Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Late Fall Garden

The calendar says it is still Fall, but this morning's temperature felt more like Mr. Winter is already here! 
For the first time, the Farmer decided to plant a late fall garden.  We had seeds for two types of greens (mustard and turnip) and set out small cabbage and broccoli plants.  It has really grown and we hope to harvest from our small patch.

I am not a turnip green eater.  My mom would cook them when I was growing up, but I just never developed a taste for them.  I do love steamed broccoli, along with steamed cabbage or cole slaw.

This spring we thought we would not have enough time to garden so we skipped planting one.  That won't happen next spring!   Usually we have a small plot of cantaloupe, tomatoes, green peppers, corn, peas and/or green beans, watermelon, squash, cucumbers and okra.  One year we even planted a few sweet potatoes.

Last year we had such a mild winter we were surprised to see our plowed under garden, reproducing with no help from us.  We ended up with a few cantaloupe and cucumbers.
The strangest thing were our 'wild' watermelons.  Every summer we enjoy watermelons pool side.  After our feast we typically spray off the concrete pool deck with a water hose, washing away any extra seeds and juice that fell from the table.  This past spring, just past the walkway from the back porch to the pool, grew our wild watermelons.
This is a bark covered flower bed where our butterfly bushes grow back each year.
On the other side of those huge butterfly bushes was our wild watermelon patch growing along the sidewalk and creeping everywhere.  We were able to pick and enjoy several melons this summer, right next to the pool.
Yummy!  I would love one of those right now.
How does your garden grow?
Do you plant a late fall garden?  If so, what do you plant?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning

If you came over from my blog, Design to Shine, you know how I love my weekly menu planning.  With a milk cow on the farm, I am finding menu planning a necessity.  Because Rosie has to be milked both in the morning and evening, it has taken us a bit to adjust to the new routine.  Both the Farmer and I work full time jobs, plus we have a 5 year old boy.  Usually, I pick up the little cowboy after work and that puts me at home about 5:45pm.  Milking is done between 6 - 6:30pm, morning and evening.  If I hang out in the barn to play with AnnaBelle, supper is around 7:30pm.  Not a good time to begin cooking when bedtime for the youngen is 8:30pm.  I am trying to have meals that can carry over for a night, are easy or using my crock pot 'chef' that cooks my meals while I am working at the U.
Here is this week's supper plan with links to recipes:
Monday - Leftover Potato Soup  with grill cheese sandwiches  (soup made on Sunday)
Tuesday - Meatballs with white gravy over creamed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday - Broccoli Alfredo Pasta  (this recipe calls for chicken, which I omit sometimes) with fresh yeast rolls
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday -  Clean out the frig or Pizza
Saturday - French Toast and fresh bacon (purchased from a local butcher shop)
Sunday - My Easy Chicken Pot Pie
For more ideas check out Organized Junkie for 100's of meal plans.
What are you having for supper this week? I love reading everyone's menus!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Farm Scenes

Beautiful day on the farm.  
Rosie grazing on the green pasture.
Turkeys and chickens out in the barn yard.
Guineas and a turkey hen also barn yard bug hunting.
 Two-face, the barn kitty.
AnnaBelle wants out to play.

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful Sunday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cows and Raw Milk

This morning while most people are out shopping and trying to get that deal, I will be milking our cow.

The Farmer grew up with a family milk cow.  For months now we have thought about and discussed purchasing our own jersey cow.  A milk cow changes your life!  There is no 'waiting' to milk.  It's once in the morning and once in the evening.  Best if twelve hours apart.  No days off.  It isn't for everyone.  The Farmer knew this, I hadn't lived the experience.

We researched and decided IF we obtained a milk cow, we wanted a mini jersey.  Why a mini?  First reason is less feed.  A cow eats between 2 and 4% of their body weight.  Smaller cow, smaller pasture needed.  Less hay required.  The other main reason for a mini is milk production.  A full size Jersey cow usually produces between 4-6 gallons of milk per DAY.  A mini usually gives about half of that per day. Seriously a family of four can't really drink two gallons of milk a day! Can they?  

Well two weeks ago the Farmer saw an ad for a jersey and her calf.  After phone calls and a road trip, we became owners of Rose Bud, aka Rosie, and her heifer calf pictured above.  My daughter named the calf, AnnaBelle.   Rosie is a registered mid-mini jersey and is 6 years old.  Little 'Belle' is her third calf.  The lady we purchased them from stated that Belle was two weeks old at the time.  We feel she might have been a little bit over that.
Jersey cows are known to be a tad temperamental.  So after the almost two hour road trip and new surroundings, we milked Rosie for the first time by hand.  Now the Farmer has done this.  It was my very first time.  Although, I'm quite proud to say, I caught on real quick!   When cows are nervous or not really settled, this will cause the amount of milk produced to decrease.  Not to mention when the humans are a bit nervous!   All went well and we've got milk.
Most milk cows prefer one side to milk from, lucky for us, Rosie doesn't care which side or both at the same time.  The first few days we hand milked.  Which is an adventure for this "city" girl.  Then the Farmer surprised me with a new farm 'toy' (which is what I call all the equipment around here).  A milker.
We are currently milking 3 teats and leaving one for the calf.  Easier than bottle feeding the calf for us.  The milker doesn't really cut down on the time because you have to clean all the equipment after each use.  But it sure saves hands and old knees!  
Little Belle wasn't handled much prior to her arrival on the Farm.  However, she is becoming friendlier every day and growing like a weed.  Rosie seems to have settled in to her new home, enjoying the pasture during the day.  She is producing an average of one gallon per milking.  Two gallons a day!  We are enjoying fresh milk and I want to try my hand at making butter.   Yes, we are drinking 'raw milk', straight from the cow to the frig.  If you would like to know more about the benefits of raw milk, here is a website with tons of information: Raw Milk Truth.

I can honestly say it makes the richest best Chocolate milk I have ever tasted!  Yum Yum GOOD.
Have you ever tried raw milk or would you?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Family Tradition, Chicken-n-Dressing

Why would Chicken-n-Dressing be a family tradition?  Not because it is always served at our Thanksgiving.  It is because we have a special night set aside as a family one or two nights before to make the dressing.
We have homemade biscuits for supper (because we are already making them to include in the dressing) and everyone has a 'job'.  I usually de-bone the 'big fat hen'.
Although the night of 'making the Thanksgiving Chicken-n-Dressing' is a tradition, some things have changed over the years.  We found the easiest way to cook our hen is in the crockpot.
We make a huge batch.  Really really big.
The mixing bowl is huge...20 quarts.
There is laughter, story telling and taste testing for the perfect mix of flavors.  Finally we end up with very large pan of chicken and dressing mix.
Usually we make two batches.  One for our family and one to share with others.

Do you have a traditional dish that has become a family tradition?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Talk

Since it is almost Thanksgiving, let's talk Turkey.

Meet Tall Tom.  We acquired Tom, two years ago from a family because Tom had lost his mate.  The family thought Tall Tom would be happier with a bunch of chickens for companionship.  He is a happy turkey and very friendly!  Now the Farmer just couldn't handle Tom not having a 'girlfriend', so the search began for a Bronze female.  Bronze turkey's are the most popular breed of turkey in America, originally a cross between the domestic turkey's brought over by the European colonists and the wild turkey.

We finally found 3 hens of various breeds; a Bronze, a white Holland and a Bourbon Red.  There was a lot of talk going on out at the barn when the girls arrived on the scene.  Along with a bit of strutting.
Here is Tall Tom with two of his lady friends.
We keep them in a covered pen next to the barn in the evening where they have access to roost in the barn.  They are allowed to wander during the day.  They are quite entertaining chasing the barn kitties!

This year we raised several more turkey's in our incubator, from the Bronze turkey eggs.  Here is a photo of one of our young turkeys, earlier in the summer. 
And another of the turkey roaming inside the barn hall.
In case you are wondering, No we do NOT eat our turkeys.  We haven't raised them to eat.  Well, yet.  Never say never.  We do however gather their eggs and use them mostly in baking.  Yes, you can eat their eggs.

One interesting fact:  If we whistle or call up the horses (more like yell!), the Toms gobble.  The hens make a cluck, which most hunters are familiar with their sound, as they use it to 'call up' the toms.

Will you be having turkey on your Thanksgiving table?  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chicken Chatter

The Farm went to the birds a long time ago.  Over the years there have been numerous and varied types of chickens and other fowl roosting in the barn.   Let's start with chickens and eggs.
Meet our Mr. Rooster
Mr. Rooster is a sweetheart.  He charms the ladies in the barn and is quite the gentleman.  Very docile even for little ones.  Our own little 'chicken wrangler' can carry him around.
This fine Rooster actually lives the life of luxury in the barnyard, hallway of the barn and out of the chicken coop.  Because of his sweet manners, the other roosters tend to pick on him.  
He has lots to say about bullying.  Not cool, cock-a-doodle-do!  We have several Dominique, also known as Dominicker hens and a few roosters.  This year we added another breed of chickens to the farm:  Cochin.  The Farmer likes this particular breed and they are also very calm and friendly chickens. 
One of the young Cochins, earlier in the summer.
We also hatched off some of the eggs earlier this year and were successful in raising several more hens.
Although this is a bad cell phone photo, this is my oldest daughter - the 'chicken charmer'.  ;-)
Our chickens are able to free range with use of a covered pen and coop in the barn.  We have lots of coyotes, so we have to get them up at dusk.

A daily farm chore is gathering the eggs.  Farm fresh eggs taste better than store bought ANY day!  Even our little cowboy can taste the difference.   Recently while having breakfast at IHop, he mentions that his eggs didn't taste 'right'.  Smart kid!  Not only do store bought eggs taste bland once you've eaten farm eggs, fresh chicken eggs are healthier for you.

Once the eggs are gathered, we place them in egg crates.  We do sell 'farm fresh eggs' by the dozen and dozen/half cartons.  Plus we eat plenty of scrambled eggs!  I can't remember the last time I purchased 'store bought' eggs.

Who else is a farm egg gal?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome to "The Farm"

After my 'baby' girl graduated high school in 2010, I decided to finally move to what we have for years lovingly called "The Farm".

The farm had already given our family many memories acting as a second home on weekends and summers. The 'Farmer' and I figured we would settle into a quite country life with grown kids visiting occasionally and more adult time.  If you have followed my other blog, Design to Shine, you know those plans changed a bit with the arrival of my nephew and little 'cowboy'.
He has lived with us since March 2011 and has been both a joy along with an adjustment at our age!  The blessing in all of this has been that the 'Farmer' and I have had time to re-evaluate life.  The 'Farmer' has really wanted to grow our own garden and we haven't seemed to get it together the last two years.  In 2010, the Farmer had already planted a small garden spot and we enjoyed squash, tomatoes, a bit of corn and cantaloupes.  This year we had 'wild' watermelons (from watermelons shared by the pool and seeds washed off the pool deck).  We didn't even plant the seeds!  But we had watermelons.

Currently we have a fall garden of broccoli, collard greens and what few cabbage plants that the deer spared.  Over the next few posts I will introduce you to our farm animals.  As you can see above, we have horses, although we rarely ride anymore.