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!!!!