Our summer Farm Dinners have been magnificent occasions, and our autumn dinners are sold out! Many, many thanks to the amazing people who work here on the farm. Sharina, our office manager, had a vacation week of silent meditation, and I tried to fill in for her, but could not be both cheerful and efficient. Chloe and Julie, our high school seniors in the shop, will both follow paths to nursing careers in the autumn, but locally, so we hope they will stay with us too! And we have missed Annie, our hardworking farmers' market saleswoman with gorgeous face and high-speed knitting, because she's been away in England for some weeks now.
Annie on the left. Lesa, shop manager, second from right. Lesa “lost” my farm dinner salespitch under the floorboards, and had to write a “better” one.She looks so mild-mannered, don't you think?
Our new goatherd, Carrie, has been on the farm getting to know us and her twenty retired goats. She has practical skills (framing, wiring and plumbing her house), is active in the community, and complements our other staff, being quiet and unassuming. Carrie's been developing a contract with the county to keep the local roadsides clear, and has a weedbusting engagement in Half Moon Bay shortly.
TFB is becoming ever slimmer, does not fit into his previous wardrobe, and now appears in an insouciant selection of what most people would describe as pajamas. He and Library John, a Tuesday night poker dinner regular, accompanied us to a magnificent goat dinner in July. The grass-fed goat leg marinated in milk was excellent, and the fromage blanc sorbet dreamy.
Finally, Emily, our accountant and the yin to my yang, took a birthday jaunt up to Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, for a cheesemaking class with me. A fresh pair of eyes - accountant eyes - on the nitty-gritty of dairy pipelines, and sink location, and so forth, is always good! We are soon to serve warm ricotta at weekends, and are testing recipes for goat milk butter and ice cream.
The guidebook Eccentric California brings you the Horned Toad Derby, the World Famous Asphalt Museum, World Pillow Fighting Championships… and Outstanding in the Field. There's no joke, though. Nine years down the road, Outstanding in the Field has a sell-out calendar of dinners as fleeting artistic experiences. Celebrated chefs cook local food, but at the farm, or on the beach. The farmers join you at dinner. All the charm of picnicking, but no need for you to fill any thermoses. Linens, fine wines, posies on the tables, and stars in the sky. Katy Oursler was for several years mistress of these ceremonies, welcoming lucky guests to these intensely memorable meals. She is now their private events director.
Luckily, Katy has joined us at Harley Farms, to bring an exceptional twist to our already extraordinary parties. Katy's the oldest of five children who grew up with a huge garden, so she can tell lovage from hyssop at a hundred paces, and knows no greater pleasure than sharing local food with friends. She's all elegance, with not a hint of garden under her fingernails, and you'll meet her at our Spring Dinner in May.
We had an astonishing morning with the second grade from Woodside Elementary. It was bright and a little cold, the babies were sunbathing against the barn, the mothers were out on the pasture, and the tour went as usual, until we came to the loafing barn.
Woodside Elementary at Harley Farms
An idyllic April morning
The most complete nest we've found on the farm
Goats generally tear their nests apart after giving birth, both to eat and to cover their newborns, but a first-time mother had been disturbed before she could destroy her nest. This is the first time we've ever seen such a relatively intact nest in the barn, and it was a lucky coincidence that we had the second-graders on the farm this very morning. There was a clutch of eggs, some with their prototype horns visible (these are the males). We were able to take small groups of children up close, although vibrations could disturb the hatching eggs. We'll keep an eye on them throughout the day, because the errant mother is unlikely to return now that we've discovered her nest. Hopefully, some of the eggs will hatch in the warmth of the afternoon sun. One of the children thought he saw some movement, so fingers crossed for baby goats today!!
You can see the tiny horns on the egg to the right