Heading out

Here’s my list of crap to do before I catch the plane to Portland, Ore:

-milk goats

-plant seedlings

-deep water the garden

-wax chin (I have a near beard right now)

-pack prosciutto (yes, i’m bringing meat to share at the Portland reading)

It’s really hard to leave the farm, even for six days so I’ve been running around buying alfalfa for the goats, moving the rabbits from the deck to the garden, and trying to find some clothes that aren’t filthy. Thank the gods for my downstairs neighbors, who will be milking and feeding and caretaking while I’m gone.

To add to the pressure, there’s some weird guys painting our house. My landlord, who is a sweet but naive guy hired the most ghetto painters. They didn’t put down anything to catch the paint chips, for example, so I have flecks of gray paint in the garden, in the chicken/goat area. It’s just awful. They painted the rabbit area but didn’t spray it down or ask me to clean it up so there are literally white-painted rabbit turds. It’s kind of funny how bad it is.

Whenever I leave, though, it’s kind of like dying. I imagine what it will be like when one day I’m not here to feed the goats their favorite treat of jade plant. How the garden will get parched and sickly in the summer; overgrown and weedy in the winter. I find myself trying to control my absence by writing lists and notes, putting out individual buckets of foraged branches for the goats for every day I’m gone. I resent leaving, a little. This is prime gardening season and I still need to stake my tomatoes, monitor my cucs and green beans!

Last night I harvested all the beets from the garden. And ate lettuce I had planted more than a month ago. I picked all the sour cherries off the tiny little tree in the garden and made a clafoutis using eggs and milk from GT Farm. I left the pits in, just like my sister told me. Then I finished the last of the rabbit rillettes Chris Lee made. I had a beer with the downstairs neighbors and sliced some prosciutto for them. I feed the rabbits and then went out to the goat area and put them to bed.

When I came back inside, I set up our cat Kuzzin’s food and water station. I’m going to miss him so much. In our laundry room, the bones of the prosciutto are hanging by a bike hook. They look so rad, so rural. I’m reminded that good things take time: these hung for 18 months in Chris Lee’s restaurant. They require no refrigeration at this point. They smell of such delicious meat–the smell of hard work, captured and made immortal.

Since the bones are essentially ham bones, I’m planning on making some serious red beans and rice–when I get return to GT Farm. There’s comfort knowing that when I return, Kuzzin will be happy, the bees won’t notice, the rabbits will rejoice, the chickens will cluck and crouch, the goats will act like they didn’t care that I was gone, and I’ll get to eat once again from the farm.


15 responses to “Heading out

  1. I just left my precious flower garden for 7 days up north, expecting it couldn’t thrive without me. When I got back it was more glorious than ever. The horses, chickens, cats and pigeons also thrived without me. I did know whether to smile or be sad. Please have a great time, Portland is beautiful right now.

  2. How come you leave the pits in the cherries for your clafoutis?
    Just bought your book this weekend and can’t wait to dive in…

  3. Hi, my best friend since jr. high — a firefighter in Oakland — forwarded me the SF Gate article, and the LA Times reviewed your book yesterday so you are all on my mind. I’m a full city girl diving into city farming (on my apartment patio that is) with not much of a clue of what I’m doing really except that I know it’s important. My kids and I are supporters of the Urban Farming LA Food Chain Project (vertical gardens on skid row). And I just want to say you’re an inspiration, and I can’t wait to read the book.

    In the spirit of Cali communal living, I have some gently used clothes coming your way.

    Portland or bust! Please post if you’ll be down in the LA area.

  4. We don’t get prosciutto at the Seattle reading?? Sad!

    I admit I was wondering how you were going to manage being away long enough for a book tour at this time of year. I am stressed enough at the thought of an evening in the city (we are tiny farming on Bainbridge Island) to come see you — though of course totally looking forward to it also! So I’m glad it’s just a couple cities at a time and not a whole multi-week thing.

  5. I’m going to miss the cats awfully while you and I tag team events in the Pacific Northwest. You should see the OCD lists I leave my friend who house sits! Have a great reading at Powell’s tonight.

  6. I’m so bummed that I missed your Bay Area readings, but I’ve been nursing a sick chick and have been afraid to leave her for longer than an hour. I can’t wait to read your book. You’ve been such an inspiration to my family. We are setting up our own little farm over in San Fran. The goats arrive on Sunday 🙂 Have a great book tour!

  7. I loved your reading in Berkeley this week with Michael Pollen. He may have drawn a lot of the crowd, but you were definitely the star! It’s great to hear a young, fresh, female voice questioning the food we eat. I will recommend your book to all my “agie”/”food policy” friends.

    And the strawberries from Pie Ranch were a real treat!

  8. Hey Novella,

    Thanks for coming up to the land of rain, cool weather, and reviled mollusk relatives. I shall be headed out shortly with my glass of wine and *lethal spray to do the buggers in, no qualms attached.

    Last week at the U-bookstore I was perusing your book, hmmm, should I buy or not, it’s very funny, oh heck sure. Then I’m reading and notice there is the exact same thing I’ve already read some pages back. As best I recall, somewhere ~page 80 is repeated again ~page 150ish (maybe 200?). Get on whoever’s arse about this (pub.? printing shop?) There’s nothing worse than having a good read interrupted.

    *Mix up some: 1) isopropyl alcohol, 2) dish soap, and 3) water in a squirt bottle and label “slug luv.” You get to decide amounts, go with your gut, not too much of 1 or 2 and mostly it’s 3. Do not spray this willy nilly. It’s obviously not going to be good for our friend the earthworm. Not effective on any crustacean brethern like pill bugs or earwigs, so don’t bother.

  9. ghosttownfarm

    hey raquel;
    the pits keep the cherries intact, otherwise they fall apart. also, the pits add a slightly almondy flavor.

  10. ghosttownfarm

    hey anne;
    it’s true, there are some very messed up copies of farm city. they got the signatures all turned around. someone, i’m assured, is taking care of it. maybe i should post on my blog about the problem?

  11. dang! I just missed you! I live in Portland, and I found your book on Amazon whilst shopping for Michael Pollan’s Second Nature. Well, your book sounded so awesome, I snatched it up too! Sadly, I finished it last night, typed in your name on Google to see what came up, and found out you were just here!

    Oh well, missed you, but LOVED your book. I am now going to pass it around to my fellow gardeners/urban poultry owners!

  12. I am a licensed esthetician and would be happy to come to Oakland to give you a free chin wax(es?) in exchange for farm tours, chicken education. Seriously.

  13. ghosttownfarm

    hi maggie: i’m sure i’ll be up in portland again. probably in june, for the paperback release!
    wee1: tempting. i’m sprouting little hairs again. maybe mid-september? or come on by for the farm tour on august 29.

  14. Hey Novella,
    I just finished reading your book, it was amazing I loved every page. Have a wonderful vacation. I am a school counselor at a Juvenile Hall. We started a gardening program there so we were sent to the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Sonoma County for a teacher training. I could not keep weeds alive before going there. Now I am a gardening freak. Anyway, probably way to much info. Our youth love going to the garden I am going to get copies of the book for them to read. Because they are more like incarcerated farmers.

  15. ghosttownfarm

    hi colette;
    your program sounds amazing! hope the kids like the book….
    thanks for getting in touch, and keep up the good work!

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