Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Apologies..

My dearest readers..
I miss you.

But I have a really good reason for being absent.
I have ...
Ok.. it is just me and a legal kitchen,
but it is still a bakery.

It is going very well, but the start up has sucked much of my time away.
And it means that there will soon be a
new blog addition filled with cooking and recipes and baking stuff.
So those of you that enjoy my recipes,
please hang on and there will a whole page just for you.

As far as the farm.. it still moves along.
The garden suffers from the heat,
but planting it in shade this year has done wonders.
My pepper plants are higher than my head.
The squash is done,
but I have new squash in the ground and growing.
The goat babies are growing as well.
Joker has his beard now.
Too weird. I am tempted to cut it off.
Chickens are good.
Turkey babies are getting big too.
And I am getting out of rabbits.
Yep.. no more rabbits for me.
I am a bit butcher shy since 'the incident' with my finger and the knife,
so I am waiting on a friend to come do a full butcher.
Everybody out of the pool!
We need the space that houses the buns for the new on site kitchen.
We are going to tear down the garage
and bunny house and rebuild on that spot. Someday.....

Until I get another free minute..
be well and make do.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Goodness of the Garden...

Today's harvest.
Even with the heat and drought
the garden has been producing well.
Chicken poop, bunny poop and straw
are a girl's best friends.
We have been eating well and tonight
those tomatoes and peppers
will become pasta sauce.
Ok.. that is a lie.
I will pull the last of last year's
tomatoes out of the freezer for sauce
because it is the right thing to do.
I have been using the fresh tomatoes,
but I must stop!
So tonight I will be good and
use the old stuff up.
But you know...
that bowl looks like salsa to me.

And I made the fountain for the insects.
I spent $20 on a small
submersible pump,
took the galvanized tub,
a length of old sewer pipe
and an anonymous pipe that I
found in the yard,
some bricks and
Ta Da! Fountain.
It was an instant hit with
the local insect life.
Butterflies, bees, wasps
and other bugs visit daily.
I placed a small stone on top
of the pipe to make a bit of a spray
that splashes down and wets the soil
and stepping stone and the old pot
that is leaned against the tub.
It gives wet surfaces for the insects
to land on and drink from
without drowning.
I have noticed an increase of insect
activity on all of my blooming plants,
including the important ones
like my tomatoes, squashes and cukes.
I knew it would help, but I am
amazed at how quickly and how well
it has worked to draw the bugs.
Never, ever again will my garden
be without a water source.

Garden Fix-Its..

I usually don't plant squash in the
early part of the year.
The squash vine borers and squash bugs
are just too awful to justify
the effort.
But I forgot myself this year.
What was I thinking!?

But, as you can see,
they look healthy.
My secret weapon..?
The lowly syringe.
I sucked up organic insecticidal soap
into the syringe and
gave the squash vines a shot.
The vines/stems are hollow tubes
and the borers play around inside
the tubes and kill the stem
and the plant.
So, I shot the insecticidal
soap into the hollow tubes.
It worked like a charm!
I had borers and my plants were wilting
and then I didn't and the vines look healthy
and are producing great gobs of squash.
I think it also worked
upon the newly hatched borers
as they bore into the
vnes. They encountered the soaped
tubes and were killed.
Gotta think outside the box.

And we have the new tomato supports in place.
I love, love, love them!
No more struggles.
No more crazy vines everywhere.
No more collapsing supports.

And such a simple idea from Sweet Husband.
The fencing is attached to a board
and the board is hung from the
PVC with zip ties.
It can be easily taken down
and stored for the winter
and easily set up again
in the early spring
for early peas and then the tomatoes
come summer.


So.. we have goats.
And I love my goats,
but unrestrained, free range goats
become a problem as they get older.
They think things like apple trees
and sunflowers are delicious.

I had to do a little creative
construction on the entrance to the garden

And we finally moved the electric fence
up to the upper foundation.
It needed cleaning.

And between the 20th of June
and today..they did this!

I really appreciate the eating power of goats.
They are a real bonus around here.
And today is the first day they are
staked out. I am not thrilled about staking them out
as it is not the safest thing for the goats,
but the area we need them to clean out
is a total jungle and there is no way
I could run fence through it.
For today they are close to the house
so that I can see if they will
kill themselves on lines. If it
goes well, them I will move them farther out.
They won't be left for long and
never when we aren't here.
We have about an acre of land we can't even set foot on.
Yippee goats!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It Is A Bad Scene, Folks...

I will post later on the success here this year..
the beautiful flowers, the tomato
supports and the like,
but right now the only thing
on my mind is the complete
absence of insect life.
Blooming here now we have
gorgeous bee balm,
hyssop, catnip, lemon balm
and a butterfly bush.
All of these are taller than my head.
All of them are empty.
Not a butterfly to be seen.
No honeybees.. not a one.
This morning's count was 4 bumblebees
for the whole yard
and 2 little moth type creatures.
There are some very small little bee type creatures
buzzing around, but only a few.
I have never seen a butterfly bush completely empty.
Nothing on it today..or yesterday..
or the day before that.
I have never seen bee balm empty.
Used to be I couldn't see the blooms
for the butterflies and
I cannot find a single one.

I am in the middle of a massive freak out.
I am despondent and worried
and ..well.. I am just plain ol freaking out.

The one thing we do have.. grasshoppers.
The grasses heave with them as I pass.
They aren't doing any damage, they are just there.
Off to hand pollinate my squashes... again.
I managed to get 4 for a casserole the other day..
I guess I should do the cukes too...

What in the hell?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spring Deepens Toward Summer

The garden continues to grow.
And how about those poles!?
They are going to be my pride and joy.
7 tall tomato fences..
Yippee!!! Woo Hoo! Hazzah!
I kept hoping they would be up and finished
before I showed them off,
but blogger time was ticking
and waiting on a husband is.. well, it just is.
But, when they are all finished and the tomatoes
have been slowly lifted onto them,
they are going to be spectacular.
No more trying to control those crazy
heirloom vines, it will be easy as pie.
And they will have fencing hung on them
and I can just take the firewand to them
and burn off the old vines and plant
turnips and kale and whatnot for a
winter garden!
Sigh. It really is the simple things
that bring the most joy

Squash is squashing right along...

And lookee!
Peppers are peppering too!

My supply of summer greens..
Lamb's Quarter.
I love this stuff.
It is a great weed and is ALL
over our place.
Tasty, heat hearty
and I have don't have
to plant it.
We eat it often.. on sandwiches and burgers
and any other way I would use spinach.

My Jersalem Artichoke bed is looking great.
I still haven't tackled the patch
over in the neck high weeds
and hard clay... I do solemnly swear
that I will dig it all up this winter.
Really.. I will.

Mammoth sunflowers are cruising right along
and that blooming thing surrounding it..?
I think it is parsnip.
I am letting it go all the way to seed
and then I will dig it up and see..
Right now it is busy drawing pollinators
into the garden and looking
airy and yellow.

The goat babies are really growing up.
But they are still sweet lovers though.
Goats are...
It is like having toddlers in the yard.
They get into everything
and cry for their mamma (that'd be me).
They eat and get tired and whiny
and have to be put down for a nap
before waking rested and ready
to get into everything again.
It is challenging to keep the fence moved though.
As soon as we get it set up and electrified,
it is time to move it again.
They are eating the scrub and
weeds too quickly.
As a result, they spend most of their
days roaming free about the place.
Goats on the back steps crying,
goats in the garage climbing over the crap,
goats on the front porch if I don't
answer the back door.
Goats, goats, goats..
We love them.
Goats eat my lamb's quarter and
sunflowers by sticking their
snouts through the fence.
Bad goats.
Goats give goat kisses and want
snuggles when they are tired.

The side door to the big ol barn.
One day I will have to tell you about the big ol barn.
10,000 sq ft of barn.
That is a lot of barn.
Yes.. I did say 10,000 sq ft.

My finger..
well, it is still attached to my hand.
It is healing and I have gotten bold
enough as of late to take the splint
off. I was terrified at the thought of ever bending it again..ever.
But a few days ago I gave it a try.
I unwrapped it and stared at it and tried to bend it.
Nothing happened.. at all.
The animal part of my brain freaked all the way out.
But I started bending it
and manipulating it manually
and it could bend and eventually it
started to bend on it's own.
I fear it will never be quite right again though.
It has become obvious that I cut down into muscle..
the extender ones on the top of my finger that are
supposed to stretch when the finger bends.
Well.. they don't. Not really. But it is getting better.
And while the actual visible slice
will leave but a thin line,
the deeper slice has definite scar tissue under it
and makes a hump in my finger.
And I am hoping that the nerves grow back
because as of now, my finger is numb.
But I washed my hands like a normal
person day before yesterday.
What a wonderful feeling that was.
There are not words for how it felt to
have water run over my left hand once again.
Though it was weird to see
the water but not to feel it.
I will live and hopefully one
day it will bend and
I will have my kung fu grip back...

Did you know you could hoe one handed?
Do you know it is hard to wash one hand?
You cannot do dishes with one hand.
That is very hard.
I see the sink.
I see the dishes.
I cannot do anything about them.
I got busted once or twice trying to do them.
I got in trouble.
I have recently been able to cook dinner.
I was not allowed to chop veggies.
I have a deep butchering phobia
at this particular time.
I know I have to do rabbits soon,
but I have fear.. deep, dark fear.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Quickie..

Anna from the Walden Effect blog
(see my list of favorites to your right
and down a little.. yep, there it is)
brought up a point I will be covering shortly.
Comfrey rocks.
You guys saw the cut..
well, I put my comfrey salve on it
and am here to tell you that the skin
is already trying to grow back together.
I am only using it once
every 2 bandage changes
because I do
not want it to close
too quickly.
If it needs to drain,
I want it to be able to.
This winter I cut my middle finger
(same hand) on my rotary cutter.
I thought it was bad, but nothing
like this one.
Still, the finger was splayed.
Now I have to search
for the teeny, tiny scar.

I love, love, love comfrey.
It has amazing restorative properties.
It promotes cell growth.. no kidding!

Some day very soon I will harvest and
dry some of my comfrey and
extole it's many wonders..
and make a batch of comfrey salve!!

I am useless..
I am one handed.
I cannot make goat baby bottles.
I cannot chop veggies.
I cannot put on my bra.
I cannot do anything.
It is driving me nuts!
If I use my left hand for anything
at all that is more than scratching my nose
the pull of the other fingers
and the muscle contraction
pulls at the wound..
this is annoying and painful.
Thank you to Sweet Husband
for picking up ALL my slack.
I cannot do dishes.
I cannot carry something
and open the door.
I cannot open anything...
If I had broken it and had a cast
I could use it for all kinds
of things..

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weird Week...

It has been a weird week here.
Not in that cool stuff kind of weird,
but all bad weird.

We had massive rainfall
and low grade flooding.
Well, not flooding as much as
runoff. We are living on hard pack clay
and heavy rainfall runs down through
our place like it would over concrete.
If I didn't have the garden planted in raised mounds
I would have lost it all.
As it was, we still had some cleanup to do
and, truth be told,
more cleanup to do because we
really didn't do that much.

I caught a snake in the Ameracauna
nest boxes chowing down on eggs again.
I caught it and put it in a feed bag.
this time I made sure it did not
have a hole.
Did you know that snakes can work
the weave loose in a woven feed bag?

We know that now.
I figure that it just wiggles it's head
back and forth
and back and forth
until the weave loosens up
and makes a hole.
Sweet Husband had put it in the fridge
to slow it down.
It was a very feisty, read aggressive,
snake and he wanted it a bit calmer
before he rehomed it.
The first time I opened the fridge
I squeaked.
Then I laughed.
Then I went for the camera.

We had a hatch go badly.
Shame too. We had a customer waiting
for those birds. We still have some,
just not the full order.

Then I had a clumsy week.
I fell down.
That hurt.
Then I stepped lightly on a nail.
No big deal.
I walked into a few walls.
I poured milk all over the counter.
The list really does just go on..
but then.......

I did this.

Sorry if it is gross.
So there I was..
butchering a chicken..

Now, as you may know
when I butcher I prefer to
break the neck of the bird,
then hang it and cut it's throat.

Well, Sweet Husband wanted to slit
the throat of the birds before the
neck breaking activity.

I had spent a long time honing my knives.
I mean a long time.
And they were very sharp.
I wanted to make sure the
bird died quickly..
So with ALL my might
I drew the knife across the
bird's neck and right through
my finger.
Oh sweet Mary of Mercantilism!!
I screamed. I really, really did.
Sweet Husband came flying out of the barn
and I headed for the house with my finger
clamped together.
I knew it was bad.
I felt it.. the slicing feeling
that is almost a sound.
I think I got bone.

I couldn't look after my first glance
and turned it all over to Sweet Husband.
I did not know I had that level of trust in him.
I put me head on the counter while he tried to
stop some of the horrific blood flow.
We wrapped it tight with gauze and electrical tape,
very tightly applied, to staunch the blood.
And I paced the house until the
FIRE in my finger and whole hand lessened
enough for me to sit still.

Later we took off the bandages and took a look.
(before the bandage removal,
I wrapped my arms around Sweet Husband's
neck and had a good cry.)
Wow.. if I was fortunate enough to have
insurance I would have needed stitches.
Some of the skin slides around in
ways it is not supposed to.

So, today I did the buttefly bandage
to try to pull the two parts closer together.
I have some nerve damage..
as in I cannot feel a good
portion of my finger anymore.
That may heal up a bit.
I am not getting microsurgery
on my hand. Not happening.
And there are no gurantees it would even work.

The main goal is to get it to heal
and to keep it clean and infection free.

Pictures just cannot do justice
to the severity of this wound
and how very, very deep it goes down.

I know it is a cut on a finger,
but today I am feeling the after effects
of adrenaline and pain. I am weak
and shaky and muzzy headed.
I am hoping tomorrow is better.
I do have a badge of honor though..
Sweet Husband, who has had some major league
boo boos in his life.. shit that makes me cringe,
says that I have bested him!! Woot!!

Slow down.
Keep very sharp knives.
Pay attention.
And don't ever try anything new.
Be careful.
Take care.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


This is just a little side note
on my love/hate relationship with our
arachnid.. um.. not friends, so let's just say
'my love/hate relationship with arachnids'.

I never had a problem with them
until I reached adulthood.
A bite from a Brown Recluse
and another horrible bite from a mystery spider
squashed my ability to cope reasonably.
Then there was an apartment I had where
some type of wolf spider/recluse
looking spiders would crawl on me at night.
That really did it.
For years I have had a strict policy
and have wanted to make a sign to hang by the
front and back doors informing all spiders that
they are making a concious choice to cross
the threshold with the understanding that if I see them,
they will die.
But spiders don't read.

But in the past few years I have mellowed,
at least towards some types of spiders.

I like garden spiders, the yellow and black writing spiders,
and protect and encourage them.

I like my porch spiders, the ones that hang
in the corners and eat the bugs and moths
that circle the porchlight.

I like wolf spiders that hang on the edges
of the porch and also eat bugs and moths..
the ones that have circled one too many times
and crash and burn in a dizzy plummet.
I feed my porch spiders. If I can catch a moth,
then I will toss it into their webs.
This brings me joy.

I like the fat red and brown
garden spiders that build their webs
on the OUTSIDE of my kitchen windows.
I leave the light burning in the kitchen
in the evening to draw bugs to them.
They get huge by late fall.. Bigger than quarters.
And they understand that they are
best only seen in the evenings.
I do not know where they go during daylight hours,
but they are not where I can see them.

And this year I am allowing
the furry black and white jumping spiders
to inhabit my kitchen.
I even swept around one the other day.
I have a particularily large one
that hangs out by the compost bucket on the counter.
He hunts fruit flies and I am ok with that.

So I have come to realize that I like
black and white, furry, friendly
looking jumping spiders.
And I like garden and porch spiders.
And I like wolf spiders that live outside.
And when I lived in the mountains
I could even goggle in awe at the fishing spiders
(think wolf spider about the size of a taratula)
The darn things take your breath
away when you see them.
And they are big enough that you can feel
their presence.. their sentience.. shudder.
They look back at you.

What I do NOT like are the skinny
looking wolf spider/recluse looking
things that inhabit the house from time to time.
You know them.
They are the ones in your bathtub
in the morning and the ones that
you see zipping across the bedroom
floor just before you reach to turn out the light.
Those are the ones that I do not like.
I don't know what they are.
Are they harmless wolfs
or are they the dreaded recluses?
Who's to know without picking one up
and looking closely.. and that ain't happening.

And I do not like the grey ,alien looking,
long legged, blobular body,
spin around in circles so fast
you can't see them spiders
that get in the upper corners.
I hate those things.. yuck.
They don't look right.
But I don't mind the little corner spiders
in the house that are round bodied and small and boring.

Now I am a strong, capable woman that is
not phased by much in life.
I drove a cab - nightshift,
I lived in very seedy neighbors
in a dangerous city (rent was sooo cheap)
I went head to head with crazy,
whacked out street bums with no problem
and I managed lions
and tigers and rhinos and angry apes.

All of these things I can take on with nary a tremor.

But OMG!! Camel Crickets
make me scream like a 50's housewife.
You know them, but perhaps by another name
.. cave crickets, maybe.
They are huge and pale with those long pointy legs
that jut up from their bulbous bodies.. eeeeeeep!
Mostly one would find them in basements or garages
or other dark, damp places.
But sometimes.. sometimes...
they come inside and up to where the people dwell.
And if you try to stomp on them...
they jump AT you and if they land ON you
they STICK to you. EEEEEEEPPPP!!
If I try to stomp one and it comes towards me
I squeal. I shriek.
Not a womanly strong scream,
but a high pitched
squeal, a shrill squeak of ultimate terror.
I couldn't make that noise
if I tried at any other time,
but it pours forth
from my stress tightened throat
the minute that it charges at me.
I swear I would climb on a chair
if it were quicker than running away.
I feel helpless. I feel beaten and less of a woman
in the face of a camel cricket.

But I like spiders...
sort of.

Blog and Sniff..

Don't you wish that it was Blog and Sniff..
Does anything smell better than magnolia?
Crisp and lemony, but heady and deep.

Ok.. so I posted this and saw it up on the page.
You truly can almost smell it.. I swear you can.
I love my magnolia tree,
except it is too close to the road to enjoy.
And it is too big to enjoy.
This one blossom and one other are the only
two that I can enjoy all year. How sad is that?
The rest are 10, 20, 30, 40 up in the air.
I can see them and when the sun hits the tree
in the morning I can get a little whiff,
but that is all.
I have to admire from afar and below.
So enjoy my once a year,
brief treat with me, won't you?

This is the first rose I ever bought.

It has just started it's bloom.
By next week it should be a cacophony of roses.
I dug and moved this rose 4 times.
I will not - I can not leave it behind.
It was my first....

And this morning's haul.
I wish you could smell and taste them.
The collander is no longer quite so full.
Between Simon and I it has been greatly diminished.
But, I grow them to be devoured.
Last year I limited the fresh eating and froze them.
It was nice to have them over winter, but this
year I am trying to be more lenient.

That ends the pleasantly aromatic section....

A hard working garden helper!
Go get 'em, Toadie!
Did you know that a well tended
and protected (read captive)toad can live
40 years!! Holy cow!
The joys of homeschooling. I learn something
new and amazing everyday.
But your average garden toad
can live up to 15 years.
That is a lot of bugs gone.

New little ones at the little homestead.
I love colony raising.
The buns get to groom and interact
and be as natural as possible.
See the hole under the old door?
That is the entrance to the burrow where
the little ones were born.
I saw them for the first time
just the other day.
I had no idea that they were even in there.
And no, I have no idea at a glance whose
they are. They know and that is all that matters.
Though I do desperately need to butcher
some of the adults. I will have to be very careful
as I choose who goes to freezer camp.

And these are the goats.
Damn near impossible to photograph.
They are always underfoot.
This pic was gotten by giving up,
leaving the pen and running, whirling around
and catching them as they headed for me.
But I am impressed with their
weedeating abilities so far.
They are really knocking it down.
I don't like where I have them
right now and will probably move them
deeper into the woods tomorrow morning
before it gets so blisteringly hot out!

We need rain and a break from the 90+ temperatures.
The funny/sad thing is that just days ago
I had to build a small fire in the woodstove.
It was very chilly out with a cold rain.
And here I am now sweltering and sweating.
It is truly miserable.
I will NOT turn on the AC. No, No, NO!
I refuse to do it before at least June.
I finally broke down and agreed to run it in the car.

Things move along. The garden needs water
and cooler temps
and I need to put in my cucumbers,
squashes and plant my beans.
I think the soil is warm enough now...
I think.
Yeah!!!! Spring!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Am So Tired...

I am really so tired.
I have no business trying to blog at this moment
and I will probably come back tomorrow,
read it and find it to be gibberish.
It already took me several tries
to put the pictures on
and I was interrupted to go out
and bottle feed the goats, fluff their
bedding straw and do a few last
minute pick up stuffs
trying to beat the rain.
As it is, the pics are a jumbled mess
and do not tell a coherent story.
Oh well.

This awesome pic was supposed to
be at the bottom,
but we'll lead with it instead.
Can I get an 'awwwww. How cute."?
Ain't it just?
I love my boy.

I spent my day in the garden.
I laid in more beds and transplanted
some flowers from the old garden.
Here are the peppers and they are looking great.

The garden is coming along.
I am still waiting for the permanent
trellises to be built
for my tomatoes.
I had to put the tomatoes in though.
They really couldn't wait anymore.
This Year's Tomato List :
-Amana Orange - My favorite tomato!
-Paquebot Roma - my favorite roma
-Abe Lincoln - this is a first
-Stiletz - another first
-Cherokee Purple - not my favorite, but I had the seeds
-Green Zebra - not in the garden yet.
I have some wee seedlings that will go in as soon as they are big enough
I think that is all,
but I swear I am so tired I can't think.

And here is the garden itself
in all it's glory.
It really is looking much better.
I still have work to do,
but a lot of that cannot happen until the trellises are done.
But I am enjoying the weed-free nature
of this new space.
The last garden was in the lawn itself
and that was an uphill battle.
This I can take care of with the hoe.

And here you can see my flower ring
and my squash graves (in the foreground)
I have some spinach, 4 O'Clocks, zinnias, cosmos..etc
in the ring around the tree.
And I have a 'pond' to offer water
to my beneficial friends
like toads and wasps etc.
I have a bottle hanging that drips water
into the bowl as dripping water
attracts good critters to the water.
And I have a hunk of concrete in the
bowl for a landing perch for butterflies
and dragons to take a safe drink.
Beneficials are a great bonus to the garden.
All of the flowers that I plant are for them too.

And I found the perfect spot to keep my whet stone.
And why would I have a whet stone in the garden?
A sharp hoe is an efficient hoe.
It makes a huge difference to have a freshly sharpened hoe.
I have been using nothing but the hoe
on the whole garden. I sharpen it often.
And I make it sharp too. I give it a fine edge.
Weeds don't stand a chance and the soil
moves around like butter.

Edited to add...
Do you see the little red tripod stool?
I love that thing!
I got it at Dollar General for $5
and that may be the best $5 I ever spent.
It is the right height to sit on and pull honeysuckle.
I have patches that are large and thick.
I put the stool down and work until I can't reach anymore
and them I move on.
It is also perfect for contemplation and rest
in the garden. It may not look comfy, but it really is.
Beats the hell out of sitting on a 5 gallon bucket.

And I think the verdict is in...
Because there is no fuzz and the little fruits are a dark red!
Best weed I ever found growing in a yard.
Okay.. that's not true, but I can't talk about the best ever.

Dianthus is blooming and the costmary looks
and smells wonderful.

The comfrey is looking huge.
After this bout of rainy, stormy
weather I will do my first harvest
of the year. It will probably all
go for garden supplementation
in the form of comfrey teas...

I am going to have so many strawberries!
I went looking and I cannot believe
how heavily loaded my little plants are!

The snowball bush is blooming.
It was the only thing on this farm
that bloomed when we bought it.
How can a farm be
a farm for over 80 years and have
I am fixing that as quickly as I can.
And all of the weeds and vetches and clovers that we
let grow to monstrous heights each spring
is our way of feeding the soil.
It was obvious that every single leaf
and blade was cut to within
an inch of it's life the minute
it was tall enough to reach the
mower's blades.
That is not a good way to grow good healthy soil.
So, in the spring when the super nutritious things
grow, we let them.
We pull them to feed to the rabbits and chickens.
We let them go to seed and then we cut them.
As a result, each year we have more and more
good healthy weeds on our place.
Yeah! Weeds!!
(and that is my story as to why
you cannot walk through my yard
and I am sticking to it..
sounds really good, doesn't it?)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake

Yeah.. you're lookin.
It calls to you,
for it is chocolate!

I thought I would share my secret recipe
for this family favorite
special occasion cake.
This is pulled out for birthdays and the like..
I made one this afternoon.
Want the recipe?

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake
preheat to *350

Dry -
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Wet -
1 cp brown sugar
1/4 cp vegetable oil
3 cps cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
3 TBS cocoa (heaping TBS)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks (reserve whites!)

Other -
3 egg whites whipped until firm
1/2 cp milk

Mix the ingredients in the wet bowl until smooth.
I use the warmth of the sweet potatoes to help smooth the sugar.

Now, I am old school. I use a spoon to do my mixing.
And I use a whisk for the egg whites.

Add slowly to the ingredients in the dry bowl. Add the milk as you go along to make the blending easier. Do not mix too hard or stir too passionately. You do not want the gluten to get all stretchy in the flour. It makes for a tough baked good.
So, easy does it. More folding than stirring.

Once the two bowls have become one
you can fold in your whipped up egg whites.
Fold nice and slow and easy.
You want them to retain their fullness
and their air bubbles
to give the cake a light texture.

Then into a Bundt pan that has been
greased well. I put mine on a baking sheet
to help disperse the heat in my
piece o' crap oven.

Then out when it passes the clean knife test,
flip onto a plate to cool, then get a kid to
smear the icing!
Mine was doing barn chores this time,
so I had to do it myself.

(ok.. I straight up lied.
I don't do the clean knife test, I eyeball it.
And I go by smell. As soon as I can smell the chocolate
I know the cake is just about done.
But I have made this one a hundred times
and know it's personality)

This cake is rich and moist,
but still light and not heavy.

It is wonderful!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Additions!

Yep.. your eyes are not deceiving you.
We have goats!
Who would have thought it.

They are wethered Saanen bottle babies.
Seeing as how they were born on April Fool's Day
they have been named Joker and Jester.
They are natural brothers, though Jester is a bit smaller than Joker.

Too sweet! I mean really.
And already they have become the highlight
of the place. They are Simon's new best friends
and the three of them run all about the place.
Simon likes the dogs somewhat,
but the goats are just better companions.
They want to be right by him
while he is out in the woods
and jumping over the dry creek.

But they have actual jobs.
They are to clear the acre or so
of absolute jungle that we have.
Honeysuckle, rosa floribunda,
poison ivy and oak and privet hedge..
the wretched, wretched, wretched privet.

They are starting in already.
No slackers here.
I figure that our property value will greatly increase
when the jungle is passable.
You know, we lived here over a year before we realized
that there was an old pig barn
out in that jungle.
I told you it was bad;
bad enough to hide an entire building!

Simon took some pictures of the canopy
now that it is really filling out.
I love Spring.

And this is the huge old tree that hangs over
the old smokehouse building that is
now doing double duty as the goat barn.
We are only using the smallest room for the goats.
Eventually the old heap will
get torn down, but for now
it is being a useful building.

And the garden is coming along.
These are the post holes for the permanent
trellis/fences for tomatoes
and other climbing veggies.
Look at how ruby red that clay is!
You can see how much the amendments (chicken poop and old straw)
have darkened it already.
I would love to try to make pots
and the like from that clay one day.

A big shout out to Spinning Spider Creamery
in Madison County, NC for the bottle babies!
Great cheeses and a stunning herd.
These babies are about the best you can get!
We are thrilled!

Poor little fellas.
We turned on their electronet today.
Our electronet carries quite a powerful punch.
They each got zapped HARD
and then bolted into their stall where it is safe.
The world just bacame a painful and scary place.
They do spend most of their day out and about with me,
but have taken to sleeping on the back steps.
That is a bad habit, so they
will live as goats are intended now.
Poor goaties.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Forward Motion...

Spring continues on
and it's forward momentum
drags us and the wee farm with it.
Just look how GREEN!!
This was the first winter where we lost all the green.
Usually there are warm waves,
but this year was continuously cold
with no reprieve.
As a result, we lost all our green.
It was as depressing as all get out.
But now it is coming back!
I am so glad.

And yeah!!!
The new garden is tilled and prepared and fenced!
All the tree stumps are gone and the clay has had
several hundred pounds of old straw
and chicken poo tilled in to it.
I began to lay out new beds
and then the storms came
and dumped several inches of water on us.
I am glad that it did.
I was able to see my new garden's
weakness before I put too much
effort in.
See that wall and collpased wall on the north side?
Well, water seeps, pours out from
under it and made a small
river that ran south through
the heart of the garden.
The solution..?
I need to dig a dry creek bed
through the heart of the garden.
I will create tributaries from various
spots in the wall where I saw the worst
of the water pouring under and guide them into
a main channel through the very center
of the garden and out the south end.
Conveniently there is already a low spot/hole
in the south wall that I can use.
I'll try to pretty it up with some rocks etc..
like a real dry creek bed should be.

My Gala apple is just blooming it's heart out!

And so are the strawberries!

The grapes that I rooted last year
and thought for sure were dry sticks
are actually grapes!

And some Jerusalem Artichokes are ready
to be moved into the new garden.
But where, oh where?
And I have a whole area that is
filled with Jersalem Artichokes
that I have to dig up and harvest and move this fall.

And the massive heat wave we had
this past week made my rhubarb bolt.
And by heat wave,
I mean it was in the 90s!!

I knew it was going to be a challenge
to grow it here. We are just too hot.
And now that I have shown you the
seed head, I can cut it off.

Yesterday morning this tree had no leaves.
It goes to show what a spring storm can do.
You could almost watch them unfurl.

This is also what a spring storm can do.
This yard needs to be CUT!
It grew to knee high overnight.
I am not kidding.

And here we have Sweet Husband clearing
the upper garden spot.
We hope to have corn and winter squashes
and pumpkins and chicken feed plants
like amaranth and millet and sunflowers up here.
So exciting!
I have been wanting these two
foundations cleared since the day we moved in
and to see them opening up
is thrilling.
I cannot wait to see what they will look
like in two weeks or so!