Mayday, 2021

the new sourdough

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are when my parents, my 4 brothers, and I would travel to West Virginia from Texas to visit my grandparents. I loved it there, so green and much cooler than back home. Grammy and Grampy Brown had a big old house with land outside the town of Buckhannon with a very large garden, a barn with chickens and a cow. A swinging bridge was just down the river out back. My favorite thing was when I got to collect eggs and feed the chickens. That specific smell brings me right back to the barn when I smell it. Grammy would milk the cow daily and we would have fresh milk, cream, and butter that I watched her churn.

After Jamie and I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, earlier this century, he worked full time for the State of New Mexico and I initially only worked part time. That left me with plenty of time to garden and do other projects. Despite the lack of rain and the harsh winters, we were able to have a productive garden. I started helping a goat co-op and learned to milk goats and make cheese. I started lobbying Jamie to make me a chicken coop, so I could get the chickens I had wanted since my childhood.

And then I read about a project that was rehabbing milk cows that were culled from commercial dairy’s for reasons usually related to issues with milking machines. They would retrain them into family cows. I so wanted one, not that we had anyplace to keep it, but still….

As soon as I told Jamie about wanting a family cow, he agreed to build the chicken coop. Hah. We loved our chickens and named them after our string band, Victory Chicken; Banjo Patterson for the Australian poet; and the infectious disease duo of Sam and Ella. But sadly, we had to leave them in Santa Fe when we moved back, with a Frenchman who would put them to good use when they finally stopped laying eggs.

Ever since then I have yearned for chickens again. I miss their entertaining ways, the fresh eggs, and the amazing fertilizer their droppings make. But, alas, we lack enough space and we try to be good neighbors. So, yesterday instead of chickens, I tried to buy worms for my new worm bin that I built recently at a class at my local neighborhood center.

And that is when I discovered that worm farming is the new sourdough baking. As the pandemic isolation has evolved, many people have learned new skills and taken up new hobbies. This time last year, you couldn’t find yeast or flour. Everyone was posting photos of their loaves of sourdough. This year, finding red wiggler worms for worm bins is just about impossible. Sigh, but a shipment is coming soon to a hardware store near by.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, unless you and the people you are with are vaccinated, of course.