Welcoming New Life

There is no moon and the dark is so deep walking into the field feels like being swallowed.  I walk uphill and listen to my feet sweep the wet grass while bullfrogs throb a syncopation from the pond.  


This field is vast and while I know where I want to go, the dark is disorienting. Having lost the power of sight to the night I listen for the muted, murmured sounds of the sheep to draw me in; a flock never really stops talking to itself. 


Thirty heartbeats later, I'm at the edge of their paddock. I breath out and speak to the ewes in a low voice before scissor-hopping over their electric fence, happy to have cleared it completely.  It doesn't always happen that way and the result is, well, shocking. 


Now I need light and I switch on my headlamp. The night is suddenly alive with hundreds of eyes, a sea of startled fireflies. Among them I'm looking for one ewe. She started her labor earlier and should be lambing now if all is well. 


After a moment I spy a single pair of eyes, alone and adrift near the fence line. She turns her head away and the green-fire reflections blink out. I creep carefully close and I can see she is attending to something on the ground. She makes a low, chuckle-gurgle in the back of her throat, a sound ewes make only when they are talking to new lambs.  


I wait and again count my heartbeats to pass the time, twenty, thirty...fifty.  Then I hear the sound that cracks my shepherd heart every time, a bleating, pleading, ascending note that seems to be the birth song of all mammals. All is well and I retreat, happy to leave the ewe to the privacy of darkness and her time-old task.

Bon Voyage, Winter! A recipe to summon summer.

I have worn nearly every type of seasonal clothing this week. You?  Oh, NY state...
Last Friday it snowed, Monday was t-shirt weather, Wednesday required raincoats, and today I'm wearing a blanket over my shoulders as I sit to type because it's so cold in our house.  Maybe tomorrow will call for bikinis and we can finally get the grill out?    Actually, this weekend looks more like snowsuits than swimsuits. A chance of frozen mix on Sunday...! (Insert heavy sigh)

When I was a kid, my family had a weird tradition to help with morale when cold weather wanted to linger. We would crank up the wood stove, put on flip-flops. make summery BBQ food and have a "cook out" inside.  With music. It really helped chase away the last of the winter blues and reminded us of all the good times to come.  We called them "Go away winter!" parties.  Flowery shirts and swim trunks were encouraged.

I've decided to throw one of these parties for Adam, Silas and myself on Sunday.  I may have to wear heavy socks with my flip flops but so be it.  On the inside I will be dreaming of soon-to-come frisbee and firelight with friends.

I just went looking through my cookbooks for the recipe I want to use.  Nothing says summer like food on a stick, right?  This is a recipe to make your own stick food!  It's like bringing the fair to your house except you don't have to wonder what's in those things.  And you can cook it inside. 

Here's the recipe in case you want to throw your own party this weekend.  It's easy to make, VERY kid friendly, and oh-so-summery, even if you're wearing wool socks while you eat it. :)

No matter what the weather does, I hope you have a really nice weekend and get to do something that makes you happy.  We'll be at the final indoor Oneida County Public Market of the season on Saturday from 9am to 1pm.  Feel free to get in touch if we can bring you anything!  

And on Sunday, this farm family will be sporting sandals and enjoying some fun, spring-summoning food on a stick!  How about you?

All the best to you and yours.  See you soon!  :)


Quarry Brook Farms Go Away Winter Sticks*
Serves 4 to 5

1/2 cup cooked rice, oats, or quinoa (we like rice best)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley or 2 tablespoons dried
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped or 1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground cornmeal plus extra for coating
1 pound ground lamb or ground beef

In a bowl, thoroughly stir together the rice/quinoa/oats, egg, tomato sauce, lemon pepper, herbs, salt, pepper, and cornmeal.  Add the lamb/ground beef and mix well.

Shape into approximately 10 oblong balls.  Press the balls onto skewers and roll them in the extra cornmeal.  Broil (or grill) 3 to 4 minutes on each side until cooked through.  If you don't have skewers, cook them and then poke a fork into them to serve as a skewer.

That's it.  We like them with ketchup.  They are one of the few things we eat with ketchup.  Feel free to experiment, they're super tasty no matter what!
(*Adapted from The Grass Fed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes)