Monday, December 31, 2012

Paperwork - ugh!

I am determined to get this pile of paperwork off my desk today.  Other than running to Plymouth for some supplies for the hog pen, I have a full day ahead of me with no "must do" projects other than this paperwork.

I'm digging in, starting . . . NOW!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Slow Sunday on the farm

Clay takes care of the chickens - except on Sunday.  That is his day off.  It's my day off, too, except I have to take care of the chickens.

So my day started at sunup - really late at this time of year.  I opened up the Moop, cleaned out the worst of the poop and threw hay over the top of the rest.  The hay insulates the floor in the winter, so we let it build up.

Clay always fills both of the waterers so that I don't have to carry water.  My bad shoulder, you know.  I got out all of their feeders and filled them.  We chatted a bit - the chickens always have a lot to say - and then I went in and started some cottage cheese with some milk that someone ordered and then didn't pick up.  No problem - I'll have a couple of pints of cottage cheese by tomorrow night.  :) 

We had a pancake breakfast at church.  My contribution was butter.  What else?  A little shopping - I needed a couple of things for the boeuf bourguignon - and then home. I stopped at the barn to touch base with Steve on what we would need for building materials.  I'll get that tomorrow.  The pigs will arrive on Wednesday, and he is finishing up their pen and shed.

The Bears won.  Go Bears!  Unfortunately, Green Bay didn't, so the Bears don't get a wild card spot in the playoffs.  Maybe next year.

It was a good day.  My cough is much better.  Yup, boiled milk and ground black pepper - that is the ticket.  Who knew?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

As I wrote a couple of days ago, my DVR player is kaput.  I dug out a movie to play on my bedroom TV so that I have something to go to sleep to.  Yes, I need some background noise to fall asleep.  Julie & Julia - that's what I have been watching.  Tonight I didn't fall asleep while watching it.  I watched every minute of it.  I love the movie.  I saw it in the theater twice, then bought the DVD so I could watch it whenever.  I love to cook, so aside from being a charming story, I love to watch the cooking.  My all time favorite movie is Babette's Feast, also about cooking.  I think I am obsessed with food. 

After seeing Julie & Julia for the first time, I came home and decided to write a blog, so that is why this blog exists.  At first I was determined to write something every day, no matter how trivial.  Obviously that has fallen by the wayside.  However, after watching the movie all the way through this evening, I am determined to get back on track.

So what happened today that might be of interest to you?  What happened here at the farm that paints a picture of my life?   

Let's see.  Today on the farm, I talked to Steve after milking, and he said Buttercup is getting better.  That is a very good thing.  We have been throwing away her milk, since she has a bad case of mastitis.  In an organic herd, there are no medicinal cures.  It requires twice a day milking, much massaging of her udder, and keeping her out of wet areas of pasture.  The milkers use Pain Relief Cream on her udder to reduce swelling, and they must make sure that all of the milk is stripped out of her four quarters twice a day.  That is about all we can do.  If it doesn't clear up, she will be culled.  That will make me sad.  She is a good old girl.  She had her fifth calf a few months ago and is pregnant again.  I hope we can get her on the road to health and celebrate the birth of her sixth calf next summer.

Now I am heading to bed with my copy of Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I shall read until I fall asleep with that great book on my lap, and tomorrow I shall feast on one of Julia Child's great recipes.  I have a freezer full of beef, and I am taking out an arm roast.  I think it will be turned into Boeuf Bourguinon.  It's been a while since I have enjoyed that classic dish.

Cough, cough, cough . . .

I have had a cough for about a month now, and it just seems to be getting worse.  I'm not really sick, just sick and tired of coughing.  The doctor even wanted a chest x-ray, but all is well, lungs are clear.  My temperature is only 97.1, pulse is a little high for me, but still, only 75, blood pressure is surprisingly low, only 125/80.

Anyway, I won't have it much longer, because at market today, everyone had a story about what to do to cure a cough.  Here are a few of my favorites.
  1. This one is ayurvedic.  Put a cup of organic whole milk and a fourth cup of water in a saucepan.  Add 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground organic pepper into it.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and keep on the heat until it is reduced to one cup total.  Sip a little three times a day.
  2. This is cough syrup.  Into a saucepan, put a pint of water, a few tablespoons of honey, horehound drops (a whole bag of them), peppermint drops (a whole bag of them).  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the candies are all melted.  Then add a half cup of whiskey.  Drink a small cup of it while it is still very hot.  When you are ready for your next dose, be sure to heat it until it is steaming hot.
  3. Make a poultice of sliced onions.  Put them in a small cloth bag, then put the bag into a dry skillet and heat, being careful not to scorch the bag.  Put a towel on your chest, then the poultice, then another towel and keep on chest until cooled off.  In the meantime, start a second poultice so it is hot when the first one has cooled down.  Do this continuously for several hours.
  4. Fill a large bowl with chopped fresh onions.  Cover it completely with honey.  Let sit for 24 hours.  The honey will draw the juice out of the onions.  Take a spoon of the juice several times a day (don't eat the onions).  Repeat as needed.
  5. Make very hot and very strong peppermint tea.  Sip as needed.
Well, surely ONE of these things will work!  I'm going to start with the milk one, just because I have everything I need handy.  Kind of hard to believe that dairy will make congestion clear up, but the woman who told me about it swears by it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What else can go wrong?

I have had a cough for nearly a month now.  Doc finally did a chest x-ray, but my lungs are clear.  He said there is no sign of infection, either bacterial or viral.  So I am taking OTC meds, Musinex to loosen things up and Benadryl to dry things up.  I'm just plain tired from coughing and I wish it would go away!

My water heater went out the day before Christmas.  Fortunately, I have two, and the one for my bathroom was still working.  And my dishwasher heats the water, so I could use it.  I guess that could have been worse.  The repairman put a new thermostat in it the day after Christmas, and it is working - at least for now.

I am an insomniac.  In the night, I turn on my DVR and watch recorded episodes of The Good Wife or The Daily Show and set my timer for 30 minutes.  I fall right back asleep.  Last night my DVR died, for good.  New one is on the way, but in the meantime, whatever will I do?  I woke up about 2:30 a.m. and haven't been back to sleep since. 

My modem is working intermittently.  The repairman has been here at least six times in the last six months.   I have called technical help at CenturyLink, and they have checked it from there, insisting it is fine.  Sometimes my speed is as low as 0.13, but I am paying for 8!!!  Well, every time I call and complain, they give me a $30 credit on my bill, but I would rather have a modem that works.  Now it has taken to bumping me off the internet - probably at least once every minute or two.  Try placing an order with Amazon under these circumstances!!  The repairman is on his way with a new modem.  The technician at the phone company insisted (AGAIN) it wasn't the modem, but the repairman said he is going to install it and see what happens.

What else can go wrong?  Am I tempting fate to even ask that question?  We will see.

Lettuce is ready

Finally, I am doing the first cutting of lettuce today and taking to the restaurant in LaPorte.  There is plenty of mizuna, and I'm clipping a bit of the specialty lettuces.  The mizuna grows the fastest, and it is what the restaurant specifically requested, so I'm thinking that most of our flats will be full of it as the winter season progresses.

Here are pictures of the lettuces before cutting.

Mizuna - this one will be the real cash crop!

Asian Red

Marveille de quatre saison

These will be next cutting

More for next cutting

Aren't they pretty?
New babies - always more trays need to be started

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chickens for Thanksgiving

No, it is not what you think.  I didn't butcher any of my beloved hens for Thanksgiving.  On the contrary.  Today my chickens had their Thanksgiving dinner - or rather, I should say, the remainder of mine.

I am on a low carb diet.  I was cheating again and again - just one more little slice of pie, a bit of dressing with my turkey, how about some gravy over all?  This morning, after having a bit of pie for breakfast, I got out a stock pot and emptied the fridge of all leftovers.  If it was high carbohydrate, it went into the stock pot.  All that was left when I was done was some sauerkraut with bacon and the turkey.

As soon as the sun was up, I went out to let the chickens out of the Moop.  I sprinkled the ground with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, pumpkin pie, Kool Whip (yes, my son insists on Kool Whip every Thanksgiving), rolls, scalloped corn and - be still, my heart - oatmeal braided bread with honey and walnuts. 

Those chickens went nuts!!  They are ALWAYS talkative.  They chatter while they eat, while they walk, even while they are in their nests laying eggs.  This morning, there was silence.  They just ate.  When I went out a couple of hours later for my first egg pickup, there was nary a drop of Thanksgiving leftovers on the ground.  All of that eating should make for some wonderful eggs, hey?

They were talking again this afternoon.  They told me they are looking forward to the next Thanksgiving meal.  As I said, it is Chickens for Thanksgiving.  ;-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Raising heirloom lettuce this winter

The new restaurant in LaPorte that I have been supplying with garden produce has been a good thing for me here at the farm.   After I took care of my CSA customers, they took just about everything I produced. 

Steve, who puts in a little time around here every now and then, said he could rig the greenhouse so that I could raise lettuce all winter without having to use the furnace.  Okay, I thought I would give it a try. 
Trusting that this was going to work out and could perhaps provide enough income that I could move to town and keep the farm too, I approached a restaurant in LaPorte to sell them winter heirloom lettuce.  He put in an order!  The restaurant

I took the greenhouse catalog from last year and told him to pick what he wanted us to grow next season.  He said he felt like a kid in a candy store and gave us a list of about 30 items that he would like.  But right now, I have to get going with the lettuce.  I started about 3,000 seeds in seedling trays.  Today the first of the germinated lettuces were big enough to pot up into a big growing tray. 

Here are some pictures of what is happening in the greenhouse.

Barrels of water to control heat

More barrels

Planting first tray of cutting lettuce

Finished tray of cutting lettuce in water bath

Gravel around foundation to discourage mice

Organic potting soil - 58 bags!

Seedling trays on heating mats


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My piano

Recently a friend, Cole Hallman, asked if he could come out with a mutual friend, Cecil Eastman, and record Cecil playing my grand piano.  They came, and they did.  Cecil did my old piano proud.   Here is a link to the result of their work.  Cecil playing Moonlight Sonata

Today Cole asked me for more information about the piano, which so far as I know was built in 1913.  I can't tell him a whole lot about its history until it came into my life about 50 years ago.  In recounting to him what I knew of the piano, I realized it was a rather nice story to go with Cecil's beautiful rendition of Moonlight Sonata. Here is the story of me and my Behning.

I bought the piano in about 1963, from an older farm couple who lived near us.   At that time, I resided on a farm near McNabb, Illinois.  I taught piano lessons.  Most of my students took lessons on an old Ivers & Pond upright that was my mother-in-law's.  When they "graduated" to more difficult music, they were allowed to play the Behning grand.

The man who tuned it for me was quite old.  He had played in theatres when the movies were silent, and he played appropriate music while the film rolled.  When he was done tuning, he always entertained me with tunes from the past for about an hour.  His name was Mr. Schaefer, and he lived in Streator, Illinois.

In or around 1980, I was watching a show about Liberace, and it was mentioned that he had learned to play on a Behning.  I wrote to him, asking if he would be interested in buying my piano.  Somewhere in my files is the letter I received from his brother George stating that they were not interested in buying it, but I could get a tax write-off by giving it to their piano museum.  So that's how they do it!  I guess if we had been in a high enough tax bracket, our tax savings would have allowed me to buy a new piano, but I passed.  I'm very glad I did.

The piano has moved with me 11 times.  It stayed in storage a couple of times.  But for the most part, it has been with me as a faithful companion since I bought it.  We had to tear out several stairs to get it into one upstairs apartment, since there was a closet that jutted into the stairwell.  The movers got halfway up the 20 steps and had to take it back down.  A carpenter removed the stairs and risers from about four steps, and the movers dipped the piano into the hole that was left, walking on the small boards that had held the risers and steps.  When all was done, one of the movers said to me, "When you move again, don't call us!"  Three years later, when I moved yet again, he burst into the apartment and said, while shaking a finger at me, "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL US!"  We all had a good laugh about it.  This time, I had the carpenter on hand, so it went a bit slicker.

I thought it was over 100 years old many years ago, but one piano tuner pointed out to me that it was built (if I remember correctly) in 1913.  I'm sure he found that from some stamp or serial number somewhere in the piano, but I would have to search to find it.   If he was right, it will be 100 years old next year. 

The Behning company was in business until the latter half of the 20th century, so it might still be possible to track down more information on this particular piano.  Sounds like a good project for a long winter day.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

A scary night

Clay, who works here taking care of the chickens and helping in the garden, is one of a couple dozen kids in the neighborhood who put on a Halloween walk through the woods.  They call it "The Walk of Nightmares."  He gets so excited about this event, and needs quite a few evenings off when they start the planning.  I say "kids," but they are in their late teens and some are well into their 20's.  Finally, after much urging by Clay, last year I attended the event. 

I spent the whole walk alternating screams with laughter.  It was great.  It didn't take much convincing to get me to go again this year.  Last year, I had to wait about 15 minutes, as they take people through in groups of six to eight.  This year, when I got there and signed up, I was told it would be 40 minutes!  It is obviously getting a good reputation.  I talked to people who were milling around the big bonfire, and many of them had never been there before.  One guy I talked to came Friday night, and he was back for another round on Saturday night.  His daughter, a cute little blonde who appeared to be nine or ten, said, "I LOVE to get scared!" 

I found out there is an advantage of doing things alone.  When I asked the gatekeeper how long it would be until my name came up, she asked what group I was with.  I said none, was there alone.  She said, "Hang out here.  I'll get you with the next group."  So my 40 minute wait was only about 20 minutes.  Okay!

Clay assured me there was something new this year.  Of course, I was screaming and laughing well before I got to the last leg of the journey.  The ghosts and ghouls seemed to know who was the most scared, and of course they would zero in on us.  In some areas, as you ran away from one hideous creature, another came at you from the other direction.  There was no place to hide!

And then, as we went around the last curve, a guy dressed all in black fired up a chain saw and was in pursuit!  That got to everyone, including the guy beside me!!  We all ran out of the woods, with the sound of the chain saw getting closer and closer.  I can only hope there was no chain on the saw, but I wasn't sticking around to check it out!

I had a wonderful time.  Just like the little girl who was there for her second time in as many nights, sometimes I LOVE to get scared!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Think about it . . .

What's on my mind?  I am worried about the election.  The economy isn't doing too badly.  President Obama has gotten us out of one war and is getting us out of another.  Housing starts are up.  The stock market has nearly doubled in the past four years.  But in spite of all that, half the population wants a change to the unknown.  We know where President Obama stands.  Romney won't say how he will make the budget numbers work.  He has waffled all over the map on foreign relations and abortion (but Ryan hasn't!).  I am particularly appalled by what is happening to a woman's right to choose. 

The Republicans say we need less government - that is, on Wall Street, with governing agencies such as the EPA, and let's not worry about climate change - it isn't real.  No economist of any repute can make Romney's budget numbers work, but it sure SOUNDS good.  Far too many people seem to be clinging to a dream that they are going to have more money if Romney is in the White House.  And what are they ignoring?

So much for less government when it comes to our bedrooms.  The government should not be making the decision for women regarding their own bodies.  Keep in mind that 15 people running for the senate believe that a woman should be forced to carry a fetus that is the result of rape.  15!!!!!!  Paul Ryan, Mr. Romney's running mate, joins that group as well.  And in 31 states, the rapist has the right to participate in that child's upbringing.  It could happen and in fact it has happened.  Roe v. Wade could be overturned. The personhood amendment to the constitution could become a reality.  We would have women being forced to have babies who don't want them.  On the other hand, it would be the end of in vitro fertilization because the unused zygotes would be destroyed - or as the far right would have you believe, they would be murdered. So women who want children would not be able to have them, and those who don't would become incubators for an unwanted child, because our politicians believe they know what is best.

Like I said, I am upset.  I'm okay with the government running the EPA.  I'm not okay with them running our bodies.  We have minds of our own.  Think about these things when you go to the voting booth.  Your and your daughter's futures are at stake. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I did it!

One of my printers prints on both sides of the paper - I mean, REALLY prints on both sides.  I can start a run of 25 or 30 of my trifolds for market or the dairy herd association and go away.  It prints one side, then runs the paper back through to do the other.  I just love it!

I got an error message and it was dead in the water.   I thought, "I'll just buy another."  It wasn't very expensive, as I remember, bought it on sale at Staples.  Well, it was nearly $200!  So I looked up the error code I was getting and found it was the print head.  After some searching, I found a genuine Canon print head for only $40.  That is a lot less than $200.

When the print head arrived, I just let it sit there, since a couple of friends were coming over to do a video  (my antique piano has great tone) and one of them is good with computers.  I figured he would be willing to help me with it.  Things didn't go as planned with the recording, and I got impatient.  Gotta love Google.  I found some instructions, but they just didn't make sense to me.  I would look up a phrase that I didn't understand, and dig a little deeper.  Finally I started looking up images.  I am much better at looking at how things are to be done, rather than reading a bunch of words.

VOILA!  Finally found a picture of a printer that looked exactly like mine, with close-up of print head, and once I was there, it took about two minutes to change out the head.

Such a sense of accomplishment.  Oh, and it is printing correctly.  :)  :)  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012


It reached 25.1ยบ last night.  All of my green beans are mush.  My restaurant account was counting on some.  I picked a small box of mushy pole beans to cook for myself for lunch.  With butter, salt and pepper, they will be fine.  But they are not restaurant quality.

Clay is out there picking armloads of greens.  I'm soaking heirloom lettuces in the sink and will bag in cello bags.  Brad, the restaurant manager, will take as many bags as I can bring him.  I have a few carrots and beets for him as well, but it is slim pickin's this week.  :(

I'll have some pictures later today of these end of season harvests.  Got several bushels of hot and sweet peppers the other night, and they are beautiful!  Definitely picture-worthy.

Well, back to the kitchen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The new house

I went through the new house on the river today, and I am a bit depressed.  It needs SOOOOOOOOOOOO much work!!  There isn't a surface that doesn't need dealing with, and the plumbing and electrical updates are going to be quite pricey.

I know I can get through this, but it is going to be a lot of work.  I am dreaming of coming home from market, sitting on the deck, looking at the river with a martini in my hand, listening to the birds sing, maybe reading a bit, taking a nap.

That day will come . . .

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Baby is gone

Baby, the little chick that hatched out here last month, is gone. I did not find her body. She disappeared yesterday, and I hoped I would find her roosting in the woods this morning, but there is no sign of her.  I suppose a hawk got her.

I am sad.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cow play

Diana, one of our shareholder/milkers, took a couple of pictures tonight.  The cows always get a little frisky when the weather begins to cool down, and two of the girls were having fun today "fighting," then licking one another.

Diana writes:  "I took a few pictures of Delaney and Lucky with my cell phone tonight while I was milking. . . . I thought you might enjoy them.  While waiting for the other cows to catch up, Lucky went up to Delaney, and Delaney started licking Lucky's face.  Lucky tolerated this for a while, then wanted to butt heads and chased Delaney around.  They alternated grooming with "fighting" several times.  They were pretty funny to watch..."

Delaney and Lucky

Delaney and Lucky

The River House

Okay, I promised some pics.  I finally got them uploaded to my desktop from my cell phone.  There has to be an easier way than how I do it.  I can probably just beam them over.  But anyway, it is done.  You will see why I can leave the farm.  This little jewel has it all - location, location, location.

Tell me what you think.  :)

Street view - I want to add an atrium to this side.
It's in sore need of some landscaping, but I will enjoy doing that.  The foundation plantings can be salvaged.  I will be bringing armloads of blooming mums to put out here just as soon as we close. Front steps need some work, too.  Not much curb appeal, which is why this gem was probably sitting on the market for so long.

Nice hardwood floors throughout the house
I even like the color of the walls.  I'll repaint, but probably keep the green in the main living area.  I am hoping I can get my hide-a-bed into one of the small bedrooms upstairs, will make it into a library and a place for guests to sleep.

The view to the river - who could ask for anything more?

Back of house, going to river
The walkout has plenty of room for my soap and lotion operation, plus a laundry room.  My friend Stan and I are going to do a layout, then I can see how much of my furniture will fit, how much has to go.  I have already sold some stuff, and my big huge glass dining room table has to go.  That's okay.  I have my mom's gate-leg table sitting in my family room now, and I can hardly wait to set that up in the dining room.  Will need to find some chairs, though.  That will be fun.  Maybe attend some estate sales?  I'll have a little more time once the farm duties are gone.

The shoreline
Needs some weeding, but this is a sand beach, and the river bottom is quite nice here, not at all mucky.  Once the farm is sold, I will be putting in a dock and getting a small pontoon boat.  Oh, joy!!  I used to live on a lake, and I am really looking forward to living here.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why I have been silent lately . . .

My farm is for sale.  It has been very difficult for me.  I've looked at other places, looked at lake homes in Michigan, driven by homes in nice neighborhoods in South Bend and Mishawaka, found a river home in Mishawaka that I liked, but just couldn't wrap my mind around it.  I walk around here, have been nearly in tears thinking, "I don't want to leave this."  And yet my body is telling me I have to.  I have fallen three times on my new knee, and it is swollen and painful.  I have a torn rotator cuff that needs to be repaired, but there is no way I can do that with the garden to take care of.  The shoulder causes me a great deal of pain, but the recovery from surgery is difficult, and it just won't work so long as I am here dealing with escaping cows, chickens and rows of potatoes to dig.

I have been moaning and groaning to my friends that I missed a great deal - I should have just cashed in my IRA to buy the little house on the river.  My friend Phyllis, who I suspicion was getting tired of me moaning, finally insisted that something better would come along.  I kid you not, within two weeks of her telling me that, I found another house on the river, one I like better, a yard that is nearly a half acre, with a gentle sloping lawn all the way to the sand beach at the river's edge. 

We are set to close on October 12.  It will be a bit of a stretch for me financially until this place sells, but I will work around it.  Also, the river house needs some work, and I am busy with contractors and work plans.  Hence, my already busy days are now packed with even more tasks. 

Now, it is not that I am looking forward to leaving here, but that I am looking forward to my new home!  I like the layout of the house.  I'm already dreaming of putting an atrium on the south side as soon as the farm sells, and adding a dock on the river, with of course a pontoon boat!

So right now, garden is in full swing, the pullets have started laying, I'm cranking up inventory in the soap room for the holidays, AND I am making drawings and work lists and scheduling contractors to give me quotes.  When I find a minute, I will keep you posted of my progress.  Pictures will be coming soon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Update on Baby

Little Baby is not so little anymore!  She gets along well in the chicken run.  She and her mom Goldie have a tendency to wander off into the weeds at the back of the pen, where they forage for most of their food.

Here are the latest pics.  I was lucky enough to catch them at bedtime.  Enjoy!



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Little chick

Yesterday when I got home from market I couldn't find Goldie and her chick.  Of course, I worried, but I finally came in the house.  Goldie has taken to going out of the pen with her in the late afternoon.  I open the gate at that time so that they can forage outside of the pen for a few hours before they go to roost.  Also, if there are any chickens out and about, Campines being the usual escapees, an open gate means they can get back in the pen before Clay gets there to close up the Moop for the night.

Sunday is Clay's day off.  I went out at the crack of dawn to open up the Moop, hoping that Goldie and Baby would be inside.  They were - in a nest!  These nests are at least four feet off the floor.  I guess the box is out - I'll take it to the burn pile and move the baby chick waterer and feeder back to the storage area.  This chick has let me know from Day One that she is a BIG girl!  Okay, maybe it's a boy, but I am hoping it is a girl.

I am more convinced day by day that this is a full blooded Campine.  The egg was white, so Mama was a Campine.  Just a matter of whether it was Ricky Ricardo, Tiny or Buster who did the deed.  Any chick with wings no more than an inch and a half long who can fly out of a box with 18" sides when it is only a couple of days old has to be a Campine!  And she was two weeks old on Friday, and already able to fly up into the nests - a top nest no less.  Yup, has to be a Campine!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Squash run amok

On Monday, I went back to Illinois to have lunch with my cousin Bess.  We were born six days apart (she's older!!!) and we have begun setting aside some time to get together, farm, grandchildren and all else that takes up our time forgotten for a day.

We met at the Igloo, an institution that is dear to many generations of people from the LaSalle-Peru area of north central Illinois.  Of course, we had porks.  I didn't have the buns - low carb, you know.  I did scarf down the crispy breading however.

I also stopped to see my 95 year old Auntie Vey (I'm named after her), and another cousin, her daughter Alice stopped by.  So we got to talking and looking at pictures, and I got home pretty late, sun was almost down.  I had to get green beans picked.  They don't like to be picked with morning dew on the plants - they are very prone to getting rust.  So I picked until I couldn't see anymore and called it a day.

The next morning, I had to prepare six market baskets for my CSA.  I dashed through the garden and was pretty sure I got all of the summer squash that were ready.  There were plenty of cukes, too.  By the time I added a bunch of kale to every basket, I had plenty and so I left the garden.

When I got home last night, I was tired and figured I would just finish the picking this morning.  Just got back from the garden.  The squash fairy obviously visited last night.  I could swear I got all of the squash yesterday morning, but what do you think?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chick pics

I have named the new chick Baby.  Baby and Goldie, her/his mom, are inseparable.  I know there is danger out there, letting Baby run around in the midst of the big chickens.  They can be mean.  But I trust Goldie to watch out for her baby.  I know that they are both happy, doing their chicken thing.  Goldie has gone broody repeatedly, and it is obvious that she is a Super Mom.  I'm glad I let her set, even though there is only one little chick to show for it.  :)

Here are some pics, from the birth of the two chicks (the little one didn't make it) to several of Goldie scratching in the dirt to find food for her and her babe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The new chick

The chick that was injured at birth didn't make it.  The remaining chick is healthy.  It too fell out (or jumped out) of the nest at birth, but was running around on the floor. I immediately put chick and mom in a box with VERY deep sides. 

Today when I got home, mother and chick were running around the chicken yard!  They had run out of water, so my guess is they went looking for more.  I have no idea how that chick could have gotten out of the box - unless, of course, it is a Campine.  Only a Campine, barely a week old with wings that are not even 2" long could pull off getting out of a box that is at least 15" deep!  Yup, I am quite convinced I have a full-blooded Campine, which makes me very happy.  I hope it is a pullet, but I'll take another rooster.  Buster and Tiny could use some company.

I will get pictures soon.  Just so busy with the garden right now!  It is in full swing.  Picking took a good two hours this afternoon, and the bins are overflowing with cukes, zukes, peppers (both sweet and hot), melons and tomatoes.  The people in my CSA are going to be very happy indeed with their boxes of produce tomorrow!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This winter . . .

After a brutally hot summer that is still going on, I am listening to the sound of the deer hunters unloading wood for the winter.  The deal is, they keep me in firewood in exchange for exclusive hunting rights here on the farm.  We are both happy with the arrangement.

It is hard to heat a house with wood.  I come home on a cold day and no matter how carefully I banked the fires before I left, the house is chilly.  There is no speedy heat recovery with wood stoves.  I have two, a big cast iron one in the lower level family room and a small soapstone stove in my bedroom on the main floor.  They keep the house toasty warm, but as I said, it is work.  I keep a wood box by the stove in the bedroom.  The wood is stacked outside near the door into the family room.  I carry armloads of wood from there to the bedroom, up sixteen steps, and last winter it was with a bum knee.  The knee has been fixed, but now I have found out the shoulder pain is serious.  I have a torn rotator cuff.  How will I manage carrying wood upstairs?  During my recovery from the surgery, it will be out of the question.

Sometimes I tell myself that it is silly to heat with wood.  I have a very efficient heat pump.  But the heat is just not the same.  I have talked to other people who heat with wood, and they will tell you the same thing.  They want their wood stoves burning, they want to feel the special heat that wood fires bring to a house on a cold and blustery day.

All of this is leading up to something I want to share with you -- my farm is for sale.  Farm land is selling at a premium right now, and while the housing market is heating up a bit, houses are still depressed.  So it is the perfect time to sell the farm and move back into town.  Financially it makes a lot of sense.  And as you can see from this post, my body is wearing out.  Now if I could live out here and become uninvolved in the physical activity of farming, maybe I could stay.  But this morning, there was a cow out, wandering down the lane as I left for market.  I guess I could have just keep moving - after all, Androo was here and I could have called him to take care of it.  But instead, I got past Sweetie Pie and turned the car so that she wouldn't continue down the drive, then called Androo who came from the other direction in the golf cart, and between the two of us we got her back in.  As I said, I have a hard time staying uninvolved!

I have no idea how fast the farm will sell.  I have such mixed feelings about moving from here that I really don't care.  I will let the market tell me whether I go or stay this fall.  However, as I listen to the sound of the wood getting piled up, I am thinking that I could stand a vacation from loading fireboxes several times a day.  Whatever happens, it will be okay.  I will adapt. 

If the place sells quickly, I will have more time to write -- until my memory runs out of farm stories.