Thursday, June 15, 2017

Making Connections

Mark and I spent another day in the hills repairing fence. This time the deer flies and mosquitoes nearly drove us mad. Well, actually, you can’t let your mind go there, just slather on the repellant and try to ignore them. It works for the first few hours.

This is a good spring for camas lilies. Their pale periwinkle blossoms, so delicate and lovely, are abundant across the soggy meadows.  

We dug up a plant to see what the bulb looked like. They were a Native American food staple, high in protein and carbohydrates. The bulbs were baked in an earthen pit for a long, long time to bring out the sugars and prepare them for storage. Camas lilies were so plentiful that non-natives sometimes confused the fields of blue with standing water.

There’s a tiny cabin in the mountains with a porch that looks out to the east. There's a bench to sit on, side by side. I looked at it wistfully; seems we never take time to sit there. We’re always in a hurry to finish up and get home. Well, there was that one time . . . 

The following weekend we flew to Seattle to do “in-stores” for our marketing cooperative, Oregon Country Beef, a sister line to Country Natural Beef. We’ve been members for a dozen years now, but standing in a grocery store cooking burgers on a tiny grill, talking to city dwellers is an eye opener and not within the scope of our comfort zone.

Seth and Anna joined us, as well as my sister and her husband from my ranch of origin, so we could handle three stores at a time. The question I ponder is this: "who learns more, the rancher or the consumer?"  

Quite a few vegetarians declined our offer, of course. But the meat eaters loved it.  

Getting to know the meat staff is one of the funnest parts of the job. They treated us well and even brought us a cushy mat to stand on. The store manager of the Bothell PCC Natural Market brought us a big serving of scrumptious gluten-free chocolate cake!   

Many shoppers have a connection to a farm or ranch somewhere in their past and like to tell us about it. One woman in spandex shorts told us about her granddad’s place that was for sale, “the end of a legacy.” 

It’s fun to visit the city, and Mark’s cowboy hat always garners a few stares and a few handshakes. “Are you from Texas?”

We toured Pike’s Place Market, ate expensive seafood, and explored the locks at Chittendon on Salmon Bay. It’s a long ways from deer flies and camas lilies to Seattle, but good clean food crosses boundaries and we found lots of like-minded folks that made us feel at home.