Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chores Accomplished

Yesterday I canned the green beans first thing and then got the morning feeding rounds done.I then headed to the feed store to pick up sheep feed and dewormer.
We had no idea how much hay would be in the field we were baling and we got a very late start because the chain broke on the baler and had to be repaired. Thank goodness we had and extra one. I decided to head to the garden and get the okra picked while waiting (another 5 gallon bucket!). My son called while I was in the garden, sounding a bit distressed. There were already 168 bales and they were only half way through the field. We presold 100 bales that were to be picked up by a neighbor but the rest was ours to put somewhere. I had no clue where that somewhere might be though! The final count was 325. We filled the hay wagon with about 160 bales and went back for another trailer. It was dark when we pulled out of the field for the last time. My oldest son made a few calls and we were able to find a buyer for the balance of the hay. Thank goodness there was no rain in site and the buyer would get it in the morning. I finished up my milking chores and collapsed in a heap around 10. It is a good day when are chores are accomplished!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pickling Peppers

Yesterday's garden pick yielded another large basket of peppers, so I spent the afternoon pickling most of them and making some pepper jelly. I had an assortment of jalapenos, hot and mild banana peppers and instead of trying to separate all of them I just sliced and tossed them all together. I also made some pepper jelly using cranberry juice as the base. It is really delicious (and pretty!) especially when served with our fromage goat cheese and crackers. The first batch was not spicy enough so I tried again. The second one was a little better but I am going to try one more time for a really spicy batch!
Today's list of chores include canning the green beans I picked yesterday, picking up hay and pickling the ever producing okra~again! Better get busy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mowing Hay... Again!

It has been an unbelievable summer. The heat and humidity have been brutal but it has also brought thunderstorms and LOTS of rain. Blessings in disguise, I guess, and that means we can mow hay for the third time this year! We actually will have a surplus and will be able to sell some to help cover fuel costs, baling twine, ect.
While the boys were doing the hay thing, I wandered to the garden to see what I needed to catch up on. Egads! The okra, now at least 7 feet tall, was loaded. I pulled on my long sleeve shirt and gloves and went to work. Two hours later I emerged with a five gallon bucket full and had thrown at least two full buckets on the ground. Being that I am a bit vertically challenged, I had to reach way up and pull the plants down to me, to pick. I never knew working the garden could be dangerous but after being boinked in the head repeatedly from huge okra pods, I wondered if I may have a concussion! There were some late green beans to pick and a glut of peppers. I saved those for tomorrow.
We had two cashmere does kid this week amongst all the chaos. I checked on those girls and kids. They want nothing at all to do with me. I have yet to get my hands on this little one to even see what sex it is. The other doe has hidden hers well in the woods and even though I walked and searched was unable to locate it. I know it is out there because she is being nursed! I noticed that they are all in need of hoof trimming so that will go on tomorrows list as well and hopefully I can get my hands on the kids at that time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stepping Forward

I awoke this morning with wet cheeks. I am sure I was crying in my sleep. I don't have many days when I truely don't want to get up, but today was one of those. However, I was expected at work and had bread to bake. Routine can be a good thing.
The evening chores were done somberly. My husband kept me company while I milked the goats. The heart of our homestead is missing and we both are very sad, but this too shall pass and we will move on and begin a search for another milk cow in the near future. We are also beginning to make plans for a beef herd as well and that gives me something to focus on in the mean time. Many thanks to all who helped us this past week and all of the support from a lot of very dear people!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Life and Death On the Homestead~ Loving And Loosing The Family Cow

Today we lost Jasmine. She was a huge part of our family. For the last 6 years she has nurtured us with gallons of fresh milk, cheese and butter. Supplying us with beef with the calves she raised. We are deeply saddened.
I awoke early yesterday to find an escaped horse. I went to put him up and in the process found Jasmine had escaped as well and was lying on the concrete floor on the side of the barn. The floor was wet and she had obviously slipped. It was frightning to see her laying there with her back legs splayed out to the sides. I hysterically called my husband and other family members to come help. A call to the vet went out as well. With the help of heavy equipment she was moved to the grass. When the vet arrived, he went to work on her with steroids and pain medication. A catheter was put in so after he left I could administer fluids and meds via IV. He worked on her for 3 1/2 hours. After leaving, we gave her fluids and used a hip lift chained on the backhoe to get her on her feet and moving every two hours. She had damaged the nerves in her left hind leg, but we were hopeful that some time and medicine would pull her through. It was not to be. Around 9 p.m. last night she was so exhausted that when we tried to lift her, her front legs would not support her. With tear filled eyes, I looked at my husband. He shook his head and I knew we were not going to win this battle. I sat with her well into the darkness leaning on her neck and taking in her cow smell. I talked to her, rubbed her and loved her. At midnight I gave her some more pain meds to get her through till morning. This morning I found her once again splayed out on the ground and made the fateful call to the vet's office. I fed her breakfast, gave her water and waited. When the vet arrived, I held her big sweet head in my lap and sobbed. She licked my arms and legs with her big rough tongue. Jasmine was not just a cow. I had milked her daily for 15 months this last lactation (and many, many before that) and the bond we had was inexplicable.
At 9:45 this morning Jasmine walked across the rainbow bridge to be with all of the other faithful animals that have left our homestead. She was buried on the hill above the pond where I can see her final resting place from my kitchen window. Goodbye, my love.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What DO You Do With A Peck Of Peppers??

We are pepper people. Every year about this time, just when I think the garden is waning, peppers seem to explode. We love all kinds of peppers. Sweet ones, hot ones and all those in between! The sweet banana peppers are a standard side dish during the summer. Split in half, stuffed with cheese and broiled for a few minutes and Wow! Any kind of cheese works. Sometimes we use pepper cheese for a kick, or Swiss, or Cheddar, the list goes on.
We stuff the hot banana peppers as well, but also pickle them for a milder alternative to the jalapenos. Jalapenos are used in salsas, Mexican dishes or pickled. We especially love the pickled ones chopped up and mixed with the fromage cheese for a spicy spread on crackers. The bell peppers are eaten fresh, roasted or dehydrated. We usually roast the red and yellow , freeze them, and use them later in a lovely spicy pepper sauce that is served over pasta or rice with chicken and veggies or fish. The extra green bell peppers are usually dehydrated. And lastly the Tabasco and small hot peppers are packed into vinegar to use as a condiment over greens during the cold winter months. When packed in pretty jars they make lovely gifts as well. A few of these are dehydrated too, to toss into soups and stews for added interest and to grind for our own cayenne pepper.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kinda Cool..

This is a scene that was filmed at our farm for the movie "Insecurity" that was shot here earlier this summer. It is in the running for their poster for the movie. This was one of three scenes shot here. The movie is set to be released sometime 2011. Written and produced by a local doctor, and filmed entirely in our area, they have high hopes it will make it to the big screen. If not it will definitely be out on DVD. For more info and updates check out Dr. Troyer's blog, the link is under interesting sites.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Millet Mess

The millet field had begun to top out. The goats and sheep were not eating it fast enough. It has been a wonderful forage crop this summer, growing well and staying lush and thick. Knowing that it was not supposed to be let go to seed we decided we would mow it for hay. We plan to plant winter rye grass in that pasture this fall anyway. Our plans were to mow it fairly high so the animals could continue to graze it until we planted the new crop.We watched the weather for several days and although there was a slight chance of rain, 20%, we went ahead and mowed yesterday. Last night the weather took a drastic change. They were now calling for strong storms to roll in today and tomorrow. The boys teddored it twice today trying to get it dry enough to bale. I got off work around 4 to help load once we started baling. The sky started to darken right as we got started. The winds picked up and then the thunder started. Now I will work until the cows come home in the rain, but I scamper at the first sight of lightening. Once it started I was ready to quit but they wanted to load a few more. So, I finished driving the tractor as the boys threw the hay but we were cut short by the storm. I pulled into the barn just as the bottom fell out of the sky. I cut open a few bales to see what we had and it was too damp. I fluffed those up and will fed them in the next day or two. Unfortunately the rest will have to become erosion control as they will mold very soon and I don't want them in the barn because of the possibility of heat building in them.
We chalked it up to experience. It was not a huge loss since there were only 35 bales in the field. It will definitely be an annual summer crop for us, it provided lots of extra grazing and at the end would have made a decent hay crop for such a small field. My dairy goats loved it as forage as well as hay, so it was a win, win crop.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Praise Of Malabar Spinach

Malabar is a climbing spinach that tastes slightly earthy. Though technically not a true spinach you use it any way you would regular spinach. It comes in a red and white variety, meaning the stems are either red or white. It loves the heat. Use the small leaves in salads and the larger ones can be sauteed or put in soups and stews. I planted it last year for the first time and found it to be a fabulous substitute for the early spring, fall and winter spinach. We eat a huge amount of spinach and really missed it during the summer months, so this has been a wonderful find. It will seed down readily, so once you plant it, you will never need to buy seed again and you will have enough plants to share with all of your friends and neighbors!
My Malabar is in my herb bed on a fairly heavy trellis. I usually plant 6-7 plants around the trellis and just let it go. I am still pulling up seedlings from last years seeds. We either eat the leaves or I toss the vine to the critters. We have eaten the Malabar twice this week. Once sauteed in a pasta dish with onions and last night we made chicken and spinach quesadillas. Yummy!

Put Malabar on your list of must do's for spring next year. You will be glad you did!

Monday, August 2, 2010

May I Have A Do-Over Please?

Call me crazy, but I normally love Mondays. It is usually the only day I don't hit the floor at a dead run. No work schedule, no baking, no set in stone to do list. I linger over an extra cup of coffee and kind of ooze into the week. Sigh.
This morning was cloudy and cool as I headed to the kitchen to make coffee. My son is out of town and my husband had headed off to work. Peace and quiet. While the coffee was brewing I opened the fridge for a snack. The temp read 68 *. Oh joy. Cleaning out the fridge had been on my to do list for a while but not today. Coffee, book and screen porch were forgotten as I began to pull everything out. We have a farm fridge in the garage where we keep extra milk ,eggs, produce, ect. Moving the few salvageable things there proved to be a challenge as it was full of, well, milk. Older milk was pulled out and fed to the chickens and I was able to squeeze in the house groceries. The pile of dishes and containers were fast reaching the ceiling. Good grief, how did all this stuff fit in there in the first place! I scrubbed and cleaned all the shelves. By now it was around 9:30 and I called a local repair service. Bless him, he appeared about an hour or so later. I was still working on the original mess when he said we would have to unload the freezer to see what was going on. Coolers were hauled in and filled. At this point it looked like a bomb had gone off in my kitchen. Another hour or so passed, he defrosted some coils announced that I needed a part he didn't have but it should limp a long for a few days until the part came in.
It was getting close to noon and I realized that I never got my snack nor had I milked the goats! They were going to be huffy about that. Off to the barn to milk. That had to be fed to the chickens as well, there was simply no room to store it. Meanwhile back in the kitchen, the fridge was starting to cool enough to put vegetables and items that wouldn't spoil back in. I got the freezer reloaded too.
I had just finished when a friend arrived to pick up out last Nigerien dwarf doe kid. We visited a bit and off the little goat went in a box with her new family.
All in all I guess it wasn't sooo bad. The chickens ate well, the dogs ate well and I have a beautifully clean refrigerator. That should last about a week. LOL!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Garden Is Still Going

Even with the heat the garden is still producing quite well. I picked and canned another half bushel or so of tomatoes today. We are absolutely covered up in peppers and I hope to pickle a few pints in the next couple of days. Our second corn crop is tasselling and the late green beans are blooming. The crowder peas and tiger eye beans jumped out of the ground with the rain we have gotten the last few days. Our okra is so tall we may have to get a ladder to pick it soon! The popcorn is ready as well.
I did have a lot of "not gettin' round to it's " in my garden this year. I wanted to plant butter peas and late tomatoes. I had grand plans to get in some more squash (maybe I will yet) and I would have liked to have planted some late potatoes. It is what it is and there is still a lot of growing season yet for what is planted.
Even so, I think I am almost ready for Fall. I know we still have the dog days of summer yet to go but it certainly feels like we have been there already!