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YAK ATTACK

Summer… time for grilling!  I got 1 lb of awesome looking Yak meat from a Taos grazier who has a stand at the farmers market.  The plan: to craft some into a burger in the style of this spicy bison burger recipe, and make more of it into some green chili breakfast sausage!  Yay! I would like to compare it to the green chili bison sausage of awesomeness.

The visit so far is progressing well!  The plan on Friday was to drop off the baby rooster in santa fe, perhaps load up some free pallets if they are still there and then on to abq.  Pick up some food at Annapurna and be at the airport at 9!    It actually all worked out quite well.  The rooster is re-homed, and the lady was really delighted with him!  She drove off smiling with little dude sitting on her lap peering out the window.  The 2 girls seem to be adjusting to being down a member.  I next swung by a nearby neighborhood in santa fe and managed to load 5 free pallets into my car, and then on to abq.  Got some delicious food and picked up geoff.  We just hung out on the roof level of the airport parking garage and ate looking out over the city.  I got a present!  A folder of 100 CDs that he burned from his collection! This is awesome because: new music! but also my XM radio (and even FM radio) have ceased to function in my car, so CDs are my only form of musical entertainment and i was getting REALLY sick of my old ones.  So, it’s been fun flipping through and picking one at random, never know what I’ll get.

So, yeah.  We stayed up late on Friday, and slept in Saturday blessedly rooster-free.  Sat/Sunday were like breakfast, did some construction work, got some plants from a greenhouse in white rock.  Built an amazingly ghetto compost bin from my free pallets!  It’s possible I’ll add some refinement later (like, oh a real hinged lid, and maybe a way to open it from the front. or maybe not) but for now it works to keep the animals from digging and making a freaking mess all over.  And started working on the coop V2.  I have a hard time with framing because – there is no level surface anywhere for me to work!  I could really use like… a garage or workshop or basement – someplace with a floor? a giant table?  So it’s hard getting things square, or cuts that are straight so I have to repress my urge to fiddle for perfection.  Just telling myself it’s good enough, I can can fill in those gaps with caulking no problem.

My car is still making troublesome sounds and feelings of vibration.  I don’t entirely trust it, but I feel spread very, very thin these days like spending many hundreds to diagnose and fix whatever is going on is just beyond my reach.  It’s like there feels something wrong with the suspension, or steering/wheel connections… plus an .. exhaust leak?  Something is causing it to shake at idle.  And the transmission, when I let the clutch out, thrums in a way I find disconcerting.  So, anyway driving lately hasn’t really been reassuring.  Has slowed me down, though.

So apparently cinder may be driving down here tomorrow! goodness gracious.  At least the room is pretty much ready to go, just need to clean some stuff out.  I have to also clean off at least half the office to find usable desk space (this mostly involves a lot of filing and judicious trashing) and provide internet up there for her old G5.  I bought …. this.   An apple airport express.  My hope is that this will latch onto the existing wireless network and .. make it better.   For the upstairs.  And also provide an ethernet port to plug in ancient machines of yore that lack the wireless capabilities.  I believe this is possible.

Other things to do:

Finish painting closet door / rehang.
Find new storage for geoffs stuff (closet?)
Install floor trim
Empty closet (rehome linens and towels, clothes)
Clear out office/organize/file
Set up network

Make dining room into a place more fit for dining, and less workshop.
Finish drywall??? ugh
Transplant new plants
omg coop

Not much else, the week has been pretty normal – work, come home, eat delicious dinners, and either raid or completely bail on raiding as the case may be (Tuesday night REQUIRED pizza and beer in santa fe).  We’re up to the final season of The Wire – it will have taken us almost a year watching off and on during visits to get through it!   Will have to find a suitable follow-up.  It’s nice just playing at leading a life, I suppose – the time between visit this round seemed very very long.

I did end up making those yak burgers! Although not the sausage.  Grilling, always fun.  The spicy ketchup is fun, and I thought the meat had a very nice flavor.  Geoff actually had some too – I’m eating less meat overall as mentioned, and he’s open to eating it for “special occasions” – not more than a few times a year I’m sure.  It was a little odd, to be honest!  I had mentioned that I got some local grass-raised Yak meat from Taos, and that I thought I’d make a burger to try it out (he’s been positive about my goal to limit meat intake to local/sustainably raised non-factory sources so I had no qualms there) and I figured I’d make a gardenburger for him, but he offered to just have a yak.  I was like … ok!  I suppose because it was rather recently that I’d inquired how he would feel about the occasional meats (which was itself spurred by the menu for a special dinner that I wanted to attend).  Anyway, I was sort of uncertain how to feel (guilt? pleasure?) and he was a little reserved as well.  When I cook vegetarian stuff as is the norm, I can be like How do you like it?? is it good? are you pleased??? But with this, I didn’t know what the right attitude was!  So I was quite hesitant in asking what he thought, because, such a loaded question.

Ended up not really talking until the following evening, he said physically he felt mostly fine although certainly the digestive track changes over time with a vegetarian diet – that could have been worse.  Didn’t seem quite sure how he felt about the experience, though he’s not ruling it out or anything.  Still processing. Talked a bit about the morality of killing miserable animals in horrid conditions for food, vs animals that have had a pleasant existence comparatively grazing in the mountains – it’s like, ok well its clearly better. But, then vs eating animal flesh at all – is it necessary?  And yes, the beeve or whatever may have been happier in its life up till that moment of death, but in the end it still died for you so is it really a huge difference, or merely an improvement on an undesirable situation?  I tend to come at it from a slightly different angle – I’m fine with the idea that humans are omnivores; I do not believe that a person needs to have meat with every meal (far from it); and I think that just because it’s morally acceptable to eat meat, that doesn’t give us the right to be cruel about it.  I tend to be somewhat more concerned with the impact that one’s diet has on the environment and in that sense, eating vegetarian isn’t necessarily and obviously superior just because you forsake meat.

It’s not like our farming policies and practices are benchmarks in sustainability and good practice whereas factory (meat) farming is all that’s wrong with the country.  Far from it … so where I struggle is, how do you weigh the impact of a vegetarian meat-substitute (like this one – and these are fucking delicious, I must say. But click on the drop-down list of ingredients) vs a grazed and locally slaughtered animal like my Yak (where the ingredient list is literally just yak).   So, on the one hand you’ve got a product where, it’s true nothing died for your meal directly at least, but it implicitly supports the crazy corn/soy farming subsidies, it’s highly processed and full of additives, and who can calculate just how much refined oil products were consumed in the manufacture, packaging and shipping all over the country to get it to your freezer – vs some meat in a simple vacuum-sealed package that traveled under 100 miles to arrive at your farmers market.  For me, if I were to be tipped into making an even larger lifestyle change than I already have, to feel good about myself and my actions, not to mention healthy, I would be a lot more inclined to say that being careful to eat locally and seasonally would have a much larger real-world impact than going vegetarian in a careless way.  I’m sure my opinions are flavored a bit by all the lazy vegetarians I’ve known over my life.  By which I mean, those who eschew meat, and subsist on kraft mac n cheese and toasted white bread.  I’m sure they have their reasons, and that’s fine, but it definitely does not speak to me.

So, along those lines, I was very pleased to create a few meals last week that were 100% local from the farmer’s market with eggs from my very own chickens.  I find that a lot more satisfying, on a personal level, than “just” making a vegetarian dish using ingredients that have been shipped to me from mexico.  Although to be fair, it’s just another example of how standards change – for instance “just” making a vegetarian meal from scratch even if the vegetables aren’t necessarily seasonal is way way more pleasing than eating something already prepared, processed, and frozen for my convenience.  So, you know. I guess in general I feel like I’m doing better, but there’s still room for improvement! Todays farmer’s market haul was another huge sack of greens and onions and peas and mushrooms and herbs and the first cherries of the season! Exciting.  If I can find my muffin tin, I am thinking some mini-fritatta could be the way to go for some of it!

One of the things that Geoff has been sort of going in circles around, is the idea of eating some animals but not others – like why some are “pets” and therefor sacred, but others are ok to raise for slaughter.  I have some thoughts there but I guess that’s a topic for another day.

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