Sunday, August 26, 2007

More potatos from the garden today.

Dug up some more potatos from the tire beds today. I got "banana fingerlings", "All-Blue" and a few more red skinned ones. The "All-Blue" variety is a blue color all the way through the potato... it was one of the fun things I planted this season. I have never eaten a blue potato before so I am looking forward to eating them!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Milking stanchion

Even though one of our Irish Dexter cows, Cherry Blossom, has been in milk since her calf was born in mid-April I have not been milking her. She moved here to the farm when the calf was only two weeks old and she was not happy about the change of environment. It was at least a month before I could go into the pasture or barn stall with her without a shovel or a stick to keep the peace. She was awful to the other cow and donkeys too. I felt it was best not to stress her with trying to milk her for the first time under those conditions.

Well, her calf is near 5 months old now and Cherry Blossom has calmed down a lot. She is still boss cow of the pasture. She will eat treats out of my hand and I can touch her on both sides and over her back. But, these all must be on her terms. If I am late with a meal she trys to toss me about still. But, she is much better overall and I am willing to attempt to get some milk from her. I will not try such a feat with her until I get a proper milking stanchion on which to restrain her first though.

So, today I read through my books on the family cow and did some online research on milking stanchions (very little on cow stanchions but lots on goats) and came up with a design that I think will work well and that we should be able to build from the scrap lumber we have lying about the farm. We salvaged a lot of true 2x4 oak boards out of the "goat barn" when we stripping it of excess lumber to make it lighter to move out of the pasture.

Neil was going to start on the project today but a thunder storm rolled in for the afternoon so we put the project off until next weekend. So, hopefully soon I will try my hand again at milking a cow. If all goes well I will be making butter and cheese here soon!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wild Pears

The kids and I picked some wild pears off a scragelly old tree out beside the tool shed this morning after chores. I did a quick search online for things to do with wild pears and found that they are hard, grainy and tart.

It was recommended to make chutneys out of them. So, I found recipe for pear chutney in my "Perfect Preserves" cookbook. The recipe called to cook the chutney for 20-25 minutes...

I had to cook it for almost an hour and a half to get the pears to be somewhat soft! It tasted ok in the pot, I canned up 4 half pints of the finished chutney but after canning it looks a little dry. Now, do I dare eat it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sporatic posting

I am sorry that haven't been posting as much as usual lately. I have been doing some eBaying in the evenings of some of the stuff that doesn't fit into our new little house. After taking the photos, uploading them, creating each listing and finally shipping the items I just have no energy left in the wee hours of night to post here on the blog.

Plus, things here on the farm don't change much from day to day. This Fall should perk up though as we have an alpaca cria due in September and another due in December. We also have Riona's (one of our Irish Dexter cows) due in mid to late November with her first calf. I am looking forward to having babies here!

Oh, and I hope to be getting eggs from the chickens this Fall too! I also need to start thinking about when I am going to butcher some of the roosters I got which should happen sometime in September. We don't have an extra deep freezer yet so I will most likely just do a few at a time as we eat them... starting with the biggest to let the others grow out a bit more.

I will try to be better about at least putting up a quick note about what is going on around here!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We had guests!

My friend Terri and her daughter Abby, who happens to be Evan's best friend, came up for a visit! They arrived Monday afternoon and left early this morning before the kids had even woken up. I am sad that they are gone but we had a great time while they were here!

The kids, Abby, McKayla and Evan at the playground.

The kids did a lot of swimming in the pool, we went to the playground in town, out to dinner to our favorite Mexican restuarant (thanks Terri!), Terri helped with the chores and she found it very peaceful here on the farm. I showed Terri how to make yogurt and I made homemade hamburger buns for dinner the second night.

Terri said that next time she comes up she wants to make Feta cheese! I guess I better get hopping on learning to make cheese then! If only the goats were old enough...

Terri with 12 week old Pepper.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Homegrown Potatos!

I harvested the first of our potatos out of the garden. These are of the red skinned variety. I boiled them up and lightly smashed them with some cream, butter, parsley and some salt and pepper. They were oh so good!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Swimming on Mayo Lake

After working on odds and ends in the heat yesterday and this morning... Neil announced "I don't know about anyone else but I am hooking up the boat and going swimming on the lake!" Needless to say the kids went crazy and started running around getting everything they felt they needed to take with us... smile.

Once we got the boat loaded up we decided to go out on Mayo Lake, which is the small lake right near to us. The boat landing is only about a mile away so we were in the lake in a wink. We hadn't been out on this lake yet so we tolled around trying to find a sandy place to go swimming. What we ended up finding was a small island that had a sand bar to the mainland. We swam for about an hour when a storm blew in and it started to rain.
It was a torrential downpour! With the boat moving the raindrops felt like sleet. It took about 15 minutes to get back to the boat landing in the rain. It continued to rain most of the afternoon, which the pastures really needed.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our red barn

Well, after a very hot week where I didn't even want to step outside I managed to get a second coat of paint on the front of the barn today. I also got the chicken coop side painted with two coats. I think in looks great and I look forward to getting the back side done too. But that might wait until the other short side of the barn is finished being sided.

So here are the long awaited photos...

The retaining wall in front of the barn was recycled from Neil's job site. Part of Neil's job is to make concrete test beams from the mix they are using on the roadway. After curing for 7-14 days Neil "breaks" the beams to make sure they meet NCDOT standards. The broken beams are usually used as solid fill in a landfill somewhere but I thought they would work great as a retaining wall for my garden beds. I think they came out great and I love the look of them.