Zinnia on windowsill, fall 2014.
I can hardly believe it has been so long since I have posted! Last fall I grew zinnias in the garden like I usually do. A friend makes these beautiful little vases that are perfect for one or two flowers. I also grew dahlias for the first time. I loved growing the dahlias because they lasted for so long and were easy to take care of. I managed to keep the tubers over winter just fine and planted more this year.
Red dahlia from garden, fall 2014.
Shadow Cat dahlia from garden, fall 2014.
This is one of my favorite dahlias, called Shadow Cat. The deep color is fantastic!
Ginny and Maverick
Last winter was really overwhelming with two milk cows to care for so I sold Ginny and Maverick to a great family with lots of kids in the fall of 2014. Ginny had a great personality and I have to admit that the kids and I still miss her. Chores this winter were easier without Ginny and her calf. I will need a replacement heifer for Kit within the next few years, but I keep putting off breeding for another milk cow because every extra cow that is on the farm means extra hay and extra stall cleaning. At the same time, I don’t want to wait too long to breed a replacement heifer. I have always wanted to raise my own replacement heifer. I have Ruby, but she is going to be our beef cow momma. I might try to milk her, but she probably won’t give enough milk for her calf and the house.
Ruby in snow, winter 2014.
Here is Ruby, big, chunky and healthy. Will post a current photo of her soon – she looks like little miss piggy with legs right now!
Angus in winter of 2014.
Angus is big and beautiful now. He will be our beef cow for this year. I didn’t have very good luck breeding Kit with AI last year so she won’t be having a calf this year. I am so disappointed. So we are buying a beef heifer and beef steer this summer that will be our beef for summer 2016 and will be renting a bull for Kit.
Fish head soup, Chinook salmon, fall 2014.
My husband and son like to fish for salmon and we all like to eat it! We made fish head soup last fall with some of the heads. I think we only fit one or two heads in a big stock pot. The soup flavor was amazing and the salmon cheek meat was tender and yummy.
Kit and Ruby
Kit had a beautiful heifer calf on May 10th. I named her Ruby. She jumped right up and was nursing on her own without much help from us. Kit calved at about midnight last year and at about 11pm this year so this may turn out to be her yearly routine. Audrey helps me when the calves are born because she is strong and quiet and is good around the animals. One of us holds the momma cow and the other makes sure that the calf is nursing well and is full before we head to bed. We also make sure that Kit has a good dose of minerals to prevent milk fever, a bucket of warm molasses water and a manger full of hay before we go in.
Ginny and Maverick
10 days later Ginny had a gorgeous bull calf that Eli named Maverick. He didn’t want to nurse for the first day so we milked Ginny and bottle fed him. By the end of the day he was licking the barn post and we scooted him over to nurse and he latched right on. Having two babies so close together was a great opportunity to try a new routine to simplify chores for me. The babies stayed in a large covered area and I would bring Ginny in in the morning and evening, tie her up and feed her and let both of the calves nurse on her. She wasn’t too keen on this plan in the beginning. I learned that she liked her calf on the right side and if I put Ruby on the left and stood next to Ginny’s head to block her view then everything went smoothly. For the first couple of months I would milk out what the babies left and then let Ginny loose to bathe her calf. After about 2 months, each calf could nurse out one entire side and I didn’t have to clean her out afterwards. Meanwhile…I would milk Kit with the machine and put her calf in with her to get a bath after milking.
This spring my husband, father, father in law and the rest of us built a 20 by 20 greenhouse. The plan was to plant tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in it in the summer and then move the chickens into it in the late fall. This totally surpassed my expectations! More on the greenhouse later…
I ran low on hay last year and ended up buying about 3 tons from a friend. I don’t want to run low this year. Audrey proved to be an excellent stacker this year and is also learning how to drive the old hay trucks. I estimated that I put up about 10 ton from a friend’s field and 5-6 ton from another field last year for a total of about 16. We put up 20 this year, not including alfalfa for the milk cow, Eastern hay for the horses in the dead of winter and straw for bedding. Hay always happens when it seems to be in the 90s and when we are most busy getting ready for the 4th of July. We take two trucks and put 2 ton on one and 1-2 ton on the other each night for several nights in a row. Luckily, the two different fields are at different elevations and are usually cut several days to weeks apart.
That is the update for the spring and summer, more to come about the fantastic greenhouse and the beef steers!
Rhubarb Berry Crisp
The rhubarb is finally up and I couldn’t resist adding some to a berry crisp we were having for dessert. Yum!
Before I dried Kit up in January I made butter with the extra cream. Notice how light colored it is compared to spring and summer butter.
Parsnips from the garden (before washing off) for the cows. All of the cows love the parsnips but the horses don’t seem to be as fond of them. I grew quite a few carrots this winter too but I didn’t cover them up very well before they froze in the ground. We had colder weather this winter too. The parsnips survive almost anything and I like to put them in stews and they make excellent fresh food for the cows during the winter and early spring before the grass really gets going.
Kit perusing her minerals. I think she has her muzzle in the A-Mix from Advanced Biological Concepts. It has fat soluble vitamins in it that the animals need to support their immune system during the winter.
Ginny and Kit. Both due at the end of April. We will find a new home for Ginny after she calves and gets settled in with her new calf. Milking two cows at once is more than a full time job and I did it once for two months and really don’t want to do it again!
Minerals for the steers. Since the steers are separated from the cows I give them their minerals in a bin like this once a day. Redmond Salt, Fertrell’s Nutribalancer, Thorvin Kelp, A-Mix and some Hemocel from Agri-Dynamics make up tonight’s bin. Sometimes I put out a sulfur mix and occasionally have a different mineral that I offer them. They usually clean it up each day, but if anything is left or wasted I just skip it for a few days and then offer it again. If they suck the whole thing up right away I give them more.
Peanut usually gets first dibs on the minerals. One lick out of the Nutribalancer and now he is moving on to the A-Mix. I like to see which minerals they choose first and which ones they don’t pay much attention to. It gives me good information about what they need at different times of the year. For example, they will go through a lot more of the immune mixes like the A-Mix and BVC from Advanced Biological Concepts in the winter, but not use much in the summer. In the summer they like the sulfur mixes and sometimes things with garlic in them.
Peanut on the left, Ginny’s steer from 2012, and Angus on the right, Kit’s steer from last year. Angus needed to be weaned so that I could dry Kit up this spring and Peanut was still trying to nurse occasionally as well so they have both been separated from the cows. There were a few moos in the first couple of days but they have settled in to being big boys quite nicely. That is the update for now, more to come at the end of April when Kit and Ginny are due!
We had these at a party a couple months ago and they were fantastic. There are lots of versions out there, so try these and then add your own variations. These are adapted from Food.com’s Easy Bacon Wrapped Dates. You will need:
It works well to pre-cook the bacon for 3-4 minutes in a medium-hot skillet. Then transfer the bacon to a baking pan.
Cut the bacon slices into halves or thirds depending on how long each slice is. You want the bacon to be able to go completely around the date and then overlap some so you can pin it with the toothpick.
Wrap the dates with the bacon and pin them with a toothpick.
Bake in a 450 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the bacon is crispy and has caramelized. They will be very hot when they come out so let them cool for a few minutes and enjoy! They are grain free, gluten free and very satisfying. Contrary to popular belief, fat is an important fuel for our brain and our body. In fact, our brains are 80% fat by weight! When our system gets enough fat, it triggers a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK. When this hormone is released it tells our brain that our body is no longer hungry and we can stop eating. Nutrient dense, traditional and stable fats like butter, coconut oil, tallow, lard and olive oil have been used safely for centuries.
Merry Christmas Eve!
This is Kit’s new wool blanket. A company out of New Zealand called WoolOver makes them. Ginny had a size medium for last year and when the weather got into the teens a while ago I got it out and tried to stuff it onto Kit. Ginny didn’t have a calf this past spring and is in really good shape with plenty of weight to keep her warm even in the colder than normal weather so she didn’t need her blanket this winter. Alas, the medium didn’t fit and I quickly ordered a large for Kit. Fits good, she seems to like it now that the trauma of having something shoved over her head is over. Only improvement I wish someone would make to these great blankets is to make pleats or some sort of contour for their hip bones because the blanket starts to rub after a week or so of wear.
Kit and her calf, Angus.
Temp is almost 45 degrees today so Kit gets a break from her blanket.
Ginny, she loves to eat and is a busy body that is good at advocating for herself. I am glad to see her in good weight this winter. She is warm and comfy!
Peanut, Ginny’s calf from two years ago. He will be our first beef cow and I will be glad to send him to the freezer this summer! He lives a pretty lush life with yummy hay, minerals and his momma’s company.
My favorite Waterford stove. We had a beautiful royal blue one at our old home and when we moved in here we quickly found out that a fireplace was almost useless at heating any part of the house other than the living room. After keeping watch online we found two of these used stoves for sale and bought them both. We gave one to a friend who needed a wood stove and saved this one for us. When it is 20 degrees outside I do with I had both of them, or that I had one that was twice this size!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!
This is the first year I have managed to successfully grow cauliflower. It takes a lot of nutrition from the soil to thrive. As a nutritionist, I am acutely aware of how the nutrition from the soil influences the food we grow and eat and in the end, influences our health. One of my mentors, Dr. Bob Marshall, thinks of the human body as a large battery. Food we eat, people we are around, and the thoughts we think on a daily basis are just a few of the things that either re-charge our batteries or drain them.
These are some Romanze potatoes I dug early because I was tired of buying them from the store. They are beautiful; so is the early garlic that I dug up! Each year I try something new in the garden. This item has to be something that I buy a lot of at the store and would like to grow on my own. Garlic was last year’s new crop. I bought seed garlic from a little farm just down the road and planted it last fall. I fertilized it with well composted manure and mulched the rows with local straw. The plants did wonderfully and I look forward to saving my own seed for this fall. Here it is hanging in the barn to dry…
Almost every day, I skim the cream off of a gallon or two of milk. I skim it by hand with a large spoon and put it in a quart jar to save for making butter or peaches and cream.
After I skim the cream, I take the skimmed milk and put it in a pot and warm it up to about 100 degrees F. Then I add a little rennet and leave it be over night. In the morning, it is ready to feed to the chickens. I love great eggs and the hens need plenty of protein to make eggs for us.
Salmon with mayonnaise, herbs and horseradish smothered on top. Yum!
Vegies from our garden. Potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and peas with olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. Next year I will add onions to the normal range of vegies I grow and see how that goes. The more food I can grow in the garden, the better we will be able to “re-charge” our batteries. Keep in mind that food grown miles away from you and trucked or flown in, then kept in a grocery store and finally scanned as you buy it, has a significantly diminished “life force” and ability to feed you. Food grown from your own garden or purchased from local sources is fresh and hasn’t been exposed to a variety of electromagnetic pollution on its way to your door. Go re-charge!
Big Green, my favorite hay truck and now our favorite stage. We have a party each summer for some of Eric’s networking friends. The dentist in this group is a member of a band called Jawbone Flats and they volunteered to play at the party this year. Thanks you guys!