Fall is a flurry of activity so far!

09-30-07 Fall Harvest Table 001 It has been quite a busy October at the ranch.  So many things to catch you up on! Here we go…

First we’ll start with a pleasant little discovery as I looked outside on a brisk Fall day. A family of quail were scurrying across the back road; certainly foreshadowing the same scurrying that I’d be doing the next two weeks with relatives visiting, dead trees being cut down for firewood, sausage making, harvesting in the garden, and visiting a yurt manufacturing facility.  09-26-07 Quail on the back road 002 All this as we prepare to enter the next phase of developing the business.  Of course, take a look at all the pictures in the photo album that I’ve paired with this blog entry (like a nice pinot paired with some lamb…more on that later)

The last weekend in September we can easily see that the seasons are changing.  In the summer it was all about the beautiful sunsets shading Mt. Pilchuck with rosy hues. However, with October in the Pacific Northwest, we keep an eye out for the completely majestic sunrises on those brisk and clear mornings.  The sun is coming up behind the mountain these days and it is quite beautiful. It was also during this last weekend that all the action started.

09-30-07 Making Sausage 005 Glenn and I went on our Costco run prior to that weekend to buy a case of pork shoulders.  Fall, of course, brings us many things in the Italian kitchen, and I’ve been trying to reclaim my childhood experiences making Italian sausage.  This time we are adding breakfast sausage to the mix as well. We’ve been toying with sausage making for a while now. My last batch was quite yummy!  You need a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer  for one thing.  Luckily, our trusty KitchenAid mixer has the attachments.  09-30-07 Making Sausage 016 The only problem it presents: too difficult doing LARGE batches of meat!  Italians like to do these kind of things in a grand manner.  A case of pork shoulders is 72 pounds of meat!  That’s alotta sausagita!  This size grinder is best suited for small batches.  Well, we planned this experience for when my mom was up here visiting (so she could add any pointers from the Italian mama encyclopedia).  That ended up with her buying us a meat grinder and stuffer that hunters use to process venison.  All I have to do now is get my sausage cellar together and I can dry sausages over the winter!  Ahhhh, dreams of capacolla!  I do believe that Glenn is now jones-ing for a much larger drop-in freezer that we can put in the barn(anyone got a spare one?); I’m thinking Christmas.  (Boy how our wishlist has changed!)

10-01-07 Visit to Rainier Yurts 070 During her visit, I took my mom with me on an adventure to tour Rainier Industries’ yurt manufacturing facility.  We’ve been researching them as a potential yurt supplier in the local area and they’ve expressed some interest in having their yurts at our guest ranch.  It’s really a toss-up between them and Pacific Yurts in Cottage Grove, Oregon.    I was impressed with how Rainier Industries was applying their technologies to yurt making.  They’ve taken the yurt window options up a notch and are supplying yurts with regular framed windows versus the clear vinyl ones and offer an upgraded mantle and hearth section for the wood stove; both impressive and innovative features.  Very well constructed yurts in general, but they still have to work 10-01-07 Visit to Rainier Yurts 005some of the finer details out.  Both Pacific Yurts and Rainier Yurts solve the issue of where the yurt joins to the deck in different manners.  Essentially this is where it seals and weatherproofs at the bottom.  Rainier needs to clean their approach up slightly to get a cleaner, sealed edge, but I like the fact that theirs wraps around under the deck. However, Pacific Yurts still beats them when it comes down to their installation process and manual.  Rainier seems a bit lacking in the approachability of their installation manual for the customer to follow when putting a yurt together at first glance.  Having experienced this process many times putting up and taking down our yurt, I could see where the first-time owner would be left with questions during the process.  Overall, two very solid competitors in the market for me to choose from.  I think it will come down to whomever can partner the best with us in terms of a deal for the large yurt and the guest yurts purchased over the course of the next couple of years.  Whoever wins this contract will end up with a pretty impressive showcase that they can send their clients to. We aren’t just another yurt sale, we are a promotion partner. Whoever we choose to go with will be getting a lot of exposure for their product as we love talking about these cool domiciles.  We’ll be placing an order within the next 3 months.

10-05-07 Herbfarm with Glenn and his Sisters 023 Glenn’s sisters from the Midwest joined us later in the week for their annual "Sister’s Weekend" getaway.  We’ve been so excited about this for a long time!  However, Mother Nature decided that we should receive some of our November rains during October, so they also got a taste of the wet season while they were here.  That was perfectly fine for getting cozy fires in the wood stove and leading cooking extravaganzas in the kitchen.  Really, if I was to some up their visit it was all about catching up with each other’s lives and cooking some of their favorite things they remember from mom: potato pancakes (with currant jelly), hot ham and rolls (horseradish included), and fried green tomatoes (well this last one got honorable mention because we had a ton!)  The highlight, however, was our outing to the famous culinary experience offered by the Herbfarm restaurant.  Essentially 10-05-07 Herbfarm with Glenn and his Sisters 008a five hour meal with many courses paired perfectly with a full selection of wines.   The pace of the meal is relaxed and sumptuous starting with a tour through their  herb gardens for a field-to-table lesson.  They introduced us to their recyclers-in-training, some pot-bellied pigs with fierce appetites.  During the meal we had the opportunity to take our own personalized cutesy slop bucket filled with scraps from the night’s meal out to them where one of the sisters (who shall remain nameless at this point, but her initials are Gail, oops!) proceeded to confuse the poor darlings with the difference between carrots and fingers (ouch!)

10-11-07 Gravel Roads 023 Amidst all the visiting and revelry with our ranch guests, we still have to keep our momentum up with regard to development of our business. This meant phone calls to contractors, finalizing bids, and aligning our financial resources for the next phase of the project: the meeting facility yurt at the end of the pasture.  Quite a few things are involved with this.  The big one is electrical supply involving trenching  and running power lines underground from the barn down to its location. Before this can begin, we need to do some graveling of the roads (finally!)  This was my main focus yesterday as we had our dump truck guy (ok its kinda neat that I can say I have a dump truck guy) bring loads of cheap gravel up to cover the road bed while I followed him on Arnie, our tractor, to smooth things out.  We’ll continue this process over the weekend and start the trenching as well as cutting down a few more trees that need to be fell (removing danger and creating firewood…bonus!)

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