The Farm on Oak Creek



My beloved tom

Maybe I should say “Successes!”  Every time I log into my site to post I have to answer a simple addition or subtraction question.  Every time I get the answer right is a success for me.

Beyond that, this week has been a great week even though my propane burner died and little Hannah is NOT taking to weaning well. I’ll leave the big success for last and start with the smaller ones.  First, I bought a REAL propane burner to replace the “Turkey Fryer” burner I originally bought three years ago to dip my first batch of turkeys (all twelve of them) before plucking.  At first the burner had a timer on it, which I burnt up.  The ex replaced it with an open valve, which turned out to be too open and burnt up the rest of the mechanism.  This new burner hasn’t got enough PSI to heat cold water to the 145 degree water (at least in my lifetime) I need for proper feather removal in a timely manner, but that’s okay for this year because I have a hot water spigot outside the commercial kitchen that will give me 135 degree water in the pot.  An hour at a slow burn should bring that into range and the lower PSI might actually keep the water from getting too hot.  Just in case, I’m filling the second propane tank.  Because I didn’t get any birds done yesterday while waiting for the new burner to show up I hope to do at least ten today.

Which brings me to my next success.  A friend (Mike of The Village Gardens) brought eight of his ravaging horde over to process last Saturday. They’d been escaping their property and taking off toward parts unknown, something turkeys love to do.  I started at 1:00 pm and was cleaning up at 3:30.  That’s a huge leap from from the full day it took me to do my first five birds.  Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Okay, not perfect but at least quick.

My third success has to do with the cows.  As you know if you read my last post, taking Hannah off Elsie gave me milk again.  Whoop!  I love hot chocolate (I expect I’ll have to be careful about that if I want to keep off the weight I accidentally lost on the “divorce diet” over these past months).  What I didn’t expect was Elsie to cycle into heat.  I don’t know why I didn’t think this would happen.  A lot of human women don’t cycle while breast feeding, and cows are mammals too.  But there she was yesterday morning, bellowing like crazy.  All morning I was scratching my head, thinking, “I wonder why she’s so upset about not being with the calves this morning when she wasn’t that way a few days ago?”  Then I brought her up for milking and did the dope slap.  Duh.  A quick call brought Gary Mortimer out here at dusk and he confirmed it as he made her pregnant again.  I was torn about inseminating her this month instead of waiting for next month and doing her with sexed semen (things I never knew I needed to know, right?) to give Elsie a better chance at producing another heifer.  I guess if she doesn’t take this time, I’ll be better prepared 21 days from yesterday.  Hopefully by then Hannah will have given up on the suckling, although I think that little girl has her mother’s stubborn streak.

All of this brings me to my final success, the BIG SUCCESS and the reason I went ahead and AI’d Elsie this month.  It looks like I get to stay on the farm, that this place will turn out to be my forever home–or at least be my home long enough to gain the value I need in order to get another place big enough to keep all my critters.  Seriously, I’ve been fretting over the possibility of losing this house because I couldn’t get the commercial kitchen approved.  I mean, what apartment manager is going to allow me to keep a Tom Turkey on my back patio?  I’m stating this here and now: I’m not going anywhere I can’t take Tom.

It happened Wednesday and I’m still struggling to take it in.  The Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously to allow my use permits for the commercial kitchen. The permits are 1) to allow me to have two kitchens in my house–one residential kitchen and one commercial kitchen and 2) to allow me to rent out my commercial kitchen.  Mind you, I still have to appear before the board of supervisors in December, but for the first time since I closed the gate after the ex departed for the farm-less life he craved so badly, I feel certain I’m going to keep my home, my animals and the life, and community, I’ve come to love.

Oh my goodness, getting to this point has taken just about all my time for the past three months.  It meant setting aside the new book (which I should be  finishing this month but am not) as I did a whole lot of other paperwork.   I swear I spent all of September following cyber-mazes on Google looking for answers to questions I wasn’t certain I understood asked by someone connected to my property via these use permits.

I’ve learned a lot in the process.  For example, I now know that my septic tank is big enough to accommodate two kitchens and that eggs should never be stored on the top shelf of a refrigerator (in case they break and spill all over other things below them).  This bit of information resulted in me moving my eggs to the cool storage room.  This way I don’t have to worry about who-knows-what dripping on my eggs. Why I worry about this I’m not sure, since I don’t wash my eggs and they often have you-know-what all over them.  And that it’s not a bedroom if you don’t have heating and cooling ducts in the space.  Who knew!

Well, I do now.  Was it worth it?  I’ll let you know next month after the Board of Supervisors meeting.  But for the moment, I’m home and filled with optimism.

© Denise Domning, 2023