Thursday, July 28, 2011

Look At Those Melons

We have melons!

They're not ready yet, but Brian thinks they will be next week.

Of course, finding them might be a problem...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Art of Food

Big news... Susan and Dean left for vacation on Sunday, which means that we interns are officially running the farm for two weeks. We have not managed to burn down anything thus far. Hooray!

But that's not what I'm going to talk about today.

Today, we're going to talk about art.

So today while perusing one of my many food news sites, I came across an artist named Marcoooooo who is doing very interesting things with food.

Of course, I am still continuing my own personal food portrait project:

I'm calling them Jake and Elwood.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Color Me Happy: The Many Shades of Summer Produce

The tomatoes are finally coming in, and they are delicious.

Remember when I planted these back in May? They're taller than me now. Not like that's a big accomplishment or anything.

We also have eggplant (which I think look like little old ladies - can you see her?)...



(which are delicious cooked in olive oil over high heat and sprinkled with sea salt)...

...and copious amounts of basil.

Based on the taste explosions I've experienced thus far, the rest of summer is promising to be extremely tasty.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Little Cabin in the Woods: A Practical Guide to the Farm B&B

So in an interesting twist on the traditional farm business plan, Susan and Dean also have a cottage that they use as a B&B. And this week, I had the opportunity to stay there when my parents came to visit for a couple days.

Normally, my experience with the cottage has been limited to cleaning it. Staying there was phenomenal - leisurely breakfasts of farm-fresh eggs, sitting on the back deck with a steaming mug of tea and seeing a bald eagle fly down the Robinson River, staying up until midnight (gasp!) to finish reading my book. No internet, no phone. Pure heaven, if you ask me.

But quite apart from the very enjoyable act of inhabiting it, the cottage has something else going for it. It happens to be the most profitable enterprise on the farm.

A little background: the cottage started out as a small, delapidated A-frame back when Susan and Dean bought this property ten years ago. Based on the original cottage, they designed a new and improved model with significant expansions, including a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and back deck. Their daughter and her boyfriend did the actual construction, which included using timber from the property and reclaimed lumber (including chesnut).

Once the construction was finished, they had to purchase everything that goes inside: furniture, decor, linens, microwave, refrigerator, oven, plates, pots and pans, cutlery, games for the kids... well, to make a long story short, they dropped a pretty significant chunk of change on the place to get everything ready. And now, five years later, they have just finished paying it off.

That being said, the amount of money that they must put into the cottage now is minimal. Cleaning supplies, cute little bars of soap, food for the breakfasts (some of which - eggs, for example - comes from the farm)'s easy to see why, in terms of net profit, the cottage is the most profitable thing happening on the farm. It's also one of the enterprises that takes the least amount of time... and time, as we all know, is money. Especially on a farm.

So how much does an evening in the cottage go for, anyways? I think it's actually pretty reasonable. Sunday through Thursday is $110 a night, and Friday/Saturday are $150 a night, not including a 10% lodging tax.

Mostly the cottage guests are what Dean calls "refugees from DC". Lots of couples out for a romantic weekend, and families with small kids who want to help feed the animals. In any case, it's the perfect getaway for anyone who wants to turn off their phone and laptop for a few days.

It's no Red Roof Inn, thank God. You definitely get what you pay for, and then some.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lamb Chops? Not this girl.

Last week, we were eating dinner when Brian came in and said, "Um... I think Eunice is lambing." So we all ran outside, abandoning our meal to the flies.

AND she's a girl, so we get to keep her! Huzzah.

Look at those eyelashes. I'm in love.

180 degrees later in the circle of sheep life: on Saturday I went to Front Royal (about a 75 minute drive) to pick up Mr. Wether*, the lamb we dropped off last week who now resembles a cooler full of vacuum-sealed lamb chops.

Blue Ridge Meats, where Susan and Dean get their animals processed, is "humane certified". They don't use electric prods on the animals, they don't deny them food or water (some places do that because it apparently makes less of a mess on the kill floor), and they don't do anything to cause the animals any suffering. So I think I can enjoy a Mr. Wether burger without too much guilt.

*Wether: noun a male sheep who has had his bearings removed.