“When the wind is blowing in the east, ’tis not fit for man nor beast”

No words rang more true than when faced with this last weekend chores.  Rain, followed by ice, followed by snow…heavy, heavy snow.  The snow in places needed to be moved so I could feed the hay.  Normally that’s an easy task with our skid loader but ours doesn’t have ice skates. I’ve had some rough chore duty over the last 10 years but this one has stamped itself in my memory bank. I mean there were those days early on when we hadn’t moved to the farm yet and I drove each morning to chore.  The snow was so bad that I had to borrow a neighbor’s snow mobile just to get to the farm to feed the cows.  The time before that I parked my truck almost a mile away and walked thru snow drifts to get in.  And let’s not forget a few mud seasons ago where the snow and mud were so bad I literally lost my boot.  You know what I’m talking about.

Think back to your childhood when you had your rain boots on and you started playing in the mud.  That one mud puddle was just a bit deeper than you thought, a bit like quick sand, and it was fighting desperately to steal it.  Probably brings a smile to your face now thinking back?  Now do it in 33 degrees, at midnight, while checking cows that weigh 1200lbs.  I’m sure glad I was a lot younger back then…ready to conquer the new farming world and a bit ignorant.  Looking back, it was most likely a sign that farming is defiantly not rainbows and ponies, rather ice storms and cold cow poop.

We frost seeded some red clover into our pastures and hay ground just hours before the storm rolled in.  The “old timers” say if you get snow after you frost seed you’re guaranteed to get good seed to soil contact and thus good germination, and a viable, root worthy plant. At least one positive came out of this storm…and if you count the free nitrogen that comes along with snow that’s another positive.  See, look at that….yin yang in full display.  Funny how nature ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes.

On the food front, we are working on a wild sockeye salmon burger. Into the mix is honey, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper, sage and garlic.  I’ll play around with an avocado and cilantro cream sauce…throw in some pickled onion and cukes, maybe a real sourdough bun (looking for a bakery to make these if you know of anybody?) and we have ourselves a party.    This salmon is the trim you get once the filet is removed.  You take a spoon and scrap along the backbone to reveal the most tender, rich-flavored meat.  My Alaskan local hero and family we’ve worked with for over a decade, Liz Chase, calls it “spoon salmon” for obvious reasons.  I’ll tell Liz’s story another time but she’s the real deal…I believe her mom is 100% Inuit Native American.  I would love to hear the stories about Alaska from the way back.

I was hoping to get the laying hens out to pasture but the 10 day forecast is brutal.  I guess they will spend another few weeks in the hoop and around the cattle lot.  I see they have been ranging more and more each day….I bet they see the new slivers of green coming as well.  The cattle also seem to be eye balling the gates when we open and close them.  In the dead of winter I think they just know we bring the feed to them but their ruminant clocks must be ticking and they smell opening day for baseball is near.  In general, I think all animals this time of year are like us humans.  Enough is enough, open the gate already, bring on the green grass, let me go outside and play!