Tuesday, September 30, 2008

There was wine and there was music

and it happened at Saturday's "Wine and Music at the Farm" festival held at the Lighthouse Farm Animal Sanctuary in Scio, Oregon.

A number of us volunteer "die-hards" arrived early to help clean out the barn and do set-up. There's nothing quite like a layer of clean straw to freshen up a place:

It's hard to believe this structure had multiple paddocks and scores of animals in it just a few hours earlier:

Plastic chairs and bales of straw were arranged for seating:

Food and auction items were set up on tables:

Music was provided by this fun duo:

Interestingly, our very first guests hadn't RSVP'd as requested. Regardless, Spring and Summer, the goat sisters, were quite persistent about joining the party:

Spring couldn't understand why she was repeatedly denied entry:

Human families (yup, that's my mom!) enjoyed wandering the farm, getting to know all the friendly and appreciative furry and feathered faces:

Oyte, the mini donkey, made a new friend. These two stood like this for a long time:

Happy kids and happy animals - these things make me smile:

Luke the pig, abandoned as a tiny piglet in the city streets of downtown Portland, is a favorite among the kids. Of course, he loves the attention:

Do you remember me introducing Pepper about a month and a half ago? She's one of the two horses the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary recently rescued from starvation. She's still very underweight and requires extensive dental surgery, but she is already looking a lot better:

I had the opportunity to halter and lead her in front of the group so that Wayne, the founder of the sanctuary, could talk a bit about how she is faring since her rescue. She is the sweetest, gentlest horse I have been around in a long time:

My heart aches for all she has been through:
Jacks, the other horse rescued with Pepper, is looking wonderful:

It was a lively crowd for a while:

Yet, despite the fairly good turnout and a few generous souls, many people came early, ate the free food, visited with the animals, and then left without donating or contributing. Who am I to be angry or judgemental about this - everyone gives according to their ability, right? These are clearly tough financial times and I completely understand this, yet I still feel oddly taken advantage of. Maybe we didn't communicate our need well enough? I don't know. But let's hope that the people who felt unable to donate will instead give by spreading the word. Maybe they'll tell their families, friends, and colleagues about this farm and the vital role it plays in communities all across Oregon by caring for other people's neglected, abused and abandoned animals.

If the Lighthouse Farm didn't exist, who knows what would have happened to:

Oyte, the mini donkey, who used to guard a flock of sheep, but was abandoned by his family when they packed up their sheep and moved away - leaving him behind:

Jessie, the sheep, who fell off a truck and nobody noticed:

Chewy, the goat, abandoned by his owners:

and Roy, the steer who was on his way to slaughter:

These are just a few of the faces who have been rescued by this farm and are now able to live, free from hunger and fear, at the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary.

Goats and a boy

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's 88 degrees here...

...but the tell-tale signs of fall have begun to appear.
The maple tree leaves are turning:

Other trees are beginning to lose their leaves:

and those nasty Boxelder Bugs are back:

They cause no damage, but anything that swarms about my head as I walk by tends to freak me out a bit:

Oregon is known for summer weather that can extend sometimes into October. My garden is loving this.

I can smell the grapes now when I pass by:

The pears are ripening:

...and the (from left to right) cucumber, lemon cucumbers and birdhouse gourds are going strong:

I grew the birdhouse gourd plants as a fun experiment and they clearly like it here. This plant is growing up into the apple tree:

Tender zucchini is ready for the picking:

and the yellow squash is growing like mad:

These are another garden first for me:

...which is why I am concerned and confused that some of the yellow squash appear to be molding on the vine:

The red bell pepper plant is still producing. The peppers are quite small but delicious:

All my fussing about not having any ripe tomatoes has ceased. We're getting delicious La Roma and Yellow Boy tomatoes:

And we'll be swimming in cherry tomatoes soon:

So, even though fall officially started a week ago, summer in Oregon continues...

The bees are still doing their thing:

The donkeys are still running:

and when they're not running, they're wrestling:

and when they're not wrestling, they're playing ball:

The chickens are still free-ranging in the sun:

And farmgirl Roxy still gets to hang her head out the window when we go for a ride:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wine and Music at the Farm!

No, not at my Critter Farm...but at another farm that means a lot to me - and to scores of formerly abused, neglected, and abandoned farm animals.

Today is the Lighthouse Farm Animal Sanctuary's biggest event of the year: Wine & Music at the Farm! Last year was a blast and, as always, it is simply delightful to wander the farm visiting and petting many of the 100+ animals who have been fortunate enough to find refuge at this peaceful place:

These llamas remind me of Pistol, my donkey, who will always offer visitors the opportunity to scratch his hind-end. I wonder if llamas like that sort of thing, too?:

Here are the details for today if anyone should happen to be in the neighborhood :-) :

Date of Event: Saturday, September 27, 2008
Time of Event: 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Cost: FREE

From the Lighthouse website:
"The Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary’s Annual Wine and Music at the Farm “FUN”draiser is almost upon us. To make this year’s event more enjoyable, we’ve added more activities such as a hay ride, increased our hours and it is FREE!

Also this year, we are making the event available to the whole family, although an ID will be required to purchase wine. Food, wine and entertainment - as well as a handmade quilt raffle and silent and oral auctions - will be the main focus of this event. However, don’t forget you’ll be able to meet and greet the animals that now call the sanctuary their home.

This year’s entertainment will be the lively McG’s of Eugene. Fiddle player Hannah McGowan has joined with her father, Sean McGowan, on a voyage of musical discovery through Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. Come along as they present traditional music of Britain and beyond.

Tax dollars do not fund these animals in need. Your hearts do. We hope to see you there!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simply the best meal ever

Let me just preface this by saying that I don't consider myself the greatest cook. I'm not even one for great experimentation in the kitchen, but I do like to try new recipes every now and then and I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for that "signature" dish that my family will love. You know the kind...the one I will be asked to make again and again (and again). Well, I think I've finally found that signature dish.

I can always count on my blogging pal, Judy, from NoFearEntertaining. I love her site because I am always able to find a yummy, fun recipe to try. She has *never* steered me wrong when it comes to cooking up something tasty.
My latest experiment was no different.

So what was this grand meal I made? I made Souvlaki -for the first time- using THIS amazing recipe courtesy of Judy's friend, Peter. Now, I've never been much of a pork fan, but the taste of this is beyond belief. I found some pork strips (labeled "Pork Shoulder" from Costco) and went from there.

The only changes I made to the recipe noted below is that I used "Mediterranean" oregano instead of "Greek" oregano:

and I marinaded the meat for two days (accidentally):

Jim grilled the skewers on the barbecue and, as you can see, they turned out fantastic:

As chance would have it, Judy had just posted another recipe that I wanted to try, too, and it complemented my main dish perfectly: Tomato,onion and cucumber salad. What made me smile extra big was that all the main ingredients came fresh from my garden!

The dressing is so simple, uses very few ingredients - and I got to use that cool Mediterranean oregano again!:

I added yellow pear tomatoes to this, some lemon cucumber as well as green cucumber, and used green onions instead of red. The result was a very colorful salad:

My mom joined us for this meal and she's been begging me for these recipes ever since, so....here you go, Mom!:

Pork Souvlaki

1 boneless pork butt (shoulder)
1 medium onion, grated
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping tsp. salt
1 heaping tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 heaping tsp. dried Greek oregano
wooden skewers (soaked overnight)

1) Trim excess fat from your pork shoulder and cut into uniform pieces.
2) In a large bowl, add your marinade ingredients along with the pork pieces and toss to mix and coat all the meat. Place in the fridge for at least 5 hours and for best results, overnight.
3) Place your wooden skewers in a shallow baking dish that's filled with water. Allow the wooden skewers to soak overnight (so they don't disintegrate when grilling).
4) The next day, a couple of hours before you are going to grill your souvlaki, allow the pork to come to room temperature and then start skewering your meat (it's easier when your meat is at room temperature).
5) Pre-heat your gas grill (or prepare your charcoal grill) and when you have a medium-high heat, grill your souvlakia for 3-4 minutes a side and then keep warm until all the souvlaki are cooked.
6) Squeeze fresh lemon juice on your souvlakia with a sprinkle of fine sea salt and dried Greek oregano.
7) Serve with some crusty bread and Tzatziki.

Judy's Tomato, onion and cucumber salad:

It is such a simple recipe:
You need tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. Slice and place in a large flat container. A glass 8X8 cake pan works great.

Salad Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup white vinegar
5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the sliced of tomato, onion and cucumber. Place in fridge for an hour or so before serving. Stirring frequently to make sure the flavors are well blended.

In addition to the Souvlaki and tomato salad, we had some roasted red-pepper hummous, tzatziki made by my mom (yum), and some middle eastern flat bread.

My mouth is watering just from writing to you about this meal. It was that good.