Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Fall Garden Is In

Well, the Fall garden is finally in, along with the winter rye in the millet field. It happened just in time as some much needed rain finally fell and gave everything a good soaking. In the garden we planted 4 kinds of kale, 3 kinds of spinach and 2 kinds of collard greens. We also put in a variety of lettuces, mesclun mix, arugula, carrots and radishes. We also planted four flats of broccoli and cabbage. The garlic has yet to arrive and I still plan to plant some kohlrabi, mustard greens and more carrots.

We hope to build a tunnel to protect the lettuces and get the cold frames by the house finished soon.. we'll see!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Burnt Offerings

I consider myself a fairly good cook. However, there are days I do get distracted and until I made good friends with my crock pot I ALWAYS burned beans. My family at times accuse me of having adult ADD. Today was one of those days that I wondered myself..

I found a new recipe for a southwestern chicken dish for which I had all the ingredients including the tortilla chip crumbs. (you know these, the bottom 1/3 of the bag that is not edible!! Yeah! so I will now toss all crumbles in the freezer until I make this dish again)I put the chicken quarters on to boil and did a bit of housework. They were frozen so I knew they would take a while and I decided if I turned them on low, I could get the barn chores done. Well, that was probably true but while doing the barn chores, I decided Halle, my filly, needed a few lessons on picking up her feet. Then my old cat was in desperate need of being held and I obliged by plopping down on a hay bale and giving him a good scratching. It was about this time I remembered the chicken and after sprinting to the house I found a kitchen full of smoke and some very burnt chicken. But only on one side;!! I very carefully cut off all of the burned parts and the rest was not toooo bad, only a bit, ummm smokey, shall we say. Alas though it was not enough so I needed to cook a couple more pieces. I put those on in another pot, the first one was in such sad shape that will require several Brillo pad scrubbings.My husband came in, in the interim and with a raised eyebrow asked if there was a change in dinner plans. Nope. I have it under control. The second batch of chicken was simmering along quite well. My sister called. Would I come for a visit? (she lives next to us.) Sure. No! I am cooking chicken. I decided to check my email. Soon I smelled the ever so familiar almost burned smell of chicken. Geeezzz. Once again I made a dash to the kitchen. I saved that round. Long story short.. the dish was good, an excellent use of ingredients on hand, but not one to fix while otherwise distracted!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bye Bye Bees

We made several calls about the bee situation in our bedroom wall. The exterminator said yellow jackets don't build in the same place twice, so if we could live with it, just leave them until winter. Uh, no. The "wildlife" removal person would spray. Duh. We could do that.
So, once again my husband put on his bee suit and went to work with a can of spray. The spray he used had a little nozzle that would fit in the crack where they were coming and going between the eve of the house and the rock facing. Then from the bedroom side he made a small slit in the duck tape and sprayed from there as well. Only one escaped while doing that. We then put cardboard up over the hole and taped again just in case the spray weakened the ceiling. After a few minutes of angry buzzing, all was silent. Ding, dong the bees are dead...
Now all we have is a huge mess to clean up. The ceiling will have to be patched, the molding replaced and maybe a section of the wall. That, we won't know until we investigate a bit further. After all the patching, we will have to paint. I am just glad it wasn't honey bees, that would have meant the whole wall would have been taken out to remove and relocate them! Always thankful for small favors.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Vacation Chronicles

Anyone that has a farm and numerous animals knows that vacations are all but a figment of one's imagination. However, every Fall we try to go to the beach so the guys can fish. Personally, I detest the beach and am usually drug kicking and screaming all the way. Maybe it is not JUST the beach, it could be the preparation of getting there. Our vacations are usually limited to day trips or at the most, 24 hours-- feed, milk, leave, spend the night, come home, feed, milk...
So preparations began weeks ago, with me lining up a farm sitter and adjusting work & baking schedules. This was also a poignant time as this was the same weekend and same house we went to last year with my best friend that was dying of cancer. More on that later..
So back to the preparations. I spent last Sunday and Monday checking over all the critters in hopes no one would decide to croak on the poor farm sitter's watch. I trimmed feet and dewormed those that needed it. I also moved extra water tubs to each pasture and stocked up on feed. I made sure there was plenty of hay out of the loft so she would not have to battle the steps and condensed some animals to make less pastures to tend. I also packed up groceries. We don't eat out down there, instead choosing to purchase local fresh seafood and enjoying family time as we prepare meals.

Tuesday- I baked and worked a long day. That evening, as I was packing, I kept hearing a noise in the bedroom wall (I had heard it for last few days). I kept telling my husband about it and he would kind of nod, but I felt like maybe he thought I was nuts. That night it seemed louder. I called him in the room, got a chair and said, "See? it is right there!" as I said there, I poked it with my finger which went into the ceiling and out boiled yellow jackets. Holy cow! We practically knocked each other down as we tried to escape. He put on his bee suit, taped up hole and we gathered fly swatters for a bee killing fest. All escapees killed, we finally got to bed.

Wednesday- I got up before the chickens to bake bread to deliver before we left. While it cooled I headed to the barn and filled all the water buckets, milked the goats made sure everyone was well . I put several bales of hay out in the woods for extra food. I filled the chicken feeders to the brim and added extra water pans for them too. Gathered what eggs had been laid, fed the dogs and headed for the house. I came in to find my husband once again in his bee suit. It seems the tape we used did not hold and our bedroom was full of really ticked bees again. He wouldn't let me in the room until some had been disposed of. I delivered bread. Back home, most of the bees were dead, several layers of duck tape were now affixed to the ceiling and I was able to finish packing, get a shower and get ready to go. We hit the road around 1:30.

Thursday- I waited until about mid morning to call my friend who was going to stay at the farm and take care of the animals. She asked if we were almost ready to leave. I just about died. We are here. She just about died. It seems we some how crossed up dates, but bless her she rearranged all of her plans and headed to the farm. I explained to the bee situation and all was well. Later that day I got a call from my boss and she informed me that the 18 laying hens I ordered were here. They were supposed to be here NEXT week! Geezz, I should just go home. I made what I thought were arrangements for them to stay at the farmer's barn until I got back.

Friday- We hiked the Sugarloaf Dune in the Carolina Beach state park. Half way through the hike we met up with many park rangers and sheriff deputies. Had we seen anyone on the trail? No, we had not, so much for a relaxing hike. We walked a little faster.

Saturday- A message from my boss on my cell phone. The people could not keep the chickens, she was headed to get them. She wanted to know if they needed lights. Being that they were 20 weeks old she would not need lights, but a truck to pick them up. Good grief! When I got back with her, she had already figured that out and God bless her had taken care of that. I promised I would be there ASAP Sunday.

Sunday- We headed out early and arrived home safe and sound. We unloaded the truck, gathered cages and went to pick up the chickens. After tending the animals and finishing chores we ordered a pizza and collapsed. This vacationing stuff is exhausting and I personally find them a bit overrated!
As I said this was a poignant weekend. A year ago this week we made this same trip down with my best friend, Sharon. She had been diagnosed the previous Christmas with cancer. We spent most of the next few months together, cramming a lot of life into the time we had left. We went to the beach to celebrate her birthday. We laughed until we cried and ate wonderful meals and had a grand time. That Sunday, we headed home. I decided not to call and check on her since I knew she was really tired. Monday morning at 7 a.m. her husband called to tell me she passed away in her sleep. She asked to be cremated and taken to all of her favorite places. Her family has traveled to Germany and New York. We traveled to the mountains this summer to say good by at my parents' house, a place where she and I spent a good deal of time. This past year has been an emotional one. It only seemed right to scatter a few of her ashes at the place where we spent our last wonderful few days together. Saturday morning, I awoke to the sun starting to rise over the ocean. It was a glorious sunrise. I hurried down to the beach. I scattered her ashes by the walkway, near a bush and said goodbye for the last time. The sun ducked behind a cloud and then burst forth in the most amazing light I have ever seen. For the first time in a year I felt a calmness and peace in my heart. Later that day my husband and I gathered shells and placed them where I had scattered her ashes. It was a special day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fixing Fences

If we don't think Fall is coming, the animals do. The testosterone is flying around here and so are the fences. Today we repaired three. The cashmere's had divided themselves into breeding groups a couple of weeks back. I was okay with the division so fixed the break and went on. Well, I guess they reconsidered and once again beat the fence into a mangled mess and brought along my dairy buck just for fun. Good grief. In my next farm life I will have four foot spaces between fencing to prevent all this ruckus! That of course means I will have to mow the dividers. It has been chaos and we haven't even begun to deal with the sheep breeding groups. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Poison Ivy

Remember the tree that I tried to avoid? No such luck. I have huge weeping whelps, up and down both arms. Sigh. I wore gloves, tried not to touch the actual wood but none the less am totally miserable. Sleep has been but a dream ;o).. between scratching and applying benadryl. This too shall pass, I suppose. Next time, I will make sure to find other pressing chores to do!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

After Labor Day the farm settles down to a dull roar. However, the weekend itself, is packed with the end of summer chores. My husband has a long weekend off , my son is out of school for a day and we pack as much work as possible into those three days.

Saturday started off with me baking and the guys heading to the garden. They dismantled the tomato cages and plowed all the areas not being used. We still have crowders, okra, some peas to dry and a few peppers. All in all ,the garden is done for and we will be planting the Fall garden in the next couple of weeks. Next on the list was a tree that needed to be cut down for fear that it may fall on the Fall garden! It was a huge red oak, that has an equally huge poison ivy vine on it. I decided to pick okra instead. Unfortunately I finished before they did and had to help split the wood and stack it.

Fence repair was next on the list. We have section that is old and we tend to just patch, patch, patch. The goats know this. We did what we thought was an excellent patch job, corralled the escapees one more time and headed to the next job.

The millet field was plowed and readied for the fall planting of winter rye. We will graze the dairy goats and a few sheep on this field. The rye will be planted as soon as they are calling for rain.

Lastly we completed the new equipment shed. This will house our baler, teddor and rakes.

The weekend always ends with a large supper of farm fresh food. This year we had hamburgers, homemade baked beans with maple syrup, slaw and chocolate goat milk ice cream. Yum! We linger a bit longer on the porch, bid a fond farewell to summer and take a deep breath. Soon it will be time to think about breeding groups for the animals, shearing and planting the garden, but for the next couple of weeks we just relax a bit and enjoy the break..

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Still Putting Up The Harvests

Our organic chicken and goat feed was delivered this morning. Once that was unloaded and the morning chores done I headed to the garden and orchard to see what may need picking. Of course there was more okra! Lots of peppers needed picking as well. The pear tree is loaded and I picked a bushel standing in one spot. I hope to get these canned and make some pear butter when they ripen a bit more. However, the okra and peppers needed to be taken care of today, so in addition to frying a huge pan for supper, I pickled several jars. I decided to make hot pepper vinegar with the little Tabasco peppers. These make such pretty jars! Later, I will dip the tops in wax, tie raffia at the neck and give some of them as Christmas gifts. Lastly, I roasted all of the red and yellow peppers and froze them.
The garden is slowly waning and over the weekend we will be preparing for the fall. It has been a fairly good year despite the extreme hot temperatures and I am pleased with what we have preserved. Many good things are waiting to be enjoyed during the cold winter months!