Archive | November, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner – and a contract negotiation

24 Nov

Whoa! That’s not turkey!

No, that’s two sides of pork ribs, smoked over a tray of pineapple juice with a brown-sugar spice rub. Farm raised pork. As in, raised here pork – on farm, yes! Historic for us because this was our first taste of pinkguitarfarm pork, over a year in the making (we’ve been patient). Was it delicious? Well, I, the author and farmer, cannot tell you if this mouth watering picture translated into a savory, sticky, spicy – gnaw on the bone(s) food revelation. It got excellent reviews, though.

Why? Because while I was making Pecan Pie, 5 individuals (3 under the age of 12) DEMOLISHED this entire appetizer dish. Nay, I can’t even call it a dish, these ribs DID NOT MAKE IT TO THE KITCHEN FOR PLATING. No utensils, napkins or dinnerware were utilized in the deconstruction of my special first course: pork ribs a la pinkguitarfarm!

I suppose I was not too upset because the main course featured fresh roasted hams (same rub) served with a Champagne cranberry reduction, wilted Swiss chard with pinenuts, caramelized sweet potatoes and Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons. Needless to say, I did not go hungry and more importantly I am very thankful for the wonderful bounty our farm provided. As for the ribs….there will be more in the future.

So, what about the contract negotiation?

Earlier in the day I ran across our farm turkey, Brad. He engaged me in a conversation regarding his status on the farm – while hiding under the truck:

Me: “Brad, it’s Thanksgiving! No worries, dude! I went to bat for you; your status here is good. You are an icon, our mascot – sort of. You have style, presence, pizazz! If you weren’t here, the silence would be deafening! We think everyone should have a farm turkey, really!”

So then he handed me a list of demands:
1. Girlfriends – a whole gaggle of them.
2. My own food bowl. I’m done sharing with those stinkin’ chickens.
3. That blond kid, on a permanent time-out: in the house.
4. I ride shotgun in the truck, no more sitting in the bed.

I had to give the fowl a long somewhat respectful once-over. He’s got wattles, man!

Me: “Brad (with a patient voice) gaggles are for geese. You want turkey hens? Done. Your own food dish? Done. Now, I know you don’t like Jack, but I cannot keep him in the house, he helps with chores. Heyyy….are you two working together now, so he can get out of doing the chores? Okay, no on Jack. And no on the truck! Trust me, you don’t want to ride with me when I take the kids to school or run errands, that’s just weird. No, no, no! And stop trying to hide in the bed as we drive off to school in the morning, you’ve been making us tardy and the kids are blaming it on me.”

I must say, Brad caught me a bit off guard, but I was going to get him some turkey hens anyway. Next time, I’ll have my own demands ready so we can really negotiate, like: quit sleeping on my car, no harassing the children or the chickens and no gobbling while I’m outside on my cell phone, it freaks people out.

That Brad, he’s a tough nut…and people think turkeys are stupid?

Meet T-Bone our bottle baby bull calf

10 Nov

If you drop your kids off at school in the morning as I do occasionally, when a.m. chores run long, unexpected conversations can and do take place. This one was with the kids’ gym teacher it went like this:

Him: “Hey, would you all be interested in a baby calf?”
Us: “sure!”

I didn’t even ask my husband…

So one week old “T-Bone” was carefully delivered to pinkguitarfarm on October 30, 2010, a beautiful Saturday morning.

He came with his own bottle and a lesson in bottle feeding. Although he was none to happy about being separated from his twin brother and mama…he reluctantly accepted the bottle and slowly warmed up to us.

T-Bone is now almost 3 weeks old now. He is drinking enthusiastically and follows us around in his pen, happily trotting behind us, always looking for an udder(!). He has quite the cute, albeit insistent “moo” when he hears us first thing in the morning and in the evening during our routine feeding chores, he gets his bottle last because it has to be warmed and mixed to perfection.

We think that T-Bone is ready for a bucket and maybe a little bit of grain, but it has to be added very slowly to his diet. He is also ready for some halter work and lead line training. Maybe he will make a good 4H calf? Time will tell. Moooo…

It’s elementary, my dear…

1 Nov

Our kids attend a small rural public school. There are 103 students in attendance, kindergarten through 5th grade. It is a cheerful place with shiny hardwood floors in the hallways, happy smiles on the teachers faces and the kids are all known by first name; as are parents and grandparents. Generations of local residents have attended this special 50+ year old elementary school and it acts as a hub for this unique community. Sound too good to be true?

Last month the School Board voted 10 to 1 to close this little school down for the 2010/2011 fiscal year as part of a rezone (of which ironically, the overall rezone has yet to be voted on). The stated issues were capacity and funding due to the small size of our school.

Our school was inequitable because our average classroom size was only 17:1. It was inequitable to our students because they were not offered classes in foreign language or extracurricular activities. Inequitable both ways. No alternative to closure was presented, discussed or even entertained.

Rural and urban schools are different. Rural and suburban schools are different. Cookie-cutter, one-size fits all approaches to our public education system are not working. Smaller schools and smaller districts are better for the overall community in rural areas.

Closing down this little school has been a blow to the community. Teachers wonder where they will work, how far they will have to commute. Students wonder if they will get lost in the system, lost in the higher student/teacher ratio’s, whether the new staff will even know their names. Generations of people see their connection to the area unraveling through a system that has lost its concern for the community, lost its accountability to the children and turned a deaf ear to parents’ plea’s to keep the school open.

Just about the only thing the system has accomplished is the appearance of an arrogant, willful, objective towards leaving these children behind. Sound like we got our words mixed up here? Are we missing something? Propaganda statements about education reform have created a wide divide between theory and practice.

All in the name of budgeting, streamlining and efficiency. Efficient bus routes, clean feeder patterns, capacity… I keep missing the humanity in this equation. So do our community members.

I think it is time for a smaller district, one that can effectively represent its constituents.

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