Monday, December 28, 2009

December is Almost Gone?

I can't believe this month is almost over! The last couple of weeks have flown by in a flurry of plans, preparations and get togethers.
The first "biggie" was my husbands' employee appreciation cook out. We always fix a huge meal and smoke turkeys for them to take home. This year proved to be especially interesting! On Thursday the 17th, yard work was completed and the house was cleaned. On Friday the Heavens once again opened up with rain, but quickly turned to snow and later some ice. A decision had to be made. We decided to stay the course because after all what does one do with 16 turkeys, 20 chicken quarters and 10 racks of ribs? Not to mention the pots of soup, beans, slaw and desserts that were being prepared! So cook we did and it was great. Saturday turned out to be a lovely day and the snow on the ground made it all the more festive.
Sunday was spent cleaning up once again and final preparations were made for the family get togethers to come later that week.
Christmas has always been a grand occasion for us. Lots of food and family. This year we all made a pact to cut back on gift giving and just enjoy each other and the blessing we have as a close and loving family. We also decided to try and make, bake, sew or grow gifts for the adults. That was great fun for me, however next year I really must start earlier! I chose to give my gifts in picking baskets that can be used in the garden next year. I took Christmas ribbon and cut a strip to go around the top attaching it with a glue dot. It was so cute and festive. In the bottom of each I put a small amount of raffia. I then tucked in jams and jellies topped with natural colored coffee filters and tied with string. I stamped the tops. I wrapped up goat milk soaps and hand knit dish clothes and scarves. I also tucked in jars of seeds we had saved from the garden. Some baskets did get a bottle of wine while others got a gift card to a local restaurant but all in all they were from the farm. Everyone was so pleased.
As we shut the door Christmas night behind the last guest a we breathed a huge sigh of relief. The crazy days are over for another year. Its not that we don't love it and we always remember the reason for the season is celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, but truly Christmas is exhausting!
The morning after we were once again cleaning up the remnants of the night before and dismantling the decorations. I am not one to let them linger. By mid-afternoon all traces of Christmas has been returned to the basement and we were back to normal. If you could ever call us that ;o).
Now we have just a few more days and the year will be gone. I can't say that I will miss 2009. It has been a challenging and sad year. I look forward to good things to come in 2010.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

Yet another rainy cold day here on the farm. I don't usually complain about the rain but good grief, enough already! I slogged to the barn to unload the weekly feed run and the mud almost sucked my boots off. Every gate is an oozing mess of mud and manure where the animals stand and wait for feed. We are taking hay way out into the pastures on the 4 wheeler to keep them from stomping it in the ground and wasting it.
The garden is so wet the spinach looks anemic. CSA orders were filled again today and I was surprised to see the lettuce actually made it through the cold last week so, hurray! salads for a bit longer. I harvested purple cabbabe and more carrots so together they should make a beautiful salad tonight.
My seed catalogs are arriving at a rapid pace and it is all I can do not to peek. It has been my yearly ritual to not look at them until after Christmas. I save them all in a big pile to read by the fire in January. I love to page though them over and over, making decisions and planning the summer garden. For some reason this year it has been a bit harder to wait. Wait I will, however,
for January is drawing ever closer.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Finishing the Sheep Barn

Today the final touches were put on the new sheep barn/ tractor shed. My husband and son finished wiring so now we have lights and receptacles. This will make life much easier when feeding on those late nights after dark! The tractor shed provides enough cover for almost all the rest of our mowing and baling equipment. The barn side has hay racks on each side and the back has a trough that my husband created by cutting a huge piece of PVC pipe in half. He then sectioned off each end creating small mineral feeders. It works perfectly. I can dump feed and fill racks over the sides of the barn, never having to go inside and risk getting trampled by hungry critters.
While they worked on the barn I wandered over to the garden. Looks like last night finally got the lettuce. The row cover I had put on a couple of weeks ago was blown off by the high winds we had earlier this week. I covered some back up and cross my fingers that some will survive long enough to keep us in salads until I get the pots going inside. We had planned to get the cold frames finished beside the house but that has just not happened-- yet. The greens were still slightly frozen , even at 1:00 today. I harvested out first carrots and picked a basket full of broccoli, kale and spinach for supper tonight.
After barn and garden duty it was time to feed the animals. It has been exceptionally cold so far this year and we are feeding copious amounts of hay. Another 5 bales went out today. They are calling for a cold rain tomorrow and I imagine the same amount will go out then as well. At this rate we will be out long before winter is over. The coldest months haven't even arrived yet. Another load of wood was loaded up too. Something else that seems to be getting used at an alarming rate!
I am off to make a lovely pot of creamy kale soup and a spinach casserole for supper tonight and thaw my frozen fingers ;o)..

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, Monday

My morning started out on a sour note since I was out of coffee. Just enough for 1 cup, not near enough to get me through, as today my "to-do" list seemed exceptionally long. And it is raining. Again. Bummer.
So as I savored my 1 small cup I started at the top of my list. Freeze pumpkin. Easy enough. I had been badly whipped by said pumpkin last week when I tried to cut him up for Thanksgiving pies. Seems he liked being a porch ornament. However, win I did, and now the rest was going in the freezer except for a small amount I am saving out to try in new goat milk soap. I also stirred the seeds that are almost dry that I saved to plant next year and share as small gifts with friends for Christmas.
Next on the list was soap making. We are running low and it needs at least 3-4 weeks to cure before using so another "must do". Making soap is not hard, it is just gathering all the ingredients, measuring, ect. take a bit of time. I managed to get 2 double batches done and then realized I am almost out of frozen milk. Since I have already dried the girls up and no one is due until February this might be a problem. Good grief.
So, I cleaned up my mess and headed to the garden to fill CSA orders that are due for pick up tomorrow. Not a huge order this week, just kale and lettuces all easily picked and the rain was just a sprinkle at this point. As I picked, I noticed all the cabbage is starting to split so I guess I will be making sauerkraut later this week. (note to self--add cabbage to list). Orders filled, weighed, bagged and in the fridge. CSA done, check.
Next on my list was to head to the feed store and grocery store. I can't pick up all the feed I need because it is still raining and I just have my truck today, so I will get the necessities. Off I go and on the way pass the deer processors house. Darn!! I forgot that he had called Friday and I needed to pick up the deer my son shot. Will do that on the way back. Feed store, check. Pick up deer, check. Now I must take deer back to the house before I go to the grocery. 45 minutes later, after arranging 2 freezers to make room for the deer I am now headed to the grocery. As I pull out of the driveway for the second time I slammed on brakes. Those sheep are not supposed to be in THAT pasture. Obviously there has been a confrontation between the rams and the fence is down some where. Everyone looks to be okay, no blood or guts. I will check when I get back. Grocery store first, must have coffee for tomorrow!
I made the trip and got what little I needed. It is only 4:30 but it looks like night time it is so dark. Just as I put the cart up the heavens opened up and it began to pour. Lovely.
Back home as I pulled in the drive I am greeted by the 3 LGD's. The apparently found the fence break and are so happy to see me. They are also VERY wet and muddy and now so am I. Groceries unloaded and off I go to the barn to feed and check the fences. The fence break is fairly minor, I wedged it together enough to keep the dogs up for the night until I can see better during daylight hours. I will have to separate the sheep tomorrow as well. Feed unloaded and critters tended I trudge back to the house dripping wet and muddy only to find a hungry hubby standing in the kitchen. Shower first I muttered.
I will be so glad to go to work tomorrow. My days off are exhausting!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Corned Beef

Our winter garden has been a huge success and as I pondered how to fix cabbage in yet another way, corned beef and cabbage popped into my mind. I love corned beef but haven't eaten it in years because of all the ugly preservatives they add to it. My sister also informed me that it is expensive, that I wouldn't know since we don't buy meat! Being that I have an over abundance of roasts in my freezer this seemed like a plan.
After doing some reading I realized how easy it would to make at home. I absolutely love Penzey Spices and they have a premixed corned beef spice. I know I could have mixed my own or used regular pickling spices but....
I thawed a rump roast and put it in a brine of 1 cup salt to 8 cups water that had cooled. I used a glass bowl and weighted the roast down with a plate that fit inside the bowl. I let it brine for 5 days. There seems to be mixed thoughts on the length of brining, anywhere from 3- 7 days so I just chose 5! After 5 days I took it out of the brine, washed it with cold water and put in in a heavy pot with the spices and water to cover. I simmered it for several hours. When it was almost done I added big chunks of our potatoes and carrots. When they were tender, I added wedges of cabbage. Wow! It was a huge success. Everyone just raved over it. The veggies cooked in that broth were heavenly and the roast was falling apart tender. I had hoped to have enough leftovers to make Reuben sandwiches. Not so. Will have to make another!
Now that being said, I would make a few changes. I would probably only brine 3-4 days. The meat was fairly salty, I know it should be but will experiment on that. I would also put the spices in a bag or tea ball to eliminate crunching down on a piece of bay leaf. The other seeds and spices cooked down but I think I would probably still do this. All in all it was a grand success. I just don't know why I never thought of it before. Happy corning!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Filling the Pantry

Since Friday I have managed to add another 40 jars of food to the pantry shelves. Lima beans, salsa, and pickles, including okra and jalapenos. I absolutely love to see the shelves fill! I feel like the wealthiest person on earth each time I open the door.
There is still a lot I need to can to get ready for winter. I need to do spaghetti sauce, however there seems to be a shortage of tomatoes this year. I also want to put roasted red peppers in the freezer and since my peppers have done nothing this year that may not happen either! I will have crowder peas to can in a few weeks and our second crop of filet beans are blooming.
I was always told to can enough for two years in case of crop failure. This is excellent advice since, sadly, we may be doing without some of our favorites this winter if I can't locate some of these goodies from other local farmers.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Halle is 7 weeks old today! She is our orphan foal that we ( Or should I say, I) have been raising for the last few weeks. Her mom had to be put down when she was just 24 hours old, due to a twisted intestine. It is an uncommon occurrence, however my vet informed me that 3 mares were lost that same week to the same problem. (That is scary, but I won't even go there now..) The morning we lost her mom was so sad. Halle seemed so small and vulnerable, yet within a few hours had the bottle figured out.
There were many that said she wouldn't make it. Foals die , so hard to raise , blah, blah. I started her on a foal formula mixed 1/2 with goat's milk and within 5 days had her on 100 % goat milk. She worked her way up to 2 + gallons a day and drank every 3 hours around the clock for the first 4 weeks. Then moving to every 4 hours , then 6, and now twice a day. She eats milk pellets and a foal ration and is doing great. Our biggest issue is convincing her that she is indeed a horse, not a dog or even a goat. The goats are her role models at this point. Ah.. hemm.. those of us whom have goats know that this is probably not the best situation. Goats are NOT good role models. However they do have four legs and graze...
So now we are in a learning stage. She is not cute when she trys to jump on you or push you into the pond. Discipline is a must!! My vet said her mom would bite or kick her to let her know what is not allowed. So, since I don't want a mouth full of hair, I am using a switch. After a couple of firm NO's she is content to follow along and graze while I am in the pasture.
AND tonight I don't have to get up and make that trek to the barn in the wee hours of the morn... night ya'll.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Maize Days

The last couple of days have been spent putting up corn. (Not the whole day, but several hours of each, as we still had our other farm chores to complete. ) Our second crop came in. It was definitely not as good as the first, but good all the same. This corn was called True Gold . It is an heirloom yellow corn. My husband pulled while my mom and I shucked, silked and cut it off the cob. We then simmered it for a short while and let it cool before putting it in bags. I finished up the second day and we managed to freeze 29 quarts! I can say that I have finally had my fill of corn but it will be mighty tasty this winter.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sheep ..

Today I de-wormed the sheep. Good grief. One would think I was on a mission to obliterate all of the ovine population. In reality I just want to save them!
I called them up and to be fair most came up and hung out in the holding pen. However, there is always one baaaaad sheep. In our case she is one of our Missouri girls. The biggest, the baddest ewe around. She refused to come in, so I left her out until the end. I have to say the flock was on their best behavior and I suffered no wounds until da-dum.. da-dum.. After several rounds of giving a good chase I had her cornered. I crouched low and in a calming voice told her all was well . Be still, be still. One flying leap and she took me out. Head over heels I rolled, worming syringe catapulted into Neverland. As I steadied myself on my hands and knees her fruitcake daughter decided to use my back as a spring board to escape as well. As I lay face first in the sheep poop,with brusied hands and knees, I swallowed my urge to kill her and her offspring. After all, I am the Shephardess. I watch over and care for them.. Hmmmmm.. on the other hand I do love lamb.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I spent the morning with a dear friend today. She is the most beautiful person I know, both on the inside and out. She is brave and funny and smart and always there for those that need her. She is also dying. Her diagnosis came in January of this year. To say we were shocked doesn't begin to touch on the emotions we all felt. How does this happen? She is 48. We have too much to do yet. We wanted to grow old together. Places to go, things to do and learn.
We met about 13 years ago. She bought sheep from me. We became friends almost instantly and since have done so much together!! We learned about our sheep together. We learned to knit and spin and make soap. We became yarns addicts. She has since recovered, I have not. We made grand plans to get rich selling alpaca poop. I was probably drinking, but I am quite sure she was sober. We went on vacations (and plan to do so again this year) and we have laughed ALOT.
So today we went sorted through some of her things. Loose ends that need to be tied up. I even found one of our crazy projects gone bad that made me laugh out loud. Instructions were given on who needs to receive what now and what to do... later.
In the last few months she has showed more bravery than any person I know. She has been through it all. Chemo, radiation, surgery. She has taught me a wonderful lesson. We are promised nothing. Take today and live it to the fullest. Don't sweat the small stuff and I have realized that most everything IS small stuff! I have come to cherish my family, my farm, my friends in a way I never thought possible. I am grateful for everyday. I am especially grateful for everyday I get to spend with her. We may only have a few months or maybe God will give us longer. Who knows? But for now, we will take it day by day and are grateful for for each and every one of them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Canning Day

The tomatoes were starting to completely cover all the kitchen counters. After several days of making excuses I bit the bullet today and started sauce. It's not that I don't enjoy it. I do. It is just the getting started part. :o) Today's sauce is a basil garlic. It does smell heavenly I have to say. It will be perfect over pasta or poured over chicken breasts, topped with homemade cheese and baked this winter. With the exception of the olive oil all the ingrediants came from the garden. Our tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil. How cool is that!
The tomatoes are ripening at an alarming speed so more canning will follow this week. It looks like the corn will be ready as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

All we have is all we need....

How true is that! Today we harvested our first corn of the season. Slathered with butter, salt and pepper and served with a side of fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. I think I need a nap!

We planted an heirloom called Lucious. A beautiful bicolor that is sweet and old and not GM! We did not spray. The germination was a bit spotty but I can live with that. In the next few days we will eat what we can (gorge, if you will) and freeze the rest. Hopefully, our True Gold corn, another heirloom, will come in soon and prolong the season and add to the freezer.

Our goal this year is to totally commit to local by fall. In canning and freezing from our garden, along with the meat we produce and using our local fish market we are very close. Our biggest hurdle is dried grains and beans. At this point, we buy from a coop in bulk, and feel this one step closer to eliminating our carbon footprint.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Early Morning Musing

I wandered down to the barn at 6:00 am this morning to do a bit of feeding before the goats headed out on their morning walk about. Everyday at the same time they head to the upper pasture to collect leaves that have fallen over the course of the night. They are such creatures of habit! The mist on the pond was beautiful. A blue heron lifted off as I stood at the gate. The peace and serenity was almost overwhelming and I really hated to head back to the house. Head back I must though, since I still had more bread to bake and eggs to wash to get to the country store before opening.

Today may be a holiday but it kicks off the fall gardening season for us. I will be starting seeds today for the fall and winter crops. Brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi will be started in pots to go out in a few weeks. Lettuce, carrots and greens will be sowed directly in the garden later as it starts to cool. Soon it will be time to plant garlic too. I love all the gardening seasons but fall gardens are my favorite!