2006 and 2007 were significant years of change for Casey and me. We completed our Master’s degrees, moved from Bellingham, WA to McMinnville, started a farm business, bought land, and built a house. Might I point out that each of these “items” represents a lot of work, investment, and uncertainty?
Yet, with the energy that comes from being young and enthusiastic, we made it through what was essentially One Very Big Year. We moved into our new house on Earth Day of 2007 and started the lifelong work of Putting Down Roots in our new place.
We still had plenty to do — it was only our second season farming at all, and our first season farming this particular piece of land. We were so engrossed in developing systems and building infrastructure and buying much-needed equipment. But then early in that summer’s market season, the universe offered us an unexpected gift when one of our regular customers walked into our booth carrying the sweetest little white kitten. He had orange ears and cap and tail, and my whole insides went “squeeeeeeeee!”
When I inquired about said adorable kitten, the customer said, “His brother’s in the car.” Two little white cats with orange heads and tails! And they were available to a good home. For the first time in our adults lives, we were settled down in one place, planning to stay there for the foreseeable future (or, in more romantic terms, “until we die”). Kittens suddenly seemed like The Best Idea Yet.
So, we traded some vegetables for kittens and our customer let us borrow her carrier to bring them home from that market day. We gave our kittens the names of some of our favorite carrot varieties (Nelson and Mokum), in honor of their orange tails. And, so began a long farm friendship with these two very sweet cats who stole our heart right away.
I wrote a bit about the farm animals earlier this year, including these cats of ours. They’ve lived here almost as long as we have, and it’s hard to imagine the farm without their presence, especially as they are present with us so much — accompanying us on field walks, greeting our guests, hanging out nearby while we harvest. Their white color make them stand out in the fields, and it’s so easy to spot them hunting in the field even if I’m in the house cooking a meal. They felt like such a permanent part of the farm, but of course even the most awesome farm cats are, in fact, mortal.
Early last week, we noticed we hadn’t seen Nelson in over a day. At the age of 13, he had been slowing down, hanging out closer to the house more, and we doubted he would go on a long cat adventure without checking in. We searched for him on our property and called to him with the the special “kitty-calling” whistle that Casey and Dottie both can do so well (and Rusty and I kind of can’t). I checked with neighbors. But there was still no sign of him.
Finally on Saturday, our neighbor to the south reported seeing a cat in his orchard, just across the road from our property. Casey and he checked, and sure enough, there was Nelson’s body. We were so relieved to find him and have an answer, but we were so sad to give up the hope that he’d return to us whole and happy. We buried him right away, thanking him for a wonderful 13 years of companionship.
In a year when so much we love has been stripped out of our life, it felt especially hard to lose this furry part of our family. We have felt especially sad for his brother Mokum, who has definitely noticed the absence of his companion as well. We’ve all given him extra snuggles, which has helped us and hopefully helps him too.
Maybe the universe has more kittens to send our way sometime soon — when we’re ready again. But for now we’re cherishing our memories and missing this sweet animal who walked with us through so many farm changes. Thank you Nelson for being a part of our farm and our life!
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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Final CSA payment due August 27! I’ll be emailing CSA statements to everyone later this week to remind you about the final CSA payment of the year — this will include your balance due for the remainder of the year. You can bring checks to pick-up or mail them to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. You can also make your final payment with any major card: PayPal.me/oakhillorganics If you have any questions about your balance due, please just email me.
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Meet this week’s vegetables: We’re in full summer mode now. Enjoy all the delicious flavors, colors, and textures! Once again, I recommend the cabbage for summer cole slaw. I made a quick easy slaw for dinner last night. I pulsed a cabbage and carrots in the food processor to make small bits and then dressed them with a very simple dressing of equal parts apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and plain yogurt. It was delicious and so easy!