I arrived in the US for the first time as a teenage camp councilor. I'd flown into Seattle, to work at the YMCA camps on the San Juan Islands, and on the bus to camp was Teri, now my oldest friend in the US. Friends you met as a teenager are especially relaxing friends. Teri's family became my family away from home, and for the next several years I always traveled into the US through Seattle so that I could be welcomed by my adoptive American family. Teri drew our original goat logo for Harley Farms, and she is working on more line drawings for our website, to make it both more gorgeous and easier to use. We will use just Teri's original jumpy goat as our logo. I've been more than lucky to have met so many people who've contributed to Harley Farms as friends, or indeed as random visitors like the Journeymen.
Thank you to all our visitors who've admired the chicken tractors. Our hens are comfortable and our Alpine goats love the climbing in our flat fields. They were the inspired design of our long-time friend TFB, but built by two German Journeymen. We wrote about this at the time, but it's such a serendipitous story we'll tell it again. Our photographer, Paolo, picked up two oddball hitchhikers on his way to drop off some photos at the farm. At first sight we thought they might be mariachi men, but they were actually apprentice carpenters traveling through Canada down the west coast into Mexico with little more than their tools, although those had been confiscated at the US/Canadian customs. Journeymen spend at least two years practicing their trade, paid by the day, and these were the traveling sort. Well, they stayed for two weeks, borrowed some tools, built our excellent prototype chicken tractor, and went on their way to Mexico. We'd love to know where they stopped off next. Did they build more chicken houses? Let us know.
I may call Richard Branson soon, to request a small, but luxurious, direct flight from Old Royston to SFO. Tony, followed by Andrew, one half of my fabulous house designers, has now been followed by my father, Laurence. He'll overlap for a week with Tony, who returns in May. There is a Busy List for my dad, and Tony. They are wonderful at making farm structures, and competent in finishing the thousands of small jobs ' picking up basil, chicken feed, the new broom.. This week's building involves three new 'chicken tractors'? for our hens. Now that the pastures are dry, we're moving these mobile hen palaces out to the field. Designed by Three-Fingered Bil, they are both spacious, five-star accommodation and mini-Alp play structures for the goats.
As you may not know, the village of Royston, Barnsley, south Yorkshire, is picturesque and has a very successful nearby soccer team. So we're lucky to have them!
On Friday night we put our clean shoes on and drove a truck full of cheese up to the city. The Cheese School of San Francisco has an elegant upstairs room near the Embarcadero, and this was a fundraiser for the California Artisan Cheese Guild. We're here to support fellow cheese makers make and sell real, fabulous cheese from goat, sheep or cow's milk.
The room had a long table of cheeses, from unctuously complex to simply accessible, and thirty dollars bought you as much cheese and wine as you wanted for the evening. Not surprisingly, it was packed with beautiful people and a great success. See you at the next one!
I abandoned a voyage exploring the Pacific coast for Pescadero 20 years ago, moved into a tepee, and worked for Three-Fingered Bil finishing furniture at his workshop out near the lighthouse. It was there I met my sister-in-law, Kathy. She was polished, charming ' as business-like then as now. I had my punky bed-hair (the eighties ' what can I say? Plus the lack of grooming opportunity in a tepee) tied back in a bandanna, but it didn't seem to put her brother off, and I've got to know Kathy well.
So, she came round to the farm to drop off jam last week, and was tempted to pet the babies, who are gorgeously soft and love attention. Sadly, we were around the next corner struggling to help a mother goat deliver two large babies, and Kathy, who is petite, has the most delicate hands available for gynecological procedures. Despite her lovely clothes and Italian leather boots, she worked for three hours to deliver the breech babies from the exhausted mother. It's an odd combination of brute strength but delicate maneuvering needed to remove babies without damaging their mother, and Kathy's arm was dark with bruising the next day.
I've delivered goats for many years now, but still feel the gut-wrenching emotion of a difficult birth, and I know Kathy was terribly drained by the experience. Thank you, Kathy.