Monday, January 28, 2013

Lettuce bowls

Everybody loves lettuce bowls.  They contain a nice variety of cut-and-come-again lettuces, between 12 and 15 live plants.  Snip a salad from a third to a half of the bowl about once a week - couldn't be fresher - and then let it regrow for future salads.  When the weather warms in the spring, set the live plants outside in your garden and enjoy for another four or five months! 

Choosing the lettuce

Planting in the bowl

Finished product


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Visitors today

Kirsten and her son Caelen are coming out for a visit this afternoon.  Caelen is a little tyke, I think about two years old, and he loves it out here on the farm.  So does his mom.  She says she wishes she could buy the farm.  I can see it in her eyes, in her attitude when she is out here.  She asks good questions.  She would love it here. 

Caelen wants to meet the pigs.  They were holed up in their house this morning, under the heat lamp.  If they are still too wussy to come outside, then we will just have to go inside to meet them. I am looking forward to seeing Caelen's reactions to the pigs.  They are getting big, but are still pretty cute.

Steve and I have many orders for our cut-and-come-again lettuce bowls, so after the pig meeting, we will go to the greenhouse and work on the lettuce bowls. 

I'll update this with some pictures later today.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Have you moved in yet?

This is the question I hear repeatedly from my friends.  Have I moved in yet?  Does this picture answer your question?

First destruction, then construction!  This is my future kitchen, if you can believe.

Is anybody out there?

Well, I'm keeping my promise to myself to blog every day (missed a few, but not many).  Of course, that means I am boring, right?  Haven't heard much from my followers lately.

I will try to be either very brief or very witty - perhaps even both on some days.

My power was out for three and half hours this morning.  That's about all I have to report.  Not witty, but brief.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Another cold day, but nothing like Tuesday and Wednesday.  It's nearly 10º.  Wow, a heat wave.

I'm baking a ham.  One of the shareholders wanted some meat, so I went rooting through my freezer for meat for her and found a lovely, huge ham.  It will make many meals for me, including sliced ham with my breakfast eggs.  And speaking of eggs, the chickens are pretty much on strike.  I couldn't make all of my egg deliveries to Purple Porch last night.  They are not laying in this cold weather.  I usually get between 18 and 24 eggs a day.  Got nine on Tuesday and four yesterday.  Slackers!  They had better get back to work.  I cleaned out the fridge and gave them a nice big bowl of stuff, including some cottage cheese that was over the hill.  I am expecting more eggs today and tomorrow.

The cat and the bird - Holly Berry is a little bit obsessed with Bob.  Here is a cute pic of her sitting there longing for some poultry.  Not gonna happen!  Bob doesn't seem the least bit frazzled by her continuous attention.

You are both so cute!

Bob loves his friend in the mirror.

I looked out my window to the grove of trees by the garage and thought, how pretty, with the morning sun shining on the snow.  Thought I would share this with you.

Morning sun on snow

I see it is time to fill the bird feeders again.  The birds all get hungry when the snow comes.  I'm off to fill them now, then market. Just another typical day on the farm.

Stay warm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dogs are cold, too!

What a day!  The chickens are on strike, only got six eggs today, so someone isn't going to get their dozen eggs at Purple Porch tomorrow night.

The dogs go outside just long enough to do their duty, and they are begging to get back in. 

I watched Food Network for awhile this afternoon, under the lovely blanket that Marie gave me for Yule.  Ayn Chee hopped up on to snuggle with me.  When I got up from my little rest, she stayed under the blanket.

Hey, Marie, Ayn Chee loves your blanket too!
 When I went to the bedroom to check the stove - I have been throwing a lot of logs on the fires today - there was Tashi, on her back, stretched out on the bed enjoying the fire.

You are not very ladylike, Tashi!

Taking a day off from market

It is cold here today, and windy.  It is impossible to keep the house at a decent temperature with just the wood stoves, and I need to keep it a little warmer than I usually do now that there is a bird living here.  Bob will not do well if it falls to 60º in here, a temperature that the other pets and I tolerate quite well.  Furnace is running, and both wood stoves are going full throttle.  I am not used to having to pay the power company for heat.  The next bill will not be pleasant!

It reached a low of about -2º at 8:00 this morning.  High is predicted to be in single digits.  But it will be a little warmer tomorrow, and if the long range forecast is anything close to correct, we should see 50º or higher by the end of the month.  We need some of this cold weather to kill bug eggs in the soil though.  Mild winters mean a plethora of tics the following summer.

I'm going to work some more on my income tax.  I keep finding things that need to be dealt with.  For some reason, Clay's first three months of the year didn't get put in the right file.  It's a good thing I'm a pack rat and kept all of his time cards!

Well, back to work.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bad news, GOOD news!

I wrote yesterday about my water system shutting down.  I operated without water all night, none for the animals either.  Steve said he would be here at first light, was prepared to change out the well pump motor if necessary.

He got here and told me the bad news.  A new motor would be $419, and it is not kept in stock at any of the big box stores that are open today, but is a special order that would take several days.  But, he said, first let's test the pump from inside the house to see if it works.

We went downstairs and he pulled a cover off a relay switch that controls the pump.  He asked me for a pencil so that he could push a plate against a metal piece that would complete a circuit.  Oh, yes!  The pump came on!  So he said my problem was the switch, not the pump.  He said the switch is less than $30, and he thought he had one at home.  What a relief!

I asked, "How is it that you know so much about everything?"  He answered, "That is because so much stuff has broken down over my lifetime and I have had to learn to fix it." 

He played around with the relay switch, and I ran some water to see if it would come on by itself as the pressure dropped.  Voila!  It did.  So I am back in business, and if I lose pressure, I know how to take this cover off and what to push on until I have water again. 

So now, when I am impressing someone with well pump problem that I am able to diagnose and perhaps even fix, she will be saying to me, "How is it that you know so much about everything?"  And I can answer, "That is because so much stuff has broken down over my lifetime and I have had to learn to fix it." 

I am having company today - we are going to take a brisk hike around here and then come in for beef soup and homemade bread.  I'm looking forward to it, and I'm so glad that I didn't have to call it off due to a lack of water.  Thanks, Steve!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's always something.

I have one well and one well pump here.  It gets quite a workout, since I use a lot of water here in the house, plus we are watering cows and calves and pigs and chickens.  In addition, we use a lot of water to clean up the milking equipment.

I worry about the well pump.  The pressure tank is in a closet in the bedroom directly below my bedroom, and I hear it every time it runs.  Over the past year, I have suspicioned that it is running out of oomph.

Tonight when I washed my hands after taking care of the chickens, there was very little pressure.  An hour later, I wanted a glass of water to take my nighttime vitamins.  No water at all, not even a drop.  I checked the breaker and it was fine.  I flipped it off and on a couple of times, always the hopeless optimist.  No dice.  No water.  No motor.

Steve said the cows and pigs have plenty of water, and I took care of the chickens tonight, so I know they have plenty.  Steve will be here around 6:00 am.  Thank goodness for his help.  I would have absolutely no idea how to go about this.  I would have had to hire someone, at premium rates.  I don't believe anything has EVER failed around here during normal business hours. 

Fortunately, I keep a couple of gallon jugs of distilled water here for the soap room and for making coffee, and I keep a Britta pitcher of water by the dogs' water bowl, so we are all set for the night.  I'm going to bed. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Baking brownies

I love to bake.  Even though I cannot eat much baked stuff, I enjoy baking for my booths at the Farmers Market and Purple Porch.

This morning I am making my famous organic brownies.  This brownie recipe is from a cookbook I received as a wedding gift in 1960.  I have never found a better brownie recipe.   Today I'm making a batch with black walnuts from Carol Lemler's stand, across the aisle from me at the Farmers Market.  Their flavor is intense and permeates every bite of the brownie.  Ask me how I, a low carber, know; well, I had to taste test the first batch, didn't I?

I also do a brownie with organic candied orange peel.  I buy the candied orange peel from Babs Fair of the Fair Bakery at Purple Porch.  She makes an organic version just for me.  Thanks, Babs!

Well, back to the kitchen.  It is smelling mighty good out there.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My new friend

I have a parakeet.  I named him Bob, since parakeets do well saying the letters "P" and "B" - which explains why about 50% of all parakeets are named Pretty Boy!

He showed a lot of personality in a cage full of parakeets, so I brought him home.  He showed absolutely no personality when I got him here.  He just sat and pouted.  He didn't make a sound, and he didn't eat.  Every time I walked in the room, I feared I would find him dead on the floor of the cage. 

One afternoon, I reached in the cage, foolishly thinking that he might respond to some human touch.  He bit me, escaped from the cage, and lost several tale feathers in the ensuing chase!  Finally on Day 4, he started to chirp, and he spent most of the day with his head in the food dish, making up for three days of self-induced starvation.  What a pill!

He goes long hours even now without making a sound, and then I worry about him.  My last parakeet pretty much continuously let me know he was there.  It's kind of unusual, but maybe he is still adjusting.

One of the reasons I chose Bob was because when I watched him in the pet store, he was making those little throaty sounds that usually lead to some discernible words, but he hasn't done it since coming home.  I am hopeful that with time and patience, he will learn a few words.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Busy day - Purple Porch tonight

Today I am getting ready for Purple Porch, an on line CSA for which I am a producer.  Our customers can go on line and shop, can sort on a producer's name or a type of food, then place their orders.  We receive their orders via the internet and then bring them to our distribution point on Wednesday evenings.

We are expanding and have bought a building.  Once the building is up and running, our hours will increase, and there will be a lunch room, utilizing products from us producers.  I am pretty excited about it.

In the meantime, I just have to worry about getting orders together for our Wednesday evening distribution.  This week, I had orders for organic brownies, fresh organic herbs, skin lotion, organic soy-free eggs, French bread and fermented, dried organic almonds.  If you know anything about the Weston A Price Foundation, then you know that the Foundation encourages eating foods that will improve your health.  Almonds have certain components that make them hard to digest, and in fact prevent us from absorbing vitamins, minerals and enzymes from other foods as well.  However, by soaking the almonds in salt water for a few hours and then drying them at very low heat (115º) for a day and a half or so, the almonds go from sort of healthy to a super food.

I started offering small bags of them, the sort of thing that moms could throw in their kids' lunchboxes, for just a dollar.  If I get an order for 10 of something, that is a BIG order!  This week I got orders for 21 bags of these little goodies.  Okay, they are only $1 each, but I am glad that aware parents are putting bags of these fermented and dried almonds in their kids' hands instead of potato chips or cheese curls.

To your health - and eating right is a good way to get there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I am a morning person!

I just wilt about 2 in the afternoon.  I have decided that I have earned the right to work half days.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A blog a day?

Yesterday was busy from start to finish.  I have been trying to take it a little easier, but I didn't do too well yesterday.  And then I overeat - especially carbs, which are not good for me.

Carbohydrates most definitely affect my mood, increasing either agitation or depression.  But at least I am prepared for it.  Today, it will be a protein and fat day, no treats, not even any low carb treats.  By this afternoon, things should be better.

Let food be your first line of medicine.  I am living proof that it works.

Monday, January 7, 2013

To market, to market to buy a fat pig . . .

Today the pigs arrived!  We have been getting organic feed to Cindy, so we paid a lower price for them since she didn't have to feed them.   She castrated the males and delivered all twelve of them to us for free, so we are happy.  There are two females that will be good for breeding - Cindy pointed out that they both have 14 teats to feed large litters, which of course means they are longer, and they have good straight backs.  We will take her word for it - Steve and I don't know how to assess future breeding stock.  They will be ready to breed in about seven months.

The rest of them will be butchered, first one most likely by the end of March, middle of April at the latest.  There is a much faster return on investment with pigs than there is with beef, whether for dairy or for meat. 

These pigs are Berkshires, the breed requested by the restaurant.  It was dumb luck that Cindy mentioned at the market that her brood sow had just given birth to a huge litter of pigs right after the restauranteur's request.  When I asked what kind, she said, "Berkshires."  As I said, that was good luck.  I took as many as she would sell us.

Steve still isn't quite done with the shed.  He has been putting in a lot of hours.  A couple (Tina & Scott) who want dibs on some pork came out and helped on Sunday, and Scott came back out this morning.  Weather is supposed to turn bad later this week so their help was very welcome.  Hopefully Steve will get the roof on and make it tight by tomorrow at latest.  I am passing on doing any heavy labor, due to my bad shoulder and the new knee.  I just stay away from the project, because I know if I went out there, I would be pitching in.

The pigs are cute little things.  Cindy and her husband said they get pretty ugly by the time they are ready for the butcher, so it is a little easier to watch them go.  They have named a few of them, but I think we will forgo the names.  I still haven't butchered one chicken, and I don't think I ever will.  I am far too close to them.  I just let them live out their normal lives, or the foxes or the coyotes or the hawks get them.  I cannot get into that mind set with these pigs!  They are an investment on which both Steve and I need to earn a return.

Here are pictures of the building crew and the pigs. 

Steve & Scott

The shed in their pasture, about half done

Cindy trying to convince the pigs to leave the trailer.

At last, they come spilling out.

Aren't they cute?

Pigs are not herd animals.  They are taking their time!

A few more are on their way to the pen.

A cow/pig kiss.

Monkey see, monkey do.  Another kiss!

Getting to know their new surroundings.

At last, something to do with all of that whey!

Three batches of whey means plenty more!

Feeling at home!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Catching up

I'm still working on paperwork, and the list of things to do for the market is pretty long.  However, as usual I am putzing around in the kitchen instead of sticking with the necessary stuff.

The sourdough is fed because I have a couple of orders for Sourdough Rye to deliver to Purple Porch on Wednesday.  It takes the best part of two days to make it, first feed the starter (then let it sit until it is bubbly), then saute onions along with some caraway seeds and mix into a bowl of water and fresh ground rye berries (then let it sit until it is bubbly), then add the last of the flour and the salt and stir it all up (then let it sit until it is bubbly), finally put into the bread pans (then let it sit until it has visibly risen), and pop in the oven for an hour and forty-five minutes.  So like I said, if I want bread by Wednesday, best to start now.

I made four containers of yogurt.  Just love my Excalibur food dehydrator, because it has a thermostat and one can do yogurt in it - LOTS of yogurt!!  It will be ready to come out about 10:00 tonight.

I started some almonds soaking in salt water.   I will drain them and spread onto the Excalibur trays, then pop them into the dehydrator as soon as the yogurt is done.  They will dehydrate for at least 24 hours.  The nuts will be slightly salty, very crispy, and better for you than plain raw almonds, or so Sally Fallon Morrell of Weston A. Price fame says.  Here's the science:  Why soak your almonds before eating?

I'm debating about what to make for supper.  The boeuf borguignon of New Year's Eve is gone, no more leftovers.  I made some low-carb penne with vodka sauce for lunch.  Yum!  I had a bowl of collards in beef broth for a mid-afternoon snack.  There is a package of hamburger thawing on the counter.  Maybe just a big burger from the grill with some crumbled goat cheese on top, a little thin sliced onion.  Yes, I think that will do it.

Bon appetit.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cleaning house

I'm cleaning today.  It's kinda fun, especially when I have the time.  Just finished vacuuming the floors in the main living area, then will use the steam cleaner on both floors and rugs.  It was a freebie when I bought my Shark vacuum cleaner (which, by the way, I highly recommend).  It uses steam to clean, so that I don't have to use any cleaning compounds.

I went to the doctor for a followup visit regarding my cough.  He says it defies logic that milk would relieve a cough, but he listened to my chest pre- and post-warm milk and pepper treatment, and he is amazed at how clear my lungs are now.  I haven't had more than a couple of bad coughing fits since starting it, and those were shortly after I began.  No more since maybe eight hours after the first cup of milk and pepper.

The doctor thinks the cough may have been originally caused by an allergy - hence the extra cleaning today.  When I'm done in the house, then out to the greenhouse to plant more mizuna.  The restaurant got first delivery of it last week and loved it!!

Organic Mizuna

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Yesterday, I stayed on track.  Did paperwork, have everything set up for my income tax, just a matter of plugging in numbers as the 1099s and benefit reports arrive.

I got the last of the building materials for the pig pen.  They will be here on January 4.  I've been making a lot of cheese, and I have gallons and gallons of whey waiting for them.

I made the Boeuf Borguignon a la Julia Child last night.  It was unbelievably good.  Not hard to make, but very time consuming.  It took a good three hours out of my work time.  I won't be making it often, but what a treat it was!!

These pictures are not my best, but it was after 9 pm before it was ready, and I was more interested in sitting down to eat than in making a beautiful picture.  And of course, it would have looked better with a nice big chunk of French bread sitting on the edge of the plate, but I don't eat bread, don't keep it in the house because I would be tempted.

Notice the bone in the pot.  I cut my stew meat from a large chuck roast (a gift from Romeo), and knowing that bones mean flavor, I threw the two bones from the roast into the pot.  My dogs each got a bone for their New Year's Eve meal.  We were all happy - and very well fed indeed.

In the pot

Ready  to eat -yum!