Fruits and Haggis

Where to begin?  It’s been a long while since we last posted an update on the blog.  With the baby on the way, I’ve been excitedly preparing the house and farm for his arrival.  Shae has been handling all the silly details like what he’ll wear and eat and where he’ll sleep, but I’ve been hard at work planting.

As some of you may know (the old blog ‘CowsandEffect’ talked some about this), my first exposure to and love affair with agriculture was in orchards.  My mentor and advisor in electoral studies also proved to be my first agricultural mentor as he taught me to prune rare fruit trees while we discussed the merits of the single non-transferable vote versus open-list proportional representation systems.  All that said, I now have begun planting my own orchard around our little house, and it’s been a blast.

The first trees came to me through the largess of our friend Jack the Garden Coach whose home was too shaded to support the blood orange, Meyer lemon, Eureka Lemon, Keffir Lime, and fig he brought us.  It was wonderful to plant them right outside our bedroom window and imagine that as our son ages he’ll be able to tottle around the house with Iris and help himself to whatever he finds.  In fact, the thought was so much fun that a few days later Shae and I went out and spent our Valentine’s Day fund (and probably a couple birthday funds too) on a pluot, cherry, pear, persimmon, pomegranate, two blueberries, and two raspberries.

I’ve also been spending some time in our first garden!  Here on the new farm we’ve developed a wonderful relationship with our landlords and have been able to envision some long-term stability.  As such, as a surprise for Shae, I prepared a 25’x30’ garden and built a fence for it out eucalyptus posts and donated deer fencing from the wonderful couple that Jack the Garden Coach rents from.

The fence was incredibly easy to build (as all things are when you have the help of John from Santa Cruz), and is quite ingenious.  Eukalyptus is incredibly strong if it has a chance to stay dry, but will rot quickly if it gets and stays wet.   With that in mind, the fence is built so the posts sit atop rebar stakes that are driven into the ground to provide stability.  This allows the posts (which have a painted bottom) to sit on or slightly above the soil line and stay dry.  I really hope this model pans out, we are surrounded by these trees and they grow like weeds.  It would be amazing to do more construction with materials we have right here on the farm.

Last, we were able to revive a small tradition by celebrating our first Burns’ Supper this year in our new home.   Burns’ Supper is a Scottish tradition to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns (our national poet) and is usually quite an event with a great deal of pomp, poetry, and ceremonial toasts.  We opted for a simple affair, but stayed true to the principles.  We had some wonderful whisky on hand, my grandfather’s copy of Burns’ poems, and Shae stole the whole show by making a FANTASTIC haggis.  We had to cheat a bit by using a combination of lamb and pig organs, but it was amazing.  Shae even ended up eating it too!  There’s truly hope for this family.