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Saying goodbye to The High Desert Chronicles is not as sad as you may believe! We’re not really going anywhere, we’re just changing our name, and updating the new website.

February 1, 2015 when you click on HighDesertChronicles.com you will be redirected to LunaHill.org, our farm website. The High Desert Chronicles and all its content, comments and pages, has been successfully migrated over to a new platform. I’m in the process of fixing any little errors in each post, adding new pages and features, and other blogs.

Our reason for updating and merging the Chronicles and Luna Hill has to do with us relocating to the New England area sometime in 2015. We can’t really have a High Desert Chronicles in Maine, so I’ve done the next best thing, merged the two together. I’ve been wanting to combine both sites for a few years now, but didn’t know how to do it successfully…until last week.

For those who have subscribed to the Chronicles, all of your subscriptions have been migrated over to Mailchimp, and in February, when I post for the first time on our new site, you will get a notification from Mailchimp, and not from Feedburner. At that time, if you would like to unsubscribe, you will have the option in the new notification. I hope you will stay though! :)

The new Luna Hill will have “The Farm Journal” which is every article written at High Desert Chronicles. This is where all my subscribers for the Chronicles have been stored. There will be other completely separate blog pages on Luna Hill as well. My reason for having more than one blog page is that some people may have subscribed specifically for updates about our animals, but they don’t necessarily want to hear about our little Simmi’s food allergies and life. I have created a separate page for food and environmental allergies, and if anyone would like to be updated on that blog, all they need to do is sign up. I didn’t want to clump everything together.

So, the next time I write in this space will be on the new platform.

Here are a few screenshots of what I’m currently working on:

Homepage

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Food Allergy Page

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CSA Membership Page

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DSC_0277I was so excited to wake up to such a beautiful and perfect snowy morning! I haven’t seen snow this pretty in years.

I’ve been relatively quiet on the Chronicles because I’m getting ready to migrate this website over to LunaHill.org. By February 1, when you click on HighDesertChronicles.com it will redirect you to LunaHill.org, and the Chronicles will exist under Luna Hill.

Our reason for migrating the site has to do with our move this year to the Northeast. It would seem strange to have a blog in New England with the title High Desert Chronicles, don’t you think?

Anyway, I’ve tried to refrain from adding any new posts until after everything is migrated.

The new Luna Hill website will have many new features not available on the Chronicles. I’ll be plugging away at it all this month.

 

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IMG_3521Why are we so uncomfortable with death? We often view death as horrible, a shame, gruesome, and even unnecessary, but I say it’s beautiful, especially when viewing death through the lens of love. To me, if I were to leave the slaughter of my animals to another, I feel I would be dishonoring them. How can we fully respect life without appreciating death? To turn your eyes away because it’s uncomfortable to watch.

Maybe it’s a matter of moral superiority? Those who have taken the high road of only viewing their food from a nice neat plastic package? But here’s the rub…

That nice neatly presented animal we call meat, or poultry (fill in the blank) had a life. But what kind of life? We don’t think about the lives we eat. We see them only as meat in a package. I can’t do that. Even if I were thought of as less than moral for taking the life of my animals. I find comfort in knowing that they lived a great life, and that they weren’t mistreated, abused, or made to live an unnatural life.

I love the fact that our animals were allowed to fly on top of the roof and dance fight up there. I love that they would come running to us looking for some sort of shiny treat to eat, or to show off their beautiful feathers. I love that they were there to bring joy and constant laughter when they would trip over their own feet, or fly over a fence but not know how to fly back over…walking back and forth on the other side, confused and bewildered as to why this keeps happening to them.

I love that I was able to listen to them call to each other and watch over one another. How can we honor them in life, but not in death? I have never understood that. Often people don’t know how to handle the fact that we actually slaughter our animals. Some like to use the word “cull” to spare others the unpleasant feeling that accompanies the death of an animal, but I say slaughter, because that’s what it is.

Slaughter has been used to describe angry horrific deaths at the hands of tyrants, despots, and other ruthless people. What’s the first image that pops into your head when you think of the word slaughter?

The slaughtering of our turkeys happened at the hands of a loving man, who was careful in how he handled them as he bound their feet, and even gentle as he tied the rope before killing them. He kept his hands on them as he made the fatal cuts, and remained calm thanking them as they lost consciousness.

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Is there pain involved? Yes, and there are no animals that would willingly lay down their lives for us. None. They will all fight to the last breath. But how were they treated in those last moments are as important as how they lived each day of their lives.

How about after death? What then? Are they just meat? Not to me. Dom took great care in their deaths, and then comes the processing part. Every moment of the process of after death was done with care. It isn’t just in life that we care for them, but also in death. It’s important to me to know they are respectfully handled after life ends. As I prepare and dress them, I think often of the many times they made me laugh or smile. That’s what goes through my mind as I gut them. Sounds strange, right?

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Simone wasn’t present when they were killed. I feel she is too young to witness that, but she was present to see them after death, during the plucking process, and she sat talking with me about how she wanted to see the heart. It was always about the heart. Each bird I opened, she’d come running in and say, “Where’s the heart? I need to see the heart!”

She was fascinated by all the insides of the bird. The veins, the head, the eyes, how the skin felt, what the heart felt like, why everything was attached to each other. And then came the ultimate question, which to me was precious and a very teachable moment: “Do we kill little children and people?” She asked. Her question was filled with such innocence  and curiosity, and yet so profound for her to put together that life is fleeting and can be taken in an instant. I explained all different foods we eat and how they used to be animals, but that we don’t kill children and eat them, and we don’t kill other people and eat them. I also explained that while we do eat pork that comes from pigs, that we don’t eat our pets. She was quite relieved to know that we weren’t going to eat Waffles and Pinkie Pie. She’s always known that the turkeys, ducks, and chickens were not pets, but provide food for our customers, but it was the first time she’s seen a turkey go from a feathered bird that followed her around the property, to dinner for our customers as well as for us.

Four years ago we had a turkey we purchased from the store. We didn’t know that there were solutions injected into the meat of the 3thanksgiving 2010_3turkey. One of those ingredients is more often than not, wheat gluten. Simone is highly allergic to gluten, and we fed her the turkey that was injected with this solution. She ate it, and got this dazed look on her face, as you can see in the photo to the right. We took this picture of her because she was acting so strange. Then she fell asleep…for 2 1/2 DAYS!

Since then we never purchased another turkey. This will be the first time eating a real turkey in years! I’m very thankful it’s one of ours.

Turkeys are elegant creatures, curious and filled with life and vigor. They are clumsy at times tripping over their own legs as they walk, and graceful as they run or show displays of affection towards one another.

They are awkward at flying, often banging into walls, or missing the roof of the house. When they were young and learning to fly, they would fly straight into our windows if they saw us in the house. They just wanted to be close.

Turkeys are excellent foragers, ridding the property of grasshoppers, and anything else that they can catch.

In death, they are beautiful, providing us with a rich source of food that nourishes the body, leaving us feeling satisfied and full.

I’m thankful for their elegant lives, and their beautiful deaths.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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IMG_3812It has been an action and drama filled season! 2015 is just around the corner, and new changes are coming.

As Dom and I continue to look for a home and land somewhere in New England, we’ve been busy selling off or giving away things we won’t be taking with us when we move.

The ducks are starting to lay more, and a few of the chickens have just started laying. We will now need to build a chicken tractor to keep the chickens in the pasture because they’ve discovered how to fly out of the area and join the turkeys.

The naughty turkeys have taught the chickens a lot of things, actually! Like how to fly, how to get on top of buildings, fences, cars, how to leave the property and get back, and making the chickens jealous of their carefree lifestyle. The chickens don’t understand that the turkeys days are numbered, and in just a month from now, they will all be gone. The chickens, on the other hand, are egg birds, and would be spared the cooking pot until they no longer lay eggs.

Simone and Noah continue to recover from whooping cough, and we are gearing up and getting ready to harvest turkeys for Thanksgiving.

We do still have some turkeys left if anyone is interested in purchasing a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas. We will not be holding on to a few for breeding purposes since we are looking to relocate in 2015.

Chicken Egg Shares have sold out through the summer of 2015. We will be taking our chickens and ducks when we move and offering egg shares locally when we are settled in our new home.

Our house isn’t on the market with a realtor yet, but it is currently for sale. We will be listing soon, but we want to get Thanksgiving taken care of first.

On to the changes for 2015:

  • The High Desert Chronicles will be come to close by February 2015. From now through February I will be transferring many of the entries I’ve written to LunaHill.org and Luna Hill will become our main blog.
  • Anyone wanting to purchase the domain HighDesertChronicles.com can shoot me an email: info@lunahill.org
  • LunaHill.org will be restructured into a blog format, which means I have to start from scratch. The current platform Luna Hill uses will not work with what I want to do.
  • While Luna Hill will have a farm blog, it will also have other sections about life, love, recipes, rants, and anything else I feel passionate about.
  • In the event that we purchase a new home before our Shareholders contracts are complete, we will be offering refunds for the months left on their contracts. We will be doing this mainly because the chickens have all started laying so late in the season. Those who have purchased a full year share will either have a full year’s worth of eggs, or we will refund the amount still owed in the event of us moving.

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October 10, 2014

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Fall is Here!


I love fall. The Balloon Fiesta, soups, stews, chili, the beginning of blazing warm fires, and welcoming the soft glow of the sun as it sets earlier and evening begins to advance, swallowing up the day.

Fall is the wrapping up our growing season, but we are just getting started with the chickens, ducks and turkeys. They STILL haven’t laid a single egg yet, but I know it won’t be too long now. Being that they are heritage breeds, often it takes a little longer for them to mature. If we wanted to exploit the egg laying capabilities of the chicken, we would have gotten commercial hybridized chickens. Our bottom line however, is to produce a healthy and natural chicken. For this, sometimes the wait time is longer, but well worth it.


About half of our girls are maturing with their wattles and combs growing in and turning a beautiful red color. This is a good indication that they soon may be laying. I apologize for the crappy photos today, it just wasn’t a good day for taking pictures.


The girls have their fluffy butts, but as you can see, their waddles are still small and pink.


The ducks may start laying before the chickens! They have almost reached maturity and many of them are already mating.


The quirky turkeys continue to grow and entertain us. I’ll be posting a video of them later today on our Facebook page.

They love to follow us around and they are always looking for some sort of treat. They love shiny things and will peck at zippers, buttons, jewelry, barrettes, money and anything else they think would be tasty.


We have lots of tenacious plants that are still holding out. They didn’t get the memo that its fall…yet.


Broccoli pods will yield us a huge amount of seeds for next year.


Broccoli doesn’t just come in a large head and end there. If you leave the broccoli plant, it will continue to grow and put out new heads. The heads aren’t large like you get in a store, but they are manageable handful sized pieces that you can snip off with tomato clippers. Since planting the broccoli this past spring, it has produced all spring, summer and it will keep going through the fall. Not bad for one planting!


The tomato plants haven’t suffered yet even though it’s been getting very cold at night.

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Our favorite tomato so far is the beautiful Black Krim. We will be growing this variety next year, for sure!

Thank you to everyone for purchasing our produce! We appreciate each and every one of you.


We still have Roma, Yellow Pear, Brandywine, and Black Krim available for sale at $2.50 per pound.

Potluck at Luna Hill


Join us on Saturday, October 25 from 4-6pm for our fall potluck. The theme will be Soups, Stews and Chili. I would love for you to share your favorite comfort food with us! I’ll be setting up an Event on Facebook for everyone to sign up. When you sign up, let us know on the Event page what you’ll be bringing.

Our Search for Property Continues

As we researched moving to Nova Scotia, it came to our attention that we wouldn’t have enough money to make the move and immigrate there. Unfortunately, the lengthy process of immigration would mean that Dom would need to work in Nova Scotia for at least three years while the immigration process takes place, and we would need to pay income tax in both Canada and the United States. This would break us financially, not to mention that if for some reason the Nova Scotia government decided against us as immigrants, they could ask us to leave. That doesn’t inspire much confidence if we were to purchase a house there, only to have to turn around and sell it if we leave.

So we decided on the next best thing! We will relocate to Maine and purchase a vacation property on the ocean in Nova Scotia. We will be able to visit Nova Scotia anytime then, and still live on Acadian land in Northern Maine among the 500,000 other Acadians in the United States, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

I was content to find a quaint historic home on some acreage to continue our farm, but Dom felt it was more important that we be located in an area with other Acadians. I have a LOT of catching up to do since it was only a few months ago that I found out that I’m Acadian. Acadian culture is still alive and thriving in Northern Maine and New Brunswick, so we’ve honed in on Madawaska, Maine. We are still open to other areas in Maine (okay, I am) but Dom is pretty dead set on Madawaska.

I have a lot of research to do on farming in plant hardiness zone 3, and thankfully Dom and I are no strangers to extreme winters or excessive snow. It will all be new to me though in terms of animal husbandry and fruit and vegetable varieties that will thrive up there. I’m up for the challenge, and we’re currently immersed in a stack of books from the library on everything from wood stoves to perennial food crops for cold climates.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend,

Angela aka Farmer Jane
Owner, Luna Hill Heritage Farm

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IMG_2933It’s been a little more than a month since I last wrote a blog entry. It started with what I thought was a kink in my neck, which led to me getting a cold that lasted more than a few weeks, but the pain in my neck traveled to between my shoulder blades, leading to numbness throughout my left arm and hand. It now also affects my right arm and hand. I’ve been to the chiropractor who said that I have a pinched nerve due to herniated discs in my neck from a car accident many years ago. The matter was complicated by the fact that we were sleeping on a mattress that was very old and given to us when we first moved to New Mexico. I was grateful for that bed everyday! It reached its expiration though a few years ago.

Both Dom and I have had back problems in the past due to the bed, and when it started happening again to us, we knew that my problem with my pinched nerves were a result of sleeping in the hole in the middle of my bed. He has a similar hole in his side. No matter how we turn the mattress, we still ended up laying in body impressions.

Two weeks ago, while Dom was weeding he threw his back out. This all came right before we were supposed to put our house on the market with a realtor. It has now been postponed until after September 21.

I am able to type for longer than a few seconds now, but the way I have to sit in order to type is uncomfortable. I’m still unable to do real work outside caring for the animals and garden, and I can barely do any housework.

Two days ago Dom’s parents purchased a new mattress and box spring for us, and it has started to make a difference in my day. I noticed yesterday that I had less incidences of my arms and hands going numb, and today I can type longer with less numbness and pain. I have an appointment today to see an acupuncturist and massage therapist thanks to my daughter Hannah.

It has been a very difficult month for Dom and I. We’ve reached out for help to get the property ready to sell, and Sept 20-21 are major weed and property clean up days. I won’t be able to help with the work, but hopefully my arms and hands will be able to take photos again. I feel like I’ve lost so much valuable time with my animals as they grow because I can barely hold my phone up to take a stupid photo. That’s how bad the pinched nerves are! GRRRR!

I believe that this painful month long event has been a blessing in disguise. If I wasn’t in pain, I would have been outside working and tending to my daily routine. I wouldn’t have been thinking about that next phase of our lives…where we want to move to.

So, I’ve had more than a month to ask Dom and myself the tough questions. Where do we want to live? What do we want to do? Who do we want to share our lives with? What do we want to pursue passionately?

We decided that this will be our last year in New Mexico. After our commitments are fulfilled with our shareholders in 2015, we will be moving Luna Hill Heritage Farm to Nova Scotia, a maritime province in eastern Canada. I have been learning all about our new future homestead destination, and I’ve enjoyed learning about its history and culture. After Dom and I chose Nova Scotia (we wanted to be in a place that offered both the forest and the ocean), I found out that I have Acadian ancestors that settled in Nova Scotia before it became a part of Canada. The Acadians were French settlers who came to the new land to start their lives. They were driven from their lands in 1755, and my ancestors were sent to Louisiana. It has made our decision to move to Nova Scotia that much sweeter.

When we move, this blog will no longer exist unfortunately. When I set up our new blog, I’ll let everyone know so you can subscribe.

Here’s a few photos I managed to take:

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The turkeys fight over the paddles of the ceiling fan outside.

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Tomatoes continue to be prolific. IMG_2897 IMG_2899 IMG_2905

Purple cabbage from the garden was harvested.

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The turkeys are growing up. I adore them. They have the sweetest dispositions.

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It’s the story of our lives, flux, upheaval, moving, shifting, changing direction, making new plans. Been there, done that! I’ve been strangely silent over the last two weeks because Dom and I have been super busy maintaining our flocks, the garden, and the new direction we want for our lives. Part of that direction involves selling our house in order to purchase a larger tract of land and scale up our CSA, adding pastured pork and a sheep dairy to the mix.

As we’ve had some very serious discussions, we’ve had to make some sacrifices by not taking on any new CSA members. We will just be fulfilling commitments to our current Shareholders through 2015. We won’t be offering a winter share, and the only shares we will have available will be egg shares (both duck and chicken) and a few turkey shares.

We decided that if our house sells quickly, then we can get on with looking for a new place to live and take new Harvest Box (fruit and veggie) Shareholders for the 2015. However, if our house doesn’t sell, we will only be offering egg shares. We need to stay semi flexible, and since our Harvest Box Shareholders for 2014 only signed up for the summer season, their shares for the year will come to an end and we won’t be renewing until we are settled in a new place.

Dom and I have been doing a little soul searching asking this question of each other (to which there is no easy answer), “If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would you live?” That question has haunted us for two weeks now. We toss fond distant memories of childhood around, sharing stories of places that made an impact on us. We’ve thought about our families and thoughts of being closer to them. We’ve even thought about distant lands we’ve never been to, yet have the desire to see someday. All these thoughts, that in the past were never considered. Why? Because we were either making compromises, or we felt we weren’t in the position to make a choice as beautiful as choosing your own paradise.

There is only one thing we are absolutely sure of, and that is no matter what we decide, our Shareholders orders will be fulfilled for the full season they paid for.

So, if you don’t hear from me in more than a week, we’re still here, alive and kicking…we’re just getting ready to make the house ready to sell with a realtor. Up until now, we’ve had the house as a For Sale By Owner, but we just don’t know how long it would take if we continue to try and sell ourselves.

We’ve had a lot of interest in the house, and we actually have a few different people coming to see the house today.

A little peek around…

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The play set was installed! Now it needs to be stained, the ground sculpted and wood chips added.

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