Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

HOMEGROWN, meet new member Clare, from California’s central coast. Maybe because she has plenty of experience with animals (more on what she raises below), Clare agreed to be our guinea pig and try out a new format for this week’s Meet Your Neighbors—the first of 2013. On Wednesday afternoon, we met online for tea and a chat, the results of which are below.

What is Meet Your Neighbors? Most of us spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands. (Or maybe hug? We’re huggers. But no pressure.)

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Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on January 9, 2013 at 3:57pm

Hello, Clare, and welcome to HOMEGROWN! So, first things first, can you tell us a bit more about the photos standing in for you above? Looks like some beautiful homemade ravioli and one awfully photogenic goat.

Comment by Clare on January 9, 2013 at 4:00pm

The ravioli is a homemade butternut squash ravioli, with homemade ricotta - of course!  I love to make ravioli, and freeze it, as a way to use up extra produce, and have a few quick and easy meals in the freezer for the busy season.

The goat is one of our Nigerian Dwarf goats, Minerva.  She's really the one in charge on the farm...just ask her!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on January 9, 2013 at 4:03pm

Mwah! It's good to know who's the boss! Speaking of the farm, where is it located? And who else calls it home, animal-wise, besides Minerva?

Comment by Clare on January 9, 2013 at 4:08pm

We're located along the Central Coast of California, in the Santa Cruz mountains.  Not the easiest place to try to farm, as the terrain is steep, but the growing season is long, and we're surrounded by beautiful woodland.

In addition to Minerva, we have another Nigerian Dwarf, Lotus, who is currently expecting twins in March.  We also have plans to bring a few more goats to the farm this year.

It started here with chickens though.  We have two flocks, composed of Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, Wyandottes, Delawares, and Plymouth Rocks.  Oh, and not to forget our Dark Brahma rooster 'Frodo'.

Heritage turkeys also call the farm home.  We have a dozen heritage birds at the moment.  Standard Bronze, Red Bronze, and Bourbon Reds.

Last but not least, the bees.  The gardens would not be as productive without our hardworking pollinators!

I think that's everyone!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on January 9, 2013 at 4:12pm

Wow! That's quite a herd! Frodo doesn't sound like someone who lets himself be forgotten. And since you mention your pollinators, I'm totally in awe of your shot of those bees in flight. Please tell me you were or still are a professional photographer, in addition to being an ace cook and a clutch farmer.

Comment by Clare on January 9, 2013 at 4:13pm

Nope...not a professional photographer, but I enjoy photography.  Taking photographs for our blog though, over the last few years, I do think has helped to improve my photography skills a little!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on January 9, 2013 at 4:16pm

Gotcha. Do you have one key tip to share with fellow HOMEGROWN types who want to take pictures of their culinary masterpieces? And you mention blogging for the last few years. How long have you had Curbstone Valley Farm?

Comment by Clare on January 9, 2013 at 4:21pm

I think when photographing food, it helps to 'get close', so you can see the details, like color, and texture.  If your camera accommodates a macro filter, even better.  As they say, we do 'eat with our eyes' first!

If you count the arrival of our first flock of hens we've had the farm for 6 years, although we really got going with it in 2009.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on January 9, 2013 at 4:25pm

Sounds like the farm has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years, with more big things coming in 2013. Good luck to you—and to Lotus on her impending twins! One last question: What DIY project, farm- or kitchen- or otherwise, are you most excited about pursuing this coming year? And, before we sign off, thanks so much for the chat! So glad to have you here on HOMEGROWN.

Comment by Clare on January 9, 2013 at 4:32pm

I think this year I'm most excited to start expanding my cheese making repertoire.  It's why we brought goats to the farm, and why over the next few years we plan to gradually expand the size of our herd.  The only slight problem is that we've now outgrown (the usable terrain on) the farm, so our herd expansion will be slow at first, until we can find more suitable land to move to.  Ultimately, our goal is to build a small farmstead creamery...but first, the cheese!  I have plans to take some classes this year, as well as practicing my cheese making at home.  I can't wait!


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