Tag Archives: Keith

They’re Here!

Our Cornish-cross chicks arrived on Thursday morning, fresh from the hatchery in California.  There are about 600 in all and they are all healthy!  We didn’t lose any even though the shipment spent two days in the postal system.  Those chicks are amazingly hardy for being so small.  They can survive for at least a day on the nutrition they received from the yolk sac in the egg, without needing any additional food or water.

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The chicks are shipped in cardboard boxes with holes in the sides and lids.  Each box is divided into sections with about 25 chicks in each partition to prevent them from piling up and smothering each other during transport.  In the middle of summer, the hatchery usually puts fewer chicks in each box so they don’t get too hot.

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Our day begins when the local post office calls to let me know the chicks have arrived.  The call usually comes at 5:30 or 6 a.m.  We head straight to the post office, where the poor postal workers are enduring the incessant cheeping of hundreds of chicks.  I think they’re always glad to see them leave!  We pull up to the back loading dock of the post office and unload all the boxes off the postal carts and into our car.  Then we head straight up to the farm where the heat lamps are already turned on and food and water is set out for the new arrivals.

 

 

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Keith and I each take a stack of boxes into the brooder and work quickly to unload the chicks.  They are so hungry, thirsty and cold at first!  Each chick makes a bee-line straight for the water or feed as soon as its feet hit the ground.  They run everywhere, peeping in a state of panic and you have to be very careful not to step on them.

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After their little bellies get full and they find the heat, their cries of distress fade to a quiet murmur.  They all huddle under the hovers and cozy up next to the heat lamps for warmth.  Their eyes drift closed as they bask in the heat.  Sometimes they fall over, they get so relaxed.  It’s really adorable!

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We will be getting at least 6 more batches of chicks as well as another couple hundred layer chicks for egg production, over the course of the summer.  This kicks off the busy farm season!  We’re looking forward to a good year in 2013!

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Emmie loves the chicks.  She has to stay up on a straw bale so that she doesn’t step on them, but she watches them intently, quivering with delight.  I think the frenzy of little running birds really kicks her herding instincts into full gear – she really wants to get them all bunched up into one spot.  She’s pretty adept at herding chickens, which comes in handy when these birds are bigger and sometimes escape from their pasture pens.

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On the Move

This farm is on the move!   This Sunday, Keith and I loaded a couple of our brooders onto a flatbed trailer and hauled them up to their new resting spot at the ranch.

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These brooder houses are pretty darn awesome, if I do say so myself.  Each one cost less than $200 to build and they’ve served us through 4 different farm seasons at 3 different locations and have (mostly) held together well.

Please excuse my “migrant farmworker” husband in the straw hat.  He found the hat in an old refrigerator and spent the afternoon wearing it and dancing a jig to Irish music as he worked.  I can’t really explain any of that previous sentence in a way that makes any sense whatsoever.  Whatever makes him happy, since I took him away from his precious Mt. Bachelor to help me on the farm this weekend.

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Here we are, about to hit the highway with one load of brooders!  We’ll transport the other two next weekend if I can peel the migrant farmworker off the ski slopes again.

 

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A Day in the Life of a Farmer (Winter Edition) – Monday

7:30 : Up and out of bed.  I make a pot of coffee and Keith does a few loads of laundry.

8:30 : Keith heads to work and I work on this blog.

9:30 : The bank is now open, so I head down there and get a cashier’s check for the car purchase.  I run a few errands around town and then head home.

12:00 : My friend Jessie and her daughter E come pick me up.  They are giving me a ride to Monmouth so that I can get the car.  It’s about an hour drive to Monmouth.  E has had a lot of questions about God and Jesus lately, so Jessie asked me to try to answer some of them for her.  The questions were heavy-duty ones for a six year old.  She munched noisily on her carrot sticks in her car seat while I fumbled to answer.

  • When did Jesus’ spirit leave his body after crucifixion?
  • Why do Christians have a problem with gay people?
  • Do you like this cross I just made with my carrot sticks?
  • Why was there a stone across Jesus’ grave?  Why wasn’t it called a boulder?  That would make more sense, Rachel.
  • What does a Bible look like?  Does it have pictures?

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I think next time we will talk about theology during a hike or long walk.  Doesn’t it seem easier to think about God while you’re out in nature?  I think E and I both had trouble wrapping our minds around some of the concepts we were discussing, while being strapped into a car hurtling down the highway at 60 mph.  She apologized later for being wiggly.  I felt kind of wiggly too.  Sometimes I have as many questions about God as she does, and often they’re the same ones.

1:00 : We arrive in Monmouth and exchange payment for keys and title to a snappy ’06 Ford Freestyle. (Fitting car name for a former competitive swimmer, don’t you think?!)  I’m pretty stoked at owning a car that was made in the last six years.  Keith and I have a big aversion to debt, so we save and invest most of our income.  We’ve been driving our paid-off cars since freshman year of college in 2002 and they weren’t new then.

I’m all kinds of impressed by the little features of this new vehicle:  automatic locks and windows!  a keychain button to unlock the doors!  adjustable lumbar support! bluetooth built-in!  interior lights that actually come on when you open the door!  headlights that light up the road even on dim setting!  Doesn’t take much to impress the Pricketts.  We think we’re fancy folks now.

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E tries out all the configurations of the seats and cargo area before we leave the seller’s driveway. They all fold up and down and inside out.  It’s like a transformer – one minute you’ve got seats for 6 and then you pull Tab 1 and Tab 2, and you’ve got cargo space for miles .  E thinks it’s the best car she’s ever seen and approves greatly of my purchase.  She tries to get her mother to trade their newer model Subaru Outback for our Freestyle.  I was hopeful, but there was no deal.  Jessie is smart.

2:00 : Jessie, E and I decide to go have a celebratory late lunch.  We end up at J’s Grill in Monmouth and  we all order whopping big baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli.

3:00 : We all head back to the farm and the girls help me collect eggs, feed the chickens and the cows.  We work with Fritz to repair a fence that broke when he hit it with the tractor earlier in the day.  It’s kind of a two-person job to pull smooth wire with a fence stretcher.

I go inside and chat with Beverly for a little while.  I invite her to join us for dinner tomorrow night.  She is such a good cook and invites us to dinner so often that I like to try to return the favor once in a while.

5:00 : Jessie and I hang out in the farm driveway and talk while E scrambles around in the car trying out all the seat configurations once more.

5:30 : I head home, drop the mutt off and drive to Safeway for almond roca ingredients.  I have been making almond roca every Christmas without fail since I was in middle school.  My mom made it every year until I took over.  It’s my favorite candy in the entire world and I could eat it til my teeth fell out.  It’s best to get this stuff out of your house as quickly as possible, but I rarely abide by that wisdom.  Here’s the recipe, because I love ya so much:   ALMOND ROCA RECIPE

6:00: Home from the store.  I make myself a homemade Yumm bowl.  You’ve got to have real Yumm sauce for this, but other than that it’s so easy:  rice, black beans, salsa, cilantro, cheese and a dollop of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  Keith is eating dinner with his coworkers at Big River.  They are in training for developing their latest top-secret, super-dooper-cool electronic products all week, and are getting catered breakfast and lunch every day  and the occasional dinner out.

I clean the whole kitchen. I can’t cook in a cluttered space – it makes me feel crazy.  Then I pour myself a glass of wine and begin whipping up the first batch of Roca.  The whole house is soon filled with the delicious smell of warm butter and sugar.

Roca, pre-chocolate stage

Roca, pre-chocolate stage

8:00 : Keith gets home and admires the new car in our driveway.  He has brought all the frozen lamb over from our chest freezer at the farm and we go through it, picking out cuts of lamb to thaw for this week’s meals. Somehow I am missing all the roasts…they must have fallen out of the bag into the freezer depths.  So I pick out a beef roast to thaw for our dinner guests tomorrow night instead.  Not quite as exotic but still delicious on a winter night.

I finish up making the almond roca and leave it to cool on the countertop.  It probably won’t be ready to eat til tomorrow.  Agh, the agony of waiting!

11:00 : Bed, Fred.

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A Day in the Life of a Farmer (Winter Edition) – Sunday

7:00 : Up and showering to get to church

8:30 : Keith and I arrive at church (Grace City Church) and I begin putting together the Powerpoint presentation for our church service.  I’m in charge of projecting all the worship songs, announcements and the sermon slides.  One thing I love about our church is the number of women in leadership roles.  Kristin Osborne knocked it out of the park with her sermon on Mark 5. You can hear it here once it’s uploaded to the internet:  http://www.gracecitychurch.org/media.php?pageID=5

While I’m putting together the Powerpoint slides, Keith contacts a seller about a Craigslist ad we saw last night.  It’s for a 2006 Ford Freestyle, which happens to be an earlier version of the Ford Taurus X we were enthralled with yesterday.  We arrange to go see the car in Monmouth this afternoon.

9:30 – 11:00 : Church!

11:30 – 12:30 : Home for lunch

1:00 : Drive to Monmouth and see the car in person.  We take it for a test drive and decide it’s a keeper.  It’s got so much cargo space I can hardly believe it! We negotiate an awesome deal!  It was owned by a 89 year old woman who hardly put any miles on it.  The bank is closed though, so we have to wait til tomorrow to get funds from our checking account.

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3:30 pm : We arrive back in Philomath and head over to the farm to do a little work before sunset.  I try to take advantage of Keith’s weekend availability to do things that I can’t easily get done by myself. Together we clean some old nestboxes and heave them into the barn loft. We store a bunch of chicken roosts and feeders, and then wash a few baskets of eggs to keep up with the farm store demand.

6:00 pm : It’s now dark and I haven’t had a chance to get in my long run this weekend.  I am starting to get more serious about base-building and upping my weekly mileage at this point, because I have my sights on the Eugene Marathon at the end of April.  It’s only 21 weeks away and it’s time to get cracking.  More immediately, I plan to run the Cascade Half Marathon on January 20th, which was my inaugural half marathon earlier this year.

We live near a pretty sweet bike path that runs from Philomath all the way to the Corvallis waterfront, about 7 miles away.  Keith and I decided to do a 9 mile out-and-back run on that path, so we strapped on headlamps and put a leash on Emmie.  She doesn’t usually run with us, as she gets plenty of exercise racing around the farm. Today she was inside a lot while we churched and car-shopped though, so we thought she better join the family run.

It was a beautiful dry December night.  We ran through quiet neighborhoods and enjoyed seeing everyone’s Christmas trees sparkling through picture windows and elaborate light displays decorating porches and yards.  Emmie was extremely well-behaved, trotting quietly at my left heel without pulling the leash at all.  She’s so fit that the run was like a stroll in the park for her.

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Keith and Emmie during a run earlier this year

7:30 pm : We trot back home and stretch in the driveway for a while.  It’s so warm and peaceful out…a rare December night in Oregon so I try to soak up every minute.

7:45 pm : Showers and then we start warming up leftovers for dinner.  Keith got a pasta maker for his birthday and he whips up a batch of fettucini noodles to go with some leftover spaghetti sauce.  The man is a genius in the kitchen, have I mentioned that?

8:00 pm : We eat dinner and watch Netflix movies til about 11:00 when we both get sleepy and head to bed.

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A Day in the Life of a Farmer (Winter Edition) – Friday

5:30 a.m. : Up and out of bed.  I’m joining a few of my favorite running girls to do a quick one hour run around Corvallis.

6:00 – 7:00 : Run baby run! I’m starting to enjoy running in the dark, past the grand buildings of the university campus and through sleeping neighborhoods. We live in a very fitness-friendly town with plenty of trails and bike paths.  The variety comes in nicely when you are training a lot. We run nearly 7 miles, stretch and chat back at our cars and then head home.

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7:30 – 9:00 : I make breakfast and coffee for myself and take a long shower.  Keith wakes up and heads to work around 9.

9:00 – 12:00 : I have a lot of accounting to finish up and then I head to the bank to make a deposit.

12:30 : Lunch

1:00 : Head over to the farm and wash a bunch of eggs to stock the farm fridge.  Keith calls in his weekly Friday order for his “Buying Club” … made up of his coworkers  at Marvell. I pack up a case of eggs for the Marvell employees and drive them over there.

Afterward I do some grocery shopping at Safeway, as we are having dinner guests this evening.

2:00 : The too-few hours of sleep are catching up with me.  I’m fighting off Keith’s cold too, so I suddenly feel terribly tired. I take an hour nap.

3:00 : Back to the farm to work until dark.  I am trying to tidy up the place and get all of our seasonal equipment put in the barn for the winter.  Slowly but surely it’s looking better around there.

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5:00 : Keith is home from work already and has tidied up the whole house and set the table formally in anticipation of our dinner guests.  He is in the kitchen, frying bacon in butter against all common sense.  We have Julia Child’s Coq au Vin on the menu, as we’ve got a lot of stewing hens in the freezer and they are excellent for Coq au Vin.  I guess it isn’t technically Coq if you are using a hen, but I don’t speak much French.

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My major contribution to this meal was lighting the cognac on fire.  If you only get to have one part in cooking a meal, always try to get the part where you light food on fire.  Fortunately, I survived the fireworks with my eyebrows intact, and the Coq au Vin was amazing.

Follow this link to the recipe if you’d like to try your hand at Coq au Vin : http://www.wgbh.org/articles/Julia-Childs-Coq-au-Vin-Recipe-6971

Learn from the incredible Julia Child herself with this video:  http://www.wgbh.org/articles/The-French-Chef-Coq-au-Vin-6970

If you need a stewing hen for your Cognac-lighting adventure, you know where to go:  www.provenancefarm.com

6:50 : Our friends arrived for dinner.  They are another farming couple who have 30+ years of experience on us.  They mainly raise Angus beef and I have to tell you:  their beef is the finest.  We buy a few animals from them every year to finish on our own pastures and are always so pleased at the gentleness and quality of the cattle.

What do you feed cattle ranchers?  Chicken, of course!  (My grandfather the cattle rancher would not have approved).

We all wined and dined until nearly 11 pm and then parted ways.  I truly enjoy this time of year, because we and all our farmer friends are less busy and can afford time to spend visiting over a good meal.  The seasonality of farming is so good.  We all need a rest period after a Spring, Summer and Fall of hard work.

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Can you Jump-Rope Better Than a 5th Grader?

This is the blog post in which I demonstrate that I have no business being anywhere near a game of jump rope.  I’ll blame that on a crippling lack of playground skills, which clearly affects my adulthood.  Homeschoolers R Special!

The preface to this story is that Keith and I up and left our farm for two weeks in the hands of two very capable young men.  They have the added quality of being a little strange…which makes them all the more endearing.

Exhibit A:

My brother, Ethan

Exhibit B:

Our friend, Cameron. With a bucket of guts, natch.

With the farm in good hands, we betook ourselves to the sunny land of the Dominican Republic where January doesn’t exist.  It was so good.  We ate amazing food and spent time with great people.

Here are a few stories for your enjoyment…

I tried to be “cool Aunt Raquel” and brought my friends’ three-year-old a ballerina tutu for Christmas.  It didn’t go down like I planned.  First she laughed hysterically at the stupid skirt.  Then she finally tried it on and took a couple test spins – prima ballerina style.  Next thing you know, she’d twirled herself dizzy and fell off the steps.  Cue the black eye and split forehead.  Back to the drawing board for Christmas 2011.

Valery, right before she cracked her head open

You would not believe the sound systems people install in their vehicles in this country. For the most part, they’re pretty great systems too, despite the fact that Dominicans have this habit of turning up the music to the point of distortion and then just a little more.  You don’t need those eardrums, do you?    This beats all though:  a minivan, with a pimpin’ sound system taking up the whole back.   Eat your heart out, soccer moms!

If this came standard, I might just buy a minivan.

As seen during my daily jaunts through town:  the Dominican Egg-Delivery Vehicle.  I need me one of these little truck things for my Portland deliveries.  This would be okay on I-5, right?

Just imagine the repercussions of a collision!

And now to the part of the blog you’ve been waiting for.  I present to you, Myself, running in circles and clearly not understanding the rules of the game.

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Three Thousand Feet of Pipe

A recent project of ours has been laying pipe on our leased acreage.  I couldn’t get livestock out on pasture until I had a way to supply them with water, so I waltzed on down to the local irrigation store.  I think it’s safe to say that not very many people in my small town buy 1.5″ polypipe by the length of 3,000 feet, because they kind of looked at me funny.  Then they sent a semi truck to the farm with ten huge rolls of pipe.

That’s about the time I started sweating.

Because: oh my gosh – I have 3,000 feet of plastic pipe sitting outside of the barn.

And: I have a bill for $2,100 in my hand.

And: holy crap – I guess I’m really farming now.

It turns out that laying pipe is not very difficult.  It’s a full day of work to unroll that much pipe across two fifty acre fields, but there’s no better way to get an early Spring farmer’s tan.

(Next purchase: a marvelous new fashion trend called “tanktops”)

If we were ever debating the merits of buying the four-wheeler, that concern was laid to rest on this day.  Keith discovered (with much glee) that he could stack rolls of pipe three high on the ATV and tool around like he was driving a clown car.  It definitely saved time.  It also definitely looked ridiculous.

Trial run with two rolls of pipe:

Final run with three rolls of pipe.

I’m glad to say that I was proven wrong, and it was not in fact, a disaster.

We now have excellent water pressure filling stock tanks of the distant end of our field.  All in a day’s work!

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