Monthly Archives: August 2014

Pickled pretties

Well, its that time of year! fresh cukes mean I can make real “lacto-fermented” dill pickles. What does that mean? Lacto-fermentation comes from creating an environment that the lactobacillus bacteria can thrive, in tern they consume the sugars present convert it to lactic acid and ferment the item of your choice helping prevent spoilage. This family of bacterium helps ferment yogurt as well as pickles such as sauerkraut, kimchi and your much loved dills and they are present on nearly everything organic. You don’t have to add a starter culture: its already there! 

Most of us have only had pickles made with vinegar. Vinegar helps the process be consistent and you can can your goods for nearly indefinite storage. However, you don’t get the same improved nutrition that our lactic acid creating bacteria friends offer. One of the surprising things about lacto-fermented goods is how bubbly it tastes. My pickles have a bubbly zip to them, kimchi, too. My homemade saurekraut has a crunch and just enough “sour” that its turned a few “i don’t like sauerkraut’ folks into believers that its really actually tasty!

My nephew had to go on some anti-biotics that killed all the good with the bad bacteria and now hes having stomach upset. Hippy aunt to the rescue! I made a  couple batches of fermented goodies to share with him hoping he’ll find one he likes.


A bounty of pickles! Whole dills are packed in the crock, and slices for faster fermenting are in jars with old lids so the seal is weak and gas can escape. Its been so hot within a day the brine was clouding and big bubbles were forming.



Kimchi went crazy. It tasted so good I was eating it right away. It took only 4 or 5 days to reach its perfect flavor now it is resting in the fridge to stop the fermenting from going any farther. It makes a great breakfast scramble with eggs and avocado.


I’ve had luck with these recipes for kimchidill pickles and sauerkraut. Excuse me, I have some pickles to nibble on.



Do do doo….off to do my morning chores. Doot de doo de—hey pigs! how are you! hey,, hold your horse, I’m making your breakfas–oh my. What do we have here?


Oh. A lamb. In August. I was thinking the ewes were looking a little shapely.

Well, congratulations Ash!


(and Khoresh whos on a vacation at a friends pasture)

The ram is excited to be the proud father of a ewe lamb!

The ram is excited to be the proud father of a ewe lamb!

Healthy little ewe lamb, and you had it in time to get bred again for spring lambing. Very good!

Now, if you’ll just let your udder fill up and feed the baby so she’s fat I can sleep. ‘k. Thanks.

Changing the Land

I can hear the buzzing of the chainsaw as we speak. Then it stops when the tree begins to crack, crashing down my hillside the end of a life.

I was brought up to love and respect trees. I couldn’t imagine ever willing logging a forest.  A forest! full of life and trees that breath oxygen: life to us humans. Loggers in my mind were villains.

Yet here I am. Watching trees, tall firs and cedars, dropping. Not only watching, but I hired the guy to come and do this (okay,actually, the landlord did it when I asked her to). I feel like a terrible hippy, guilt consumes me with every crash I hear.DSCN0692

I wince, and want to cry as I see a mighty cedar tumble.

However, I am also the steward of my land and my animals. That means culling the old, sick and unproductive. These are trees that are ending their period of fast growth. There are a few stands of dead trees. Some are even starting to develop conchs: fungus that eat the weak trees. The cedar are at the age that they begin to rot through the center. Below these trees is an understory of young trees waiting for their elders to fall. Many of the cedar are shoots from the old trees. Where there is life slowing down and dying, there is life waiting to explode. If these are left waiting too long they too will die.


Not only that, but some of these firs are so tall they are blocking sun to the pasture. By removing some of these I am hoping to improve pasture in the cooler seasons when the sun is low and skirts behind these trees. I can also increase the pasture by possibly a whole acre…though half an acre is more likely. I have concerns about some of the undergrowth allowing predators a place to hide, so away it goes!

For the sake of the pigs I am hoping clearing the forest some will also allow me to fence the woods in and plant trees they can forage around. The logger accidentally took out all my wild filberts thinking I wanted more pasture there, whoops! didn’t realize I was planning on using that for the pigs. Oh well. I can plant new ones that should bear in, oh, sever years.

On a longer time frame is what I need to think. This land was purchased for the sake of creating a permaculture paradise. My ex was into permaculture, I simply tried to provide a place for him to live out his dreams. For me a more conventional farm where I could run a sheep dairy with enough pasture to run an actual business would have been good. But, hey. I’ve got what I’ve got and I’ve got to commit to what the land is and needs.

So here I am. Watching the land get cleared. I was hoping that this would allow me to do some terracing, too. We will see what the land wants and needs when the job is done. There are a few things I am still planning on:

+Digging a holding pond in the middle pasture with a bioswale to the stream. Hopefully this will hold water for a large part of the summer season and give the winter rains a place to flow without loosing nutrients, topsoil and prevent fecal contamination in the stream.

+Digging a swale that leads from the barn to a grassy catchment near the stream that will become an orchard.

+Creating fruiting hedgerows between paddocks.

The rest I am waiting for the land to tell me what to do. In the meantime, I watch the elderly fall giving room to the young