I'm the boss no more!
The past couple of weeks have again been busy ones. The main sheep flock got moved over to the new shed that my carpenter friend Joe Gibeault built. I found a new free organic feed source--spent brewer's grains from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing--which I started offering to my lactating ewes. My long lost friend Michelle came to visit from NYC. We reminisced over our summer together working on a CSA farm in Pennsylvania while she helped me milk Poppy and move electric fence around. And we went to the car races at the Watsonville Speedway--a new cultural experience for Michelle.
Meanwhile, I've been busy at my paying job helping to ease the transition for the new chef, Sean Baker, who officially started this week. He really hasn't needed me to do much handholding though. He has already proved his awesomeness by cooking a six course dinner paired with wines from Bonny Doon Winery on his first night in the kitchen. You can see some gorgeous pictures of his gorgeous food at Tana Butler's blog www.iheartfarms.com. I am so pleased he's agreed to take over the helm at Gabriella Cafe--I knew it was a perfect match after the first ten minutes or so of his interview. Farming has always been the dream for me, but I've loved working in the kitchen and saw the potential that our little restaurant had if the right person came along to pursue their dream as a chef. I'm not going to fawn all over him anymore here--there's going to be plenty of other people doing that soon enough (and there are already--see Tana's blog!). It has just been a joy to work with someone who is totally psyched about what he is doing and what I've been doing, and in some ways that makes it a little harder for me to let go of the cooking profession. I must admit that since I've been unchaperoned and unsupervised in the kitchen for the past couple of years I've gotten a little lazy and sloppy--not that I haven't worked my ass off. But cooking with an intense person of skill and talent, who puts a lot of passion into their food has inspired me to push myself more as a chef.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot more of me to push around, what with caring for my animals and making plans for the farm, so I am going to have to resist the pull of the kitchen. I felt a little guilty yesterday that I was smiling to myself as Sean ripped apart the dry storage area and reorganized it in a fit of frustration. It was rewarding to see someone else care about the details that I've felt like I was the only one who cared about. It was also nice to see him claiming territory and settling in to his kitchen. Mostly I think that I got satisfaction from the fact that someone else was grumbling and cursing about the same things that have bugged the crap out of me on a regular basis for the past couple of years!
All in all I have to say that after a week of long days in the kitchen it was such a pleasure to come home to the farm this evening. I took my happy, frolicking puppies for a walk around the fenceline, came back and milked Poppy (who has finally settled down to eating hay while i milk), and stood for a while and admired the little lambs curled up together in a heap while their moms ate dinner. For every path you follow there are always those infinite number of other options you are walking away from. This used to paralyze me with doubt, but as I've aged I've realized that there isn't ever a necessarily wrong or right choice. It's just a matter of making a choice and going with it to see where it takes you, and doing your best to find out what is right about it for you. Before I get carried away with anymore Hallmarky sentiment I think i am going to leave it at that.