Inland Empire Report (and calling Kansas City!)

Oh lordy, things are really hopping here. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but there’s a really neat video that Chow.com did about me and my goats, it’s called Novella Carpenter’s backyard is a pigsty. Which is true in many ways. check it out here.

I just flew in from a few days in the Inland Empire, aka, Eastern Washington and Idaho, where I was doing a series of public talks and supporting a great new coop grocery store in Spokane. Moscow was very special because so many of my mom’s homesteading friends from back in the day came to listen to my stories about their stories. Fun. Someone at the pre-reading dinner said, “this is like meeting characters from a novel!” There they were–Barb, Phil, Lowell, Mary, and Fran–all so excited and supportive of my writing. I can’t express how great this made me feel.

After the reading I got the chance to talk to Lowell, the beekeeping “character” in Farm City. He doesn’t keep them anymore–foulbrood and equipment failure–but he still farms out on his land, growing corn and keeping chickens, has a few horses. I have fantasies of a “family” reunion in Orofino come August. Lowell said he’d make the chicken, which, if I remember correctly, involves vinegar, poultry seasoning, and a slow roast.

Barb drove me to Spokane. She’s the coolest mother of 20 year olds I’ve ever met, wearing this outrageous raven necklace and pirate stockings. She gave me a bracelet that I’ll treasure forever, which says: Redefine the Impossible. That is pure Barb. I can only dream of being as funny and plain old fun as she is.

Spokane was such a lovely surprise. The downtown is sweet, filled with gorgeous old brick buildings, pastry shops, yummy restaurants, and old classy bars. And did I mention a Dick’s Drive-in? Amazing fries. I did a rabbit demo class at a nice resto called Sante. The chefs prepared rabbit in various ways, and about 40 people were served a rabbit tasting menu–terrine, stew, confit, and an incredible cassoulet with green garbanzo beans. After eating, there was a rabbit butchery demo. Everyone gathered around a whole rabbit and a wise old rabbit farmer took it apart and made suggestions for cooking. I talked about my adventures in raising rabbits, and made people look at photos of rabbits having sex. What was especially cool about the dinner was the diners were all quite seriously considering raising rabbits, or wanting to get in touch with their food in a meaningful way. And they wanted to support local farmers and the broader community. It was like a little town, but with good coffee.

And a great bookstore. With total rabbit breath, I snuck up to Aunties, an impressive indie bookstore in the heart of Spokane and did a reading, with one of the sweetest, warmest audiences I’ve ever run across. Still, I needed a drink by then, so we headed to a bar/resto called Hill’s that features some tasty food, including locally grown favorites like Rocky Mt. oysters, and camelina seed hummus.

In the morning, I found myself in front of a big audience of community college students, talking about pig heads. They did not seem to mind. On the plane by high noon, wisps of Santa bresola in my carry-on. I had no idea touring would be so f-ing fun…

Which brings me to my next point: imagine this: me and Samin (!), in Kansas City, MO, in only a few days! We’re jumping on a plane to do a reading on Saturday October 24 at the Bad Seed Kitchen. Then Sunday there will be a chicken raising class and culling demo. Which will be hands-on, btw, everyone will have a chicken of their own. Samin will then do a breakdown and a demo on how to cook a home-raised hen (read: older, tough) so that it tastes delicious. Samin and I are going to be like your yoga coach, who will put you in the correct posture while you pluck a chicken, just as an example. If you live in the area, you better get your butt over to the reading and/or the class. More info is available at Bad Seed. Please help us spread the word, I’m not sure how many students have signed up!

10 responses to “Inland Empire Report (and calling Kansas City!)

  1. spokane sounds cool — and barb sounds like my kinda mama…

  2. That video was so cool! So great to connect voice and moving image to the “voice” from your book. I feel like I know you in a weird media knowing someone sort of way.

    I like your pragmatic and non-sentimental advice style. And your goats! I will come buy some milk when you blow the pipe.

  3. Sorry I couldn’t make it to Auntie’s to hear your reading. I wanted to ask you if you managed to get that Harsch Fermenting Crock I reccomended to you and how you liked it if you did.

    I am glad that you enjoyed my town and that we treated you right. Hope you come back.

    ~will

  4. I really enjoyed having dinner with you at Sante. My friend and I got the number of the rabbit farmer for next year’s rabbits. My husband is putting our little garden down for the winter and reading your book; he snatched it before I had a chance to start reading!
    I also hope you come back to my hometown. I believe it is worth the trip when you can get away.
    Regards,
    Jessica

  5. Barb is so rad! Sounds like an awesome trip back to the homeland. I miss Idaho. Amaya made us watch the chow video over and over again, aunt novella! aunt novella. now she is asking for goats…

  6. LOVED the video. I think I’m going to have to buy your book…..

  7. I loved the video!

    I have to completely agree with what you said about starting your own seeds. I used to buy starts from local nurseries, but what I’ve found is that the plants I grow from seed (usually direct-sowed in the garden) do better than the seedlings I get from tne nursery – even when the seedlings have had a several weeks headstart. I just know that anything planted in my soil that grows in my soil will thrive, and that’s not always the case with plants grown elsewhere and transplanted.

    Incidentally, we’ve been raising (and eating) rabbits off and on for twelve years. For people who live in “suburban” areas, there really isn’t a much better starter animal – especially if there are restrictions regarding poultry. We (thankfully) don’t have any restrictions, and we’ve since added chickens and ducks to the “nanofarm.”

  8. Great video! Wish I could have been in WA to meet some of the characters from your book.

  9. Just finished your book. I had to laugh about your poor stolen watermelon. I had something similar happen. I grew Cinderella pumpkins for the first time this year and had a beauty growing in the garden. I watched it grow all summer long, making sure it had enough water during the hot spells. When it look about done I cut it from the vine and could barely lift it into the wheelbarrow. I proudly set it on display by my front door walkway. A few days later I was putting out more pumpkins and there was a big barren spot where my big pumpkin should have been. I thought my husband was playing a joke on me, but no. Someone had simply walked into my yard and boldly stole it. Oh, how infuriating. He or she didn’t bother with any of the other pumpkins, just took the biggest and my favorite. I was planning on keeping it through Thanksgiving and then saving the seeds from it. So much for that. I just wanted to let you know that it doesn’t just happen in a “bad” section of a city, it also happens in a nice Seattle suburb. It still hurts but I’ll get over it…

  10. I just finished your book and am sure glad I watched the video b/c I was ready to hop on the 2 pig band wagon….we just moved into a new home with lots of room to grow here in Nine Mile Falls, WA and after reading Made from Scratch about a homesteader in Sandpoint, ID and then your book in Oakland, we think we might be able to pull off growing some of our own food…..so we will start with the garden and some chickens and maybe grow from there.
    Will be looking forward to coming to the next event you have in Spokane.
    We are interested in the rabbits, is it possible to get information on the “wise old farmer” here in Spokane?

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