Livestock. No farm would be complete without it. As omnivores, our plates are filled with their offerings. The heart of our fertility lies with their manure. Here in the hollow, the list of benefits of our farm’s livestock is extensive: work and pleasure from the equines Earl and Rosie, dairy and meat from the bovines Addie and her calves, meat and rendered fat from the porcine, and meat and wool from the ovine (the sheep, I admit to having to look that one up!) ,eggs and meat from the poultry. Paul and I debate over the livestock on probably a daily basis, with this impressive list you ask, “what could possibly be the question?”. Well, the livestock consume hours and hours of our time. Whether it be moving fence, building coops, protecting from predation, watering, feeding, milking, or just plain worrying, the 4 legged members of the Hill and Hollow family are demanding in a way that is oftentimes hard to explain. Herein lies the debate: are they worth it? Are they profitable? We have been having these conversations for years, I stand solidly on the side of keeping all animals, I constantly measure the abstract value of fertility, farm diversity, pleasure. Paul wavers. You see, he is the shepherd, the farm manager, the first responder. He gets the absolute unadulterated burden of caring for this lively crew. On good days, all is well. These talks always take place on bad days.
Today is a good day. We have efficiently processed and sold all but a few cuts from our latest lambs we hauled in. (Bonus, I kept track of all costs and profits on this and the last batch, proving to myself and Paul that if we slaughter in the fall before we have to buy hay to feed the many mouths, we can actually make a dime on the project)This past week we completed a simple but necessary fencing job, complete with gate, that ensures we can separate the ram lambs and have control over their breeding. And, the grand finale, this morning I found out that our sheepskins are ready at the tannery. The wool from the sheep is an integral part of their contribution to the farm economy. Last Fall we succeeded in selling the first of the yarn we had spun from their annual sheerings. We sent off a pile of their pelts to a tannery in Wisconsin months ago with the hopes of yet another woolen item to warm us. We have been waiting for months and finally yesterday the calls came to the top of my to do list: contact tannery and find out the status of our pelts. Miraculously my contact with the tanner resulted in an invoice, payment and shipping all this morning. We are both so excited not only to see the skins, but to cuddle with them as the temperatures cool and to sell them, one more addition to this crazy dance called the farm economy. The sheep, at least for today, aren’t going anywhere, even Paul agrees!
In your basket:
1 lb. tomatillos (4-5 tomatillos)
2 hot peppers (can be as much or as little as you want,
take out seeds if you want it milder, use a few sweet peppers if you want to!)
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/3 cup cilantro
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. Salt and 1 tsp sugar
Move an oven rack to the top position for broiling. Preheat broiler to high. Remove husks and wash tomatillos. Place tomatillos, peppers, onion and unpeeled garlic cloves into an oven-safe baking dish with sides. Place into the oven, 4 inches from the preheated broiler, until the tomatillos are roasted and the peppers are slightly charred on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Rotate tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic during roasting to ensure all sides are slightly charred. Remove the baking dish and add chicken stock to de-glaze the pan. If vegetables are stuck to the bottom of the dish, use a wooden spoon to scrape the baking dish. Once cool to the touch, peel the garlic and discard the skins (you may have to squeeze the soft garlic out of the skin). Add the tomatillos, garlic, onion and peppers to a food processor as well as the cilantro, lime juice, sugar and salt. Add about 1/2 of the chicken stock from the baking dish and pulse the food processor 3-4 times or until the salsa has come together. You can add more chicken stock based on your own preferences for consistency. Serve salsa warm.