Saturday, June 30, 2012

Death Visits the Farm

It's H-O-T out there!  Temperatures this week have soared to well above 100 degrees, putting our poor chickens in a state of distress.  In fact, John came home on Monday to discover that we'd lost a laying chicken, bringing our flock down to 5.  I guess it gives us away as "unseasoned" farmers, but we feel this loss greatly.  We know that we have a responsibility to care for our animals, and we appreciate the foods they provide us in return.  So, a loss makes us reflective.  Are we doing all we can to keep our animals comfortable and healthy? 
So, here are the meat chickens, enjoying the breeze created by their new box fan.

And, the fan on the laying hens.  Of course, this doesn't help venitlate the house, where the chickens go to lay their eggs.

The coop is built to allow some venitlation here, but it's still stifling inside.

We're also adding frozen cartons of water to the coops during the hottest parts of the day.  Hopefully, we can make it through this hot season without losing our entire flock.

If anyone has a suggestion for keeping the flock more comfortable during these extreme temperatures, I'd welcome advice!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Help! I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

They look so peaceful out in the field, just grazing the day away.  But, don't be fooled! 

Our goats tend to get playful and headbutt one another in the evenings.  The kids know to stay away from them when the goats are playing "king of the rock."  But, because they're such docile animals, I've frequently allowed the kids to visit the goat pen without me.  I'm always within view of the pen, but not always close enough to avert a crisis.  That may have to change.

John is administering a worming treatment this week for the 3 goat kids.  Two of the kids are still a bit skiddish.  In fact, Tuesday morning while the kids and I were out of town, it took John a LONG time to catch Dallas and give him his meds.  So, we decided to tackle it together on Wednesday evening after the kids and I arrived home. 
Let me paint the picture for you:  John, Dexter (our new dog), and I are in the pen with 5 goats, trying to corner Dallas.  Oh, so that you can better picture this . . . I'm in a dress.  You'll see why this matters in a minute. 

Before I even know what's happening, one of the adult goats (Razz, probably) goes after Dexter, and I get caught in the crossfire.  The next thing I know, I hit the ground on my back, feet in the air!  To his credit, John does not just keel over laughing as my dress makes its way to my armpits and, instead, rushes to my aid.  It takes me a minute to get my breath back, but then, I'm okay. 

Two days later, I'm still sporting a pretty good-sized knot on my shin, and my dress may never fully recover from the fall in the goat poo.  But, it definitely could've been worse.  And, I'm so glad it was me rather than one of the kids.
All of that to say, the kids will probably not be unaccompanied in the goat pen anymore.  :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DIY Pet Cooler

Because her cage has open sides, Cocoa Puff gets good enough air circulation to keep her from overheating during the night and early morning.  But, come late morning, she's looking a bit hot and ragged.  I've started filling this old plastic vinegar bottle about 2/3 full with water then freezing it.  I take it out mid-morning (when I'm here to do so) and put it in her cage.  It serves as both cooler and toy, as she enjoys not only sleeping next to it, but also rolling it around her cage.  Then, in the evening, I take it in, clean it off, and pop it back into the freezer until the next day.  You may not have an overheated-rabbit problem, but I'd imagine there are other animals who could benefit from a similar DIY approach to a more comfortable summer.  :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Remedy for Zucchini Ears

Got zucchini coming out of your ears?  Not that it's not a great look for you, but should you decide that it's not exactly the look you're going for, try this:

Grilled Veggies with Mustard Dip

Ingredients for Mustard Dip:
2/3 c. fat free yogurt
1/3 c. fat free sour cream
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley (I used 1/2 Tbs. dried parsley)
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt

Ingredients for Kabobs:
1 bell pepper, cut into 6 strips, then cut into thirds
1 zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices
8 oz.  fresh whole mushrooms
9 large cherry tomatoes
2 Tbs. olive oil

In a small bowl, mix dip ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat gril.  On skewers, thread vegetables so that one kind of veggie is on the same skewer.  Leave space between each piece.  Brush with olive oil.

Place skewers of bell pepper and zucchini on grill over medium heat.  Cover grill and cook about 5 minutes.  Add skewers of mushrooms and tomatoes.  Cover grill and cook an additionaly 4-5 minutes, carfully turning skewers every couple of minutes.  Remove veggies from skewers to serving plate.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with dip.  (The dip really makes it!)

We enjoyed this as a vegetarian meal, but you could always add a skewer of chicken chunks.  This meal is a great way to use some in-season veggies.  We don't actually have bell peppers and tomatoes ready at our house yet, but they are plentiful at the farmer's market.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Slaughter Day Approaching!

It's been about 2 1/2 months since these Buff Orpingtons arrived at our house.

They've definitely grown quite a bit since then.  We are nearing slaughter day.  Yep, in a matter of weeks, we'll know whether or not we can handle actually butchering our own dinner.  I'm really hoping I can because something about this quote from Barbara Kingsolver rings very true with me:

"All of us sooner or later must learn to look our food in the face.  If we're willing to eat an animal, it's probably only responsible to accept the truth of its living provenance rather than pretending it's a 'product' from a frozen-foods shelf with its gizzard in a paper envelope."

We've pretty much decided around here that if we can't bring ourselves to go through the butchering process ourselves, we probably have no business eating meat at all.  So, we are only a couple of weeks away from knowing whether we can continue our current eating habits or will be overhauling our diets.   So . . . to buy that upright freezer while it's on sale or not?  Hmmmm.  I'm betting we'll be able to handle it.  I know that scooping poop, picking up dead mice, and all don't come close to chicken processing, but I have been surprised by what I can handle as long as I have gloves on!

Check back in to see whether or not we'll be able to "stomach" our chicken!
Though they are probably about as tall as they'll get, over the next couple of weeks, their little breasts should fill out quit bit more.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dexter Update

Dexter, our rescue dog, is settling in nicely.  We took him to the vet this past week and found out that he's probably about 2 years old.  The vet confirmed that he does look like a Jack Russell Terrier and that, based on how scratched up he was on his belly and legs,  he'd probably been through quite a bit before he turned up at PawPaw's house. 
He basically camps out at the backdoor, just waiting for one of us to come out and run with him or give him some loving!  And, yes, I have been caught scratching him behind the ears a time or two.  :)  What can I say?  He's growing on me.

He seems to know how to act like a dog without crossing over the line.  For example, he drags all of our outdoor shoes off the porch and strews them about the yard.  BUT, he does not chew them up.  See?  It's like he knows just how much I'm willing to tolerate.  In this picture above, he's cowering in shame as I scold him about my shoe.

Another example:  I'd rather he didn't sit in the outdoor chairs.  He, however, thinks that so long as he leaves alone my beloved outdoor bed, he should be allowed to sit in the plastic adirondacks.  I'll grant him that, I suppose.  And, one more example:  he loves to terrorize the meat chickens by racing round and round their pen so fast they probably don't even know what's happening.  They work themselves into such a tizzy over this that feathers go everywhere.  I'm able to laugh this off because he leaves the egg laying chickens alone.  I wouldn't tolerate him scaring them because they can be frightened into not laying. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"This Is the Best Dessert I've Ever Had!"

Yep.  My husband actually made this exclamation at dinner last night.  Let's hear it again, shall we:
"This is the best dessert I've ever had!"

Wow!  And, I made it! 

Now, if you have an icecream maker, go get it.  Seriously.  Right now.  You'll be glad you did.  I'll wait for you to get back. 

Got it?  You won't be sorry.  This recipe for Strawberry Frozen Yogurt is AMAZING and so easy!

2 c. fat free plain yogurt (I used the goat milk yogurt that I make, but store-bought should work fine)
2 c. pureed fresh strawberries
1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 c. fat free milk (I used goat milk, of course)
3 tsp. vanilla (I actually left out the vanilla. I wish I could say it was a stylistic choice, but actually I just forgot it!   It turned out SO good without it, but I'll probably add it next time.)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Fill the cylinder of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine's directions.  When finished, place the cylinder in the freezer for a couple hours.  At serving time, set out a few minutes to soften.

This actually firmed up much better than traditional homemade ice cream.  I suspect that you could substitute other fruits for the pureed strawberries.   Peaches are still in season and would probably be yummy.  I'm thinking that'll be my next one to try!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

And the Winner Is . . .

And the winner is . . .

Jessica Anderson!
Congratulations, Jessica!  I'm actually going to be sending you two of these jars because they're so small.  So, one for you.  One for a friend.  Or, two for you.  Should you choose to keep them both for yourself, I won't judge.  I do, after all, LOVE this stuff!  It is all-natural and made by yours truly.  Enjoy!  If there are any sore losers out there, who just don't think they can go another day without this Rose Butter, send me a message, and we'll see if we can't work something out!  :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Canning Tip

Following on the heels of yesterday's post, here's a canning tip for you:  remove the rings for storage.  Yep, that's right.  The rings are really only necessary during processing.  After that, the seal is doing all the work, so they're unnecessary.  Leaving them on often results in unwanted rust in the grooves, a result of water from the processing just sitting there for a lengthy period of time. 

So, go ahead.  Let your jars go topless!  Yes, it looks weird.  But think of the money you'll save (okay, it may only be a few dollars, but still).  You really only need enough rings to fit on however many jars you'll be processing at one time.  And, they'll last virtually forever since they won't be accumulating rust in the grooves.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Garden Goodness: Now and Later

It's like Christmas around here.  Today, I used my pressure canner that I got for Christmas for the first time!
When you're hoping your garden will provide as much of your family's diet as possible, tough choices are involved.  This is our first harvested mess of green beans.  We won't be eating them fresh, though.
We currently have zucchini coming out of our ears (keep checking back for more zucchini recipes).  And, (other than freezing a few shredded cups for future zucchini bread), we tend to eat our zucchini in ways that rely on fresh-picked zucchini.  I've blanched zucchini and squash in the past, and it just sat in the freezer until I eventually threw it out because we just don't eat our squash that way.  

So, zucchini now.  Green beans later.   We may eventually eat some fresh green beans, but since we tend to use our green beans as a replacement for grocery-store canned beans, most of our green beans will find their way to the mason jars and feed us this winter when garden-fresh zucchini is a thing of the past.

The instruction booklet was a little overwhelming, but once I'd read it through, actual operation was pretty easy.

Food for later!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cheap. Fast. Good.

If you subscribe to Real Simple and skip over the editor's note, you're really missing out.  Kristin's column is always entertaining.  This month, she discussed the Cheap/Fast/Good theory she gleaned from a friend.  It basically goes that in party planning (and I would add home improvement projects), you can choose two of the three, but that your selections automatically render the third impossible.  For example, the fence we just had put up -- it was FAST and GOOD.  It was not CHEAP.  Or backyard gardening -- GOOD and CHEAP, but not FAST.  This really could apply to lots of scenarios.  Using zip ties to secure the goats' shelter -- FAST and CHEAP, but not GOOD (they ate right through them).

So, since this home improvement project really did accomplish all three, I feel it is a great success!
Notice the garage doors.  Since we've had the house painted and reroofed this year, those doors that had once seemed just fine have seemed more like a washed-out green.


Monday, they got a makeover.  Okay, it was CHEAP because all it cost me was a gallon of paint (no primer necessary for metal doors).  It was FAST because I knocked it out in a little over an hour.  It was GOOD because it coordinates well with the new shingle color and completes the "new house" look that the roof and paint were striving for.

Can you think of a home improvement project you've been able to complete that meets all 3 criteria: CHEAP, FAST, and GOOD?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our New Farm Dog!

Meet Dexter.  Isn't he adorable?  I am admittedly not a dog person.  But, just look at that face? 
We toyed with naming him "Ocho" since he is our 8th attempt at having a dog in our 11 years of marriage.  It's true, we've not always had the best luck with dogs.  This is why until last Thursday, we had all kinds of animals running around here and not a single dog.  Dexter, so far though, has been the perfect dog.

He runs around the yard, keeping stride with Girl 2. Sleeps (but doesn't poop) on the porch (not on my outdoor bed).  Stays out of my garden.  Rarely barks.  Doesn't pester the other animals.  Doesn't chew things up or drag them around the yard. 

I should probably stop with the list, or I may discover him missing from the backyard.

Anyway, he turned up at PawPaw's house last week, and they couldn't run him off.  He doesn't belong to any of their neighbors.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for a rescue!

Now, for those of you who may judge us because of our 7 previous dog attempts  (e.g.  Jenny.  Justin.), let me quickly catalog and attempt to explain them here.

1.  Oxford, the Basset Hound puppy.  We bought him as newlyweds living in an apartment in Hot Springs just after we graduated from college.  Turns out that our landlord had a "No Dogs" policy.  Oops.

2.  Kate, the Dachshund.  We bought Kate soon after we moved to New Orleans.  Kate ate her own poo.  That really should be enough explanation, but we put up with her until Girl 1 was born and Kate was chewing on Girl 1's baby toys with that nasty poo-eating mouth.  Our priorities had changed, and she had to go.

3.  Rugby, the Dachshund.  We bought Rugby to keep Kate company in New Orleans.  He was the dumbest dog I ever met.  He would repeatedly fall off the porch because he forgot where the steps were.  When Kate left, Rugby left, too.  Don't judge -- they went to a good home.

4.  Sunny, the yellow Labrador.  John's parents used to breed Labs.  Sunny was a puppy from the last litter John's mom helped birth.  She came to live with us shortly after we moved back to Arkansas -- Girl 1 was 2-years-old.  Sunny was an adorable little terror of a puppy.  As an example of her antics, she once tore a hose into such small pieces that we only ever found a few pieces of it.  The rest were ripped so small that they just blended in with the grass.  She is still around but lives at my father-in-law's house.

5.  Sherman, the French Bulldog who needed a home.  He came home with us for a weekend as a trial.  Because of his breathing problems, he really needed to be an inside dog, and we just weren't prepared to have a dog in the house, so he went to another home after our weekend trial run was over.

6. Daisy Dog.  Daisy was a shelter dog who had been badlly abused.  We got her as a playmate for the girls when they were 3 and 5 years old.  Daisy was terrified of us.  We gave it a year, but she never warmed up to us.  We couldn't physically catch her.  She was basically a wild animal in our backyard.  We couldn't catch her to give her flea and tick treatments.  She tore my garden up by the roots, and I couldn't put her in the pen to keep her out of it because I couldn't catch her.  She ended up going back where she came from.

7.  Daisy Dos.  We tried again.  I guess we just didn't learn our lesson.  Daisy Dos came from Melbourne's foster care program for dogs.  Little Boy was newly adopted at the time and had come from a foster home with dogs.  We thought we would try again, so we brought Daisy Dos home on trial basis only.  She jumped up on the kids and knocked them down so much that they were afraid to go into the backyard to play.  She went back into foster care.

So, Dexter makes #8.  I'm hopeful that this sweet dog will work out for us.   :)

For those who think we just can't handle animals, I would mention that our chickens and goats are probably the most spoiled farm animals around.  Additionally, I offer this sweet kitty in our defense. We got Aslan when we'd only been married a couple of weeks and still lived in an on-campus apartment (that did not allow cats -- please don't tell).  She is very old and losing her hearing now, but she still lives on/under our front porch.  :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's That Time Again!

Yep, it's giveaway time!  This month, the giveaway is a jar of homemade Rose Butter.  It's an all-natural, rose-scented, thick body cream.  (Sorry, I don't have any pics right now because I just gave away my last jar and will be making more this week.)  It's perfect for dry skin.  If you don't tend to be dry, you may want to hang onto it until this winter when cold weather and heaters start to take their toll.  I like to use it on my arms and legs right after the shower.  In fact, it'll go further and absorb better if you apply it to slightly damp skin.

So, to be entered into the drawing, you have until Friday to comment on this post and answer the following question:

Of all the various posts you've seen here on Brooding On over the past several months, what has been your favorite?

To refresh your memory, check out the right sidebar for topics covered here on the blog.  If you can't point to a specific post, then at least mention what type of posts you enjoy most.  I'd like to know what's most popular with my readers so that I can be sure to include more of that type of thing.  :)  Also, if you have questions about our little farm or would like to see a post on a certain topic, feel free to add that request to your comment. 

I look forward to your comments!  Check back Saturday to see who the lucky winner is!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frozen Berry Pie

This pie is a favorite at our house.  In fact, it leaves Little Boy chanting, "Pie! Pie! Pie! Pie!" at the dinner table.  It's pretty versatile, too, since it can be made with a combination of types of berries, and they can be either frozen or fresh.  So, if your husband is prone to coming home from work weilding a 5 lb. bag of blackberries (as mine did last week), you're all set.

Our strawberry plants have been surprising us with some late berries, and MeeMee brought us some blueberries, so I went ahead and froze 3 extra bags with a 2-cup mix of blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries.  Now, all I'll have to do is thaw them, and they're ready for pie!

1 graham cracker crust
2 c. berries (fresh or frozen)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (we use Fat Free)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tub Cool Whip (once again, we use Fat Free)

1. Place fruit (thaw first if using frozen fruit), condensed milk, and lemon juice in food processor or blender and process until smooth. 
2. Pour into pie crust and put in freezer until firm (a couple hours).  Then, cover with Cool Whip and freeze again until firm. 

You can set it out to thaw for a few minutes before serving.  We like ours nearly solid, though.  Thanks to cousin Bethany for giving us this recipe a few years back.  We make it all the time!  Not that you'll be able to resist eating it, but this pie will keep well in the freezer for a long time, so consider making the most of your effort and making two -- one for now, one for later.

I forgot to take a picture last night when I served it, so I had to go cut another slice just now.  Oh, well.  ;)  Oh, and you think that looks like a big slice?  Maybe my dessert plates are just really small.  Yes, that's it, I have very small dessert plates. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Sunflower for Your Saturday

Remember this pic from last week?  The plants were huge but not yet blooming.

Now, they look like this!  Gorgeous!
I chose sunflowers as a garden flower because they attract beneficial insects (you know, the ones that eat the bad guys) in larger amounts than other smaller flowers.  If you can get a good a enough look at the center of the flower, you'll see several of the good guys crawling around the edges of the circle.

Other (less impressive looking) flowers sprinkled throughout the garden this year are marigolds and candytuft.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Picnic Table: Before and After

Since Little Boy arrived, our outdoor dining table has been a bit tight, so we decided to add this adorable kid-sized picnic table to our outdoor furniture.  We purchased it unfinished, so it needed a coat of paint to protect it from the elements (and our frequent spills).


Yes, that's a copperhead.  I was painting away as the kids played nearby.  Girl 2 reached for a toy dump truck and stopped when she saw this snake curled up beside it.  "Snake! Snake!"  I grabbed a shovel and had taken care of business before the kids had made it back outside with John.  Yes, I was proud of myself.  But, mostly, I loved how impressed John was with me.  It kind of made me want to just scour the premesis for more snakes or other terrifying creatures that I could impress him by slaughtering.  Eleven years into marriage, it's good to know I can still surprise him.  :) 


We decided to go bold.  Girl 2 chose the color at the paint store.  All 3 kiddos helped me distress it a bit with a sanding block; then, we added a sheer protective coat to the bench seats and table top.  I figure it'll take lots of abuse, so distressing it on the front end might help hide some of the unintentional dings and scrapes and stains.  We've used it so often that I set the dinner table in the house the other night and Girl 1 remarked, "Wow!  It's weird to be eating inside.  We haven't done that in awhile!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Heifer International on Goats

We love to peruse the pages of the Heifer International gift catalog and see the various animals they are providing to people in various parts of the world.  It's only been since we've brought our goats home, though, that I've realized the full potential of the gift of a goat.

According Heifer International, the amazing organization that provides farm animals and animal husbandry education to struggling communities:

"Goats can thrive in extreme climates and on poor, dry land by eating grass and leaves. The gift of a dairy goat can supply a family with up to several quarts of nutritious milk a day - a ton of milk a year. Extra milk can be sold or used to make cheese, butter or yogurt. Families learn to use goat manure to fertilize gardens.
Goats often have two or three kids a year making it easy for Heifer recipients to pass on the gift of a goat to another family in need. This great investment allows our partners to lift themselves out of poverty by starting small dairies that earn money for food, health care and education."

For $120 you could provide a dairy goat for a family in need.  Can't do $120?  Consider buying a share of a goat for only $10.  Click here to see how.  Or, you could do what I'm doing and just stash away $10 a month so that by the end of the year, you can give a family the gift of a goat for Christmas.  :)

"With all the money donated to help fight famine around the world, with all the grandiose plans conceived to conquer poverty, sometimes all it takes to save a child is a goat."
— 60 Minutes, CBS News Magazine Program

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Wall

Don't you just love Robert Frost?  I no longer have a captive audience for my poetry lessons, so please indulge me.  A few lines from "Mending Wall":

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

Yep.  It seems Nature dislikes a wall.  She seems to know no boundaries. 
Consider the picture above.  I take such great pains to put in a perfectly positioned trellis for the green bean vines, and what do they do?  They jump over and grow up the tomato stakes!  Can't they see that I have this garden perfectly mapped out?  Don't they see the white boards delinieating their space?  They have no respect for my boundaries!

Or, take this zucchini plant.  I have allotted it 9 square feet, as per my gardening book directives.  So, why must it encroach upon my lettuce.  9 square feet -- that's all you get, Mr. Zucchini.

But the beauty of the garden knows no boundaries.  Who am I to reign it in? 

And, what of fences designed to give our animals more space but keep them out of neighboring yards?

In "Mending Wall," the speaker meets his neighbor for their annual fence-line walk wherein they mend a year's worth of damage to the fence separating their properties:

There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn't it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to  know
What I was walling in or walling out,

In our case, we're walling in goats and walling out the crazy dog down the street and any other creature that could harm our precious herd.

Here are the goats on their first day in the field.  Yes, that's the chicken tractor out there, too.  We're going to have to rethink that, though.  Honey sent the ladies into a flurry of panic when she made it half-way into the chicken coop earlier this afternoon.  I'd opened the coop door to throw the chickens some goodies, and Honey apparently thought it would be a good time to introduce herself to her new neighbors.

The chickens, it seems, like their boundaries just fine!  ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thinking Outside the Can

During the school year, Little Boy and I are usually content to scrounge around in the fridge for leftovers at lunchtime.  Lately, though, with the girls home from school for the summer, I've needed a more formal plan for lunches.  It seems I've really hit on something with this alphabet pasta!

I've recently started purchasing lots of organic flours, beans, pastas, and other dry goods through a co-op that orders every 2 months.  Click here to see the company's website.    So far, I've really been pleased with the quality of their products.  My breads have never been better!   

My kids often get a hankerin' for chicken noodle soup or spaghettios from a can.  I don't exactly love all the ingredients found in those cans, so I thought I'd try to recreate those dishes using ingredients that sit a bit better with me. 

Country Life Natural Foods sells this organic, whole-wheat alphabet pasta for $1.80 per pound -- a great deal, really.  But, they sell it in 10 lb. packages!  I included the carton of broth for perspecitve -- it's a lot of pasta! 

So, I've got two kids who love their noodles with chicken broth and a third who'd rather have her alphabets with tomato sauce.  Not a problem!  I can just cook up a big batch of pasta early in the week, then add whatever sauce I'd like at serving time.  We've had chicken noodle soup:  just add organic chicken broth, diced carrots, some chopped chicken leftover from last night's rotisserie, or whatever other wholesome ingredient you can think of.  Or, we've added our favorite jarred pasta sauce -- much tastier than the sauce in the canned pasta!  You could even melt a little cheese, and you'd be thinking outside the blue box, too!

I know this seems like common sense.  But, it's been such a revelation to me.  I love that with a little forethought, everyone can be happy with what's for lunch!

(If you live around and would like the skinny on how to get into the 2 month rotation through the co-op, shoot me a message :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reunited and It Feels So Good!

After about 5 weeks apart, this mom and daughter were reunited today.  Izzy, the daughter, and her buddy Dallas (pictured below) have been in the weening pen for awhile.  Today, we decided to reintroduce mom and daughter and see whether or not Izzy would try to nurse after all this time.  The answer, unfortunately, is yes.  She immediately went for momma's udders.  Luckily, Razz, her mother, was having none of it, so it looks like it may work out for them to stay together.

Sweet kisses from Momma after a long time away  :)

Big hugs for Honey, our sweetest goat!  (And my favorite, hands down!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just a Walk Around the Yard (with commentary)

This sunflower is enormous!  I am 5'10", and it now towers over me.  It's an Evening Sun variety and is loaded with what should soon open up into blooms the color of a sunset.  Pics to come soon.

Okay.  I know I talked big about pulling out the broccoli plant, but in the end, I just couldn't kill it.  I transplanted it to a pot on the porch.  This way, it still gets to live but isn't casting too much shade on the surrounding veggies. It still hasn't produced any flowerets, but we'll continue to keep an eye on it.

The fence is coming along nicely.  If the weather cooperates, we should be able to turn the goats out onto fresh grass within the week.
The little pickling cucumber vines are covered with blooms, and I've even cut a few of the earliest cukes over the past couple of days.

The only problem with that is that I've seeded the organic dill several times and nothing has come up.  I really don't want to have to buy bunches of dill from the grocery store come pickling time, so I bought some small dill plants to put in.  Hopefully, they'll have time to get a bit bigger before I'm ready to pickle.

Zucchini has been going crazy lately.  While my back was turned, this one got a bit too big to be tasty.  The chickens didn't seem to notice, though.

While I was feeding the zucchini to the chickens, these guys were sticking their heads out of the pen and eating my shorts (literally).  We like to move the chicken tractor right around the edge of of the goat pen as bug control.  When the goats first came to us, we noticed a few ticks, but since the chickens have been circling the pen on a regular basis, we haven't seen anymore. 

Our soil around here gets so compacted that I had never dared attempt to grow roots in the ground.  Now that we're using our own soil mix in raised beds, I am able to try out roots.  I have, however, no experience with growing them.  Luckily, the carrots, beets, and radishes help me out by peeping their heads out of the ground to let me know they're ready to be harvested.

Our kale sure is happy.  We only planted two squares with it, so I thought we'd eat our way through it pretty quickly.  Turns out, everytime I harvest it, more comes back in its place.

Some pickings from today.