Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Few Snaps from the Farm

By this point in the season frosts are a regular occurrence at night. We've established the big masonry heater's cycle: one or two firings a day distribute heat through its several tons of stone, brick, and plaster. The heat then slowly radiates out over the next twelve or twenty-four hours. I'm now sleeping in the loft above the kitchen, the warmest place on the farm. Sacks of grain and piles of winter squash surround me: my bedroom is made of food. On the chilly, gray days a spittle of rain makes it feel like potato country--the highlands of Ecuador, or Ireland. The sunny days reveal an atmosphere completely clear of haze, dust, or anything but light. These days are our last chance to jump in the river and dry off on a warm rock during siesta.

The shots below are from many weeks ago, when we were deep into the rye harvest. The machine Alex is working with is the steampunk thresher I mentioned in a previous post. I used it to thresh and winnow all the buckwheat and some random grains left over from last season: wheat, oats, and Austrian field peas.
On Alex's birthday (March 6th) we had an asado (barbecue), the default format for any Patagonian get-together. On the grill were chorizo and local lamb, but the real star was in the barrel oven inside: one of our own geese. At one point a visitor called our five geese "the nuns of the farm" because they totter around from here to there with their heads held erect and their wings folded properly. But they are really the hooligans of the farm. The geese find any opportunity to hinchar las pelotas (literally, "swell the balls"): they ate half the wheat, a bunch of the corn, and they regularly attack chickens, tearing out their feathers. So Alex had been looking forward to diminishing their numbers. The goose was delicious, thanks, perhaps, to all the wheat it ate in its lifetime.
Below are some of the many ferments to be found on the farm at any one time: sauerkraut, sourdough starter, and juice kefir (which we flavor with whatever fruit we have around; some flavors have been blackberry, lemon, apple, elderberry, rosehip, peach, and raisin). We also made a killer batch of kimchee at one point. A couple of meads are getting started, and we're trying to drink a dry rosehip wine that's been sitting around for a year or so. Alex also recently shared a special ferment on the occasion of an herbal meadmaking workshop we held at the farm: a four-year-old mead fermented with the whole hive, angry bees and all. It was intense and delicious.

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