pigs came from my childhood when my parents lived in Odell, Oregon. We had a couple of acres, chickens, pigs, and a Black Lab named Duke who kept me out of harm's way. I was three.

We had 3 pigs Alouicious Abercrombie the First, Second and Third. They were generic pigs (in my memory) and we fed them and the chickens all sorts of scraps and things. Duke followed me everywhere and was my best friend. We bought the pigs early in the spring and fed them with summer's bounty all the way until November when the last of the pears and apples had been devoured into their giant bellies. I remember how smelly they were. I also remember how fascinated I was with them. They were so immense (to a 3 year old) and so messy. I used to think about going into their pen and playing in the mud with them, but whenever I strayed from the “Duke-approved” areas I was firmly but gently tugged back to the right area by kindly doggy jaws on my wee little bum. Anyways, after the pigs had devoured the last of the produce for the year, my parents had a slaughter truck take them away. Thankfully I was napping. I am ,and was, a very sensitive person and seeing them taken away would have had me distraught for weeks. Later on that winter we were shopping at DeHart's Market in Odell and we saw some packages of pork. My parents had finally explained that they had sold two of the pigs to the market. So when I saw the meat (specifically the ~gulp~ feet), I hollered MAMA ARE THOSE MY PIGGIES!?!?!?! She shushed me and said yes. While we were checking out, I kept asking the cashier why he won't give me my piggies back. I remember this vividly. I was very mad at him for taking my friends away.

Odell was a great place for a child. We had a creek, Neal Creek to be specific, running through the back of our land. We had a cow farm to the south, and a crazy old lady to the north. She had a parrot and a very deep pond. Both inspired me to wander over there when my mama wasn't looking. Duke, of course, was at my heels and if I went anywhere within many feet of the pond or the road he would either stand in my way or tug on me gently. He was quite a babysitter.

That winter our creek flooded and when I was outside with my daddy who was feeding the critters, I wandered away to the creek. Duke shoved himself between me and the water and grumbled at me. He scared me and made me cry. My daddy patted Duke and scolded me, and the next time I tried to make him let go of my hand he wouldn't. Apparently, I was a handful and I owe a great deal to my sweet Duke.

Our house was very small, but we had a huge pantry that my parents put gleaming jars of tomatoes and plums and things in. I loved to go into there and run my fingers across the letters on the jars. Unknowingly I was tracing B A L L and K E R R. There was a tiny window in there that let a little light in, and sometimes when the sun was sinking into it's bed it would shine through there for a few moments. The tomatoes nearly glowed!!

I also remember my parents making and bottling Root Beer. It was so much fun to watch and taste. They didn't quite follow the recipe correctly though, because in a few days we heard small explosions from the pantry. All the bottle tops had burst. It was a real mess and nobody let me help clean it up. I was not very happy about that either!

Ok – so after that long diatribe – now you know why and how I plan to grow pigs. It should be easy and fun (well not in November when the slaughter truck comes – especially for Mssrs. A. Abercrombie 4 – 10)...but well you know what I mean!!

My next Dream posts will be about sustainable energy and heat sources (ie solar, growing a forest for harvest etc).

I hope this finds you well and happy. I am much restored after baking, cooking, sewing, gardening and hanging out with my family.



Alison Wiley said...

I like your dream! We're thinking of building a small chicken coop here on Mt Tabor in Portland and getting a few chickens. We're definitely growing more food with every year that passes . . .
Come visit my blog as you start delving into sustainable energy and heat sources (I write about these topics among others)

Able Oaks Dairy Goats said...

You should think about adding a few dairy goats to provide milk and cheese for your family. You'll need some sort of barn structure to store hay and to out the animals in winter nights.

MeadowLark said...

I'm envious of those of you on the "other side of the mountain". :(

Your dream sounds lovely... keep sharing!

Heather said...

Hi Alison - I love your neighborhood! Oh those old Portland Craftsman's are amazing. Sigh. I will surely poke around your blog to see what I can learn. I hope I can reference you if need be?

AOG Goats (hehe) - I would loooooooooooove to have a few dairy goats. I am drooling at the prospect of making my own Strawberry Goatsmilk icecream. We used to raise horses (AQHA) so I think goats would be fairly similar. Thanks for the feedback. I will surely read your blog for insight.

Meadowlark - Don't be envious! You live in a great area too.