My “weekend” (Wednesday and Thursday) are highly savored and warmly welcomed days in my week. These are my days to fully immerse myself in good health, food preservation, or just overall mental relaxation. Some times, though, I am lucky enough to combine them all into one beautiful soul-fulfilling day. Yesterday was one of those days…
I awoke in the morning, after a solid ten hours of sleep, to the sunshine peering in through my curtains, warming my body just enough to remind me that the hours of wake can be just as satisfying and mystical as those spent in REM. I made a filling breakfast of potatoes I pulled from the ground the day earlier pan friend with farmers market onions and garlic, scrambled Sweet Briar eggs that were almost orange because of the richness of the yolk, and a ripe juicy nectarine from my friends at the Farm in the Clouds. I knew I needed a big breakfast to get me through my adventures that day. I ate my breakfast in the warmth of the sun, lounging in my hammock…I love my mornings.
When I finished, it was down to “business” (I can hardly call it that without feeling the guilt of the possibility of my manipulating you into thinking that this “work” is difficult or even not pleasurable). I called my coworkers mother who lives on a farm in Junction City that gladly gives out raw milk and eggs. I accidentally ended up taking a back road out to her farm, the Northwest Expressway, which is less an “expressway” and more a “way of expressing” the beauty of Eugene and Junction City. I drove along fields of wheat and farms with horses and cattle. It took me about 20-30 minutes to reach her farm, passing a few tree “farms” and wineries. Upon arriving at the farm, I.Was.Speechless. This place is absolutely gorgeous, and my coworkers mother radiated a kind of warmth that immediately made me feel like I needed to be out here much much more. She led me to the barn and obtained 3 large gallons of milk (one for me, one for some friends at work, and one for a lucky other). She told me she milks twice a day, and “oh, you didn’t bring a cooler, well I can’t give you the milk from this morning it needs to be colder, is the stuff from yesterday ok?” “Uh…. Yeah! I think so.” I also asked about eggs, and she told me she wasn’t sure if she had enough in the house but, “well, lets go check the coop. oh, here we go, you want two dozen? yeah i think we should have that,” as she gently shifts a hen and tells her politely that we need her eggs and she is gonna have to move for a second and, “I am sorry, you gotta move honey.” I love this farm and I love this woman. She takes me inside of her absolutely gorgeous home where I pass a wall of canning jars, and end up in the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen. She washes off my eggs and hands me two dozen. I ask her about her canning and she says she always makes her own broth, and I question the safety of it, and she tells me sternly, “90 minutes at 15lbs pressure or 110 minutes at 10lbs pressure, thats all you gotta remember, don’t let them freak you out, I have been doing it for years.” I am now so in love with this farm and this woman that I am immediately compelled to ask if she needs help ever, and she tells me anytime I want to come help in the garden I am more than welcome to, and I can take as many vegetables as I want. (Uh oh, lady, wrong answer…) So, I think I will be out during my next “weekend” to help out and learn more about farming. I am so excited to have this new experience in my life and know that I will learn a lot from this wonderful place and woman.
After saying goodbye, I headed home on a different road. This one more beautiful than the first. Forests and farms and lakes. Gorgeous. How can I live somewhere for four years and not know the beauty of somewhere 30 miles from me….
I dropped off the milk, and started on the next part of my journey: picking 50lbs of peaches. I got to Detering Orchards and found out that the farm does in fact spray. I was disappointed, but they said they only “pretreat” and never spray once the trees flower and begin bearing fruit. I had to make one of those tough locavore decisions, and decided that I could not get peaches anywhere else in Eugene without being sprayed or costing up to 4 dollars a pound, so I decided to pick. I figured I would not be ingesting the spray, the farm does not typically use sprays, and for the price I could eat peaches for much of the winter (not to mention I already promised my boss 20lbs of peaches…). So, I picked and picked and picked, it took me a long time because I was looking for the most perfectly ripe peaches, later to learn that I should have picked them more green, because “honey, you can just leave them on your counter if you want them to get riper…” Oh, well live and learn! So with a grand total of about 50lbs of peaches and 10lbs of blueberries I only owed 66 dollars. Darn good deal if you ask me.
I went home and was invited over to can with some friends. They did purple and green dilly beans and then, the real fun began. Peaches are no easy feat: blanching, halving, removing the most stubborn pits I have ever experienced, skinning, soaking in lemon water to retain color, coring out the hard inner flesh, trying to keep them pretty, realizing they won’t be pretty, deciding to chop them, packing in jar, covering with light syrup of honey and water (1:4), and finally hot water bathing. Wow… So glad my girls were there to help (thanks…!).
To top off a perfect day, the rain began to fall lightly with a warm breeze, yet the night sky was almost completely void of clouds, making the distant lightening shine across the entirety of the sky, and also the knowledge that today will be another perfect day. Sipping my perfectly made hazelnut milk latte at Wandering goat today, I am already planning to can some purple pole beans, hike Spencers Butte, go to Urban Farm, and top off my day by the river picking those perfect late summer berry, Blackberries. Happy Summer!