Archive for September, 2011

Passing pleasures, gratitude, and September 11th

Some of the pleasures of having a little piece of land to call your own are direct. The joy of a perfect bacon, avocado, and tomato sandwich in late summer, with bacon cooked on the grill campfire-style and bread toasted likewise, and the juices of a perfect beefsteak tomato running down your chin, gratifies a hunger that goes well beyond the physical: the hunger for one simple thing in your life to be exactly right. Then there are the hungers that aren’t physical at all, and that you don’t even know you feel until they are unexpectedly fulfilled. I was reminded how lucky I am to be able to have a mini-wildlife refuge in my back yard when a couple of mornings ago, while I trudged around feeding the animals and wishing I was back in bed, I realized that a little flock of Wilson’s warblers was bouncing around in my sunflower jungle. They came out to watch me, and one graciously posed for a picture before heading down the flyway.

Then there’s hearing the “clomp” as my doe kid, Cocoa, practices her newfound skill of leaping onto the roof of the goathouse.

A breakfast of grainy bread spread with homemade goat cheese and drizzled with honey makes me purely happy to be where I am in the morning.

On September 11th we were reminded as a nation that life contains tragedy, disappointment, and sickening despair. Only a fool finds it easy to live in a stance of perpetual gratitude. But there are these radiant moments that push us to remember that there is also beauty, connection with the Earth, and genuine reason for gratitude. May our lives, and the intertwined lives of all the creatures of the planet, continue to draw us toward wholeness.

Local readers, your input is needed!

A reader who is moving to Albuquerque soon left the following comment on my “About Us” page:
“My husband just accepted a job in Albuquerque that starts in Nov, 2011 so we’ll be moving there from Northern Colorado. We currently raise/sell goats, chickens, and pigs for meat. We also sell eggs. (Our other critters are 4 llamas, and 2 sheep). I garden for our own eating pleasure and am striving to be more self-sufficient each year.
Would any of you be willing to take part in a conversation regarding raising farm animals in the Albuquerque area? Do you have contacts or websites that I should be sure to check out?
Some of my questions are as follows:
Chickens don’t like to lay eggs in extreme temperatures (too cold/too hot). How do you handle this in ABQ?
Is there a market for meat goats? (Boer goats)
Pigs: do you know of anyone who raises pigs to market weight and sells to local friends/neighbors that I might talk with? Do you need to compensate in any way for the heat?
Thanks for getting me excited about the Albuquerque area and starting our new adventure!”
Becky – Meadow Muffin Acres – Loveland, CO

I’m going to invite my local readers in Albuquerque to respond to Becky’s questions. Please leave a comment if you know anything that would be helpful to her. My own responses are as follows:
1. I haven’t had any major temperature-related issues with my laying hens. They lay almost all the way through the winter, with a lull in late December and early January, and they slow down a little during the hottest months, July and August, but even during the most scorching seasons I get three or four eggs a day from my six hens.
2. I don’t know how much market there is for goats, but it seems worth a try, especially if they were grass-and-browse raised, because there’s a substantial market for grassfed meats here.
3. I no longer know anyone who raises pigs, more’s the pity, but there would be a good market for them. I would definitely be one of your buyers! I used to know a family who raised pigs just a few miles south of Albuquerque, and they told me that a mud wallow was essential to keep the pigs cooler on hot days. Access to shade was also essential, and on the hottest afternoons their son used to go out and spray down the pigs with the hose. The pigs loved it, and would keep trying to shove their way into the stream.
4. If you are looking for other farm-based business opportunities, a micro chicken-processing facility would be well worth considering. Many of us like to raise our own meat chickens but on a single-household scale the plucker and scalder that make butchering efficient just aren’t affordable. When I had a farm in upstate New York there was a couple who had the equipment and would process chickens for the rest of us, and it was a huge convenience. I would happily work with anyone who had the set-up to process my chickens, as well as pay for the processing. So keep it in mind!
The people at the Urban Store have their finger on the local pulse when it comes to this sort of enterprise, so I would definitely give Kathy a call or email her from their website. All best wishes to you, and welcome to town.