Saturday, December 26, 2015

Good-bye Fall, Welcome Winter

Indian summer is hanging around, this pleases me so much.  We are saving firewood as we are not heating the house.  I always let the fire go down during the day and rebuild around 4 in the afternoon.  With the weather we are enjoying we can build a small fire later in the evening.  However, everything changed this weekend for a couple of nights.  It was time for a good fire.  Winter has come by the calendar but these last few days have been so warm, I was without my jacket or sweatshirt.  Winter is breaking high records.  I know it will not last, but our firewood is staying in the racks and I do so appreciate this.

IN THE COOP

December 9, one of my olive egg girls began laying eggs after the molt.  In a week the other one began.  It is much too early in the season, I am thankful as there would not be any chicken eggs coming into the kitchen but I am also concerned if this these girls are confused or if their being cross-bred has caused the confusion in their reproductive system.

My pullet which hatched during the summer has not laid, but the little roo has taken over his duties in the run.  Mr. Bootsie is questioning me about getting rid of the rooster and going back to purchasing, begging and just flat out asking others of fertile eggs in the springtime.  I have some older ladies who just want to hang out in the run and enjoy life, the young rooster is a total bother, they peck him and run him off at every opportunity.  

IN THE KITCHEN

Sourdough, I made a new starter this year, I lost my starter last winter and had not replaced it.  This new starter is much better than the one I had in the past.  The farmer who is always ready to help us, loves to bake and I have been sharing my starter with her.  Of course, she is much more knowledge than I am about baking, so this gives my an opportunity to learn about working with the leavening.

I am trying to learn how to use many of the items we preserved during the year.  The dried tomatoes make a delightful addition of our salads.  Using dried squash chips with homemade dips. We have lots of winter squash which is being used to make soup.  Adding our dried veggies and fruits to the soups have introduced us to new tastes and flavors.  I have really enjoyed trying a little of this and that.

The kitchen by way of the tunnel has been good this fall.  Spinach salads, spinach chowders, turnip green pizzas and greens just cooked with peppers/onions have made for a tasty fall.  We are harvesting greens for salads and have more developing if the weather holds.  This season in the tunnel has been rewarding.


IN CLOSING

This has been a productive fall season, we went to the orchard and purchased 2 bushels of storage apples and this has added to new interests in the dishes we are preparing in the kitchen.  I am so pleased we are learning how to use the items we produce on our farm, there are canned black-eyed peas which we pair with tomatoes, chicken meat canned with broth meaning we have soup, tomatoes which are used to make tomato basil soup.  (There is basil growing here in one of our cold houses now.)  I am thankful for the long growing season we have experienced this year.  Our winter garden crops are garlic, onions and winter sown peas.

It is the time of our year to start thinking about spring 2016, seed orders, starting of new plants.  But before I get into all that, Thank You for stopping by and visiting our farm.  Now where did I put those new seed catalogues?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Triple Creek Farm, a Week in Review

Indian Summer has stayed with us here on our little farm.  I have enjoyed each and everyday, this is my favorite time of the year.  We have worked in the woods clearing out some of the fallen trees.  This is not fire wood and it would break down in the woods, but I have found these trees are wonderful for the garden.  My soil is getting deeper each year.  I left a garden I could dig down two feet and find nothing but rich composted soil.  {When I sold my home, the new owner contacted me as to how to retain the soil in the garden.  I shared with him how I had worked the soil and he felt it was hard work.  The last time I drove by I saw my garden was now a place to park cars.}  I hope to get the garden soil here as deep as what I left.  We take one afternoon each week and go to the woods, this brings back so many memories of my childhood.  Daddy would hitch, Katie,  the mule to the wagon and we would go into the woods to collect fire wood.  I always looked forward to spending a morning in the woods with Daddy, knowing he would let me drive the wagon home, but Katie knew the way home and she did not care how much pulling the wrong reins I did, she bought the wagon loaded with firewood home.  How strong can a 5 or 6 year old be, but I thought I was driving the wagon.  Katie was playing with me, she was as proud as I was.

IN THE GARDEN

I have been digging 2 foot deep holes, filling them with manure and replacing the soil.  These will be my tomato hills next spring.  How do I find them?  I put the tomato cage on top of them, come spring I remove the cage and plant my tomato.  The results were wonderful this spring and summer.   I plan to do this for the pepper plants as I did the peppers hills in the spring, I would like to try doing them earlier allowing the manure to break down.

The tunnel is doing good, harvested spinach, swiss chard and turnip greens this week.  The winter peas are producing shoots which taste wonderful in salads.  We harvest the shoots with no more than 2 sets of leaves on them, I have them growing in the tunnel and outside.  The goats love these plants and await any I wish to remove from the garden.

pea shoots
As my plate has not been full enough we have started a new adventure.  Mushrooms.  The farmer is knowledge about mushrooms and came over to our farm looking for them.  She found summer oysters and a few weeks later I found winter oysters.  
oyster mushrooms

I had found loin's mane a few years before, however this year, there were more around the farm.  We are finding the loin's mane on lightning damaged oak trees.

loin's mane

I am not knowledge about mushrooms, so this is going to be a slow process for me.  I am studying and trying to learn as much as possible.

IN THE COOP

The chicks hatched in the summer are no longer little.  The roo started crowing this past week and now I await the first egg from the little hen.

So pleased you stopped in and spent a little time on our farm.  Looking forward to seeing you again real soon.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Indian Summer

It came one night, we were prepared, the tunnel was covered and all of the winter plants were covered.  I had picked peppers and pulled pepper plants which were stored in the tunnel.  I left the corn until the last minute,  corn-on-the-cob in late October.  I went out to check as I had done for several mornings as there was a promise of frost for several days.  I would pick summer spinach each day it was still green and growing knowing the end was in sight.  Morning low 27, the spinach was frozen, leaves on the remaining pepper plants and butter beans burnt from the cold.  Looking I found many pods on the butter beans and if we have the time they will fill.

Indian Summer came, the weather has been beautiful.  There were a few peppers on the plants and they managed to recover.  I have been amazed watching them grow.  We will have a couple of fresh peppers off our plants a little later in the season.  Butter beans are growing and we will be picking them.

It is time for the chickens to grow their winter feathers, this means they must molt, molt means they will be loosing the feathers which covered their body earlier this year.  At this time as the nights are chilly I have half naked chickens trying to stay warm.  The sad thing is they want nothing to touch them.  I have one who hides in the nesting box at roosting time.  There are several running about with only 1 large tail feather.  My roo, Mr. Wonderful, was the first to molt.  His feathers are back, he is working on his saddle feathers, the long ones which float around him.  This year we have 12 molting, the coop is filled with feathers and I am not cleaning the coop until the molt is over.  Then I will bring in new bedding and they will be set for the cold winter.

So far I have only seen one acorn on the forest floor.  Last year there were so many acorns, I collected them and was able to have treats for the goats during the winter.  I have seen the goats out looking for the acorns, they seem to know which trees to check but there seems not to be any acorns for my girls.  Hickory nuts, yes, there are lots of them which makes the squirrels quite happy.  They are working all the time carrying them to their nests. I see the results of their work on the ground.

We have not slowed down, there is work to do thinning trees, collecting dead trees from the forest floor.  The storms of last few weeks have bought down a number of dead pine trees, we use the pines for garden borders, as they break down and adding their goodness to the soil.  We do stockpile garden border logs so there is always a replacement when I find ones that no longer are of service to us.  This came at a good time as there are several borders in the garden needing replacement after this summer.

I found myself one evening eating a bowl of our vegetable soup with some homemade bread which was quite yummy but the fire coming from the wood stove reminded me we did all of this with our two hands.  We speak of comfort food and things which just make a house a home, let me say a bowl of homemade soup and a fire in stove says it all.

I am enjoying this Indian Summer, we made our trip to the orchard and there is apple everything in our future.    Peach pits to plant and apple seeds, maybe one year we will be able to harvest from our own trees but until that time I will look forward to the fall trips to the orchard.

This year, the mild fall season has lasted for such a long time.  I had this blog ready to post for a while but I was waiting but now I find it is time for me to move forward.   I will share some pictures of our tunnel which will be our fresh food source during the winter.

Austrian Winter Peas

Swiss Chard

All covered waiting for the winter cold
Happy Indian Summer, enjoy everyday, and maybe with no acorns the coming winter might, could be a mild one.?.  Until!!!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Welcome Fall, Late Summer Update

This morning as I  gather my thoughts I hear a gentle farmer's rain hitting on the porch roof.  There will be a little chill in the air and maybe the need to light a fire in a few days.  Many of you think, when fall comes life becomes easier on the farm.  I think not.  We shall be preparing for winter, bringing in bedding for our pasture crew,  replacing the windows in the barn, covering the tunnel which will allow for the harvest of veggies later or maybe all of the winter season.  Wood is gathered and racked but there are a few additional trees Mr. Bootsie plans to harvest, this project has been ongoing all summer, this additional wood is being stored in the woods with plans of refilling our wood racks as soon as they are emptied.

I have heard the Pope (Head of the Catholic Church) is in America along with an International Bike Race in Richmond, Virginia.  I have heard there are folks lining the streets and gathering in mass crowds.  I am so thankful these type of events do not concern me, I love my simple life here on the farm.  My pleasure comes with walking my three goats through our woods and see them enjoying what they choose to eat, then there are are feathered children who always but a smile on our face.  It seems the ducks know when we should come and let them out.  If we are in the garden working one of our girls lets out a belly honk which can be heard all over our farm.  We let them out to free range each evening about a half an hour before sundown. We hear the hawks working during the day and see them return to where they nest in the afternoons.  With this in mind I feel this is a safe time of the day for our feather children to spend time outside of their runs. 

Learning from cleaning the garden, next summer when the leaves on our squash plants begin to turn yellow I plan to remove them.  I had this on my to do list this summer but it did not happen.  The plants were very healthy and strong allowing for a good harvest.  When we began to remove the plants they were infested with squash bugs.  I filled a five gallon bucket half full of water, placing the plants in the bucket,  submerging the plants under water, those little critters would get on the side of the bucket and climb to get out of the water.  It was a field day for me, I did those things in, just in case any made it, we rot the plants and use them for compost.  The buckets I use I can seal so I do not fear any getting away.   I have tried burning, but the plants do not seem to want to burn and I question how many bugs get away while I am trying to burn them.
Winter Squash Harvest 2015

Lessons from Momma Hen.  As I shared with you in the past, this is first hatching for our little momma hen. I was concerned how she would care for the chicks but she was an excellent mom.  We have been putting the three of them, momma and two little ones, in the duck run each day.  In the afternoon everyone free ranges, night time they return to the brooder where momma and chicks spend the night.  That was until Thursday, September 24th, Momma came into the coop, went into the section where the big girls stay and proceeded to the roosting pole.  She landed herself and began to call the chicks to come up with her.  Knowing it was a bit much for them, I placed the chicks beside her, I questioned if I did the correct thing, I have never allowed chicks to move in with the adult hens at such a young age.  These are going to be big birds in comparison to their momma, in fact they are just about as large as she is right now and still growing.  Now she is a small bird but when any other bird has bothered her chicks, she took them on.  One evening, one of the largest hens in coop waited for me because she had had an encounter with Momma Hen.

My baby chicks, all grown up.
Little roo on left and little hen to the right
In the kitchen, this summer I began trying to use the garden to table theory, pick the garden, plan my meal, use all veggies as fresh as possible.  We have had some wonderful meals.  The freshness of picking and eating within a few hours has made me appreciate my hours spent working the garden.  I have preserved some of our harvest, shared with others, fed the pasture crew and kept plenty on our table.  My mind is already busy thinking of the garden in 2016.  I have a few ideas on making the garden better, but first I need to bed the garden down for the winter.

Taking everything into account, I think this season was rewarding,  Mr. Bootsie made a move into garden helping more than before, he has always helped with prep work but stayed away during the harvest, but this season you could find him picking the garden.  I can always use an extra pair of hands and his assistance was welcomed, even if I forgot to tell him.  I was pleased we finally we able to hatch 2 little chicks, not so sure about my roosters, but this will work itself out.  There are not enough hens for 2 roos and someone will need to go.

Time for me to hurry on my way, garlic and onions to plant, squash to roast, I can always find something to do here on our little farm.  Until...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Comfort Zone

I have spent some time visiting around the web.  Reading a number of homesteading and preserving blogs, visiting with folks who ferment veggies, make kefir, have gardens and animals.  I think it is time for me to make a number of new friends.  I am exciting about the knowledge others are so willing to share.

I know I spent way too much time in the kitchen, too much time in the garden and not enough time just resting.  I climbed a major mountain this year as I began my 7th decade on this earth.  Most days I am on my feet about 12 hours a day.  On my weaker days it is less but for someone my age this is one good accomplishment.  Mr. Bootsie says the only way to get me to slow down is to take me away from our farm.  I am not sure this works for me quite like he feels it should.  As we are riding down the road my mind never stops working.  I see this or that and maybe it would work on our farm.

I am at a place I really wanted to be, I think, most of my life.  I just never knew how much it meant to me until I returned to the country.  When we came here I knew it was a time for me to do all of the things I wanted to enjoy or thought I would enjoy.  I had a garden, well, a postage stamp garden in my yard in the city.  The garden fed us and I was able to preserve veggies.  I didn't have a lot of variety or many plants, so when I was able to have a third of an acre in garden, I was pleased.  The list of what I was going to grow went on and on.  My problem was this land was covered with trees.  All of the trees were removed and raised beds were put in.  Our first mistake was going to the mound of topsoil place and buying topsoil.  Ten years later I am still working on that compacted soil with manure and  compost trying to get a balance in the soil.  After that horrible mistake, I built my beds with composting leaves, and my black gold I was making in my tumbler and manure.  These beds are very productive.

Next came the chicken coop.  It was built with lumber from our property, milled by a local farmer and built by him.  Then came the goats, a barn built and Mr. Bootsie built the goat stall.  Pasture was put in.  I really felt like this was a farm.  Now I realize I have a problem.

Is my true love the kitchen?  Is this where I want to be?  I find so much satisfaction working in the kitchen, preparing food for storage,  learning a new recipe.  I watch the cooking shows on TV when time allows and always learn something or have a memory stirred in my mind.

This last couple of weeks my mind has been working.  I was able to make one of my favorite dishes from my childhood summers.  Momma just called them tomatoes, so tomatoes they will be. Many of you would called them a fancy name but I like tomatoes.  Recipe link included



We make a number of gravies and creamed soups.  I have learned even if the recipe doesn't tell you the milk  or water should be warmed it you start with a roux, things work and come together much better if the liquid is warm.  I have been having the base for my broccoli cheddar soup (recipe link) break and the end results was a very soupy, thin soup.  My mind returned to thinking about how my momma did this, I find myself standing in her kitchen beside her stove.  There was always a tea kettle on the wood stove and this was the source of the water used when making gravies and soups.  The light went on...The water in the kettle was always warm/hot as the kettle was on the stove.  Needless to say, this week, the sausage gravy went together quickly and the base of the broccoli cheddar soup did not break, we had a nice thick soup.

I am learning, that I need to find pages to read and visit which offer information about what I am now interested in doing.  There are so many information sources and it takes time.  I want more time to spend with my animals, I want time away from the kitchen, and propping up my feet for a few minutes would be a treat.  I have a farm and I need to find the balance.

No matter how much is done, there are always many more tasks waiting to be addressed.  I have found I cannot handle the heat during the summer.   Avoiding the heat does slow down production.  This year I have just taken this in stride, not allowing myself to get concerned when tasks were left undone.   The animals have food, water and are checked on several times a day, the garden is watered and some bug control done on a daily basis along with harvesting our crops, this is about all I can manage on the super hot days.  I learned this year, the goats, ducks and chickens enjoy the harvest of the garden, it is okay for me to give them snaps, squash, tomatoes and other veggies.  I really do not have enough at one time to take to the food bank and driving there would be another hour out of my day.  I think I made my way to the top of this mountain as I hate to see food wasted after all of the work has gone into producing the crops, feeding our animals is not wasting the food, it helps with our feed bill.

I am trying to find a balance, I believe I moved in the right direction this summer.  I have full shelves in the pantry, the freezer is packed to the top, the drying rack has garlic and onions cured.  This was a good season for our garden.  In fact I had the best garden ever.  Working on the land for 11 years is paying off and I find comfort in walking outside collecting my meals from the garden.  We have enjoyed an array of fresh veggies on a daily basis.  I just enjoy the garden to table movement on our farm.  For me this is my comfort zone, the balance will come or not but this has been one delicious summer.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Triple Creek Farm update. early August

Friday morning, July 24th, last evening, when we closed the coop, there were 4 baby chicks, one was very questionable, but I thought things would be better in the morning.  I came into the coop to find Momma Hen off the eggs with two of her chicks around her.  Mr. Bootsie came into see what was going on and he saw two little chicks pasted away in the nest.  What a way to start the day.  After taking care of things, Momma Hen returned to the nest and began to gather her eggs and chicks.  She seemed almost thankful Mr. Bootsie cleaned her nest.  This has been the a heartbreaking journey for me, but she seems content to continue.

Bittersweet is what is happening in the coop, maybe, I should have taken control but how many times hens take nest, disappear for days returning with a hatch, I thought this would work.  We do enjoy the hatching with the mother hen, when using the incubator there is something missing in the chick's life.  This momma hen was in an incubator hatch I did last year.  I am wondering if this could be contributing to my problem.

Things are going on in the garden which means there is quite a bit of activity in the kitchen.  Canning, freezing and dehydrating.  There is quite a bit of food preserved for the winter, now it is time for winter squash to harden and cure.  These will be food for us and fed for the chickens and goats.  Winter squash are great for preventing worms in chickens and goats.  The onions and garlic have dried.

One poplar tree was felled last week and the tree filled one of our wood racks.  It appears there will be enough wood for the winter.  On the to do list is the chimney cleaning.  This is done by a contractor, I just feel much better knowing the chimney has been checked by someone who is knowledge (?) about chimneys.
Cleaning the barn and coop goes on all year around, in the coop over the winter I use the deep litter method which means I just add  straw during the winter.  Our girls stay outside during the day, we only have the waste from nighttime and this is quite manageable using the deep litter method. I bed in with leaves first and add straw as needed.  This adds warmth to the coop as the leaves and straw insulate the floor holding the heat manufactured by the birds in the coop.

Time has come for the eggs of the squash bugs to hatch.  Some of the squash plants are on their last leg and this makes a wonderful place for the babies to hide.  We have removed and burned a number of old leaves.  Some of my plants are so large there is really no way to control things.  I grow a number of climbing squash.  I spend quite a while in the garden chasing the critters.  I use no chemicals in the garden.  This is my choice and I feel it is a good decision.  I control through hand picking and using other plants to defer the bugs.

Harvested the first brandywine tomato and corn for corn on the cob.  I know a little late, but corn on the cob  from our garden is a first.  Using some of the tomatoes to make pasta sauce.  Referred to a recipe I have from Italy and it makes a delicious sauce.  Roasting tomatoes and making tomato soup, we are enjoying our harvest.


I am going to plant some fall beets and the last row of snaps this afternoon.  Winter garden seedlings are coming on.  They are looking for a place to go into the garden.  Pulled the first planting of snap plants and the goats are having a picnic.  I am going to plant garlic where the snaps were planted.  This bed will have a rest for a few days.

We have been busy, weather has kept me from posting this blog, here it is finally and look at how much the baby chicks have grown.


Time for me to check on the garden, I am sure there is something to pick, I shall take my gathering basket and see what treasures I can find.   Thanks for stopping by!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Long awaited, Finally This Summer, Always worth the wait

Saturday, July 18th, I went into the coop, there I found an egg shell, Mr. Bootsie following me in was checking the nest also, words from the farm assistant, "Broken egg, not again."  My response was, "No, not again.  This shell has been opened by a chick."  I had already put some starter grain close to the Little Black Hen, so she could eat the grain.  After setting, they are so weak and need something to build up their strength.  You ask why is it difficult to sit on eggs and hatch them.  These hens, when setting, go into a trance and hardly leave the nest.  They eat very little and this takes a toll on them.

I went to prepare the chicken water and place it close so the baby chick could get a drink.  At this time all the proof I had was the shell and I knew it looked as something one had come out of it.  This gets Mr. Wonderful off the hook, as now I know he is not shooting blanks.  I was not sure as to how committed the other Little Black Hen was to setting on the nest when we were away from the coop.  She took some morning dusting breaks which seemed entirely too long to me.  This is the reason I allowed this hen to stay in the nest she had created and hatch the eggs.

It was time for me to continue my chores.  So off I went to make the grain bowls for the goats.  Mr. Bootsie comes for the coop exclaiming, "There are two babies and more eggs under her."  He is quite excited as he was the first one to see the baby chicks.  I decided to see if I could establish whose eggs had hatched.  I found the whole shell from one of the olive eggs, which we hatched last spring.  This will mean if this is a hen, her egg will be much darker in olive color as this is a second generation.  As she collected her eggs for the nest I have no idea as to what may be in this hatch.  This is one time the hen has out smarted me.

We have never worked with babies on the floor of the coop.  I have heard when the rooster is in the coop there could be problems or not.  Sometimes they protect their babies from the hens and other times the responsibility is totally on the momma hen.  I have all of the brooders close by if this is the direction we need to take.  I just am not sure how the Little Black Hen will react to being enclosed in a brooder and I do not want her to dessert the little ones she has worked so hard to produce.

This will be a learning experience for us, but each and every hatching has been a lesson in one way or another.  The little black hen's mother, Aurora was a wonderful momma hen and no one, not even me was able to get near her babies.  She was the smallest hen in the coop, however, when she had babies her size did not matter, the other hens kept their distance.  She would fly up and land on their backs if they bothered her little ones.  We did keep her in the brooder, only when the chicks were out getting sun, the other hens came to see what was going on.  If they came within two feet they had better look out because little Aurora was going to show them they should keep a distance.  I hope some of Aurora's mothering skills has passed on to her girls.  These girls came from eggs laid by Aurora, so only time will tell if this hen will be a good momma hen.

Monday, morning there was not a chick to be found, except the little one who did not make it through the night.  I was ready to break up the nest and then I heard the crunch of an egg, one more was coming.  By the end of the day there were 2 new baby chicks, they were struggling on the floor of the coop and I knew I needed to make a decision.  Wednesday morning there are 3 babies, Momma hen decided to go out and stretch her legs, only to be attack by the dame of the coop.  She ran back in checking on her chicks.

Mr. Bootsie showed up about the same time and I made my decision.  She is going into the brooder, the chicks can move about and we do not have to worry about snakes or the other hens attacking them.  I would find a little peace with this.  You know I always give him the worst job, he reached down and collected momma hen.  Walked over to the brooder, I began to collect the baby chicks and found only 2,  Mr. Bootsie had one baby, finally all together once again.  We knew it was time to get the eggs and see if Momma Hen would take them back, Mr. Bootsie candled all of them and there are 6 more possible chicks.
As Mr. Bootsie put the eggs in front of Momma Hen she pecked him each time and then rolled each egg back into the nest.  There she was setting on the 6 eggs and 3 little chicks hidden in her feathers.  I as not sure she feels as safe in her new home as I feel she is.




I had just about given up on having any chicks this year, but now there are 3 and maybe more.  All of the eggs came from my olive egg laying girls and the  Welsummer rooster.   Excited, yes,  there are babies on the farm.  Life goes on!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Early Summer Update

With spring turning into summer, we have been busy.  The days come to a close much too early and there is always something left undone.  My to do list seems to grow and become longer.  And then it happened, the computer decided to go to computer camp.  After 2 weeks with no computer, I made the decision to just give all of this up.  Knowing with age it is difficult to accomplish everything you think you can in a day, I thought my time would be a little bit freer without spending time in cyber space.  I have no idea this would rattle Mr. Bootise quite like it did.  We need a computer and you have so many special friends who mean so much to you, I don't want you to loose those relationships.  We need to be able to research things and going to the library will take even more time.  The library is 16 miles from our house so I had to give in, start my journey of looking for a new computer.

With a new computer, I changed brands, there is the time of learning once again.  Everything old is everything new and I am struggling along.  I have learned how to load my pictures so I can share with you.  I  am trying to slowly move forward so I can retain what I am learning.  So, please bear with me.  I enjoy the time I share with you and I always have my blog to return to when I need to remember things about my farm.  After all of this, here goes, this is what has been happening!!!

Rain, we have rain, so much rain we now have mushrooms growing everywhere.  Ducks are eating mushrooms, are they safe for us to eat?  I have heard the stories all my life and I am very concerned about collecting and eating wild mushrooms.  But is seems such a waste not to have the knowledge to use this special gift.  If you have the time. the knowledge of how and why we have fungi, is very interesting, read about why they are here.  The farmer came by and she informed me there are mushrooms safe to eat around here.  She has been collecting and preparing them.  She shared a link with me about one she enjoys and we have them everywhere.  I find this so exciting.   link to information about mushrooms

Chicken hatching.  Aurora's daughter set on the nest for 28 days, no chicks, I destroyed the eggs by burying them in the garden,  I heard 3 of them blowup as I covered them with lots of garden soil.  I did not want to smell the rotten eggs.   I worked on getting her to give up the nest which I did accomplish.  About a week later I went into the coop and there was a new nest with a black hen on it, no, no she can't be doing this again, Mr. Bootsie came in later during the day.  He informed me, "She is at it again, what are you going to do?"  Next morning, I realized no she is not at it again, this is the other daughter.  So I decided to leave her on the nest, not moving her to the brooder box and let her have her way.  I need to know if the rooster is shooting blanks or what could have happened with the first hatch.  So only time will tell.


Berry season means I am at it again.  Making wine and framboise, my farm assistant is smiling from ear to ear.  What you have to wait 6 months for the flavor to develop?  Yes, now put that down.  The raspberries and blackberries are used to make these beverages.  I made my first raspberry wine this season, we are really excited about this.  I did not have a recipe and I did a little bit of tasting to see if I thought the sugar was in balance with the fruit.  Tasted good to me so maybe this will work.  Right now, this is bubbling away in the pantry.  I am planning on starting blackberry wine today.
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 Crops are coming in, we are harvesting more than we are able to eat.  I have been sharing some and preserving some.  This a new pickle for me.  I was glad the recipe was for 3 pints. Now I will return to some old faithful recipes and make them if we have cucumbers.  And by the way we should wait 4 weeks before eating these pickles.  Flavor development.


Each week Mr. Bootsie drops one tree and the wood yard is filling.  We both spend time in the garden picking and weeding.  New friends on our farm are two fawns born this spring.  They come to see us quite often.  We have really enjoyed having our personal wildlife preserve.Time for me to go, just heard this week's tree hit the ground. I have chicken to grind, as I as going to make chicken salad.  This was one of our birds, they are so good.  Stop by for a chicken salad biscuit with fresh tomato.  You know you are always welcome.



Thursday, July 9, 2015

Alliums on our Farm

In October, 2014 I planted the garlic, the row was dug, the garlic broken into cloves was carefully placed in the row and covered with soil.  Last winter was a cold winter but I could always see the garlic foliage growing so I was in hopes we would have a nice crop of garlic.  June of 2015, the foliage begins to fall over, the bottom sets of leaves have turned brown, it is time for me to dig the garlic.  Pulling the first head from the earth I was excited it was a good year.  Nice full heads, they were easy to clean because I pulled them at the correct time, did not dilly dally around and let too much moisture get into the ground.  As of now, all of the garlic is dug, cleaned and on the drying rack in the pole barn.


I find pleasure in setting down, taking the time to braid some of the garlic.  It is with pride I hang it in my pantry and share with others.  This is really the best garlic crop I have had here on this farm.  The land has slowly improved with the adding of all natural ingredients.  I use wood chips, manure and lots of compost.  I am now harvesting sand from our creeks to improve the soil.  

After all the garlic was dug,  it was time to begin harvesting the onions.  It was another good crop.  I have my first onions which look like onions.  There are white onions large enough to slice.  How I have waited for this.  These are my storage onions, I have red salad onions, yellow sweet onions which do not store for a long while.  After loosing quite a large number of the walking onions to the moles in 2014 there were enough left to plant last fall.  I had a good harvest and now I will work on replenishing my walking onions.  

Onions are important to me.  I use quite a large number of onions in our kitchen.  As I look back I understand why I use so many.  My momma would cook a pan of onions anytime she was not feeling well, she felt the onions were healthful for her.  When I was a child we grew potato onions and storage onions.  The onions were braided and hung in the basement.  At was fun to go to the basement and see the braids disappear.  Momma put onions in almost everything she cooked and I do the same thing.  

On our farm, we grow many varieties of the allium family,  the leeks have gone to seed and I am hoping this year they will reseed in the garden saving me the work of replanting the leek bed, the green onions have gone to seed and new plants have been relocated in the green onion pots.  The chives have flowered and their heads removed, seeds planted along with some of the large clumps divided and planted, the garlic chives have reseeded and are coming up all in the bed.

We use all of the alliums we grow and I am always looking for more, the flavors add so much to our meals and I just enjoy watching them grow.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Late Spring




At this time of the year, we are thinking winter, cold, the need for wood.  Yes, the wood rack is filling. Mr. Bootsie felled another tree and the wood has been added to the wood rack.  Another section is filled, covered and waiting for winter use.  We know it needs to dry and this take a few months, hopefully this will work out and we shall have plenty of wood when it is needed this winter.  Along with wood for our stove, the goats have been eating all of the foliage and bark from the limbs.  There is no waste when a tree is felled on this farm.

Spring brings in the animals, we have been watching a nest of birds, they have now gone to flight school and left their nest.  There has been a deer coming very close to our house.  She has been feeding right out side the kitchen window.  We stand at the window and watch her, she shows no fear, I am hoping she has a knowledge of living in the woods as her visits to see us are just a little unusual,  I would not want to see her get hurt, you always wonder if humans have messed with the balance of nature.   The hummingbirds returned this week, we have seen them feeding on some of our plants.  Mr. Bootsie came in the house exclaiming he had just seen a fawn.  He saw the mother and sent the fawn back toward the mother.  Several days later, I was setting on the porch and the fawn appeared, no momma but after looking very closely in the creek there she was.  Momma allowed the fawn to come within 10 feet of me, this was a very special moment.  There have been several more spotting of all 3 deer, as one was outside the goat pasture when we went to feed one evening.

Along with the animals which excite us there are also those which do not please any of us.  When putting the ducks to bed one evening they froze outside of the duck house.  Mr. Bootsie went to check on the problem, copperhead, and I need help.  Well, this one is taken care of.  There have, also,  been several black snakes, babies and large ones.  Mr. Bootsie likes to keep all of the black snakes but he watching while we have a hen setting on a nest of eggs.

The garden always seems to surprise me.  I have been trying to grow artichokes for years.  I have purchased plants, started seeds and always for one reason or another I loose my plants.  This spring I made the decision I would give up my quest to grow artichokes, only to find one of my plants in the garden doing what I had always wanted to see.  I do not hear of many growing chokes on the east coast but this is one I wanted to try,  I now have a second plant coming up, I am so pleased I have decided to  let this plant go to seed as the seeds should be better suited for my area.  Only time will tell, but I am enjoying this new adventure  and  I will try again.

Things seem to be going good in the coop as Little Black Hen is setting on only 4 eggs.  I lost 2 eggs which were from my Eva.  She has been laying an egg with a very thin shell, I was trying because I wanted to see the mixed breed chicken they would hatch out.  Maybe next time things will work better. I have been feeding the girls sunflower seeds and Eva's shell has improved.  Much stronger.

Garden is growing, there has been quite a bit of rain so that means the weeds are growing as well.  I have a few tomatoes, snaps are starting to bloom.  So far we have picked a few peppers and zucchini.

For me, it is time to get ready to start pickling, canning, dehydrating and freezing.  I will be making a trip to purchase my supplies.  So until there is something exciting to share with you I will say," Happy Farming my dear friends."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Aurora's Daughter, Second Generation of Mother Hens

With patience I have waited,  one of our young girls is going to go broody.  I was hoping it would be one of Aurora's girls, as they have an attitude like their mom.  I was so smart to hatch 2 of her eggs in the incubator last spring.  There was never a broody hen on the farm last year, until very late in the summer and I refuse to have fall baby chicks, late summer is too hot for the hen to be stuck on the nest and when it is fall I may need to bring the chicks inside to keep them warm.

Wednesday morning, I found her, setting on 4 eggs, butt stuck in the corner and I told Mr. Bootsie, "We have a broody."  I went on doing my morning chores, and I saw him moving quickly to finish his chores.  By the time I came back to the coop, the brooder box had fresh hay on the floor, the waterer was filled with fresh water.  I was shocked to find things coming together without my having to do anything.  Are you going to move her now?  No, I will wait until tonight.  She should settle in better.

Now I must confess the four chicks we have from last year have not been named.  There were 2 of Aurora's girls and 2 of Blanches' girls which are cross breed to lay green eggs.  For some reason I just could never come up with a name that fit better than little black hens and red hens.  Maybe that will change this spring/summer.

When it was time to bed down the girls, I chose the eggs I wanted to put under my girl.  Every egg I have is crossbred at this time.  I like cross breeds, I think for layers they make a kinder, more gentle bird.  I choose 2 of my Eva's and 2 of the little red hen's eggs.  I would let her keep 2 of the 4 she had under her and maybe the adjustment will not be as much of shock for her.  With Mr. Bootsie close on my coat tail I made my way to the coop.  Put in the feeder and placed the 4 eggs in the nest.  Next it was time to go and get my girl.  Well, I was pleased she put up no fight, I was able to pick her up without any squawk or fuss.  She settle into my body as I carried her to her new home for 21 days.  I had picked up 2 eggs from her nest, they were placed in the nest for a total of 6 eggs, I set her on top of the eggs.  In the background I could hear someone saying, "Too easy."

Time for me to feed and get everyone to bed.  Things were going well, the goats had been out free ranging and they were ready to bed down after having their grain.  The girls were ready to come inside and decide where they would be roosting tonight.  The ducks were way down on the creek so I went to get them and direct them home.  After bringing in the ducks, it was time to count my girls and be sure all had come in.  Eleven and one in the brooder, well, at this time she was walking around the brooder having a discussion with the wire covering the brooder.  The brooder is covered with 1/2 inch hardware  cloth so black snakes can't get to her.  This is everything I can do to protect my girls while they are setting on eggs.

Thursday morning she had settled down some but later in the day, I found her setting in a nest she had made looking as happy and proud as her mom was when she was setting on eggs.  Thursday night when I went to feed she became chatty with me.  Now I do not talk chicken but I know she is pleased with herself.  Mr. Bootsie came in the coop and she chatted with him, as her food bowl was filled, she came over to see what we had bought her for supper.

My mind is telling me, we shall have a hatching of chickens. 3 weeks  from May 20 or there about.  My next obligation to this new family is a bag of chick-starter.  I will add this to my feed store list, so exciting to think about baby chicks and watch the Momma Hen raise her babies.      

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blackberry Winter, Warm Weather to Follow

Blackberry winter is here, that means the blackberries are blooming and I am cold.  There is just a chill in the air, no need for fire in the wood stove but a jacket is a welcome wrap for me.

Garden is growing, onions are developing seed heads, garlic scapes are showing up on all of the plants.  Time for me to go out to the garden and pick these.  I would enjoy harvesting large heads of garlic and onions so all of the seed heads need to be removed, the plant just can't make seeds and provide a harvest of large fruits.  I save the larger cloves of garlic to plant and planting the scapes takes about 3 years to make a sizable head of garlic.  I buy onion sets in the fall and spring, this year I also purchased plants in the spring.

There are butter beans, snaps, black-eyes peas, sugar snap peas, yard long beans and Austrian winter peas growing at this time.  The Austrian winter peas were planted in the fall, they made it through the cold winter, some in the tunnel and others in the garden bed. During the winter we used the pea shoots in our salads, delightful taste of spring in the the salads.  Now I am waiting for them to fruit, I have been enjoying the blooms in the garden. Later in the day I found a few pea pods and with the number of blooms there will be more coming.

The tunnel cover came off this week, and I am ready for the squash plants to cover the tunnel again this summer.  This will give protection from the sun for the crops in the tunnel.  I will be planting things under the tunnel which appreciate a little protection from the sun.

There was a time when my garden was not started until May 15th and this year there is already so much  progress.  Now some of the squash plants are 6 inches tall or more with tiny zukes just waiting for the bloom to come.

I tried the aluminum pie tin with cucumber slices in it.  My results so far, are no cabbage worms, I would like not having to spray my cabbage with bt, I have been looking for a way to get around this for years.  I put 2 slices of cukes in the pie tin and place under the cabbage plants.  I have some aluminum coasters from the 60's which we were going to recycle but now they are going to be recycled in the garden for holding cuke slices.  So far this has worked for me.  I really have only been doing this for about 3 weeks, I will let you know how things progress through out the summer.


We are trying to take the goats out to munch the woods daily, I was hoping we could let them free range but they seem to know where everything is that I would prefer they stay out of.  So the end result is I must walk with them when they are free ranging.  They seem not to care to go to the same area on a daily basis, this means I get to explore more of our woods.  This is a win, win for me but during this time of the year I feel I have loss a precious hour of time to work in the garden.  I will adjust as I so enjoy my time with the ladies.

Another large tree went into the wood rack this week, we also found some good wood felled by the winter storms and this was add to the rack.  There is still a lot of wood needed but we have a good supply to start the winter with, finding the dead trees and wood on the forest floor makes it easier for us, as the drying time is less.

The girls have been busy turning the compost and I am bringing it to the garden to start another new bed.  This week, I gave them one of the last of our squash from last year's garden and they ate all of the seeds.  I am finding in the compost lots of  seed coming up.  I do trash most of these as I am not sure what they are.  I thought they ate the bulk of the seeds but now I think they eat a few, everything seems to be cleaned up after they have a pumpkin, squash or cantaloupe but maybe they plant a few seeds in the compost.

Flowers are blooming, birds are setting on their nest, butterflies are dancing on the flowers and spring seems to be everywhere.  The sage is blooming and I will be picking some to dry.  I must start working the herb garden again, I miss not having the wonderful herbs  I can grow. This spring I did start a number of plants from seed and I am hoping to add more with cuttings.

The lettuce is a favorite of the ducks and I have planted some extra for them, however, the goats did manage to get into the lettuce bed this week.  The ducks spend their evenings out working in the woods and I had them come in last night with the blackest peaks, you would have thought they had black peaks.  Mother Duck is molting, her new feathers are so pretty and white, I am hoping after the molt maybe, just maybe she will begin to lay to a regular basis.  If not. no problem, she is my girl.

Things are moving forward, now that maybe all of the different little winters are over we can begin to look forward to the rainy seasons.  A rainy day may give us a chance to sit down, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor.  We do enjoy something from our garden on a regular basis !!!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dogwood Winter Update





Things were moving along, baby plants were in the tunnel being hardening  off.  I had 11 tomato plants already in the hills.  I dig my tomato hills in the fall, add a bucket or manure cover with soil, mulch and install the tomato cages.  When spring arrives, I take off the cage, pull back the mulch, add a scant handful of epsom salt working into the soil, plant the tomato, return the mulch and tomato cage. I do spray with a kelp mixture as I feel it is needed.  Lettuce was planted in the garden and then it happened.  For over 2 weeks the nighttime temperature had been safe.  The heat had not turned on during the night, we had no issues with redbud winter, and then I heard frost warnings.

The tunnel had been opened, about half of it and we had several gentle farmer's rains.  I was thinking I may go on and take the cover off the tunnel but I am so pleased I stopped at the half way mark.  I was over run with seedlings. I had started my snow peas in pots as this is the only way I can grow them.  The mole/vole will cut them off at ground level, I began last spring putting the seeds in pots and had none of the pea plants cut off in pots, the ones I had planted just in the soil were taken care of by the mole.  When taking the pots out to remove and replace the soil I could see they really did work.  The 1 to 2 mole tunnels came to the bottom of the pots and stopped there.  I am using 6 inch pots which I plant in the garden.  I also have pole beans coming up in pots and will be planting these pots as well.

After hearing the frost warning it was time for me to think through what I should do to protect by garden.  The tunnel cover was replaced, floating row covers were placed over the tomatoes and lettuce. The peas were safe as i pulled mulch around them and they can take some cold.  We are into our second week of cold nighttime temperatures, The heat is coming on in the house, we are building small fires in the wood stove.  Some evenings we just hunker down under a warm blanket and enjoy the brisk air.

This time has been used in the garden, most of the beds have all of the chickweed pulled as it is going to seed, walk ways between the beds have been mulched.  Some of the raised bed borders have been replaced with new trees, cedar which was cut last year so it is ready to hold the soil in the raised beds.  I garden about a third of an acre using only hand tools so this break in the temperature has been welcomed.  Squash plants were getting to the point they needed to be planted, as I had started a few in pots to get a jump on the early planting of them.  They were planted and covered with row covers.  My inspection after having the row covers on for a few days, as we had to secure the covers because of the wind, found the lettuce taking a different shape and a need to pull the covers in allowing the plants room to grow.





The brambles are all getting there leaves, and showing how much they appreciate the time which we spent pruning them this winter and early spring.  The herbs which were thinned are coming forth and I only have memories of thinning them as they are growing abundantly. There were over 100 buckets (5 gallon size) of mulch moved into the garden.

I am so excited about the condition of the garden this spring.  I see it coming to a place I have wanted for so long.  The lettuce we are picking in the tunnel is loaded with flavor, it has wonderful spring flavors, the ducks await any lettuce trimmings I have for them.  Just watching how excited they become when I bring a basket of lettuce to their run makes me aware of how delicious the lettuce is.  Using our mulch, manure and homemade compost allows me to have control of my garden space.

Tree felling became slowed as one very large tree decided to become entangled in another tree.  With the rain we have been experiencing it was much too wet to move some of the larger equipment into the wooded area.  Mr Bootsie had to wait for several days for the wood's floor to dry some.  The tree became free with the help of the wrench on the truck and is now on the forest floor,  The wood racks are beginning to fill for the coming winter.

I am hoping there will be at least one broody hen as I need some chicks to help us make through the winter.  I would enjoy seeing this happen soon, but they have a mind of their mind.  Maybe blackberry winter will bring a broody hen.  The end of dogwood winter is coming later this week.  I will be planting more tomato plants and pepper plants.  The seeds for the snaps, butter beans and black-eyed peas need to go into the ground, the corn is in the greenhouse in starter trays, the first planting.  Oh, yes, I can't forget the okra.  You know it is spring when the strawberries begin to bloom and they have, we are finding little berries on the plants.

I am heading out to the garden, I shall harvest some lettuce and spring onions.  Time for my favorite sandwich of the spring.  Homemade bread, Duke's mayo, spring onions loaded with flavor and lots of pepper.  How lucky I am to have a garden which rewards me daily.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Momma's Knife Skills

There was a cantaloupe ready for slicing on the counter this morning, no, not from the garden, I must admit I purchased this one.  As I walked to the counter with a chef's knife in my hand along with a paring knife.  Here she was,  Momma picking up the well worn butcher knife, slicing the cantaloupe first in half and then, beginning to take off slices.  Picking up the paring knife, she placed it between the rind and flesh at one end, with one clean cut the knife came out of the other end.  At that time she would drop the rindless slice of cantaloupe on your plate.




Wow, I was always so impressed, when I grow up I am going to be able to do this.  It must be that easy,  if you are adult you can do this.  Much to my surprise, when my first kitchen was setup in 1964 it did not come with the skill of slicing the cantaloupe or peeling the apple or peach without breaking the peel.  I felt very let down with myself as I presented many fruits which looked as if someone may have nibbled on them before I put them on the table.  

Momma, also, peeled potatoes and once again, there was one long piece of peeling.  I asked her about a veggie peeler, her answer was no.  She did not want one of those things.  She had one paring knife and Daddy would sharpen it for her, she did not use dull knives.  I look at the collection of kitchen tools most of us have today and think of Momma.  I know in her kitchen there would be no place for many of these as she valued her ability to do things using her own 2 hands. 

I admired this lady so much, I wanted to grow up and be able to do the things she could do.  I wanted to raise a garden, preserve the harvest, along with taking care of the farm animals.  It took me many years to reach the point, where I was able to begin to my journey of following in my momma's  footsteps, but I made it. 

So, this morning I walked over to the counter, stood up tall, picked up one of my chef's knives and cut my cantaloupe in half, then quarters and finally slices.  With paring knife in hand I could feel the swift move of the knife separating the melon from the rind.  I have been able to do for a number of years but I always find myself sitting at the table in Momma's kitchen waiting as the slice of cantaloupe slides  into my plate, being salted gently and looking into my momma's proud face while I said, "Thank you".

I know my thank you was for much more the slice of cantaloupe, it was for the life lessons she taught me everyday, and for this I am so Thankful.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reflections of Winter while Welcoming Spring

Windows are open, there is a nice breeze coming through them,  there is the wonderful scent of spring flowers.  Can this mean we made it?  It may be my age or maybe just the conditions but I believe I have just gone through the worst winter of my life.  Maybe I did not pay as much attention to the weather before our farm but this past winter hit so many benchmarks.  I just want to focus on the good ones.  All of our animals made it, the covering on the tunnel survived, with all the wind and wet...no trees fell.  We were lucky to have a pantry full of provisions because there was a 2 week stretch no one left the property.  We did not use everything in the pantry so I must have stored enough   There was enough wood cut and seasoned, we were able to supplement the heat with the wood stove which was a savings for us.  With careful planning, when snow was called for, we were able to keep feed for the animals in our storage facility.   I think all in all everything went very good for us.

Now with all of this behind us, it is time to start a new season.  There will be no spring babies, this year,  I did not breed the goats and there are no hens interested in becoming broody so I will wait and see if things change later in the spring.

The garlic and onions are growing, it may be time to start pulling some green garlic.  This week I picked swiss chard and kale.  Lettuce and cabbage is growing in the tunnel.  I made a quiche with the swiss chard, there was a stir fry using a few of the frozen veggies, canned snaps were mixed with red bliss potatoes (I had to buy these).   I am still feeding us from the stored and fresh garden.  There is plenty of chickweed growing in the garden and I am pulling this for the ducks and chickens.  We were not able to work the garden in February being as the garden was white most of February meaning I am already behind.

Mr. Bootsie has started felling trees, we need wood for next winter.  The amount of wood used this past winter was the most ever for us.  We produced lots of ashes so the ducks and chickens will have ashes to take baths in.

I have seeds coming up, the outside conditions have not been the best for starting early garden.  It has just been too wet.  I am starting a number of items in trays and hoping I will be able to transplant them to the garden.  Right now it seems like more work but maybe it will not be as much work as I think.  Time will tell.

Now for some sad news, I lost my sourdough starter when I was sick.  I will start a new starter in a few weeks, so I am hoping I will be able to keep this one going.

I must Thank You for stopping by and visiting with our farm.  You have been so faithful and patient, Spring has returned and things are happening on the farm.  I really could not write about snow, snow and more snow.  I look forward to our time together and sharing with you.  The first thing I did this spring was clean off the porch, we are ready for porch setting, drop by anytime, so pleased to have you come for a visit.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie

I  started watching a program on PBS about baking,  I was not shocked to realize how little I knew about baking, but I was overwhelmed watching this program and learning how different the English did things in the kitchen.  I had not noticed this in other cooking shows but this one really caught my interest.

I have always felt when I made a chicken pot pie I was doing something wrong.  I totally remember the little pot pies which were frozen and seemed to have 3 small pieces of carrot, 5 green peas, a chunk of something I would consider mystery meat, lots of yellowish liquid and only a top crust.  Mr. Bootsie always felt that a chicken pot pie should have a top and bottom crust.  I have tried to make this and it always turned out a mess.  Too much liquid and taking one slice out, the pie ran out of the crust which was just  discouraging for me.  Mr. Bootsie would say, "It tastes good, just doesn't look like you want it to look.  You can try again,  I am more than happy to keep eating your mistakes."

While watching "The Great British Baking Show", they did a savory pie, out came the spring form pans,  6 inch.  What the heck are they doing?  I had never thought about this.  Then came the talk of a different type of pie crust.  So off I went to do some reading.  Pie crust for pot pies should be 1/3 of an inch thick.  Interesting, I am pondering this, what about the liquid in my filling?  I already knew the answer to this one, as I always add to much liquid.  This I can fix, I think.

There was pot pie filling in the freezer and I decided it was time for me give all of this a try.  First I made my crust using an egg in the pastry.  The bottom crus wast put in the spring form pan and there was plenty of excess to work with.  I thicken the filling and had very little liquid, into the bottom crust this went.  The top crust was rolled out, I cut a circle just a little larger than 6 inches, located the center using a chicken cookie cutter from my childhood I made my cut and then the crust was placed on top of the filling.  The bottom crust was trimmed and was placed over the top crust, this worked and it was time to seal the crust together.  With the trimming I was surprised at how very easy this process was.  Into the oven and 45 minutes later out came a chicken pot pie which made me smile.


I was so pleased when the spring form pan was taken away, my crust was strong enough to hold the savory pie.  I had extra gravy because we do like a moist pot pie.  Now I have found there are 4 inch spring form pans, these will make a personal pot pie.  Taking the time to learn how to do this has added a new meal to our menu and I found out quickly it was enjoyed by all.

During the winter the pace is different, and this year with all the weather I had time to learn how to make a pot pie.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Long Over-Due Update

IN THE KITCHEN

Lo-Mein (click here for the recipe link) is one of my go to meals, I use as many seasonable garden fresh veggies as I can during the summer,  frozen veggies from my garden during the winter.  I always freeze snow and sugar snap peas, I really enjoy fixing something fresh from the garden during the cold days of winter, makes me appreciate all of the work we do during the warm months.   Pizza crusts were made and frozen this week.  I use our sun-dried tomatoes and frozen peppers on these, along with homemade cheese which was frozen during the summer.  The freezer is a very important part of our meal planning.

As the snow was falling this week. I pulled a bag of frozen tomatoes and used them in chili, it was a good feeling to be peeling tomatoes from the garden as I watched the weather outside.  I freeze tomatoes when I just do not have enough to can or time to can.  I am now on a mission to get my freezer emptied before spring when it will be time to fill once again.   This is one of the most difficult  projects for me as I am always making something and adding the extra to the freezer.  
My afore mentioned project seems to be an ongoing battle.  I am using blackberries to make wine and veggies as often as possible.  The peppers I froze last summer as just about to end. 

While I was not doing my chores, I put the kefir grains on vacation.  I have returned them to the everyday working to make kefir.  Whenever I do this I think it takes a few days for the kefir to taste like it did before I stopped processing.  So after about 7 days I am enjoying my kefir once again.  I do prefer to work my kefir on a 2 day schedule as I like the punch.  I think my salad dressing have more zip with the kefir being processed for 48 hours.

THE FIRST SNOW FALL OF THE YEAR/WINTER

Boxwoods with top hats



I love how clean everything appears after the snow,  then the melt begins and the mud appears.  For me, a little dusting like this is a pleasure.  It was so cold this time it hung around for several days.  

Snow is not well received by the goats.  They seem not to care for anything which falls from the sky.  Belle has spent most of day trying to keep her front feet out of the snow, resting them on anything she could find.  The barn is open and they could go in but then, being as curious as they are, how could they know what is going on.  We went out, cut cedar and pine trees for them.  The vegetation acts as a wormer and they seem to love pulling the bark from the trees.  I love walking down to visit and the smell of cedar is in the air.  I think of how good the house smelled when I was a child at Christmastime.  

Scoot playing with Auntie Bell.  
Scoot is enjoying her first snow fall.


Momma Duck with her 2 little ones.  

Baby ducks born this past spring.  They are enjoying their first snow fall, it is bath time in the fresh drinking water on a very cold morning.  They are busy girls, the little ones are laying every day while Momma Duck lays at least 3 to 4 times a week.  

All is well in the coop, the girls are slowly beginning to come out of winter molt and beginning to lay.  The pullets have kept us in eggs through the winter.  With the new pullets our eggs have gotten very colorful.  Now we have olive eggers along with our other girls, this makes the eggs earth tones, greens, tans, lights browns and of course when all them are back on line, white and blue eggs.   

IN THE GARDEN

Veggie seeds are on the table and some of them have been planted.  Maybe too early but in the dead of winter you sometimes have to do something for the soul.  Planting the seeds help me feel we are moving toward spring.  The tunnel garden harvest is good chard, kale and lettuces.  Cabbage plants are getting large, I am looking forward to some early cabbages. 

I bombed the moles/voles with castor bean seeds in all of the tunnels I could find in the tunnel garden.  Will it help? I don't know, but it was fun thinking maybe I might, just might win the one. 

IN CLOSING 

We are busy planning for the spring, trying new recipes, keeping the critters warm, watered and happy.  Spring will come. Everything will begin anew, I find this excites me.  Until then I shall continue dreaming about what the spring will bring.  



  






Sunday, January 18, 2015

It is a New Year, 2015

December 21, 2014 it walked in the door.  I never saw it coming but it knocked me on the floor.  I was so prepared, more decorating for the holidays than I had done in all the years we had lived here.  The Christmas rolls were in the fridge waiting for Christmas morning when I would bring them out for the final rise and then baked.  Some of our farm raised chicken was thawing which I was planning on making into chicken salad to put on the rolls. The next morning, I could not muster the strength to get out of the bed.  Mr. Bootsie to the rescue, he went to the barn lot and took care of my babies for me.  In a couple of days I felt as if I was bouncing back.  On the 27th, it showed it's ugly head once again and this time Mr. Bootsie could not get out of the bed.  I was strong enough to make my way to the barn lot and take care of the animals who depend on us.  During this time of year food and water is very important.

I found myself not doing very well before the New Year and I was sleeping most of the day.  Some way we balanced doing our chores but that was all.  No meals were being prepared.  Cereal became our friend, it was easy and quick.  I called our Doctor and yes, you should come in this afternoon.  After he checked out both of us, he presented a few small pieces of paper and told me the drug store was closed but go there in the morning and get the meds.  If there is no change in 3 days to call him and we would move to another direction but he felt we had what we needed.  Following his directions we could feel a little improvement in 3 days and felt he must have nailed the problem.

As I look back, 2014 has been a hard year.  Never did I think I would see the end of my brother's life and it would happen so quickly.  Some of his family came over for a farm day visit and he joined them. He always left with his hen fruit, I remember that day as if it were yesterday.  There were others here and I gave all of them eggs.   My brother was sitting in his car and I gave him a dozen eggs,  He smiled and said, "Thank you for the hen fruit, you will never know how I have enjoyed your eggs."  Mr. Bootsie had taken him on the cart so he could be with his family who had come to take pictures of their little one with our baby animals.  This was first time he had seen our operation.  He was always interested but  he fell in love with my Belle.  She had her first baby and was very protective of ones she did not know getting close to her baby; however, there was a sense that my brother was safe.  As my brother was driving away that beautiful, sunny afternoon I felt something in my body, an empty place.  We knew he was doing as good as he had in the past but today I felt Bubba would never return to Triple Creek Farm.


My Belle

Time marched on quickly and my brother's earthly journey ended.  I was away from the farm far more than I would have thought, my brother had children, grown grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I  never thought I would have been the person he would start turning to.  I quickly found myself making food to take to the hospital/rehab center and receiving calls from him for what he wanted.  One day he called, "Do you have any tomatoes?" Yes.  "Do you have any mayonnaise?"   Yes, I have Duke's.  Joking I said to him, "I know what you want, I will bring it tomorrow."  I packed my cooler and off to the rehab center I went.  As my bubba was eating his tomato sandwich you could not measure the smile on his face.  He savored every bite.  I took a kitchen towel to catch the drippings,  but there were very few.  I used about half of the large brandywine tomato for the sandwich.  After eating the sandwich, Bubba asked for the knife and tomato, he began cutting up the tomato reaching for the Duke's he loaded the tomato.  I weighed the tomato before leaving home, Bubba had eaten over a pound of brandywine tomato.  When I left the rehab center that day, I knew I could not have done anything which would have made him any happier.

I was baking zucchini bread for him every couple of days, slicing and wrapping it so it would stay fresh.  He had plenty to share if he wanted.  I was asked to can snaps for him and his wife,  they were planning on eating these beans this winter.   I picked, cleaned and canned beans for him as he told me he did not enjoy the grocery store beans like the ones I canned.

I had been going to the hospital which put us on the  road 2 hours every day we went, also, taking care of my animals and garden.  I kept picking the garden so it would keep producing.  I was feeding string beans to the goats, tomatoes to the chickens and my compost pile was busy with fresh produce.  I was milking the goats and making cheese.  I never gave up all summer.  I was so pleased my cucumbers did not have a good crop year because I always made pickles for Bubba.

I stopped milking the goats around the first of October.  No more cheese to be made.  I was thinking this is one job I am glad to have over.  If I sit down, I would fall asleep.  If we went anywhere I was like a baby in the car, I would go to sleep.  It got to the point I really was not doing a good job of making meals for us.  I went through the motion and put something on the table.  I started doubting myself all of the time.  I never once thought I could be worn out.  Well, after 2 weeks of getting a lot of rest, I have realized just how worn out I was.  I have never said never in my life but this could change in the future.  Fatigue is not my friend, I was the one who baked all of the bread we ate, I cooked all of our meals, planted the garden and started all of my plants from seed.

Well, there may be less garden, because I have learned I can only use so much.  This is my first start in my program to take care of myself.  But after being sick for 3 weeks and still working on getting really well, I know I am the only work horse I have and time has come for me to start taking care of myself.

At this time I am the only member of my Happy Hallow family who is still alive.  I have stood by and watched my family slip away, one by one.  But I have my memories and some of them are already shared with you.  I just hope there is time for more sharing, as I work to keep my farm up and moving forward.  Yes. it is a new year!!!


My Brother, Bubba