Heifer Diary 2010 - Continued
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July 25, 2010 Sunday
We had to say goodbye today to Grandson Harper and his family. They will be spending a few days at Woods Hole on Cape Cod where Harper is giving a sabbatical and presenting a scientific paper before returning to Alaska.
Apart from goodbyes, this has been a fine day. DS Martin has had the haying equipment parked on the lawn for several days waiting for a break in the weather pattern of steamy days with rain at night. At last today was clear with a breeze and Martin cut the hay in the North Field and Pocket Field, about seven acres. It is a shame it could not have been cut sooner as it is over mature but I am thrilled to be getting it – always assuming it does not rain tonight and it can be baled tomorrow. Mustn’t count our hay before it is hatched. Ted Semonik was tedding while Martin was cutting.
DD Abby watched the kids, Hannah and Henry, while Martin was haying. Amy was back at camp changing all the beds in preparation for Shireen’s sleepover party on Tuesday at the Grohman camp.
July 26, 2010 Monday
Oh frabjous day! The weather was perfect, bright, dry and breezy. Most of the haymaking crew showed up to bale the hay Martin cut on Sunday. The tedding was done as soon as the dew was off. Then they windrowed and more helpers arrived to bale. The baler did not miss a knot all day. Martin’s haying partner Ted Simonik, Ted’s SIL Eric and cousins Holly and Richard said they put 153 bales in the barn. It smells lovely. I am thrilled to have it even if it is over mature.
Holly and Richard came in afterwards and had cookies and milk, “All you can drink”. DD Abby made the cookies.
I can now consider putting the animals into the North Field.
July 27, 2010 Tuesday
The weather continues hot but less humid Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
After I was finished with milk care and wash-up, which takes a great deal longer than barn chores, I went out to have a look at the electric fencing around the North Field. I took along the tool DD Marcia gave me for my birthday, a folding saw with a curved 9” blade designed for jungle warfare. The fence has not been turned on for some time and weeds and brambles have grown up under it. Slashing weeds was the least of my troubles. I certainly hope I did not pay anybody to set up that electric fence. The tape was wound around the insulators, as opposed to running freely through each slot, on about half of the posts. This is a shortcut taken be people who presumably expect never to have anything further to do with the fence. It makes for a fast tight fence but sacrifices the possibility of tightening the fence by standing in one place and pulling it through the slots. It also makes reconfiguation of the fence a slow matter of unwrapping each insulator and forcibly re-closing the nasty little snap connections, a task which is nearly beyond my strength. I spent about 2 hours at this before Marcia came and found me. I had not left a note in the house and she searched every room and down to the river before noticing Willie out in the field where he was supervising. I hope I can get back to the job tomorrow. Somebody else will have to do a major repair to the post and wire section of fence along the road. A vehicle has crashed through it and taken out about 15 ft. What a mess. I will need 3 new steel posts unless I can swipe some from another part of the farm.
After this I helped Marcia pick blackberries. She did most of the picking. Old Helen can reach a lot of the blackberry canes from her side of the fence and has eaten them thorns and all as high as she could reach. Those canes are vicious. She must have a mouth like a camel.
Marcia froze 3 quarts of berries.
DD Sally in Haines AK told me of her latest adventure. Her ducklings, now nearly full grown, live in her greenhouse, which is on the hill above her home. She lets them out to play and relies on the crows that live in the surrounding spruce trees to notify her of predators. She heard a great cacophony and looked up the hill and saw a general flap going on. She grabbed her .22 and raced up too see what was after her ducks, correctly figuring that it was a weasel (mink). She got there in time to see the weasel on a dead duck and shot it. She regrets to say she missed slightly and did not shoot it dead. It ran off screeching and hopping. Not one to waste a duck, she took it to the house and dressed it out. She called to ask me how long to hang it, since it died in distress. I told her I thought 2 days would be enough for such a young bird.
July 28, 2010 Wednesday
Still hot around here. Jasmine gave a bit less than 3 ½ gallons.
I worked another 1 ½ hours on the electric fence and it is all ready except for some tweaking. I was unable to single handedly string the field gate back up that closes off Pocket Field. The fencing in that field is not adequate so the animals will have to stay out for now. Also the section of the North Field fence that was torn out still has to be fixed.
I got a call today inviting me to talk at the Common Ground Fair (MOFGA). My talk will be at 3PM Friday, September 24. Holly and Richard came up with a title for the talk: Forget the Magic Beans, Keep the Cow!
July 29, 2010 Thursday
Jasmine gave slightly over 3 gallons this morning. The weather was perfect, hot but not humid with a light breeze.
DD Marcia and I worked together in the garden. I sawed down some gigantic kale plants that have gone to seed. Kale self seeds so we always have it. Marcia picked 3 quarts of blackberries. She has concluded that it is not just Helen eating the berries but also deer. She extended the electric fence to enclose the brambles. We picked a lot of cucumbers and one ripe tomato which I ate for lunch in a salad with cucumbers.
Marcia and Abby and Marcia’s two daughters, Caiti and Abby Rose invited me to supper at the lake. Caiti made a beurre blanc for our haddock. Marcia made lime ice cream. Caiti’s school friend Valerie is visiting for a few days.
July 30, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave something over 3 gallons this morning – unfortunately I spilled some. The more than month long hot spell appears to have ended. We are told it may be as cool as 40˚ tonight. A lot of good hay has been made. We might even be able to make some more here. I spoke today with Donny Houghton who has bushhogged for me for several years. He will come next week and do the parts of the North Field that Martin could not get into with the mower conditioner and baler and also the River Field where the cows now are grazing.
DD Abby and I made a start on repairing the gate to Pocket Field. It was a snarl of wire.
I made bread using a variation of the overnight slack dough recipe using milk instead of water. It made a nice loaf which I baked in the hot oven of the Aga on a pizza stone. It was half whole wheat and had a fine soft crumb. I also made butter and quark.
Abby and I made a quick trip to Rumford for health food store items. DD Marcia picked more blackberries and black currants and made a dozen jars of jam.
DS Max is still down in PA sampling wells. It’s been two weeks and yesterday he got so hungry for milk that he bought some from the store. He was sick all the next day after drinking it. Now he has found a dairy farmer who will sell him some raw milk. The place where he is staying had an empty jar he could use. It is Holstein milk so not quite the same but he is grateful.
July 31, 2010 Saturday
All agreed – today the weather was perfect. I got outdoors as much as I could. I picked a few blackberries.
I could not finish up the butter I started yesterday. The cream got too warm and formed a mayonnaise like product. I chilled it overnight and worked it by hand this morning to get out as much as possible of the buttermilk but I could not get it all out. When this happens the butter remains pale. It tastes fine but won’t keep very well
I also baked the rest of the slack dough, now three days old. It can be used for as many as seven days but comes out different each day. This more resembled foccacia.
DD Abby who has been staying up at Weld with DD Marcia, moved today to DD Sally’s little house across the river. This has been her plan right along but there was a lot of prep to be done on the place.
Jasmine was perfectly behaved as usual – Mitra and I are each sure we have the most perfect cow. Jas gave a bit less than 3 ½ gallons.
August 01, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine gave close to 3 ½ gallons today. I found out where all the eggs have been going. A hen is setting on them hiding in plain sight of course. She is on a shelf above my line of vision but I reached under her and felt a heap of eggs. I am too much of a softie to take them away now but I sure don’t need more chicks.
DD Marcia’s daughters left today. Abby Rose is off to CA. Caiti and baby Lily will be back on Wednesday. I made dinner here for Marcia and DD Abby and myself. I braised a lamb brisket, an extraordinarily tasty cut though mostly bone. We shredded it up over short grain brown rice steamed in lamb stock. We also had fresh baby beets and their greens and baked custard.
Abby worked a long time today on that bad field gate that separates the North Field from Pocket Field. It is now functional.
August 03, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine gave just 3 gallons.
We had two more days of flawless weather but last night and much of today it rained. Those of us with gardens and pasture were very ready for it. Judging from the dog dish we got about 1 ½ inches. On Monday morning Donny Houghton started the bushhogging. Abby and I went out on errands in the Farmington direction. I bought Abby some fabric that she especially liked for the decoration of DLH (Dear Little House), as she calls Sally’s house where she is now living. We went to White Water Farm where I get my grain. It is as local as I can buy and I am pleased to patronize the owner, Russell Dodge. The feed comes from Quebec. I get COB (corn oats barley, non GM) for Jasmine and layer crumble.
We visited Mitra too. She was not back from her errands so we had a look in the barn at Nellie, Fern (Jasmine’s 9 mo. heifer) and Bella, Nellie’s heifer calf. The barn is very clean and sweet. Abby removed a couple of cow pats that the cows had dropped during Mitra’s absence. The three red piglets are healthy, cheerful and clean in their large run. We did not see Sophie, the massive sow. She was back in the woods keeping cool. The Cornish Cross meat chicks were racing around in their run a lot more actively than most of that breed. Mitra gave me two gallons of milk so that I can get far enough ahead to make butter. We have had some pretty good milk drinkers around here lately.
Back home I was met by Donny with a very long face. He had accidentally filled the tank of the diesel Kubota from a can of watered gas and it had quit far down in Pocket Field on an inconvenient slope. There was not a whole lot to be done at that point except confer with experts.
August 03, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine gave a bit under 3 ½ gallons.
Donny came by about 10am and told me that neighbor Billy Skidgell Jr. who has heavy equipment would be over to tow the tractor up to my front lawn. Donny had left the bucket up which made it a lot easier to tow. It seemed to take Billy no time at all to get a chain on the tractor and tow it home with Donny steering. Now it will be a question of draining the tank, cleaning the filter, replacing the fuel, and a few other things that were mentioned. It is Martin’s tractor. I think he will now have a better night’s sleep, although he was a pretty good sport about the incident.
Rain kept up off and on all day so Marcia stayed home rather than trying to garden here. Abby worked a long time on the fence in the North Field. It needs to have both wire and electric.
It is DS Max’s birthday. He was my first baby to be born at home, an unheard of event at the time.
August 04, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine gave a bit over 3 gallons. The sun is back out. We got fully 4 inches of rain in the last 2 days. The world is more beautiful than ever. The corn is way over my head and tasseling. Farms nearby are ahead of us and are picking corn. I expect they used treated seed and thus did not need to wait for the soil to warm to avoid rot. The potato vines, thanks to Abby’s scrupulous care, are big and healthy. Summer squash is coming on fast. Down in Marcia’s garden there are lots of cucumbers. She has been picking blackberries every day. There have been few years when the berries were this thick. Marcia has also picked about three pecks of string beans most of which Abby has frozen.
August 05, 2010 Thursday
Presumably because of the recent rain encouraging the grass and knocking down the flies, Jasmine’s production was back up to 3 ½ gallons this morning.
Abby continued work on the fence and we were able to open the gate into North Field about 2pm. The cows ambled in. The sheep did not immediately notice the new opportunity.
The hot weather has come blasting back. I was so hot and sticky that when I wanted to take a shower I thought I was going to have to cut my clothes off with scissors. I joined DD Marcia and Granddaughter Caiti and Great Granddaughter Lily for supper up at her camp on Lake Webb. It was cooler there and we ate on the porch. Lily is a friendly little thing about 1 ½ and a great eater. After supper I went down and waded in the lake.
I came home before dark so as to check on the animals. They were all, including the sheep, moseying around in North Field and I decided not to call them in. I hope they don’t get in trouble during the night. Donny Houghton has finished bushhogging in there and the cows are eating some of the cut grass and are finding some new growth too.
DS Bret and kids Maia and Roger are still visiting DD Sally in Haines AK. Bret has now caught his limit of Coho. They fish right out in front of Sally’s house on Lutak inlet which leads to the Chilcoot River.
August 06, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave about the same as yesterday, a little shy of 3 ½ gallons. I allowed the animals to have access to North Field last night. They seemed very quiet, just grazing away on the short grass and chopped off hay strewn around by the bushhogging. So far they show no signs of questioning the fence. Today was beautiful with lower humidity than yesterday, which was brutal. Donny was on the tractor at 7am and has finished the fields this side of the river. He said he would start DD Sally’s field on Monday. That is a larger field, 17 acres, very flat, no rocks. For a Maine farm, the land is remarkably rock free.
DD Marcia picked another gallon of blackberries. They are dead ripe and delicious. Nancy H also picked blackberries after mowing all my lawns. Marcia brought a lovely basket of cucumbers and tomatoes in from the garden. We had our first large red Brandywine for supper.
DD Abby and I had supper here. I made the chocolate ricotta pudding that I “invented” (I’m sure there are no new recipes). I usually make it with quark. It is made with Knox’s gelatin. Abby loves it.
August 07, 2010 Saturday
It was down to 40F this morning. It seems so amazing after all the heat. The cows (Jasmine, Helen and Bo) and the sheep (Agnes, Martha and Susie), are having a fine time trying out all the best spots in North Field and now that it is cut, their old River Field. This morning I had to go way down past the veg garden to the old apple tree at milking time to find them. Jasmine gave over 3 ½ gallons.
Abby made a gallon of delicious stewed zucchinis with tomatoes and onions. Tomorrow when it is cold she will put it into 1 quart freezer bags and freeze it. This makes a wonderfully versatile ingredient in winter time. For supper tonight I baked a couple of 4 oz. eggplants and surrounded them with the zucchini mixture. I served this with lamb chops and garlic bread.
August 08, 2010 Sunday
About 6am I went out on the deck as I so often do at that hour. Two barn swallows had just fledged and were perched on the rail. When they saw me they jumped into the air and began circling the deck as though they were afraid to fly any further. Some 20’ above us the parents were also circling rapidly. All birds were chirping wildly. Fearful that all this chirping would attract Stanley, my cat, or that the young birds would fly too far before they were ready, I faded back into the house. When Abby arrived from her house about 11 o’clock, I was headed down to the garden and the swallows were still around and took exception to my presence by flying in circles as before. Abby came out and stood on higher ground and they literally dived at her getting within a couple of feet of her head. By this time the two youngsters were off on the telephone wire but the parents were still agitated. I feel sure that these swallows had their nest in my new carriage house although I have not seen it. Swallows came every year to the old carriage house which collapsed and clearly had been doing so for generations. The building was almost 200 years old. I have been leaving windows open since early spring to accommodate them but was not sure they had a nest in the new rafters. This is so gratifying. We love our barn swallows.
We had a surprise birthday dinner for DS Max (planned by Mitra) out at Marcia’s camp. Mark and Ann and his daughter Hailey (17) were able to join us. Mark and Ann are both interning at Maine Medical Center in Portland and rarely get a day off together. Hailey is so involved with sports and school activities and work that we seldom see her either. She just returned from a trip to Panama with a youth group that she connected with on the internet. She saved her wages for a year to go. The group did charitable work but also got plenty of time to swim and snorkel. She had a wonderful time and met new friends.
Our cousins Holly and Richard also joined us for dinner and DIL Mitra’s brother David from CA is here for 10 days. Mitra made an outstanding eggplant lasagna. I made the lemon chiffon cake again. The weather was perfect. Max just arrived home last night at 2am after a 10 hour drive from PA where he works for a company that assays for methane leaks and seeps. There is a lot of natural gas under PA and there have always been methane seeps but there is now a great deal of mining for gas taking place and methane is coming up in unexpected places. Some of this is quite alarming, as it is explosive. It is usually associated with water. On Friday a man who had been working in his pump house reassembled his pump and turned his electricity back on and the place blew up. All four walls and the roof blew apart and the man is in the hospital with traumatic injuries. Max directs the testing crew but is not authorized or even able to give answers to people like the poor wife who was totally distraught. Max worked a 90 hour week and is in shaky condition himself. He is off now for 3 weeks.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons and a quart.
August 09, 2010 Monday
At 6am the two young barn swallows were perched on the telephone wire directly outside my bedroom window, preening their armpits. They did not notice me. Later I saw the parents circling around no doubt catching mosquitoes to feed them. The parents made a screechy little chirp to tell me what they thought. Then later, around 4pm, DD Abby and I sat out on the deck and saw great number of swallows in the sky, probably 30 of them. Some may have been other types of swallows.
Jasmine gave well over 3 ½ gallons this morning but I am not sure how much. My new milk transport bucket that Mitra got for me has a funny lip and won’t pour properly. A disappointment! Mitra, I will give it back when I see you. I think it will have to be used for non liquid purposes.
My vet stopped by today and I gave him a quick lunch of salade nicoise. It was delicious if I do say so myself. Abby and I raced down and picked a bowl of blackberries too. He is going away for a 2 month holiday including an Arctic voyage. Nothing 4-legged better get sick around here.
Willie dog had in fact been acting sick for a few days. He threw up last night in the kitchen and it looked like a bird’s nest there was so much grass in it. He has also been eating aloe from my big plant on the deck. He seems now to be recovered.
One visitor today reported seeing a fox cross the road in front of my house. I have so many chickens running around that I likely have not noticed the attrition. Drat.
Sorry to report that the hot muggy weather came steaming back. I don’t have A/C but at least there are no forest fires around here as yet so we are not suffering as badly as the Muscovites. It seems no part of the world is safe. Better enjoy each day. I just wish I could get more done.
Don Houghton was on the job at 7am bushhogging DD Sally’s field. At 11am he came back in holding a part from the tractor that connects the tie rod to its mounting. The thread was stripped so the Kubota wouldn’t steer. Tomorrow I will be occupied with that well known farming task, going to the tractor dealership in search of a part.
August 10, Tuesday
I thought maybe Jasmine was coming into heat today. She was restless and dropped manure in the main aisle. I saw no further signs. The day was sunny but hot and muggy. A thunderstorm blew in about 5pm and cooled things off.
The main excitement today was that DD Abby locked herself out of her car and we had to call AAA. The man had to come from Rumford and was here in 30 minutes, amazingly speedy.
I got out of driving to Osgood’s for the part. I was able to order it over the phone. I should be in next Wednesday. Until then the equipment will sit on the field.
I made a sour cream spice cake from my ancient little book of cream recipes. It called for mace and had a broiled icing. It turned out very well.
DD Marcia took her daughter Caiti and granddaughter Lily to Portland today. Caiti is returning to Virginia.
Here are a few pictures of Caiti and Lily this week.
Picking raspberries at the farm. Mom, PLEEEEZE pick me up!
And Bath time :)
I picked a quart of elderberries. That is not enough to do much with. I believe I will make them into a cordial.
Abby made a perfectly delicious dinner of crepes with a creamed cabbage filling and covered with a mornay sauce. Who would have guessed this could be so good? The sauce had a touch of dry mustard in it. Marcia got back from Portland in time to join us.
I stood on the deck as the sun went down behind the hills. The sheep were backlit giving them a golden aura, the cows were grazing on a section of new grass, and farming seemed like the best possible way to live. I don’t feel tied down. I feel uprooted when I have to leave.
August 11, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons. Abby arrived early so that she could observe the whole milking procedure. I am usually alone.
The broccoli keeps coming on. I made a 4th or 5th cutting today. Marcia picked another 2 pecks of pole beans. The tomatoes are coming on fast now. It is very exciting.
Marcia and Abby and I had supper together here. I made beef teriyaki with soba noodles and a tomato and cucumber salad. Beef teriyaki is universally popular. It takes less time to defrost a rump steak than does ground meat. As soon as the steak is thawed enough to sliver with a sharp knife, cut it thinly and stir it up with a few tablespoons of toasted sesame oil and tamari. Let it sit while preparing the rest of the meal, then stir fry it rapidly in a little more oil of some kind, 3 minutes is enough. I don’t try to cook any vegetables with it. They are better stir fried separately.
August 12, 2010 Thursday
This morning, bright and sunny, I let the dogs out about 6am. A few minutes later I stepped out onto the deck just in time to see a fox running at top speed outside the fence of the sheep paddock that runs right to left across my view. Not far behind the fox and running as fast as his stumpy Westy legs would carry him, was Willie. Loping along in the rear came Bagel who is not serious about foxes. All three disappeared over the river bank. That was the last I saw of the fox but the dogs came dragging back home about a half hour later.
DD Abby went out to tend her huge paddock garden as usual and came back to tell me of an amazing event neither of us had ever seen. There is a good sized block of tasseling corn and hovering over the tassels were hundreds of honey bees, presumably gathering pollen, since corn does not require pollinators. The air was filled with the sound of their humming. I have seen so few bees of recent years that I was of the belief that there were none around. These bees should now be well supplied with our fine organic corn pollen.
I stayed in the garden to look for oversized zucchinis and yellow summer squash. I found more than would fit in a 5 gallon bucket.
This morning Abby brought me a bucket of apples from a home in Weld with a highly productive tree near the road. Every year the apples fall and lie neglected and we speak to the owners to ask permission to glean. Every year they say “Help yourself, we’re glad to get rid of them, we never use them.” This year they said “OK, pick them u p, but several people are asking for them.” Does this mean times are changing? Further chatting brought forth the information that the younger generation of the family are driving up from Texas. The dad had just left the military and the kids have never seen a cow being milked. So it looks like I will be having visitors.
I cooked up some of the apples and made a couple of quarts of outstanding applesauce.
And here is something else I tried. I am on the lookout for ways to use quark, clabber being so plentiful now and quark no trouble to make. In a very old international cookbook I found a recipe in the Russian section that is obviously calling for quark (It talks of draining curds.) The amounts are not all given clearly. But you take a pound of quark that is fairly firm, work in salt, nutmeg and 1/8 to ¼ lb of softened butter, 3 eggs and 3 ½ cups of flour. I used the Cuisinart and did not add quite all of the flour. You work this all up into rather a stiff dough and make dumplings. I simmered them for about 20 minutes in salted water as instructed. Serve with melted butter. The dumplings were amazingly well flavored. I can see them simmered in soup or chicken stock. Or they could go in a dessert direction in which case they would resemble Japanese mochi. The recipe made about 20 dumplings.
Jasmine gave a bit under 3 ½ gallons.
August 13, 2010 Friday
DD Abby and I launched a new search for the umbrella that goes on the table on the deck. We wanted to sit out there and eat our late breakfast. This time we found it, hiding in plain sight of course, and I set it up while she made beautiful waffles which we ate while overlooking the farm. The rest of the day was a blur of activities. About 3pm I realized that I really could not make it until Monday with any sort of grace were I not to do a bit of shopping. For one thing, we are getting together on Sunday to welcome Mitra’s cousins Veronica and Liza and their boys who are visitng from Manteca CA and Mexico City respectively, and to celebrate Roshan’s 12th birthday. So I went to Wal-Mart.
Shopping at Wal-Mart was an oddly surreal experience. Something seemed wrong. Many of the food bins and shelves were empty. A lot of the kiosks have been removed leaving open spaces big enough for skate boarding. There were no onions. There was no apple cider vinegar of any description. There were not many shoppers either. Only two checkout lanes were open. I thought, is this what it like when the just-in-time food system fails? Later at home I told DS Martin, a reliable optimist, about this he said “Oh Mom, probably their trucks were just late.”
Jasmine gave a bit under 3 ½ gallons this morning just like yesterday.
August 15, 2010 Sunday
Abby and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this morning getting ready for a dinner party at DD Marcia’s. I made a pate’ of tongue which was very good, although not everyone cared to try it. DD Abby made a beautiful platter of beets and sliced tomatoes with a feta dressing. She used beets from our garden. They were the cylindrical ones called Formanova for which she bought the seed. I have been resistant to planting them, thinking the shape was gimmicky but now I am a convert. She peeled them and sliced them before steaming them. They made a perfect arrangement. Marcia, with help from Max and Mitra’s brother David cooked the turkey on the grill. It took longer than expected so we ate pretty late. The kids all swam and the men took passengers on the Hobie Cat. There was a stiff breeze.
I made the same cake as last week but with a different icing. This very easy chocolate spice cake takes 2 cups of sour cream. I so often have extra sour cream and I don’t like to add it to the churn unless the flavor is perfect. The cake calls for 2 cups of sugar, rather a lot, but makes 24 servings. That comes out to 16.6 grams per serving. At 5 gm per (rounded) teaspoon that makes 3.3 teaspoons of sugar per serving, or close. Whether that is good or bad is a matter of perspective I guess.
Jasmine gave a bit under 3 ½ gallons today.
August 16, 2010 Monday
I rained last night, not hard, less than an inch, but saved us a lot of watering. DD Marcia came down and picked beans. She plans to make dilly beans. She also picked carrots so that she can include carrot sticks in with them. She took the carrots tops to chop and freeze. They are a great addition to stock for flavor and vitamin A.
DD Abby and I picked up more apples last night on the way back from the lake. Abby made applesauce and I canned 5 pints. I hope we can get a lot more. Abby also made a big kettle of a well seasoned zucchini, onion and tomato mixture, probably 8 quarts. We will probably freeze this lot but next time I will can it. It is highly versatile. Besides soup, it greatly improves spaghetti sauce. One can also pour polenta on a plate, top it with the mixture and melt cheese on it for a fast meal.
August 17, 2010 Tuesday
DS Max is coming over tomorrow to bring feed and fence wire. He added the following to his note:
I had to add a rail to the pig fence that fronts the barn yard. This was not so much to keep pigs in as to keep cows out. Nellie kept leaning over the fence trying to get the pigs’ food in their trough. The fence was getting all crunched down and the pigs were able to get their feet over the top when they were all frantic at feeding time. I put a stop to all that fun. The cows have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get at the pig food, as evidenced by the great mat of (….) all over the ground there.
Luick’s are about to start a new lot of meat chickens. These have proven very popular. Mitra has been selling chicken futures.
August 18, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
This morning, dim though it was, I could tell there was a mouse in the plastic grain bin. I stuck my head out of the barn door and called for Willie who was lying on his back on the gravel driveway catching the first rays. “Willie! Mouse!” I said. He came pounding over as fast as he could and ran up to the grain bin. I tipped it up so he could get at the mouse and he made his dive. The mouse was not seen again.
The weather continues fine. It is in the 80’s and too hot to work comfortably outside but we do it anyway. DD Abby removed the deep litter from the stall that now houses the hen with four chicks. It was about 8” deep and very light and fluffy. The hen digs through it like a small tornado. I’m surprised she has not buried her chicks. Abby forked it onto a tarp and with the help of Max dragged it down to the lower veg garden where DD Marcia used it to mulch the strawberries. It is wonderful stuff.
Max is doing some fencing for me on the stretch along the road. I have electric fence up but that part of the wire fence is a shambles. Fortunately none of my current group of animals has proved adventuresome.
August 19, 2010 Thursday
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons. Jasmine showed faint signs of heat. Abby and I left for errands – I had to pick up a tractor part. The Kubota has been sitting on Sally’s field for over a week with a stripped tie rod – and the part was in. When I got home at 4:30 I went to look for Jasmine. She had no obvious signs of heat but followed me closely back to the barn. The sheep came along too, in fact everybody came along so I had three sheep and three cows milling around in the Beefer Pen as I call the room with the hay feeder. Jasmine obligingly stood by the hay feeder so I climbed up on it and draped myself across her back. She stood for a full minute. I decided it was worth discussing this with my AI tech. It is one day past when I had marked on my calendar to watch but I observed nothing yesterday apart from some extra mooing. My AI tech cannot get here before tomorrow late morning but he seemed to think it worth sticking his arm in. I wish I had not left today. I have ordered Randall semen (also called Randall Lineback, a heritage breed, from Farmer Phil.
August 20, 2010 Friday
Here’s joy for you! Roaring heat this morning after all! Jasmine and both of the others were bellowing and churning around. There was no separating Helen and Jasmine. I had to bring them both in. Jasmine gave less than 3 gallons. After milking I kept them all in the beefer pen to be available at noon for Nathan C, my AI tech, expected at noon. I had Jasmine ready in her stanchion but once again had to bring in Helen. Nathan thought Jasmine was “Just right” and most likely would settle. He asked about Helen whom he had met many years before. I said we thought she was cystic as none of her breedings had taken. He offered to have a feel and reached in and said there were no cysts, in fact so far as he could tell she was in heat. So I had him give her my second Randall straw. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they would both settle and we were to get two Randall calves?
My car was dangerously low on gas so this afternoon Abby and I drove into town to fill up. On the way home we stopped at an antique shop in Dixfield that for once was open. We spent a lot of time browsing his vast over priced collection. I offered $25 for a rug that I know had been there 6 months. “No. I have a place for that rug.” was his flat reply. When we were ready to leave Abby handed him a heavy wool sweater and asked what he wanted for it. He literally threw it down on a chair, saying, “I can’t be bothered with that.” and went off limping and frowning among his endless warren of rooms. I noticed that a group of out of town people who arrived at the same time as ourselves left in discouragement. Abby and I agreed it was like something out of Dickens.
Back home again, I went looking for the animals. Jasmine was still bellowing which is not a really good sign but she may have been worried. She was up by the garden whereas Helen and Bo were down near the river staring at something. Abby, observing from the buttery door, saw the fox (or is it a coyote) loping along the edge of the brush by the river. I don’t know how short little Willie could tell, but he was going nuts to be after it. He and Abby both headed for the river. Willie got there first and Abby found him running up and down at the river’s edge where the fox had crossed heading towards Abby’s (DD Sally’s) house which is high on the opposite bank. The river is shallow now. Willie waded halfway across before thinking better of it. Abby called him to come home with her and he seemed to be coming but then doubled back. He arrived home with wet feet about 15 minutes later.
Abby picked the first two ears of corn from her amazing patch. The kernals were still pretty small and milky but we ate them. The ears are long and free of damage.
DS John called from Adelaide. He reports that his son Tommy can remain standing with the aid of his standing frame for 45 minutes. At first it was only about 2 minutes. John is getting a car modified for him. Australian cars feature strong primary colors. John is renewing the paint on this bright yellow one.
August 23, 2010 Monday
By Saturday Jasmine and Helen were back to their old selves and we all had a quiet day. On Sunday DD Abby and I devoted ourselves to cooking for Mitra’s birthday dinner at Marcia’s camp. I made an Iranian khoresh of lamb simmered in pomegranate juice with cubed butternut squash. Abby made a Black Forest cake and a cucumber and yogurt salad. Abby also made a retro molded gelatin salad using packets from the health food store that were some plant based ingredient. She put peaches and blueberries in it. It was highly popular with the kids. She had a large ornamental mold. Having learned to cook in the 40’s and 50’s I was able to help her get it just right so that it unmolded nicely, as did the cake from its bundt pan. Mitra made the Iranian rice with a crust which is also formed in a mold. Abby made a gift to Mitra of one of her butterfly paintings. Marcia gave her a cute bird house made locally.
Today was chiefly distinguished by my early morning discovery that Helen was not with the others but instead was out in the middle of Pocket Field which I thought was safely fenced off. Of course old Helen who was born and bred here knows every possibility. Abby and I did considerable fence line walking to figure out the problem. We found that there was actually an unfenced gap down by the river where she could walk around the end of a section of fence and through a wooded gully and thence into Pocket Field. Sigh. I don’t have materials here to repair the fence so tomorrow morning I may find every one of the critters over in Pocket, which has lovely 6” green grass. I have a ram on order so will have to keep him confined until this fencing is done.
This afternoon Abby devoted herself to whacking out bittersweet from the trees and fence in front of the house. Bittersweet is like kudzu. It grows faster than anything and gets so heavy in trees that it suffocates them. It is a terrible invasive vine. We cut it off and then apply Roundup to the cut ends to slow it down. It does not actually die. I have to abandon my organic principles when it comes to bittersweet. It has great tangled roots that cannot be eradicated and sends runners great distances underground. Above ground it roots wherever it touches.
Abby also made a world class banana cream pie. I had seconds.
Don Houghton has completed bushhogging DD Sally’s field.
August 24, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. The weather was absolutely perfect. Happily, Helen did not lead the others astray. They were all where they belonged this morning. I have asked Max to pick up another roll of fencing to cover the gap we found.
Marcia and Abby both worked on the garden a long time and so did I. I slashed out a lot of wild raspberry and burdock that is invading one of my borders. My rose, Fantin Latour, that was sawed off at the base by a helper in the early spring has grown back well and is now a big bush again. But I guess it missed its season to bloom. It looks wonderfully healthy but there are no buds. I have fed it with a lot of whey. I finally located the other sawed off rose that I think is John Franklin, an Explorer Rose. It was nearly suffocated in fern and bittersweet.
Abby painted the refrigerator out in the breezeway that I use for milk. She did a great job. It is now a lovely soft aqua. It was formerly afflicted with ugly rust spots.
This evening I shredded and salted the zucchini and onion for relish which I will make tomorrow. I shredded 12 cups of zuke using my old KitchenAid attachment. It does a great job.
DS Mark’s friends John and Woody of Portland ME, are off on another major adventure. Woody, but not John, enjoys trekking on horseback. She has taken many wild treks in NZ and last spring just as she was leaving NZ she was thrown and broke both wrists. Her heart was set on a trek across Mongolia so she worked hard to recover. I sent down some of Jasmine’s milk which I think she drank. Now they are in Ulan Bataar and sent this. As I understand it, John and some of the other members of the group, are on a bus.
….This keyboard is in Cyryllic so excuse screw-ups. We arrived in Ulaan Bataar at 1:30 AM Mongolian time after a 33 hour trip with absolutely no sleep, but we arrived and the luggage did too, so no complaining. …..We have discovered a black market with warnings about gangs of men trying to separate individuals from their herd and wallets, so we will keep an eye out for those of us less wiley than others. … …Ulaan Bataar is a combination of Hanoi, Havanna, and Port au Prince---big, loud, dirty, boistrous, socialist-- but with a booming peoples' capitalism. Lots of beer and cigarettes but so far we have not found any Sauvignon Blanc...John brought bourbon in two nalgene bottles but it seems I must settle for the fermented mare's milk ,which they say is full of vitamins so things aren't all bad. Mark, this may be a new market for your Mom's milk cow...apparently it's an easy process---something about a leather pouch with milk hung from a branch. Twirled occasionally. No pasteurization. Easy. Will let you know about full bodied vs thin, hints of gooseberry vs dung, that sort of thing….
Woody is a retired X-ray technician, John a retired urologist. They have been great friends to Mark and DIL Ann.
August 25, 2010 Wednesday
DS Max spent almost all day in the woods trying to trace my spring line. He was ultimately forced to give up without locating all of it. The woods are very dense in that area. The guy who was supposed to come with his backhoe and trench across a dirt track was unable to make it due to a breakdown. It was all very frustrating. Max will be back on Saturday to renew his attempt and DS Martin plans to be here to help this time. We ate sweet corn from the garden. It is performing phenomenally. The squash vines and potatoes are also very vigorous.
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons. It rained all day and the high was 55˚.
August 26, 2010 Thursday
Jasmine gave just 3 gallons.
DD Marcia and I went to Wilton and picked up my ram. He is a Dorset x Finn barely 5 months old but magnificently endowed. The owner said he is already active. He had just been shorn. His owner has a wonderful stand for shearing. The ram’s name is Willie but I already have my Willie dog so we are renaming him Bildad. He is extremely friendly and gentle. He already has well developed Dorset horns. I have him penned by himself but will give him an opportunity in the morning to get acquainted with my three ewes. He is far smaller than Martha and Susie, who are pure Sussex and only about a month older even though they get only 1 lb/day of grain between the 3 of them and he has been getting 4lbs/day. I put a collar on him. I hope Agnes does not beat him up.
Abby made another batch of the zucchini tomato medley. I pressure canned 7 quarts and she froze 3 quarts. Marcia picked a lot of shell beans.
August 27, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons After milking, Abby and I supervised an introductory visit between Bildad and the ewes. He was not afraid of them despite their greater size. There was a lot of sniffing and Agnes butted Bildad amidships several times but he turned right around and gouged her in the armpit with his horns. The interaction with Martha and Susie appeared to be somewhat playful. Tomorrow I will put all four of them in the sheep paddock which is about ½ acre and pretty well fenced. We can supervise from the deck.
Marcia and Abby and I went in search of a lawn sale in Wilton for which Marcia had spotted signs. Sadly, it had taken place last week and they had failed to take in their signs. Sigh. It was the first time we had gone lawn saling for just about forever. We did find a couple of flea markets of a mediocre sort. I bought a bran new pizelle iron for 50 cents. We then went to seek Mitra at the Farmer’s market but she was not there today due to taking a sick cat to the vet, as we learned from another vendor. We did run into Roshan, my granddaughter, and her Mexican cousin, Santiago, who is here for the school year. They were enjoying the fine day scouting around town. Both had big smiles. Both kids have very nice manners with adults. Also at the market was Roshan’s cello teacher, Amy LeBlanc. Amy had good reports of Roshan.
Abby has a keen eye for abandoned apple trees. We stopped in two places and scavenged. There are hundreds of abandoned apple orchards in Maine. They fell victim first to apples moving to Washington State and now to China.
August 28, 2010 Saturday
Calloo callay, Oh frabjous day! After many a discouraging failure, today DS Max got my spring line running again. He has devoted at least four separate days to the effort. Today Martin was here to help. It involved a great deal of running around in swampy woods assisted by the GPS devise I gave Martin last Xmas and a great deal of back flushing the line to clear air locks not to mention lots of trips to hardware stores to buy up all the PEX water line pipe in two counties. They still had to do a temporary splice of garden hose to complete the distance but now once again I have spring water running in my granite sink, lovely sweet water.
DD Abby and I put my new ram, Bildad, out with the ewes today. I confined them to the sheep paddock. Agnes was not happy about it. She is not pleased with Bildad and butts him a lot but he instantly retaliates with his well grown curly horns and does not run away. The ewe lambs are more welcoming. Agnes spent most of the day sulking under the buttery until Abby went out and stood with them while they grazed. Tomorrow I will probably allow them the whole pasture.
Abby made 8 pints of cucumber pickles.
Martin split and stacked about a half a cord of wood.
I made tamale pie, sheepherder style, and took it out to DD Martin’s camp. Martin joined us but Abby was too tired. She made an apple cake to send along. Marcia made a cucumber salad.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning.
August 30, 2010 Monday
We have had two very hot days. DD Abby and I are suffering from the heat. It was around 90˚ yesterday and today. Everything is beautiful and growing but constant watering is required. Abby stands out there for hours watering her vegetables. The combination of heat and watering is producing phenomenal vegetables. There are now piles of attack zucchinis and cucumbers. Today she began bringing in potatoes.
On Sunday Abby got excited about a chutney recipe that calls for apples and tomatoes both of which we have. It is called St. John’s Chutney in Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson. Besides the above, it calls for a great lot of dates and raisins. The recipe makes a lot. I canned 14 pints of outstandingly good chutney.
DS Max has left us again for his job site in PA. He will once again be gone 3 weeks.
August 31, 2010 Tuesday
We are having another heat wave. The whole state is in the 90’s with no immediate relief in sight. Abby, who has been working outside a lot, was really almost ill today and I got very little done myself. It is almost impossible even to read. My glasses keep slipping down my face.
Right now it is 9:30 and Abby is out watering in the dark so that she won’t have to be out in the heat tomorrow.
The sheep have not got their new social arrangements ironed out. Bildad would like to lead but has no idea where and when to go anywhere. He has had minimal experience with life on pasture. Agnes remains in charge.
Lester Averill, who was my car mechanic until his retirement, called today to offer me rhubarb. I went down to his place and he gave me over 20 pounds of stalks. It is of surprisingly good quality considering the lateness of the season.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons.
September 01, 2010 Wednesday
Cousins Holly and Richard came for lunch. They were good sports about the heat, although at noon it had not become unbearable. I gave them chicken salad (Mitra’s chicken, home made mayo), corn on the cob, fresh whole wheat bread, assorted heirloom tomatoes and for dessert, rhubarb sauce enhanced with chopped candied ginger and whipped cream. This was a super easy lunch and we had fun.
The heat continues. My house is especially hot despite being brick. I own a small A/C window unit and today Abby set it up in my bedroom. It has been running now for two hours and my room is downright cold. I can hardly wait for it to be bedtime.
In the late afternoon I took the leftover chicken salad out to Marcia for her supper. We had tea on the wharf. It was lovely and a lot cooler than here at the farm.
The animals all seem fine. Jasmine gave almost 3 ½ gallons.
Max wrote me about the latest Luick adventure. He wrote:
Mitra and the girls had some excitement yesterday when the piglets escaped. Only Roshan and Santiago were home. To their credit, they got all three back into their pen and the hole in the fence repaired by the time Mitra got home from picking up Shireen at soccer. Mitra is adding some electric on that section. It's right at the front of the pen by the water. I hope the little ******** get zapped.*
I am no longer responsible for Max’s language.
September 02, 2010 Thursday
I’ve lost track of how many days touching 90F we have had in a row. My brains are boiled. But yesterday Abby cleverly installed the little window a/c in my bedroom so I was a lot cooler last night. I notice the cows and sheep are picking their time to graze, mostly early morning and evening. Jasmine’s production is variable lately. This morning she gave just over 3 gallons.
When I called in the sheep for their morning grain one of the ewe lambs, Martha, did not come. Abby went in search and found she had jumped through a wooden fence and gotten only half way. Her back end was stuck so that she was in a standing position but with her hind hooves barely touching the ground. Maybe she would have eventually got herself loose but all she seemed to be able to think of was saying ‘Baaa”.
Showers are predicted for some parts of Maine tonight or tomorrow but Marcia and Abby are not taking chances. They both watered their gardens. So far I have plenty of water.
I made a carrot cake. I have been looking forward to the day when I have so many carrots in the garden that I can be profligate with them. This cake calls for 3 ½ cups of finely shredded carrot which I made with an attachment to my KitchenAid. A carrot cake is so much better when made with top quality fresh juicy carrots. Save the pineapple and coconut for times when only storage carrots are available. The only thing I added was sultanas/golden raisins.
September 03, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave just 3 gallons. Today seemed even hotter. I don’t make a point of looking at the thermometer but the weatherman said that Portland, Maine officially had a record breaking heat wave, 5 days over 90˚ and they are right by the ocean. Disturbance caused by the hurricane along the east coast will cause enough disturbances here to break up some of the heat and perhaps bring much needed rain.
Abby and I went to Wal-Mart for a few supplies. There were still a few plants in their nursery division, all on sale, and I bought several including a pink peony in a 10 inch pot for $9 and chrysanthemums for $3. DD Sally will soon be visiting and is especially fond of chrysanthemums. St Teresa’s Free Store, a thrift, was closed because of the heat, as are some schools.
DS Martin and his little kids Hannah and Henry arrived for the weekend. Their mom will be along tomorrow. Abby and I made them a spaghetti dinner. I like to chop and sauté zucchini, onion and tomatoes, then add a quart of commercial sauce and ground meat. This makes a sauce of superior flavor. I find that the chunky vegetables greatly improve the sauce. But if confronted by persons who object to non traditional inclusions, use a stick blender or otherwise mash the veg and the complainers will be none the wiser. An entire 10 inch zucchini disappeared into this sauce.
DS John in Adelaide called. In a few days his sons Jack and Tommy will be driving to Sydney where Tommy is to enter a month of therapy. He is paying for it himself with the 10K he had saved for travel before his accident. John has had a car modified with hand controls so Tommy can do some of the driving.
September 04, 2010 Saturday
At last, blessed relief from the heat. It rained an inch and a half last night which made everyone happy. Jasmine gave almost 3 ½ gallons. The thermometer did not rise above 70F and towards evening a nice breeze came up and it is down to 60F.
DS Martin and his haying partner Ted Simonek, moved the baler and tedder and mower conditioner from my lawn back up to Weld. I love haying equipment and don’t complain about it cluttering up the view but admit to being pleased to have my lawn back.
Abby obtained permission to pick apples in an orchard in Wilton that is no longer cared for. She brought home two feed bags full. There are tons of apples in case we are able to get back for more. Most are not full size and many are wormy but that’s ok.
I planted the peony and chrysanthemums and Artemisia that I bought yesterday. They are in a new bed prepared last week by Nancy H.
We gave a lot of corn to Martin and his family. It is coming on fast now and will soon be ahead of us.
For supper Abby and I made a frittata with new potatoes and other garden veg. It was excellent!
DD Marcia went to Portland this afternoon to meet her DD Abby Rose and her fiancé Ernie. They are moving to Maine from LA. They have two dogs, a Chihuahua named Pepe and what may be the world’s biggest Akita, an intact male named Kuma. Fortunately he seems friendly. They will all be staying with Marcia for the present. Their plan is to settle in Portland. Ernie is a blower of art glass.
I got the spring sink running again by back flushing it with the hose from my artesian well here at the house. What joy to have my spring water back.
September 06, 2010 Labor Day Monday
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons. She and all the animals look great except for Bildad, the little ram, who looks odd because of having been sheared, It makes his head look too big. But he is solidly filled out.
I ran out of day on Sunday so did not write. DD Abby and I got up very early so as to attend mass in Lewiston, more than an hour’s distance. We visited Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church. It was not easy to find and we were 15 minutes late so missed quite a lot. I had never attended a Greek Orthodox mass before. It is entirely sung by the priest and choir. The congregation stands virtually the entire time and there are no hymns. It was entirely in Greek except for the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. The day was beautiful. We were invited to stay for coffee and doughnuts but thought we had better get home.
Well, the spring ran for only two days. I will pick up some more PEX to replace the garden hose that is spliced in. But I will have to wait for one of my sons to help with the project and that may be awhile.
Martin made some nice hay. They cut Saturday and baled today. Lots of friends and family helped load and deliver it into the barn. It was only 57 bales but is very nice. They are large heavy bales so thank goodness Martin bought the hay elevator last year. DIL Amy and her dad, Ken, cousins Holly and Richard and Ernie all helped.
Here are Hannah and Henry helping with the haying.
Marcia was here today for a couple of hours and harvested tomatoes. They are so beautiful, much the best crop in years.
Yesterday I drank the pint of milk that I bottled on August 21 as a test of keeping quality. It was not sour and in fact tasted perfectly drinkable although it had lost some of its original charm. We had the big hot spell and more opening and shutting of the milk frig than usual so I was pretty well pleased. I will try it for 3 weeks next time. I really do expect it to last 3 weeks.
Mitra has badly injured her knee by twirling to get out of the way of Fern who was mounting Nellie. Fern is Jasmine’s 10 month old heifer who is staying at the Luicks’ on a weaning vacation. Nellie is Mitra’s cow. We cannot have this sort of thing happening. Marcia will go with her trailer some day this week and we will bring Fern back over here.
News flash from Tok, Alaska: DD Sally’s daughter Rebecca is expecting her 2nd baby in March to join brother Torleif, 2 ½ .
September 07, 2010 Tuesday
After getting chores done on this beautiful day, Abby, Marcia and I went over to Holly and Richard’s house for a tasty lunch. Their meals are served, weather permitting, and it did, on a long table on the screen porch overlooking Wilson Pond. This is a charming quiet lake at the edge of the town of Wilton. A person could walk from their cottage or home on the lake into Wilton and do all the usual town things such as grocery shopping, banking, hardware store, library, and eat at a selection of places. It looks like old fashioned civilization to me. I expect there is a post office too but I don’t know where it is. There are also several well attended churches.
We had a very tasty stir fry and one of Richard’s famous blueberry pies.
Here is Mitra's DD Roshan and cousin Santiago sitting on the dock outside Holly and Richard's screen porch, just a few days later.
So far today I have not talked to Mitra but hope to arrange to pick up Fern on Thursday. A note from Mitra this morning said she has a lot of pain in her knee. She will no doubt call when she is able to.
I made butter today for the first time in nearly two weeks. The milk and cream get devoured so fast that there is seldom enough to fill the churn. It has cooled off just enough to make butter making possible and today’s butter was excellent.
September 08, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine gave just 3 gallons. I had to keep her waiting about 5 minutes while milk dripped because the vacuum on the milking machine was not functioning properly. The pulsator resisted seating properly and the faint whistling I have noted around the claw was louder. Interruptions to routine such as this are annoying to cows and inhibit let down.
Back in the kitchen, I dressed the old Surge in a new set of rubber which I had recently ordered and will use it tomorrow. Foolishly, I did not order new rubber for the DeLaval at the same time.
The weather today was warm and damp but not unpleasant. Abby and I both got a lot done. Marcia went to Auburn to visit her friend Arline and have dinner. On the way home she picked up 5 quarts of goats’ milk I had waiting in the frig. It is from my neighbor Germaine’s goat. It is lovely milk. Marcia plans to make cheese with it.
Abby fixed a delicious dinner. It was Carbonades de boeuf, a well flavored Belgian stew that calls for beef and onions braised in beer. I cut the first of our cabbages and a giant carrot which I steamed separately. These were amazingly fresh tasting. She also made a custard with duck eggs given me by Germaine.
September 09, 2010 Thursday
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons. I was using the Surge with all new rubber in case that had any influence. The Surge has very few advantages over the DeLaval (tall bucket) but one is that the teat cups are easily put on and off and when off they are not in danger of vacuuming up debris. They hang harmlessly at the side.
Marcia came over and hitched up her trailer and she and I went to Mitra’s house and picked up Fern. Fern is Jasmine’s calf of last year, now almost 11 months old. She has an excellent disposition and loaded effortlessly. I led her on with a pan of grain. Back here at Coburn Farm she rejoined the others with very little silliness. All four bovines (Jasmine, Helen, Bo Diddly and Fern) swirled around a bit. Jasmine gave Fern an unearned head butt just to clarify the pecking order. When the sheep tried to join in Jasmine gave one of her rare kicks. She considers sheep to be among the lower orders of creation. It will take another day or two to be sure that Fern does not suck.
I was recently asked by a Hawaii reader how long to hang beef and what cutting order to give the butcher. This was my answer:
How long to hang beef? Discussion goes back and forth. Many people feel strongly that two or more weeks of hanging results in superior flavor and tenderness. Certainly my experience has been favorable. But for those who prefer very fresh meat, there is no arguing with personal taste. However, the assertion that hanging is a form of rot is a form of prejudice, I would say. In fact hanging is a form of fermentation. It is most certainly not harmful.
Probably the most important single thing to assure best flavor of your meat is to minimize mental trauma of your steer. Over excitement and fear cause the release of adrenalin, not good. I have known people who feed various herbs, at least one of which grows well in Hawaii among the banana groves.
Staying on standby during slaughter and reminding the butcher of your desire for the offal may make the big difference in his cooperation. Be equipped with a tub or plastic bags. My butcher used to require me to take possession of the offal immediately. He would not package it. Now, perhaps because of group pressure, he does package it. But I would prefer to take it immediately despite the inconvenience likely to be involved. You have a better chance of getting back your own stuff. Also if you cut and wrap your own liver you can do it using my own special method. Here's what to do:
You will need a knife with a large wide blade, or at least a very sharp knife. Slice your liver in as many big flat slices as you can manage, trimming away the gristly bits.
Now take a cookie sheet and spread it with wax paper. Arrange slices on this in a single layer. Now cover this with TWO SHEETS of wax paper and arrange another layer of slices. Continue this double sheet separation of layers until all slices are used up.
Now carefully set the cookie sheet full of liver into your freezer keeping it perfectly flat so nothing slides off. When it is frozen solid put the liver, still lying flat, into a big plastic bag and thence into an outer bag for more protection and press out as much air as possible.
Now you can easily take out the exact number of liver slices you want without waste and fry it frozen in no time flat.
September 10, 2010 Friday
It begins to feel a bit like fall. We each wore an extra layer of cotton shirts. Some leaves are yellow around the edges.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. We are still getting very few eggs, usually 3 a day. The cows were perfectly quiet and orderly but we noticed that Fern follows Jasmine very closely. I hope I don’t find milk missing in the morning.
Marcia took home about half a bushel of tomatoes to can. I started a pot of black beans.
September 12, 2010 Sunday
The weather today was superb. Everyone was rejoicing in it especially as summer winds down. Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
DS Mark and DIL Annie got a rare weekend off together from the hospital and had the loan of DS Martin and DIL Amy’s camp on Lake Webb. DD Abby and I took dinner up to them, black beans and sausage over rice and a salad.
Today Mark and Annie climbed Tumbledown. The weather was cool and the sky overcast but they could see the view.
DD Sally arrived today from Alaska. Her trip was uneventful but starting in Haines AK makes it very long. First she flew in the Cessna to Juneau, thence to Seattle where she had a 6 hour wait, then to Boston through the night, then by bus to Portland ME. It took a bit less than 24 hours which makes it shorter than many earlier trips. Nonetheless it is a long and complicated trip. She was picked up in Portland by DD Marcia’s daughter Caiti who with her baby Lily was in Portland on her way here from VA. All three arrived in fine shape despite their travel.
Sally launched herself into farm life with a tour of the pasture fencing accompanied by the dogs of course. We all looked at the gardens and admired the flowers and vegetables. Abby and I dug the first potatoes. I always get confused but I believe these were Kennebecs. I got the seed from Wood Prairie Farm.
Mark and Ann joined us for dinner. I braised some meaty lamb neck bones, a cut which in England is called scragg end. I love that name. Anyone who is giving meat cutting orders for lamb should ask for these cross sections of neck. American butchers don’t call it scragg end so you just have to describe what you want. It is bony meat but so tasty. We also had the black beans again, potatoes, and tomato and cucumber salad. We grew several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, all delicious, and the cucumber is a local white variety developed in nearby Jay. Abby made an apple upside-down cake using some of the apples she gleaned last week. I made a big bowl of whipped cream for it.
While here, Dr. Mark had a look at my left ankle which has been bothering me. First it felt numb for a couple of weeks and this morning had a painful twinge. He pulled on my foot and manipulated the joint which made me yelp but resulted in immediate relief. He said my tibia was displaced. There is lymph build-up in my ankle for which he recommended elevating my foot (Hah! When might I do that?) and handed me 3 Ibuprofen. Prior to his treatment I was limping like an old lady but now am almost back to normal walking.
Today brought one big disappointment. Jasmine came into heat. I might have missed this but Sally observed her while out walking. Ratz. I called my AI tech and left a message with his wife, a long complicated message which may or may not bring him out tomorrow.
September 13, 2010 Monday
Jasmine was in standing heat this morning. Sigh. I had hoped that my AI tech might have or be able to quickly obtain some Randall semen for me from a farm in Maine but he could not manage this. Perhaps in time for Jazzie’s next heat in 3 weeks he will have it No sign of heat from Helen.
There was no sun for Sally’s first day, only overcast followed by drizzle but she took a long walk around her field anyway.
I am continuing to baby my ankle along. I took Mark’s advice as well as I could to raise my foot above the level of my heart so as to encourage the return of lymph to where it belongs. I slept with my foot on a pillow last night. I have not taken any more Ibuprofen. It no longer hurts to walk but I am still getting threatening messages from my ankle.
Here is a link to a remarkable job of statistical analysis by Denise Minger who looked at the raw data from the China Study by T. Colin Campbell, an epidemiological research project which is frequently cited as proof that animal foods cause degenerative disease. The conclusions of the studies author are not supported by the data.
September 14, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons. I spoke with my AI tech about some breeding possibilities. He gave me some numbers to call but I have not yet done so. It is costly to have semen shipped.
Abby and Sally and I drove to Weld and picked up about 2 ½ bushels of apples from a yard where they have given us permission to glean. There were several varieties and a Seckle pear. We then visited Marcia. She showed Sally all around her marvelous garden and home. Back at the farm, I put a meatloaf in the oven. I made it in a mound in a rectangular baking dish and surrounded it by chopped and seasoned tomatoes fresh from the garden. Abby made a peach pie.
There are a lot of tomatoes in need of picking. Sally picked wild cherries and cooked them up with honey.
Sally’s DS Rafe called from Alaska to say he was on his way back from the North Slope with his hunting party bringing four caribou. One is for his mother. She is very pleased. She has canned him a great deal of salmon this past summer.
Three weeks ago I reported that Mark’s friends John and Woody had gone to Mongolia for a horseback riding expedition. They are now back and Woody has sent an account. The camel ride took place prior to the trek. She included a picture of her saddle and hopes to send more pictures in due course.
First, I humbly apologize for a mass emailing, but here's my excuse: writer's cramp. Second, I apologize if photos don't get attached since I'm trying to use Flickr for the first time and my excuse for it perhaps not working is...brain cramp.
OK! Our plane from Portland (Maine) left at 6AM on August 21st, which meant we had to be at the airport by 4:30. At around 10:30 the night before I heard a strange noise from the basement...some pressure thingy had sprung a leak and the basement was flooding with hot water. Emergency call to plumber, who arrived at about 11:30. Obviously no sleep for us that night. We flew from here to Chicago, then over the Arctic to Bejing, then seven hours in Bejing airport, then a two hour flight finally arriving in Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia around midnite on the 23rd. It was a damn long time with no sleep! If you ever get a chance to go to Ulaan Bataar, skip it. It's big, dirty, bad food, and no good wine.
On the 24th our trekking gang started to arrive. We could pick 'em out a mile away--they all had a slightly crazed expression about them, as I'm sure we did, too. There were ten in all, including two of my horsie pals from Camp Ketcha, , two hot ticket girls (30 ish) from the UK, a Swiss girl,also 30 ish, a very, very swishy extremely funny ex-BBC journalist now living in Mexico, and an Australian couple who are just moving to Nelson, NZ, of all places!! Anyway, a right motley crew. The next day our guide, Jen, arrived with the Russian support vehicles, called Furgons, and two Mongolian drivers, Gambaa and Toruu. We piled all our gear and ourselves into the Furgons and off we went. The tarmac only lasted a few miles and then there was nothing but tracks which we bounced and jostled along for an endless period of time. After day two we stopped in some unpronounceable town to pick up food, supplies, tents, shovels (more on shovels later), and then continued ANOTHER whole day to meet our horses and wranglers. The wranglers are hired by the trekking company and bring their own horses and tack.
That was the first night we all set up our tents....ha ha, what a fiasco. They were new tents at the beginning of the season but after several treks they sure had seen better days. Broken poles, ripped zippers, leaking roofs, but fortunately all could be held up with duct tape. We were all pretty exhausted after the long day on the dirt tracks and wrestling with tents but Jen, our tireless leader, decided to match horses with riders before the light faded. The first rider got tossed in about two seconds, which made everyone else a bit jumpy, but finally we all got ourselves and horses sorted, and toodled off to our duct taped tents.
John got a slow plodder which he was pretty happy about, although he did some cantering. I got Harry, who was very responsive, loved to gallop, but also loved to bite and kick, so I renamed him Dirty Harry. Dirty Harry may have been a bit on the grumpy side but he let me live a dream, which was to gallop as far and fast as the wind. These horses have been breeding on the Steppes for thousands of years without vets, or farriers, or massage therapists, or chiropractors, or horse whisperers, so they have bred themselves into the fittest, toughest, fastest horses on the planet. Whoowee!! So you hop (OOPAHH!) on, give a kick and yell CHUUUU!!! And off you go like all the devils in hell are after you. Far out!
We rode every day for twelve days. There were a couple days when people could opt out of an afternoon ride (John opted), but in all we rode about 350 km, across the Steppes to the edge of the Gobi Desert were we camped for two days. Along the way we were invited into local gers (yurts) for fermented yak's milk, curdled mare's cheese, home brewed vodka, and other god awful stuff which, of course, we gracefully accepted, (blech).
We have never been so dirty for so long, have never been so cold at night even with ALL my clothes on and in a -10 F sleeping bag, have never had diarrhea for so long---oh, back to the shovel. So the wranglers would dig a pit and put a flimsy piece of plastic around it (for "privacy" although everyone could see everything). By the end of the trip no one gave a rat's ass anyway.
So we rode up mountains, across rivers, through bogs, across the Steppes, met herds of wild horses, camped with yak herds, it was everything I dreamed it would be, and I would go back in a heartbeat. Well, as soon as I recover from jet lag. I think John would go back , too, it was that fantastic. Oh, all Mongolian men love to wrestle so of course they all wanted to wrestle with John, being a big manly man. I'm not sure how he felt about that, but I thought it was hysterical.
I am now going to attempt the Flickr thing. Forget the damn Flickr thing. I'll send some pics when I figure the $%#@!! thing out.
September 16, 2010 Thursday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. I bought all new rubber for my deLaval milker and went back to using it today. Something is still affecting my vacuum pressure. Milking took 10 minutes and the teat cups fell off each time I took one off to insert a plug. Aggravating.
We are not treating Sally to much sun but there were occasional bright periods yesterday and today and it is not cold, mostly around 65˚.
I made butter today but had the cream in the kitchen and once again it was a little too warm, consequently it stuck to the equipment and was hard to press. The buttermilk was a big hit though.
Sally spent several hours repairing the fence by the river which was damaged last winter by a fallen pine. Max had fixed part of it but the pine brush was very dense at that time. Now it has dried up and the animals were stepping through it.
Marcia’s DD Abby Rose’ boy friend Ernie, the glass blower, came down today and rebuilt the ramp out the back of the beefer pen. We have been afraid that the big step over the foundation beam was going to cause Helen to step on a teat. He did a beautiful job.
Marcia worked for a couple of hours in the garden pulling out some old stuff and generally beautifying it. Things are slowing down noticeably. She picked about half a bushel of tomatoes and Abby canned 10 quarts. She also made a delicious dinner from a little Russian cookbook I have had for years. It was called shashlik in a casserole. She cut the meat off of a couple of lamb neck cuts (scragg end) and oven braised them with onion, cumin, coriander and chili flakes. The flavor was fantastic. She served it with noodles and a beet, cucumber and sour cream salad. She also made chocolate cookies with some fancy cocoa powder I ordered from King Arthur Flour Company when they ran a free shipping special.
I talked to Mitra. One of her piglets is sick. He is eating but his tail is hanging down straight and he lies around and does not play. I sure hope to hear good news about it tomorrow. She was calling the vet.
September 17, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave a bit over 3 gallons. Sally and Abby and I all make a point of drinking a cup or so warm from the cow. After just a few weeks of this Abby says her hands no longer ache. I have relied on this effect of raw milk for years now.
DD Sally is a dab hand at killing chickens. While in the barn this morning I had a perfect opportunity to catch a rooster and did. I popped him a cat carrier. Sally lost no time in getting him dressed off. There always seems to be too many roosters. Between us Abby and I caught another this evening.
It rained last night but cleared by mid morning. Frost is predicted for tonight. Abby has covered a lot of things including her amazing zinnia patch. I brought in a few of my plants but mostly am taking a chance that nothing up here by the house will be hit.
Abby and Sally and I went to Farmington and saw Mitra at her booth at the farmers’ market. She said she had the vet out and got some more meds and advice for her sick piglet. He is somewhat better. Roshan’s cello teacher is one of the vendors at the market. Roshan rode the school bus to her last lesson and forgot her ¾ size cello at school. Her teacher had a second full sized cello in her home and had Roshan try it. She did very well and her teacher, Amy LeBlanc, says she should now move to a full sized instrument.
I have not heard very much from DS Max this week. He is still in PA doing gas monitoring and is kept extremely busy.
All the animals are fine. They look so contented out on the pasture which is still bright green.
September 18, 2010 Saturday
Great patience was required from Jasmine this morning. I have been having more and more trouble with my tall can deLaval type machine. Last week I ordered all new rubber which seemed to help a little but I continued to fight a vacuum leak in both the pulsator and the claw and the teat cups repeatedly fell off. This morning it could not get up enough vacuum to run the pulsator at all. Fortunately I had the old Surge all assembled awaiting storage so I was able to go back to the house for it. Jasmine gave barely 3 gallons.
Later in the day I devoted a lot of time to trying to figure out what was wrong with the machine. I disassembled everything that could be taken apart and cleaned all parts again. I did find some dry crud up inside the seating assembly of the pulsator where air (not milk) goes past. I must have spent 2 hours on the job. Finally I got it going properly but I can’t say for sure what made the difference. DD Abby keeps telling me I have mechanical aptitude but I disagree. I just hate to give up.
Last night between us Abby and I caught another rooster and this morning Sally dressed it off. It was a great big one. There are still at least 8 too many.
We prepared for frost last night but did not get any so we still have our flowers and squash.
Abby got the spring line primed again and flowing. It had dwindled away again and is now running fast.
DS Martin and the kids came up to camp but DIL Amy stayed home in Biddeford. She has a sore throat.
DD Sally and Abby did a lot of cooking and canning. Sally put up 18 pints of applesauce and made three loaves of bread. Abby made corn pudding and apple crisp. I roasted a duck for a Girls’ Night dinner including DD Marcia. I have experimented with a lot of different ways to roast duck but have got the family’s endorsement for the easiest method of all: Just roast it in a hot oven for a couple of hours on a rack. About halfway through cooking pour some red wine or stock in the pan so that the drippings don’t burn. About a half hour before it is done pour on something like soy sauce and marmalade. If these are poured on too soon the skin will scorch.
The weather today was the finest imaginable.
September 19, 2010 Sunday
My tall can machine worked OK this morning although the vacuum pressure remains marginal. I got 3 gallons.
Sally dressed off another rooster, quite a large one caught by Abby.
Sally and I took a walk down to the brook that marks my lower border and thence around the periphery of the pasture. I was able to get a good look at the Piliated Woodpecker Sally told me about. He is a showy guy and was hanging upside down on some branches.
Abby picked 5 gallons of tomatoes and canned 10 quarts. Sally made 8 more pints of applesauce.
I found one last package of 4 Luick pork chops. Martin and the kids stopped here on their way home. Martin took his dog, Milo, out to practice pointing birds (no shooting at this season) and we pulled together a quick dinner. Abby roasted some nice new potatoes. Sally made a tomato and cucumber salad. I fried the pork chops and made gravy with tomato puree and cream. I fried the chops in oil off of a fresh jar of natural peanut butter (the kids had pb&j sandwiches for their dinner because they could not wait) and the chops were a hit.
DS John is off to Madang, on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, to provide "expert witness" in a trial which will decide whether mine tailings can be dumped into the marine environment at 150 meters below sea level. The case is receiving international attention among mining companies in particular, as it is seen as something of a test of whether large multinationals (in this case a joint venture between a Chinese Company, the PNG government, and an Australian/PNG company) will be able to continue using this form of tailings disposal. It has been effectively banned in most modern industrialised countries, including - wouldn't you know it - Australia and China. None of the small team of scientists and various ratbag environmentalists that John is on are getting paid, and their legal team consists of one very passionate young Australian-born woman, whereas the other side has a big team of top barristers and mining industry specialists.
So it’s my John, the oceanographer, against a bench of silken lawyers at $600/hr.
September 20, 2010 Monday
More fine weather today. It was hard to stay indoors. Jasmine gave close to 3 ½ gallons today, partly I think because the machine was working better – although not perfect.
Sally canned another 18 pints of applesauce. She also picked about a gallon of wild cherries and made juice.
September 21, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. The first warning we received yesterday of possible frost was after dark and too late to cover things. Sadly, a lot of things were defoliated. All the squash and all the tomatoes are now leafless. The fruit itself is not damaged – I don’t think it went below 30˚- but it is now defenseless. There won’t be frost tonight but we are under a lot of pressure to harvest our huge squash crop and probably two 5 gallons buckets of ripe tomatoes before another frost hits. Sally got up early and made the rounds of the potted plants with the watering can and saved them all.
Abby and Sally processed and froze 30 pints of corn. Frozen corn is always welcome in winter.
September 22, 2010 Wednesday
The weather was quite pleasant and none of us are ill but boy was this a day fraught with stumbling blocks. The pulsator on my tall can milking machine refused to function at all. I have never before had trouble with one of the modern pulsators. Thank goodness for the old Surge. When we let the sheep out they headed the wrong way and knocked over and broke the eggs Abby had collected - and we are so short of eggs. Fern followed Jasmine in and jumped her in her stanchion. She was in such roaring heat that she was not distracted by grain. It seemed that all day these little trials came in succession. And now the kitchen sink won’t drain. Sigh.
There are some wonderful things to report though. Sally took down the orange plastic fencing at the bottom of North Field. It has been an eyesore for 3 months even though softened by green pasture and distance. I tried to imagine it as a distant drift of Monet-like poppies. But poppy season is over.
Abby made a superb dinner. I had roasted an eye of round in the Romertof (clay pot) to perfect tenderness. Abby baked the first of the winter squashes. This one was either Red Kuri or Hokkaido. It was the dry sweet flaky type perfect with lots of butter. The salad was a scoop of the colorful ground vegetables she had prepared for relish piled on a big slice of tomato. She topped off the meal with a lemon meringue pie, a great favorite of mine.
In making last minute tweaks to my talk for Friday I decided to Google up natural gas, which is primarily methane but contains some CO2. I was riveted to learn from the EIA (Energy Information Administration) site that escaped and leaked natural gas comprises a greater volume by a factor of more than 3 than combined CO2 and methane from all agriculture related sources. I guess this news is not as sexy as cow emissions.
September 23, 2010 Thursday
Yesterday I did a few more tweaks to my deLaval but it still would not pulsate. I had brought the Surge along so switched over without delay. Jasmine gave barely 3 gallons but I think this was mostly because she was alarmed by Fern getting tangled in her rope. Fern comes in and is tied out in the aisle where Jasmine can see her. After awhile Fern usually wants to lie down and this morning she tangled one leg and went down in a heap. Abby was nearby and soon freed her but Jasmine was frightened for her daughter. I could not see what was happening from where I sat but could tell Jasmine was upset by her tail switching and making a plop.
After chores I called Parts Department where I got my pulsator and was told that the most common reason for the pulsator not to work was that it was not seated properly on its gasket. The gal instructed me to disassemble the mounting, clean and polish the surface of the gasket, apply Vaseline and then make sure it was shoved together all the way. I did this and the pulsator began to work. What a relief. I called the lady back and thanked her for her advice. She said they get a lot of calls like mine and are going to start sending out this instruction with the units. There was never any instruction sheet with it.
Sally has some ugly looking red lumps on her forearms. At first she thought she had spider bites (she really does not like spiders) but has decided it is probably poison ivy. I made her a mush of comfrey and jewel weed which she applied. She says it is helping a lot.
We have everything pretty much ready for an early start tomorrow to the fair. Mitra has developed a cold. We hope it does not cause her to change her plans for going. Max is now home from PA and available to take care of their kids and farm. They got new ducklings today.
September 24, 2010 Friday
Sally and Abby and I hopped out of bed early and I was through milking by 7:30. We got started to the fair by 8:30. It was a 3 hour drive. It would only have been 2 ½ hours but the last half hour we were in creeping traffic. I had graciously been sent a parking pass which allowed us to park among the horse trailers in the livestock section and right close to where I was speaking. We had from 11:30 until 3pm to visit exhibits and see friends. Dear Kamala, my step daughter whom I had not seen for some time was there with her husband Jeff and daughter Josie. Also DIL Amy and little Hanna and Henry were there as was Amy’s dad Ken and his friend Glenda. Abby and Sally had a wonderful time people watching and learning things. Sally spent a lot of time talking to the wind power people and goat people. I got to see Randall oxen. Huge! It was interesting to note that none of the many food booths specifically catered for vegetarians. All the booths I saw offered meat, seafood, desserts or bakery items.
Someone was taping my talk or maybe it was a video but no doubt the news will emerge. I felt the talk went pretty well although the venue was a challenge. It was in a white plastic tent without complete sides. The chairs were in a long line about 30' and 4 chairs deep (all filled and some people standing) but the front of the tent where a speaker would like to be standing was occupied by a long table of similar length. I had to choose between standing behind this big blank table or racing up and down in the channel between the table and the people. I chose the latter. However the audience was receptive. I started out by asking how many had cows and only about 4 raised their hands although one couple turned out to have a 30 cow Jersey dairy that supplies a lot of people locally.
A nice man with whom I hope to become better acquainted named John E. Carroll traded books with me. His is called The Real Dirt and is beautifully illustrated. Towards Food Sufficiency and Farm Sustainability in New England is the sub title. I plan to start on it tonight. It is a New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station publication.
It was great to see Cara (MooMaine) there. Mitra’s cow Nellie came from Cara. Unfortunately Mitra was unable to come. One of the kids had brought home a nasty cold as so often happens when you have kids in school. She would have loved the fair. Thanks goodness Max is back home to help out. When I got home last night I discovered that DD Marcia’s obligation that prevented her from coming had vanished and she could have come after all. Maybe there will be a next year. But Kamala told me that you have to arrive crack o’ dawn to get ahead of the traffic.
September 25, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. The machine is now working fine.
Sally dressed off 7 more roosters today. Abby is getting very good at catching them and Sally is remarkably efficient at chopping off their heads, plucking them and eviscerating them. They look very professional when she is done.. She had already done 8 in previous days. Some were old tough soup birds but at least half are under 6 months old. These roosters represent an extra essentially trouble free crop, although they do eat their share of feed and take 3 times as long as the Cornish X to be big enough to eat. The hens do all the work of raising them until they are on their own.
Another advantage to getting these roosters into the freezer is that the hens will now not be so harassed. Probably the reason we have not been getting eggs is that many of the hens spent their time in hiding. I kept one rather staid old rooster and one very young Barred Rock (Plymouth Rock). When there is only one rooster he does not harass the hens.
Marcia, Abby and I brought in four wagon loads of winter squash and arranged it on the stairs in the carriage house. Before really cold weather we will have to bring them into the house. Marcia took some pictures which I do hope turn out. They are a wonderful sight.
Abby made us another lovely banana cream pie for supper.
Sally’s daughter Rebecca in Tok AK is raising 3 pigs. One is for a friend. Last night Rebecca discovered that the friend’s pig was very ill and near death from some unknown cause. Her husband Torsten is out of town. It was agreed by all parties, including her cousin Harper, who has been through this with pigs he is raising in Fairbanks, that the pig must be butchered immediately. It was already dark but the friend and his wife and small child came over and they all got to work. Rebecca also has little Torlief and he and the other child got rather upset so Rebecca had to take them in the house until they fell asleep. She then rejoined and they all spent much of the night completing the butchering. The pig had a hanging weight of 250 lbs. They had to skin it because they were not set up for scalding.
September 26, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons.
We had a large work party here today splitting my firewood. Martin organized it. It included Martin and Amy, Amy’s dad and friend Glenda, Max and Mitra and their three kids Shireen, Roshan and Cousin Santiago, and DS Mark who was off today from the hospital, Marcia and daughter Caiti and Abby Rose and her partner Ernie and of course DD Abby, DD Sally and myself. They got in about 3 ½ cords all stacked. Martin brought his splitter. It did not exactly rain, more of a Scotch mist. Definitely a damp day.
Abby, Sally and I put on a comprehensive lunch. I braised two beef briskets and made a big salad and baked beans. Abby made Harvard beets and corn on the cob.
Sally made an apple cake to honor Mark’s birthday coming up in four days. Mitra brought 3 ½ gallons of milk and a gallon of cream to help me get ahead again. There are plans afoot for a similar work party next week at the Luick’s.
With all those roosters gone the barn is very quiet. Many hens are now pecking around fearlessly.
This is Sally’s last day here.
September 27, 2010 Monday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons.
DD Marcia drove me and Abby and Sally all to Portland to see Sally off at the bus on the first leg of her trip home to Haines. Before going to the station we stopped at Standard Baking Company and bought things to munch on and then drove around Portland to see the hospital where Mark and Annie work and see where their apartment is and see the place Ernie hopes to rent for a studio and shop. It was terribly sad to say goodbye to Sally but she plans to return in January.
Portland is a wonderful city. It has everything yet is small enough so that a person living in town could walk to everything in less than a mile. It has an interesting waterfront, innumerable great shops, symphony, museum system, fine restaurants of every sort, a huge WholeFoods store right downtown, and the architecture is charming.
It rained most of the day. I got 5 eggs.
September 29, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons.
Yesterday it rained but the sun came out today and it got very warm. We opened all the windows again. I picked a basket of tomatoes. A great many large green ones remain.
The turkeys have an appointment tomorrow with destiny. Abby and Marcia and I plus Max and Mitra (on the phone) spent considerable time working out a plan for transportation. Marcia and I have medical appointments so the plan is for Abby to take them in Marcia’s truck. We have assembled dog crates but it looks like one or two will have to go into feed bags. Marcia is coming early tomorrow to help.
Sally has arrived back home in Haines. She called me the minute she walked in her door before even making tea but a tradesman arrived just as I answered the phone so I did not get to talk to her very long. She said all had gone smoothly and her floor looked beautiful. Tom refinished it while she was gone. She said that outside her house over the water two eagles were having a screaming fight in midair.
September 30, 2010 Thursday
This was a day crammed with unexpected events and “challenges”. I don’t really like that word but can’t think of a better one. While I was sitting underneath my cow supervising the milking machine Abby came in to tell me that one turkey was dead. Marcia and Ernie, boyfriend of her DD Abby Rose, arrived to help load the turkeys. The dead turkey was still warm and floppy so I suggested to Ernie that he chop off its head and hang it up to bleed. There was not a mark on it and I surmised that it had had a heart attack. It bled out OK. DD Abby, Marcia and Ernie loaded the surviving turkeys into dog crates and put them into Marcia’s pickup and Abby set off with them. She met up with Max and Mitra who helped out with the arrangements at the abattoir where they had 50 Cornish X to deliver today also.
I went to the house to boil water and take care of the milk (under 3 gallons). It started to rain. Last week Ernie assisted DD Sally with killing roosters and he had a good idea of the procedure. He and Marcia plucked the turkey clean and brought it to the house where I eviscerated it. It definitely had cardiac insufficiency. The cavity was odorless so it was not sick. It was a heavy bird, probably 25 pounds. I did not think the Broad Breasted Bronze breed was subject to dropping dead the way the Cornish X are but obviously I was wrong. There was a lot of meat on it but not much fat. I’m not sure what I will do with it but it seemed a shame to waste it. Maybe I can do one of the deep fry recipes.
Somewhere along in here I made butter, having set the cream to ripen yesterday.
My dear sister Barby called to tell me that her horse, Andae, companion of 29 years, was dead. Monday morning he developed a severe colic. He was stabled in Petaluma not far from her home in Inverness, Marin County CA. The barn girls found him early in the morning and called the vet and Barby. When she arrived the vet had already sedated him. He said the situation was hopeless and only awaited permission to put Andae down. He thought a tumor had wrapped itself around Andae’s gut. It is hard to think of Barby with no horse. She had always had horses ever since she was a very young woman. They were a key part of her life.
Marcia and I went to Lewiston to our dermatology appointments. These were appointments made 6 months ago, otherwise we would have cancelled. The doc found nothing on me.
It has rained all day and now a violent wind is arising.
October 01, 2010 Friday
The severe weather did not last long. It was a very warm night and this morning was like early May. As the day progressed rain and wind resumed but was not nearly as bad as reported elsewhere in the state.
Helen is having a lot of trouble leaving the beefer pen. The step up is really too much for her. After coming in with the others she was hesitant to leave so we put down hay. Much of the day it rained too hard for grazing anyway.
It has been 21 days since Jasmine’s last heat but her cycle is more like 22 days. I called my AI tech to expect a call tomorrow so I hope she does not disappoint us. In any case he can do a blood draw on Helen to see if she settled.
Jasmine gave a bit under 3 gallons. Everyone is clamoring for milk. I am beginning to wish I had two cows. The chickens still are not laying. We are lucky to get 4 eggs. Today we got two.
Abby made a nice pear tart with almond paste.
The very best news is that my grandson Tommy who is in the third week of a rehab program called Walk Again in Sydney, Australia, today took three independent steps. The staff cheered and someone took a video. DD Abby was not surprised. She spends time each day visualizing Tommy walking and expected it. He has been very slowly regaining the use of his body ever since an accident 18 months ago resulting from an unsuccessful back flip off of his car. He is 18.
October 02, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine continues her downward trend. Not much over 2 ½ gallons this morning. I am considering going back to TAD milking. Demand for milk is high.
DD Marcia came down and picked the remaining green tomatoes. We expect a fairly hard frost tonight. Abby made another batch of zucchini relish. It is excellent.
I started a large pot of beans for Max and Mitra’s wood splitting party tomorrow. Martin and Amy can’t come because they are both running in the Dempsy Challenge. Abby has made a double recipe of brownies. Marcia found some green beans remaining on the vines and is making a bean salad. Mitra is cooking ham.
Max came here for Martin’s wood splitter. At Abby’s and my request he scraped up some remaining gravel from the pile I had delivered last spring and built the slope back up where the cows come into the beefer pen. It had been trodden away so badly that Helen was most reluctant to step over the threshold. Ernie made an improvement to the outside ramp so that there is less danger of slipping.
Jasmine was supposed to come in heat today but there was nary a sign. I checked her repeatedly until dark. I had my AI tech, Nathan Cassaboom, on call but told him not to bother. If things are different tomorrow he will come but it becomes awkward for me as I need to leave for the wood splitting party. They would miss me (and my beans) a lot.
Today brought a new drama. Abby was getting something out of the No. 2 horizontal freezer and discovered that everything was melting. The top layer was at 30˚ and gone all floppy. What a shock on Saturday afternoon at 4 o’clock and 4 turkeys to bring home. Calls to Mitra (who offered a freezer they are not using) and to Marcia eventually solved the problem. Marcia persuaded me to plug in my old upright that quit on me a few months ago to see if it might start to run and by golly it did! I let it run to 2 hours and got it down to -4˚ and Abby and I loaded everything into it. Of course I will now check it daily or oftener. Actually I have been into the failed freezer daily but I guess that between 0˚ and 25˚ one doesn’t not notice much difference.
The weather today was beautiful.
October 03, 2010 Sunday
My AI tech whom I did not expect until around noon called at 8am to say he was leaving Bethel and would be here in a half hour. I had not milked Jasmine on account of difficulty reassembling the pulsator assembly on the lid of the can. The Rubik’s Cube might be easier than this thing. There were no signs of heat in Jasmine which is puzzling, He did a blood draw on her just in case and also on Helen.
Abby and I then scuttled around and packed up my beans and her fudge brownies to take to Max and Mitra’s work party. Then guess what. We got all the way over there, a 45 minute trip, and realized we had left the box of food in the driveway. How sick and stupid we felt. Abby gamely jumped back in the car and went home for it.
We did have a very nice lunch including Mitra’s mac n’ cheese, green beans prepared by Marcia, and lovely ham baked with a delicious crust. It was from one of the Luick pigs and was truly world class. By the end of the day the Luick’s had their winter wood supply split and stacked. Ernie and Mark were there to help all afternoon and Shireen operated the splitter until she had to leave for soccer where she tutors a group of younger students. Roshan practiced her cello out on the deck. About 4pm Mitra and Marcia and I drove to a nearby orchard, Sandy River Apples, owned by a very active 95 year old farmer. His father planted all the trees in this orchard. He has lots of old fashioned varieties now seldom seen. We took him a pint of my cottage cheese. Last week he told Mitra how he longed for cottage cheese like his mother used to make from clabber. So obviously he was raised on raw milk.
October 04, 2010 Monday
It did not quite freeze last night and today was a beautiful October day with high color on the hills. No hint of heat from Jasmine. She gave 3 gallons. All the animals clearly enjoyed their day of quiet grazing.
Abby felt sick all day and stayed quieter than usual. She did drive to Weld to pick apples. She inquired at one home with a huge tree covered with apples that were clearly going to waste. An old woman was sitting on her porch and Abby asked if she might pick some up. The woman gave her a peremptory no. But she was able to bring home over a bushel from other places although most of them will go to the Luick’s pigs.
I made a light vegetable soup with chicken broth for our dinner.
The freezer is carrying on running so far.
October 06, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine finally burst into heat. She was close to unmanageable this morning. I turned her back out after milking and she spent the morning jumping on the others including those that were lying down. It is easy enough to see how a teat could be stepped on during such demonstrations. I called my AI tech, Nathan Cassaboom. About 11:30 Abby and I went out and chased her back in. She had no interest in coming when called. We went all the way down in the field and got her back up to the barn by leading Fern by the collar. She was primarily interested in jumping Fern. We succeeded in getting those two into the beefer pen. I snubbed a rope behind Jasmine’s ears and around her nose (could not find her proper halter) and led her to her stanchion while Abby waved a leaf rake behind her. Whew! Then I went in to fix lunch for my vet whom I expected to stop by.
I fixed a quick but tasty lunch by making tomato bisque out of tomato sauce I had ready to can. Yesterday I had made a pan of chicken liver pate and I served this on toast along with sliced tomatoes. Nathan arrived while we were eating and came in to chat for a bit after inseminating Jasmine with Bellringer, who is noted for cream genes.
All afternoon it rained. I made a search in the barn for eggs and found six, all in well established nests, so perhaps the hens are perking up. Sad to say, one of Abby’s favorite hens, one of a pair she called Isabelle and Jezebel given us recently by a neighbor, both reliable layers, has gone missing. The two hens perched together in the rafters Monday night and in the morning Jezebel was gone. It has to be a raccoon. We know a raccoon is wreaking havoc in the corn patch. Willie knows it too.
October 07, 2010 Thursday
All quiet among the cows and sheep today. Our local animal control officer lent us a Havahart trap. It is owned by the town. DS Max came over and brought back the wood splitter and also brought a black box designed to hold rat poison safely. Other animals cannot get at the pellets. I had so much going on today that I have yet to deploy either of these devices. I am not sure what to do with the raccoon if I catch one. One of my neighbors sinks the trap in the river and drowns the critter but I don’t fancy doing this. My sister drove a trapped raccoon ten miles away and it came back. She recognized it by its chewed up ear.
The raccoon may have taken several of the rafter birds without my realizing it. They are much alike and there are about 10 of them. However it definitely took Jezebel, one of the pair of hens that were Abby’s particular friends and daily layers. Isabelle, the survivor, has a new beau, a young rooster that escaped the axe. Abby closes them in their own private room at night. Isabelle lays every day.
October 08, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. I guess this is going to be the new normal. After this weekend I will go back to TAD.
Nathan Cassaboom called to tell me that Helen is open. Sigh. He suggested a hormone protocol that may make it possible to breed her. He offered to come back Monday and start it.
It was a bad day at the farmers’ market for Mitra and all participants. It was rather windy to begin with and fortunately they did not have their tents and awnings up. Eight or so of them had their wares arranged and customers were flocking by when a sudden gale force gust hit, overturning tables and strewing destruction. The pie lady’s wares were all smashed on the ground. Everybody’s goods were blown hither and yon, cash boxes blown away. The wind sucked $60 dollars out of the pocket of Mitra’s smock. She hiked way down to the end of the street and managed to find two $5 WIC checks.
We had wind here too but nothing destructive. DS Martin stopped in on his way to camp and got Abby’s Monitor stove going. Then DIL Amy and the kids arrived and we all had chicken soup. I made it with one of the roosters from the freezer. The flavor was exceptional and the kids ate a lot. I also had fresh pink applesauce from the red apples I picked off the ground last Sunday at Francis Fenton’s orchard. Abby made very nice cookies. Martin and Amy told us all about their bike ride last Sunday in the Dempsey Challenge. Hundreds of people participated. Martin rode 100 miles and Amy and her friend rode 50. The event was sponsored by Patrick Dempsey, an actor known to everybody else but me.
October 09, 2010 Saturday
DD Abby’s daughter Helena and her two kids arrived today for a weekend visit. They live in Carlisle PA. DS Martin dropped off his two while he went bird hunting so for a while we had all four. They seemed to have a good time but I have not yet gotten up my courage to mount the stairs to the play room. I know it will look like a goat exploded.
Martin’s dog, Milo, a Llewellyn setter, is quite young and gets confused about his role, which is pointing at a bird, and wants to chase them instead but Martin brought home a woodcock.
We are trying to figure out what to do about Helen. DD Sally called to talk about our options. My AI tech is a specialist in embryo transplants and can set Helen up for it but it costs $300.
I dug potatoes for a while today and got a bucketful of a nice fingerling type from six hills. I can’t remember which variety I planted so will have to look it up. We are to expect a serious frost tonight, well down in the 20’s. Abby covered a few planters in hopes of saving them and picked a big bouquet of zinnias and nicotiana.
I braised two large meaty beef hocks until the meat fell from the bones and made a tasty gravy from the broth. I chopped the meat up and put it into the gravy and served it with new potatoes. Everybody liked it. We also had corn and carrots. Abby made a blueberry buckle. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons.
October 10, 2010 Sunday
There was no frost after all. I dug more potatoes and left them lying next to the row to dry out as there was no one around to pick them up. I think they will be safe. It does not look like frost tonight. Everyone has gone to a dinner dance at the Kawanhee Inn but I decided to stay home. Martin and a friend popped in and installed the new pipe line I need for the spring. We had it patched with a succession of hoses. It is running nicely.
October 11, 2010 Monday
Those who went to Kawanhee reported having a fine time eating and dancing. Four of my small grandchildren were there, those under 5, and they danced a lot. Shireen and Roshan had to leave early because Mitra needed to get home to her baby chicks. Shireen was heard to say, “Just wait until next year when I can drive!”
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons. I am doing extra stripping and increased her grain a bit to about 3 lbs in hopes of postponing the day when I have to go back to TAD milking.
As seems to happen every year, last night, when frost was not predicted, we did indeed get frost. I had left my newly dug potatoes on the ground and they got a touch of frost. I went out at first light with a watering can and sprinkled them. I hope I saved them but just in case they don’t keep well I put them in a separate bucket. Marcia came down and helped me dig more today. She dug more than I did. I went in and got lunch and then took a nap while she carried on for another hour. She also brought in a lot of carrots but there are still a lot more. They are beautiful.
Helena, DD Abby’s daughter, is packing to leave. Abby is churning out cookies and plying little Natalie and Logan with these and everything else they might like, stoking them for the trip back to PA. They appear to be eating cookies as a first course followed by cold chicken for dessert.
October 12, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine only gave 2 ½ gallons possibly because I kept them inside eating hay for hours while I waited for my AI tech who never came. Seems he forgot. He was going to stick his arm into Helen and evaluate her reproductive tract.
The weather today was beautiful. The fall colors are dimming though. Many of the leaves have fallen.
I made 4 quarts of salsa, trying to use up the late tomatoes. DIL Amy gave me a lot of assorted peppers from her dad’s garden, some quite spicy, and I included several of these. The flavor of this fresh salsa is compelling. Abby and I were eating it by the spoonful. I froze it in plastic bags.
Abby took a walk today along the river on Sally’s side and saw a lot of mushrooms. I never see any on my side, except for a lot of bracket mushrooms. Odd.
October 13, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning thus allowing me to further postpone TAD milking. Hurrah! I have increased her grain by half a scoop to 3 ½ pounds total per/day. The grazing still looks pretty good although at this time of year the nutrient value declines steeply. If only Pocket Field were fenced I could put them in there. It is full of primo grass, I am surprised they don’t bust in. Sally and Abby must have done a good job of fence repair.
Fern, one year old this month, was in heat today. Much bellowing was heard.
I dug another 8 ft of potato row and so did Abby. The potatoes are now all dug and picked up.
Abby took another walk down Sally’s field but had to turn back because Willie rolled in something vile. She brought him home and gave him a warm bath in the tub. He is again fit for civilized company.
We had a great dinner. I made a beef stew with lamb kidneys added. I was going to make steak and kidney pie but ran out of time. I invented the recipe and am much pleased with it. We also had beets and fresh bread, a pair of baguettes, which I made with wild yeast. Abby made an apple crisp which we had warm with cream. Here is my steak and kidney recipe:
Steak and kidney pie filling or stew Amounts are approximate
1 ½ lbs beef stew, Coburn Farm home reared beef 4 lamb kidneys 1 quart clear juice off of Coburn Farm stewed tomatoes ¼ cup flour Salt and pepper. 2 onions, chopped (substitute shallots if available, I used one of each) Thyme, marjoram and lovage (celery leaves are a good substitute for lovage)
Sauté the beef in duck fat until some flavor develops. Add flour and stir to coat, sauté until flour is cooked. Add tomato juice (could use stock and a bit of wine or sherry). Simmer until the beef is almost tender.
Remove the mesenteric membrane and stringy bits and fat from the kidneys and soak them for a few minutes in salted water. Drain. Add to kidneys to beef stew. Simmer a half hour approximately. Remove the kidneys and cut them up. You could cut them while raw but it is much easier to cut a cooked kidney. Return the kidneys to the stew.
Meanwhile, chop the onions and gently sauté them in butter until slightly caramelized. Add the herbs to them as they cook. Add the onion mixture to the stew before serving.
The flavor was outstanding, so I thought.
Here is how to obtain wild yeast, at least this is one way and it works fast. Put a cup of fresh raw milk into a jar. Add an equal amount of flour and stir thoroughly. Cover it loosely and stand it in a warm place overnight. Mine is bubbly by morning. For faster and more predictable rise, add some instant yeast to the dough along with a cupful of this sourdough starter. It makes a well flavored bread.
And here is another trick. Never mind trying to slash the top of your dough with a razor. Snip with scissors. Much easier and the cuts make a cute design.
October 15, 2010 Friday
Both yesterday and today Jasmine gave only 2 ½ gallons. Disappointing. The weather may be involved. Last night it started to rain and it continued all day today, very hard and a lot of wind. I kept the cows shut in with hay until about 3pm when they wanted to go out.
Martin’s bird hunting friends are with him at camp with their bird dogs. Yesterday the weather was OK for hunting and they got one partridge and several woodcock. They went out again today despite the weather and got one woodcock and got very tired and wet. Russ had to carry his old dog out of the woods. She runs herself down to nothing.
Abby and I fixed dinner for them. I had one pheasant in the freezer from last year when they came. I cooked all the birds, each in a different style. I braised the pheasant in rich pheasant stock which I had also saved from last year. I split the partridge and browned it in butter and curry. Martin sautéed the woodcock breasts in the same pan. All were delicious and everybody had enough.
Abby made a cake which she served with custard sauce and chocolate sauce.
October 16, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine was almost back up to 3 gallons this morning and I found a new nest with 3 eggs. Several of my hens are close to laying age and even though this is the poorest time of year for eggs I still hold out hope.
The rain stopped. But it is chilly and overcast. I expect Martin and friends went out with their dogs but I did not hear from them. I worked on garden clean-up in the paddock garden. I hope to let the cows in on the remains of the corn tomorrow.
DS Mark was here briefly. He brought a lot of boxes to store in the attic. I had lots of leftovers for his lunch.
October 17, 2010 Sunday
The weather was pretty nice for this time of year. I opened the gate so the cows and sheep could go in and glean corn in the garden but so far they have failed to notice their opportunity.
DD Abby and DD Marcia and her DD Abby Rose came over and pulled the remaining carrots. The sun shone and DD Abby observed a bumblebee on the yellow flowers on the broccoli. The carrots are spread out to dry on feed bags in the carriage house.
DD Abby decided not to wait for anybody else to resolve the problem of our missing spring water. She and the dogs took a hike in the woods to look for what seemed to be a new problem and found one of the new unions separated. She jammed it back together as best she could but it was missing its hose clamp so she doubted it would last. But then, mirabile dictu, she found a hose clamp lying in the trail. At my suggestion she had taken along a screw driver so went back and put on the clamp. Now the water is running in a torrent.
Mitra called with very disappointing news. One of her pigs that was right at market weight died today for no discernable reason. He ate a hearty breakfast but in the afternoon was found dead without a mark on him. She is hoping to get the vet over to PM him for educational purposes. Right now Mitra does not have any idea what to be on the lookout for.
I have been having trouble with the vacuum pump. Martin stopped in on his way home and had a look at it. In the course of his inspection the gauge broke off but I know how it is supposed to sound and feel so should be OK for a while without it.
Jasmine gave a bit under 3 gallons.
October 18, 2010 Monday
It was cold today with a gusty wind but the sun shone, a typical fall day. Jasmine gave 3 gallons. We put down some hay for the cows so that they could come in and escape the wind. Perhaps Abby’s efforts with the hens, lots of clabber and many tempting nest sites together with freedom from harassment by the roosters may be gaining us a few more eggs. I got six today.
This evening I attended an open house put on by the wind power group that intends to make a wind farm on a nearby mountain. It will be visible from my house.
October 19, 2010 Tuesday
We had a hard frost last night. It was about 22˚ at 6am. I lost one fine geranium that I forgot to defend. Abby has been covering her little lettuce and radish patch every night and last night it paid off. Abby and I met Mitra and her mom and aunt for lunch in Farmington. DD Marcia did not join us because she was not feeling well. This past week she has had a touch of the stomach flu that has been going around. Mitra’s mom, Marie (our hostess), and dad, Alex, are visiting from Oakland CA and Mary, Marie’s twin, with her husband Roberto, are visiting from Manteca CA. The gentlemen joined us only briefly before leaving to do guy things. We ladies chatted as fast as we could for about an hour and a quarter without running short of topics. The lunch was pretty good, too.
On the way home we stopped by a neglected orchard where Abby had earlier obtained permission to pick apples. She filled two huge shopping bags with apples of very acceptable quality, lovely big red ones. Some have so little damage that they may keep in storage. What a find. I thought they would all be rotted and gone by now. Nobody else seems to want them. I guess we are a rich country. Only think, not only of the apples, but of the sheep that could have grazed and fattened all summer in that old orchard cleaning the ground. The grass is knee high.
Back at the farm we gathered up the carrots that we harvested over the last few days and had drying on bags laid out in the carriage house. We put them into plastic buckets in the cellar, six full buckets. They are beautiful carrots. We also have six buckets of potatoes.
Jasmine gave a slightly skimpy 3 gallons this morning.
October 21, 2010 Thursday
All the animals were enjoying the paddock garden this morning and the sheep could not remember how they got there. Sheep are pretty silly. Two of them figured it out more quickly and sped ahead for their grain snack when they saw me and got it all. I had to walk way around to the gate so that the other two could follow me out. By the time they reached the barn the first two were leaving. Then all four got together and followed Agnes, the lead ewe, out through a crack in the front door which took them onto the lawn where they had a grand old time until Abby arrived to help with morning chores. She helped get them back in with grain.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons.
It was about 50˚ today with light rain, not bad. I got a small number of tulip bulbs planted. This afternoon Abby and I visited Marcia at her camp in Weld to admire all she has accomplished. She has fixed up her little studio apartment charmingly with new curtains. She has reappointed all the windows inside and out and painted the frames red. It is so cozy. Out in the woods stands a new garden gnome that Ernie, her DD Abby Rose’ boyfriend, carved with a chainsaw. He is a remarkable artist. The gnome is made of a 3 ft. length of tree trunk with a lot of the bark still on it so it looks right at home among the trees.
Marcia has established her many potted plants under lights in her cellar. There are dozens on shelves and in hanging baskets and most are in bloom including begonias and orchids. Her orchids did well all summer in hanging pots in her shady site.
On our way home we stopped so that DD Abby could pick up apples from a tree that she had earlier been told were intended for somebody’s cider. Obviously they had gone away and left them to rot in the October rain so Abby got another big shopping bag full.
While in the barn today Abby picked up an overturned bucket to fetch some water in and underneath was a desperate little white hen. No telling how long she had been trapped but she flew straight up into the rafters so I guess can’t be too far gone, poor thing.
October 22, 2010 Friday
I can’t believe it is Friday again.
Jasmine was back up to 3 gallons this morning. The three ewes remembered how to find the paddock gate and arrived at the barn on their own recognizance but Bildad, the Dorset/Finn ram, had to have guidance. Abby went out with apples and lured the cows in and he followed, silly boy.
It was alternately dark and cloudy, then sunny all day with a lot of wind. I walked out into North Field and removed some large branches from the electric fence and tightened it back up again. There is a perfectly serviceable vernal pond out there that could be dug out for an emergency water source, I believe. It is about 6 ft across and looks to be a foot deep.
I prepared a bed for my garlic in the lower garden. Marcia had the row dug over so all I had to do was add lime, ashes and diatomaceous earth and bring it a wheelbarrow load of manure. I hope to plant the corms tomorrow. I ran out of day.
Abby discovered one reason that her house is cold. She was tacking up plastic on a window behind the Monitor that she knew had a broken pane and discovered that the outer window also had a missing pane so wind was roaring right through.
October 23, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine gave only 2 ½ gallons today. My AI tech is organizing Helen for an embryo transplant. She looks mighty healthy. I hope this will get her in calf. The embryo will be from Mollybrook Farm.
The temp was about 50F today with moderate wind and lots of sun. Mitra said it was pretty windy there. She skipped farmers’ market due to unfavorable weather including wind. She gave me this account of events on her farm:
Yesterday's wind about did me in, in the courage department. Boy was that a nasty howling wind last night as well. I was sure I'd lose power and have to hand milk 4 gallons out of Nellie. It all worked out though. Roshan just rescued a chick out of the duck trough. If she'd been out there a few seconds later, it would have been a floating Kleenex. We won't use that waterer anymore 'til these babies are bigger. The mother hen was freaking out but Roshan saved the day and then got chased by the mother for her trouble. The chick is now warming back up under a heat lamp. I'll pop her back under Mom tonight. That was a close one!”
DD Marcia came down and worked in the garden. She prepared several more beds. I had prepared one yesterday which she spiffed up to her standards and today I planted it to garlic. The other rows will be in readiness for spring planting.
DS John in Adelaide tells me that the court case in Papua New Guinea that was on hold due to the failure of plaintiffs to appear is now back on track. The case involves a mining company that wants to dump tailings into the pristine PNG sea. The plaintiffs, two local native fishermen, had been living in a safe house but the defendants, a Chinese mining company, found them. They lured the two men into a bus and took them to a closed room in a distant location where they were persuaded to drop their complaint. When word of this got out, many new plaintiffs stepped forward. Soon there were a hundred, then two hundred, and some of them persons with considerable gravitas. One is actually a mining engineer who has specific experience with underwater reef systems. John is an expert witness on account of his many years study of ocean currents and intertidal mixing.
October 24, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons. It was another typical October day with sun and wind. Marcia came down and worked some more in the garden preparing beds and doing cleanup. She has an ongoing project of covering patches of comfrey with black plastic with a mind to kill it out. Don’t worry, there are still big patches along the fence.
Abby went to Mass at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lewiston. She met lots of nice people. There is an impressive collation afterwards.
Dear Mitra called in despair a few minutes ago. Her smaller pig is in bad trouble. It got its head stuck in the wire fence and simultaneously tangled in the electric fence so that it was both strangling and being shocked. She doesn’t know how long it was trapped but she discovered it at supper time. It was unable to squeal. They disentangled it and it was still alive. She and Roshan massaged it for an hour – they got it to walk back to its house. They left it lying down and still breathing with the other pig snuggled up. When Mitra called she said she knew she should kill it then and there but didn’t want to. I suggested she see if it lived through the night and possibly revived. But if not, to drag it out of the pig yard and get it to a spot where its back end is higher and try to bleed it. But if she cannot do that to leave it to me. I will eviscerate it and cut it in half with the meat saw in the morning. This pig only weighs about 100 lbs. It is the runt.
October 25, 2010 Monday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. It’s a nuisance, but we are separating the cows and sheep in the late afternoon and sometimes overnight so that the cows can eat hay in peace. The sheep are pushy and fearless and hop into the manger to eat hay. Then they lie down in the manger and take naps. We will have to simplify this. The sheep are not cooperating and dart back in as fast as Abby chases them out. We need a nippy sheep dog.
An email from Mitra this morning arrived with the information that Elmo didn’t make it. After milking I gathered up my butchering equipment and loaded up the car to go help Mitra. But first I looked up butchering instruction on the Internet since my skills are rudimentary. I printed out 13 pages of excellent instructions from the University of Oklahoma School of Agriculture. DD Marcia and I drove over together and found granddaughter Abby Rose and her BF Ernie already there and ready to help. Ernie had already brought Elmo out of the pigpen and put him onto hay in Mitra’s cargo wagon. He had not been dead very long. Roshan found him early this morning stretched out behind the shelter. He looked peaceful and there was no rigor mortis. He bled out very well.
Ernie was a huge help. He hoisted Elmo up with a pair of ropes to his hocks and suspended him at a convenient height from a grey birch. Abby Rose stood by with the instructions reading them out as needed. I did most of the cutting but Ernie did a lot too. Elmo’s innards were perfectly healthy looking and there was virtually no stink but there was no fat in him. When his guts were out and lying on a canvass I opened up his stomach. It was distended and totally impacted with undigested mash and chewed hay. Mitra said he had only wanted milk for some time, ignoring his grain. Clearly, little or nothing was leaving his stomach. He was starving. He had been crying out on Saturday. Perhaps he was in pain and that made him run into the fence, not something he would ordinarily do.
I don’t think Elmo exceeded 90 lbs live weight so there is not a lot of meat but it looks perfect apart from having no fat. Ernie made the cut to halve the carcass using my meat saw, then we quartered it. It is now all in cold storage in a refrigerator in Marcia’s cellar while we think what to do next. The skin is on it hair and all but it is very clean. Mitra did not care to keep any part of the meat.
I learned last night that DD Bret will be visiting in November.
Back here at the farm, DD Abby had a nice stew ready for dinner.
October 26, 2010 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning. Egg laying is perking up a bit. There were 7 yesterday, 6 today.
It felt like spring. The air and ground were moist, it reached 60F with plenty of sun and the air was whirling with some sort of tiny insect with white wings that does not bite but flies in your face. I walked down into North Field with a stake and orange flagging to mark the position of the pond that is forming. A spot like this can be useful for providing emergency water but under ice and snow might be hard to locate. I set my stake and right away Bo Diddley, the steer, came over and butted it. The others showed up to take a drink but that darned Bo was not satisfied until he had drowned my stake and flagging.
Marcia has gone down to NH to visit her horse, Peter. Abby went out to Marcia’s camp to stay with Anna, the ancient Siamese cat who has stopped eating and drinking. Marcia did not think Anna would last the day but she revived a bit towards evening so Abby came home.
I stewed one of the home grown roosters from the freezer. It was totally tender and tasty. This has been true of all the roosters. The trick is to age the birds two or three days in the frig before freezing.
October 27, 2010 Wednesday
We awoke to steady rain. It continued all day and was unseasonably warm. It is the edge of the storm that is doing so much damage farther west and south. We are told to expect even warmer weather tomorrow.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons.
Dr. Cooper brought me the two hormone shots I need for Helen. I have them in the frig.
October 28, 2010 Thursday
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons again today.
I skinned one front quarter of the pig and got about half of the meat off of the bone but had to leave for my eye appointment. The meat looks and smells good. Skinning a pig carcass is not an easy task. The skin does not let go the way it does on other species.
The doctor tells me that my vision is holding steady. I have no central vision in my left eye. My right eye has dry MD but so far it does not interfere with seeing.
Well, late check in the barn revealed a depressing scene. Jasmine is in standing heat. Cassaboom will be back tomorrow morning. Sigh.
October 29, 2010 Friday
Cassaboom was as good as his word, better in fact; he got here 2 hours earlier than he said. I had let Jasmine out of her stanchion and had all four bovines shut into the beefer pen, the room where their manger is. She could hear his truck and his voice and was much opposed to the idea of coming back in. Abby and I pushed and tempted her with apples to no avail. She is not wearing a collar and all four critters were swirling around. I finally went and got a lead rope and looped it into an impromptu halter and she then agreed to cooperate. I was unprepared for her reluctance as mostly she races in at the first opportunity. Cassaboom bred her to Lieutenant, a Jersey bull reputed to have cream and protein genes, and added a shot of Cystorelin (a luteinizing hormone) for good measure.
Scott Pratt came with a nice load of gravel. We had it put behind the barn, Abby’s suggestion for accessibility to the back ramp in the beefer pen which is composed of gravel and needs frequent restoration.
I spent a lot of time today cutting up and grinding pork for sausage. I added some fatback that I had in the freezer and seasoned it with a mix that I had on hand that gives it a sort of chorizo flavor. I fried up a bit for Abby and she pronounced it excellent.
I also defrosted a pork belly from Max and Mitra’s pig of last winter and started a bacon salt cure. I had promised to do this months ago but never got around to it. I used a recipe out of Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson.
Abby made a very fine apple pie with a lard crust.
October 30, 2010 Saturday
The weather today was bright and windy. Jasmine gave only 2 ½ gallons today.
Helen got her shot of Cystorelin this morning. It took me and Abby a long time to get her into the barn but once in she went right to her stanchion. Abby held her tail for me. I sure hope this works. She gets her next shot on Tuesday. She certainly looks like a big healthy animal.
Martin was here with the kids. He took pictures of me and Jasmine for Shalali. We all walked down to the knoll to join the cows. I took along a few apples to encourage them to pose.
A friend of mine brought me 8 or 10 hens and 3 guineas. The hens are mostly too young to lay. If this collection of birds ever starts to produce I will be selling eggs. We got 6 today.
I brought Helen back in this evening and removed the plastic thing that the AI tech stuck in her. It was supposed to have a tail hanging out to grab but this had sunk from sight. I had to reach inside her for it. She was a good sport about this.
Martin and the kids joined us for supper. I fried a chuck steak. Also I made baked butternut squash by a nice method. I peeled the squash and cut it up into crescents, sautéed them briefly in butter and olive oil with cumin and ginger, then baked them for about a half hour. It was all eaten. Abby brought in baby lettuce and arugula from her fall salad garden. Everybody loved these including the kids.
October 31, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine gave a bit over 2 ½ gallons.
For unknown reasons, Helen bellowed all day as though she was in heat. I called Cassaboom about it. He said if she really is in heat to give the second shot and notify him.
The weather is progressively colder. I was kept busy around the house but should have gone down and cut the remaining cabbages. They had snow on the ground at Weld. We had rain.
At Mitra's they had snow also. Mitra's cousin's son, Santiago, who is living with them for the school year, had his first ever snow experience. He is from Mexico. He and Granddaughter Roshan were even able to build a 3ft snowman. He had to be named "Hairy" because of all the leaves and twigs that were incorporated during his building.
November 02, 2010 Election Day Tuesday
Yesterday, 2 ½ gallons of milk, today 2 ¾ gallons. Curious ossilation in volume lately.
Yesterday I ground the remaining pork and added fatback that Max kindly brought over. There were 10 lbs of very lean meat and I added 5 lbs of fat. This time I did not put it through the grinder twice so it was a lot less work. I also added about 2 cups of water as suggested by forum members. I gave it a breakfast sausage seasoning with sage etc. I fried patties as I went along to test the seasoning. Last night I thought it was way too salty even though I used less salt than the recipe suggested. Today it had mellowed to a more appropriate saltiness. I also made 2 lbs of lard.
The bacon I have been rubbing daily with the Fergus Henderson bacon cure may be done. I will try some in the morning and see what it tastes like
Marcia came over and we picked the last of the cabbages. This included ten little red cabbages that never got much bigger than softballs. DD Sally says she pickles red cabbage to serve with pork. I had never heard of that but it turns out my book, Stocking Up, had two recipes and DD Sally is going to send hers.
Marcia dug up the artichokes to winter over in her indoor cellar garden under lights. They did not do much for us this year and may never but they are certainly ornamental.
Forum member Shalali who composed that calendar (Cowandar) last year has done it again, better than ever. See it here:
November 03, 2010 Wednesday
Jasmine was way down this morning, only a bit over 2 gallons.
The sheep were on the front lawn when I opened the garage. They had broken through the defective door to the beefer pen and squeezed through another door and were milling around looking sheepish. They are champions at that. They followed me right back in. Abby came by and did a temp repair. That door has been falling apart for some days but it needs a power drill to repair it and I can’t find mine. DS Max says he will come over tomorrow and fix this and another troubled door. We know how tragic it can be when animals breech the doors.
The bacon that I have been salt curing was ready today. I am thrilled with the flavor and can’t wait for Max and Mitra to try it.
November 05, 2010 Friday
Jasmine was back up to more than 2 ½ gallons yesterday, today only 2 ¼. It rained all night and all of today. The cows grazed quite a bit despite the weather but the quality of the grass is meager. Furthermore, the quality of my hay is very uneven and the boys stacked it all jumbled up. The light in the loft is yellowish so often it is not until I throw down a bale and see their disappointed faces that I know it was a lousy bale.
Max was unable to come over yesterday to help me. Their big sow, Sophie, was in heat and her electric fence had lost a lot of its charge. She repeatedly got out and only with great difficulty was Max able to get her back in. Leaving home was not an option. DS Martin will be up this evening and has promised to get my sink to drain again. All week I have been pouring the wash-up water into a bucket and carrying it outside.
Egg production is definitely increasing. Yesterday I got eight.
November 06, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine gave something over 2 ¾ gallons today. I got 6 eggs.
It was cloudy most of the day and around 40F but the air was nice and it did not feel cold. DIL Amy arrived about 11:30 from Biddeford and DS Martin, who was at camp with the kids arrived here about the same time. The kids stormed their mother’s lap and had a big cuddle before going into the music room to play with the tea set and the piano. Amy took the kids back up to the lake and Martin went out with his dog and gun.
Later Martin’s friend Bret Shiffren came down and they went hunting together and got one woodcock. The setter, Milo, is just learning his trade. He works with tireless dedication but not always to the point, pun intended. Actually he is learning to point just fine but when the bird rises he runs after it and tries to catch it which makes it impossible for anybody to shoot. He is still very young.
After coming back to the house and saying goodbye to Bret S, Martin worked some more on my stubbornly resistant drain pipe. I can report some improvement. As he was leaving he remarked that the cows were having a wonderful time grazing down in Pocket Field. Gulp. He thought I had opened the gate and let them in. Not so. I have no idea how it got opened. I have not seen any poachers. I called the sheep and they came bounding home wagging their tails behind them. Martin gamely went down and rounded up the cows all of whom had entered the woods and saw no object at all in moving. I am not sure what I will do in the morning. Pocket Field has not been grazed this year because it is not properly fenced. I would not put it past the cows or the sheep to break in there now that they have sampled it. I will be gone all day to the Luick’s for Shireen’s 15th birthday party. Let’s hope the critters don’t make it their big play day.
November 07, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine managed 2 ½ gallons this morning.
It was cold and Novembery all day. There was no breeching of the fence. Next time there is a warmish day without frost on the grass I may try putting the sheep in the small sheep paddock and letting the cows back into Pocket Field without them.
Max and Mitra put on a fine dinner in honor of Shireen’s 15th birthday. Max grilled chicken on his big new grill, some of their own birds. Mitra made Mexican style rice. Mitra’s mom, Marie, made a super green salad and I made cole slaw with our own cabbage, carrots and green onions. There was a bowl of pistachios on the table sent from Iran by relatives of Alex, Mitra’s dad. He said they would be the last we would see as a new round of embargos includes them. Max made a pumpkin pie and Mitra made a cheesecake. Little Hannah sang a birthday song, a quatrain that was new to me. She sang it perfectly without any coaxing.
Roshan and cousin Santiago spent the afternoon building a dam on the tiny brook that runs along the Luick property. They were making a pond for the ducks which roam free during the day and the ducks were enjoying it thoroughly. I don’t suppose Santiago has had much chance in the past to do this sort of thing, living in Cuernavaca. I was afraid that he might not get along too well in the cold but this is not the case.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
It rained all day yesterday and today.
Jasmine gave about 2 ½ gallons.
My AI tech, Nathan Cassaboom, came today and put an embryo into Helen. She has failed numerous attempts at breeding by AI so this is I guess her last chance unless I were to be able to arrange natural breeding which is most unlikely. I did keep Jasmine’s bull calf one time for breeding but that would never work for Helen because she is so big. Also her age is against her. If the embryo does not prosper this will most likely be the end of all attempts. She is a big healthy appearing cow and has lost a little bit of the weight she put on at Max and Mitra’s where she had plenty of good hay but less exercise. Here they have to walk a long way every day including some up and down. It is too bad I could not carry on with hand milking when she came here even though she was not giving much. It was more than I could manage. If the pregnancy is successful that calf will be about July 9.
Cassaboom also drew blood from Jasmine for a pregnancy test.
DD Marcia has made the decision to sell her camp. Her real estate people came today for a tour and were madly enthusiastic. She expects to buy a place in Florida.
November 10, 2010 Wednesday
The sun came out again today. We had a lot of rain the last few days. Other parts of the state had strong wind and thousands lost power. Jasmine gave a bit more than 2 ½ gallons.
Everything was quiet here today but I have been getting ready for the arrival of DS Bret. He has been to scientific meetings in Denver and before going home will attend meetings in Boston. Also this evening DS Martin will be stopping in. He is attending a meeting of Western Maine Alliance in Farmington. I have made baked beans and a sort of upside down cake with apples and dried cranberries. I have also started bread. I keep adding more ingredients and had to grind more flour to balance things out. I hope it does not overflow the bowl during the night.
November 12, 2010 Friday
Yesterday 2 ½ gallons, 2 ¼ today. Fine November weather. The sheep are happy and doing well but Bildad has taken to ramming doors when he thinks it is feeding time. I bring them in twice a day for a bit of grain and keep them in their stall an hour or so while I give hay to the cows. Otherwise they make pests of themselves by jumping in the cows’ hay feeder and messing it up.
Bret spent a long time repairing one of the doors that Bildad has destroyed. He found some old barn boards of good quality and it is now authentically restored. There are still two more to do but these should be easier as they are not so shredded. Bret has now located all the tools and other elements to the task but we looked in vain for my power drill. He finally went out and bought a replacement.
Marcia fixed a fine family dinner of rib roast and veg. The roasts were from a steer I raised. I made cole slaw. Marcia made ice cream and a sort of torte with caramelized nuts on top. DS Martin and DIL Amy were here and brought bread and wine. They found a little hole-in-the-wall store in Biddeford that sells outstanding wines from broken cases remarkably cheaply.
Ernie showed us the glass blowing equipment he has set up in the cellar. Marcia gave us a tour of the garden under lights also in her cellar and of her studio apartment. She has just completed a wonderful painting of a peacock. It is on silk and is in great detail. It is about 15x15 inches.
November 13, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons. I have not reverted to TAD milking but am doing extra stripping after I remove the machine.
The weather today was beautiful. I rested for a while in the chaise on the deck.
DD Abby left today for Fairbanks AK.
Neither DS Bret nor I went anywhere today. He worked on repairs in the barn and now has them all done. I don’t think the sliding back door could have withstood another day of ramming by Bildad. Counting the door repaired last week by Martin, four doors all went at about the same time. Fortunately no serious escapes occurred.
Bret also worked on my Belgian waffle maker. It is the non electric model that sits on one’s heat source. I was never able to make it behave properly on the Aga so it is years since I have used it. He gave it a thorough cleaning and we had waffles this morning. The trick is to lower the lid over it so that both sides heat but prop the lid on a block of wood so that it does not mash the waffler.
I made pumpkin soup for our supper.
November 14, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine gave 2 ¼ gallons. The ¼ was the quart I stripped into a jar. So I don’t know how much headway I am making on keeping up production. I am still feeding about a bale a day of hay split into 2 feedings and divided between four bovines. They graze all day but November grass is not very good around here. Anyway, the pasture still looks green. Jasmine gets about 4 pounds of dairy ration once a day top dressed with a handful of kelp and DT and a glug of ACV. All the cows are in good shape.
Bret bricked up a couple of my little narrow cellar windows that were not serving any useful function. This will reduce drafts. He discovered that runoff from the roof is draining back towards the house in one place and causing the granite foundation to buckle inwards a bit. It is not dangerous at this point but will never cure itself. I need to find a way to get the water to drain away from the house a whole lot better.
We went to DD Marcia’s place for dinner and were joined by DS Max and family. Marcia made chili and salad and for dessert, homemade vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and raspberries.
DS Bret must leave tomorrow. He is working hard on a unique program he has written which analyzes a great deal of diet information he has obtained from years of interviewing the Alaskan native population.
November 15, 2010 Monday
I did barn chores early so as to be in the house to help Bret get some breakfast and be sure he did not forget his lunch. He had to drive to Boston, and then fly to Seattle where he will go check on his sailboat at a marina. He plans to sleep on the boat before flying tomorrow to Fairbanks. I have sent one of my frozen turkeys with him and will be on tenterhooks until I hear that he, and it, have arrived safely.
After saying goodbye to Bret I got in the car and did all the errands I have been putting off.
This evening I resumed TAD milking. Jasmine gave a gallon.
DD Sally called to say that a mink had killed all 10 of her young chickens. She is devising a trap for the mink. It is to be baited with one of the dead chickens.
November 17, 2010 Wednesday
Milk production was up about 2 cups yesterday and a quart today. I guess I don’t have any way of being sure how much the additional grain Jasmine now gets for coming in for evening milking and how the additional milking contributes to her increase in production. The weather yesterday was balmy. I opened one of the kitchen windows. It rained all day today but was warm, about 40F.
Bret is back in Fairbanks AK but has not yet let me know if the turkey he took along actually made it.
Marcia stopped in for tea and a bite of a dessert that I made with cranberries and apples. It goes together fast, except for the nuisance of preparing the apples.
Cranberry apple cakey pie
For the fruit: 2 cups fresh cranberries, 2 apples peeled, cored, and roughly chopped 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons butter
For the batter: 2 extra-large eggs or 3 small 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup sour cream 1 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Add and heat the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. After these frizzle a bit and the cranberries and apples begin to soften add the orange juice. Boil this for a minute, then pour into a buttered pie dish. For the batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, the melted butter, vanilla, ½ t. cinnamon and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt. . Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes until the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm. Next time I am going to try adding baking powder or yeast to the batter
Thursday, November 18, 2010 Where does the time go? It’s the 18th already. Jasmine gave a total of 2 ½ gallons TAD both yesterday and today. Not impressive. DD Marcia and I went to St. Teresa’s Free Store today. That is always fun. She took a whole carload of donations mostly old TV’s. We also stopped for feed and groceries. The rain has stopped and it is getting colder.
November 19, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave 2 2/3 gallons today TAD. Sorry to say, I heard from my AI tech with the results of her blood test. She is not in calf. On her next heat he has offered to come two days in a row.
It continues to get colder, in fact today really felt like November with scraps of sun amongst the clouds and wind. When we bought Bildad, the Finn/Dorset ram, in August he had just been shorn. We had made arrangements over the phone to buy him and were not consulted about the shearing and were concerned to find him with no wool for the winter. It has grown back now sufficiently to keep him warm, I think, but nothing like the deep fleece on the ewes. He has a nice disposition for a ram. He is gentle except when he is ramming the door at feeding time. Wham! Wham! In a measured pounding with intermittent leaps on his hind legs to peek in the window. It would be quite cute if it were not so annoying. DS Bret greatly reinforced the doors during his recent visit. He used old boards and sandwiched them into three thicknesses. Now they are not only secure against rams but look authentic to the old barn.
Today I made butter, coriander pesto and Munajuusto (Finnish egg cheese). The pesto is a recipe posted by a forum member. Unfortunately I have lost her name. It is meant to chelate toxins from the body and perhaps it does. It tastes wonderfully healthy; in fact just plain tastes wonderful.
CORIANDER CHELATION PESTO
4 cloves garlic 1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium) 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine) 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium) 2 cups packed fresh coriander; aka cilantro or Chinese parsley (vitamin A) 2/3 cup flaxseed oil (I used olive oil) 4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C) 2 tsp dulse powder Sea salt to taste
Process the coriander and oil in a blender until the coriander is chopped. Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Add a pinch of sea salt to taste and blend again. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well, so purchase coriander in season and fill enough jars to last through the year. (Actually, I find it works better to process the garlic and nuts first, then add the coriander.)
Note: The contributor said to use raw nuts and advised presoaking for better digestibility, also not to eat too much pesto all at once.
DS Bret notified me that the turkey I gave him reached Fairbanks AK just fine.
November 20, 2010 Saturday
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons. It was about 20˚ all day with a strong gusty wind. I wasn’t outside much. I got only 2 eggs. Someone has asked me to write a review of the new edition of The Untold Story of Milk. He needs it by Monday night and I can’t find anybody with the book. I called every bookstore and library within 60 miles. This is very frustrating. So far I have not been able to reach the author either.
November 21, 2010 Sunday
There was ice on all the water this morning and my spring water has ceased to run. Probably it will not run again until spring. It was down to 20˚. I succeeded in seeing the elusive book. I downloaded Kindle and read it on my screen. I would never choose this style of reading over lying on a comfortable couch and leafing through the pages but it works. I was reminded again that The Untold Story of Milk is a very good book. There are a couple of new chapters at the end written primarily by Sally Fallon. DD Sally called to announce that she had shot the weasel, or as she usually calls it, the mink. It was right in with her chickens when she spotted it. DD Marcia came by and we brought in the Swedes. They never got very big but are healthy looking. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons today.
November 22, 2010 Monday
We had cold Novembery rain all day. It was cold enough to create a skim of treacherous ice on the granite doorstep. I did not go anywhere today, just finished up the review I was working on. It is only about 1500 words but I had to do considerable reading for it. The editor seems genuinely interested in Ron Schmid’s ideas, most of which are my ideas already.
The sheep are sharing the hay feeder with the cattle better than formerly. This saves me a lot of trouble. I still bring them into their stall while I milk but can let them right back out before I leave the barn, no need to run back out an hour later to turn them out.
Before the day was through, I received the saddest of news from Mitra. One of our dear Moderators on the Family Cow Forum, Mike (JerseyMike), died of a heart attack this morning, while milking his beloved cow. Here is a link to the notice posted about his passing on the Forum. He was much loved and will be sorely missed.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons today. I got 7 eggs.
November 23, 2010 Tuesday
The whole state was dark and rainy and about 30˚. Nonetheless I saw the cows out grazing by the river.
DD Marcia and DS Max were both here. Together they lopped off and brought in the last of the Brussels sprouts. We will have them on Thanksgiving. Max brought me a lot of grain from White Water Farm including some alfalfa pellets I am going to start adding to Jasmine’s grain.
Marcia put up plastic on a couple of my windows. It is a great help.
The news from Alaska is that they had an ice storm. My granddaughter Rosie was driving into town for her eye appointment yesterday and had to leave her car by the side of the road and walk the rest of the way. She was always a great walker. When she got to the doctor’s office no one was there. He could not get to town either. So then she walked to her Cousin Harper’s house (DD Marcia’s son) and stayed overnight as it was still impossible to drive.
2 ½ gallons today.
November 24, 2010 Wednesday
Bleak weather today, lots of cold wind. I went out at noon to offer hay but they were all out grazing so I did not put out the 2nd hay feeding until 5pm. Then I put out extra and the cows and sheep all gobbled.
I made a couple of loaves of 90% whole wheat bread. The other 10% was King Arthur high gluten bread flour which I added at the end when kneading. My last several efforts at bread making were a bit too experimental and I gave most of it to the chickens. The bread today required no apology. I gave one loaf to Marcia. I took it out to her at the lake and got to see her current art work. She has done a blue butterfly on silk which will be a panel on a handbag and is working on a special Christmas stocking for her granddaughter Lily.
DD Sally called from AK to tell me her travel plans. She flies January 6.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons but I had to work hard for it. I have started adding a tomato can of alfalfa pellets to her feed.
November 25, 2010 Thursday, Thanksgiving It was a cold but sunny day, just right for Thanksgiving. We had dinner at Marcia’s place. We were 12 at table. DS Max and Mitra and their 2 girls, Shireen and Roshan and cousin Santiago; DS Mark and Ann and Hailey who will be (unbelievably) 18 in a week; Marcia’s DD Abby Rose and her guy Ernie; DD Marcia and myself. The table setting was particularly lovely.
Here is the menu:
Alaskan smoked salmon made by Marcia’s DS Harper plus various cheeses Turkey raised by me, 22 lbs. with stuffing Gravy (I made) Ham (Max and Mitra raised) Mashed potatoes (forgot to ask if she used our potatoes) Mashed butternut squash (our garden) Brussels sprouts (our garden) Turnip carrot and cream casserole (made by Mitra’s friend) Cranberry sauce Plenty of nice wine brought by Mark and Ann Apple pie (Max) Cheesecake (Mitra) Vanilla ice cream (Made by Marcia in that fancy machine lent by Martin) Martin and his family could not be with us because they went to MA to be with Amy’s grandmother Mimi who is over 100 years old.
This was a sumptuous meal, everything delicious and most of it home grown. I wished I could have eaten more but I can’t eat very much.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons.
November 26, 2010 Friday
The ground was covered with snow this morning. It is soft wet mushy snow and won’t last unless more falls. It was hard work rolling the wagon through it. It made snowballs on the wheels. If it lingers I will need to get out the cargo sled.
No company today, but I got a call from DS John in Adelaide SA. He gave me a link to the account of a young woman named Tasha who was formerly a vegan. Her blog is at
Her personal history is remarkably similar to others I have read, including the death threats from vegans enraged by defectors. John’s wife Lou works in a day care center. One little boy’s parents are vegan and it was endlessly difficult to keep the kid on his diet. The parents then relented and told the caregivers to let him eat what he wants. He will now eat nothing but meat while at day care.
At midday on my barn visit I found the ewe “lamb” Martha – she is bigger than her mother now - stuck in one of the slots in the hay feeder. Most of her was in the hay but her hips were stuck like Pooh Bear. Those slots are narrow at the bottom and I needed to be able to lift her to get her up to the wider part where her hips would pass. What a dilemma! She weighs a ton and I could not lift her. I tried everything I could think of before I thought of putting my hand under one hind food like helping somebody into a stirrup. This caused her to leap her butt in the air and she shot into the hay. Then I had to pound on her to get her back out again. Ever try pounding on a sheep with a 4” fleece? It’s much like pounding a sofa cushion.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons and I got 7 eggs.
November 27, 2010 Saturday
DS Martin arrived this morning while I was milking the cow. He worked around here for several hours before taking Milo out hunting. Milo works hard and runs hard and Martin says he is learning a little more all the time. Today was the last day of deer season so Martin went far off the beaten path of hunters so as not to be amongst them. He did not see any hunters, only one place where there were footprints. Nowadays very few hunters care to walk. If they can’t drive to where the deer are, the deer are pretty safe.
Marcia came by and put plastic on two more windows. It makes such a difference. It did not get above 20˚ today. Last night I forgot to stuff the barn hose into the warming cabinet and it took until late morning to thaw it out. The cows had to wait for their water. I need to reinforce all my winter habits.
I made a big pot of beans last night. Before going hunting this morning, Martin cut up one of my rib roasts from the freezer on the band saw. It made beautiful steaks. We had dinner at Marcia’s place. Martin grilled the steaks under the salamander on Marcia’s Viking stove. They were truly excellent. This was my own grassfed Jersey beef, killed at home. I was very proud of it. We also had beans and more home made ice cream. (It does not take any 2 years to mature and fatten grassfed beef. That animal was about 18 months old and had all the size and fat anyone could ask for.)
I skipped evening milking so as to accommodate a 6pm meal. Then when it was time for Martin to drive me home he asked me to drive his Prius so that he could drive a pickup to the farm. He had bought it today in Weld for a farm vehicle. I was glad I did not know until the last minute that I was going to be asked to drive the Prius or I might have gotten indigestion. But I managed just fine.
OAD today, so only 1 ½ gallons. 7 eggs! I would have had 8 but I put the last one in my coat pocket and then forgot about it and leaned against something and felt that well known crunch. Pretty soon I am going to have to throw this coat away. The family has hinted strongly that that decision is overdue.
November 28, 2010 Sunday
Jasmine saved most of the milk I didn’t get last night. Today I got 3 gallons. Martin stopped in for waffles before going home. That was fun. My furnace has quit so I am keeping two fires going. I have called The Man and I hope he shows up tomorrow. The temperature outdoors has ranged between 18˚ and 32˚ so it is possible to keep even this big house in the comfort range so long as I wear wool and keep moving. The plastic on the windows is helping a lot. And Martin brought in a lot of wood.
I suspect that Jasmine will be in heat tomorrow. She pooped three times during milking and last time I saw unusual activity was on a Monday. I attributed it to Helen’s hormone shots since I really thought she was bred. Sigh.
November 30, 2010 Tuesday
No signs of heat. Jasmine usually has a 24 day cycle so I suppose any poor manners in the stanchion is just that – a lapse in manners. She gave 2 ½ gallons today. This is with a recent change from 16% dairy to COB. She is so far continuing at her earlier level. I also top dress her feed with a tomato can of alfalfa pellets.
Bildad, the ram, has fallen in love with old Helen. He spends all his time with her. I have been observing him carefully for several days now to make sure I am not making this up. When I call the sheep in he doesn’t leave Helen’s side. This morning when I called I observed him look at Helen to see if she was going to come. She was not. So he did not. This evening when the ewes were in I went into the Beefer Pen to put out the little grain snack meant for Bo, the steer. Helen is now wise to this and thinks it should be hers. I patted Helen on the nose to make her retreat and Bildad, who had been lying down, immediately came over and stood looking closely at me. I pretended not to notice and walked away with one eye on him. He has never butted and I prefer that he not start.
All day yesterday I was nearly out of commission with some sort of over stressed muscle issue. That was painful! I had to plan ahead and brace myself every time I moved. I have no idea what I did to myself but assume this was the result of one of the dramatic arm twirling recoveries I made instead of falling when I slipped on the ice. I am much better today.
December 01, 2010 Wednesday
We had rain much of the day and most of the snow and ice are gone. I was greeted this morning by a lot of circling and jumping involving Helen. I guess Helen has lost her last chance. I don’t think it involved Jasmine. Later today I got a call from Nathan C, my inseminator tech. He had been going over his receipts and realized that he had taken the blood test on Jasmine too early. He will take another sample. Maybe she is in calf after all. Fingers and hooves crossed.
The piano tuner was here. He discovered that there have been mice in the piano gnawing the felts. Bummer. He said people have been telling him that you can discourage mice from entering a piano with those sheets sold to put in the drier for fluffing or something. I have never bought any but here goes. When he left I hitched a ride with him to Weld to rescue my car from the garage, then proceeded to Marcia’s place for lunch.
Back here at the farm I was not able to observe any further evidence of heat in either cow. I will look sharp for bleed-out.
I heard from Mitra that her old cat Holly Holstein, had to be euthanized. The poor old thing had some sort of cancer in her nasal passages that was causing her pain and facial disfigurement. Holly came to their place seven years ago starved almost to death. The Luick’s are great cat lovers and soon had her sleek and healthy. She had a good life with them. She was an outdoor cat and in winter she had an outdoor bed in a box with a heating pad. Her name derived from her black and white markings.
Last thing tonight I made butter.
December 03, 2010 Friday
Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons this morning. I hurried through the chores and met Marcia and together we went to Farmington. We met DIL Mitra for lunch at the soup place. She had a demanding evening coming up with three kids to shlep around and a trip to the poultry processor for crates. Tomorrow morning she has to pack up her 55 birds and take them in for processing.
As soon as I got home I raced around getting dinner ready for DS Martin and Amy and kids. I had made lentil soup yesterday and cooked a Coburn Farm rooster all day in the Aga simmer oven. I skipped milking as I just could not find time for it. Jasmine does not mind. Amy brought bread. The menu was a bit odd but everything got eaten. Henry, 2 ½ , is a real trencherman. He just sits there eating purposefully, soup, chicken leg, soup, chicken leg, with interruptions only to drink his milk.
December 05, 2010 Sunday Jasmine gave 1 gallon this morning. The weather is about the same, right around 30˚ with mostly dark skies, typical weather for the time of year. To my surprise, the cows and sheep continue to graze most of the time. There is some patchy snow on the pasture but they ignore it. DS Martin has devised a new cattle watering system involving a float valve and heat tape on a pipe to the water tub which is also heated. It blew apart this morning rather spectacularly but he repaired it and replaced sprayed light bulbs. He also set up a light on a timer for the chickens. The pickup he bought has a Mickey Mouse sort of ignition system that the seller did not adequately explain. So the battery is drained. We have it on the trickle charger. He got the older pickup going and they are now both in the front yard. They both have plows on the front. Martin and Amy brought me a dear little Xmas tree which they cut on their property at Weld. DD Marcia stopped by and we all had lunch together. There was more of the lentil soup and this morning I made liver pate. It was still hot from the oven. It was OK but should be better tomorrow. DS Bret is in Washington DC where he has meetings next week. He brought his DD Maia with him to see the sights. Yesterday they went to the zoo. I hope today they went to the National Gallery or Smithsonian. Marcia picked up lobsters today, her DD Abby Rose’ favorite seafood and I joined them for dinner. We had a fine time eating lobster with plenty of melted butter. Ernie has about 35 of his glass sculptures now at a gallery in Belfast. He does beautiful work. Marcia had finished a painting on silk of a peacock, very detailed, and Ernie got it framed under archival glass. She has also completed a Xmas stocking of batik on silk for her granddaughter Lily. I skipped the milking this evening so that I could go eat lobster. December 06, 2010 Monday Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning, catching up partially for not having been milked last night. Three gallons today total. The whole State of Maine got snow today although we got less than elsewhere, only 1.5 inches. There was a high icy wind so it was no fun being outside for man or beast. I put down plenty of hay. Marcia and I did some local errands and I picked up feed. The weather was too bad for driving to New Sharon for it. Marcia bought a kerosene space heater as an emergency heat source when we get a power outage. She has decided against going to Florida this year. She is enjoying her new little studio apartment and having Abby Rose and Ernie in the main house.
Ernie came by here today to see what supplies I might have for construction of his ice fishing hut. I gave him some sheets of metal roofing. He is really looking forward to the fishing. Mitra reports that her girls and Santiago had endless fun sliding on the new snow. There is a long slope on their lawn and Santiago is far from being bored with snow. He is growing fast under the influence of farm milk, or so I suppose. December 07, 2010 Tuesday Jasmine gave only 1 gallon this morning, 1 more this evening. This evening she was in roaring heat so I wrote to my AI tech… yet again. I made butter again. Also found a nest with 11 good eggs. It is Christmas cake season. I made some from a new recipe from the King Arthur people. It made 5 cakes. Along with dried cranberries, which I substituted for costly dried cherries, it included chocolate chips. The end broke off on one cake on its way out of the pan so I had to take a bite. It seems pretty good! For my dinner I invented squash and peanut butter soup. I recommend it highly. I fried a shopped onion in butter, added a tablespoon of galangal spice ( curry or garam masala would be equally good), added a pint of chicken stock, 3 tablespoons of natural peanut butter and some Thai chili sauce, added a pint of pureed squash, got it simmering for a few minutes, then added a cup of cream. It was very satisfying. Wednesday, December 08, 2010 The AI tech arrived before I had the machine on Jasmine but I had both her and Helen in their stanchions. He bred Jasmine to Lieutenant again and took a blood sample from Helen to check for pregnancy. I don’t hold out much hope. Marcia stopped in and we ate the rest of the squash and peanut butter soup and each had a slice of cake. It is dark and cold, about 18˚. She gave Willie a bath so he had to stay in the rest of the day to get dry. After she left I went down to the garden to look around and found three rather measly stalks of Brussels sprouts which I lopped off and brought up to the house. There are still a lot of bunching onions but the ground is frozen so they cannot be pulled. Jasmine gave 2 gallons today. December 10, 2010 Friday It was down to zero yesterday and today. You really feel the difference in your toes and lots more drafts announce themselves around the doors and windows. Brr! Can I get used to this again? I know it is a mere preview of coming attractions.
I ate my little frozen Brussels sprouts tonight and they were delicious. I also braised a bird that DD Sally dressed off in September and labeled “Tender young rooster”. This judgment proved optimistic. I simmered it all day and it was still stringy. Tasty though. So far the weather is not distressing any of the animals although there is no more grazing. I got 6 eggs today and Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons of milk. December 11, 2010 Saturday It is still cold but not quite so freezie. It was mostly about 10˚. Marcia came by and strewed some rejected hay around in the beefer pen as bedding so that Jasmine will come in cleaner. With no more grazing and very little sun all the bovines have been lying around inside and messing things up. All the chickens are inside too. When DD Sally comes perhaps she will dress off a few more roosters. I have one dear little hen who hatched 4 chicks about 5 months ago and has never stopped nurturing them. Darned if they aren’t all cockerels, now bigger than mom. They are a cute little family. At night they roost in a tight packed row in a rafter. Marcia threw down another bale of what she thought to be poor quality hay and all 8 ruminants fell upon it as though it was dessert. So they got to keep it. While here, Marcia put plastic on the last two bedroom windows. That just leaves the attic to do. Marcia bought fresh Maine shrimp in the Dixfield fish market and served them boiled and spread out on newspapers and sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. We each peeled our own and had a feast. We also had salad, crusty French bread and baked sweet potatoes. I skipped milking tonight. This morning I got 1 ½ gallons and brought in 6 eggs. December 12, 2010 Sunday Two gallons this morning, more than usual because of skipping milking last night. My furnace quit again. The furnace man came out and checked everything. He ended up disconnecting the computerized system that conforms the furnace response to the outdoor temperature. He is going to check if it is under warranty. I paid considerable extra for that feature so will not be pleased if it has quit. It rained all day and the roads were icy. DIL Mitra reports scary driving conditions in New Sharon but I did not have to go out. DD Marcia came by and brought in a lot of wood, helped me deploy the grain I bought yesterday and spread bedding around in the beefer pen. I made another batch of fruit cake using a more traditional recipe than the previous one. Jasmine gave 1 gallon tonight.
December 13, 2010 Monday It has rained for 2 ½ days and the rivers of Maine are at flood stage including the Webb River that runs past my farm. The ground is frozen and cannot absorb the runoff. The loss of duff in the forests now that they clear cut and chip up the small stuff and take it all away leaves nothing to slow the runoff. All the snow is gone. It was 40˚ all day. The animals spent the day on the pasture looking for grazing. Jasmine gave only two gallons even with TAD milking. I made bread, a sort of lemon brioche style. December 15, 2010 Wednesday Yesterday Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons, today only 2 1/8. Fern, 14 mo. heifer, was in heat, so that was a big distraction; also the cows did not drink their water much. An electric cord was dangling into it so there may have been stray voltage. After I filled the tub this evening Jas came and took a big drink. My day started with an adventure. I always let the sheep into their stall first thing for a grain snack and to keep them out of my way. Only three of the four came in but that is not unusual in bad weather because they are over in the beefer pen and can’t always figure out how to go the wrong direction for a few steps in order to get around to where I am standing at the top of the ramp. After milking I discovered the 4th sheep, Susie, stuck inside the hay feeder. This is an ancient steel feeder with keyhole slots sized for cattle. She had squeezed part way through a slot at the end and then woven herself around the corner presumably in an attempt to leave through a side slot. She was not in pain, in fact was chewing her cud when I found her, but her head and front feet were out one slot and her hips and hind legs out another. None of her feet touched the ground. She is a big fat 11 month old Suffolk ewe lamb who weighs darn near as much as I do, probably 150 lbs. Like all sheep, she would do nothing to help herself and appeared to have accepted her fate. Well, I lifted and I pushed and I sweated and I tried to think whom to summon to help me. I couldn’t think of a soul. Finally it occurred to me to bring a bale of hay downstairs and put it under her hind feet so they would not be just dangling. This induced some feeble struggling but no progress, inasmuch as her front end was locked in place. Putting it under her front feet was more promising but this required that I push her backwards and stuff her head back through the slot. This caused her to make deathly gargling noises but I finally got her front end inside the feeder, then I put my hands under her rear hooves to give her a boost and she popped along into the feeder, whereupon she took two steps forward and began peacefully eating hay. As for me, I was breathing through my mouth, utterly used up. It was cold all day, about 10˚. More snow fell. December 16, 2010 Thursday It is still cold but partly sunny. I had no further big adventures. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons and I got 7 eggs.
DD Marcia and I went to town and I picked up more chicken and dairy feed. It is amazing how much the chickens are eating now that they cannot forage. As soon as DD Sally gets here (January 6) we will dress off about 8 more roosters. December 17, 2010 Friday It is still cold. Well, nothing compared to what many parts of the country are experiencing, but enough to remind me that I need to get a lot more serious about the quality of my mittens and gloves. Jasmine gave over 2 ½ gallons today Marcia came down and did the noon animal care, putting out hay, topping up the water and spreading waste hay around for bedding. The bedding is very important at this time of year when the cows spend all or most of the day inside and not just for cow comfort. The manure freezes in great lumps which they avoid lying down on in favor or the softer fresh stuff. This results in a lot of extra work for the dairymaid. I was busy today in the house getting lunch on the table for my vet who tends to stop if he is passing. I usually have something to offer him, in this case tamale pie. Mitra is still without a computer. The repair shop said that they cannot even get at it until next week. Here is the tamale pie recipe. It is from King Arthur.
This recipe made its debut in The Baking Sheet, our subscription baking newsletter. Susan Reid, the editor, described it this way: "Greg, my other half, is always happy when the answer to 'what's for dinner?' is 'a casserole'. Being a true child of the Donna Reed era, the idea of a warm covered dish with meat and cheese and starch all together makes him feel right at home. The tamale topping for this dish is moist and tender, studded with flecks of corn. You can add herbs or cheese if you like. Partly because of my restaurant training, I tend to make the filling for this dish in double batches, one for now and one for the freezer. That way I'm halfway there later on when I come home late and want to get dinner on the table without starting from scratch. If you want to make the filling ahead, you can do so and tuck it in its casserole dish in the refrigerator. When you get home, turn the oven on, plunk the casserole in the microwave for 10 minutes to heat through while you put together the topping, scoop it out, put it in the oven. Your total time from start to dinner? 35 minutes." Ingredients View by: Volume Weight 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef 1 cup diced onions 2 cloves chopped garlic 1 tablespoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon salt pepper or cayenne to taste 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce 1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice 1 can (14.5 ounces) black or dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed Tamale Topping 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 3/4 cup whole cornmeal 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter 1 large egg 1 small (8 ounces) can creamed corn 1/2 cup buttermilk 1 cup grated cheese, optional 7/8 ounce olive oil 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef 5 ounces diced onions 2 cloves chopped garlic 1 tablespoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon salt pepper or cayenne to taste 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce 1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice 1 can (14.5 ounces) black or dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed Tamale Topping 4 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 3 5/8 ounces whole cornmeal 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter 1 large egg 1 small (8 ounces) can creamed corn 4 ounces buttermilk 4 ounces grated cheese, optional Directions 1. To make the filling: Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the meat. 2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Add the onions, garlic, and spices, and cook for 3 minutes more, until the onions soften. 3. Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the kidney beans, stir to combine, and transfer the mixture to a covered 2 1/2 to 3-quart casserole dish. 4. For the topping: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 5. Work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. 6. Beat together the egg, creamed corn, and buttermilk, and stir into the dry ingredients until evenly moistened. 7. If you're adding cheese, stir it in now. 8. Scoop the batter on top of the hot filling, leaving plenty of space around each one: the tamale dumplings will double in size as they cook. Cover the dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm. Recipe summary Hands-on time: 35 mins. to 40 mins. Baking time: 25 mins. to 35 mins. Total time: 40 mins. to 50 mins. Yield: 6 servings Tips from our bakers You can use pepperjack, Monterey jack, or cheddar cheese in this recipe, depending on your taste. You can also spice up the recipe with a diced fresh jalapeno and a splash of tabasco sauce, if you like your food on the hotter end of the flavor spectrum. Too hot to fire up the oven? If you have a deep 12-inch skillet with a lid, you can cook the tamale pie on the stove (or even outdoors, on your grill). After the batter is scooped on top, put on the lid and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes over medium-low heat. If you're looking for a timesaver, you could substitute a packet of taco seasoning for the spices in the filling; just be aware that prepackaged spice mixes often contain msg.
I played fast and loose with this recipe. I cut the corn out of the topping and doubled the buttermilk. Used about a cup of shredded cheese in the topping. I liked this better. I put the corn into the pie part. If you make this just be sure the pie part is fairy soupy I made it in my large black skillet jsr dec 14 ‘10
December 18, 2010 Saturday Now that I have gotten Jasmine back up over 2 ½ gallons I have decided to return to OAD milking at least until such time as her milk supply again drops unnervingly low. This will save me a couple of hours a day that I badly need.
So tonight I did not milk.
Marcia came down and helped me for an hour or two. She put plastic on the attic windows. We keep finding more winterizing that has not been done. Ernie and Abby Rose also came over. They nailed up a tarp on a flimsy interior wall to keep drafts off of the hens.
December 19, 2010 Sunday Jasmine gave slightly over 2 gallons. It is hard to get her clean. Marcia, Abby Rose and Ernie all were here. Ernie revised the dog house that he made last week for Bagel. Bagel is still reluctant to make use of his nice new house but I hope to get him accustomed to it. He is a claustrophobic sort of dog. Ernie and AR took my junk to the dump, always appreciated. Marcia did the very welcome task of wrapping my baby fruit trees in empty feed sacks. Now I must hang Irish Spring soap on them. Deer despise the scent of that soap. Marcia also did all the midday barn chores. And on top of that she helped me consolidate my two freezers into one. Because it is so cold I was able to take the Xmas turkey out right now and this freed up a lot of room. Then she went home and came back later to convey me to her place for supper. Abby Rose made stuffed cannelloni. Ernie drove me home, so I feel like I am on a holiday. For dessert Marcia served ice cream made by simply pouring a product called pumpkin egg nog into her ice cream maker. I am not certain whether this egg nog actually contains real pumpkin or just pie flavoring but it made beautiful ice cream. She topped it with whipped cream. Wow.
December 21, 2010 Tuesday DS Max, back from three weeks in Pennsylvania, stayed here last night. He needed to organize early to kill Bo Diddley, the steer, in the morning. We have worked out an arrangement with the abattoir to be able to bring our killed and bled animals for processing, rather than taking them the night before. This way the animal is never stressed. I had everything organized last night. The sheep stayed in their pen out of the way. I went out early and brought Helen, Jasmine and Fern into their stanchions and gave them treats. Max got the Kubota going outside the barn. I gave Max a pan of grain for Bo. Max then opened up the big front doors of the beefer pen and set down the pan. I had for many weeks accustomed Bo to getting a handful of grain in that pan and Bo lowered his head to eat a bite. Max dropped him with a single perfect shot. Ernie was here to help too. Max had sited the gun yesterday and made sure the safety was behaving as it should. Last year it was confusing, as this recently acquired gun shows red when ready to fire whereas his other gun shows red when the safety is on. Note: a common cause of an imperfect kill is to aim down. Most people understand to aim at a point created by imagining an X formed by ears to eyes and putting the bullet where the lines cross. If the animal has its head down in a pan of rain and you are standing and aiming down you can hit the crossing point but the bullet will go down through the sinuses and cause pain and not kill the animal. You need to be kneeling down so the bullet heads up where the brain is. It is no fun for most people to kill an animal but gratifying to know that it suffered no preliminary stress or fear. Even the best managed abattoir is fearful for an animal. Being taken to a strange place without its herd mates is what it hates most. Max and Ernie put a chain on the carcass and raised it up to bleed. I had arranged for them to catch the blood so that it would not be wasted. I made it into boudin noir (Black pudding, but it sounds better in French). I could not find a suitable recipe but studied several and made one up for myself using available ingredients. Here it is. I estimate that I had 1 ½ gallons of blood. I added about ½ cup of salt and stirred a long time to prevent clots as Rose advises. In this I did not entirely succeed because I had to go milk Jasmine. Then I added: ½ cup mixed Italian dried herbs 2 T freshly ground pepper 1 lb melted butter – pork fatback was called for in all the recipes I found but I didn’t have any 2 lb yellow cormeal (next time I will use less cornmeal, maybe 1 ½ lbs. 2 large onions finely chopped and sautéed but not browned. I mixed this all together and put it in a large well greased lasagna pan. I sprinkled the onions on top and mixed them in slightly. I baked it in my moderate Aga oven with a piece of sheet metal called the cold shelf set above it. It took over 2 hours to reach 180˚ in the center.
Whether anyone will eat my boudin noir I cannot yet tell you, considering the principle ingredient, but I ate some and declare it excellent.
There was just one little glitch with the dispatching of Bo. When Max left he neglected to close the big doors on the beefer pen so when I let the cows back out they went straight into the front yard for an Explore. Willie dog helped me get them back in. Marcia came down later and did my midday barn chores. We had chicken soup made with a bird Sally dressed off in September and labeled “scrawny rooster”. It had simmered all night in the Aga with white wine and celery and created amazing stock. The mail today brought me a superb pair of hand knit gloves from Sally. She spun the yarn and even raised the Angora rabbit whose fur was incorporated with sterner wool, these gloves being intended for the barn. She insisted I open the parcel and put them right on, which I did. Max is all done in PA for the present. While staying there he befriended a starving male cat that he named Chester. Over the months it became a fine bouncy cat. He got it all its shots and had it neutered but not before it associated with a little tabby that he named Betty. Before returning Sunday, Max bought cat food for Chester and arranged with the rest of the workforce to feed him. But Betty was very pregnant so he brought her home with him. She is learning the way to be a Luick cat. I have not yet meet Betty but Max says she is very friendly. December 22, 2010 Wednesday Jasmine is already down in production. I did not get much over 2 gallons. DD Marcia and I went to Farmington and met DIL Mitra for lunch at a new place that specializes in panninis and gelato. It wasn’t too bad. There is a wide choice of gelato flavors. We ran some quick errands including a stop at Nina’s gourmet shop where we bought bread baked by her new supplier, a Slovakian woman whom we met. This is outstandingly good bread. We did not linger in town as it was starting to snow. I kept the cows inside this morning as the AI tech hoped to have time to stop in and have a look at Helen. I waited until noon, then Marcia let the cows out for me and we went to Walmart. Santa Claus must be served. Jasmine gave barely over 2 gallons this morning. December 24, 2010 Christmas Eve Friday Most of the snow has gone again due to bright sun at around 32˚ so it is only halfway to being a white Christmas but the weather suits me just fine. All is well among the animals. Jasmine gave less than 2 gallons. Marcia came by and did the noon barn chores including strewing bedding around the beefer pen. Then we drank hot cider. Her DD Abby Rose and Ernie also came over. They brought me a beautiful Christmas gift of two hand blown vases. Ernie is a glass blower. One is leaf green and the other is chartreuse. Ernie kindly deployed the bags of grain and brought more wood. Marcia invited me over tomorrow to eat supper. We are actually having our turkey on Sunday so that Martin and Amy and kids can join us. Max and Mitra and the girls will also be with us. Mitra is going to bring one of their new hams. In the barn this evening some animal fled as I turned on the light in the grain room. I turn on this light by reaching over the half-door to the switch so all I can say is that it went fast. Maybe it was a feral cat. I searched all around with the flashlight but saw nothing. Martin sent a picture of Henry and Hannah carrying candles as they participate in a service at the Unitarian Universalist church.
December 26, 2010 Sunday
I had a quiet Christmas yesterday because our family get together was planned for today in order that DS Martin and DIL Amy and the kids could be with us. I received a lot of lovely phone calls and opened my out of town gifts before joining Marcia, Abby Rose and Ernie for supper at her camp. For dessert she made an amazing apple pie with chopped candied ginger and golden raisins.
Jasmine particularly likes an alfalfa product that I am now able to get. I think it is called Dengi. It is chopped alfalfa with just enough molasses to keep down the dust and make it pack better. It comes extremely tightly packed in plastic bales like shavings but then fluffs out. Jasmine actually sank down on her knees in her stanchion so as to reach every wisp.
Last night, Christmas Day, I put my defrosted (homegrown) turkey in the oven for a half hour blast at a high temperature, then moved it to the Aga oven with the lowest temperature and left it all night. This morning I prebaked the stuffing until it was hot, then packed it in and continued roasting at a slightly higher temperature to the internal temperature of 170˚.
It turned out very well, was falling-off-the-bone easy to carve but not dry. It was done by 1 pm and we did not eat until about 2:30 so it had to be held a long time. It would have been better if we could have eaten a little earlier but with a lot of people that is not always the way it works out. Everybody brought dishes and every dish was excellent. Mitra brought her pomegranate walnut dip and her cream cheese smothered in pepper jelly as pre dinner snacks. She also brought a hot dish of puréed squash and a baked ham from their new pork. DIL Amy made mashed potatoes and a “hot salad” of quartered Brussels sprouts with garlic, cranberries and almonds. Ernie made the gravy and I give him full marks (I seldom trust anybody else with the gravy). Marcia made Buche de Noel cake. She and Abby Rose made amazing marzipan holly leaves and berries and gnomes to decorate it. Marcia used the recipe for the cake in Julia Child’s The Way to Cook and feels that the instructions leave something to be desired. She had trouble with rolling and unrolling the cake but underneath the frosting, who knew?
We ended with a gift exchange, nothing costly unless you include the generous bags of pork and chicken that Max and Mitra gave out. I gave a spice blend made up from a book lent me by DS Mark and DD Ann, who were both on call at Maine Med and could not be with us. It is a mixture of fennel, cumin, coriander, black pepper, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, salt and sugar. There was one extravagant gift. Martin and Amy gave me, Food: The history of taste, edited by Paul Freedman. It promises to be a literary feast.
December 28, 2010 Tuesday
The storm that paralyzed much of the east coast visited us here as well, but not so harshly. It was about 10˚, the wind was powerful but did not take down any trees and we got about 10” of snow. Martin plowed me out with the pickup he bought recently. He also plowed out Sally’s place. The livestock stayed cozy (we did not lose power). Jasmine gave 2 gallons yesterday and today.
I stayed up late last night turning the leftover turkey into pate according to a recipe Sally gave me over the phone. It is from a book called Chacuterie. The pate is quite nice, I think. I simultaneously ran back and forth watching a 2 hour movie about Glen Gould. I rarely watch TV and my set is inconveniently situated in another room but I managed to catch most of it. I learned a lot about Glen Gould. I appreciated the long footage of his hands as he played. One of the things I find most irritating about contemporary movies is that they never, ever give you protracted shots of anything. I like to really look at things, not just have them splashed at me, plus all the actors mumble, so I almost never watch one. I may make an exception for True Grit.
Martin and Amy and the kids stopped by for lunch on their way out of town. They brought along their share of the Christmas leftovers and we had a nice lunch. I served my pate.
Marcia was also here and helped me get organized for lunch and bravely gave Willie dog another much needed bath. He may be getting too much rich food. His back end is not staying very clean.
Marcia brought me a jar of kumquat marmalade that she just made. It is fantastic!
I just ground some wheat and started something called Irish Buttermilk Loaf. It is meant to be a type of soda bread but I put the flour and buttermilk to soak overnight with yeast. I can never leave a recipe alone.
December 29, 2010 Wednesday
My bread was a success. It rose up nice and fat. I added raisins to the dough and baked it on a pizza stone.
Max and Ernie came over and applied plastic sheeting to the inside wall of the area I dignify as my Milking Parlor. Wind was whistling through the old siding. They did a fine job. Now the air in there is quiet and free of most drafts. Two hens lay in there. One pullet lays in the shavings bin. Her egg is the exact color of the shavings.
Max’s part in putting up the plastic was mostly supervisory as he has somehow strained his back and was in pain. I have never before seen him with a bad back. He is always so bouncy and active.
I made myself turkey curry for dinner from one of the simple recipes in the Penzey’s Spice catalogue. It was really good. It called for a can of coconut and a cup of cream. The latter is not traditional in Indian cooking but I recommend it.
December 30, 2010 Thursday
Max wrote this morning to say his back is a lot better. Mitra worked on it with a wooden gadget they have.
Marcia came down and we warmed up curry for lunch. She took home the recipe.
Her son, my grandson Harper, sent a box of samples of chacuterie (sp? Sausages, anyway) that he made from the pig they raised. I made myself an omelet incorporating some of the breakfast sausage. Outstanding.
Our weather has calmed down and an early January Thaw is predicted. The animals will like it but it is very bad for the fruit trees.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons
December 31, 2010 Friday
As we often do on Friday, Marcia and I went to Farmington, had lunch with Mitra, and did our grocery shopping. We ate at the soup place, as being the most reliable combination of cheap, fast and edible. Farmington offers little choice but it is always nice to see Mitra. We saw Shireen briefly before she spun off on her own errands. Roshan stayed home with Max. She did not feel well and is practicing her cello. Mitra said that her ducks are enjoying the warm weather.
Marcia and I shopped for our New Year’s dinner which she is cooking. She is making gumbo, something she does very well. She is using some of our sausages from Harper. She is also making sweet potato pecan pie for which Mitra will bring the whipping cream. I guess there is nothing for me to do but show up.
It was above freezing all day and there was a lot of sunshine. When I got home it was amazing how much of the snow had melted.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning.
©Copyright 2010 Joann S. Rogers
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