Friday, December 5, 2014

First the Turkey

For me, I must say, turkey is far from my favorite meal, but for some reason my family thinks it should be the meal of the day on Thanksgiving.  I know,  I read somewhere there was deer and turkey gathered for the first Thanksgiving, so I would have no problem doing Prime Rib with all the trimmings but I am over ruled.   This year on the flip side, I decided to make the leftovers a dining adventure for the eye, soul and taste buds.

Preparing the bird to be roasted was brining first, making stock, using the goodies inside the turkey, for the dressing and gravy, I began the process Wednesday.  Thursday, the bird make it's way to the table, in less than an hour I could see there was much more bird left  than I had felt there would be.  Another storage issue, so I picked all the meat from the carcass which quickly made it's way into the stock pot along with  stock veggies from the freezer.  Friday, there were 15 pints of stock canned. This left me with a bowl of turkey in the fridge, the next leg of this journey was turkey salad.  We do enjoy the salad, this was a win, win.

During the summer I made crab imperial,  could, would, just give it a try.  I made turkey imperial following my recipe, I would use more Old Bay seasoning if I did this again and I need to choose some type of sauce to add a little more flavor.  Maybe a little more or different seasoning would add flavor.  Not having shells to cook the turkey imperial, I used my moon pie pan, worked great.  Yes, I would do this again.

I still had quite a lot of turkey remaining, so it was time to try another dish.  One of my favorites, egg rolls.  There is pac choi growing in the tunnel, so I was off to harvest some of this wonderful green.

 I used my fresh garden greens, celery, onion and turkey to make the filling,  I proceeded to make the wrappers and fill them.  Deep fried, what a treat we had.  But all of us know there  never seems to be any end to the turkey.  I looked in the bowl and there was more  to be used.  I had heard one request for leftover turkey and that was a pot pie.  I decided the final leg of this journey would be pot pie filling.  There was one pot pie made and enough filling frozen for another.

 I was so pleased to look in my fridge and no longer have a bowl  which contained turkey.  I hope somewhere, someway, somehow, there can be a rule unwritten but known by all.  If you want turkey for Thanksgiving at Triple Creek Farm it is your responsibility to take home the remains at least some, leave me enough to make egg rolls.

Turkey pot pie in my cast iron skillet

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Memories of Momma

This morning, as I was washing my frying pan, I had a memory float through my mind.  I have been cooking and using the same frying pan plus a few others for 50 years.  Why?  After 50 years did I have a look into my past that moved me like this.

Momma had 1 cast iron skillet and 1 griddle pan.  She took wonderful care of them.  I never remember there being any rust, food never stuck to her skillet and what wonderful food was on the table cooked in this one skillet.  Fried pork chops, fried chicken with white gravy, Momma could really cook wonderful meals.

I have read many articles and posts on how to care for cast iron, burn the pans in a fire.  I have burned pans in the fire and I have cooked the pans in the oven.  All of these things work.  This morning I saw Momma standing in her kitchen wringing out the dish rag until it was dry.  She had just finished washing her skillet, she took the dish rag and wiped the skillet.  It was so clear to me, I have never remembered Momma doing this until this morning.  So, there I stood, dish rag in my hand, wringing it out completely dry and began to wipe my skillets as I was washing 2 this morning.  Mr. Bootsie stood watching me with the look of why are doing this?  He could see satisfaction on my face, I began to share with him as I just did with you.

My comment to him was 50 years I have been cooking and doing whatever to take care of my skillet but this one morning it was clear to me; in the future, I shall be taking care of my skillet the same way Momma did.  You see one of the skillets I have was Momma's and I, also, have her griddle.  I think if I would take the time to do some research I am cooking in a cast iron skillet which has been used in our family kitchen for over 90 years.  I have no idea as to how old the griddle is because Momma found the griddle on the farm.

No, I am not suggesting to any of you this is the way to take care of your skillets, but for me this just pleased  me to realize a memory of growing up could bring me so much comfort.  Now if I could find some of those red and white dish rags Momma used.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Garden Review 2014

This week, the tunnel has been covered, and the spring/summer garden will be slipping away.  I did pick a large basket of butter beans and a few more pole beans (snaps) which I added to a cheese vegetable soup.  There are peppers waiting for me to make pepper jelly and spinach, lots of spinach, I will be freezing more of this to use during the winter.

My mind is now thinking what will not  be planted next season.  The first no, no, no is lazy wife green beans (pole) the japanese beetles enjoy this plant and the summer damage was bad.  I did have a good harvest from these beans but they were a haven for the beetles which moved to the raspberries and blackberries. I grew several hills of blue lake pole beans, no beetles and I did manage to harvest a few in September and October.  I can't complain about the beans because I did not do a good job of getting these started.

Tomatoes, the backbone of the garden and the kitchen, I did not get my late tomatoes started so I only had a few plants which volunteered, they were paste tomatoes.  My early paste tomatoes did a great job and these will be planted next year.  The sun-dried variety was picked, dehydrated and are on the shelf waiting for me to make something wonderful with them.

paste tomatoes---Opalka, some of these grew to 5 inches long.

dried tomatoes---Principe Borghese, good harvest, lots dried.  I like to use these in summer          
cooking, great in pastas and salads.
I had the best results from Roma paste tomatoes this year, I was at the point of thinking I would not plant them in the future but they will be on the list for next season.

The tomato cages are already set for next spring.  I dug down 2 feet added manure, filled the hole, set my tomato cages and the bed was mulched 6 inches deep.  I do not plow or turn my garden as I garden with shovels, hoes and forks.

Peppers, I have always had a good pepper crop here, but this season was a little off.  Again, this was my fault.  I like to make pepper jellies, this requires several varieties of peppers.  Our most used pepper is the pepperoncini which begins producing early and continues until frost.  The deer ate this plant this season and I had to wait for recovery from their damage.

pepperoncini, use these in many recipes, pickle.freeze a number of them for winter use.

cayenne, red pepper

jalapeno,  use for poppers, jellies, cowboy candy

aconcadua,  use for saute

red pepper, have not settled on a variety, use these in cooking and jellies

This is the area (tomatoes and peppers) of my garden which gets the most variety.  I must settle on seed selections and not wander through the seed books saying to myself, I must try this, this looks good or I must plant this one.  As I have gotten older my decision is to settle on varieties I like and plant these.

I am pleased to report as of November 1, there has been no frost, but I feel it is just around the corner.  The tunnel is ready, plants are growing and I am happy with what has been accomplished this season.  I learned a little about late gardening, as I have never had such good harvests in September and October.

I have my rocking chair setting by the wood stove, a cup of tea ready for sipping and I am just waiting for the new seed books to arrive.  Spring will arrive in my mailbox one day.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Moles, Out, Out, Out...Get Out of my Garden

I wonder if any of you have any idea how many different types of plants the moles find delicious.  I had no idea how many veggies could become victims of their habits.  We have about 1/3 of an acre in garden and this is one big battle.

My first loss this spring was the walking onions.  They ate almost all my plants.  I plant a row in the garden each year for harvesting in the spring, I dehydrate the stems and have green onions to add to soups and many dry mixes I make.  This spring was a total loss.  No onions, as I went to harvest my tops I found the tops wilted, I pulled and there were only tops with no roots.  Some of the tops had been pulled down into the holes where the onion had been.  There were a few plants in the herb garden and I am now working on growing lots of sets.  My big decision is to start growing onions in gutters,  I have talked with a roofing and gutter man, he is going to keep me on the list for used guttering.  I plan to bury the gutters in the garden and plant my onion sets in the gutters.  Mr. Bootsie will drill drain holes in the bottoms of the gutters.  In the meantime, I will be planting in flower pots.  We did have an old freezer we had used for grain storage, that has been moved to the garden, filled with good soil and now has become a home for my winter onions.  I have had another thought but I need to check and see how costly effective this will be.  I thought about the bag on a roll which is just one long bag.  I could cut one side and hopefully they would not be able to invade from the bottom.

Time to harvest the peas, oh well, this was just wishful thinking.  The vines were blooming and all of sudden they started to wilt.  What is going on?  Start from the ground up and what do I find but the vine is cut at the ground level, mole has eaten the root of the peas.  I plant pole beans after the peas and they climb on the same wire.  It was time for me to put some thought into how this was going to be handled.  I lost some of the pole beans last year, so I had been thinking about this  through the winter.  All of my pole beans were planted in 6 inch pots.  I manure the pot to about 3/4's full, add good soil and plant my pole beans (2 beans) in the pot.  I was adding yard long beans this year, the same method was used for these beans except one hill, I went out one day to water, found one hill of beans wilting, realized this hill was planted directly into the ground and had been attack by the mole.

Bush beans, I plant contender snaps and they do produce.  I had been picking beans and canned 14 quarts only to find in the row the bean plants roots were being eaten.  There was an excellent harvest of green bush beans; however, I do try to leave a number of them to harvest as dried beans.  This was a major loss as the mole had a picnic eating the roots of the green beans.  I plant too many green beans to try and do something with them, so I will just be taking my chances.

Root veggies do not stand a chance around here, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beets all are mole food, I do harvest a few turnips and radishes.  Last year, we tried parsnips only to realize they would have to be planted in pots.  I am quite fortunate to have a number of large pots and even some huge pots as I am a pack rat for pots.  There are, also, those horrible blue barrels in our garden.

The blue barrels have been effective in my war against the stink bugs on my squash plants.  I plant early in the spring and my plants do not reach the ground, I am able to control the stink bugs because of this method of planting.  Well, it worked this year, 2 years ago there was war fighting the squash bug.

I am sharing this with you because I need help, suggestions and someone to send me boxes of tissues as I cry over my efforts to feed us going down into the soil as I can  see the top of my plants as they disappear.  I know there has to be someone having this problem beside me.  Now that I have cried on your shoulder I have one more to share with you.  Those moles are eating my strawberry plants.

           THIS IS WAR!!!
              (once again)

                            A few pictures of our tunnel during the summer and winter.

During the summer, the tunnel is covered with climbing plants.

This is the inside before I start adding the cool weather crops.

Snow load on top, plants inside, we were able to harvest all winter.

Here is a picture of our planting beds

All of our beds are constructed from wood, mostly logs.  I prefer for them to be close to the ground as this will reduce watering.  Beds are 4 feet wide and various lengths.

As I ponder how to handle my mole problem, I shall move forward.  The garden is moving into the tunnel for the winter, Swiss chard, lettuces, onions, beets, kale, peas, broccoli are all being planted in pots.  Holland greens are a direct seed as I did not have a major problem last year.  Garlic was planted in the soil, it seems to do well.  I like having some garlic in the tunnel as it is ready to harvest a little earlier than those grown in the garden.

Your thoughts are welcome.  I would love to hear how you handle problems in your garden.  Comment here or on the Happy Hallow Facebook page, please.  Link at the top right.  

I must run along as no one has dropped by wanting to feed the pasture animals so I am off do some chores.  Maybe a cup of warm tea would be nice first, shall I make a cup of tea for you?  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Peking Ducks


This year I hatched my first duck eggs, I remember Momma always hatching ducks eggs under one of her setting hens.  I took the easy road, the eggs were hatched in an incubator.  I really did enjoy watching the eggs come to life.  The only problem was trying to explain to Momma Duck these are your babies.  We did use fertile eggs from our farm so this is a second generation of our ducks.  They started out being  little yellow balls of fluff, which are so cute.  The growing process began, the feathers started coming in, when they were about 2 months old I began the introduction of Momma Duck and her babies.  She was not interested in these little ones taking over her run.  When the other ducks were out of the run I would let the babies take a swim in the pond and for a short while they had the run of the duck run.  Most of their days were spent with little chickens in the chicken tractor.

I noticed Momma Duck was not doing real good, there was a change in her eggs, she has laid every day for over 2 years and all of sudden the shell of her egg is soft and most of the eggs are broken while being laid.  Concerned I chatted with the farmer and she suggested I feel her sunflower seeds, Momma duck would have nothing to do with the whole sunflower seeds,  off to the kitchen to blend the sunflower seeds.  New problem, now she would not eat her grains with the ground sunflower seeds in them.  It was like she was saying to me, "I do not like the taste of sunflowers seeds and I do not care if you make meal out of them, I am not eating them."  Seems she was acting just like any 2 year old who does't enjoy something you feel it is important for them to eat.

Momma Duck has a real special place in my heart and I really think she has laid enough eggs so I took some time, pondering my next decision.  I love this girl, she is beautiful, doesn't bother anyone so what the heck, if her egg is soft, that is okay.  She took the little ones under her wing, and raised them, teaching them all the tricks of the trade and showing them how to be as sweet as she is.  Now the 2 little ones are laying.  Momma Duck is laying, once in a while there is a good egg with a shell that is strong enough for me to move the egg and bring to the house,  These eggs always give me a little hope.  As I add oyster shell to the bowl in their coop I think maybe she will never be 100 precent again but she is an excellent duck. and this is fine with me.  One morning,  this week I found a treat 3 strong eggs in the nest.  A surprise like this always puts a smile on my face and reminds me, you did the right thing allowing Momma Duck to stay with you on the farm.

We have a kiddie pond for them to swim in, but when I was cleaning out this spring I found some very large plant dripper trays, put one in the chicken run because they like to walk through the cool water during the summer,  one day, when all the runs were opened, the ducks took over the tray.  I knew there was one more and now it is the duck run, they get so excited when this tray is filled and often I find all 3 of my girls in this tray having a wonderful time.

We are so pleased with the behavior of our girls, if I had to make a choice and have only one type of bird it would be ducks.  They are so easy to take care of  and their eggs are delicious.  I always try to use a duck egg in anything I bake.  The richness comes through and makes me so pleased there are ducks  on Triple Creek Farm.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spring and Summer Reflections 2014

Time for me to look back and reflect.  What did I do wrong this season, how can I correct the errors of my ways, changes will they work and can I accept change?  Along with this what did I do right, what accomplishments were made and can I accept praise for doing good?

This year has been a challenge for me.  I was off the farm far more than I planned to be back in the spring, this was totally out of my control because I was needed by someone very special to me.  The days and hours I spent with my brother were a gift.  I never knew just where I was in his life.  Sixteen years is a lot of difference, there are his children who were much closer to my age than my brother to me.  He clearly let me know one day, he wanted me to know the hows, whys, and to be close to him as he ended his life on this earth, this was special to learn just how he felt about me.  The farm suffered,  but all in all we had a good season.  Some of our big projects were able to be completed early in the spring.  We had 5 baby goats born this spring, all of them found new homes except for 1 who is busy keeping Mr. Bootsie straight.  Lots of baby chickens were born and we were able to raise all of them.  There were 3 ducks hatched, 1 has a new home and 2 are waddling around here on a daily basis.

With the goats came milk, this was a new project for me.  I spent some time learning about cheese, how to make it and how to use the cheese made.  I have learned the hard cheeses are not for me.  I do not have the proper storage and I really am not up for another project.  I will be making the soft cheeses as we really did enjoy the soft cheese.  I made kefir with goat's milk and lots of yogurt. There is goat cheese in the freezer and we will be enjoying the fruits of our labors through out this winter.

As of now the goats are giving less milk, I plan to put the ladies on vacation in just a few weeks.  The pullets are starting to lay while the older girls are starting to molt.  Most of the roosters are in the freezer, we have made lots of good chicken salad and chicken pot pie.  This is the first time we have processed any of our own meat, but let me share with you...this chicken meat is delicious.  We learned how to process and we did have a few issues with it, but if we are going to hatch these birds we need to learn how to use them.  I tried to sell the roosters as they are a good breed, but there were no buyers, I, also, tried to give them away and there were no takers.  We had no choice but to learn how to process and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

The garden came into production and my time here became limited, I did do some canning, dehydrating and we enjoyed so many meals made with the veggies from our garden.  The berries came in and it was time for a new adventure, so this year we went for the wine.  Blackberries are in the freezer and I will be making a few more batches of wine into the fall.  Raspberries were also used, as we have never had any homemade raspberry wine, I will be looking forward to the first sample of this wine.  Will it be a keeper or will it become vinegar?  I have a mother of vinegar I would like to use.  I will leave this decision to Mr. Bootsie as he enjoys the blackberry wine I make.

I feel with learning and trying new directions we had a good season.  I had never milked a goat, made cheese or sold little ones until this summer, I did receive an education quickly,  We met some wonderful folks, learned how to use the local barter page on facebook and it worked for us. Now we are sharing flowers, continuing to meet new folks in our community and I have new flowers which I have never grown in the flower garden.

I will walk through the garden on another day, as we once again had our share of problems and I am still working on decisions for the future.  As the yellow poplar leaves fall from the trees, the wood racks of fire wood are filled, the chimney has been cleaned, I feel fall in the air.  So time for me to get the tunnel garden growing and maybe, just maybe, we will have a few veggies this winter.

Time for you stop by, enjoy a cup of warm cider and a slice of pumpkin bread.  Come, sit by the fire, warm your fingers and toes.  I look forward to sharing this time with you once again.  Oh, I smell the cinnamon drifting from the kitchen, it won't be long before I will be having a cup of cider, I need to check the garden and see if there are any new problems, so I can sit in front of the fire and ponder a way to handle the moles....


Sunday, August 31, 2014

So Easy to Make a Mistake

Now each day things seem to have returned to as normal as it can be on a farm, I am really shocked, hurt and not real pleased with myself.  I was thinking oh, yes we are taking care of everything during the weeks we spent going to the hospital and care facility (this was while my brother was sick) but to my amazement, I was doing a poor job.

About a week ago someone asked me, "Do your goats have worms?"  The shock and horror of I have not been doing the weekly feeding to DE to my goats or birds went through me like a knife.  The next morning on the milking stand I was checking the eyes of the goats, one way to check for worms.  Chickens were all doing good, well, maybe, eggs have slacked off but some are starting to molt and then it hit.  One of the two oldest girls was down.  At first, I thought she had gone broody, 6 years old and never been there before, August, expecting a really cold winter, no way, I am not setting a hen as I have gotten the others to change their minds about being broody, I just do not do fall chickens.

A couple of days later, Ornery,  could hardly move,  WORMS, I was so upset.   I had been giving them a few squash here and there but I have pumpkin in the freezer and I could have made them a pumpkin smoothie.  That afternoon she would not stay out of the water bowl.  I picked her up and put her into the brooder box because I did not want the others to get what she had if there was another problem.   In about 2 days I knew it was over and I was waiting for the death-chicken to come along and take her to chicken heaven.  The first girls being 6 years old just have a forever home and a grave in the garden.  I would do it no other way.  My Wee's helped name them and these girls are so special to me.  We have watched this girl go for 2 weeks without hardly anything to eat, very little to drink and saw no improvement.  I kept pushing, fresh water twice a day, sugar water and fresh food.  One day in total disgust with myself I pushed her head into the water, my girl started drinking.  She drank and drank, Mr. Bootsie came into the coop and saw her drinking asking, "What has changed?" "Just drinking water," was my response.

We have  watched progress over the last week, She is eating a bit more, up walking about, you can tell she is listening to the other birds outside in the runs by the way she turns her head.  She is weak but we feel on the mend, I will never know if this was a case of extreme broodiness or if my girl had another problem.  I am just so pleased this little hen with a huge attitude may be on the mend.  I miss her fussing with all of the other girls, trying to beat me to the door so she can escape only to stop and let me pick her up.  Yes, she was my spoilt rotten girl.

As far the goats having worms, I really do not think they do,  They run, play, eat everything in sight and are just a delight to have on our farm.  One morning this week, I stopped by a chair which has not been used all summer and sit down with all of my critters in their own runs and pastures,  It was such a pleasure watching them working, swimming and resting in their favorite spots.  I have missed the quiet moments I enjoyed with all of animals.

Saturday, as I went into the coop to bed everyone down, Ornery met me at the door, she wanted to return to the big girl part of the coop.  I opened the door and she went right into a nesting box.  Can she be broody?  Only time will tell.  But she went on her on and I am so happy my girl seems to be returning to being herself.

Life on the farm has plenty of ups and downs.  I am so pleased we seem to have a number of good days, we really do try to take good care of all of our animals.  Thanks for sharing a few minutes with my family.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chicken Salad and Hot Dogs, what do they have in common?

One morning this week I was busy chopping cucumbers, peppers and onions and all I could think of was chicken salad and hot dogs.  No not on the same plate, not served at the same time but there was a strong common thread running through my mind.  In my kitchen I can't make a bowl of chicken salad without adding some of the sweet cucumber relish I can or could I think about chomping into a hot dog not loaded with the same cucumber relish.  I grew up eating Momma's chicken salad and that is what I look for today when I think of chicken salad.  No grapes or pecans just good chicken salad.  Momma always pulled out the big blue roaster when she cooked hen/roosters.  Not only did we have chicken,  Momma would make a pan of noodles,  How I would love to have another plate of her chicken noodles.  So plain and simple but greatly looked forward to each and every time she made chicken.

When picking the garden my basket was filled with cucumbers and peppers, must be time to make relish.  I am having to buy my onions so I picked up a couple of bags of them the last time I went in for provisions.  I gather my supplies to start the relish,  I chop away making small pieces of the veggies, following the recipe I make the salt brine and cover the veggies, time for them to soak and become pickle.  Off to check and be sure I have all of the spices I need for the syrup.  Mamma did not use all of the different spices, she would add up the amount needed and use her pickling spice.  Later in the day the syrup is made and now the veggies are soaking up the brown sugar syrup with lots of seasonings.  Jars are ready and it is not time to fill the jars and do the hot water bath.

You ask why do you can relish?  Because I have never found one that I enjoyed the way I enjoy the relish made with the veggies from the garden.  And this is the ingredient that makes my chicken salad taste like Momma's chicken salad.

Momma would pick the chicken meat from the bones and then secure the meat grinder to the table, always using a kitchen towel to protect the table from being damaged by the clamps.  After grinding the chicken the magic would begin.  I made the mistake of asking Momma for her recipe, she was glad to share her recipe I just wasn't smart enough to follow it. 

 You need a bowl full of ground chicken, a couple of stalks of celery chopped fine, a couple of big scoops of sweet relish, a couple of scoops of Duke's Mayonnaise, a couple splashes of sweet cucumber pickle juice, poultry seasonings, salt and pepper.  Mix Well. Chill in fridge for several hours. Simple enough even a child could do this. 

Needless to say, I was an adult and it was Greek to me.  My first attempt was horrible, and several more were just as disgusting.  Momma was getting older and I knew I had to get this under my belt.  I showed up one day with my chicken, ground, and all of the makings.  Please, Momma, make me some chicken salad.  She said, "NO, you will make it and I will watch you."  If you could have heard all of sighs and hisses coming from Momma as I was trying to measure so I could refer to my directions later.  Then she looked at me and said, "It isn't about measuring it is about how it looks, make it look good."  It clicked, she had made her chicken salad so it was eye appealing just a good balance of chicken,  celery, sweet pickle relish and enough mayo to bring it all together.  Then she added the pickle juice and seasoning to taste.  I have been making my own chicken salad for a number of years and often think of this lesson she taught me.  

I have a few jars of sweet cucumber relish on the shelf of the pantry!!!  We shall have chicken salad and yes, I will be enjoying a hot dog with relish, mustard and onions.  My relish, from my garden, almost.  Momma did teach me many lessons. I cherish each one, because she cared about each of us being able to take care of ourselves.  

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moving Forward also Looking Back

I wish to send out a special Thank You to all of you,   First for being around all of this spring and Second for your many kind thoughts and prayers.  Someday this will come to an end.  But I can wait no longer,  There is garden to be picked and preserved.  It is time to make sure there is enough wood for the winter.  There needs to be some form of organization in the coop,  I must move forward.  Time waits for no one and it is not waiting for me.  The poplar trees are loosing their leaves, wonderful bedding for the ladies.  Coops must be cleaned and the manure added to the garden.  Herbs are ready to harvest.

I am so pleased the farm was able to function without me.  When we were away, we were in before night time.  This gave us the time to be with all of our animals and be sure all was well.  The garden managed to be mostly planted before things were really bad.  No, I did not spent everyday away but a day away keeps everything out of balance for several days.  I have not made it into a grocery store for over 5 weeks and I am so proud of myself.   With the help of the ladies, we had milk, the girls provided us with lots of eggs and the garden has kept our plates full of fresh veggies.   We were able to continue to bake all of our bread and make cheese.  Knowing I do a good job of planning our pantry and we able to  make it through these types of times has swollen my "BIG" head even more.

This was part of the harvest on Thursday of past week.  The fall raspberries are just starting to come in.  This was our first red noodle beans.  They are under the green yard long beans.,okra, butter beans and  assorted peppers.  Before the week was over black eyed peas were being picked. Of course there are cucumbers, tomatoes and squash.  The garden has been producing lots of veggies for us to enjoy.  Even a few to share.  Some of the plants are starting to show signs of struggle as the summer goes on, however; there will be plenty veggies for us to add to freezer and preserve.  I have been busy making wine and brandy with the berries.

The coop has been quiet, there were 2 broody hens but after several weeks of chasing them from the nest every evening I  believe I may have won this battle.  For me, it is starting to be a little too late in the season to have baby chicks.  We are collecting duck eggs once again.  The spring born ducks are starting to lay, I will be pleased to have duck eggs when I bake once again. I am starting to find large and small eggs, I am so hoping Momma Duck has healed and will be able to lay a good egg once again, but at this time I am not sure.

The ladies, are busy eating as much forge as they can find.  They have found the back door to our home and will come visiting every chance they get.  I have found a treat for them, they love cherry tomatoes.  Mr. Bootsie has been busy taking out trees to make a new area to store some of our equipment, producing lots of leaves for the ladies and wood for next winter.

By now, the family and friends have all shared and life will return to what it was before. Well not quite, there will not be telephone calls just after the sun sets leaving me a message to get down from the roosting poles and give him a call.  When the storm warnings are listed there will not be someone checking to see if all is well, But I have already learned to do without my evening calls, as sickness controlled my bubba's life, he was not able to call me as much.  Time has a wonderful way of putting all things in order for you.

My days will be filled, once again,  taking care of our flocks,planning what new ventures we will have here,  trying to figure a way to add some new animals and have Mr. Bootsie thinking it was his idea.  I have no need to make lots of jars of pickled peaches and sweet pickles.  I will make a few but not the amount I made in the past.  Each time zucchini bread was baked this year, I took Bubba some, I am so pleased he was able to enjoy some of foods he loved right up to the end.

Once again, Thank You for your many kind thoughts, I am moving forward and we shall be in full production quickly.  As i scurry out to pick the garden, my mind is already thinking about what we shall can and preserve.  Take care of yourselves and share a smile with someone just for me.  UNTIL!!!!



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Work for weeks and then the harvest begins

I made one of many walks through the garden, my heart was filled with joy and my back began to ache.  The garlic is ready to dig, string beans have a few ready to pick, tomatoes need to be tied up and there is always vegetation which needs to be pulled.  The cucumbers, melons and climbing squash are waiting for me to start training the runners.  The climbing spinach is still finding its way to the arbors.  The pole beans are climbing higher and higher, maybe this year will be the one we will have a tall, really tall bean plant.

Along with all of this, I am starting more seeds for the late garden.   Planting potatoes for a later harvest and walking onion sets are being planted as soon as I find them.  The voles have really made their homes under my onion beds, which accounted for my not having a harvest this year.

All of the above was one week ago.  Now the garlic is clean and in a basket, picking a few tomatoes. pinching the pole beans as soon as they reach the top of the wires and daily bringing in green beans from the bush bean plants.  Never fear there are others who enjoy the garden as much as I do.  My peanut plants have been pruned. the cabbage and broccoli plants in one bed became a late night snack for someone.

The potatoes are coming up really good and I almost feel like a farmer.  The tomatoes are coming out of the cages, showing a promise of a good harvest.  I am picking peppers and watching the blackberries.  The wild ones are red and the thornless ones are growing.  I love sneaking into the garden and finding a handful of raspberries ready to eat.  The child comes out in me and I want to find more.  I am thinking there will be okra this year as the plants are looking strong and have been mulched with goat jelly beans.  Once again I am going to try corn.  The early corn came up very sadly.  My soil is still hard pan in a lot of areas.  I keep working on the soil but my garden is about 1/3rd of an acre, that is a lot of soil to add richness to; however, the goats are busy and so are the ladies.

A couple of weeks have passed and now the harvest is good, Green beans aka snaps are coming in by the small basket, the canning has begun.  Mr. Bootsie has taken his position in front of the canner to watch the pressure gauge and set the timer.  He has canned one canner of string beans and this was his second canning.  This is supper on a cold winter's night.  We will add a little bacon or ham when the beans are being properly prepared.  This jar will fill 2 of my soup
bowls, which we call Grandma's soup bowl as they are Mr. Bootsie's delightful grandmother's bowls.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Springtime is just about over

A few days ago we were reminded what summer is like here in Virginia.  I heard the sound of the ac coming on for the first time this spring.  That night we did not close up the barn until 10:00 at night, the goats were loving all of the extra playtime.  Mr. Bootsie suggested leaving the barn open and I said no.  A few nights back he fixed a solar light to burn in the barn all night, when I went down to milk I had a barn full of goats who were wired just like a child on sugar.  Two nights in two weeks would have been to much excitement for me.  We closed the barn and after waiting for the temperature to cool down, everything went well.  When I opened up in the mornings the heat did come out of the door.  Another lesson learned.

Swiss chard and broccoli are on the stove,  chard will be used to make pizza topping and the broccoli will be used for soup.  We so enjoy all of the vegetables from the spring garden.  String beans aka snaps are about 4 inches long.  Garlic is turning yellow, time to gather.  I did gather some of the more advanced this week.  I finally planted black-eyed peas before the 4th of July.  Zucchini are coming in and of course, I made a pot of zucchini bisque.  Transplanted some of the climbing spinach, there were a number of baby plants this year, they came up under the arbor where the spinach was planted last year.

Trapping has been slow this last couple of weeks.  Maybe we will harvest some black berries this summer.  The only going on in the traps is a cute little cat that likes the bait.  We are letting it go and it will come back another day and there it is caught in the trap.

Lightening struck a tree, a really big one in the goat pasture.  We will have to take down the fence in order to drop this tree.  There was a group decision to wait until after all of the leaves are off of it.   The tree Mr. Bootsie felled a few weeks ago is becoming fire wood.  There is one rack filled with this wood. Most of the trunk of the tree has been cut and split into pieces we can now handle and load onto the splitter.  We should fill at least one more rack.

Everything is settled in the goat barn.  I have my two milk goats and one of the babies from this spring.  We are ready for the winter.  It was a hard decision but we are pleased with the results.  I remember the winter of 2013, and I just wanted to make things a little easier for me.  I will be using the once a day milking rather than twice.  When making cheese the other day I decided to try and  use the dehydrator to control the temperature and I am pleased to be able to say this procedure worked well, I am learning how to use as many things as I can for dual purposes.

We have both hatching of chickens growing.  The oldest little roos are now crowing, well almost sounding like Mr. Wonderful.  The first hatching was 10 and there are 6 little roos and 4 hens.  I want to keep the hens so it will time to make some changes in the coop.

The ducks are doing good, there are no drakes with us any longer.  We gave the drake to someone with a big pond.  I needed to do this because the drake was the brother of 2 of my girls and the other was his mother.  Momma duck is doing a little better with her egg.  I started feeding her meat bird grower, continued with the oyster shells and now I can see a little improvement.

All in all this has been a wonderful spring,  babies everywhere.  Things are starting to settle down as Summer arrived this week.  Plans are now being made for preserving the fruits of our farm.  There are a few jars in the pantry from last year so it is time to look back and see what was canned and how much. With each season on the farm it seems there is something to be done.  OH, I just enjoy the preserving of our garden.  I love walking into the pantry and seeing all of jars on the shelves filled with the wonderful tasting goodies we have canned or dried.

It is now time to say, "Good-bye Spring and Welcome Summer!!!"

Just a quick note, we are making kefir sour cream and using it in the zucchini bisque in place of the creamed cheese.  We are using the yellow zucchini for this and it is wonderful.  Follow the link to a few of the recipes we use during the summer.

Check out some of our recipes!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

It has been a week of highs and lows on the farm.  First, we were expecting baby chicks and ducks,  Sunday-Tuesday there was no sign of babies.  Finally on Wednesday much a hugh amount of squawking I took Little Gray off the nest.  I was really upset, we knew there were 4 eggs loss during the hatching process,  I, also,  knew there was an egg eater in the coop, needless to say the mystery was solved.  Little Gray ate her eggs.  No baby ducks and no little chickens.  Little Gray is not asset to our little farm, there will have to be some changes made.  She is a lovely pure bred Maran, lays a beautiful copper colored egg.  She was one of our first hatching here on the farm.  But with all of this going for her the truth is she will have to go.

Wednesday, we attended a class learning about making mozzarella cheese, not the quick method a number of people are doing., but the long method.  Well, there was a temperature change, outside, and the humidity decided to play games, I am quickly learning all of the above have an effect of the outcome of your cheese.  The instructor was so sad because it took until late in the evening for the ph to come down to where is was needed, the cheese will not stretch until the ph is correct, however when the ph dropped the cheese stretched.  The instructor was not pleased about what had happen and I was so excited.  I had really learned quite a lot in this class.  This was so good because when I was heating the milk on Thursday, I did not throw everything out when I realized I was reading the celsius side of the thermometer.  Poured my milk into a cold pan and filled the sink with cool water.  In a few minutes the pan became warm and the milk slowly dropped in temperature.  I was able to make the Fresh Goat's Milk Cheese, I was just running a couple of hours behind time.  I think this cheese is going to be a great topping for my pizza's.

Storms come and lightening will strike trees.  Mr. Bootsie had another tree to bring down.  Very close to the coop and barn.  Using his ropes he tied off this tree and felled it.  Yes. there is a barn and coop plus there will be lots of fire wood.  This tree was a poplar and we knew it had to come down, the tree split when it was struck.   I enjoy using this type of wood during the times you need a fire but not a really hot fire time.  I think we will plenty wood for this winter's warmer day fires.

The garden is doing much better than any garden I have had in the past.  Picking lettuce, snow peas, broccoli, lettuce and pepperoncini  peppers.  I have little tomatoes on the vines, the peanuts are up.  Baby Squash, about 1 inch long, are on several plants.   I find myself walking through the garden almost every time I go outside.  Mr. Bootsie cleaned out the goat barn and the waste product he had there became my treasure.  The ladies are doing a great job producing jelly beans for the garden.

One of our little girls moved to a new farm with week, it was exciting to see her make this move with one of our farmer friend's goats.  I did have her walking on a lead she was doing  pretty good by the time she left.  Now it is time for me to start working with another one.  We handle our girls on leads at feeding time and I think it is important they learn how to move with the lead.  One of my jealous babies can now start taking an afternoon walk with Momma. When I work with them in the pasture everyone of the babies walk with me, chewing on the lead. Saturday, we begin milking to start milking twice a day.

I have a real treasure in my kitchen.  It is my Momma's butter paddle as she called it.  I have sit and watched her wash many a pound of butter.  I was the daughter who was lucky to receive this as something to decorate my kitchen with.  I just could not put it up because it reminded me of all of the hard work she did weekly to feed us and many others.  This Saturday, I made my first butter.  I could not get to the drawer quick enough to pull out Momma's paddle and work my butter.  My hands have grown large like I remember her hands.  I am so excited to share with you, I HAVE MADE MY FIRST BUTTER.

I thought I would share with you my day as a milk maid.  On Saturday, June 7th, my day started and ended with milking.  In the kitchen I made butter and butter cheese  which is in the mold, 1 quart of lemon pudding, finished the fresh goat cheese, cleaned the whey by making ricotta and worked the kefir.  I made kefir sour cream which was hung to drain along with ricotta.

The first butter cheese was going to be ready to open on June 7th, but we opened it on the 6th,  We have been enjoying the butter cheese and the Feta.  I really do not think these 2 cheeses are going to be around very long.

When I started learning about cheese, I never thought Mr. Bootsie would be so interested.  He is working on making molds and of course, anytime, someone needs to do a little bit of sampling he is ready to assist.  I think I heard someone suggesting he may be needing homemade rolls so he could check out the butter.  Our life on the farm has become a wonderful adventure.  Thank you for taking your time to follow our journey.  Hope you are enjoying it as much as we are.  Until we meet again, which will not be long.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another Busy Week here on the Farm

Thursday, Here is what is happening in the kitchen.

Bottom Round in Brine
Wine is making
Cheese is in the dehydrator, being made with kefir,  this is a first time for me
Sour cream is working, being made with kefir. 
Banana Ice cream and Vanilla Ice Cream is in the freezer curing 
A full rib is chilling to be sliced for Rib Eye Steak sandwiches and Philly Cheese steak sandwiches.  

I have often wondered if we are foodies?  I hear about foodies trying all the restaurants and lots of new dishes.  But I really do wonder about the way we live and our love affair we have with good food.

A new door has been opened for me with having our milk.  Dairy has been something I have always wanted to have.  I have been making soft cheese, Feta, hard cheese is ripening in the cave, cottage cheese and there are many more I want to proceed with.  When you make cheese you get an extra treat, WHEY, I now cook all of my pasta in a whey/water mixture, I have never tasted pasta as delicious as this.  If the sauce needs to be thinned I use the water from cooking the pasta, there is no way to explain how delicious the sauce is when thinned with the whey water.  

We are not forgetting the girls, their morning oatmeal is now being made with whey and they seem very happy.  The whey is used every other day.  I do not want to get them too used to all of this special attention.

By Saturday evening we have enjoyed some of the ice cream.  Mr Bootsie tasted the sour cream and he said it was Sour Cream.  Cheese in dehydrator was a disappointment but I will try again.  May be a while before I do, I may need  to learn much more about making cheese.  The ribs are in the freezer with the tails and ends to be used for stock.  Oh, I see French Onion Soup coming my way.  Wine is working and will be for a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to making something wonderful with the meat I have in brine.  There is one thing I have to address, I need to make bread with my sourdough starter.

Garden is coming along.  We did find some little tomatoes this week.  Picking lots of snow peas and sugar snap peas.  Moles have attack more of my walking onions.  Garlic is starting to turn yellow on the bottom leaves.  I am excited because I need garlic.

As of this Saturday, May 31, my first born babies are now 8 weeks old, they have grown so fast and now I am thinking about their new homes.  I have to start advertising them so they can have new homes.  I am going to miss these little ones.  It has been so much fun going to the barn and having all of the goats, 9, come running to see you.

June 1, we are awaiting a hatch.  Hoping to see some little ducks and chicks.  Little Gray, the momma hen has done a great job.   I really will be pleased to see her strutting her stuff with the little ducks following her.

We spent the afternoon splitting fire wood, cutting greens for the animals and dropping a few trees to be  cut to length and split next week.  For 2 older folks, I think we do pretty good.  We work together and try to look out for each other.  I would not be able to continue without Mr. Bootsie as he is a very hard worker.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you real soon as our journey continues here on Triple Creek Farm.   

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cheese Cave.

When you start the process of making cheese, it begins to grow, now I have a cheese cave for aging the cheese.  I was content making the soft cheese but I knew in no time at  all I would be in trouble.  The butter cheese needs to ripen for 4 weeks and now I have added Taleggio which needs to be in a draining tray for 4 to 5 weeks.  So now I have a fridge holding a temperature in the high 50's to low 60's just to keep the cheese happy.  The farmer stops by and we add duck prosciutto which is aging to the cave, this will be ready in 3 weeks.  I am learning about using a salt brine to keep the cheeses free from mold as well as doing this for the prosciutto,.  I am so lucky to have someone so knowledge living a short distance from our farm and she is so willing to share her knowledge.

I have been reading that everyone is experiencing black snakes in the coops this week, and we were not left out.  As I went down to collect eggs on Thursday, I saw something I had not seen in a long time.  There was a black snake in the nest sucking one of our eggs down his throat.  I was glad it was as egg and not a chicken.  We have quite a number of little ones and the snakes seem to just love breaking their necks.  Makes me so sad.  It has been several years for me to loose a small chick to a black snake. This year could be the one with us having a large number of babies.

Our oldest pullets are now in the duck run everyday.  They have taken over the duck coop during the day.  Rain storm on Thursday afternoon and little chickens filled the duck house, not like the ducks were going to use their house.  When the rain comes the ducks head out to play.  The little ducks which were hatched this year are as large as the adult ducks.  I did not have babies for very long.  This make me so glad I have 3 more eggs hatching, I hope.  Little Gray, who is the momma hen is doing a really good job, and as of this Sunday we will be half way there.

Little goats are growing.  When I come to the goat yard, I have to stop and look twice, which ones are the mommies and where are the babies.  They are now going out with the mommies for the afternoon free ranging.  I have chickens, goats and ducks all over the place.  It is one of the greatest feeling, knowing we are sharing their lives and they are doing so much for us.  The goats are forgers and they are helping to clear new land, along with us now milking 1/2 gallon of milk daily.  There are babies on the ladies and I am so excited about how much milk we are getting.  The chickens work all of our compost and give us eggs daily.  I am so excited about everyone having more than one purpose.  The ducks are not doing as well, but I enjoy them so much.  They do work the ground and we were getting eggs but something has happen to Momma duck and her eggs have a soft shell.  Some make it in the house, while some go into the trap.  I have tried everything I know to do.  She has oyster shell, sunflower seeds and anything that has been suggested to me.  I just think she wore herself out.  She has laid over 2 years non-stop and is well on the way to a third year even if all of them are not good.

Fresh eggs and goats milk makes a wonderful custard for ice cream.  We have been freezing our own ice cream and this is one pleasure we are receiving from our animals.  This week I made a gallon of ice cream.  VANILLA  The pick-your-own farm is open for berry picking and I see some strawberries and cream coming our way.  Our strawberries are working on recovering from the raccoons and opossums doing so much to the vines last year.  The blackberries were pruned and they are starting to set blooms, raspberries are putting up a number of new plants they had serious damage.

The garden is starting to look really good, the cover is off the tunnel.  Temperature went to high 80's the first of the week so it had to go.  Tomatoes are starting to bloom along with some of the peppers.  There have been a few meals with our fresh veggies, makes it worthwhile all the work we do when we sit down to a plate full of fresh lettuce or spinach from the garden, cheese which I made and eggs laid by the girls.  I am really so pleased with the number of meals we have fresh from the farm.

Saturday afternoon, I decided to take a break in the action and do a little baking, made the sourdough coffee cake, 2 loaves of sourdough bread, made in a French bread style loaf.  This bought on other chores, work the sourdough and the kefir.  The kefir is now being made with the fresh goat's milk and it is so good.  I am working on doing a little extra kefir so I can try making cheese with the kefir milk.

It has been another non-stop week for us.  I really am trying to pace myself and Mr. Bootsie.  I must say we need a day away just to do something fun, not that it is not fun here on the farm but my farm-hand is starting to look more than just a little tired.  Maybe a provision run would do us both good.  We are going to need sugar when we start preserving our food.  I need some items to help with the cheese making, such as a pair of heat resistance gloves so I can stretch the cheeses, cheese mats and a draining container.  Yes, sounds as if we need a play day.

Looks as if this evening is going to be a good one to throw a match in the fireplace, prop our feet up and enjoy something refreshing.  You know where to find me later and many more evenings as weather improves.  Until I find something to share with you, take care, stay healthy and come back now.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Can't be But This Week is Over

I started out on Sunday setting Little Gray, she has 3 ducks eggs from the swap and 2 hen eggs she refused to give up.  It was much easier letting her have them and she take to the nest rather than trying to talk to a hen about sitting on a nest with 3 strange eggs.  We shall pull those eggs, this Sunday and give her all new eggs which should hatch about the time the ducks hatch.

Monday, milking is good and I had Mr. Bootsie fix some jar lids for me so I would know which day of the week the milk was from.  Well, by Friday, my 1 quart jars are not enough, I am now milking 2 quarts every day.  I thought I was so smart with my jars and this did not last a week.

If milking is good it must be time to make cheese,  Butter Cheese was made and the whey was reheated and ricotta cheese was made.  Mr. Bootsie and I spend Wednesday in the kitchen making our first butter cheese, this cheese has nothing to do with butter, the cheese book explains it to be like an American cheese.  This is my first hard cheese and now I know I really have to pay attention to the recipes.  Cheese making is doing a lot of the same things with different cultures.  I have already picked out what I want to do next, but I will be cleaning the butter cheese with salt and water, after which I will wax and the aging process will begin.

Firewood is being gathered and split for next winter.  There was a large oak tree which needed to come down and it is now in pieces now larger than 1 foot.  A good bit of nice fire wood came from this tree.  The garden is taking most of my afternoons.  I am trying to work in the garden after the sun has gone around.   My first 2 heads of broccoli are ready to be picked.  They are not as large as the ones in the supermarket, but they are mine and these are the largest I have ever grown.  The mole is having fun and I am rounding up pots to plant things in.  I plan on winning this war.  

This week we learned about making duck prosciutto, I am knowledge about ham but this is a totally new experience for me.  I am excited to learn about a way to use some of the animals we have on the farm.  The farmer came over with prosciutto which needs to age and she will be showing us the steps to prepare this.  Our little farm is starting to become full circle.  The garden has worked for several years, the girls in the coop have provided us with eggs, the goats are giving us milk and now it is time for us to start preparing our meat.  We do not eat a large amount of meat but we do enjoy some.  I grew up on a working farm which provided most of our needs and I would like to return to this.

Enjoying the little farm, sharing with our friends and neighbors.  We have a wonderful life.  Now if I knew what day of the week it is when I wake up in the morning.  I am finding myself keeping dates in a different way.  Sunday, add chicken eggs to the nest, Sunday 3 weeks we should have baby ducks and chickens.  I fear if I should have to take a memory test I would not do well, because the folks who give the test have no interest in a life such as ours.  We do not fit the mold.  Our life is about our babies and what their needs are.  I am really glad, I was able to return to the simple life I grew up enjoying.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Weather, to cold to plant garden: Rain, to wet to plant garden

This week, the rains turned the soil around our little farm into water ditches,  We reworked the ditches, the goat pasture should have been called a swimming hole, the ducks would have loved to get into the pasture and dig holes.  The girls were kept inside the coop, all of the little birds stayed inside and sent me notes about what a bad chicken mommie I am.

The happiest critters on the farm were the ducks!!!  Water, Water everywhere and the ducks were everywhere I would let them go.  The new goat yard worked just as we had planned.  The ladies were able to add the protected goat yard to their play area, they ate and napped there.  This proved to be a wonderful addition to our farm.

Because I have raised beds in the garden, most of them drained,  Saturday afternoon we were able to work in the garden.  I was working beds pulling weeds, picking lettuce, spinach and a few snow peas.  The moles worked on the onions this week.  I am so pleased I have several different beds of walking onions as I will be able to have sets to start next year.  We are putting a number of crops in large pots and barrels.  I will be able to harvest something.  After the raccoons destroyed the berries last summer I see good progress and I do think I will be picking berries this year.  Mr. Bootsie has the trap set and we trying to be pro-active about the critters.

Saturday morning, we attended the largest chicken swap in Virginia.  I did purchase 3 ducks eggs and I have a hen who is broody.  Duck eggs are 28 days, chicken eggs are 21 day to hatch.  My plan is to set the hen tomorrow with my duck eggs and next Sunday I will add chicken eggs.  This girl is super broody so I am hoping she will stay with the nest.  I need a new drake as the drake I have is the daddy of my 3 little ducks.

The 3 ducks I hatched from my pair are such sweet little ones.  At night I put them in the coop and they sleep with the baby chickens.  They sit outside the coop and wait for me to put everyone up.  I put their food down and they come in, I hope this lasts because they are coming up 2 steps to get in the coop and I thought they would never do  this.

There was a lot of time lost this week. but the weather did give me chance to catch a few winks in the afternoon.  I get quite lazy when the weather is not happy, I do much better on happy days.  It took lots of extra time to settle everyone inside. as we are geared for our animals to go outside and play.  Every morning we went in rain coats and rubber boots.  Some afternoons it was still pouring by Thursday the rain cleared but we were tired of all the preparing just to go to barn and coop.  Thankful the rain was over it was a pleasure to do our chores without the protective clothes.

I look forward to next week, Fresh lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and a few onions will be picked from the garden.  Some of our barrels are ready to be planted.  The cover will stay on the tunnel for a few more days.

Fresh Veggies, Yes, Spring did come to our farm!!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Our little Farm has gone into Overload

Sunday, the first batch of cheese was ready to be eaten and eaten it was.

Monday, baby chicks started to hatch and out of 20 eggs in the incubator we have 17 baby chicks.

Tuesday, Was a catch up day and at the end of the day I realized I was not caught up. I did make another batch of cheese.  A different recipe and we are eating this one also.  I made a treat for Mr. Bootsie, he loves chocolate ice cream and I made him some with our goat's milk and eggs.

Wednesday, Supplies needed from feed store, we went to get a few new items for the ladies in the goat pasture.  We spent the afternoon with our friend, the farmer, had a post Easter Celebration with her family, delicious food and wonderful company.    I came home with her bread proofer to try, see if I liked this and make a decision about purchasing one for our kitchen.

Thursday, We purchased a small outside chicken cage/tractor which was on sale, also had a 10% discount after the sale price, so Mr. Bootsie put this together and we tried the fully feather babies in the run and they were in love with all of the extra room.  So it became moving day and off to the coop they went.  The ducks have been sleeping in the brooder as I as having trouble introducing the ducks with my drake.  He is thinking they are his lunch and this is not going to happen on my watch.

Friday, yard and garden work. I made 2 batches of sour dough bread one in the proofer and one  using the dehydrator for proofing.  

Saturday, More garden work, chicks were put in the chicken tractor in the garden, their first day on the ground.

Along with all of this, there is the daily milking and caring for all of our crews.

I now understand the excitement about living off the land.  This week there was swiss chard gathered from the garden, along with onions.  I prepared and dressed with our goat cheese.  This was our dinner on Friday evening.  It was a delightful meal from our farm. I stopped and reflected thinking about our trip to the feed store and not needing to stop for milk.  This had been my dream for so long.  Now I must learn how to use the milk and make the dairy products we love.  I have come a long way with the bread as we no longer buy bread.

The mole war is still on in the garden, they are attaching the garlic and onions.  My growing in pots has been good.  I put the spinach in 4 inch pots, sink them in the garden row and just like always  the weather became very warm,  they bolted when there were a few warm days.  I am really enjoying protecting my veggies in the pots.  There is loss in my pea patch so I may have to follow this process for the peas also.  Last year,  there was loss of many of the pole beans so I may be trying this with the pole beans, also.

We were busy playing with the baby goats this week, if Mr. Bootsie is missing I can usually find him in the goat pasture.  All of the play items we have put in the pasture for the goats are being used and this pleases him.  We have several walks and they are enjoying the fiberglass engine covers from the trucks we have for run-ins.  These have become sliding boards and our most playful mother is having a wonderful time teaching the kids to jump from cover to the other.

I know we must reduce the size of our operation.  We will be selling some of our goats and I already have some requests.  The chickens lot will be reduced also.  Our little coop can't handle all of the birds we have at present.

This has been a good spring at our little farm, there is so much new life.  Maybe next week things will slow down a little or maybe not. Until the next time, stay safe and enjoy your selves!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

And They Just Keep Coming

April 14th, we were working in the garden, Mr. Bootsie pulled a five gallon bucket of chickweed,  he said, "Taking this to the chickens."  I was planting kale plants and waiting for his return.  All of a sudden he came over the hill, go get the birthing kit, Belle is down outside and needs to be moved in.  I went by the house and picked up the birthing kit.  Went to the pasture and told Belle she needed to come inside with me.  I left everyone outside as he was preparing things for the birthing.

I looked outside a little later and there they were, 3 little babies and 3 adults, just as close to the barn as they could get; waiting for someone to come out and say, "It's a boy."  At which time they would go back to their munching and playing in the pasture.

Belle was big, really big, we were expecting twins and there were thoughts of triplets!!!  I am so pleased everyone was wrong and Belle delivered one very large boy.  

Speaking of keep coming, in the live animal trap there was an opossum on Tuesday morning, he decided to eat up the trap and was hung in it.  But before he went in the trap he ate most of the kale I had planted on Monday.

Tuesday, we had rain, lots of rain, none of the goats were out of the barn,  This was a day of mother and son bonding for our new little boy.  Lacie's little girl has started to grow, I was so concerned for her I was feeding her oatmeal with a little milk from her mommie.  Yes, I am milking and practice is going to be the thing I need. My ladies hope that sometime this will become a natural process for me.  They are not excited about my learning on them.  All jokes aside, they are great on the milking stand.  Everyday, I see a little improvement in what I am doing and the ladies are helping me.

After a week of late springlike days, we returned to row covers in the garden, overnight lows were in the high twenties,  Thank goodness, I did not have time to get the tomatoes and peppers planted.  Maybe next week would be better.

Wednesday, disbudding of the 3 little goats was done.  The farmer has an excellent process and it works quite well.  It is not a procedure I enjoy but it needs to be done for the goats.  I saw first hand that morning why we should do this.  We have 2 full grown with horns and 2 disbudded.  The ladies were playing, serious goat playing, everyone has a collar on at this time as we are handling them a lot.  I became very concerned about a horn getting hung in a collar and I could have 2 down.  I watched their actions and soon they moved on to taking care of their babies.  Glad I learned why, as my momma told me years ago, Horns on all cows or all cows dehorned,  Yes, Momma, I understand now.

Hershey was checked on during the night and no babies, I roll out early on Thursday morning and head for the barn.  There is my Hershey working hard, cleaning a little new born.  Mr. Bootsie came, helped clean the baby and the stall.  Another tiny one but Hershey is a small in statue goat so maybe this will be all right.  This one is a little black and white goat.  The farmer came by later in the day and fell in love with this little girl.  She has lots of  polka dots and was quickly named Dot.

Friday was spent in the barn bonding for Hershey and Dot.  The other ones are getting on a schedule of playtime and nap time.  By Friday, life had settled down with 5 new baby goats in the barn so it is time for me to start something new.  I made ice cream and froze it in my little freezer, and began my first attempt at making cheese.  The ice cream was wonderful and a lot of the knowledge explained to me about making cheese started to become a little clearer than mud.  I learn by doing and working out why things did not work as I thought they should.

Saturday, we come to the end of our birthing season, there are 5 little ones in the pasture along with 4 momma goats.  I must tell you there are going to be some changes made.  When I started this adventure I wanted 2 dairy goats, I know we must have the babies to have milk and I am okay with this.  We will enjoy the little ones, the Wee Folk will come and play with them and then, the sad day comes when it is time for them to move away.

This has been one of the greatest lessons of my life.  I have enjoyed every step learning how to care for the babies.  Now there are a few necessary things I could do without but I learned how to do things and I did them.  My milking skill is improving, the ladies no longer need breakfast and a morning snack for me to milk them.  This pleases the ladies.

Did I remember to tell you we are expecting more baby chicks next week.  Monday will be day 21.  It just seems to never stop here on the farm.   I will be back later with more news about our little farm.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Colostrum First and then came the Milk!!!

Sunday morning the colostrum was milked, packaged and put in the freezer.  We could have a need for this with some of the additional babies we are expecting.  If we do not have a need for this, someone may.  It will keep in the freezer for 1 year and after that time it should be disposed.  If there is anyone in our area who should happen to need colostrum please get in touch with me, I would love to be of help.

Monday morning, time to milk, oh how I love the sound of these words, music to my ears!!!  Our milk harvest was small, you must remember there are two little ones who get the milk before me.  We are getting to know each other and my Lady is most understanding, she is letting me learn how to do this.  The farmer stops in and checks on my progress which is slow, takes the jar and you see total relief on Lady Gracie's face.   This is the first milking for our use.  I am totally just thrilled to sit and look at this.  Then my mind starts to wonder what should I make with something so wonderful as the first milk from our farm.

Tuesday morning there was a real surprise in the barn.  Lacie decided to have her baby.  We were quite sure she would have only 1 because looking at her you could not see any weigh change.  I have always thought she carried the baby down under herself.  I will not be milking out the colostrum because she has started making a lot of milk.  We shall be leaving all of her milk for the baby. I will not start milking her for a few days, give her a chance to catch up.  This is her first doeling and she did everything.  The barn was clean and just a precious little baby running about, falling down and laying on the hay.  Makes me happy our barn is clean and a safe place for a surprise birthing.

Wednesday, my little guy is going to be disbudded today.  The farmer is bringing over her goat for Mr. Bootsie to milk, much larger goat than any of our girls, he has big hands and this should make learning easier for him.  We did see progress today.  I milked a full cup this morning and Mr. Bootsie milked you could hear it hitting in the container.

Decision was made to enclose the barn with 4 stalls 2 just were not working.  The barn is now fixed and most of this can be easily removed after the babies have left us.  The baby chicks decided there is just too much attention being paid to the goats so this afternoon they showed me they have outgrown their home.  The safest way to handle the chicks is to keep them in the house for another week.  The night time temperatures are too low and they do not have their feathers.  The ducks were moved to the coop on Monday. All of these babies want their share of attention and they do figure out a way to get their share.

We continue to milk Lady Gracie each morning and get about 1 cup.  I am pleased with this because her little ones are growing.  I decided to make ice cream custard with our goats milk, the ice cream will be frozen on Sunday.

Mr. Bootsie has been setting the trap and much to our surprise Saturday morning there was a fox in the trap.  Animal control was called and they said the fox is ours now.  It was caught on our property and there was a decision to be made.  All I can say is there is one less fox in our area now.  I have seen my girls every afternoon go on alert and I have though we may have problem on the land.  The farmers around us have been taking out a few.  There is a huge clearing operation going on very close to us and once again the home the animals have know is no more.  There is less and less woodlands for them to live in.

There was a small amount of work done in the garden, weather is continuing to play games with us.  This has been one of the hardest week I think I have put in on our little farm, my body is tired, I have slacked in the kitchen but we have 3 cute and happy little goats.  All in all, this is what is most important because I will recover.

Lady Gracie's Little ones, 1 week only April 12th
Twins a little girl, in front and baby brother to the rear

Lacie's little girl born on April 8th

As you can see we have had a very productive week on the farm.  If anyone is interested, the babies will be for sale after they are weened.  I am still on baby goat watch as our 2 other ladies have not had their babies as of this evening.  Thanks for stopping by and have a good week!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lady Gracie

This week a lot of preparing for the birth of our goats was completed.  The birthing area was finished and a few touches were added.  The milking stand was checked off Mr. Bootsie's list as he picked up the hooks from the hardware store.  The outside playroom for the babies which is under cover was organized.  Now the only thing we need to complete this picture is baby goats.  Mr. Bootsie was quite proud of himself as his part of this project was finished a week + a few days before the delivery date.

I have been watching the goats closely, checking the calendar for the full moon which is April 15th and thinking it can happen anytime.  Well, maybe, baby ducks and chicks will encourage one of the ladies to add to the babies on the farm.  And happen it did.

Saturday morning, April 5th, we went down to feed and I heard a bleating I had never heard in the pasture.  As soon as everyone had eaten and been turned out for the day, I went over to check on my girl, I could see how large she was, small contractions, and others signs of baby on the way.  I went on baby watch.  Visiting the barn every hour, petting my girl, letting her know it was all right to stay in the barn, she was enjoying all of the attention.  Our wonderful neighbor, who's goat Lou was going to be the proud dad came by to talk about what to expect in the next week.  Within minutes she started talking about what to expect around 8:00 today.  While she was here she did check all of our ladies and we talked about when they were bred.  I had read instructions, once again early in the day, to refresh  with what should be done.  Thankfully Val went through all of the instructions once again.  As she went to finish her day she said, "Stay in touch, use Facebook."

I decided to check my birthing kit, carry it to the barn and continue with my day.  Of course, I stopped and petted my girl, she was laying in the barn with her firstborn beside her.  They were chatting. So often I find myself wondering what they are saying to each other and then maybe I really do not want to know.  I checked and I could see a little balloon, I headed to the house to facebook, and wouldn't you know,  I could not get any stronger than 3G which means I cannot connect to Facebook.  Heading back to the barn Mr. Bootsie stops me and says he had just seen the balloon and did I have everything at the barn.  We both head to the barn, he had moved Lady Gracie to the birthing stall, I came in with a a paper feed bag. closed the barn to keep the others outside.  Within minutes there is a little goat on its way into the world.  I came back to the house, checked and we have 4G, posted on Facebook, Baby on the way, Right now!!!  Back to the barn!!!  When I got back Mr. Bootsie has the first one born and the second is on its way.  Lady Gracie has gone into momma goat mode and started cleaning the first born.  Second one Born, only to be followed by Val coming to the pasture fence.  She is asking something and I am telling her we have twins.

Mr. Bootsie has been helping to keep the area clean, Lady Gracie has everything under control, babies are getting their sea legs ready to make their first steps and sweet little sounds coming from them.

We made it, the first birthing of goats on Triple Creek Farm.  Our first 2 precious little ones, very healthy.

Many Thanks to Val Trjan and Lou, Val started this journey with us and has lead me all the way.  Mr. Bootsie, I love the barn and all of your hard work shows.


The little ones were born April 5 around 6 p.m. Welcome to our farm, and Lady Gracie is thinking all of this because you wanted to make cheese.    

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baby Ducks, 2 weeks old, Baby Chicks 1 day old

The temperature may still be playing games with us, but there is Spring in the air.   Baby Pekin ducks are entering their third week of being part of the farm family.  Not to be out done with chickens, which started to hatch Friday afternoon.  There is only a Welsummer rooster and all of the eggs are crossed with him or purebred with a Welly hen, we may be fortunate enough to hatch out some barnyard chicks and purebred Welsummer chicks.  Little ducks are swimming in their pond and loving the water.  When the weather warms these little ones will be meeting their mom and dad in our duck run.

Speaking of babies, the birthing pen has been finished in the barn, there is an outside area protected with a roof, this play day yard is really close to being complete.  I believe everything has been collected for the birthing.  I even found a canister for film which was suggested to have on hand.  This was in my seed box because I sometimes store seeds in the no longer needed film canister.  The closer April 12th is, the more prepared I feel we are.

Moles are loving all of the moisture in the ground,  There are tunnels everywhere.  I am so pleased I planted the tunnel garden in pots, when I go out to check I find a mole/vole hole beside the pot, check my plant, it is solid in the pot and growing.  Peas have been planted in the garden along with fennel and rhubarb.   This year I was able to have a few artichoke plants come up from seed and I will be adding these to the garden.  I want to protect the artichokes from the moles as I would love to establish a bed of these plants.   I will be using large pots for those plants.  Here is Swiss Chard with a mole/vole hole to the right side of the plant under the forward leaf.

When I checked the garden on Saturday, I found there had been visitors, all of the kale plants had been eaten.  These were planted in the row tunnels and I had removed the covers because it had been a nice spring rain on Friday night.  Being kale plants the thieves may have been deer.  I did see some damage to the turnips, also, the tops were pretty much consumed.

I have seen some big changes around the farm, Mr. Bootsie has taken to cleaning the duck brooder, Saturday morning there he was holding one of the ducks. I know this sounds like nothing but for him this was a biggie.  He always lets me move the little ones around to clean the brooders.   Leads are being put on the goats at feeding time and there is no sharing of food.  Mr. Bootsie put hooks in the barn so I can control them.  Every little thing seems to make my daily tasks much easier to complete.

Time for me to go and check, there may be a new chick just hatched.  I will let you know what I find next time!!!  Take care and Maybe, just maybe this coming week someone, somewhere may have some springtime weather.    Until the next time!!!