Monday, October 29, 2012

A Day In The Kitchen

We have been experiencing some pretty high winds today from the bands of hurricane Sandy. The temperature has dropped dramatically. Not a fun day to be outside, but a good day to spend in the kitchen. I had been commissioned to make 150 biscuits for a function Friday. After much thought we decided the best route would be the angel biscuits. They freeze well and could just be popped in the oven 20 minutes before needed. I did not want to make them too far in advance for flavor reasons.. I am a bit weird when it comes to frozen bread. She was much less concerned than I. So, I figured I could live with 4 days in the freezer.
 After I made the biscuits, I froze them for about 30 minutes on wax paper and dropped into freezer bags.
And while I was in biscuit making mode I made some Cheddar and chive to go with supper tonight. They turned out to be quite delicious!
Since it was so chilly, I put a pot of chicken quarters on to cook for chicken and rice soup. And then I decided, what the heck,  I made some cabbage rolls with the beautiful leaf cabbage in the garden. And finally, a yummy turnip au gratin. The kitchen stayed quite warm and smelled divine. Best of all, I can take a few nights off from cooking! (I will post all the recipes on the "Eating Blog" soon...)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Garden Dictates

Every Sunday I make out my menus for the week. I peruse the garden to see what is growing and ready to harvest. This helps me make a grocery list and plan what I may want to cook. In spite of the animal damage we have incurred lately, we may actually harvest a good bit this week!
Today I saw lots of turnips. The Beira Tronchuda cabbage have several leaves that are ready- either to fry or make cabbage rolls. One head of broccoli, some kale and a bit of spinach can also be picked. AND if the poultry don't behave they may also be harvested. I also have several head of lettuce in the herb garden by the house. I am off to plan menus!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Problem Solving Rock

We delivered several cashmere goats to their new owners this morning which just happened to be on the way to our farm in VA. Sooo...
We arrived at the farm at noon and only had about three hours before we needed to head back to finish chores. We ate a sandwich on one of the highest hills and enjoyed the fall colors. I think we missed the peak by a few days as some trees were already naked but still it was a glorious sight. We headed out for a hike. Lots of turkeys were hanging out by the creek and we discovered a major deer highway. After a two hour hike we were starting back to the truck when Doug wanted to walk my "perfect" future driveway. It runs along a creek and passes by a huge rock overhang. Under one of the rocks a natural spring bubbles up. I want to dig that out, make a pool and waterfall that will flow under the drive through a pipe. We climbed to the top of the overhang and sat for a while. As usual we discussed future plans, how soon, what we needed first, that kind of thing. We know we need a barn but we also need a decent dwelling to live in while working- preferably one with running water and plumbing! I mentioned the possibility of a barn with an apartment. Eureka! And furthermore why couldn't we pay someone to paint the outside of our house here in order to give us the time to start the fencing. Oh boy, now we were on a roll. Alas, it was time to climb down from our problem solving rock and head home. I think if we could have stayed there longer we might just quite possibly have been able to solve the problems of the world....
(Next time I will post pictures of said rock!)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My mom is having a little get together today and asked me to make a table arrangement.
I put this together.. thought it turned out kinda cute!
I have been playing with the felted bowls some more and made this one for a friend. The black swirls are locks from her Portuguese water dog, Savvy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Taste of Fall

The trees are beginning to show their lovely colors. It is a sight to behold come dusk as the yellows almost glow in the dark.
This time of year is most pleasant, as things have begun to slow. There is no hectic milking schedule or feeding of young kids. We are not buried in a summer harvest of tomatoes (though I do miss them!). While chores must still be done they are accomplished at a much more leisurely pace.
I was supposed to organize the pantry today. I didn't. Instead, after baking and delivering bread this morning, I decided to get some soap made. I have several requests for some scents that I don't have on hand. I made four batches before heading out to feed animals. I took my time and visited with everyone a bit longer than usual. I also took some photos of one of our rams that will going up for sale soon.
I did a garden check and harvested more turnips, a couple of large handfuls of kale and some lettuce.
I pondered supper and came up with a blue cheese stuffed meatloaf (recipe here), roasted potatoes and a salad. With the exception of the blue cheese all ingredients came from the farm.
Then I set a  lovely fall table on the porch.
Dinner was divine, my company was good (hubby and bird dogs!). Today was homestead heaven.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Little Felted Bowls

Oh there was plenty that COULD be done outside today but I had an intense urge to piddle in my studio. Something that I haven't done most all summer. Besides the weather man is calling for rain. Never mind the sun is shining.
The little one is done free form with roving while the bigger was felted on a ball. I plan to add a bit more detail around the top of the little one.
It was nice just to play a bit!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Secret Garden

Since all the animals know where the big garden is, I decided a secret garden may need to be planted. Just in case....
It is really not a secret, but the kitchen herb beds. Today I planted collards, broccoli, lettuce and kale. So if an animal disaster does occur again I have a small amount of backup! And too, this area could be covered with protection in the event of a really bad cold snap.
It has already started producing some really lovely lettuce...
I also planted a flat of pansies that have been waiting ever so patiently.
Now I just need to get it all mulched!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Plowing and Planting

We spent the better part of the day weeding, plowing and replanting what the critters have wreaked havoc on the past week. Luckily we found some cabbage plants, a few collard plants and there were still a few broccoli left in the green house. This could quite possibly be the saddest winter garden on record. Well, maybe the one where a wascally wabbit ate 30 something broccoli in one night beat it....
On the bright side we harvested the first small turnips and a large crop of radishes. So many in fact, I should be able to ferment some tomorrow. I had hoped to get the garlic in but we ran out of time.
On the critter front I have been doctoring one of my dairy girls. I have dried everyone up but she wasn't quite ready and developed a nasty case of mastitis. Poor thing she has been pretty miserable. Twice daily milkings and antibiotics have her on the mend and it looks like she will recover nicely..

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Birds....Now sheep!

This morning I was busy in the kitchen. I looked out the window to see lambs meandering through the yard. These lambs had been residents of the orchard which is beside the garden. This is not good I muttered as I pulled on boots and hurried outside. Sure enough the had enjoyed a salad bar breakfast of cabbage. ALL of the cabbage. They like kale and mustard too. Sigh.
I decided if they were well enough to escape they were well enough to go back to the big pasture. And they did. Mom, bless her, had watered yesterday while I was at work and had not latched the gate tightly. I reassured her it is what it is. Water over the bridge. We will try and replant what we can and hope for enough warm weather to get transplants established. If not, well, we will be cabbageless this winter. LOL!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

There were only a few escapees today. Mostly the chickens that have live at the barn their whole life and just a couple of naughty turkeys. I clipped the turkey wings and returned them to the pasture and went to investigate the route of escape for the hens. One hole at the far end of the run was found. I fixed that and returned the girls to the pen. Now let's see what TOMORROW brings!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In A Fowl Mood

The last few days the chickens and turkeys have decided to make the garden their new feeding place. They have managed to wipe out half a row of kale and severely injure the collard and cabbage plants. Arugula seems to another favorite as it has been mowed to the ground. I have clipped wings here and there but they are still managing to hop the orchard fence. So today I was on the warpath.
I blocked every hole along the ground and patched every spot I could find in the fly net. Then I commenced to catching. Turkeys and roosters and hens, oh my! One by one with the help of my trusty bass net they were captured, clipped and sent to the penitentiary for an undecided amount of time.
Unfortunately we are covered up with roosters and some just can't get along with others. Those that could not play nice ended up in smaller pens alone and will either go to new homes or freezer camp as soon as I have time. By days end I was in a much better mood. Lets see what tomorrow brings!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Garlic has Arrived!

Today the garlic I ordered from Territorial Seed arrived. I tried some new varieties this year along with some old favorites. Unlike last year I did show some restraint and only order 4 1/2 pounds this go round!
I ordered Music and Susanville two mid season varieties that I love. The new ones to try this year are Italian Late, a softneck, mid season garlic. Duganski also a midseason and finally Premium Northern White a large cloved late variety.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

In Memory of Chance

Keeper of the flock, guarder of the poultry. Holder of my heart.
I found Chance had crossed the Rainbow Bridge sometime during the night, this morning. Only 9 it was a sad shock. Thankfully it seemed he has just gone to sleep...
He has been with us since he was 16 weeks old. I named him Chance because I told him he only had one chance to prove himself. Very standoffish from lack of human contact it didn't take him long to become part of the family or prove himself!
He will be missed desperately... goodbye our good and faithful friend.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It has been a quiet week here on the homestead. The daily chores are much easier now. We are in between garden season..waiting for the winter crops. We have let the okra go to seed and only a few lone pepper plants remain. I am craving greens!
It is time to start thinking about breeding plans for next year. Actually, I am a bit behind and even if the goats breed now it will be March before we have fresh milk again. I am milking one more week and freezing it all for soap and cheese. The girls have let me know they are done, their milk supply dwindling daily. One older girl is being retired. She has battled arthritis and hoof issues all summer. She is most unhappy living with the youngsters. I have caught her staring longingly at the buck pasture on more than one occasion! That leaves only 5 does being bred this year, 4 alpines and 1 saanen.
I have the cashmere goats for sale but will go ahead and put the buck in with them. My plan was to sell them in order to enlarge our Icelandic flock but with the parasite issues this year, those plans are being reconsidered. I  think some of the sheep that suffered the most will be allowed to regain good health and rest for a year. If they show no improvement the following year, I will cull them. This year has been the second most challenging for us since we starting raising Icelandics five years ago. That being said, I am not sure how many we will be breeding this year. Certainly a few but definitely not all!
Luke is home for the weekend and said he would love to work since he is a starving college student (not!) and I have a very long list for him. I look forward to visiting with him and "the dog"!