Friday, October 29, 2010

Enjoying Wild Mushrooms

I headed to the store today to deliver bread and met an amazing gentleman who considers himself a "naturalist". I am inclined to agree! He had been walking in the woods and produced two amazing wild mushrooms for us to enjoy. Now, he has done this for many years and I certainly wouldn't go out and harvest without any formal education on this subject but I did enjoy his expertise on the subject.
The first mushroom he shared is called "Chicken of the Wood". It is a thick creamy white tinged with orange, mushroom. My mentor said to soak in milk and roll in seasoned flour and fry. It tastes just like chicken, he said. It did! So delicious! The texture and taste are amazing. The few that were brave enough to try it could not believe it was a mushroom. Those people did not include my family, who decided to wait and see if I wake in the morning to try it!
Next to try was the "Hen of the Wood". This mushroom is supposed to have many cancer fighting properties and high in antioxidants. I chose to make a risotto from this one.I sauteed it with onions and butter until soft. I added the arborio rice until brown then added garlic and kale until wilted. To that I added chicken stock and simmered covered until thick and creamy. I then added salt. pepper and Parmesan cheese. Absolutely fantastic! After seeing I did not depart this world after consuming the first one, my family did partake in this dish and enjoyed it as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The First Fall Harvest

Today we harvested our first goodies from the garden. Lots of lettuces are ready and our first radishes too. We had a huge, yummy salad with homemade creamy peppercorn dressing.

The weeds are quite rampant still with all the warm weather we are having so it looks like a weekend of weeding coming up. It is quite muggy today and in the 80's. Hard to believe this late in October. I guess, however that is a good thing, being that the cold frames and hoop houses have yet to be constructed!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Army Worm Invasion

I accused my husband of missing a spot in the newly sowed rye field. However, when that spot continued to grow we became quite concerned and decided to check it out. To our dismay, we have an infestation of army worms. Thousand of these horrible worms have taken over. They are eating our pasture at a very rapid rate. Literally up to 5 or more feet per night. I can barely sleep!

We will spray, however, rain is in the forecast for the next 3 days and we will have to wait for sunshine. grrr.... In the mean time they are munching away.
After doing a bit of research and making many phone calls I have been told that you can use BT and/or pyrethrins and they are considered organic and safe.

As you can see, what was once a lush pasture is quite barren now in just a matter of days. It is always something...

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Processing Shed

One can never have too many sheds. Or so my husband says. Today he started a "processing shed". It will have a poured concrete floor, a stainless work space and a sink. We hope to be able to purchase a used walk in cooler as well. This will all be used for processing our chickens, turkeys and deer. The cooler will also be a huge help in the summer when produce is over flowing and stacked on kitchen air vents.

Tentative plans are being made for raising and selling free range, organically fed chickens and turkeys next year. Stay tuned on that one!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Goat Milk Soap

I awoke to a lovely drizzly morning. Lovely, because we desperately need the rain and I needed an excuse not to be outside! I have a huge number of soap orders to get out and need to make more inventory as well. It is hard for me to stay indoors when the weather is nice and since I also need to get ahead for the holidays, it was a perfect morning.
I gathered all my ingredients and proceeded to get to work. In a few short hours, I had filled all my molds. Today produced a lovely lavender soap, a double batch of sandalwood with oatmeal, a Russian tea with orange peel (and yes it smells just like the Russian tea we made as kids!) and a double batch of tangerine with calendula petals. A good day's work for sure. I will have to freeze more goat milk before the next go round. I hope that is to be next week as more rain may be in the future. My dad has also promised to make me a few more molds, so I hope to turn out quite a bit very soon. I have also been commissioned to create a soap for a young lady with some skin problems. I think this will be a fun venture as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finishing the Fall Garden

Yesterday I planted the garlic and onions that arrived over the weekend. In an effort to become more self sufficient, I planted yellow multiplier onions and Egyptian walking onions. These varieties are supposed to produce year after year without the purchase of new bulbs. I plan to save the best from year to year and it is my hope that these plants will prove useful!
The garlic varieties I chose this year are Chinese Pink, a very early season, Early Red Italian, an early season, Oregon Blue, Music, and Italian Late all mid season and finally (I couldn't resist), Elephant garlic a late season variety!
I also sowed some more lettuces, 8 different varieties, as well as 2 kinds of kohlrabi and another variety of spinach. Lastly I planted spring onions, 303 to be exact. Why so many you ask? A momentary loss of good judgement at purchasing time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tidying Up

This past weekend was spent picking up fallen branches and taking down some dead trees. The largest trees will be split for firewood. The rest of the branches were piled up for a Fall bonfire at some point. We will need rain before that happens.
We also cleaned out the barn, repaired a fence one of the horses destroyed and dismantled the cattle head gate that had not been used in years. (Never needed it again after the bull chased my husband into the chicken pen and we sold him!) The new fence section was boarded for extra stability. We painted the boards black. Once done with that, I thought we should touch up some of the barn trim. Well, you can't just touch up old paint and before we knew it we were involved way more that we had intended! About half way through this project I was informed by my husband that no where on any of his lists was "paint the barn trim". Oops!