Today I had the great pleasure of viewing orchids of every kind at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus. Red, pink, orange, yellow, purple – it was a journey through the rainbow. And yes, that sounds cheesy. But there were colors everywhere, and staring at gray clouds and snow for the past few days has made me yearn for something bright. And these orchids hit the spot!
All these orchids got me to thinking about growing this season. And I got a little excited. (I also bought a bulb for a plant, that when it reaches maturity, will smell like rotten meat. Hello!) I love orchids but have no clue how to grow them. They need some specific heat, their watering is an issue and they need special soil. That’s a trifecta of trouble for me. If it needs more work then just a simple plop in the ground with some compost and the occasional water, it’s asking for a lot. Just ask that poor skeleton of a staghorn fern on the floor of the screened-in porch.
It’s a shame that these beautiful plants have become expendable. You can buy them at Lowes, and like the often trashed poinsettia, get enjoyed while its bloom is bright and meets the Hefty when those petals hit the floor. I feel bad for those orchids, and so I never buy them. But they’re pretty. I guess I’ll just have to appreciate them in the botanical gardens. And from these pictures, they certainly put on a show today!
I hate the idea of bread pudding but love the taste of it. Because of this, I usually don’t make it. But in a bind the other day for a breakfast recipe, I whipped up a batch of individual cinnamon roll bread puddings. And they turned out delicious!
Below is a recipe. It’s one part common sense, one part experimentation.
“Flexible” Bread Pudding – 4 individual servings
Remember, I’m no chef. This recipe is meant to be played with – add or subtract as you see fit.
You could throw some chocolate chips in the mix, add some pre-cooked sausage or get rid of the dried fruit. It’s your bread pudding, not mine. Enjoy it!
I’ve been thinking a lot about jewelry these days. Beautiful bobbles. While I love the concept of an uber-large jaguar Cartier brooch, I wonder what I would actually do with it. Sure, you can wear it to bed. But the reason to have such fabulous jewelry is to show it off to all your friends and make your enemies jealous. But llamas really don’t care about emeralds. And goats would probably just eat sapphires.
And then you have to insure it ’cause lord knows we loose things left and right in this house. I wouldn’t put it past those kittens to hit the Crimson Star of Siberia under the GE Clearance Refrigerator in our kitchen. We’d find it years later, I’d wear it to Ruby Tuesdays, everyone would think it was fake, and then it would be put away. And a kitten would find it again.
To all you lovelies out there interested in buying me something beautiful, I’m in love with Cartier these days. Tiffany’s has become too mainstream. There are too many wedding cakes and fantasy tablescapes on Pinterest in Tiffany “blue.” There are too many sorority girls at second tier state schools wearing Tiffany bangle bracelets, clinking carefree against their Coach purses. I don’t mean to hate, but when your shop starts popping up in high-end luxury malls across this great nation, you’ve become a little mainstream for my tastes. Cartier, Harry Winston, take me away. No one on the red carpet says their wearing Tiffany earrings, Paloma Picasso collection.
But I digress. I just want beautiful things. Just like everyone else. I could care less about electronics. I hate Precious Moments. I do like art. And antiques. And jewelry. And wine. While these have nothing to do with the bed and breakfast, or anything with the farm, sometimes you need to think further afield then the pasture outside your door. Maybe even to the emerald fields of Madagascar. Or the asphalt of 5th Avenue.
Owning a farm in the winter stinks. One day there’s snow. The next it melts. Then maybe we get some rain. Then, invariably, the mud comes. And sure, that mud may stick around for a few days. But then the snow returns. Cleaning barns and stalls can be pretty tricky during this ugly winter cycle. Not only tricky, but miserable.
It’s even worse when your animals are on the farm to live happily ever after. It may sound a tad selfish, but you still get up to feed them, carry water to them, and do all the normal chores without being able to enjoy them. They don’t want to be outside any more than I do. When they see me coming, they scream. I dispense food accordingly. And then it’s as if I was never there. At least until the next time they start screaming for food.
And don’t even get me started on their feet. The goats need some hoof trimming. But it’s impossible to do it while it snows. And it can be almost as hard in the mud. You can’t really trap them in the barn either, as they know when they see two people coming that something’s amiss and they scatter. So they walk with over-grown hooves until an opportunity presents itself. I’m still waiting for that opportunity.
So we wait. For the snow to melt. For the ground to harden. For the grass to grow. And for life on the farm to return to normal – when we can concern ourselves with fans and keeping animals cool – instead of working on keeping water unfrozen and chiseling away at petrified donkey manure. It’s only a matter of time, but it would be great to know if was coming sooner, rather than later.
We’ve had an alpaca die. From illness to death, it all took about 24 hours. She ate some bad spores…and they floated to her brain. She couldn’t walk or hold up her head. The last thing she did before she died, sometime during the night, was turn her body 90 degrees to look at her baby in the pen next to her. It’s all very tragic. Her baby, Snickers, is still calling for her. If for no other reason, she’s being weaned at this very moment – from necessity, of course.
Yesterday I also heard one of my guineas being killed by a mink at 3 in the morning. There was nothing I could do once I heard it. So he (or she) fell to the mink. In related news, we had placed a mink trap next to what we believed was his (or her) liar entrance, and the the snow covered it. Yesterday, the rain melted that snow, and a sheep walked into the trap.
Oh, he’s alright. He’s running around. Apparently, the trap snapped on him in a lucky way. The mink still lives.
So, to recap, we have a murdered guinea, a dead alpaca, and a sheep in a mink trap. It’s one of those days where looking at a 2-hour commute and a broken-down subway train seems good. I understand the whole “living on the farm and animals die” mentality. But they die because you send them to slaughter. They don’t die because a hateful mold had worked its way into an animals brain. Many food producers don’t hold an animals head in their lap as they’re dying. I’ve done it twice now. Immediate illness is horrible. For the animal, it’s probably good. For the caretaker it’s sudden and terrible.
And so we trudge forward at Orchard House. And every experience, even those of the most tragic persuasion, teach us a new lesson. While it seems cheesy to broaden yesterdays experiences to a larger context, I will. Life is fleeting. What was a vibrant, attentive mother alpaca is now in my pick-up waiting to be cremated. And it all happened in less than 24 hours. Her legacy adds to my collective knowledge as a farmer, but I’d much rather have her alive. And her 5-month old baby, screaming for her to return, running back into the stall she shared with her mother – only to learn it’s empty, would like yesterday to have never happened.