Saturday, December 29, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, December 29, 2012

This had been a different kind of week here on the farm, I decided to get under the weather,  an expression used by parents when one was not feeling well.  Mr. Bootsie learned he could take care of our animals and I discovered if I did not see them for 24 hours I would still be welcomed in the coops and barn.  Mr. Bootsie even went to the feed store and picked up feed because he thought there may not be enough to make it through the week with what we had on hand.


Sunday afternoon, I made crepes.  I have been reading instructions about pouring a 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and returning the excess to the bowl of batter.  I had to give this a try and it works.  The crepes are even and cook quickly.  I filled them with ham and asparagus, rolled them up,  placed in a baking dish and covered with a sour cream cheese sauce made with swiss cheese.  This was a very easy and delicious meal.  I did find Mr. Bootsie in the kitchen slicing ham and making his own supper one night, as I wanted nothing to eat but ice cream.


Things have just been moving along, waiting for good days when a little mulch can be moved or the onions can be weeded.  Remember to pick up a high nitrogen plant feed for the garlic and onions.  They need to be fed in January and March.


I have gone back and checked my records from last year, we are starting to get a few eggs earlier than we did last year.  Things are far from normal but we are gathering eggs and I was able to gift 3 dozen at Christmastime.  This week we continued to collect a duck egg everyday,  the girls laid  27 eggs.  I am starting to think about spring chickens.   What are we going to have this year?  Are we going to add anything new?  So many choices and so many decisions.


The counter is covered with seed guides,  I think they should be called seed confusion.  I want to get my order completed.  We go over to Orange, Va. buy our onion and potato sets from a wonderful store. They also sell seeds from the ball jars.  I am really thinking about the staples coming from them this year.  There is just something wonderful about going in the store and looking at the jars and making your selections.  Do not fear, I will be ordering some from the seed guides.  My daughter has a micro garden and I need mini plants for her.  There is always something I cannot live without.

This week the garden in the cold tunnel has pretty much taken care of itself.  I have some lettuces under row covers and they are looking real good.  If I could sell it, the chickweed would be a money crop.  I just have not started using in for us, I do feed a lot to the chicks and ducks.  Do any of you eat chickweed in your salads or on sandwiches?


I have never had anyone here with me all day except on weekends.  I have said it before and I am saying it again, I will not make 3 squares a day.  I do not think anyone needs that much food.  I have seen my momma stand in the kitchen all day cooking 3 squares to keep daddy happy.  Too many dishes to wash, too much food to prep and there are more important things to do.  I do my meals in the garden during the summer!  A handful of berries,  fresh lettuce leaves, spring onions, a half cleaned radish or turnip any of these will put a smile on my face.  But the day you find the snow peas is one of the happiest days of garden grazing for me.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, December 22,2012

Amazing things happen every week here on our little farm, some I share and some are held close to my heart.  Wednesday morning, I put the goats on the tether line and went about my business of feeding and watering everyone.  I hard a loud noise and thought something had happened on the interstate highway.  A few minutes later there was a cute little goat right beside me.  I looked down and there was no tether line on her.  What had happened?  Where is Gracie?  I walked out front and there is Gracie in the woods eating twigs and content as she can be.  Went to the tether line and it looked alright, checked Hershey's collar and there was a problem, the D ring was missing.  I looked around and several of the feed bins were on their sides, I certainly was glad I always close the bins.  I do not know if the noise scared them but I was so pleased when Hershey came to me for help.  Confidence and trust is the one thing I want our animals to have in me.

The goats were afraid when they came here, I noticed if I picked up a stick in the woods they watched me very closely to see what I was going to do with it.  They soon learned the twigs were put in a bucket and taken away from their pasture, as we use them for fire starter, they did not need to be afraid of being hit with a stick.  Were they hit?  I have no idea, I do know they have never been hit here on our farm.  When I start gathering sticks now I find someone in the bucket chewing on the ends as if to say are these for me?  What ever you do in their lot there is more help than is necessary.  It just pleases me so much for the girls to stay close and be in the way when we are doing things.


I made an asparagus and brie soup, this is one of the most interesting soups ever,  There is wine, heavy cream and chicken stock oh, yes, asparagus and brie cheese.  This was a delightful cream soup, the two of us ate every drop of it.  Next time we would like grilled French bread to dip into the soup.  If you are interested I will post the recipe.  It is super easy.


Worked on clearing some trees from the pasture.  Because of the drop in the temperature at night extra bedding was added everywhere.


We are always cleaning the coop and duck house.  Raking the runs.  I collected 7 duck eggs and 21 hen eggs.  I did spend quite a bit of time studying about duck eggs and just how they are and are not good for you.  In our house I have decided they are good for us.  I have been using them in our mix of eggs since we started gathering them.    I really do like to cook with the duck eggs.


Bad winds were hard on the cold tunnel this week.  I went out and adjusted things, we came through with no major problem.  I am just feeding and watering the plants because nothing appears to be growing.


I know a number of you think I have been a little lazy this week and I will agree with you.  By the next time you will see a week in review things will have changed here on our little farm.  I am going to have a helper.  I have been taking sometime for myself and wondering what changes will be made in the future.  After working all of his life, MR. BOOTSIE is retiring from his job December 28th to start a new life as a Farmer's Husband.  I am excited as he will be able to share so many of my adventures and I am a little sad about sharing my space.  But it is going to be nice to have someone who knows how to open up in the morning and start the day with our animals.  He has been able to put everyone up at night as he is here in the evenings.  I may find it might be a little easier for me to slip away for lunch with the girls!!!

           I was raised in a Christian home with parents of faith.  I was always taught to say:

                       I Wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very Happy New Year.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, December 15, 2012

Learning, I think there is always something to learn.  The goats arrived a little earlier than I had planned.  I had planned to add goats in our farm next spring (2013) but things changed and the girls are here.  I had not had a chance to do the proper amount of studying to understand how to do things and understand their lifestyle.  I have had enough time on the farm to notice changes in the behavior of an animal even though my parents would not let me see an animal be born and my first experience watching something being born was shared with my daughter when she was young.  I was not going to allow her to be raised believing the baby animals came down from the sky.


I tried a new soup this week.  It was a dried lima bean soup, I will make this soup again but will be making a few changes to the recipe.  I dried apples and pineapple as my supply had all been eaten.  The wee folk were asking for dried apples their last visit.  


Monday, I noticed some changes with Gracie, I was told she was with child, maybe, and I am pretty sure she is.  The billy jumped the fence and you know the rest.  About 3 weeks ago I noticed she had a discharge but really did not pay a lot of attention to it.  I came in, checked my favorite goat site Monday afternoon, decided what I had seen with her tail wagging was flagging and yes, there was another discharge, OH, Happy Days, she is not with child.  I would love to start milking and making cheese but, we need to build a barn type shelter for the goats.  Right now, we are sharing the feed room of the chicken house for the barn.  I need a milking station and things were going to move much to fast.  I am one relieved farmer, I only hope everything is good with the young goat because after reading, I only hope the billy did not get to her.  She is just too young, in my mind, to have a kid,  I was told there was no way she could be expecting.  OH, How I hope he was right.  


After dealing with a broody hen and allowing her to hatch, raising the babies and introducing them to the flock, there came the problem of whose coop is this.  Feather who is far from the largest hen has always been in control.  In the last few weeks I have seen a major change.  It seems one of the babies which was hatched this year is now at the top to the pecking order.  They do not come out in the morning until she comes out, Smiley is the last one to go in at night.  She decided she should roost with the cochins at night time.  There is this large hen on the roosting pole with them and she is pleased.  Momma Aurora is always on this pole and some nights they are side by side.  This is Smiley with a look alike, Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgood.

The duck laid 7 eggs this week.  This gal is good.  I have so much to learn about ducks.  I collected 23 hen eggs this week.  I do know two hens has started laying again.  I look forward to the problem of too many eggs again.


This week I have cabbage, swiss chard and radicchio seeds coming up.  The plants in the cold tunnel were covered when the temperature went down.  I now have added floating row cover to protect the lettuce, kale and spinach plants.  Pulling plenty of chickweed for the chickens and ducks.


Friday, my heart weeps for I am a mother and grandmother.  I weep quite often when things happen to a child for we are all children.  Sometimes, I would like to return to my parents farm find my mother there and feel the love she was able to give us.  She could take away the hurt.  I would like to be able to take away the hurt of so many, families, friends, people who relate, this had touched a vast number and will continue to touch many.  This journey for these families began Friday and will follow them all the days of their lives.  May the God who gave us so much be with them each step of the way.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, December 8, 2012

Winter is just a few weeks away and we are enjoying wonderful Virginia weather.  Daytime temperatures in the 60's and nighttime in the low 50's.  The really nice feature about this weather is our wood will be lasting, if  the winter gets really rough we may have enough to make it until spring.  Wood cutting, splitting and racking goes on quite a lot.  We do have an impressive wood yard.  I am just so glad we are able to harvest our wood from our farm.


I am now trying to save all the  peels from the potatoes and carrots, the skins of the onions to add to my stocks when I make them.  I have been reading where others place a container in the freezer and put all of these in the container for later use.  When you stop think about this you should not be throwing away the peels if you make stock.  They make a richer broth.  If not doing a meat stock you can always make a veggie stock.  I made a pot roast using the liquid from canned mushrooms  and water from cooking potatoes to make creamed potatoes.  The gravy was rich and filling.  I am trying to teach myself not to waste anything.  After the skins are cooked and the stock has been saved these vegetables, if no meat is involved, can be fed to the chickens.

In my quest to use from my pantries, I am making egg rolls. For the meat I will use smoker pork which was frozen, I will mix in onions, celery and cabbage.  I used duck eggs in making my wrappers. My soup will be egg drop made with our duck eggs and chicken stock which I canned.    


Wood was worked some this week, with a major clean up effort around the wood piles.  When we start working wood again there will be wood brought in from downed trees.  Last winter took out some oak trees and we should start to process them.

The goats are great, started brushing them this week and they are enjoying the attention.


My girl Eva is starting to look good again, her feathers are coming in,  you can now see where the tail feathers are starting to grow again.  I hurt for her when she molts.  The egg count is down to 10 hen eggs and 7 duck eggs.


Mr. Bootsie has placed 2 large black plastic drums in the cold tunnel,  filled them about 1/3 full of water, they should produce some heat inside the tunnel.  I direct seeded some corn salad, mini Chinese cabbage and  Pac-choi in the cold tunnel.  Inside I planted Jersey Wakefield cabbage, Swiss chard, standard and mini, I am just trying these plants, I do hope to learn something about working the cold tunnel.

In the greenhouse, we saw our first tomato of the season. There are several more developing.  I am using the same tomato type we planted last year.  I do not know what the plant is but I took cuttings and rooted them.  The harvest of tomatoes last year was quite good in the early spring.  I was so pleased I have 2 plants this year.  


If some of you are trying to learn from your garden and experiments, please share.  I have moved into an area of gardening I have little to no knowledge of.  I read quite a lot,  have always wanted greenhouses and tunnels never realizing one day it would happen.  I do not have a lot of years to waste trying to learn.  If you have anything to share please do.  I would enjoy any suggestions.  Do not take caution if you know I am doing something wrong, please tell me.  I would like for everyone to gain some knowledge from the work I am doing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Hunting He Would Go

Daddy had a gun and a dog which was a farm dog.  You would see Daddy take out his gun one night and take lots of things apart,  clean, oil with the 3 in 1 oil, put things back where they came from and polish the wooden part of the gun.  Daddy worked away from the farm all week on Saturdays he would go hunting.

After a good warm breakfast, he with gun and dog would leave home and return around noon with nothing to show for his morning.  Oh, he caught up on the local gossip and knew who had killed a deer this past week, stop by and get some deer meat when we were out.  Daddy never killed anything on these Saturday morning hunting trips.  He would trap a rabbit or kill a squirrel in a tree by the yard, these would be processed and we would eat them.  Well, we did not have to eat them if we did not want to.  Momma did not eat game and she would let us have a choice.  I remember eating some wild rabbit and thought it was good.

Every year Daddy would go hunting and I could not understand why he would stay out in the woods if he never bagged anything.  Oh, he had his turkey caller and he would sit and call turkeys but they never came.  One Saturday morning, Daddy added the hatchet to what he was carrying on his hunting trip.  I knew today would be the day, he would bring something home.  That evening he told us  he found where the deer were sleeping at nighttime.  Momma asked if he knew where they spent their days?  Momma said to Daddy, "you can't hunt at night," and he agreed with her.

After church on Sunday, I could see Momma was rushing to get lunch on the table.  When it was time to clean the kitchen, Daddy told me to go get my coat and boots.  Dress warm because we were going to look for a Christmas tree and it may be a long walk.  Daddy would look and look for the right tree.  We always cut a cedar tree from the woods.  The tree was put in a bucket of water for a few days, it was put up and decorated on Christmas Eve and taken down on New Year's Eve.  You could not have anything unfinished from last year on New Year's Day, so the tree and decorations had to be taken down and the tree thrown away.

Daddy and I start our walk for a tree and every tree I see is not the right one.  Too big, flat on one side, not full enough, I am about to give up for this year there would be no tree.  I come to a path which was freshly cut and started walking down it.  Under pine trees there were lots of pine needles packed down why this must be where the deer are sleeping.  I look around and there it is, a cedar tree that if you cut it about 2 feet off the ground it would be perfect.  "Daddy, come over here and look at this tree, I think it is the one for us."  Everything around the base of the tree had been chopped away and it was just setting there waiting for us to take home.

Daddy had the saw to cut the tree with and he kept asking if I was sure this was the one.  Yes, We have to have this tree.  It is waiting for us to take it home and decorate for Christmas.  Voices, I hear voices. Daddy cut this tree someone is coming and they may be the ones who cleaned around this tree and they are coming for it.  Daddy laughed at me.  Through the woods the voices are getting closer.  I know who that is, it is Momma and my sister.  They came right to the tree that Daddy and I had been looking for all afternoon.

I had no idea what had happened until I was older and Momma told me about Daddy's hunting trips.  He really was only hunting for the perfect Christmas tree and he would mark the way there with his hatchet cuts. Momma and my sister would come the most direct way while Daddy and I were roaming around in the woods.  I know we always had a wonderful tree, Daddy would put the lights on and he would do a lot of the decorating of the tree.  Momma enjoyed getting a new decoration every year and surprise us when the tree was being decorated.  I remember the bubbling lights, lights which were snowmen and Santa's.  The year we had the 5 light candles in the windows of our living room, with extension cords running everywhere, which we thought were beautiful and there were the bulbs for them in a few years which looked like a flame.  Our house was a F. W. Woolworth's advertisement during the holidays.

I still to this day when I see a cedar tree about 8 feet tall feel the need to check it out for a Christmas tree.  One of the most important things in my celebration of Christmas is a walk through the woods looking for holly, running cedar, finding a place where the deer sleep.  Yes, I am lucky to have woods which I can walk through and remember days of long ago when the only thing Daddy ever bagged was our Christmas tree.

                         Bring down the box of decorations from the attic.
                                       This one was made by my sister.
                                                I made this one.
                                    And here is one with writing on it!
                                     Bootsie, time for you to go to bed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, December 1, 2012

I just cannot believe how quickly this year has passed, today, is December 1, 2012 and it seems like only yesterday I was starting seeds for the spring garden.  They always told me when I was young, time would move much faster when I grew up.  I would like to be a child again and see if time would move a little slower.  I know my ability to accomplish tasks is much slower but I am steady, keep moving and at the end of day I know I have been on the farm.


This week we used up the remains of our Thanksgiving feast.  I am  not going to call them leftovers because  I try make something different so the meals do not get boring.  The turkey became turkey noodle soup with homemade noodles, the mashed potatoes became potato cakes made like Momma always made her potato cakes.  I could eat those at least twice a week.  I did use pantry items to make a pot of chili, the dried tomatoes, which I skinned, were giving it a nice flavor.  This was my first time I used dried tomatoes in the chili and I was pleased.  Learning how to use the dried produce is like a new chapter in my cooking experience.  Saturday night dinner was a freezer meal.  I think I am learning to use my stash of food and staying away from the grocery stores.


I am working with the goats on the leads and tethering, they are doing quite well with the experience.  They are getting so relaxed, I find myself letting them out of their pasture without leads or tethers, I only do this when I am going to be in the area.  The goats have been spending their nights in the chicken coop.  We do have 2 rooms in the coop, the only problem, the outside door was glass and I was so afraid they would butt the right place the the door would break.  Mr. Bootsie covered the door with plywood and now I have a little more piece of mind.  We had been covering the door at night with a cloth so they would not see the shadows of a goat and try to play with the goat.  It is really amazing how you have to think when you have animals.


Egg gathering is becoming quite a game.  Monday I found one egg half destroyed and one with a soft shell.  Tuesday, the duck laid an soft shell egg, I usually feed this egg the next day as it is alright in the soft shell.  I do feed the girls eggs but they are cooked.  I do not want them to get the taste for the raw egg.  The month of November I collected 30 duck eggs, and 68 hen eggs.  This week, there were 7 ducks eggs and 11 hen eggs.

Eva is still molting, no tail feathers and a lot of body feathers are missing.  She does hate the camera, but she was looking so sad I wanted to take of picture of her.  This girl is my best layer and lays a very large egg.  You can see the feathers starting to come in.  By the end of week you could see lots of feathers and we are promised warm weather this week.  I worry about the cold and her in this condition, but her molt, 2 years ago, was when we have nighttime temperatures of 8 to 10 degrees.   I doubt that she will start laying before sometime in February.


What I have in the cold tunnel is doing really good.  I added some kale and lettuce plants this week.  In the greenhouse the basil is doing good and the tomatoes are blooming.  I potted the amaryllis bulbs, they were laid on their side in August, new growth was starting to show.  I do look forward to having a few blooms.  Hollyhocks, I started from seed, were up potted this week.


We are entering a busy time of the year, I am pleased things have slowed in the garden and it gives me time to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.  I love walking around the farm seeing the  holly trees covered with berries and running cedar creeping across the woods floor.  Brings back so many memories of my childhood when we picked the holly and cedar to make wreaths for our house.  This was done the week before Christmas because fires in the house would dry out the evergreens.  I know our house will be filled with the smells of Christmas.  Cookies baking and hot cider steaming on the wood stove.  May the holidays be special for you and your families.