Ramble On

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Copper Fox Distillery

The namesake at the distillery in Sperryville.
In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I had two ulterior motives for taking Mary out on the Stonyman hike on Saturday.  Besides the beautiful weather, I wanted to check out how my new Casio Pathfinder worked, and that was a success.  The second motive was a surprise - to make a stop at the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville.

I'd visited the distillery with Chris last year when we had to cancel a hike due to rain.  A few weeks later, Mary and I had spontaneously gone over for a tour on a Sunday, finding the place closed (as it always is on Sundays).  We also met the proprieter at one of the brewers meetings last year, when he came by to talk about how he sources his barley.

Inside the barrel room.  BTW:  Virginia law does not allow
whiskey tasting inside the production facility.
At the meeting, and again during our tour last weekend, they tell us that the grain comes from a farmer in Virginia's Northern Neck.  Inside the distillery, one of the first images you see is the pallets of raw grain in big white sacks, waiting to be malted and milled.  The tour also gives you a look at each of these steps in the process.

Over the course of the year since Chris and I checked the place out, their production has grown and they've added new products.  For example, they sell the spirit now (essentially grain alcohol, albeit legal and not moonshine!) as a specialty product that you can age yourself in little whiskey barrels.  I made a mental note of the new, larger malting tub and the increased square footage of the malting room as indicators of a growing - thriving, business.

Here's the van they use to deliver the whiskey.  I've seen
it around town - the liquor store at 9th & F Street NW in
DC carries the products.
While we were in the barrel room, we were told that up to 30 percent of the whiskey product is sold overseas now.  When I was here last year, they mentioned they might have some new spirits to offer soon, and we were introduced to the gin they're making.  No tasting on the premises, however, their license doesn't allow it.

It's a real treat to have a distillery nearby, and this is a great tour to take in if you're out this way headed to Shenandoah National Park.  It's in Sperryville, just south of US 211/522, before you get to town.  Here's a link:  http://www.copperfox.biz/index/




Monday, December 30, 2013

Stoneyman Summit, with Ulterior Motives

At the Stonyman summit.  Luray is just behind Mary
and me, and Lake Arrowhead is center right. The furthest
ridge is Great North Mountain, in WV.
It's probably just coincidence, but since we have been coming to Hawksbill Cabin, Mary and I have taken a couple of hikes in Shenandoah National Park on the last weekend in December or the first in January.  We continued that tradition with a short hike to the Stonyman summit last Saturday.

It was a great day for a hike, with clear, bright skies and warm temperatures, so the time was right.  But as the title of this post suggests, I had a couple of other ideas about the hike - for one thing, I wanted to try out my new Casio Pathfinder watch.  The other motive will be the topic of my next post.

The Stonyman hike is short, only 1.5 miles, and the elevation change is about 330 feet.  It qualifies as an easy one in my book - but it does end with one of the best views of Luray and the Page Valley that you will find in the Park.  Stoneyman is the second highest peak in the Park, by the way, at 4,010 feet - and on a clear day like Saturday you can see all the way to West Virginia.

The white blaze marks the route of the Appalachian Trail,
while blue blazes mark other routes throughout SNP.
Despite its shortness, this is one of my favorite hikes in the park.  It is close to the Skyland resort, so it was designed as an interpretive trail - there's a guide and marked stops to curate the walk in the woods - and there is a horse trail near the summit that marks a second vista that is often less crowded than the main observation point.

When I first found the trail, one of fondest discoveries was the twin blazes that mark the route: white for the Appalachian Trail, and blue for other hikes in the Park.  There used to be a sign where the routes diverged, about halfway up; I think that it said that point was the highest spot on the AT within the Park boundaries.  I need to go back and look through some past posts to remind myself, I know I have posted a photo of that old sign.

View to the Southwest, across Skyland Resort.
The peak in the upper left is where Massanutten Ski
Resort is, and you can just see the trails.
Using the new Pathfinder, Mary indulged me while I took measurements at three spots on the trail:  at the trailhead, at the point where the AT splits away, and at the summit.  Some features have changed since I had my last watch, but from experience I knew to take a reference altitude from a marked location, in this case the summit, at 4,010 feet, to calculate the climb.  I calculated a net gain of 326 feet, and for now that will be the high point record with the watch.

While we were at the summit I told Mary about the first time I took this hike, back in the days when I was checking off all the "Easy Day Hikes" routes (obligatory Amazon link below).  I got the horse trail summit and sat down to enjoy the view when my cell phone rang.  I spent 30 minutes on a work conference call up there that day, even though I was on vacation - you can bet I billed for that call!

The trail wasn't crowded, but we weren't the only ones who had the idea to go out on a hike. We enjoyed meeting a young family, a mother and daughter out on a walk, and then a couple from New Jersey (Red Bank - exit 109).  But as I mentioned, there was one other purpose for getting out on this hike, and I will post about that next.


By the way, here's the link to the Best Easy Day Hikes book I mentioned above:
Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park, 4th (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)
It's not my only guide to the park, but I do refer to it frequently.



Friday, December 27, 2013

Tech-watch Geek, Jr.

Back in April 2013, my beloved Casio Pathfinder watch died.  I wrote about it in this post:  http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2013/04/tech-watch-geek-my-casio-pathfinder.html

That post highlights the lowest and highest altitude recordings I’d made on the watch:
The highest altimeter reading was in Yosemite in 2010: 2,315 meters, or 7,200 feet, without adjusting for barometric pressure.  The lowest reading was (negative) 150 meters, taken in Death Valley in 2011.  Again, with no adjustment for barometric pressure, that translates to (negative) 465 feet.

On a whim, I asked Santa to bring me a new one this year, and he did.  The new watch is another in the 240 series, similar to the one pictured in the Amazon ad in the right column – very much like the old one – only this one has some upgrades, including “”Tough Solar” (I always suspected that the battery dying had something to do with the old one breaking down on me), and a better water resistance (to 10 bars – not just hand washing, filling water bottles in a stream, or righting your ditched canoe).

Now, I got my first Casio Pathfinder from Santa as well, back in 2009.  I did some analysis of a number of what I call “tech-watches” – watches that included features like altimeters, barometers, thermometers, stopwatches, and alarms – including the Casio, Suunto, Timex, and Tissot offerings.  I’ve been a fan of Casio watches for the ease of use for a long time, so I settled on it for that reason – and also because of this Amazon review of the Pathfinder by Bart Barnack:

"My first [Casio Pathfinder] lasted through 3 assignments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Half the team wore this watch and the other half the Suunto Vector. Most of us owned both. I found the Casio Pathfinder easier to use. The only issue I had with my watch is sometimes it went into conflict and went through all the modes and would not stop until the batteries were removed. I was the only one that had this issue. We worked in extreme environments, and the watch took a beating:  sand storms; attacks of all types; crashes; high heat 125-130 degrees; and cold below zero for long periods. All the features were a great asset to all of us. We often compared data with our other instruments like GPS and other sensors we had. The watch was close. The large dial is a plus in the field.”

Incidentally, the original post with that review can be found here:  http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2009/12/tech-watch-geek-maybe-winner.html


I never put that first Pathfinder to the kind of test that Bart did, but I suppose that all of the hikes and trips I took it on did serve up some abuse.   And now I have the new one – I’m looking forward to where and when I will set the new records with it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Charcuterie Wanna-be

There's between a month and six weeks left before the 2014 butchering event, so I have begun thinking about how to prepare.  This year, I'd like to give myself a few more options about handling the sausage making component of the enterprise.

Now, before I get much further into this post, I want to make a note about the accompanying photo - it was sent to me by a friend who was telling me about a butchering event down in Shenandoah, where they did 12 hogs over the course of a week.  Probably some venison in the mix as well.

The butchering shed that David hires out for our event can pretty much do all of this, although we will ship stuff out to a smokehouse when we want to use that approach.  Here's a post about the sausage making we did last year:  http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2013/02/everything-but-oink.html

Now the point of this post is that I am in search of sausage making gear and tips.  I'd heard that there is an attachment we can hook up to Mary's KitchenAid stand mixer - I even watched an excellent how-to video that showed pork, lamb, and chicken variations made with this tool.  However, when I went to Amazon to check it out, at least a third of the reviews are thumbs down - more than 100 poor reviews! - so I am going to keep looking.

My alternative may be to simply grind the pork at the butchering shed.  I'll go ahead and make and package the breakfast sausage there, since the recipe is so simple and we form the patties right when we're ready to cook it.  But I want to experiment further with some link-style sausages this year, thus the research.

Suggestions are welcome!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quality Street

Been a fan of Nick Lowe's for a long time, and I have to admit I was skeptical when earlier this year we started hearing about a Christmas LP from him.  I left the jury hanging out to dry on the topic but decided that I would watch for more news.  Then as the promotion for the record started, there was Nick's quote in an interview on NPR:

"But I was confused by how snooty I felt when they asked me about doing it," Lowe says. "I think it's a Brit thing, really: Making Christmas records is seen as a not very cool thing to do. And I thinkg it's all bound up with strange ideas from the 1960s, about selling out and things like that...
"Instead of just knocking out the same 12 songs that everyone always seems to do," Lowe says. "I thought, 'Well, with a little bit of work, I could make it a little bit different.'"
So for a short post today, I'll close by embedding "Christmas at the Airport" - one of the singles from the record (and a hat tip to Brian for finding the video):

Monday, December 16, 2013

Two Porters



Didn't make it out to Hawksbill Cabin this weekend, so I took care of a few errands instead.  One of the errands was to brew another batch of Porter - I have one of the honey porter batches in bottles now, and now I have one in primary fermentation.  I even sprung for some label paper and did a little extra with the first batch.


This second batch ends up being something of an experiment.  It's a kit from Brewer's Best, as opposed to the Northern Brewer kits I have been using.  The new kit was originally for a pumpkin porter batch, but the fall got away from me before I could brew it, and so I substituted honey for the little spice pack that was provided.

I contributed three bottles of the old batch to an auction for Wounded Warriors at the office - our group raised $2,800 in this event.  It was really nice to have an opportunity to be part of that.

In a couple of weeks, I'll have a few bottles of both batches that I can break out and taste test against each other.  This will mainly be about comparing the hops styles, since they had different bittering and aroma varieties added.  Also, the first batch includes Minnesota clover honey, while the second is a mountain wildflower variety from the Shenandoah Valley - if I'd had enough at the time, both would have used a local product.

So the brewing adventure continues.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Cabin Lore: The Thompsons

To begin with, we didn't have a lot of information about Hawksbill Cabin - but we've been able to piece some of the history together over the years that we've been coming here.  For example, we found the year 1948 etched in a section of a concrete footer, and also in the concrete that sealed the top of the chimney - so we knew approximately the era it was built.

A few months after we bought the place, we researched the surrounding plots and found that the three that bordered us to the north were owned by Kevin Thompson.  After a little checking around, we learned that Kevin was the son of Bill and Phyllis, the couple that built the place, which they called "Windward."  Kevin is playing the guitar in the first photo here, with his sister Shawn singing along - also shown are Bill on the left, and Bernie Courtois, a neighbor, on the right.

These photos are dated from 1965, and our friends and current neighbors Noel and Steve shared them with us - Noel is Bernie's daughter.  Noel is the source of a lot of additional 'cabin lore' - we learn something new from her everytime we visit, which isn't often enough!  Here's a second photo, from the same evening, that includes Bill and Phyllis, Kevin and Shawn, Bernie, and two visitors.

Frequent readers will recognize the location of the second photo, out on the brick terrace in front of Hawksbill Cabin.  The Thompsons would summer at the place, thus the established-looking furnishings in this outdoor space, although there are a few items from the current-day house that are missing - the apple tree would be in the background, where it looks like a pine stands, and the dogwood just visible to the left has been replaced with a maple.

We eventually had a visit with Kevin, and we bought his three lots.  He came by to visit us, since his mother Phyllis was still alive at the time and lived in Alexandria.  He told us some family stories - from the looks of these photos, it's clear they enjoyed the place as much as we do - and we invited him and Phyllis out sometime to see how the place was doing.

Been a few years since then, and we don't know if Phyllis is still around; Kevin lived in Waynesboro at the time and we haven't heard from him since then either.  What we do know about them is that they built a fine home in the Valley - one we enjoy getting out to whenever we can.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

That Lenin Statue in Kiev

Back in the early 1990's, I worked for a fast-growing company called Development Alternatives, Inc. as the director of federal contracts.  There were a lot of international development projects just getting underway in the countries of the former Soviet Union, and as we began to win those jobs I found that there were opportunities for me - as a former USAF Russian linguist - to travel to some of the capitals to negotiate the contracts.

My two big travel experiences were to Kiev and Almaty; during the next year or so I also made it to Moscow while I was at USC Marshall B-school.  Great trips, and I did find that the USAF training was solid - the language began coming back to me almost as soon as I found myself immersed in the environment, even in the Fairfax neighborhood in LA!

So the news this week about the protests in Kiev attracted my attention.  Certainly the geo-political aspects of the situation is complex and threaten to take us into some new and unfortunate Cold War era.  But one image hit home: the one where Kiev's old Lenin statue had been destroyed by rioting crowds.

On the one hand, that demolition was long overdue - many of the cities and capitals that were part of the Soviet Union had long ago removed their statues.  But the fact that the statue had stood for so long after the demise of the Union suggested it might last as a historical artifact for some time to come.

At one time, given my own Cold War history, I'd thought it might be cool to get a snap of myself with prominent Lenin statues in the former capitals.  That goal was short-lived - here's Almaty also - but we were so busy in Moscow (that was a marketing consult to 3Com) that I didn't even get a photo of the bust in the train station!

Comes to mind that I should get back down to the Newseum in DC to have a photo taken of me with the headless Lenin statue that is part of the Berlin Wall exhibit there...I'd at least have a triptych then.

Things change.  What would life be if they didn't?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Alexandria's Scottish Walk - 2013

While our friends in Page County were enjoying the Christmas Parade down Main Street in Luray, we stayed behind in Alexandria this weekend to attend my office holiday party and to go to the Alexandria parade, the Scottish Walk.  Our friends Kathy and Brendan joined us, bringing along their dog Howser.  The weather gave no indication of how miserable it would get on Sunday, but on Saturday, it was a beautiful day for a parade.

We started off by grabbing a bite and some coffees at Bittersweet on King Street, then it was down to the corner of St. Asaph and Prince Street, which has been our venue for watching this parade for nearly 20 years.  I have a shot here of the color guard that opened the parade.

There were four drum and bagpipe groups in the parade this year - I took a couple of videos, but my favorite is this one.  Howser had watched this group carefully, and when the leader shouted to direct the group, Howser heartily echoed the command.



A friend who was stationed in Berlin with me is part of the King Charles Spaniel group, along with his wife and their two pups.  This group has been part of Scottish Walk for six years now, apparently - this time I was lucky enough to catch my friend, Marty, in action!  His wife and their dogs Buzz and Cooper must be a little way ahead - this was the second largest dog group in the parade this year - there were more Westies, but still, a whole lot of canine fun was going on with this bunch.

The season is shorter this year, so here's a reminder to everyone to have fun and be safe.  Happy holidays - whichever you celebrate - 2013!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Barn Cats - Palooza

I've posted about the barn cats a few times now, but last weekend was the first time I was able to get photos of all of them, so I thought I might put them up here on the blog.

First, there's Momcat - she is the mother of the kitten Mary adopted last year.  She's probably 2 years old, and like all of the kittens and the two mothers, we had her fixed with Cats Cradle in Harrisonburg in 2012.  This cat likes to go for a walk back in the wood lot with Tessie.

Then there are the two red brothers.  These two are from the other litter of kittens that showed up under our pool deck in 2012.  They're fixed and they hang around up under our garage/barn - hence the name, barn cats.  We call these two Patch and Little Guy.

The next one is the fluffy mixed cat the neighbors call Foxy.  We don't see her as much - not so much that she is shy, but because she probably hangs out elsewhere (feeding these cats is a community enterprise). Foxy is the mother of the two red brothers and that litter; she is probably Momcat's sister.

Last, of course, is Buster.  He just started showing up a month or so ago - leading to my hypothesis that he was adopted by somebody, but they left him behind when they moved.  He is the only one we haven't had fixed yet, although we plan to, and he is confident enough around us that he will allow himself to be picked up - and also he walked in the front door last weekend when I was feeding all of them.

All of which contributes to my theory that he used to be owned by somebody. In the photo I caught him at a funny moment - between a yawn and a meow, when he was demanding some food.

We have a standing offer to anyone who would like to adopt Buster - we will get him fixed and get his first round of shots.  Let me know in the comments if you are interested.

Here's a link to Cat's Cradle - if you can spare anything to support a stray animal support organization, this is definitely one that deserves it:
http://catscradleva.org/

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Scenes from a Dog Walk

During some recent performance review conversations, a colleague and I were talking about the need to get out for exercise on a regular basis in order to take a break from work and recharge.  I mentioned that in the past I'd found that difficult, even though I knew it would be good for me.  Eventually, that was one of the reasons we adopted Tessie, because I remembered how much I had enjoyed taking walks with Gracie and Sofie in the old days.

By the time we started going to Hawksbill Cabin, those two were too old for the walks I take with Tessie now.  One of our favorites is a figure 8 route that winds around the nearby Hawksbill Recreation Park in Stanley, where there is a nature trail back in the woods and some open grounds.

I spied this river birch there along the banks of Little Hawksbill Creek last weekend, and then, since there was so much water coming down the creek, I stopped to make a short video of the scene:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Checking in - with Pigs

Part of the plan this weekend was to stop by and have a look at how the pigs were doing over at Public House Produce.  David told me they were gaining nicely out in that pasture he'd set up for them, so I had to take a look for myself. Even Kevin Bacon, the little white shouldered gilt who'd been substantially behind the others, is filling out; David estimates they're all around 175 to 200 pounds now.

They do seem to like being out in this field (we moved them here in October, check out the link at the end of this post for the story).  I was able to get some video of them after they'd followed me down the fence line.  Then they saw Mary with the goats in the distance and went running and barking off to see what was going on by the shed.



I need to get back in touch with Chris so we can plan what we're going to do with our shares this year.  Mary has one of these nice standing blenders (Chris does also), and I understand there is a sausage making accessory that we could get so I don't spend time at the butchering shed on this part of the process.  That would offer a lot of flexibility for trying out new recipes as well.

I think I'll get back out to check in with the pigs later in the month, then once or twice in January.  Come the end of the month though - well, time's up for pigs then.

http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/search/label/Pig%20Wranglin%27

Friday, November 29, 2013

Perfect Day (Reprise)

Catching up with my fantasy football teams early yesterday, I was caught by surprise when Lou Reed's Perfect Day came over the airwaves.  That's pretty exceptional, I thought - I'd looked away from the television just then.  When I looked back...well, the reason for this post is to cleanse the memory for a moment: the song was being used in a commercial for a video game.

It will make a nice bookend to November, I thought, if that song is the last post of the month for Hawksbill Cabin, and that will be a way for me to get past the commercial - I'd rather not associate those images with the song.  So I've embedded the video below, and then there is a link to the Wikipedia entry as well.  



I recognize that the video is a promotion for BBC - what would life be without some irony here and there?  But we've got to protect the cultural record...so there you go.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Green Chile Mac 'n' Cheese Recipe

Yeah - it's not very green.
One of my fond memories of church pot lucks and scout dinners is the banquet-style mac 'n' cheese.  For a long time I searched for a recipe, because I knew that someday in my adult life I would like to bring this dish along to an event.  At last I found a recipe in Grit magazine, a staple of leisure reading material at Hawksbill Cabin - this one is from the January/February 2010 edition.

The green chiles are fairly mild, but they have a great flavor.  If you want to punch up the heat, you can add minced jalapeno - I added about a teaspoon to my last batch for just a hint of extra flavor.

Ingredients:


  • 1 pound macaroni (elbow, bowtie, or shell)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I used cheddar, jack, swiss, and gruyere blends)
  • 4 to 6 green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped (I used two small cans)


Cooking:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, butter 2 quart baking dish
2. Cook pasta al dente while preparing sauce.  Drain pasta and toss with olive oil and one clove of garlic. Lightly season with salt and pepper
3. In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.  Add remaining garlic and cook one minute.  Add on cup of milk and stir well to blend.  Remove from heat (to prevent clumping) and mix in flour.  Add remaining milk, whisk to remove clumps.  Add paprika, salt and pepper.
4.  When sauce is hot, sprinkle in half the cheese and stir well until melted.  Taste for more salt and pepper.
5.  Toss green chiles with cooked macaroni.  Place half in bottom of prepared baking dish.  Spread half the sauce over macaroni, and add half the remaining cheese.  Repeat another layer, spread remaining sauce over macaroni and sprinkle remaining cheese.
6.  Cover with foil (use cooking spray on foil to prevent sticking) and bake for 40 minutes.

For presentation, I added bread crumbs, a little more paprika, and parley flakes to the top of the mac 'n' cheese before I put it in the oven.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Letter to Atomic Ranch

We've been reading Atomic Ranch magazine for a while now - it's a great resource for midcentury modern furnishings and architecture, and Hawksbill Cabin was designed within that context.

One of the furnishings that conveyed with the house is a light fixture that we kept in the bedroom.  We've been puzzled by it, and have even thought about changing it out in the past.  At the end of the day, our senses got the better of us and we've kept it - with the thought we would look to repair it, if that is possible.

We have a bit of "cabin lore" on the fixture, from Kevin, who grew up here - he said it was probably bought from Scan Design or a similar store in the 1960's, when they were building the addition.  He thought it had colored shades in the old days, and confirmed that one of the bulbs had been replaced.

The Atomic Ranch post confirmed that it is a designed piece (Tapio Wirkkala designed them for Idmin Oy) - and even the two hourglass shaped bulbs are designed pieces.  They referred us to a couple of auction sites to watch for parts, such as bulbs or shades.  Those included:


  • www.liveauctioneers.com
  • www.wright20.com
It was good to have our instincts on this confirmed, we'll have to keep working on the restoration.

(Info about the edition of Atomic Ranch the letter appears in is here:  http://www.atomic-ranch.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=64)

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Agribusiness Intern Returns


Earlier this year I had the opportunity to enjoy a chat with some representatives from Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, a lender that serves some Page County local farmers.  They offered some good insight about their services - info I filed away in case I need it some day.

Lifelong learning episode 16: Butchering.
Then last month, I had an email from them about a continuing education program for "young and beginning farmers."  I wrote to find out if a person who had thought about buying a farm could be considered "beginning" - I figured it was a no-brainer they wouldn't consider me under the young category.  After all, I had completed that famous internship a few years ago, and truth be told, I had inquired about how to get a farm mortgage.

Well, I was accepted into the program...there's more here for readers who might be interested:
http://www.mafc.com/blog/agbiz-masters-educating-farmers/

Agbiz in the Valley.
Last Friday we had our first session, up in Frederick, MD; there will be two more on-site sessions this year.  There are eight of us out of the Frederick location, but more than 200 people participating in eight states overall - including one person in Washington, DC!  I really enjoyed meeting the folks in Frederick and learning about the wide variety of agribusinesses they are working with, and the range of experiences among all of us.

We have five on-line modules to get through this year:


  • Megatrends of Agriculture
  • Strategic Business Planning
  • Preparing for Your Lender
  • Preparing Agricultural Financial Statements - The Balance Sheet
  • Preparing Agricultural Financial Statements - Income Statement and Cash Flows

I know I've covered a lot of this in my USC MBA, and heck, I even consult on strategic business planning and financial statements...but I think this specialized application is going to be very interesting.  I'm really looking forward to the course.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crooked Run Brewery - A Kickstarter Project

Crooked Run home grows their hops.
There was a little feature in the Washington Post last week that mentioned the local brewing scene in Leesburg, Virginia.  Among those mentioned was Crooked Run Brewery, which was one of several I sponsored over on Kickstarter this year.  

Here’s the widget that links to the project:








He’s got a great location for his tasting room in Market Station, which the Post described as a “charmingly bare bones operation” – but checking out the Kickstarter video will show you why:  it’s about the beer, and using local ingredients where ever possible.

He keeps four beers on tap and has a recipe list of 21 varieties.  I just added his blog to my blogroll on the right, and you can find the link to the brewery here:  http://www.crookedrunbrewing.com/


I picked this one out on Kickstarter because I found the craft nanobrewery model interesting – and inspiring.  I’m looking forward to sharing the story with some of my Blue Ridge Brewing Association friends next time we meet.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"75 @ 75" Project - a Wrap

Selfie on one of the first 75 @ 75 hikes to
Overall Run.
Yesterday I needed to replace my dog walking shoes, and I really like the Patagonia Men's Drifter A/C Hiking Shoe.  As I browsed the hiking books at REI, I was reminded that my last post on the “75 @ 75” project was a year ago, and I never met my objective for this initiative.  I guess it is time to write some wrap up posts and move on.

I designed the 75 @ 75 project to be a series of hikes I planned to take as a way to honor the 75th anniversary of the founding of Shenandoah National Park.  The hikes chosen were moderately strenuous, at least five miles in length and including a net elevation change of at least 500 feet.  Even though I have completed quite a few hikes in the park that did not qualify by this definition, my final status on the project (shown in the accompanying table) was seven hikes completed with total mileage of 54.8 miles. 

I simply ran out of time for the project, since these were all to be completed in the 2011-2012 timeframe to coincide with the park’s anniversary.  I plan to continue to check the box on the hikes from my original list, but since they will be done outside of the timeframe for the project, it’s time to put an end to 75 @ 75. I want the closure. 

Here’s one of the lists (sourced from the Heatwole guide, which is now out of print and not even available on Amazon at the moment) I compiled to identify appropriate hikes. The hikes in bold were completed during my 75 @ 75 attempt.

  • Hike 1 - Bluff Trail/AT, mile post 17.6, distance 12.8 miles, altitude change 2,400.  Includes two summits and some views, and about 5 miles on the AT.
  • Hike 2 - Piney Branch/Piney Ridge, mile post 22.1, distance 8.3 miles, altitude change 1,700 feet.  This one includes a mountain cemetery, old homesite, stream crossings, and a small waterfall. 
  •  Hike 3 - Knob Mountain/Jeremy’s Run, mile post 24.1 (at the Elk Wallow Wayside), two versions either 11.7 or 14.0 miles, elevation from 2,600 to 2,800 feet.  There’s a stream with cascades and a falls, and a summit.
  •  Hike 4 - Hazel Mountain, mile post 33.5, distance 5.3 miles and elevation change 1,070 feet (the easiest on this list!).  No summit here, but it is interesting for a combination of a falls, cascade, and a small cave.  Depending on when we go, maybe no spelunking – the snake scene in True Grit still creeps me out.
    Staircase on the Hazel Mountain trail.
  • Hike 5 - Pocosin Mission and South River Falls, mile post 59.5, distance 8.5 miles and elevation 1,800 feet.  This combines the ruin of an old cabin and mission, and then takes in the South River Falls, which was one of Chris’s and my main training hikes for the Half Dome a few years ago.
  • Hike 6 - Black Rock/Trayfoot Mountain Loop, mile post 84.8 or 87.4, distance approximately 10.0 miles and unestimated altitude change.  This trail is shown on one of the Park’s maps, which include distances but not altitudes.  This will take in the rock scramble at Black Rock, an old fire observation point on Trayfoot Mountain, and the hollow where the Black Rock Springs Hotel was located in the late 1800’s.
  • Hike 7 - Riprap Hollow and Wildcat Ridge, mile post 90.0, 9.8 miles and 2,400 feet.  Includes the two Civil War lookout points Chimney Rock and Cavalry Rock, 3 miles of AT section, cascades and a falls.
  • Bonus Hike (8):  Hannah Run and Hot-Short Mountain, mile post 35.1, 9.1 miles and 2,800 feet.  This one includes ruins of mountaineer cabins and a stream.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Strickler Knob - a Moderate GWNF Day Hike


There are a few of them:  Strickler Knob has been one of those hikes that I've strived to complete, but things just never have seemed to work out.  There have been weather-related cancellations, and then there was the time we tried to do it in January 2011, only to fail (check out the Strickler Knob label at the end of this post for more info about the trail and the 2011 attempt).  So when Chris and I arrived at the trail head at 11am last Saturday, I was happy to realize that we were going to finally check the box on this one - even if we were using a shorter version to make sure we completed the summit in daylight!

The trail we used starts at the Scotthorn Gap parking area - a spot in the GWNF we are very familiar with, since we started several of our training hikes for the 2005 Half Dome trip here, hiking up some of these very same trails.  Our planned route was about 5.4 miles long with approximately 800 feet of elevation.

Back in 2005, Strickler Knob was a true bushwack, I guess, which is one of the reasons we never found it.  The trail had been roughed out and was blazed, but it wasn't maintained and the route was lost.  Over the last few years, as discussed in the Hiking Upward review (http://www.hikingupward.com/GWNF/StricklerKnob/), it has been rediscovered and the route has been partially reblazed.

Our route led up the fire road - we'd hiked this many times before, and our familiarity was one of the reasons I wanted to start out and end the hike here, since if we ran out of daylight, we would be on a familiar stretch of trail.  Eventually we passed through a clearing - great campsites here, and we paused to rest on the fire ring - and then a slight descent to a beaver pond and the crossroads, where we had turned back from the summit in the 2001 attempt.

After another short climb, the intersection with the summit trail is hard to find because it is not marked with a sign or blaze. Instead, someone has built a rock pile talisman there, which is the spot where you should make your way to the north to begin following the ridge.  Before you cross the ridge, look up for a few pink or magenta items nailed high on tree trunks - the old blazes for this trail were that color, or pink.

For the most part, this hike follows the ridge of Strickler Knob, which is handy since the blazes can be hard to see - they are either not there, having been worn off, or there are long stretches where they haven't been placed, since the scrubby tree growth up here doesn't allow for the usual placement.  Being up on the ridge like that offers two key benefits:  as long as you continue north, eventually you will reach your objective; and there are incredible views to the east and west of the Luray Valley and the folds of the Massanutten Mountain, with glimpses that stretch off to West Virginia in places!

The highlight of this hike, which is a main feature of the Hiking Upward review, is the rock scramble that comprises the last third of a mile before the summit.  The terrain requires hand over hand climbing in two or three places, to heights of 10 to 12 feet - fortunately, the rock on this summit is mostly eroded limestone layers from the old seabed that was here prehistorically, so there are plenty of hand- and foot-holds.  Even in my out of shape condition, I didn't find it too difficult.

The ridge scramble becomes progressively more intense as you approach the summit.  The last few yards require a scramble over large bolders and rocks, and through a rock crack, more of a tunnel - I've got a shot of Chris standing in it.  And then finally, you're there on the summit, where you will find several stacks that you can climb up to take a seat on, and where there are even surfaces large enough to stretch out on for a sunny nap, if the weather permits.

For our part, we stayed up there for a half hour or so, resting and preparing for the descent.  We started back down the path, satisfied that our preparation and planning meant we'd have plenty of daylight for the hike back down.  We passed a couple of back country campsites, and even three hiking parties just getting to the ridge on our way back down.

I didn't envy those people, as this trail would be quite difficult with headlamps in the dark - I don't know that I would even attempt the scramble with any threat of darkness, and that's why we had bailed before.

But this time - we had accomplished what we set out to do.  This is definitely a highlight of the trails on Massanutten Mountain - and it is one I'm looking forward to trying again sometime!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Prep for the Strickler Knob Reattempt

Chris and I had been in touch about the possibility of taking a hike sometime this fall, and we finally managed to pull it all together over Veterans Day weekend.  We'd contemplated several routes, including a second climb of Duncan Knob, climbing Kennedy Peak to enjoy the views overlooking the Luray Valley, or perhaps Marys Rock in Shenandoah National Park.  In the end, we decided that we would go back and tend to some unfinished business by completing the Strickler Knob route we had tried back in 2011.

As we often do, we used www.hikingupward.com as one of our guides for preparing for the hike.  It describes a 9.1 mile trail as follows:

"Some of the best vistas in the mid-Atlantic.  The new Strickler Knob trail is a challenging rock hopping/scramble that has beautiful views of New Market Gap, the Luray Valley, and a 360 picture perfect panorama from the Strickler Knob summit.  A nice hike with a great little rock scramble on the ridge."

We set about preparing logistics for the hike, with the goal of Chris staying over at Hawksbill Cabin the night before to shorten the time it would take to rendezvous and get to the trail head.  So we met on Friday night at the house, and were ready to head out by 9am - with a quick stop at Southern Kitchen in New Market on the way.  We were on the trail by 11am, which gave us six hours of daylight for this moderate hike, shortened from the Hiking Upward version - we would do approximately 5.4 miles, with an elevation gain of 800+ feet.

Google Earth image of our route to the Strickler Knob summit.
As I mentioned, this was not the first attempt at this hike.  We first tried in in January 2011, on a cold day with temperatures in the teens - I was still dealing with jet lag after returning from my trip to Japan the weekend before.  In the end, as we struggled, burdened with so many layers to fight off the cold while we climbed nearly 900 feet over the course of a mile and a half section of the longer hike, and we simply had to give up because we were running out of daylight.  The blog post about that failed attempt is here:
http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2011/02/strickler-knob-moderate-and-incomplete.html

I had promised myself I would make another go of this one, and was glad that Chris agreed to try it.  I'll post about the trail tomorrow.








Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Buster Barn Cat

Last year, after one of the neighbors encouraged two young feral female cats to hang around the Hawksbill Cabin neck of the woods - there was a great surprise one weekend when suddenly there appeared two litters of four kittens each.  One of the litters had taken up residence under the garage (which I often refer to as the barn) and the other was under our pool deck.  Suddenly we had ten feral cats running around - I figured that was a good start on having 200 of them.

We found a local organization called Cat's Cradle in Harrisonburg, which has a mission of helping catch feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and releasing them back to where they came from.  (Here's a link to their web page:  http://catscradleva.org/).  We called them in and eventually managed to get the two mothers and six of the kittens fixed through the program.

Of the two we didn't get - we later found that one was a victim of a hawk (we've had some red tails back in the hollow the last couple years, along with the Coopers and Sharp-shinned hawks we frequently see), and one simply disappeared.  We just figured that nature had taken its course, and that we had taken care of all the feral cats.

We ended up adopting one of the kittens, a neighbor took another, and a home was found for a third - so there were now five feral cats around.  We've taken to feeding them and work with a couple of the neighbors to provide for them outside...and we haven't seen any traces of mice inside of Hawksbill Cabin in return for this.

A new cat - a feral tom that I call Buster - has started showing up over the last few weeks.  He is very friendly and vocal, comfortable around Mary and me, and will even accept being picked up (the others won't).  I think he may be the lost kitten, and that he was taken in by some tenants up the hill - they moved, and maybe abandoned him.

Buster hung around on Sunday and Monday while I raked leaves.  He found some good vantage points to observe me from - the brick terrace (I saw him sit in my chair), the window sill (outside, Sashi sits inside), and even the roof of the pool cabana.

Buster's a character, and I'd love to see him get adopted by somebody.  I'm even willing to help with the introductory vet bills for shots and neutering.

Contact me here with a comment if you know somebody interested.




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Along the Greenway

Frequent readers know that Mary and I enjoy frequent walks along the Hawksbill Greenway in Luray.  It's just an excellent community resource that provides so many people with a recreational outlet.  One of our favorite things is to take Tessie for a Sunday morning walk out there.

A few weeks back, around the time of those big rains, I took Tessie out for a walk, only to find that the little pedestrian bridge was closed, with some of the lateral railings down.  There is a walkway like this in the Potomac Gorge around Great Falls that is constructed with similar rails, designed so that it can be taken down quickly to protect it from seasonal flooding.  When I saw the closure on the Greenway, I thought, "Well, that's why they put this kind of bridge here - when the creek is up they can protect the bridge."

Flash forward a few weeks, and there is a front page story in the local paper about vandalism to the Greenway.  It turns out that some one vandalized the bridge, twisting the gates out and tossing them in the stream.  There were other impacts too.

While the paper mentioned an investigation that was still ongoing at the time, I got the impression that the vandals were mischievous youths - the final results haven't been published in the news yet.  However, what is known is that the damage cost about $7,000 to repair...the good news is that the bridge is reopened, as shown in the second photo.

Mary, Tessie and I took our walk last Sunday and were happy to see it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

For Sgt Darne

On Saturday, Mary and I got up at 0-dark-thirty - the designated starting time for so many things out here at Hawksbill Cabin - to join in an event over in New Market honoring Matthew Darne, a former Marine sergeant who was lost last April.  This was an event put together by Healing our Heroes, an organization that supports returning soldiers, all too many of whom are dealing with injuries that go much more deeply than the visible flesh and blood wounds that many of them bore.

My service, in the Cold War, never put me on the front lines, in the heat of battle - a 'hot war' as it were.  There were risks, but I can only read the books, or see the stories told in video (I recommend Restrepo for those who are interested in an embedded story about what the troops we sent over there have gone through) about loss of life or risk of injury in the heat of battle. Still, I know that despite the grief and worry that these stories bring to life, we just can't understand fully the complete picture.

I found this tribute post about SGT Darne:
http://bostonmaggie.blogspot.com/2013/04/farewell-matthew-colin-big-darne.html
He was a very likable fellow - just like the hundreds I met and served with.  It's a shame we lost someone of his character.

His wife was very strong as she spoke at the opening ceremony for this 5K Run and 1.25 mile walk at the New Market Battlefield State Park.

Today I'll keep her and the family, and so many of his friends, in my thoughts.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Lou Reed (a tribute)

You can always play a Hank Williams song, you can always play a Beatles song, and you can always play a Lou Reed song. - Beck

It’s already been a full work week since we first had the news that Lou Reed had passed away of a liver ailment at 71.  Rock and Roll critics were the first to respond with obituaries – those began showing up on Monday morning and Tuesday, and I’ve paused to read them whenever I noticed them.  Then my friend Tom put up a Facebook status recounting the experience of meeting Reed in person twice at venues in New York city; by Thursday, personal tributes began to reach the media, including a post by Beck, and another – a letter to fans – by Laurie Anderson, Reed’s wife. 


My own first reaction was to think about when I first encountered Lou Reed as an artist.  That would have been when the song “Walk on the Wild Side” was a Top 40 hit – I wasn’t sure what the song was about, but we listened to that 45 over and over, singing along to “…and the colored girls sing ‘do-te-do, te-do, te-do, do-te-do…’” A few years later, when the meaning of life was all coming together for me, I would think about this song while walking to Faustos in Key West along Duval Street on the morning after Halloween, enjoying the stories about all the parades and parties that had taken place there.

The second thing I did after hearing the news was to head down to the basement for a look at my vinyl LP collection.  There I found seven Lou Reed records, some bought in Berlin, and some at a used record store in Tampa.  I figure I have a couple of CDs around, and I know that I made a cassette of VU that I used to play on the Walkman back in the day. 

Lou Reed was one of a group of artists who had a strong connection to Berlin while I was there in the 1980’s, which happened to be some formative years for my taste in music.  We looked for DavidBowie and Iggy Pop mementos (check out the label Bowie Quest at the end of this post as an example), and of course there was the Lou Reed album entitled “Berlin.” Among these thoughts was the trip into Kruezberg with Tony Orth to a record store I’d never found before so he could pick up a copy of the first Velvet Underground record – the one with Nico and the Warhol banana on the cover.

Since then I learned about all the artists who point to Lou Reed as an influence.  There was a quote by Brian Eno in the early obits about how the Velvets didn’t sell a lot of records in those first years, but everyone who bought the early pressings of the first record probably eventually bought a guitar and started a band.  Some artists that were listed in that Rolling Stone obit included David Bowie, Ric Ocasek, Chrissie Hynde, U2, Sonic Youth, and R.E.M. – I found that I have LPs or CDs by each one of these artists.

I listened to Lou Reed’s 1989 release “New York” over and over again – I kept the CD in the car and listened to it on my drive to work. When I made my first trek up to New York for a weekend, driving up the NJT with my friends Kelly and Mark, that was part of the soundtrack.  “Give me your tired, your poor – and I’ll piss on them!” we sang along.

It’s cliché to say it, but Lou Reed’s music is part of the pop culture fabric for someone my age.  He’d rank up there in the top 5 or so favorites if I was inclined to put together such a list.  I was sad to hear the news of his passing – but I have taken a few minutes here and there this week to find YouTube clips of his performances of favorite songs.  I found that clip of Perfect Day that I had never seen or heard before.  

So even though he's gone, I guess I still have a lot to discover about Lou Reed's influence.  

Post script.  After I wrote the original posts, I had a couple of other recollections I wanted to add.

Around the time of my trip to NYC, when we sang along with Dirty Boulevard, a few friends formed a band called the Despondent Astronauts and played local venues in Adams Morgan and the emerging U Street corridor.  They did a few VU covers, including Pale Blue Eyes and Femme Fatale as we followed them around back then.

During the U2 Zoo TV tour (in 1992, I think) - this is the stadium tour where they'd brought along all the East German Trabbie cars as part of the stage set - Bono sang a cover of Satellite of Love.  He was out on one of those islands they create to get the band closer to the crowd, and suspended above him was one of the trabbies.  He took a rope that was attached to it and gave it a spin - so the satellite above remained in orbit for the rest of the song.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pig Wranglin' - Part 3

With one pig moved using the “goat halter” method, we stopped to regroup.  This method didn’t meet up to expectations on several accounts – for one thing, the pig squealing had upset and exhausted all the on-lookers, and for another, David’s shoe was full of…how shall I put it…ordure du cochon -

All was suddenly as I feared, and we were going to have to move on to Plan C:
“Chase down and catch the pigs one by one, and then carry them the 200 yards or so...”




Queue Flatt and Scruggs-


We went back to the barnyard, where the pigs had gone back into the chicken coop and were resting from all the excitement.  David remembered that he had an old training crate for his dogs, so we thought about how we might coax the animals into it one by one and transport them that way.  So the first thought was to see if we couldn’t just open the door to the chicken coop and let one of them out into the crate.

We tried it – but the pigs didn’t cooperate.  They knew by now that we were after them and they just looked at the open door, seeing that we had set a trap for them.  Then they just milled around the coop, eventually settling down in the straw to wait for us to go away.

Our next big idea was to move them back to the goat stall, and see if we couldn’t corral them from there.  Same technique for moving them – that worked, and now we had the three pigs back where we wanted them.

I carefully positioned the crate in front of the gate, and we opened it just slightly, so that unless the pigs took a flying leap they’d have nowhere to go except for inside.  Then David went around behind the pigs to rustle them up.  One came over to check out the crate.

David swooped in and caught the pig’s two back trotters, lifting them off the ground, and proceeded to try and push the pig into the crate wheelbarrow-style.  Once the pigs head was safely inside, we knew that the body would follow…that’s just how pigs work.

The pig’s head was free and he was choosing every direction but in the crate.  He got his nose under the crate, around the crate, over the crate, and at one point, he had part of himself squeezed between the gate and the crate.  Finally, David decided to snatch him completely off the ground and kind of toss him in – and I snapped the little hatch door closed.

Next step was to move him in the crate, which had taken a beating from all of this and didn’t look like it would survive being carried over.  We decided it might be best to haul the thing - pig and all - over to the new pasture, using the tractor with the bucket attachment.  We loaded him in, and I climbed in beside the crate for the ride.

Taking stock of my situation, you’d never catch me at work riding one of the machines.  But this was different – we were moving the pigs – and sometimes, you just have to go with it.  I hope none of our safety monitors are reading this.

That pig had settled right down as soon as he was in the crate.  I think it even went to sleep for a few minutes during the short drive over to the new pasture, where we unloaded him and then reconnected the electricity to the fence.  He immediately joined his colleague happily grazing and rooting around the fresh ground.

It was time for us to reconsider our approach – this crate method had worked out for us, but the other pigs had learned that once a pig went in, he didn’t come back.  Pigs are smart, you know, and also, these last two were wary. 

We spent another half hour in the barnyard with those two pigs, trying to catch them and move them.  It was a failed effort though – eventually, our thoughts turned to having some cold hard cider.  You know, there is a new cidery in the Valley…

I caught up with David and his brother a few days later at an event.  They told me they had started fresh the next morning, and moved the last two pigs easily – they even got them both into the crate at the same time.  I was happy and proud I could help come up with such an innovative, easy way to wrangle the pigs. 

I went back for eggs the next weekend, driving up slowly to make sure that the Sourses weren’t home this time.  It was all quiet while I made my transaction in the cooler, and then I quietly drove away, unscathed, and not out of my depth this time.


Still, on the way out, I stopped to check out the pigs in the new pasture.  When I walked up to the fence, they came a-running, putting the past behind them, happy to be on the fresh ground doing their piggy things.  They’ve got a few months left now to enjoy themselves.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pig Wranglin' - Part 2


Three of this year's group.  Lower left is the haltered pig.

We had come up with three ways to move the pigs, but we were already ruling them out, so I was worried we were going to run out of options.  Here are the three plans we’d hatched: 
  1. Build a short pathway from the barnyard to the pasture - but we didn't have enough electric fencing to get us all the way there.
  2. Use the goat halters to calmly walk the pigs from one place to the other.  This one sounded really good, in theory - at the time, I was not familiar with how readily pigs accept being on a leash.
  3. Chase down and catch the pigs one by one, and then carry them the 200 yards or so...the pigs at this stage are only 50 pounds or so, so I agreed that the idea was feasible, but not necessarily practical.

At their present size, the pigs could still get into the chicken coop, and they often slept in there with the chickens roosting above and on them.  It was a quiet and comfortable place for them – and so we decided we might use it as a corral.  We’d simply get them all to go in there and then we would shut the little door so they couldn’t get out.

David trekked around to the barn to find the goat halter and Brett and I wrangled the pigs into the chicken coop.  However, after a few tries in the closed quarters, it looked like the halter plan wasn’t going to work.  We decided to rustle them over to the goat stall, where we would have more room and the pigs would be closer to the gate we would use to move them through. 

Brett and I were stationed outside the chicken coop with a large plywood board to guide the pigs over to the other stall.  Our thinking was that if they came out of the coop and their view to the barnyard was blocked, they’d naturally turn towards the goat stall – and once they were headed in that direction it would be a natural thing for them to just go on in there, especially once they saw us out in the barnyard.  And that was just how it worked out for us – easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

But now we had a stall full of four pigs who were on to us.  We closed the gate on them, and David dropped the halter down on one of the pigs, catching it under one of its forelegs and around the neck. 

If you catch a dog this way, as long as the animal is not already panicked, you might find it simply relaxes under the gentle pressure applied to its chest and back – it’s a calming feeling to them that reminds them of their mother’s care when they were pups.  Not so with pigs – their instinct is that any constraint means that they have become a prey animal, and the eating will begin soon. 
The pig was right in this case, except that we planned to give it a few more months before the deed must be done.  But the animal bucked and jumped a few times, and the screaming started.  Not something you want to be around – I heard the peanut gallery over there yelling “Make it stop!” a few times.

This pig wasn’t going anywhere on a leash.  It finally just collapsed on the floor of the stall and waited to meet its maker – except that wasn’t our plan at all.  David moved in and hefted the pig off the ground, hauling him towards the gate and yelling out instructions as he went, only barely loud enough to be heard over the pig.

We got them through gate, closing it behind so the others couldn’t get out.  David was moving along at a trot, with the pig in his arms, and I followed along to open the electric fence (that we had turned off, I should be sure to note).  Meanwhile the pig was screaming all the while.

David’s triathlon training was paying off, and I had trouble keeping up with him, but there was another good reason for me to keep my distance.  About halfway to the new pasture, David looked over his shoulder and back at me, asking asked, “Is this pig peeing on me?”

“No, David,” I said, “he’s shitting on you.” In fact, the pig had been continuously evacuating itself since they’d gotten out of the barnyard.  Fortunately, most of it had not landed on David – but now I noticed that he was not going to emerge unscathed from the experience.

“I think I got some in my shoe!” he said.

Plan C at work - but that's tomorrow's post.
As we continued along towards the new pasture, I had to reflect on my own preparation for this experience.  Two years of butchering, and a month as an agribusiness intern doing odd jobs on the farm, and this was the first time I had seen an animal release such quantities – and on the fly, so to speak, as well.  I had developed such a pastoral, bucolic view of the whole eat local thing, but that was turning into something altogether different, and fast.

I turned these thoughts over in my mind until I remembered why we were doing this – for next spring’s bacon.  I got over it pretty quickly after that.  We sped through the rest of the chore, getting that pig in its new pasture and turning on the electric fence, and our thoughts began to move on to how we might catch and move the other three.


At this point, the one thing we knew for sure was that this approach wasn’t going to work for us with the next one.  We were going to move on to plan C – and that’s where I will pick up the story tomorrow.