Oven and Earth Farm is actually my parents’ place, the house and property where I grew up. My kids and I spend a LOT of time over there during the summers. My parents are my primary child care providers, so they make it possible for me to do the things I do.
I don’t feel like I was raised on “a farm.” As a kid, it just seemed like an oversized garden and some chickens, and that’s basically what it still is today. My parents grow a couple dozen vegetables on several acres of land, and my mom sells the produce along with baked goods at the Corvallis Saturday Farmers’ Market. She’s been doing it since 1983, the year I was born.
I have to admit that I NEVER helped my parents in the garden when I lived at home. The knowledge I absorbed from that place is less tangible than any actual farming skills. I learned a lot about picking and eating vegetables, and I found an appreciation for home-cooked meals with fresh, high-quality ingredients. My parents were never poor, but they kind of acted like the were, so early on, I picked up on the fact that I didn’t need to spend a lot of money or have fancy things to be happy. These are a few of the lessons I hope my children learn from me and also from their Nana and Papa.
I took all these photos on Wednesday shortly after buying a new lens for my camera. These few pictures are not particularly representative of the sum total of activities going on at Oven and Earth, but I hope this glimpse will leave you with a sense of the place. I’m sure you’ll see more photos of this garden on the blog in the future.
Levi holds a bantum rooster named Tiny. Charlotte peels a sweet onion for the farmers’ market on Saturday.
Dried poppy pods.
Flowering purple basil and ripening concord grapes.
A week-old chick and a mama hen’s butt.
These are oversized pickling cucumbers that will get fed to the chickens.
My parents have a sweet sandbox. It gets played in a LOT.
This honeysuckle vine almost covers the entire chicken coop. It’s pretty nice for masking the smell of chicken poo.
My mom is religious about drying clothes outdoors.
Here’s this fall’s kale crop.
Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps?
You might not be able to tell, but this is an 8-foot-wide by 50-foot-long windrow of mint mulch. This stuff is a byproduct of commercial mint production in the Willamette Valley. Processors distill all the oils out of the plants, and what’s left over is the cooked plant material. My parents use it as compost on pretty much everything.
The above photo of Charlotte isn’t that technically amazing, but I’m proud of my monkey child, so I thought I’d show y’all. My kids are in love with their Papa (my dad).
A note about my photography:
I bought a Nikon D3100 (an entry-level DSLR) back in December, and at the time, I had basically no experience with photography. I was completely baffled by the settings at first, but after I started to get comfortable with shooting photos in auto-mode, I decided that I should be a little more serious. I took a one-night photography workshop taught by local photographer Chris Becerra to help me wean myself from auto-mode and into the wide world of manual.
Anyone who knows anything about photography will tell you that the lens that comes in the DSLR kit is almost worthless. I was aware of that from the get go, but after buying an expensive camera, I didn’t feel like I could spend more money on buying a lens, too. And I wondered if I could really tell the difference. After eight months of using my camera almost daily, I started feeling like I was ready to upgrade, but I still had doubts. Then I read this blog post by amazing artist and Red Onion Woodworks fan Mae Chevrette. Her story was the same as mine, but as soon as I saw her photos with her new camera lens, I knew that I needed one ASAP. I bought a Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens, and I am thrilled. It is totally worth it. I’m kind of glad I waited until I could appreciate the difference but now I feel like I should go back and reshoot everything. I have quite a few photos taken with the old lens back-stocked for future blog posts, so for a while, you’ll see some of both. I wonder if you dear readers can tell the difference?
Thanks, so much, Mae, for the motivation and the advice! (PS Mae’s blog is great. You should follow along.)