Monthly Archives: January 2010

Farm Fashion

I have a beef with the manufacturers of farm clothing.

I realize that the average age of the Oregon farmer is 58 years old.  I further understand that most of those farmers are men. But hello, people!  There’s a new generation of farmers and ranchers and we are young.  Some of us are women. And we want to look good while digging fence post holes!

Now, obviously I can’t wear my Paige jeans to feed chickens.  But a quick search for work jeans brings up nothing but this sort of horror:

Mom Jeans

*Ah!  My eyes!*

And then there’s the size situation.  Unless you’re the size of an average logger, most work clothes just aren’t going to fit.  I love my Carhartt vest, but I’m swimming in a women’s size small!

Last, but not least, I direct you to the photo at the top of your screen.  You’re seeing that correctly. My “high-quality” leather gloves turn my hands neon orange when it rains.  The average rainfall in Corvallis is 45 inches a year.

This is going to be a problem.

In conclusion, if ya’ll know of any chic farmwear sources, leave a shoutout  in the comments.

I’m looking for something in between the following two styles:

I truly do love this!

Farm geek alert!



Filed under Project Start a Farm

Been Out Riding Fences

What do I do all day?  In the absence of posts about the farm, you are probably thinking I spend my time sitting around watching daytime television.  But you’d be sorely mistaken, my friend.

Based on the fact that it is now January 26th and I need to get some large ruminants by springtime, I have been working feverishly to get my pasture ready.  A woman cannot survive on chickens alone.

I wrote a while ago about the terrible state of the fence in the pasture I’m leasing.  I worked out a deal with the owner of the property that goes as follows:  she fronts the cold hard cash for new fence.  I provide the sweat and blood to put it in.  Great deal.

The only problem is that that before you install new fence, you must first remove the old fence.  And that, my friends, is what I’ve been doing all day.

As exhibited in the following photo, the person who installed the old fence was smoking crack.

How NOT to build a fence

Would you like to hear another fun story?

The fence is in what some would quaintly call a “hedgerow”.  I call it a damned forest that has grown through the field fence…a forest of spiky hawthorn trees and blackberry briars that I must cut down with my hedge clippers and my little saw.

the hedgerow

The whole project is a freaking blast. Especially in January when it alternately rains and pours.

There are a few moments when it’s all totally worth it though.

Today the sun came back out after a short rainshower, and I looked up from my work to see two things:


1) The pot of gold is in my hedgerow

2) The spots where my chickens were parked in the fall have turned into lush green polka-dots of grass.

There is yet hope for this farm.


Filed under animals, chickens, Project Start a Farm, work

And the Silver Medal Goes To…

Yesterday’s trip down memory lane reminded me of a D.R.-related item that was buried in my childhood memory box in the garage.  So, today I opened up the box and dug in.  I found what I was looking for, but I also came across hundreds of really great things I’ve saved since I was a kid.

Some of it’s super embarassaing.  Some of it’s hilarious.  Some of it’s just a straight-up testament to what a little geek I was. Maybe I’ll share some journal pages on here one of these days, just for laughs.

Here’s something really great though.  Good ol’ hometown newspapers.

This is a clipping from a newspaper article entitled: “Lady Tigers get quick start with win in season opener”.   Dated December 6, 2000…my senior year of high school.  Keep in mind that I hadn’t swam competitively since I was in middle school.  With more practice, I’d definitely have gotten 1th as opposed to 2th.

hooray for 2th place!

Isn’t that special?

Here’s a picture of me coming off the starting blocks, on my way to take 2th place.

I'm the 2th Taft swimmer from the camera

Go Tigers!  Go Lincoln City News Guard!

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Filed under Anecdotes

3,536 Miles

Me (13) in Jarabacoa, D.R.

It’s been almost exactly 12 years since I first stepped onto the tarmac and inhaled the muggy, cigarsmoke air of the Dominican Republic.

It wasn’t love at first sight by any means.  I spent sleepless nights cringing at the sound of rats scurrying in the ceiling mere inches from my bunkbed.  Mornings were punctuated by rooster crows and donkey brays, and runny oatmeal did little to improve my perspective.  But then I got to know the mischievous neighbor boys who could catch lightening-fast lizards, and I held fast to fuzzy-haired clinging toddlers.  I ate habichuelas y arroz and I explored jungled mountainsides.  I played baseball with oranges and cardboard mitts and something got down in my soul and cemented me to that place.

Two weeks later, the jet peeling off the runway ripped my heart out and I knew I’d be back.

View of the barrio from my window

A mere 4 years later, I found myself bumping down a dirt street in a beat-up Toyota Tacoma bound for the barrio.  Half-naked kids ran alongside and slapped the truck with brown hands as it struggled through the mud and the potholes.  Women in brightly colored curlers lazed in doorways, midriffs showing as they hitched their babies up on their hips. Merengue music poured out of colmado stores in decibels of nearly tangible levels.

I was simultaneously terrified and exuberant.

Me (17) with my host family in the barrio

I was proficient in ghetto Spanish in three months.  Every day was an unparalleled experience of Life.  Nothing shakes up a 17-year-old’s life like residing in the dead center of a third-world slum.   My world was a page torn straight out of a National Geographic magazine.  I’d be lying if I said I loved every moment, for that is simply not possible.  I begged God for months not to “ask me to be a long-term missionary”.   Certainly I was no Mother Teresa.  I yelled at kids peeking in my windows at dawn, spent more time hanging in the street with good-looking teenage boys than visiting single moms in need, and griped at having to handwash my laundry every week on my scorching hot front porch.

Barrio punks - blonde hair indicates severe lack of nutrition.

God has a sneaky way of weaseling into your heart though.  As though it were mere moments, a year passed.   I found myself lying on my flat roof staring up at the stars. I was surrounded by people who I now counted as close friends.  The barrio was unusually silent, interrupted only by the distant cough of the occasional motorcycle.  We lay quietly, savoring the peacefulness of the night, pressed down by the weight of goodbyes.

On the rare cloudless Oregon night, I often look up at those same constellations (tilted slightly in the celestial sphere) and remember mi patria over 3500 miles away.    Now the marvel of technology allows the rug-rat kids in the barrio (all grown up now and applying to college!) to share their lives with me via Facebook chat.   It’s been the privilege of my life to be one of them.

Juana roasting coffee over open flame

Someday, I know I’ll be back for good.  I dream: of working the land alongside Dominican farmers.  Of watching my future children kick soccer balls in the Pley with Haitian boys and girls.  Of making extra-sugary espresso in my own greca and serving it to friends in my own home.  Of dreaming in Spanish again.

Pig farm in the mountains


Filed under Uncategorized

Kung Fu Family

I’m just going to skip right over Christmas and all that holiday stuff and go straight to the good stuff.  We all decorated trees, hung out with family and opened presents, so I’m sure you don’t need a recap of my experience doing such things.

First off, I’m excited to announce that I starred in my first film recently.  It is a Kung Fu movie set on the scenic Oregon Coast, produced by Corina Warner and directed and filmed by none other than my own award-winning cinematographer-brother Ethan Burke.  My supporting cast is:

Keith Prickett — Evil Villain

Corina Warner — Passerby #1

Andrew Jones — Passerby #2

Love-a-lot Carebear — as herself

I’ll be sure to mention them all when I receive my Oscar.    When the film is released you will all be treated to a special viewing right here.  Parental guidance is strongly suggested, as most of the scenes involve the Evil Villain being hurled off ledges by yours truly.

In other, more local news, Keith and I picked a crisp, wintery day last week to take a hike into the Corvallis foothills.

cheesy smiles

On the way, we saw some curious things.  Things, I would argue, one only sees in the vicinity of Corvallis, Oregon.

trees with number tags

Literally every tree had a number. I’m positive this could somehow be helpful if you were to become lost in the woods.

mountain-biking unicyclist

As I said.  Only in Corvallis.


Filed under Uncategorized