Sunday, July 29

Farm Photo: 7/29/07


Welcome new visitors!
Click here for a brief introduction to this site.

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Saturday, July 28

Farm Photo 7/28/07:
A Picture Perfect Walk In The Woods

Forest By Mother Earth

Accessories By Mother Nature

Something strange is going on. On July 16th, I took 81 photographs. I haven't taken a single one since. At some point during the past 12 days I stopped lugging around
my beloved camera and didn't even notice.

I'm blaming summer. I don't function well when it gets above 80 degrees (okay, okay 65). Toss in 90% humidity (yes, that's really what it is, I just checked), and my brain hangs out a giant Do Not Disturb sign, while my body wishes it could do the same. Even the smallest outdoor chores feel monumental.

When I moved from northern California to Missouri
back in 1994 it was November. And it was lovely. A big ice storm hit the small town we were staying in a few days after our arrival, and every single thing became encased in ice. While everyone else was huddled indoors staying warm, I bundled up and went for walks, admiring the glistening landscape that had magically appeared overnight. I felt as if I'd moved to Disneyland.

Then people began asking me if I'd been here in the summer yet. Lots of people. People who all said a variation of the exact same thing: "I thought it was humid in [insert nearly any state in the country here], but that was nothing compared to Missouri." I started getting very nervous. And unfortunately my fears did not go unfounded. Summer in southern Missouri must be experienced to be believed, and in a bad year you have from early May until late September to experience it.

I realize, of course, that there are many lizard-type people who think there is nothing better than lying on a burning hot rock in the scorching sun while most of the water in your body pours out of your skin at a medically alarming rate. It's too bad I'm not one of them. In my opinion, if you're not moving, you shouldn't be sweating profusely.

All of this whining is in fact leading to a point.

I know that many of you have come to believe I live a picture perfect life in a picture perfect place, and while I don't like to complain about all the bad stuff (and on a farm we definitely get our share of it), once in a while I think it's only fair to set you straight.

It's beautiful here. Really, really beautiful. Stops-me-in-my-tracks several times a day beautiful. My life is far from perfect, but I do in fact live in a picture perfect place. What you do not want to do, however, is actually climb into some of the pictures. Take the one at the top for example. I could have said nothing about it and simply let you believe that Bear and I were out for a pleasant stroll in the woods, enjoying nature and the crisp, refreshing air.

The reality, though, is that despite the early morning hour, it was already very hot and very muggy, and my clothes were completely soaked with sweat. A small part of my brain was functioning well enough to see the photo opportunity in front of me, but the rest of it was taken up with counting out how many more months until autumn on my fingers, and thinking about how much nicer everything would look if it were covered with several inches of snow. Right now it feels like a jungle. A jungle with pine trees.

I wasn't planning to write this. I was actually in the middle of watering the garden
and feeding insect-ravaged turnip greens and Swiss chard to Whitey and her not-so-baby-anymore chicks (yes, I promise a long overdue chick update is coming soon). I only popped inside to jot down a couple of notes before the sun zapped them right out of my mind, which is what's been constantly happening lately.

Originally I was going to post these two photos with nothing but their captions and let you think whatever you like. In retrospect, that may have been the better way to go. You could have stared contently at them, letting out a small sigh and taking in a deep breath of cool woodland air. But as they say, misery loves company, and so I thought it only fair to hit you head-on with a sweat-drenched, furnace-like blast of my summer reality instead. Besides, the longer I sit here and type, the longer I can stay holed up in my little office--the only room in The Shack with air-conditioning--before I have to open the door and step back out into those perfect pictures where there won't be any snow for months.

P.S. There are plenty of nice winter photos in the monthly archives located on the homepage sidebar
if you feel like cooling off.

© 2007, the sweat-drenched foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—no matter what the weather.

Tuesday, July 17

Farm Photo: 7/17/07

Haying Supervisor

Click here if you'd like to see more photos of Robin, the smiling beagle who loves country life. And click here if you'd like to read how Robin came trotting into my life ten (can it be already?) years ago.

A year of Farm Photos ago:
Something New Is Always Popping Up
Butterfly Bonanza
"I'm Ready To Come Inside Now," Says The Privileged Animal (That would be Cary, who is doing just fine for those of you who've been asking. I'll be posting my new favorite photo of her along with a brief Cary update soon.)
Morning Dog Walk Through The Woods

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Saturday, July 14

Farm Photo: 7/14/07

Welcome new visitors!
Click here for a brief introduction to this site.

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Monday, July 2

Farm Photo: 7/2/07

Holding on for dear life or just hanging out? (click on photo to enlarge)

So it finally rained. A lot. Like three inches in twenty-four hours. Thank goodness.

Welcome new visitors!
here for a brief introduction to this site.

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Sunday, July 1

On Loving Lettuce & Eating Salad for Breakfast

I Never Get Tired Of Looking At Lettuce

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not think about salad the same way normal people do. The first step toward this realization occurred one Thanksgiving dinner when I was passed a beautiful wooden salad bowl. Peering inside, I saw a mouthwatering mix of butterhead lettuce, red onion, and avocado tossed with a creamy dressing. There was just one helping left, and as I was about to place it on my plate, I glanced around the table and noticed that only one other person had any salad. The contents of that bowl were supposed to feed seven more people!

Then there was the phone conversation I once had with a long-distance gardening friend. He had called to announce that he and his wife had made an interesting discovery about growing lettuce.

"If you just pull off some of the leaves instead of plucking the entire plant from the ground, the leaves will keep growing back. The way we figure it," he said brightly, "you only need three lettuce plants to feed two people for the entire summer."

I decided not to mention the three heads of lettuce I'd consumed earlier that day for lunch—or the 200 square feet of salad greens in my organic heirloom garden.

A few weeks ago I was harvesting a pile of mesclun to send home with a gardenless friend. "That’s plenty!" she said as I continued to pick.

"That," I politely informed her, "is barely enough for one serving."

And when I set a bowl of salad in front of a houseguest recently, he looked down at it, looked up at me, and said, "Please tell me this is for all of us."

"You don’t have to finish it," I reassured him. But I probably will.

So I’m a little obsessed with salads, which I eat nearly every day of the year. And while pretty much anything green, leafy, and not poisonous is fair game for my salad bowl, lettuce holds a special place in my heart.

For there are certain times when absolutely nothing, not even chocolate, will satisfy my soul and stomach except some freshly picked butter lettuce from the garden. Even if it’s 1:30 in the morning. And we’re in the middle of a thunder/lightning/wind/hail/rainstorm. And my terrified, 50-pound, thunder-phobic dog is trying desperately to climb into my arms as I crouch down harvesting lettuce in the wet darkness with a 98% dead flashlight. But oh, how that salad hit the spot.

European Mesclun Mix From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

The lettuce season this year was surprisingly bountiful. Lettuce is an iffy thing to plant for spring in southern Missouri. We usually have at least a few days in the 90s in April--which in itself can be enough to ruin your crop--and it's always a toss up as to whether May will behave itself and stay mild or jump headfirst into summer. This year it behaved, and I harvested gorgeous lettuce every day for weeks.

On June 8th, with temperatures threatening to soar upwards, I grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped what was left in the two 4' x 8' raised beds I'd direct seeded at the end of March, leaving the base of the plants in the ground. It amounted to several pounds. Because I make it a point to plant varieties that are heat tolerant and slow to bolt, despite quite a few days in the upper 80s I was still picking unbitter bounty on June 19th (while crossing my fingers the stuff in the fridge wouldn't rot). Today I enjoyed the last of the spring lettuce. July 1st--I think that may be a record.

My salads will now be lettuceless for the next several months, but if you live in a place where summers are mild (oh, how I envy you!), it's not too late to plant, and growing your own lettuce from seed is easier than you might think. Click here to visit my kitchen garden and learn how.

Fast Farm Food

With such an abundance of wonderful lettuce hanging around, it was only a matter of time before I figured out a way to eat it for breakfast. For the first time in months, I was out of my beloved blueberry bran muffins, and morning found me flailing around the kitchen, half starved, my mind a blank. I'm the kind of girl who needs to know what she's going to have for breakfast when her head hits the pillow the night before.

Incapable of doing anything else, I turned my mind toward thoughts of lunch. Before long I'd convinced myself that freshly laid fried eggs on a bed of lettuce wasn't really all that different from the scrambled eggs with chopped Swiss chard I sometimes whip up. Thinly sliced pieces of homegrown lamb salami crisped up nicely in place of pancetta or proscuitto or bacon and left me a little grease to fry the eggs in. A few chopped scallions, a drizzle of creamy dressing (yes, even foodie farmgirls sometimes buy bottled salad dressing--organic of course), and some freshly grated pecorino romano finished things off.

It wasn't until everything was arranged on my plate that I realized I'd just spent about five minutes making a meal that had not only come mostly from the farm, but was healthy and beautiful as well. I snapped a photo and dove in. I guess I need to run out of bran muffins more often.

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.