Monday, September 13, 2010

Goats Running Amuck

As usual, last night I began the evening chore routine by chopping carrots and a banana for Salsa, a treat that she enjoys (none of the other goats will eat them).  After I was done, I started out the door to begin setting up food and fresh water and bedding in the barn, and Becca went out the back door, saying, “Mom, I’m going outside.”  Okay.

After putting the fresh cut fruit and veggies and milk bucket, etc. at the milk stand, I headed to the grain shed, and was surprised to see Becca on her way to the barn with grain and hay.  Cool.  She was getting a head start!  When I started to the barn to help, she shooed me away.  “No, Mom, I can do it.”  Um, okay.  She won’t let me help with the barn, so I’ll do the chickens - okay with her?  Yes.

By the time I was done feeding and putting fresh water in for the chickens, tucking them into the coop, it was time to get the bucklings from their pen.  Becca was on her way to the gate, putting my gloves on.  Let me back up a little to note that we now don gloves when handling the bucklings.  Their “lovely” aroma is hard to get rid of, so we take as many precautions as possible to avoid smelling like buck.  As I approached the pen, she asked me to go away, because she wanted to do it herself.  “Are you sure?”  She’d never done this part by herself before, and it can be tricky.  Yes, she was sure.  Go away, basically.

I went to the faucet to turn off the water for the night, keeping a close eye on what she was doing.  Smooth as silk, she had the leashes on them, and started walking them down the driveway toward the barn, both acting like proper little gentlemen.  Smelly gentlemen, but with manners, nonetheless.  Even Ebony was behaving himself, not trying to jump on the back of his brother and attempt unspeakable acts.

She said that I could do the milking, so I waited on the deck for her to get the rest of the goats out and set Salsa up on the milk stand.  She put the hobble on, cleaned her for me, and then walked up to me with a smile and the sanitizer spray bottle in her hands.  She said, “Hold out your hands.”  I did, and she sprayed my hands and said I could get up.  I was laughing so hard.

I figured that episode was an interesting one-time modification in our routine; however, Becca wanted to repeat it tonight.  She insisted on handling the bucklings again herself.  This time, she walked them to about 50 feet from the barn, and decided to remove their leashes so they would - presumably - run into the barn on their own.  It didn’t work out that way.  The leashes came off, and they wandered off to the side to nibble on weeds.  When I approached she said, “No, Mom, let me handle it,” and swung the leashes around, which usually puts enough pressure on goats for them to move away - toward the barn.  But these are young bucklings, and they went the OTHER direction - at a mad run.  There was no way I could catch either one as they rushed by me, and I turned around and started running after them, cowboy boots pounding on the gravel.  I shouted, “Keep them away from the does!” as I saw them head that direction.

Fortunately, they ran around the back of the house instead, and I heard them clip clopping their way across the deck.  As Becca rounded the far side of the house, they ran back toward me, doing their little deer/bunny hops and kicking up their heels.  I was able to grab collars, and Becca put the leashes back on.  She was somewhat upset that I’d caught them, when she wanted to do it herself, so I let her handle getting them back to the barn on her own, staying far away.

Becca wanted to get the rest of the goats out, so I set up the milk stand and waited for Salsa to come.  And waited.  I took a look at the goat pen, and Becca had let all the goats out but Imbri, but they weren’t coming my direction, just wandering about.  When Becca started to shoo them my direction, they did what the bucklings had done, and it was a mad dash around the house - this time four goats instead of two.  I got Salsa to come to me, and loaded her onto the milk stand, while Becca chased goats up and down the driveway and around the house.  She caught Lily, and was walking her down the driveway.  Lily started choking herself by pulling against her collar, and I saw Becca stop and lean over her, stroking Lily's sides gently to calm her down.  They walked calmly out of sight, and I turned my attention to Salsa again, while thinking that Becca is a “good goat mama.”  Then I heard galloping hooves, and looked up to see Lily dashing by like she was running for the roses.  I bent my head down and laughed quietly, but really hard.  As Becca walked by, she said “Stop laughing!”  I looked at her over Salsa's back, and she had the biggest grin on her face, which made both of us laugh even harder.

Becca got a good workout, chasing those three remaining goats around until they finally went into the barn, and I was very entertained, watching them running headlong up and down the driveway with her in hot pursuit.  After all the goats had disappeared with her around the corner, there was quiet, the barn door closing, and then a scream.  It didn’t sound like she was scared, but I wasn’t sure, so I yelled, “Are you okay?” while getting ready to get up and help if needed.  She rounded the corner and said, “Yeah, that was just a yell of VICTORY!  You should try it sometime, Mom.  It’s very freeing.”

A friend has often told me that we should have a web cam here, to catch some of our crazy adventures.  As I tucked the last goat in for the evening, I thought, “This was a night for the web cam.”  Maybe some day.  Or maybe some of these things are best left to the imagination.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Farm Fresh Weekend!

This has turned out to be a Farm Fresh Kitchen Weekend.  A really satisfying weekend, overall!

It started Friday night, when I started a batch of chevre (goat cheese) for one of the attorneys at my office.  I had brought some chevre to share at a birthday gathering last month, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  She asked if they could buy some cheese from me for a birthday party.  I told her I can’t sell cheese, and can’t guarantee yet that I can produce a good batch consistently, but if I could do it, I would like to offer them some as a birthday gift.  She was delighted!  Last weekend, I made a batch that turned out horrible.  It was a rare hot day, and the heat in the house just basically curdled it, and not in a good way.  The party was the 12th, so I knew that if I was going to be successful I would need to start it Friday night.

Well, I learned that the best way (for me, at least) to make chevre is to do it this way - overnight.  I heated the milk, added the culture and rennet, and then it was able to sit overnight for the requisite 8-12 hours.  Draining took another couple of hours, and voila!  It turned out wonderful.  I love the smooth, fresh taste of this homemade chevre.  It is so good just on its own and on crackers or french bread.  I was so excited to be able to call and let her know that we had chevre success!  Becca and I were getting ready to go to the feed store, so I asked if we could drop it off for her.  The timing worked out well, so I put the container in a cold sack with an ice pack (it was pretty hot here yesterday) and headed to Santa Rosa.  She and her partner are always so gracious, and I was happy to see the smiles on their faces and the appreciation of what I had done.  She said what made it so special is that she knows that I am out there in the early morning, milking my goats by hand, and that I take care and pride in them and in the products I make with their milk.  It meant a lot to me that she was aware of not only the time it took to make the cheese, but the love and care that goes into the production of the milk itself.

We headed off to the feed store to pick up food for the critters:  alfalfa for the goats, chicken feed, and cat food.  Last time I bought chicken feed, I discovered that Western Farm Center in old town Santa Rosa carries organic feed, and I was really happy to get that for my chickens.  I was even more happy to see that it came from Hunt & Behrens in Petaluma.  Organic AND local!  The perfect combination.  I don’t usually frequent Western Farms, unless there’s something I need to pick up on my lunch hour or they have something special no one else does, so I asked at my usual feed store if they were carrying organic feed yet.  That was confirmed a couple weeks ago, so I headed there for our shopping this weekend.  They always load my truck for me, so I don’t usually see what’s back there until I get home.  I was disappointed to see a different bag for the chicken feed, and even more so when I examined it.  This was shipped to California from Missouri.  Why, when there is a local producer?  I’ll ask them to look into picking up the feed from Petaluma, or I’ll just start getting it at Western Farm.  The price is about the same.

Unloading the truck needed to wait until Sunday, as by the time we got home, it was time to take care of the animals for the evening.  I had also finally unloaded all the beautiful things that we brought home from Gail’s last weekend, and I couldn’t face moving things out of the truck again.  I had such a good time in the morning, though, appreciating each thing and finding a place for it at the house.  The rocking chair has become a favorite retreat for both me and Becca on the front porch.

I am tickled with the shelf, pitcher and pots that Gail sent home, and am looking forward to filling those pots with living and wonderful things.  I used the enamel cookpot for the chevre, and find it to be the best pot, ever.  The wagon wheels look good by the front of the house where I am hoping to add a fountain.  There is still so much to do here, but I am really enjoying it!

I was so pleased with the chevre I made, I wanted some for myself, so I started another batch last night.  I was hoping to start it with last night's milking, but Imbri had other ideas.  I should have known better to stay alert when milking her last night.  When I placed her feet on the milkstand before washing her and my hands, she moved her foot.  I firmly picked it up and placed it back, which usually takes care of the matter.  I was almost done milking when a song came on the Blackberry that I wanted to make sure I had “liked” for Pandora, so I paused momentarily to grab it.  That’s all it took.  I looked back just in time to see her foot move directly into the milk pail.  Oooooohhhhh, I was so frustrated!  There is no way to recover from a move like that, and nothing to do but let the milk go to waste.  Taught me a good lesson, tho’.

I am much more confident in making the cheese now, and think that I may be ready to try Camembert next.  Mmmm.  I saw a recipe a couple weeks ago for Cajeta and Goat Cheese Brownies.  OMG - wouldn’t that be a great combination??  So part of this chevre is going to be used in that brownie recipe.

I was reading through some dairy recipes this morning and saw a chevre recipe that mentioned putting the cheese into molds.  Why hadn’t I thought of that before?  A year or so ago, I bought a cheese making starter kit.  It included two cheese molds, but I never thought to use them because all the recipes I’ve seen so far call for the cheese to be drained in cheesecloth.  I decided to use the molds for this cheese today, and hope that it all works out as well as I think it will.  So much easier and prettier than the bagged cheese look.

It’s Sunday, so that means it’s Windsor Farmers Market Morning!  To top it off, we heard on the radio last night that a Tomato and Pepper Festival was being planned at the same location during that time, including tomato sampling and a salsa contest.  Something more to look forward to!

I really love going to this farmers market, and I’m sure you are all tired of reading about it by now.  I was especially pleased with what we brought home today.  We had to get the biegnets, of course, plus the sausage/spinach ravioli that we really look forward to every week.  I have pesto in the freezer, so we passed on the prepared pestos, and picked up some more fragrant basil so I can add to my pesto stockpile.  Hot and spicy jalapeno and serrano peppers were on the list this week, because I loved the way that the addition of that to basil pesto really adds a nice warmth and brings out the flavors in a fabulous way.  The tomatoes I picked this morning, plus what I brought home from Mom’s last week, meant salsa was on the menu, too.  I was surprised and very happy to see big, red, ripe organic strawberries, and picked up a basket of those to add to our homemade yogurt.  I could smell them from the aisle, which is what drew me in to their bright red luciousness!  Corn was all over the place, and very reasonably priced!  Four of those, please and thank you.  I need eggs for the brownie recipe, and was happy to pick up the last dozen from a Healdsburg rancher, and chat with her about how to stop mine from being a cannibal and eating her eggs.  No real resolution to that yet, but I’m still going to work on it.

We were getting a little weighed down, so put all our purchases quickly into the trunk and came back to look at the tomato and pepper festival area.  We sampled different tomatoes that I’d always wondered about and hand’s down, we are getting the Purple Cherokee tomatoes from OAEC to grow next year.  I love the sweet Burbanks that I’ve been growing the last couple of years, but the Cherokee tomatoes were something special.  Super large, purple in color, with firm flesh and an amazing, intense, sweet tomato flavor.

We had to stop and sample the salsas.  Some were good, some so-so, and I was looking forward to going home and making my own salsa fresco.  Then the lady started putting out samples of this clear jelly-looking stuff.  Hmm?  Becca and I tried it and it was fabulous.  Sweet, hot, but not overpowering, with an intense pepper flavor.  We asked who made it and what it was - it’s pepper jelly.  I’ve bought jalapeno jelly at the grocery store before for my brie quesadillas, but this was amazing.  We booked over back to the market area she pointed out to find the farm that provided it (and took first place in the contest).  We found the small stand, with produce on the tables and a tall, kind-faced man behind them.  I looked around - no jars - and asked if he had any of the pepper jelly that we’d just fallen in love with at the festival.  He smiled and said, “Well, let me tell you what happened.”  His wife gave him two jars for the competition, and told him that she wasn’t sending any for him to sell, as she made them for holiday gifts.  He laughed, and said that he will have to tell her what a hit they would have been, and that there were customers hoping that she might send some next week.  He gave me his card in case I wanted to call and see if he was bringing any, but I told him we’ll be there anyway, and will look for him.

As we walked away, I remembered that the lady I bought the pesto from before has pepper jellies, and so Becca and I headed over there to sample what she had.  She had an awesome peach pepper jelly, and a tomato pepper jelly.  Becca like the tomato one best, so that’s what we picked up.  I preferred the peach, but I’ll get that one next week.  Heh.

We stopped at Safeway to pick up some odds and ends needed to fill in the blanks, and headed home, feeling VERY satisfied and excited about getting into the kitchen!

The first thing I started was cajeta, because it takes so long to make.  I decided to try making a vanilla infused caramel this week, instead of the traditional cinnamon.  Instead of simmering it with a cinnamon stick, I am using half of a split vanilla bean.  It is on the stove now, and smells absolutely heavenly!!  While that started cooking, I did some dishes and made some fresh salsa that we’ve been nibbling on this afternoon.  Next is the strawberry puree and hopefully some pesto.  Of course, once the cajeta is done, we’ll look at time and see if we can get the brownies made tonight.  That might have to wait.

It’s now time to start getting the barn ready for the night and tuck the animals in soon.  We are stepping even more carefully now, as my landlady told me this morning of her little adventure last night.  She’d gotten home late, and stepped out of the truck in the dark at the same time her dog started going after something near the driver’s side door.  She knew his sounds and was pretty sure it was a snake - the frogs are so loud at night, that she didn’t hear any rattle.  She went to the garage to grab a flashlight and the pole she uses for snakes, and came back to see it coiled near her door, and her dog going after it.  He killed it before she could do anything.  It was a baby rattler, and luckily the dog is smart enough to know how to avoid getting hurt himself.  She showed me the snake this morning, and it’s a good reminder to look very carefully these last days of summer, make lots of noise, and be aware.

P.S. I just strained the vanilla cajeta and sampled it - it is truly amazing.  Not a speck more sugar in this recipe than my regular recipe - all I did was replace the cinnamon stick with the vanilla bean - but the sweetness is so intense and smooth.  This is going to be fabulous in those brownies.

Busy Busy Labor Day

Monday the 6th was Labor Day.  Our plans for the day were to go to pick up some items from my co-worker, Gail, who needs to clear out her barn as she is selling her ranch vineyard home and moving to an apartment - at least temporarily.  I also promised Becca that we would go to Memorial Beach at the Russian River in Healdsburg.  Which was going to come first, I wouldn’t know until Becca got up.

I had originally thought it best to go to Gail’s in the morning, before the heat set in, but it got hot more quickly than I had expected.  By the time Becca was up and moving, the house was starting to feel like a warm oven, and I knew that loading the truck would not be a good thing to do until the thermostat was on its way down, instead of up.  I called Gail to check in and see if a 5:00 pick-up would work.  It would!

Off to the beach it is, then!

Becca and I had made our favorite spicy peanut chicken recipe the night before and I had grilled the chicken breasts for the week, so there was chicken to shred and leftover sauce that would make a great picnic lunch.  We packed our insulated picnic backpack with good food and some of our special treat Pepsi Throwback, and headed off to the beach.

I knew that at this hour (about 12:00 by the time we got everything together), that it would likely be hard to find parking.  I was worried when we saw people walking up the road toward the park entrance, and then a sign saying that the lot was full.  But - what is this?  A truck is pulling into the parking lot, and a ranger is manning the gate.  I slipped into the driveway to check in with the ranger, and he waved us through!  Woo-hoo!  There is a $6 fee for parking, and the ranger at the booth was also very kind and cheerful.  We cruised slowly through the lot, looking for one of the two apparently open spaces available (the ranger closed the gate behind us - score!).  Up ahead, I spotted another ranger, showing us where the last available spot was in the lot.  It was in the sun, but I was *not * going to complain!

We gathered our things and walked through the grassy picnic area.  It is lovely, with tables and barbecues, though many people brought their own.  Becca and I disagree about whether the hammocks hanging in the trees are provided by the park or were brought by the people using them.  We took at look at the sun-soaked beach and scoped out a place to put our chairs.  There were plenty of people there, and a line of colorful umbrellas down the middle. 

We walked along the sand, which felt more like a combination of sand and dirt, and Becca decided to step out of her flip-flops.  Not for long!  Ow!  The ground was super-hot, so she jumped right back into her shoes.  We found a spot near Memorial Bridge and settled ourselves in.  We made a mental note to find a beach umbrella to bring next time, and then headed into the water.

OMG.  It was cool, but super comfortable, and so easy to be in.  I only waded in to about my knees, but Becca got my permission to cross the first barrier to about 4 feet. 

The bottom of the river here slopes very gently, and the current is basically non-existent.  I can see a little bit of river movement on the other side of the buoy lines, but the nearby dam really eases that flow.  There was a group of people near us in the water, and then suddenly I saw a woman grabbing a pair of pants from the water and frantically checking the pockets.  Somehow (I never figured out how) her pants came off in the water, and out came her driver’s license, credit card and ATM card.  While enjoying the water, we observed the group setting up a search area and looking for these tiny items in the cloudy water.  You couldn’t see more than just a few inches, and she was in about 3 feet of water.  Eventually, she found credit and ATM cards, but by the time we left her ID was still missing.

After a while, I decided to go back to the beach and sit down, while Becca stayed in the water.  She did somersaults in the water and had a good time.  I had brought a book, but just wasn’t comfortable enough with her in the river to read.  There were two lifeguards on the beach, one right next to us, but plenty of people, and this is *my* kid.  I am still not very comfortable with natural water, having lost too many loved ones to it, but am trying to get over that fear, as Becca loves being in the water so much. 

We watched the canoes coming in and out of the boat launch area, and some teenagers on the other side of the river with a rope swing near the end of another bridge.  Becca and I enjoyed watching the boys grab the swing and run out in an arc, leaping into the air over the water.  Some just let go to fall in, and others did spectacular flips and dives.  Apparently these kids have used that part of the beach a lot.

When it was time to eat, Becca pointed out that the umbrella behind us didn’t have any belongings under it, and suggested we moved our things to take advantage of the shade.  Just as we got our food ready to eat, a woman came and asked if we could move - it was her umbrella!  How embarrassing!  Now we know that these are not park umbrellas.  After moving, we finished lunch, and after a bit of a resting period, Becca went back into the water.  We left about 4pm to head home and change, put our things away, and get the truck ready to go to Gail’s in Sebastopol.

Gail lives in a remote part of Sebastopol, among ranches, farms and vineyards.  It was a beautiful drive through the country, as we took back roads through Forestville to get there.  I love the “back way” that we take down Westside Road, past vineyards and farms, through cool redwood groves, and across the 1929 built Wohler Bridge over the Russian River.  We look for ducks as we cross the bridge, and often are able to spot them swimming about.

Gail heard us coming and was at the gate to open it for us when we pulled up.  Her house is so cute, and I loved the vineyards surrounding it and the cottage and other outbuildings.  She directed us to the barn, where she had the water trough ready for us to load up.  She started going through things in the barn, offering many - shelves?  Rocking chair?  Wagon wheels?  What about this box of things?  She pulled out a small enameled bowl that I joked with her about offering me a commode, as it was similar to the container my grandparents used to leave at the back door so we kids didn’t have to trek out to the outhouse at night when we visited.  Without going through the rest, I agreed to take it and browse through what was in it.  She didn’t care to look before giving it to me.  We loaded the truck up and said some sad goodbyes, as I know that she is saying goodbye to her home over and over again as she packs and prepares to leave.  We arrived home late, and fed the animals, moved the goats, in the dark.

I finally opened the box yesterday morning and sorted through everything.  Oh my goodness.  Many of these items I was keeping an eye out for in the antique shop for when I had some money to spend on them, and then some that I never would have been able to buy.  Beautiful enameled pots, including a huge roasting pan, a copper container that I haven't figure out yet what it's for, a hand crank set of beaters, enameled ladle and spoon and coffee cup - I could just imagine a cowboy over an open fire using some of these items!  Some I will have to post pictures of later to see if anyone can help me figure out what they are and what they are for.  An antique sifter, and - Cast. Iron. Coffee. Grinder. From. Brazil.  So many treasures that I can really use on the farm.  Thank you, Gail!!!

All of this was just the Labor Day holiday, and here we are already at the next weekend.  This short week just flew by, so I am going to end this for now, and work on a separate post for this weekend, which has been really good!  Ending with another sunrise picture from my house.  I love this place, especially in the morning.

Monday, September 6, 2010


This has been such a busy couple of weeks.  I’ve missed being able to sit down and write about what is happening, what I might be pondering, the latest adventure or misadventure.  I really *should* be asleep right now, but that will come soon enough.

Becca started the 8th grade.  It began much as 7th grade did, but for some reason this year the impact hit us like a truck.  Maybe it’s the added milker and two stinky bucklings that make it more of a challenge to get everything done this year.  Perhaps it’s just that August 18th as the start of school just doesn’t feel natural.  The groove of moving from season to season, starting school after Labor Day, feels more natural.  We are in the middle of summer, and bam!  Two hours of homework each night, book reports already scheduled and projects.  Add to that the traditional fundraising that hits immediately, this time three catalogs, magazine orders and Entertainment books, plus they want us to volunteer for Relay for Life - it’s mind-boggling.

As usual, Becca settles into the beginning of the year focused and organized.  She is excited about her classes and teachers.  She loves Art, as always, and couldn’t wait to get started again with violin.  I hope that she (we) can maintain this level throughout the year.  She is talking college and the art program she wants to apply to for high school, so she needs to maintain this concentration.

August 29th brought our first gathering at Jessica and Cory’s place for Fantasy Football.  I still don’t quite understand how it all works (and forgot to watch games today!), but our group all got together to pick our team players.  I feel like I did well- actually all of us did - and it should be a fun and different kind of football season.

Friday morning, the 3rd, was one of those that you just soak up and remember for years to come.  It epitomized all that I love about this farm and what I am doing here.  It was one of those clear summer mornings that have been so rare here this year, when I could see “my” mountain clearly as the sun rose.  I first walked out into the pitch black of the dark before dawn, and looked up into a brilliantly star studded sky as my dogs “did their business.”  I tried to get a picture of Duncan standing in the pool of light shining down from the studio next door to my house, but the camera on my phone couldn’t capture it.  (Batteries are missing from my good camera, though we did find those today - hurrah!)

As I fed chickens I listened to Foghorn crow to greet the slowly rising sun.  Moving goats from the barn to their pen, the sky began to lighten.  As I started milking, I watched as that magic moment happened, when suddenly the world turned golden.  It’s so hard to describe what that looks like - it’s not really “light” out yet, but the air starts to shimmer and everything starts to gleam.  As I brought the last goats out of the barn, the sun burst over the horizon and suddenly it was day.  There was a picture perfect moment as the warmth of the sunshine began to pour into our little valley that I was able to capture with my camera.

Even Luna was enjoying the growing warmth of the sun’s rays.

What a beautiful day.

Saturday, Becca and I headed off to Cal Berkeley with Jessica and Cory for a football game.  Each year, one of the teachers at Becca’s school gets tickets for interested students to attend Come to College day at Berkeley.  It is an opportunity for the kids to tour the school and have a good time watching the Bears football game.  We are familiar with the blue, gold and white, as Becca used to cheer for our local Redwood PAL Golden Bears team.

We decided to take the teacher’s suggestion and take BART in, rather than trying to find parking on game day.  We drove all the way in last year, and that was so stressful and difficult.  This was our first time taking the train, and after fumbling a little bit on how it all works, we avoided disaster by not jumping on the first train we saw (going the wrong direction!), and discovered this is a great way to get to and from the game.

It was a beautiful day to walk the tree-lined campus with the beautiful buildings and grounds.  Becca has gone back and forth over the last year or so about whether she wants to attend SSU or Berkeley - she is determined to go to Berkeley again now.

We had really good seats, and though we couldn’t see the cannon that is fired after every Cal score, we were close enough to it to jump every time it went off.  This game was filled with cannon fire.  The stadium was packed with 58,000, but the turnout from Becca’s school was disappointing.  Forty people signed up for the game, but only seven or eight showed up, including our four, the teacher and her husband.  We all had a blast together, though, and sported new t-shirts and hats for the occasion.

One of my favorite parts of the college games is the half time show.  The marching bands with their strutting drum majors are such a fun part of the ritual.  Many of the Davis fans were really poor sports, however, and I was surprised and disappointed to hear boos from them when Cal’s band went onto the field, and when Cal’s cheerleaders walked by their section in the stands.  There were no boos for their band or cheerleaders from the huge Cal crowd.  At least “our” team showed better sportsmanship.

The game was such a blow-out that we decided that it just wasn’t worth fighting the crowds to wait until the end.  We left with 10 minutes left on the clock and a score of 49 to 3 with the Bears winning on the board.  We heard the cannon fire twice more as we were walking through the campus, though one of those shots might have been signaling the end of the game.

The trip back on BART made us feel like we were old pros at this train thing.  We stopped in San Rafael for coffee on the way home, and Becca and I stopped at Safeway to pick up a few things before heading to our house.  Still in our Cal regalia and high from the game, we split up to pick up things separately.  When Becca met up with me, she said that she saw a guy in a Davis jersey and hat coming down one of the aisles toward her.  He looked at her hat and shirt, and scowled at her.  She said she turned on her heel and went the other direction.  Is this an example of how Davis treats a loss?  I was kind of hoping that Becca would look into Davis for its ag program, but maybe art at Berkeley isn’t such a bad idea.

We made it back to our house in time for evening chores before it got dark.  What a full and tiring day, but in a really good way.

Sunday morning, I turned on my pocket Pandora on the Blackberry for morning milking.  I had it set to my John Denver station, and I just can’t think of any better type of music for morning chores on the farm.  There is something so soothing about his voice and the pictures he paints in my mind with his lyrics.  It’s music I can sing along to, and both evokes happy memories, and helps create new ones.

While milking Imbri, I recalled how badly I wanted to sing with him.  I remember going to a concert in 1980 when his Autograph album (no CDs back then) came out.  I watched transfixed on that night, and said that I wanted to be on that stage with him, even if it was as back-up singer.  What a dream job that would be.  When I got home that night, without realizing it, I gave up those dreams forever in the instant that I accepted a marriage proposal.  I had no idea what that would mean, or how foolish I would be about failing to pursue my own dreams and goals.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I “regret” not pursuing those musical dreams, but ultimately, I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made that brought me down different pathways.  I am so happy and proud of all of my daughters.  I am so blessed to be where I am, and what I am doing right now.  I am so grateful for all that I have learned and accomplished since then.  Who knows what those dreams might have brought me?  It might have been happiness, but it also could have been ruin and despair.  What I try to teach my girls is to grab on with both hands what they are passionate about and want to pursue, BUT - don’t ever look back with sadness and regret.  Learn from the experiences, grow from them, remember them, and move forward.  We get to create our present and our future every single day, and it can all be beautiful.

After starting a batch of homemade yogurt, we went to the Windsor Farmer’s Market, a Sunday morning ritual that I really look forward to.  Healdsburg’s market on Saturdays is closer, but Windsor offers things that we can’t get closer to home.  The first thing we do is head to the biegnet stand to get hot, freshly made, light-as-air biegnets dusted with powdered sugar.  With those in hand, we walk to the far end of the market and stroll along, taking in the sights and sounds and making our selections.  We picked up fresh basil and peaches, homemade sausage and spinach ravioli, pondered whether to get fresh and locally made sausage (next weekend), and bought a spicy pecan/basil pesto for inspiration.  Becca always likes to end our farmers market foray with a snow cone when the cart is there, and then we headed home.  There are a few things that we’d like to try next weekend, and we made a mental note together.

In the afternoon, I took the huge, fragrant bunches of basil out onto the front porch and began stripping the leaves from them and putting them into a bowl.  It was 90 degrees in the shade of the porch, but there was a soft, cool breeze blowing that made it a divine place to sit and take care of this “chore,” which was really a wonderful way to pass the time.

Becca sat with me from time to time, and then went into the pool for a dip, returning to give me cold, wet hugs and shake her hair at me, just to get my reaction.  I made up several batches of pesto to freeze for this winter, and then after evening chores we started our ravioli dinner followed by churning some homemade ice cream.  The perfect ending to a perfect day.

We didn’t get everything done today that I had hoped for, but we still have the Labor Day holiday and another opportunity to create more happy memories, and move forward toward creating a blessed present and a bright future.