All the Birds! And Newborns

Swainson’s Thrush, with his beautiful spiraling flute-like song, began singing among the Willows this past weekend. The time of his singing is relatively short, heralding the start of summer. Listen to his otherworldly and gorgeous song here.

The does are beginning to birth their fawns. Andy startled one that must have been almost newborn when he was mowing the front field. We trust its mother was nearby and quickly reunited with it.

Please, if you see a fawn by itself, leave it alone! Its mother is nearby, waiting for you to leave. A fawn will “freeze,” heartbeat dropping to quite slow if it feels threatened. Having little scent, this is its way of protecting itself from dogs, coyotes, other harm. Its mother is grazing somewhat nearby (as a nursing mom, she’s hungry!) but away from her fawn so as not to draw danger to it. Leave the fawn alone, and she’ll return to her baby soon enough.

Newborns abound. This evening as we were driving just south of Vashon Center, we were startled to see a Mama Mallard and a parade of 6-7 ducklings heading north along the bike lane. May you and your family stay safe, Mama Mallard!

What new life have you spotted in your neighborhood?

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Happy Fourth Of July

Ah, it’s a lovely cooler morning after the heat of earlier in the week. Flags fly in town. Andy and I walked to our new favorite bakery/cafe, Snapdragon.  We picked up some delicious pastries–a chocolate croissant, blueberry cinnamon swirl, and blueberry muffin–and brought them home to share, and to enjoy with our cubanos (an espresso drink made with two shots of espresso, a little brown sugar, and a little steamed milk). Just plain yum.

These days all of us working on the art of espresso making. Andy, who devoted himself to espresso making years ago, is coaching the rest of us in techniques he learned from Seattle espresso expert, David Schomer via his book Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques. We’re playing with the idea of hosting an espresso jam later in the summer.

We rounded out our breakfast at home with some duck egg-cheese-and-garlic omelets (thank you, Jazz, Unicron, and Hazelnut for laying the delicious eggs!). I enjoyed some toasted hazelnut sourdough bread, a new favorite, baked at Snapdragon.

Tonight of course we have fireworks to look forward to–our own, purchased from the stand down by the old Sound Food Restaurant–and also by way of the extravaganza at Quartermaster Harbor.

In the meantime, I’m tending to herbs I’ve dried, packaging up Spearmint, Sage, Chamomile, Red Clover, Violets (Johnny Jump-Ups) and Evening Primrose from the garden. I’m also working on my book, finishing up a chapter overhaul. I aim to have the manuscript complete by July 27, when we’ll be hosting a special Book Preview+Birthday Celebration event here at Plain Old Farm. Details coming soon!

Happy Fourth!

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Amri’s Photos At The Hardware Store Restaurant – This Month!

Amri has three photos in this month’s exhibit at the Hardware Store Restaurant in uptown Vashon. Be sure to drop by sometime this month–or on the First Friday if you can, for the Gallery Cruise–to view these photos by Amri and those by other islanders. The theme for the juried exhibit is “Water”, and all photos were taken on Vashon.

This exhibit is the culmination of the “Shoot To Show” class, taught by renowned island photographer, Ray Pfortner.

We’ll be there at 6pm, July 5, for the First Friday Gallery Cruise! Hope to see you too!

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Duck Eggs!

Our small propane-powered Swedish refrigerator (chosen because it’s silent!) is over-flowing in duck eggs. Our Easter Egger hens (Turtle and Kooshie) are five years old, and lay at a serene pace. Our Serama hens are forever broody. Our three female ducks each lay every day. Much as we enjoy duck eggs, we cannot keep up!

Our plight has inspired us to get going with selling our eggs. Our farm is located in a great area for having (eventually) a farmstand, but for now, an ice chest at the side of the road will do. Our bounty of eggs has stirred the coals of old dreams and memories in which sold produce and more when we found ourselves in abundance.

We can thank our ducks for inspiring us to bring our Plain Old Farm blog back to life.

If you live on our island and are interested in duck eggs, please contact us. We can give you a good price, and you’ll have the body-and-soul satisfaction from eating nourishing eggs from happy pasture-raised ducks!

Easter Eggs from our chickens and ducks ~ photo by Jane

Easter Eggs from our chickens and ducks ~ photo by Jane


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Goddess Dressing

Years ago our oldest child attended a Waldorf-inspired nature school.  One of the moms helped the kids make this delicious salad dressing.  When I make it, I can’t help eat gobs and gobs of greens!

Goddess Dressing

Makes 2 cups

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

1/2 c. vegetable oil (she uses sunflower oil – so do we!)

1/3 c. tahini

1/4 c. tamari

1 tbsp. finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 c. water

Blend until smooth.

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Starting to plan our farm

Passive Solar Bermed Home In Construction - Fall 2010

So, we’re having a passive solar bermed home built in the Pacific Northwest.  You might not think that this would be a sensible venture (how often does the sun shine amidst cloud cover and rain?).  But we have great southern exposure on this land, and all the calculations showed that we could have an effective passive solar home.

Sure enough, with the windows in and tarps pulled off, we’ve discovered that the house works.  Though temperatures have been below freezing to just at freezing, the indoor temperature (with no added heat!)  is around 67 F.  This is without the thermal mass even having had a chance to charge!    So the massive insulation of the berm, plus a well-insulated roof, and the winter sun coming in through the windows  is warming the house, and the house is holding in the warmth.  Amazing!

With the evidence that our home is now functional (if still incomplete inside!) we are now diving into plans for our move and what we’ll do when we arrive (around the Spring Equinox).  I’m starting to plan our herb garden, kitchen garden, and a chicken feed garden — on a smaller scale then we ultimately hope to maintain (we hope in time to grow much of our grains and vegetables — we’ll see: many of the grains will be an experiment).

And we are considering our farm animals.  Definitely we’ll have our chickens, but we’ll also dive into ducks (rabbits — for eating — too, sooner or later).  We passed some of this evening browsing breeds.  Welsh Harlequin ducks strike my fancy.  But so do the runner ducks, and several others …. Other family members have other favorites — like the call ducks ….

So much fun to dream!

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QuackStar was a funny duck.  He decided to join our family on May 31, 2009.  We were pretty startled when a day old duckling ran up to us!  We quickly became good friends.  He would follow us around the house, feet slapping on the floor, bill vacuuming lint and crumbs.  He loved water!

Baby QuackStar:

This is a photo of him looking cute:

Here is the last picture taken of him.  A friend took it the day he flew away to be a wild duck.

I miss him!

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A beautiful day!

Today was a perfect day to take pictures.  The photos I took were so clear and bright that I didn’t need to use any filters to enhance the color!

Chipmunk and Help hang out.

Lord Firestar.  This picture is beautiful!

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Poultry show!

We went to a poultry show today!  Here are a few of the millions of pictures I took!

This Call duck was adorable!

A true Ameraucana (bantam)! She was very interested and alert. Lovely to see.

I just loved this Delaware bantam!
I have plenty of pictures left to post but resizing takes time and not resizing takes space so you’ll have to be patient.

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Yikes is wise and funny.  She likes pecking shoes.

One of the biggest, Snowneck has a deep, grumbling voice and a huge appetite! She’s sweet and gentle, too!

She’s huge and strong! Her ambition is to hatch eggs… or never get another case of impacted crop.

Sleeve-Eater is calm and quiet. Her vocabulary largely consists of the words “hmmmm” and “booboop!”

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