Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And they call it ducky love....

Ok so my friend, Donna's, fractured musical titles are rubbing off on me. Anyway, the Muscovy's have finally settled in to life in and around the barn. Since we have 3 males and only 2 females, the boys are constantly showing off for the girls. Visitors to the farm are surprized when the males start their hissing and head bobbing and the females trill. One young man asked me if I was sure they were ducks. Afterall, ducks quack right?  We haven't had any viable duck eggs yet, but maybe by this time next year we'll have some ducklings waddling around the farm.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The first tomato

Here it is in all it's red and juicy glory the first tomato of the season from our garden. Hurrah!
I had to grab it for this pick before Brian bit into it. :^)

Growing like a weed!

Joel in his favorite outfit... nothing but a diaper. He's got 4 teeth now. He loves my home made yogurt and cottage cheese. But bananas are still his favorite food!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Butter day

One day a week I clear the milk refrigerator. First I skim off all the cream, then I re-bottle about two gallons of milk into one quart milk bottles. The smaller bottles fit in our inside fridge better and they are easier to handle for my mother who has arthritis. After all the cream is skimmed, I start making butter.
No I don't sit in my rocker and churn like granny on the "Beverly Hillbillies". I use the blender. While the butter's in the blender I empty the excess milk into a "Pig Pale" to be carried out to the hogs. Then I wash all the empty one gallon jars and put them back on the shelf for next week.
You can hear the change in the blender sound when the butter starts to rise. Then I run it through the strainer to remove the buttermilk. I save a little for cooking and send the rest to the piggies. Then it's rinsed with clean cold water and put into a bowl. When all of the cream is butter, I "work" the butter to get as much liquid out of it as possible. Then I add salt, shape it into butter balls and drop the butter into ice water to firm it up.
One butter ball goes in the butter dish and the rest in the freezer.
I'm hoping to have enough butter put by in the freezer to keep us through the time when Hazel is dry this winter. 
Here are some of my buttery creations swimming in their ice bath.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Camp kids

The kids from Camp Palawopec came to the farm today. One young man showed up without his shoes much to the consternation of the camp counselors. Walking around  the farm in bare feet was out of the question so I had to make do.
"What size shoes do you wear?" I asked. "Twelves."
Well, I wasn't going to be able to lend him any of my boots. Luckily Anders had left a pair of very adjustable sandals in the breezeway. After everyone had foot gear we set off for the grand tour. They bravely trekked around the farm in the heat and humidity to meet the animals. It was a lot of fun showing them. Education is definitely the key to preserving our family farms. We talked about what it means to conserve endangered livestock breeds, why we rotate pasture, what makes a Red Wattle a Red Wattle. . .
Petunia was the perfect spokes pig. She stood still and let everybody pet her and feel her wattles, ears and nose.
A group of campers will come out to the farm each week for the rest of the summer. I'm really looking forward to it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Of laundry and the search for a gasoline powered washing machine

You see my son, Anders and his fiance Emily and future farmer,  baby Joel live in a tepee. No running water, no electric, lots of laundry. So several months ago we started searching for a ringer washer that was gas powered. No luck on that account.
Brian mentioned that the kids really needed a washer to his dad. Now Brian's dad is the king of junk hunting. Just mention whatever oddity you are looking for and sooner or later he'll find it. That's how we got our hand cranked corn sheller.  
Brian's dad called this week.He found us 2 ringer washers for $80 in good condition except they don't have motors.
Hmmmm..... Brian and I put our heads together, hunted through the "just in case we need it" junk in the garages and came up with a lawn mower engine to use on one washer for the kids. Hurrah!
We decided we could probably splurge on another electric motor like the one on our chicken plucker for the other washer for us.
To most people it will sound weird that I am excited about a ringer washer, but I love doing laundry in them. My grandma taught me. First you do the lightly soiled whites, then the colors, then the dirty ol' farm jeans. You use far less water. The laundry gets done all on one day. And when you hang all that laundry out on the line to dry it comes back in the house smelling like fresh air and sunshine! What more could you ask for?

I can't wait to get the one refurbished for the kids. I think I'll pitch in some clothes line and clothes pins so they are all set. ;^)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tomatoes and basil OH MY!

I just finished mudding in 110 tomato plants - Black of Tula, Chocolate cherry and a flat of mystery tomotoes that somehow lost it's label. On my days off next week I'll be putting down mulch and putting up stakes. I finished off one bed with about 24 Classico Italian Basit plants as well. Can you say spaghetti sauce?
Now my knees are muddy, my face is red and my clothes are soaked with sweat so I am sitting down with a glass of ice water for a much needed break.

Soon it will be time to do the chores and the milking, then Brian and I are going to sneak out like kids for a late nite date with a light dinner, icecream and the midnight movie - Toy Story III. :^)  I sort of wish it was playing at the drive in... sigh....


Today we have been married for two years... time flies when you are having farm. :^)

Life with Brian is always an adventure and never dull.

I am looking forward to many more years of adventures together.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hello, this is Miss Piggy calling...

This morning we decided to move the little boar we are keeping and a feeder pig out to the pasture. Brian suggested that Anders and I should finish up the chores in the barn while he delivered the cage full of squealing porkers to the pasture. We met back at the house for brunch.
Brian was sitting at the kitchen table when he realised he didn't have his cell phone... Uh OH! He took my phone and started calling himself in hopes that he'd hear his phone.
He listened in the house... no ring. He listened in the yard ...no ring.
He listened as he walked to the barn... no ring.
He listened in the barn... no ring.
He listened as he walked out to the feeder pasture and climbed the fence... no ring.
Then he looked down.
The back of the phone with it's little camera eye chomped and chewed was all he found.
Back at the house he plucked up his courage and called for a replacement phone. Of course the girl at Verizon laughed when he told her what happened. She laughed even harder when he told her that he ran over his last phone with a tractor... and she darn near hurt herself laughing when he gave her his email address: kissmygrassfarm@hotmail.com. Oh the agony and humiliation! LOL

This afternoon he decided he should check his messages using my phone. He only had one message . . .

from the pigs! 

" Squeeeaal! Grunt grunt growl! Grunt"


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A day on the farm... June 15, 2010

Skyler (alias Farm Boy) and Brian moved the Buckeye chicks to rolling chicken tractors yesterday so today the chores where a bit different with more waterers to carry.
We ran another line of cross fencing in the south pasture during the afternoon. It was miserably hot and humid. Two minutes outside and your clothes were dripping wet. We came in for big glasses of ice tea and cooled off in the A/C. Then right on schedule at 6:20 pm the evening thunder storm grumbled in with rain by the bucket and a light show to rival the 4th of July.  By 8:00 it had pretty much gone by so we went out in the lingering rain and did our evening chores. I don't think I was dry 10 minutes all day.
When we got back in I started pizza dough for homemade pizza. I glanced out the west window and there was a rainbow above the greenhouse and the light from the setting sun was just amazing. We stopped everything, ran for the camera and then spent some time on the porch swing just marveling at the wonder of what a little sunlight and water can create. It was a good day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Apprentice farmer

Skyler is an intelligent, good looking, healthy 13 year old boy... who has volunteered to work on our farm this summer. We are both surprized and really grateful to have his help.

So far this week he has helped to plant and mulch 50 pounds of seed potatoes and 48 pepper plants, cleaned the barn, and learned a little about the milking machine. He's also tried his hand at hog herding and teaching our dairy calf to lead with the rope halter.

He has willingly helped muck out the barn.... I don't even like that chore! Thanks Skyler!!

Now before you think it's all work and no play, he's also gone fishing.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yummy Yummy Yogurt

This week I turned 2 gallons of yummy fresh unpasturized milk into yummy tangy slightly sweet yogurt. Just add a little honey, strawberries or a spoonful of jam for a delicious cold smooth treat. Or add a little fruit and some granola for breakfast. Or strain out the whey to make a soft yocheese spread.
Geeze I'm makin' myself hungry! :^)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Workin' the night shift...

No not me, silly. Our pyrennees, Peaches. Every evening about dark we corral the sheep and feed them. Then we set Peaches free to roam the pasture for the night. She stays up all night on guard for any danger to her sheep. I know she's awake and on guard because she barks at anyone who steps out the door to let you know not to mess with her sheep.

Promptly at seven in the morning, Peaches goes to her doghouse and crawls inside for some much needed rest. That is where we find her when we bring her food, latch her cable and let the sheep out for the day.

We'd love to let Peaches roam during the day too, but she's still such a puppy. She forgets when you weigh 85 pounds you can't play puppy games with baby lambs. So this is our compromise.

In the afternoon, Peaches holds court with her wooly charges. She is definitely the warrior queen of her domain.

Peeps in the mail!

At a quarter to seven this morning Brian's phone rang. It was the post master. Our guinea chicks and turkey poults had arrived and would we please hurry and come get them.

So we skipped our morning cuppa, threw on some clothes and headed to the post office. Two peeping boxes were gratefully handed to us with a sigh of relief from the post master.

When we got them home we put them on the warm breezeway so that we could go out and do chores.... Hazel, the milk cow wasn't gonna wait for a bunch of peepings to get settled. After chores Brian took off to pick up Kacie... (Last day of school!)
I stayed behind to settle our new peepings into oversized dog crates that my friend Mike so generously donated to the farm.

Turkeys have to be the nosiest birds I've ever been around. These little ones just had to get up close and personal with my camera!

The guinea peeps weren't nearly as nosy but they are twice as active.
We ordered the guinea mix package so they will be pearl, silver and white. Even now you can tell which ones will be silver and which ones will be white. But there is one little one that doesn't look like any of the others. He (she ? I'm not sure.) has a white mask and a white bib and tucker like a penquin. I think I'm going to name this one "Happy Feet".