The farmer’s kitchen. A place of warmth all year ’round when we used to cook on wood stoves. Still a place of warmth at meal time, but there are so many other parts to it, and it’s not all about food. It’s about the workings of the farm and the place where everything is brought: to be cleaned, to be cared for, to be stored, to be dried, to be warmed, to be processed. Doesn’t sound like your kitchen?
What’s in your dish drainer? I bet you don’t have a drench gun for wormer and rings for canning jars next to the baby spoon! Of course, when I look up from the sink to the window ledge, I see the injection syringes drying next to the potted plant, the dried poppy heads now devoid of their seeds, and my sheep collection given to me largely by friends in support of our farm name, Leaping Lamb Farm.
Turning around I survey the ‘animal rescue’ area of the kitchen. There is a turkey sequestered in a cardboard box in the window bay and a chicken in a cage, both with heat lamps over them. I checked with another farmer. “Where do you keep your chicks, your bummer lambs, your injured animals when they are in need of attention?” The basement. Hmmm, we don’t have a basement, but I know other farmers who use their kitchen just as we do and sometimes even for baby calves. I find the linoleum floor makes it easier to clean and the location (not at the barn) makes it easier to creep down in the middle of the night to feed the baby lambs their bottle of milk warmed in the microwave overhead.
It seems expected that there would be dried oregano, with its purple flowers, and sage and mint tied in bunches hanging from nails pounded into the wood beams of the ceiling and wood posts exposed in the walls. Then there is the colorful feed corn hung everywhere there is a nail, to dry with the heat from the wood stove when it is first shucked. And at some point these things become ornamental and no longer visible except when needed for cooking or to the guest passing through a room.
There’s more. Jars of dried chilies rest on the counter when there is no room left in the pantry. These sit a-top the cheese kit waiting for the time when the neighbor’s goats have kids and we can try our hand at making goat cheese from the nanny’s milk. The orange press waits for oranges that our move to Oregon can’t promise, at least not from our own trees. It adds a farm kitchen touch all its own, partly because it’s ancient, and partly because it stirs memories of my grandfather’s kitchen that was always warm and always promised fresh-squeezed orange juice from this very press.
All the implements of a farming life and more reside side by side as if there were no purpose other than to be handy. The needles, the tools, the implements, the artwork – they all tell a story of life on the farm. With all this warmth and goodness, I wonder whatever possessed the writer of the song about the three blind mice, the farmer’s wife, and her carving knife…that was likely kept in the kitchen. On reflection, that is one weird song and stories about the mice in our kitchen are best saved for another time.
Photos: (top) above the sink; (middle) orange juicer; (bottom) family photos mixed with sheep
All rights reserved. Copyright 2011 Scottie Jones
We have had a leak in one of the upstairs bathrooms for a while now. Maybe five years. It’s not a problem unless it’s raining. Let’s just say that for the four months of summer, when we are relatively rain-free, we are good to go and the buckets and pans are stashed under the bathroom sink.
With the first rains of fall, I am back to digging around under the sink for my buckets.
It’s not that we have just left the roof to leak on its own. Each summer we climb up, way higher than I like to be, to add a bit more tar, a bit more glue, a bit more of anything we think might help. Is it a leak from the skylight or is it the actual asphalt tiles? Is it from the improperly set flashing or something else?
Short of taking all the roofing off, which could reveal far more of a horror than we are yet ready to tackle, tarps seemed the next best solution because, as I may have forgotten to mention, this is a bathroom our guests use, and that would also be my mother.
The leak(s) run right through the middle of the smallish room onto a carpet that begins to get soggy and then stained. We set the buckets and pans down for specific drips, but this means they have to be moved and then replaced if you happen to want to close the bathroom door! There’s an art to dodging the dishes. It’s not something you want to have to do in the dark, even with a night-light.
What I can say about tarps is that they work for a while. We have taken to tacking them down with wood strips because the coast winds come ripping up our valley in winter and, well, rip the tarp with ripping winds. Hence maybe the saying? We realize this is a temporary solution, but are lulled each time we tack down a new tarp.
Our neighbor thinks he has our solution and is willing to give it a shot next summer when the rain has stopped. We’ll try a ‘real’ roofing trick: tar paper. Since the roof is mostly hidden from view, I don’t think anyone will notice. It took us three years just to realize the roof wasn’t even shake like the rest!
I’m willing to go along with this scheme, as long as no one insists I climb up to confer (although it is a fabulous view of the farm!). When the rains start again, I’m good if I can look up at the ceiling and only see stains from our tarp and glue years.
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2011 Scottie Jones