The Farm on Oak Creek

What a Week!

Hamburger and Hamburger's Helper

Hamburger and Hamburger’s Helper

Sorry about missing the second post last week, but I lost control of my life.  As always happens when I do that, sprockets spring, springs sprocket and colored streamers and confetti explode out of my head.  At least it was a somewhat productive breakdown.  First, Moosie succeeded in teaching Hannah Mae how to dig for gophers.  This has been his mission with each and every calf here.  And each calf has indeed stood next to him while he digs, watching in fascination, including Hannah. It’s like they’re saying to him “Oh, yeah!  This is fun.  We’re having fun, aren’t we?  But what exactly are we doing?”  On Friday, while I was herding turkeys into the coop, I caught Hannah pouncing over and over on a pile of loose dirt stirred up by the dust-bathing turkeys.  She was lifting onto her back legs then bringing both front legs down with pretty decent force as she tried to kick the dirt out behind her.  It took me a moment recognize “cow digging”.

Other successes include many more pages of the new book written, new jelly sales and the accidental creation of Hell Jelly.  My son suggested the name.  This last batch of Jalapenos turned out to be really, really hot–much more than they should be.  The jelly is all heat and not much sweet.  I’m thinking about giving it away for Halloween.

But the most important success is that I’m no longer a provisional commercial kitchen.  I passed my final Health Department inspection.  It’s for real!  The kitchen is completely legal, I’m fully vetted and we’re both 100% working!

Well, almost.  Part of the hiccups this week was discovering that certain pieces of paperwork are missing from my records regarding the kitchen’s construction.  The most important missing piece is the fire marshal’s inspection of the commercial hood.  Both I and the folks at Abreeze Fire Protection, who installed the hood, remember the marshal coming to the house, but neither of us have a copy of his report and approval, which we also remember verbally getting.  Mind you, this all happened more than a year ago and the guy who did the inspection was apparently infamous for not getting his paperwork done.  I need that inspection, so I’ve been trying to get in contact with the new guy at the fire department so he can come out and look at the kitchen.  So far, no success in getting him to return my calls.

I gathering my paperwork because I’m finally staring straight at the Mother of All Hurdles: my November 18th appearance before the Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Board.  Since I can’t use my kitchen every day, not working all the other jobs I do, I’ve asked the county to allow me to rent it out in 4 hour blocks to young food entrepreneurs trying to bring new products to the market.  I’ve also asked them to allow me to keep two kitchens in my home, one for residential use, the other strictly commercial. This isn’t a whim on my part.  The Health Inspector tells me that the first time I wash a cat bowl in my commercial kitchen, he’ll have to pull my license.

I must conquer this hurdle.  If I don’t, I not only lose the ridiculous amount of money that I allowed the &@#% ex to pour into the construction project–Yes, I’m an idiot and I should have taken the checkbook away from him, but I thought we’d suffer the deprivations together and work it out together as we’d done in the past.  Dastard!–but the small and steady stream of baseline income that the kitchen can generate. That income will be enough to cover the basics here and allow me to maintain my animals.  Without it, especially if it’s coupled with a demand for me to remove one of the kitchens, I’ll have no choice except to put the house on the market. I’m told by someone in one of the county supervisors’ offices that the ultimate criterium by which Planning and Zoning makes its decisions is property value.  Trust me, NOTHING is going to tank the value of my neighbors’ homes more than me selling this place right now. I don’t think I could even get what we paid for it five years ago at the moment, not with two useless kitchens (one of which the new owners will have to remove), wallpaper half on/half off walls, three different sets of flooring none of which match, baseboards missing, bathrooms decorated circa 1985 or older.

On a slightly less stressful note, or maybe not, my tom turkeys are now fully in their “tom” phase.  Lordy, are they annoying!  They’re hooligans who roam the property in a pack.  Yes, I meant to use that word.  They’re like a bunch of teen-aged boys, arguing with each other, bopping each other on the heads just to see if they can, and showing off to every available female.  Their daddy, my real Tom, has been dancing up a storm to remind them that he’s still boss.  It’s a good thing they still respect him.  More than a few are substantially bigger than he is now.  Thanks heavens it’s almost Thanksgiving and they’ll soon be gone.  Like last year, I’ll keep Tom and 20 hens.  The rest are Thanksgiving dinners or ground turkey and bone broth.

The final note on my list of stress inducers is one that’s both funny and teeth-gritting. Hamburger and her helper decided to help me clean the chicken coop yesterday.  Or rather they helped me re-clean the chicken coop.  If it stinks or gets poop in it, I clean it on Sunday: coops, corrals, cat boxes, food bowls, waterers, etc. Yesterday Elsie and Georgie took a liking to the fresh bedding I’d just put in the chicken coop.  The picture above shows them jostling to get their heads far enough into the door to be able to eat.  I’m so sorry I didn’t take my camera with me when I went down to chase them out.  By the time I’d reached the field, Elsie had won the battle for the doorway and She Who Weighs More Than 1000 Pounds was standing on the tiny little chicken ramp trying to squeeze her massive body through the coop doorway.  I’m not sure what I would have done if she’d managed to get in, because I don’t think she could have gotten out on her own.  There’s not room enough in there for her to turn around.

Maybe, I could have called the fire department to help me extract her and had them do the hood inspection while they were here?

Wish me luck!




© Denise Domning, 2023