Sharing the journey with friends who have similar farming practices is one of our great joys in this life. We are grateful to know so many amazing farmers, and we are glad for the exchange of love, support, knowledge, and information. Farming can kick the shit out of you, and it can lift you up above the sky; being able to share the highs and lows with peers is of utmost importance. Community is the ground in which mutual respect and love are cultivated, and the bounty is shared, whether it be lean or a time of plenty.
Earlier this week, we headed up to see our friends at Briceland Forest Farm to help slaughter two goats, one for their family and one for ours. We feel grateful for the life that these animals led and for the meat that they have provided, which will feed us this winter. We are grateful to Daniel and Taylor for having raised them, and we feel a sense of the sacred around the process of slaughtering and butchering. It is important for us to reflect on this process, and to hold deep respect within ourselves for both life and death.
We spent much of the day processing the rest of the meat and bones into freezer-ready packages. We used the Kitchen-Aid with the grinding attachment to grind meat and fat into a burger, along with cubing up chunks for stew. A few of the bones have been put into the stock pan, while the others were bagged up and frozen for making bone broth through the cold months. As the stockpot simmered, I chopped onions and garlic and sauteed them, adding in chunks of stew meat for browning while I cut up potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage. After these had been added to the pot, I poured some of the stock over them and set the stew to simmer until we were ready to eat it for dinner.
There is much to be said for carrying a process through from start to finish, whether it be slaughter and butchering, or a home-cooked meal, a crop rotation, a year on the farm, or a lifetime. We sally forth each day in an effort to do good work with our bodies so that we may reap what we sow. Though there is much uncertainty in life, we do the best that we can with the situations in which we find ourselves.
As harvest winds down and the days grow short, there is more time for reflection, for reading, for planning, for celebration. This year has been an intense one, and though it is not yet over, we are eager for the slowing down of the season. This last week brought closure to several projects that we have been working on throughout the year, and it is nice to see the horizon starting to lighten up from the heavy workload that we have been under.
This past week we finished filming for The Great Outdoor, and are looking forward to seeing the final episode soon. We also spent time with the folks from the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District on Saturday shooting footage for a Best Management Practices video for cannabis farms and rural gardeners. It is important for us to use our voices in support of sound practices and the journey towards regenerative agriculture, and we are glad for opportunities to engage and create media that carries the message.
In the week to come, we will continue sowing a cover crop, and we will harvest food for our community. We will cut the last of the cannabis stumps and direct seed salad mixes and hardy winter greens. By the end of the week, we will be within sight of the finish line for the season, at which point we can move into cleanup and maintenance. Winter work involves organizing tools and supplies, cleaning, making lists of things needed for next season, breaking down the parts of the water system that come in for winter, and pulling the irrigation from the cover cropped beds so that it is easier to prep in the spring. Our pasture projects will continue, and we will make some limited infrastructure upgrades. We will plan for the season to come, and we will enjoy the company of family and friends. As always, much love and great success to you on the journey!
Casey O’Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun&Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. He is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. You can find his radio show on podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud.