Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keeping Christmas Special

The first Christmas that I can remember was when we lived in an apartment in Brooklyn. My mother took my little brother and I into Manhattan to window shop. The most popular store was FAO Schwartz. Their store window was elaborately decorated with miniature villages with trains, Santa's shop with elves making toys, animated woodland animals. With my nose pressed to the glass, breath fog obstructing my view, a couple of swipes with my mitten to clear the glass, was Santa leaning on a big sack of toys with reindeer moving across the star glittered sky. It was a wonderful sight. 
Christmas morning, we woke up to a magical Christmas tree. The tinsel shined in the light, the half eaten gingerbread men still gave off a spicy note to the air, and big colored lights glowed red, blue, orange and green.
My parents still sleepy, were just as excited to sit with us and stare at the newly appeared presents under the tree. We just couldn't believe Santa found our apartment? How did he get by the doorman? Did he take the elevator? Did he come through the window? Without asking anymore questions, we ripped through our presents. Without disappointment, I got my first doll, one that I was wishing for, and my brother got a fire truck. We didn't have much else that I remember. Our stockings were filled with oranges and candy canes. Later that evening we had a nice turkey dinner and sang Christmas songs with help of the record player.

My favorite Christmas song The Holly and the Ivy

To keep the Christmas spirit alive it is essential to attend social gatherings. There are always events in your community; tree lighting, craft sales, church and school concerts; it adds to the heartfelt part of Christmas.  For our location we are blessed to have many events that capture the essence of Christmas. It has become a tradition to go the the Cooperstown Farmers Museum. For information Candle Light Tour at the Farmers Museum
Click here for a beautiful site.
Another local festivity is the Victorian Holiday in Sharon Springs, NY. It was brought about by The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Dr. Brent and Josh Purcell took a fall excursion for fresh apples and stumbled upon the quaint town of Sharon Springs. They passed by a farm/mansion that was for sale, and the rest is history. They have kept the ball rolling by establishing a store in town, (The Beekman Mercantile) which sells an assortment of high quality items ranging from homemade soaps to cheese all made by their beautiful goats. They also have a wonderful cookbook that serves as a keepsake for good cooks to pass down to their family. Farmer John Hall takes care of the farm and goats. Victorian Walk Sharon Springs
Brent Ridge arriving by horse and carriage
Josh, fashionable lady, and Dr. Brent
Fashionable Ladies

Monday, November 28, 2011


Popovers are tricky to make by some of the recipes that I have seen. They don't tell you some pointers for 100% success. Follow my recipe and you will have wonderful results. Amazing-no leavening agents or yeast, but they pop right up and are light and fluffy.

1 cup of all purpose flour
1/8 t salt
1 cup of whole milk
2 eggs
1 T of canola oil
 Pre-heat your oven to 400 with a cast iron griddle smooth side up on center rack.
In a large bowl Whisk eggs until a little frothy 
In another bowl sift your flour and salt.
Add milk that is room temperature to your eggs.
Whisk eggs and milk together. Now add 1 T of oil. Slowly add your flour and beat with a whisk or break out the rotary.
Grease generously, a muffin tin every other one with shortening enough for 6. You can buy a popover tin which I highly recommend. popover tin
Whatever you not disturb!
Spoon batter about 1/2 way or a little better until 6 are filled. When oven beeper says your ready, wait another 5 minutes, this assures that your oven is completely hot. Now carefully set your tin on top of the cast iron griddle. Close oven door and do not disturb for 30 minutes. Watch and make sure the tops aren't getting too brown. When all looks done (golden brown) open the oven door and prick the center of the popovers to let the steam out and then turn off heat and close the door for another 2 minutes. There you have it! Popovers are great for soaking up beef juices from your standing rib roast, or a bed for your chicken salad, or for breakfast on cold winter mornings. Enjoy.
Cast iron grill

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garlic Harvest

Last October I planted garlic for the first time. All it takes is one clove, buried 5 inches in the dirt-planting at least 20 cloves this way, then mulch by covering with a layer of clean straw. I used a 4x8 raised bed, only because my soil is heavy clay and does not allow for good drainage. This worked out better than expected, and was easy to keep the weeds in check. Today, I carefully dug the garlic plants/bulbs one by one, shook off the dirt off, and couldn't help having a great big smile on my face; after all, I have waited a long time for this moment to arrive. The entire garlic plants are now hanging in my barn to cure and dry.

Cool recipes are great for the hot month of July

Garlic Basil Pesto
A nice appetizer for summer barbeques.

3 cloves of fresh garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup of Basil leaves, more or less
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of extra Virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp of lemon juice
1/4 cup of dried tomatoes (chopped)
In a food processor add everything except the dried tomatoes, pulse a few times, now add dried tomatoes.Store in the refrigerator for and hour before serving...serve on sliced toasted baguettes. Serve with a chilled white wine.

Chicken and White Bean Salad
 Works best with left over grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken from the Grocery store.

1 lb of chicken, more or less, picked off bone
2 cans of navy beans (drained and rinsed)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup of basil (chopped)
1/2 cup of parsley (chopped)
2 plum tomatoes (chopped)

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients and chill for an hour-serve on baguettes. A white wine or Zinfandel wine is good to compliment.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Can Call Me "Honey" Any Time!

At the DMV in Maryland, I was behind a gentleman that called the clerk, "Honey." "Honey, can you process this for me?" he asked, with a little wink. The clerk's lips retracted and disappeared, her face got red, her eye brows were convoluted, and she replied, "Don't call me honey!" The gentleman leaned forward and said, "Well, you ain't gonna like the next thing I call ya!" So much for chivalry at the DMV!

Honey, is a compliment to sweeten life's daily food. It has many health benefits as well. If you have allergies, a tbsp of honey (60 calories) might help immunize you against the flowers that make you sneeze. Honey will also sooth the throat when you have a cold. Another benefit is if you have a cut or wound on your skin, honey may help prevent a scar.
Honey has been used for over 10,000 years; the Chinese domesticated bees with using hives. Honey was probably used more during the early colonial days, because of the expense and availability of sugar. I won't tell you that honey is nectar from a flower that has been regurgitated a few times before it can be processed in the hive, regurgitated? Did I say that?

Judy Janowski, author of  " Life is a Garden Party" was kind enough to let me know that you can substitute honey in a recipe in baking; reduce the liquid 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and add 1/2 tsp of baking soda for each cup, also reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. So give it a try in your next cake recipe.

Honey Nut Oatmeal Bread (for the bread machine)
For a one lb loaf
Add in order.....
1 1/3 cups of water
2 2/3 tbs vegetable oil
2 2/3 tbs of honey
1 1/3 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups of oats                                                                
2/3 cups of whole wheat flour
2 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk
2 1/2 tsp of yeast
Set bread machine for medium brown crust. Press buttons.

French Honey Bread (for bread machine)
A light crisp sweet bread....nice with smoked ham or sharp cheese.
For a 1lb loaf
In order....
1 1/8 cups of water
1 tbs of honey
1 tbs peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 cups of bread flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast.
Set machine for light crust as the sugars will brown the bread quicker.

Beehives; we get 8 gallons of honey each summer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Mozzarella Cheese

The origin of making cheese had to be invented by a shepherd on his 'whey' to work one day; he put milk in a goats stomach sack and during the day it turned to cheese. Rennet is found in a goat stomach, and that's what makes the cheese separate from the whey.
I wanted to learn how to make cheese since we are surrounded by dairy farms and that I love to eat cheese. I headed out on a venture that took me door to door asking Amish women if they made cheese? Unfortunately the youth might have skipped a generation on this process, because they shook their heads and acted a bit insulted that I thought they could make cheese just because they were Amish
It wasn't until one September day, that I saw Rachel on her scooter, and asked her about making cheese, and she said, "My mother makes cheese and she is coming up to visit next week, so why don't you talk to her!" Linda, Rachel's mom, a past generation, did come up to visit and shared her Colby cheese with us; and it was delicious. She sent me all the information, and with that information made some hard cheese. Linda broke the mystery of making cheese for me, and after that I tried making all kinds of cheese.
The one cheese that gives me the greatest pleasure to make is mozzarella.
Mozzarella is a very easy cheese to make; it takes maybe 30-45 minutes and gives you instant gratification. I have debated whether to give everyone the recipe for this because it is a bit lengthy  and decided to just link you to Riki "The Queen of Cheese" because that is where I learned the recipe.... 
If you go to this website you can find recipes, troubleshooting, and everything you need to get started.
Whole milk works best
I use whole milk that is only one day fresh. Sometimes raw milk. Just don't use ultra pasteurized milk.
Fresh ingredients
Make sure you use up to date ingredients they can be found on web The New England Cheese Co.

Mix thoroughly
Make sure your utensils are clean and place them in a clean container while working.
Adding rennet
Rennet can be vegetable or animal and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 years. A package goes a long whey! And don't throw that whey can be used for bread recipes instead of water-just don't add salt to the recipe, marinade for chicken, and can also be tossed in the garden.
1 gallon of milk makes 1 lb of cheese

My hope is that you give it a try. Once you make it you will be hooked!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We Eat Chicken-what else can I tell ya, okay this....

I can't apologize for raising chickens to eat, because most everyone eats chicken, just ask my foxes that have dined on most of them this spring! They are the Blue Plate special, the white meat and not the other. Raised for centuries, and now perfected meat producers in a short amount of time.
It's basically how they are raised that might bother our conscience. When I lived on the Del Marva Peninsula, they had long houses set up by Purdue to raise millions of chickens. Thousands of chickens in one house, ready in 5 weeks time; little fresh air, hot weather, pumped with food, and in confined spaces small enough to turn around. After passing a farm on the bicycle in July, it is well, not appetizing.

I had a chicken tractor built with skids so that it can be moved around, and I use it mainly in the summer to raise 50 chickens; 25 at a time. That is enough chicken raised to sell to some people that like old fashion raise chicken, and the rest is put in the freezer.
They have fresh air, a lot of space, and I make sure they are in a clean environment. And when that day comes, we usually fast them off the night before, and humanely butcher them (if that isn't a contradiction) It isn't pleasant, it isn't fun, but it is something we want to do- to get it behind us. And after that day, (chuckle) we don't feel like eating chicken for a week. But when we do eat our chicken it is a feeling of self-sufficiency. Knowing how they were raised compared to industrial farming is a much better thought as well. Don't get me wrong, I have remorse, and saying grace might have originated from trying to feel better about a sacrifice to feed our bodies.

A Cure For The Summer Time Blues...

The busiest time of year on the farm is July. We are harvesting vegetables from our garden, hilling potatoes, making hay and storing it in the barn. Raising chickens, pigs, lamb, or a cow for meat;  by good intentions we made early in the season when time was slow. Getting ready for county fairs, either bringing livestock for show, or going to check out new stock for a breeding program. Family, you gotta go to summer parties; graduations, birthdays, and holiday picnics. And then dare squeeze in a camping trip!
The extra sunlight wakes us up at 4am- not hard if you have to milk cows, but not welcomed if you don't. We rarely have any sick days and never get snowed in for an excuse. if you are feeling worn some relaxing techniques.

1. Find a comfortable chair in the shade with plenty of water and sit there for at least a half an hour...admire the surroundings and not the work that has to be done.
2. Go to bed early in the evening. Or during the day, go back to bed and sleep. Take the day off to rest.
3. Visit a friend and let them serve you something-tea, cookies, beer, wine, maybe even dinner.
4. Go to a movie.
5. Go for a drive.
6. Go out to dinner.
7. Do nothing.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. It takes some effort to be a slacker, the biggest hurdle is ignoring the guilt of not doing something.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegetable Fritters

Don't shy from this recipe, please. The basic fritter recipe for vegetables is a simple one...instead of artichokes, you can use (blanched) cut up squash, eggplant, or even green tomatoes.

Artichoke and Scape Fritters

14 oz can of artichoke hearts, (drained and quartered)
*1/4 cup of chopped scapes ( the tops of garlic)
1/2 cup of basic flour
1T salted butter
1/4 cup of corn starch
2 eggs
3 T of milk or a splash of beer
Salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper

Pour artichoke hearts in a strainer and quarter them. In a large bowl start with flour and butter-break up with a fork into crumbs, then add corn starch, eggs and milk-do not over process. Add artichoke hearts and scapes. Combine. Heat up a cast iron skillet with peanut oil under medium heat. Take big spoon fulls, three at a time, turn until golden, place on a paper towel. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Serve hot.
*Instead of scapes you could add chopped basil, onion, or red pepper.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Natural Bug Spray

Right now you can buy a flat of marigolds cheap, and that is one of the effective ingredients to make this natural bug spray.

Bug Spray

2 cups of marigold flower heads (African variety is the most pungent) it has deep red and orange color.
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of mint extract
1/4 cup of Murphy's oil soap.
3 cups of water

In a blender, add all of these ingredients and pulverize, then liquify all for about 3 minutes. Stain through a metal mesh strainer, then through some cheese cloth, pressing with a spoon to get every bit of your essence through. Pour in a quart jar and let it settle. Now pour into a spray bottle. You are ready to go repel any bug in your garden. This spray is safe for your plants and you. It won't burn and will wash off and not leave an odor. Shake your bottle every time you use it. Be careful not to get spray on your clothes.
The spray bottles that I use are the ones for spraying horses, it has the stream choice. You can also reuse sprayers from the store that have this feature. Make sure that particles are out of your formula before putting into the spray bottle.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Milkweed Flowers Recipe

Saltsman's Hotel serves the milkweed casserole at the end of May  until the second week in June...a great place to eat.Saltsman's

Milkweed Au Gratin:

4 cups of Milkweed flowers 
4 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flower
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

  Cook the Milkweed flower buds in boiling water for nearly 1 minute, then strain and pat dry, and put in a medium metal baking dish. In a skillet melt the butter, stir in the flour and salt and pepper. Make it brown, like a roux which generally takes not more than a minute. Now mix the milk and beat the mixture like you are making gravy. Pour it over the milkweed and put grated cheese on the top. Bake for nearly 10 minutes at 375 degrees on the top rack, and then broil for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Milkweed Uses 

The milkweed filaments from the follicles are hollow and coated with wax, and have good insulation qualities. Tests have shown them to be superior to down feathers for insulation. During World War II, over 5,000 t (5,500 short tons) of milkweed floss was collected in the United States a substitute for kapok. As of 2007, milkweed is grown commercially as a filling for pillows.
The milkweed flowers have a high dextrose content that the American Indians used to sweeten foods.

The bast fibers of some species were also used for cordage.

Milkweed latex contains about 1 to 2% latex, and was attempted as a source of natural rubber by both Germany and the United States during World War II. No record has been found of large-scale success.

Milkweed is a common folk remedy used for the clotting of small wounds and the removal of warts. Milkweed sap is applied directly to the wart several times daily until the wart falls off. Dandelion sap is often used in the same manner.

Milkweed is beneficial to nearby plants, repelling some pests, especially wireworms.

Milkweed is toxic and may cause death when animals consume 10% of their body weight in any part of the plant. Milkweed also causes mild dermatitis in some who come in contact with it.

Milkweed sap is also externally used as a natural remedy for poison ivy.

Being the sole food source of monarch butterfly larvae, and attracts butterflies in the garden.
Milkweed can be used in ornamental flower bouquets.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Garlic, Oh, wonderful Garlic!

Last October, I planted single garlic bulbs, then heavily mulched with clean straw to cut down on weeds. Early this spring the garlic plants emerged with uncontrollable excitement! I can't wait to harvest the scapes and bulbs. I have three wonderful recipes for using garlic. This includes a warning that even brushing your teeth for an hour before bedtime will not prevent that taste from coming back in the morning.

Black Olive Tapenade

1 1/2 cups of large black olives (pitted and drained)
1/2 cup of Kalamata olives (pitted)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of fresh parsley
A couple of turns with the black pepper mill.
*1 anchovy filet (about 1 tbsp)
3 tbsp of olive oil

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse only once or twice-until coarsely chopped. 
Serve in a small dish, and spread on small slices of crusty bread. Compliment with a dark dry red wine.
*You won't even notice the anchovy, freeze the rest in a plastic bag.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Scapes are the long twisted part on the garlic plant that you cut off to ensure a robust garlic bulb. I use only the tender ends.
1/2 cup of chopped scape
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of chopped parsley
1 tbsp of fresh chopped basil

Keep in a pint jar in the refrigerator and use for cooking with chicken, or pasta. If you like garlic you can spread this on a cracker.

 Shrimp Scampi

1 lb of thawed large shrimp
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp of olive oil
a dash of cayenne pepper 
1/2 cup of planko bread crumbs

In a shallow 9" baking dish, arrange shrimp. Melt butter, olive oil and garlic, pour over shrimp, and top with bread crumbs. Bake in a preheated oven 425- on top rack for about 10-15 minutes. Butter just starts to bubble and crumbs are golden. Do not over cook. Serve over rice.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

After The Garden

My chores consist of shoveling manure, weeding the garden, setting up fences, and household tasks. Nail Salons would be a total waste of my money, but I do like to pamper myself with products that civilize and sooth the skin. Hands are the forefront, a telltale account of our lives."You can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their hands." For myself, my hands would say that I work hard. However your hands make that first impression, at least make sure they are clean!. 
Living near Sharon Springs, New York, I have found Beekman's 1802 "After the Garden" soap to be just the thing to get my hands feeling good again. click here The scent is nice and clean, lathers up nicely, and leaves your hands feeling soft and smooth.
One tip I learned from my grandmother, was to scratch the soap with your finger nails before you go out to the garden to prevent dirt from entering the crevice in the first place; and this soap works like a charm because of it's soft consistency. 
Then after the garden, I make up a nice ice tea with a sprig of mint and sit in the shade admiring the great weeding job-nice and clean, how great is that!
And to find more about Josh and Brent's fabulous journey to Sharon Springs read...The Bucolic Plague, by Josh Kilmer Purcell

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

June is for Rhubarb!

 Rhubarb is a lovely plant with a strange but pleasant taste; kind of a tart citrus piece of wood, ha,ha, for some reason that comes to mind? The best part about rhubarb is that it waits for you every year with little fussing; unfortunately, the plant goes without appreciation that way.
Never the less, most people think that rhubarb as just a spring fling, the reason being, once we get in our gardens, we are done fooling around with the darn plant! But, did you know you can keep having rhubarb most of the summer if you cut the flower stems off? That's only if you can think of other ways to make rhubarb, and I can't think of any off hand.
It's just me and my husband, and I would never stop fooling around with him! So, I don't like to make huge batches of anything-just a little of everything ech-hem! Joie de vivre! Now that's how I came up with a combination of recipes Amish/English to make this wonderful jam recipe, and it is easier than having to fool around!

Andre's Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

 2 cups of ripe strawberries
1/2 cup of Rhubarb
1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 pkg of strawberry jello (sugar free)

Wash strawberries, cut the tops off, chop into a 2 qt bowl. Wash rhubarb and strip the outside skin, cut and chop ( I prefer small red stems of rhubarb) add to the bowl. Add your sugar. Microwave for about 3 minutes-stir, microwave again for 3 minutes stir, give it one more minute in the microwave-stir. Take out wearing oven mits and place on a counter. Add lemon juice. stir. Then open the pkg of jello and sprinkle the surface-and quickly stir into fruit. Stir for about 2 minutes.
Have ready 3-4 pint jars and caps ready (sterilized) set on paper towels. Spoon the jam carefully into the jars. Place caps on top of jars. Let cool and PLACE IN THE FRIDGE. This is to use for the next few weeks not for storing in the cupboard. Enjoy on ice cream, toast and English muffins.

Another recipe that sounds pretty good:

Ruby Sauce
From Jill Valentine of Jackson, Tennessee. She writes, "Sweet, tart and absolutely the best really have to try it on ribs, chicken or pulled pork!"

1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. sugar
1 c. cider vinegar
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 onions, finely chopped
4 c. rhubarb, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients except onions and rhubarb in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; stir in onions and rhubarb. Cook for 45 minutes to one hour, until thickened and rhubarb is tender. Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Dandy Wine Recipe!

The recipe below call for 3 quarts of dandelion flower heads without any green stems per gallon of wine.
Of the recipe below, make sure that the white pith is taken off the fruit, in all citrus skins or it will ruin any wine.

Dandelion Wine

  • 3lbs sugar
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 3 qts dandelion flowers
  • 1 lb golden raisins
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • yeast and nutrient

Pick the flowers just before starting. You do not need to pick the petals off the flower heads, but the heads should be trimmed of any stalk. Put the flowers in a large bowl. Set aside 1 pint of water and bring the remainder to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the dandelion flowers and cover tightly with cloth or plastic wrap. Leave for two days, stirring twice daily. Do not exceed this time. 
Pour flowers and water in large pot and bring to a low boil. Add the sugar, honey and the peels (peel thinly and avoid any of the white pith) of the lemons and orange. Boil for one hour, add raisins at this point, let cool in the pot for one day, then pour into a crock or plastic pail. Add the juice and pulp of the lemons and orange. Allow to stand until cool (70-75 degrees F.). At this point you could add one more gallon of water, the results being a bit less sweet wine. Add yeast, cover, and put in a cool place for three days. 
Strain though a cheese cloth, and pour into a secondary fermentation vessel (bottle or jug). Leave until fermentation ceases completely, rack and bottle. This wine must age six months in the bottle before tasting, but will improve remarkably if allowed a year. This wine has a slight brandy over tone, and is great for a winter cold. 

Dandelion Jelly Recipe

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups dandelion blossoms (yellow and white parts only)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ( 1/2 package) powdered pectin
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Bring water and dandelion blossoms to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, pressing solids. Discard blossoms. (You should have 3 cups of liquid; add water if necessary.)
  2. Combine pectin and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring dandelion liquid and remaining 4 cups sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Add the pectin mixture, stirring constantly to dissolve pectin and sugar. Add lemon juice, and boil for 1 minute. Skim foam from the surface. Let cool slightly.
  3. Pour mixture into an airtight container. Cover with a lid. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Jelly can be refrigerated in the airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday

This has been a terrible spring. We have seen snow and rain for the most part of April. When the farm is cold, wet and muddy not much gets done. I haven't cleaned up what the animals left behind, during winter confinement. The mud is so plentiful, that it would leave big ruts or get my tractor stuck. Any mess will be waiting for better weather, and that is when I will want to be doing something else-oh well.
I managed to shear one sheep to her misfortune, but I do notice the others are jealous of her skivvies.
We also had chicks born in the incubator; they have stayed in a box, in the house where is is warm and dry. Nothing like chicken on the kitchen counter! I have had the luxury of my very own crumb picker for the dinning room table; I just pick one out, set them in a crumb pile and let them peck.
Planted peas a week ago, but bought another package just in case these rot in the ground. All of the inside baby plants are doing well with some helpful hints from my green thumb neighbor, Patricia. She told me when the tomato plants get spindly, transfer into a bigger peat pots and fill up to the leaves; this is working very well. Peppers took a while to come up but every one of them is up and smiling.
My neighbor and I want to raise a pig. We have been cleaning out a spot in the old 1860's barn for this pig project. David King makes the best bacon, scrapple, and hams, this side of Minden. When I had a  taste of this magnificent bacon, wanted to make the entire pig into 12" slabs. This is very unladylike to admit, but the finer things in life are at our will, too many things are not.
So I leave you now...Happy Easter, Happy New Birth.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hard Boiled Eggs/ Egg Salad Sandwich / Science

When I was a kid, I would beg my grandma to take me to Woolworth's 5&10 so I could have lunch at the counter. I loved the egg salad sandwich!

How to make the perfect hard boiled eggs for a sandwich.

5 large eggs about 1 week old (store bought... the day you bring them home)

Start with your pot of cool water just covering the eggs. Start up the burner and bring water to simmering. Carefully, and I mean carefully (to the voice of Fog Horn Leg Horn) roll the eggs around for about a minute. Now take pot off the burner and cover for 16 minutes. Have a big bowl set aside with ice and cold water, spoon eggs into this cold bath for about 10 minutes. Take eggs out and store in a container, in the refrigerator. When you are ready to hot water over shells, this will cause condensation under the shells, tap gently on the counter all over and peeling should be easy.

5 hard boiled eggs (shelled) enough for 3 sandwiches

2 T mayo
1 t of margarine
1 pinch of dry mustard
dash of paprika
Celery-3 inch slice, outside threads removed and minced

 *salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl take your hard boiled eggs and add mayo and margarine, push down through the eggs until roughly blended add celery and spices, mix again. Spoon on bread to make a sandwich, oh, and make sure you cut diagonally, serve with bread and butter pickles and a handful of potato chips.
* I usually just add some pepper to reduce the salt in this meal.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Predators live among us; they can be as deceiving as a neighbors dog, a cat, or they can be as obvious as coyote or a fox. Predators eat small mammals and birds. If they don't eat critters everyday, they starve. They are also very indiscriminate as to what they eat; Fluffy and Fido are no exception.

I loath having a predator eat my animals. Describing this blatantly and ruthlessly, makes a good argument to be a vegetarian. But I am a carnivore. To justify a farm with domestic animals was explained that if no one ate meat, all domestic animals would become extinct. So there is a purpose for me to raise my own meat. And I will do everything in my power to protect my animals from predators.
Yesterday, I tried to smoke a fox out of his hole-sitting there waiting for him to jump out, ready to shoot him with my shot gun. I waged a war with this creature because he ate one rooster and my beloved cat. A cat I had for 3 years; wise enough to never get hit by a car and hardy enough to live outside in the barn. I was infuriated to find him dead outside the fox hole.
My blood boiled as I lit the newspapers on fire and threw them down the fox hole. Waiting for him to come out, I stared at the hole. But to my surprise, the rotten round bale next to the fox hole, started to go up in flames. I thought it was soaking wet? Well, then it went from the round bale to the dry grass...Suddenly, this was getting out of hand! So I drove to my neighbors house and frantically said, "Call the fire department now!" My neighbor, Nancy, is a Methodist minister, she told her son to call the fire department, and we both headed back to the flames. She was alarmed, but as soon as we heard the fire whistle blowing throughout the countryside, we sighed relief-help was on the way. We watched as the blaze approached her house with whirling smoke. "The fox, is probably up on the hill laughing at us" I joked.
The fire department arrived as an army of men with shovels and water hoses to the rescue. When the fire was extinguished, everybody stood around the fox hole with my dead cat still visible. Nancy, the minister, suggested we bury him and give him a eulogy, I agreed. Nice to have a minster as a neighbor. There was closure. And no hard feelings at my foolish pyrotechnics.
As for the fox, I am patrolling the perimeter as if they are enemy lines, putting pressure on him enough to ward him away. Mr. fox will have to always keep a look out for the human-sorry to say.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Merry Muddy Month of March

March is National Optimist Month. Pray tell how that happened? It happened because it is the month we need optimism.
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  ~Bill Vaughan. As far as the month of March, what is your side of the story?

March is the month you finally realize the playground set you bought on sale in September, is still in the yard. 
Not to mention every sort of excrement; like a Whitman's sampler, has been flash frozen since November, and is ready decompose.
And the missing mailbox, is found down the road, with last months bills still sealed in their envelopes, along with water logged catalogs that have lost their sales appeal. 
And March is the month that you have a robin siting, it is a glorious site, you call your friends, but day after day, you witness the robins fighting for bare ground, over and over again amid the ongoing snow falls. It is just too much heartache to watch, so you put in a good movie instead..
 Freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, mud, mud, and more mud, no matter how hard you try to clean, It is dirty again. So let it happen until it stops happening.
Our complexion is pale, and our spirits are weak; we actually welcome the Jehovah witnesses to our door. Anyone with a few inspiring words is welcomed.
Those seeds that were so awe inspiring in January, now look burdensome, as if to go from shoveling snow to digging in the dirt; with no rest in between, where is the humanity? 
And they say we earned an extra hour of daylight. We're just witnessing extra hours of dreaded spring trying to seek its way into our hearts. The torture of it all?

Yea, I'll wrap this up quick....
If you are an optimist, you are staying UP to see spring happen, and if you are a pessimist, like me, you are staying UP to make sure it is over!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Maple Syrup Time

The American Indians used maple syrup for sweeteners, by observing animals licking the sap from broken branches (among other things) in the spring time. 
Many farms supplement their incomes by incorporating maple syrup into their business, such as 'The Stone House' in Sharon Springs. for info...They open up their production house just during the sugar season. The dinning room is right next to the large stainless steel cookers in which they are evaporating the sap; the scent of maple syrup filters the is wonderful.
Parked outside the maple house, we have waited for the summonsing waitress; which is a friendly wave of a hand, while her hair is parted by the fierce blowing wind, letting us know that our table is ready. The family hires local people to serve delicious sausage and pancakes with REAL maple syrup. The homey setting is communal and your breakfast is brought to your table family style. While seated, you get to meet your neighbors, all sharing the same special deal.  
You can also try the Farmers Museum, Sugaring off Sundays...
If you want to experience this wonderful intimate gathering, just click on one of the links above for times-which are limited for a short time only.

I have a recipe that I would like to share with favorite Waffles.


In a large bowl sift 1 3/4 cup of flour, 1 Tablespoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
In two small bowls separate 2 eggs-yokes in one and whites in another.
Whip up egg whites with a whisk or beater until stiff peaks form.
To the flour mixture, add 1 3/4 cups of milk (room temperature) egg yokes, 
1/2 cup of vegetable oil,
stir with a fork to mix-do not whip, just stir until blended.
Now gently fold in egg whites, kind of loop it a few times and that's it.
Get your waffle griddle hot, spray some Pam right before you dollop the batter in the center-close and wait 3 minutes or until the light comes on-however done, should be a golden waffle.

Serve with butter and Maple syrup and add bacon or sausage.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spinning Wool (a very helpful instruction))

Miss Natty Bumppo

 After I got my sheep, I wanted to learn how to spin wool. So I just went ahead and bought the spinning wheel, the kind that you see the most in cartoons, old postcards, and in the back of covered wagons; an Ashford single treadle, which I bought for about $250 on eBay.
Wool goes through a lengthy process before it even sets in your hands ready to spin. A sheep, hopefully has a name like Fluffy, is given a good diet, fresh air and has a cover from the elements to produce good wool. Then once a year, Fluffy is sheared (only traumatic for a few minutes) the fleece is then gently washed a few times. The fleece is dried and combed and carded into roving. Roving is the fleece connected into a long manageable piece of fluffy stuff. So this long piece of wool has many sections gently put together, and your job is to take those sections and spin it into a single twisted line of yarn.
A good example of homespun 2 ply yarn.
You are only fooling yourself if you want to 'self teach' yourself how to spin wool. Observing others spinning magic yarn from fleece is also a mistake; those little biddies make it look so darn easy. I tried for about 3 weeks on my own and after blaming the spinning wheel, I got my husband to problem solve my wheel.  He went through the manual, until he looked at me cross eyed, and said, "I think you need some lessons!" After throwing myself on the bed and crying real tears, I decided to ask a professional how to show me the spinning secrets. One of the first ways you can master spinning is with the use of the ancient 'drop spindle' you can get the knack of drafting and spinning first using this technique.
I will quickly give you the mission...but have already told you how difficult this can be without someone right there to guild you.  
WARNING Don't do this without a box of tissues and a drill Sargent for your therapist.

These are things you can do while you wait for that epiphany.
1. Practice putting your wheel into action without any wool. Get some rhythm.
2. Understand your spinning wheel, because it certainly has a function; it is a wool twisting machine that YOU regulate and have complete control.
3. Go Slow.
4. To thread your bobbin use real wool yarn. I make a double loop to secure the yarn so it won't spin on the bobbin.
Loop and pull yarn through and do this one more time-tighten.
 5. Pull a 1' section of wool from your roving, now take a section and divide that off from the main piece about 1 inch.
6. Pull the yarn from the bobbin through the hole that is facing you. At this time adjust your tension. To do this, start the wheel spinning with your foot while holding the yarn, if it pulls it right out of your hands it is too tight...loosen your strings on the bobbin, and the main wheel. Try again. If it turns with a gentle pull you are set.
7. Attach your roving to the yarn, and start your wheel, until it is attached. Keep spinning a few times.
8. Keep a pinch where you don't want it to spin, and with your other hand, a thumb and fore finger hold, where you draw out your wool. The thought behind this *PINCH (with one hand) and *PULL (on the other hand) and the result is a *TWIST and of course this is going to want to feed onto the bobbin all at the same time.
9. Keep your sessions for about 10 minutes each and go back when your mind has seemed to put it together.
10. This is fun, and it is a skill. Once you have accomplish this, you can amaze you friends and family.
PINCH-have a pinch in the fibers that is hard enough not to twist the fibers but light enough to feed. 
PULL-Drafting is pulling the fibers so they release and then tangle into a ...
TWIST-Adjusted tension and speed of the wheel causes the fibers to twist. Once you have accomplished several nice skeins of yarns you can then be creative with spinning.

I spun this for a special project-to make a basket.
Going to demonstrations is fun.

And I have a good DVD and book to recommend.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chickens (enough to get you started)

I have had chickens most of my life. My laying hens live to be about 7 years old...and since they punched a clock for years, they deserve a retirement. So they die of old age. Amazingly enough, they lay eggs for quite a while.
Hens The best laying hens are cross breed hens. If you Google 'sex link chicks' you might get yourself in trouble on the internet, but these are the chickens you want for non-stop eggs rolling your way. I had red cross links and they were the best chickens-the eggs were so big I had to tie the extra large egg box with string to keep them from opening. I now have Black Star chickens; another cross breed, and they are no less disappointing. I got these chickens because their eggs are smaller and will fit in a extra large egg carton without the string. They are very friendly and can be like pets. 
For just your family, three chickens might be enough, but if you want to sell eggs, start out with 12 that's a dozen eggs a day. You can always get more.
Roosters I usually have a rooster until he dies of some valiant brave act...such as fighting off a dog, or raccoon. Roosters do a good job of putting their lives on the line. They do protect the hens. I had ordered a straight run of chickens, and got 12 roosters. I kept the rooster that still had all his feathers, (the one no one wanted to peck back) and sold the rest to someone who wanted fresh chicken. His name was Mr. T The biggest baddest rooster; unfortunately, he fought off a stray dog and lost, but he saved the hens, all of them. 
You don't need a rooster to have a harem of laying fact it is better for the hens to live like nuns. Hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster. One nice thing about having a rooster, is to hear him salute to the sunrise. He will also crow at the full moon, or upon an early morning arrival from the headlights from your car.
A Silver Spangled Hamburg Rooster

Care Chickens can live anywhere, but they do need a coop; a roosting place out of the weather and beyond the reach of predators. And as far as the great outdoors, they like to have a place they can scratch for bugs-like your flower gardens-he,he. Free range chickens are happy. Happy chickens are laying chickens. 
There is nothing better than gathering eggs in a clean coop. If you have had chickens for a while you can comprehend a happy noise or a complaint.
I use wood shavings for a nice bedding 2 inches deep on the floor of my coop, and I make sure that I clean out the coop every month. Chicken manure is great compost, but it is hot, you might want to keep a pile for a couple of years before applying to a garden. 
As far as their nests, straw is best in laying boxes. A laying box can be anything resembling a crate, at least 20" X 20" Many people have been creative about nesting boxes; toilets, bed pans, even the kitchen sink. 
Secure crates 3 to 4' high on the wall, and if it can be in a private spot the better. Chickens like to roost so make wooden poles crossing in an area that is not over food or water. The size of your coop goes by footage...2 square foot per chicken.
Food  I buy egg producer pellets and a chicken scratch at my grain mill-which is cracked corn, millet, oats and some mash (?) On occasion I will buy a large bag of day old bread at the bakery outlet store. It is also important to have grit-always have calcium granite pellets just for chickens in a separate bowl right near their food dish. And of course clean water all the time. 
If your chickens free range, they will eat bugs, grubs, greens and whatever their hearts desires, again make sure they have access to water. During the depression, my grandfather supplemented his chickens with road kill-I wouldn't do that, but times were tough back then, and yes, chickens are meat eaters.
There are so many chicken breeds that I will leave that up to you....This is a hatchery that I have dealt with many times with a lot of luck, and they will further help you on your way.
One of my favorite documentaries about chickens is the PBS DVD "The Natural History of the Chicken" This movie will have you laughing and crying, It is a gem. 
Good luck at raising chickens it is rewarding.
You can have chickens in the city, but check you local ordinances first..