Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fall Farm Days (With Slaughter) and Road Trip Down WA, OR and CA Coasts

This post is dedicated to reader Dee, who recently commented that they wished I would post more:)

I returned to Washington in July of last year after visiting the family in Ohio. I immediately drove from the airport out to Sedro-Wooley, WA to take a look-see at some puppies. They were the half nieces and nephews of Coco and I was already certain I wanted one, but had second pick of the litter and had to actually decide on one. Of course there is no proof of this, as all the photos of that trip and the tiny pup I brought home a week later were only on my phone, which I smashed to bits accidentally at the end of a hike. So. Here we are in maybe September or October. The pup's name is Birdie, and you can see her in Anna's lap with her Aunt Coco. You will see her one million more times because I take one million photos of her most all of the time.
 But first, one of my last Sundays working for the farm included my driving Alden to Seattle to meet up with his uncle. We took the ferry and choreographed perfect selfies. We had Breakfast at Hattie's Hat and generally enjoyed each other's company. When his uncle came to pick him up I had this realization that it might be near enough the last time I would ever see him, as I was going to be leaving his grandparents' farm and going who knows where exactly. It brought a few small tears to my eyes after they left. Alden's a great kid and I always enjoyed spending time with him and making weird jokes or singing weird songs or having him teach me not to be scared of a trampoline etc.
 Beware. The photos after this one features the realities of how animals are killed in order to be tasty. If you aren't into that, scroll through for a bit and then it'll be back to puppies and beaches.
 On another day Anna and I watched Erik kill and dress a lamb for (I think) a lamb roast (and if not that, then something else like it?). It was quick and done with little fuss. He shoots it first then slits its throat. I know that to some that's just hard to deal with or accept. But truly, the process was quick and the lamb suffered only in as far as it was dead. No prolonged pain or anything of the kind.
 Birdie wasn't worried about any of it as long as she got to lap up some blood.
Skinning a lamb is a pretty intensive undertaking. I've seen it done a few times but never have done it myself. We had collectively thought that we had chosen a pretty plump looking lamb but as the skinning went on, we realized that some of the lamb's apparent heft was a result of its having had quite a substantial breakfast. This became more apparent when dealing with the intestines...and the at least ten pounds of partially digested hay that swooshed out of the lamb and splashed Rodo, who always liked to be quite close to this kind of action.
 Right before the splash.
 Anna and Birdie getting a little distance.
 Another night I went over to Clare's for dinner. She made ribs and we drank wine and enjoyed their temporary house's view with cheese and crackers and other treats.
 Birdie tried to play with her pup.
 And later successfully humped him.
 At another juncture Birdie and I went to Orcas island to meet up with M. and A. and A.'s father and little M.

 They rented a house with a little pond tucked away at the end of a road. Good food and games and fun was had.
 Little M. is a Catan natural.
 Birdie wasn't sure exactly how she felt about this whole little person thing.
 But little M. made multiple attempts at friendliness.
 And also put on my shirt, my necklace, and at one point used my bra as a belt.
  We took a small walk at Moran State Park.
 Birdie gave M. a massage.
 And I insisted we take a picture. M. was pretty pregnant at this point. Since then their second child was born...on my birthday! He and I will be birthday siblings for ever.
 Then back to the farm where Lynn found an old holiday themed collar and gave it to Birdie, which she tolerated for a bit. It was like hearing Christmas coming at you no matter where you were. She loved Rodo, but Rodo didn't love her all that much.
 Then I had to figure out what I was doing with my life. I had two possible gigs to decide between and made my way down 101 and 1 to check out a farm in California. I took my sweet time to really enjoy the drive in a way I hadn't really done in previous trips up and down the coast. First I took the Pt. Angeles ferry and went to a game park reserve thing.
 It was a bit of a roller coaster. They start you out easy, driving by peacocks and coming across alpacas or llamas or the like (I bought a loaf of approved bread that I was then allowed to give to any animal). The rules were basically drive slow and only feed them the bread. The alpaca/llamas knew the drill and would saunter right up to and alongside the car but in an altogether aggressive way.
 There were also elk. This is a baby elk booping Birdie.
 And then there were the bison. Or buffalo? In that section there were a number of signs saying not to stop your car to feed them, that you had to keep driving slowly or all sorts of crazy would happen. I adhered to this, though driving slowly with a pup in your lap and animals around you and a burning desire to take photos does lead to some trouble. But then, what are you going to do? In any case, the series of photos beneath quite accurately captures the stages a solo driver with bread trying to take selfies with buffalo will probably experience.

1. Oh I can look nice while getting the buffalo into the photo. Great. I win at life.
 2. Oh my, this buffalo really wants the bread and is gonna invade my personal space. That's kind of funny.
 3. Oh my oh my oh my, really wants that bread and sure breathes hard.
 4. Oh Jesus God. This is a BUFFALO and it is intent on getting into my car and I need to stop taking photos but I can't because these might be the last moments of my life.
 5. FEAR. FEAR. Focus on driving. FEAR. How did this all go so terribly awry? I like this last one especially because I think you can really see the abject terror (and triple chin that always goes along with it) that I was at this point experiencing.

Buffalo didn't care one bit.
 Back safely to baby elk.
 Just one more time. When it was more fun and wacky than wacky and slightly terrifying.
 I stayed in Port Angeles for the night in a motel I would not recommend. I went to a local seafood joint by a marina and that was that.

 The next day I started out relatively early, as I had some miles to cover and a beach hike I wanted to fit into it all. This is some number of miles outside of Pt. Angeles, I forget if I had reached 101 yet or not.
 And then I took a hike to Third Beach, sadly adhering to the 'no dogs' rule and leaving Birdie in the car. I thought I had timed it so I could be there for low tide and walk south to a waterfall...but I did not time it right and it was mid- to high-tide and I wasn't wearing waders, so no waterfall for me.
 Still got to enjoy it. Saw a number of scruffy to really scruffy men on the beach. Thought about getting murdered. Didn't get murdered. Huzzah!
 Farther down the road we pulled over at another beach that allowed dogs. Birdie was 100% super pumped.
 Then, golly, we stayed somewhere in Washington. Westport I think. It was a fishing/crabbing hub. The motel I stayed in was no frills, but not sketchy. Birdie became a supine prairie dog.
 The motel at sunset.
 The next morning I scuttled right along. I think this is somewhere outside Raymond, WA.
 Birdie was a fairly good traveller on this trip, but would get antsy. I found that if I stopped and either did a nice 3-7 mile hike with her, that would help...or if I just stopped at a beach and let her run her crazy out, that would work too. So, yeah, we were driving down the coast and most all of the photos are of me or my dog (or the both of us) at the beach.
 Entertaining myself by looking terrible. Birdie is worried.
 I'm no longer looking like I"m about to cry, Birdie remains perplexed.
 Next stop was in Rockaway, Oregon, where I stopped at a place that sold oysters and crab and bought both.
 I shucked my own oysters and enjoyed the pre-steamed (in front of me) Dungeness crab while watching the world series semi-final playoffs? I think? I think it was before the real series began. Or maybe the first game? Who cares really. Not me. I was livin' large regardless of what was on television.
 Then I spent two nights in Yachats. I enjoyed the fermented options of Yachats brewing on one occasion, and a very little and no-frills seafood joint on another.
 And, surprise surprise, Birdie and I took some walks on a beach or five.

 Devil's Churn with random family.

 Birdie with dead bird.
 This is on a hike we took in Oregon in the dune country.
 And these are some dunes and the pup. I don't think the photos I chose to post really capture the scale of the dunes. They were epic in some places and quite a bit of work out to climb up in some cases. Oh well. You should go sometime and see for yourself.
 The interesting thing is that the dunes were actually a good number of miles away from the actual coast. We didn't actually make it all the way to the water, as the trail we were following got rather boggy and my hiking shoes aren't of the water-proof variety. Just hung out in the sand for a while and let Birdie run and run and run.

 Birdie was sooooooo happy.

 We made some new friends. This is outside the trees of mystery attraction, which we did not actually go and see. I've passed by it a few times and always think about actually stopping but then decide to just see trees for free.
 And a big tree for free I did see. One of many, but this was an officially 'big tree.'

 More big trees. In my previous drives in this area of 101/California, I'd mainly just driven and not allotted much time for actually walking amongst the trees. I was glad to make the time this round.
 Because it was very pretty and lush and quiet and beautiful. Like truly the sound quality was just something else.
 itttttty bitttty teeeeeny mushrooms! (my pinkie fingernail for scale)
 Elk in the same place I see them every time, by a campground and a little red building that may or may not have been a school house at one time. Yes. That is true, near Trinidad California. We were not the only ones pulled over on the side of the road to look at elk being elk (which included some humping). There were at least six other cars. Some folks were much braver and walking out towards them...but I was reluctant to get all that close.
 But not soooo reluctant that I didn't do a 'if I take a picture of you in front of the elk, will you take a picture of me in front of the elk' trade with a couple.
 After my nice stay in Yachats, I went kind of motel-budget for my next two nights. Stayed in Brookings, Oregon where I had a nice meal at Oxenfre Gastropub. And then Ft. Bragg where I had middling fish tacos and stayed at a motel that had pretty impressive gardens for being a motel across the street from a McDonalds. But my next two nights were something far more special. I booked a little house via Airbnb in the woods outside Point Arena California, which if I remember correctly is in Mendocino County. The owners gave me fairly good directions to get there, but I did manage to get into almost an insurmountable pickle when I missed the (very subtle) right for the house's 'driveway' and continued down the unpaved and super bumpy road long enough that I knew I had gone too far. Almost got the car stuck. BUT DID NOT. TRIUMPH!
 I couldn't get a decent photo, but from one of the windows you could just barely make out the horizon of ocean through miles and miles of trees. I ate cheese and drank wine and worked on one of my doodles. Snug as a bug while the less than ideal weather and mist did its thing outside.
 This is a random not chronological photo. At some point back on the farm I gave a farm tour to two ladies and Birdie kind of came along. The one woman had a very nice photo and took a few pictures and a few weeks later sent me a few. This was one that I just loved.
 And this is the ocean near Point Arena. Birdie and I went on a hike along the cliffs. It was stunning.
 I felt properly California hippie.

 The bed was lofted in the tiny house, and this is a view from it to the main area below.
 And another window from the bed.
 I continue to do these doodles, though during the holiday times in Ohio and Tennessee I started giving some away. But while in California I got kind of excited about how they could sort of be like a quilt.
 Back on the road after two lovely nights in the tiny house. Seriously, I found myself wishing I could have stayed a week, a month, forever, in that cozy tucked away spot. Sheep and cows with ocean views. In a perfect world, this is what I would want for myself: a farm with good pasture land in such a spot like this, with a tiny (or semi-tiny) house similar to the one above. I've been thinking a lot about my goals as of late. Trying to be slightly more concrete in terms of their feasibility and location and whether I am at all capable of reaching any of them. One day I'm convinced that I should stay out west forever and figure out a way to have a little homestead farm that I'm not trying to make a living off of. Another day I'll think I should move east and be closer to family and friends and the many babies they're all producing. And then another day I'll think I should move to Hawaii and just eat avocados all the time. Money is, of course, a large part of the issue. It's so hard to actually make a profit or even break even when you're farming, and if you're living in a place where land is cheap it often means your farther away from markets where people will spend bigger bucks to buy your products. I love that the majority of my working life is spent doing physical work or interacting/caring for animals. It benefits my mental health and physical health as well as my body image. I was a plumper person when working in an office, and I struggled with accepting that version of my body. But also hated exercising just for the sake of exercising, and didn't do it. Out here though, I love how strong I feel and don't mind any of it. So if I bought a plot not with the goal of it being a sustaining source of income, what would I be doing to make money? And how would that impact my physical life if I was spending more time doing something more sedentary? Dilemmas.

I've also, for quite a number of years, even in Philadelphia, thought about being a foster parent. And as I get older and seemingly nowhere closer to finding a partner who might want to knock me up, the sense that I could be of use to kids in crisis grows stronger. But that, too, takes money and time and an extra layer of stability that I've not quite reached as of yet. Many thoughts I'm having these days.
 I believe this was at a beach that had signs saying it was one of the most deadly in the state of California. Sneaker waves are a thing folks. We were not snuck upon and lived another day.
 And then I reached the Marin County farm that I was thinking about joining. They were a goat and sheep dairy operation outside of Petaluma, and it was really interesting to visit a larger operation. They had about 80 sheep and close to 200 goats. Fascinating to see a larger milking set up and so many more acres of pasture. It was a beautiful place and I enjoyed meeting the many folks involved with the farm, but it ultimately didn't feel like quite the right choice for me as far as learning new farm things.
 Pretty though.

1 comment:

Dee said...

Yay!!! The world didn't have to wait an entire year for a new post!!!

Life goals are quite strange and, in many cases, very intimidating to think about. Each year I see so many of mine sitting out there with no progress made toward them. Then I think about the ones I have accomplished, and I wonder if they count--i.e., are they the ones that matter?

Cute pup, by the way.