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It’s been quite some time since I blogged in this space, and even longer since I was regularly blogging here.  I started out using this a sort of a journal, and then found myself overwhelmed by unblog worthy things, so let it fall away.  I appreciate the little notes of encouragement that I have received over the past few months.  Thank you for missing me, and thank you for letting me know you’d like to hear more from me.

A friend, and reader of the blog pointed out that if I’m going to be posting over there, with a link to here, I really should start writing over here a bit more often…good point.  I’m not sure if I’ll be as regular as I once was, but I’m going to try to be more regular.  Part of the catalyst for that…well I recently applied to be a contributing blogger with Gnowfglins.  Out of something like 130 applicants I was selected!  I’m very excited.  I have a fun list of blog post ideas for my gig at Gnowfglins.  I hope you come over to read them.  I will post when I have a contribution posted over there!

 

Lunch was so yummy I have to tell everyone about it!

Butternut squash whipped with butter and milk, salt and pepper.  Topped with local goat cheese, and Maple Almonds.

On the side, Sourdough Onion Rings.

Butternut squash was easy, I just peeled and diced the squash, boiled, drained, whipped it with some butter and milk until I liked the consistency.  Added salt and pepper.

For the Almonds I melted butter in a small iron fry pan, added almonds until browned, then drizzled with syrup and simmered until it got all caramelized and gooey.

The onion rings…Melt Lard in a pan, about 1″ deep.  Slice onion.  Take some of your starter out of the container, putting it in a small bowl.  Dredge the onions with the starter and place in the fat.  Once browned, flip, then brown second side and remove.  I place on a cloth, sprinkle with salt and keep making more, piling and salting as I go.

Assemble, admire, be thankful for the farmers who did all that work, and their plants and animals…then enjoy!

Wake Robin Farm grows ginger each year and I make sure to pay close attention to which market they are bringing it to.  Today was the day, so I left Declan with Nellie last night so I could skip milking…Life is going to be very different when he goes to the freezer…and I headed down to Portsmouth.  I hit moments after another local ginger loving foodee, and we commented on her beating me, but there was plenty for both of us, so all was well.

Most of this will find it’s way into the freezer, for use all year.  Among my plans, Pear and Ginger Chutney, Lacto-fermented Ginger Carrots, Ginger ale, Ginger Infused Vodka, Ginger tea, and for a little something in soups or skillet dishes, or to flavor my kombucha.

The tops are simmering on the stove, to create a nice base for soup.  The ginger root is so tender I used it in my garlic press!  Tonight I enjoyed a dinner of scrambled pork, with ginger, garlic, red cabbage and onions.  A side of mashed potatoes, and some Nellie Milk.  Mmmm.  I love Fall!

It’s October.  Last year I realized of all the months of the year October is the busiest.  I’m ready for you October.  All the food is coming in, canning season is in full swing and there are lots of birds that are ready for harvesting.  I’m working through my share of the crate of pears.  Looking for Autumn Olives when I can.  Scheduling butchering days with my friend.  Trying to get the farm cleaned up and organized for Winter.  Yes, there is a lot to tend to this month.

Today the focus was corn!  A local farm, Tuckaway in Lee, was offering pick your own corn for $3.00 a dozen!  25 cents an ear for fresh ORGANIC corn.  Brilliant!  I scooted over there with mom and Jessica and we all picked to our hearts content.  I came home with 6 dozen.  Most veggies are best right after picking.  They contain the most nutrition and flavor they are going to, so last night, mere hours after picking, I shucked with the help of Christopher and the girls, blanched and removed the kernals on all but 6.  Those will be for dinner tonight!  The rest have been put into food saver bags and are in the freezer!  I used a corn zipper to remove the kernals, and what a brilliant little tool that is.  It takes off the kernals, then you can turn it around and use it to remove the little hearts and milk left on the cob.  If you do that into a separate bowl you have harvested “cream corn”!  So I have 9 pints of that frozen, too.

On my way home from the corn fields I found a great Autumn Olive tree, that had a good amount of very tasty fruit!  Awesome because this year is a bad year for Autumn Olives.  My usual spot had some, but not many at all. It was disappointing.  It’s unclear if they dropped fruit due to the very dry summer, if the birds are stocking up for the predicted hard winter, or what is going on, but my reports from friends and acquaintances all over the seacoast is the same.  There are not many Autumn Olives to be had this year.  So finding that tree was a great treat.

The tree was clearly on someone’s property, so I drove to the house to ask if I could pick.  I believe Stacy was quite sure she was encountering crazy, but at least not the dangerous kind.  She gave permission immediately to this cheerful beggar on her doorstep sporting a long linen dress, hand knit sweater, bog boots, and a vintage hat.  She did ask what an Autumn Olive was, at which point at a rate of speech brought on by the coffee I just drank which was not decaf…did I forget to ask for decaf?  At any rate, I rapidly and enthusiastically started to explain what they were, the health benefits, what I did with them.  She wanted to join me to see what I was talking about.  And how I know she didn’t think I was dangerous, she hung out with me while I picked for about 15-20 minutes.  But the amused facial expression makes me think she did tell her husband about me when he got home.  She said I can pick from any of her bushes, which I will go back to see if any more have berries, since I picked from that one until dark.

We did have a great conversation, really.  She and her husband garden, so we talked about that, and where to find local food, and all sorts of fun things. Stacy will be receiving goodies, sometime in November.  October and I still have many rounds to go, but all in all it was a first good day of the month.

Oh, and how do I get all this done?  My husband is awesome, supportive, helpful, and encouraging.  This is what I found on my Facebook page today…

 

 

I had a business trip in Virginia, recently. It was a lot of fun. I took 2 great classes and then demonstrated the use of my tools to a room full of awesome folks.  I had a little down time while I was there, so one day I decided to explore the local antique stores.  It blew my mind!  There were so many things I would have loved to bring home, but alas a sedan with 3 adults, inventory for the demonstration, and all our luggage was not conducive for bringing much back with me.  But I did take pictures…The things that got away.

The thought did cross my mind…If I got this, I could fill it with stuff to bring home…though I’m sure the car doesn’t have a trailer hitch!

I don’t even have room in my house for all of that, but at one point I just shut off the shopping part of my brain and kicked into the sight seeing part of my brain, because…well, my shopping brain was having a minor melt down of all the things it wanted, couldn’t transport, or afford.  Once that part got shut down, it became quite an amazing adventure of enjoying the sights of all these very useful items that have stood the test of time, and have been part of so many lives and experiences over the years.  I love antiques, they just look and feel like nothing you can buy in stores today.  I want to thank Cindy for the awesome recommendations of places to go!

 

 

It’s fruit canning season for me.  I missed peaches this year, due to a busy schedule, but I still have plenty canned from last year, and if I want to can some jam I have a couple bags of frozen peaches, too.  Tomatoes were also canned last year to the point I had enough for 2 years, so no tomato canning happened this year either, except a batch of ketchup.

What I didn’t have enough of this year was applesauce and canned pears.  So this year they are the focus.  I do like the idea of canning enough for 2 years at a time.  This makes for a lighter load each year, because while you may be canning twice as much of one thing, it can all be done at once, so it doesn’t disrupt the rest of the schedule as much as tomatoes, then peaches, then pears, then apples…  I will can pears and apples this year, then tomatoes and peaches next year.  I hope to keep this sort of schedule going.  We’ll see what happens.  Last year I got such a great deal on peaches and tomatoes that it made sense to can 2 years at once, and this year I’ve found a great deal on pears.  I guess next year the peaches or tomatoes could have a hard year, making it hard to get them, so I’ll have to can just one year…no way to know.

This year I was able to get a crate of pears, 800 pounds, that were seconds from a local orchard.  Seconds was simply a size/appearance issue.  They are just as yummy, and fresh, and very few of them were deformed, most were because they were too large or too small to be firsts for the farm stand.  Fine with me.  I’m going to peel and cut them for canning.

I’m not processing all of them, I will be sharing with a couple of my preserving family and friends, but I will be processing 6 bushels, 300 pounds, if all goes as planned.

I’ve made up 40 quarts of applesauce so far, and will likely can another 40 or so.  I’m also collecting for cold room storage, and drying.  Apples are a very important part of our family diet.  Our girls love them.  Yesterday, while I was peeling and cutting apples, Ewoyn was eating a bowl of apple sauce and raisins for breakfast, while asking if she could have an apple for desert.

We have 3 bushels for cold room storage, and I’m glad that the apple season is so long, so I have time to collect a few more before the trees are bare…because we love our apples…

I have become accustomed to butchering animals.  Poultry were the easiest to get used to.  I think it’s in part because they die so easily, but also they are raised in large groups, so you don’t “get to know them”  individually as much as other animals, and they are adults, for the most part when you butcher them.

Rabbits are also a pretty simple and quick process.  The dispatch is a little more personal than the detached kill cone method we use with poultry, so they were a little more to get comfortable with, but I did, and pretty quickly.

This year has had some interesting changes for me.  The pigs were a bit more difficult.  I was out there with them when they died.  I wanted to be there because I wanted to see and understand the process, but I wanted them to be surround my familiar caregivers, too.  I wanted the months we put in, caring for them, to carry through a sense of peace when they passed.  I am sure having us there helped, but they were smart, and large, and capable of showing they weren’t okay with what was going down, when their field mates were being taken.

We opted to have a very skilled and wonderful man come out to the house, so they didn’t endure the stress of travel, or the stress of being in a strange environment.  He was fast and humane in how he dispatched, them, but they were harder for me.   I decided, after much contemplation,  the issue was that they went more dramatically, due to their size, and they were more social with us than the other animals.  When we were building Nellie’s barn, in what was their area to roam, they would come by, knock over boxes of screws, rub up against our legs, and scratch their backs on the walls that were up.  I was very glad to have someone else handle the butchering, and will likely not take that piece over myself , anytime soon.  I still didn’t feel “bad” that we butchered the pigs, I just felt more invested in their death, if that makes sense.

But the bull…I’m not looking forward to this.  I’m really not.  And this is the first time I’ve felt like this.  Declan is going to be butchered at 6 months old, which is about 1 1/2 months from now.  We opted to butcher him at that age because we didn’t want to over winter him, we didn’t want to castrate or dehorn him, and young beef will be plenty for our family.  We don’t want a freezer just for the bull, that will take a couple years to work through.  This really does seem like the best option.  He will be hay and milk finished.  Great.

If it’s great, what’s the problem?  I think I figured it out yesterday.  I think it’s because he’s got a mama.  Nellie is his mama.  They hang out together, she looks after him. All the other animals we butcher are independent from their parents for months before we butcher them.  Declan will be hanging out with his mom, be brought away, and not return.  She’s going to miss him.  This would happen whether we kept him, or not, because he has to wean sometime and she would miss him when he did. I know this.  But there is something about the bond that cows create with their young that is different than any other animal we have on the farm.

I will work through this, and we will be having the same wonderful man who processed the pigs come back to butcher Declan, and I know that it will be done well, and with great care, low stress, properly and with Declan’s caregivers right there to lend him a sense of peace.  It’s what needs to be done, and am thankful for what he will provide for us.

Nellie has been bred again.  We had an AI technician, who came over on Wednesday.  It went well.  She was in what the tech described as “good heat”, so we are hopeful that around July 4th we will have a new calf on the farm.  Maybe this will be a heifer so she can go on to be a lovely little family milker, like her mother.  There are some interesting things about raising kids on a farm.  The things they understand, and the ages they understand it.  We would not really consider speaking to our just turned 6 year old daughter about sex, but clearly she’s figuring out some aspect of it, which is apparent after this conversation…

Me: Nellie was bred today.
Christopher: Great, did it go well.
Me: Yes, went great.
Eowyn: Did you bring a bull over?
Me: No, a guy who breeds cows came over.
Eowyn: <confused facial expression> Was he a cow man?
Me: He was a man who knows how to breed cows.
Eowyn: Did he wear a cow outfit.
Me: No, he didn’t try to pretend he was a cow.
Eowyn: Then how did he do it?
Me: You can breed cows by having a boy cow, or you can take stuff from a boy cow and put it in the girl cow, and the guy knows how to do that, so that’s what he did.
Eowyn: Nellie didn’t mind that he wasn’t a cow?
Istra: < in all knowing voice> Nellie just kicked him.
Me: No Nellie didn’t kick him, and it all went well.
Eowyn: Oh, well I’m glad that it all went good. <Tone of voice indicating the idea of breeding a cow without a bull didn’t make a lot of sense.>

Eowyn has figured out some aspects of breeding, enough to know you need a member of the species in the opposite sex, and that they need to be together for it to work.  It was, of course, very difficult to keep a straight face through the whole conversation, but I did it, and Eowyn seemed satisfied with my answers, though still a little unsure of how we convinced Nellie to be bred without a bull in the mix.