Monthly Archives: July 2012

Looking Skyward

This past month has been filled with so many activities that this is the 1st day I can catch my breath and take inventory of farm stuff. The seven new lambs are growing and are weaned and eating grasses and grain. I am sure the moms are grateful, although some will try to sneak a drink but the moms are having none of it. I am assessing the lambs before I register them so I can record as accurately as possible the fleece colors. I believe that I have a pure black in Hawthorne and his brother Pecan would be a fawn. Hickory and Thistle are moorit and Zinnia is white.  Heather is a question. She was a very light fawn at birth, but she is so close to white. Not sure how I will decide. And our Wally man is dark brown changing to pewter or grey. All are sound sheep and so I deem this breeding season a success.

Heather is the same color as the pasture!

Brother ram lambs, Pecan and Hawthorne

Thistle-becoming a beautiful moorit ewe.

Wally, if you separate his fleece-you will see pewter coming in.

The weather lately has presented many challenges. I have no memory of so many 90 + days strung together coupled with so little rain. The entire pasture has gone dormant except for some areas closest to the pond. See the pics? My pasture is beige and crunchy. So I look skyward and study weather maps for any sign of moisture. Yesterday there was a rain shower over the pond, but it never moved over the pasture or my gardens. I watched as the drops left numerous rings of ripples. I could smell it in my anticipation of the relief that would never come. I think God is playing with me.

My moonscape of a pasture-surreal looking!

Wally and Hawthorne are playing ram games…

 

…head butting with a vengeance!

 

My barn is now filled with hay so my sheep, goats and rabbits have a substitute for grass. And I have to work in thoroughly watering my garden into my schedule.  And a twice a day visit to the rabbits to provide frozen water filled 2 liter bottles to help beat the heat.

Everyone has pitched in to keep up with the watering of our kitchen garden. The reward is a banquet of tomatoes along with peppers and beans. Following is my recipe for stewed tomatoes with peppers that I worked on yesterday. We use them for Chili recipes or to put over black eyed peas. It is full of flavor…much more than store bought. Try it and see what you think.

Ingredients:

About 4 quarts of tomatoes….1/2 cup chopped onion…1/2 cup peppers (we used jalepenios and chili peppers from the garden) …4 tsp sugar…4 tsp celery salt…1 tsp regular salt.

Gather your tomatoes and peppers and wash them.

I use Roma and Celebrity tomatoes

Chop your onions and peppers. I use a nifty tool from Williams and Sonoma to remove seeds and core from the hot peppers-be careful not to rub your eyes!

Blanche tomatoes in boiling water for about 2 minutes to loosen the skins.

Peel the skins from the tomatoes and put the peeled tomatoes in a stock pot. (I put the skins in compost.) Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

Ladle stewed tomatoes into sterilized jars-I use 7 pint jars with new lids.

Clean off rims and gently tighten 2 part lid onto jars and place in processor.

Boil for 40 minutes for pint jars and 45 for quart size.

After 5 minutes, carefully remove jars and set on a towel overnight. Make sure jars seal well. And enjoy the bounty of your garden in the winter.

 

 

 

 

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Temps in the 100’s, Power failure, Generator Blows, Oh My!!!

Ok…I could bellyache about dealing with these issues-or I could offer solutions to how we handled this situation that perhaps others could use. Let me also say that I chose to live in the country and we are not a high priority on the grid and will from time to time deal with power outages. All the more likely that Dominion Virginia Power is not maintaining the infrastructure. I have it from an inside source that it is cheaper to call in workers and pay over-time to make band-aid repairs than keep the grid in good working order. Scarey-but we have to prepare. That being said…I love where I live-we chose our property well in that we have some valuable natural resources. We have 100-year-old huge shade trees over our house, barn and chicken coops. We have an 8 acre spring fed pond, we are up on a hill to catch what ever breezes might come our way. All these came to be very valuable in dealing with high heat and no running water (as we get our water by electric pump from our 2 wells.)

First lesson…use your fridge as an ice chest-load ice in the top as cold air falls-and it works-as long as you keep ice in there.Our small fridge worked like a champ as our many drinks were colder than when we do have power. Granted-this will not keep things frozen-but will keep things from spoiling.

Second lesson-Take frequent breaks. As we worked on moving animals closer to the pond and keeping rabbits clipped as close to the skin as possible, watering garden with pond water-we would stop every hour and drink something cold sitting in the shade under our walnut tree. We have these great Adirondack chairs and they became our camp station.

Lesson 3…Pond water is great for plants. We used the tractor and lots of buckets to make runs from the pond to the garden. I finally had resurrected my garden last Spring and I was not going to give it up without a fight. Speaking of water-another lesson is to keep an emergency supply on hand-and we do in these big jugs from an old water cooler I used to have. They each hold 5 gallons and we keep them filled and sealed and stored in a cool place.

Lots of Pond water ready to replenish a parched garden.

Lesson 4-Have a cool meal idea on hand so that you do not have to fire up the stove. Mine is Cold Cucumber Soup. It is rich, comforting and refreshing. Ok-I lucked out in that right before we lost power-I had just made this huge batch as we have a bumper crop of cucumbers-my recipe follows.

Final Lesson…Find time for fun. In our misery as Kevin and I have been sweating through all these tasks-and just when we thought we could do no more-we eyed our pond and saw it through a new lens. What we were looking at was the biggest swimming pool ever. We are lucky in that it is spring fed-very deep and very clean. So we threw on our bathing suites-ok…pulled it on over a sticky sweaty body was a difficult thing-but we will not dwell there…and jumped in with our boogy boards usually reserved for beach trips. We floated in cool bliss for an hour. Never mind I forgot sun block-which I should have remembered as I burn easily-but I was so thankful to  be cool and wet not from my own sweat.

We now have finally gotten back power-and the garden has received a proper watering-and I have finally gotten a good nights rest-I head out to the garden with my cup of coffee and it is a pleasure to see happy plants. Sanity can now return. Following are pics of a happy garden. And further down is that promised recipe.

We grew these Zinnia from seed!

Eagerly waiting for these!

Spotted Tiger Lily

Lovely garden visitor

Lots of Purple Cone flowers!

And now our Cool Cucumber Soup-a great lunch or serve instead of a vegetable or salad with dinner.

Take about 3-3.5 pounds of cucumbers and peel them…

Fresh from the garden

Peeled Cucumbers

Then scoop out the seeds-I use a spoon…

Then salt the seeded cucumbers and let sit about 15 minutes on a paper towel.

Now you are going to combine the next ingredients along with the cucumbers in a blender or food processor. I did this in 2 batches…you will need 6 chopped green onions, 1 quart of buttermilk, 1 16 ounce carton of sour cream, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of white or black pepper and also from the garden-1/2 cup of chopped parsley and 1 TBSP of dill…Blend well and then cover and place in the fridge at least 3 hours-over night is better…then ready to serve!

Dill

Parsley

Enjoy! I garnish with fresh tomatoes and more salt and pepper. But you could also use parsley and thinly sliced cucumber.

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