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January 30, 2010

The impatient gardener

I couldn't wait! I had two varieties of tomatoes that I want to grow, so I started the seeds. They are up! The pic is not the best, but you can see little green shoots coming up.
The garlic bulbs are Roso de Castro Creole. They smell as good as they look! I have planted over 100 cloves. The weather this week is back to being influenced by Canadian air, so the greens I planted last week may freeze. The garlic will be ok though.
Today is errand day and probably bread or baking day. Tomorrow Charlye and I drive to LA to pick up the puppy. We are so excited and full of anticipation to see him! Dave is preparing the indoor kennel for him today. We have the collar (check), bowl (check), puppy food (check), plenty of extra "barn" towels (check) carpet cleaner (check), all we need now is the pup! I will post pics after we get home and introduce Max.

January 23, 2010

Dirty hands and due date!

This week seems to have gone by faster than the speed of sound!
We took Hattie to be bred by a friend's bull, he did his job and she is due 10/31/10.
Daisy is settling in very well, though unfortunately she is at the bottom of the pecking order, and the big girls remind her of this when it comes to hay or treats.
I got a few things planted in the garden: onion starts, garlic, lettuce, brussel sprouts and cabbage. The 2 broccoli plants and one artichoke are still alive so they did not get fed to the cows! Dave weeded the bed for me so I could just plant things. (sweet!)
When I was buying seedlings in town (completely on impulse, I saw them from the road and had to turn in--no one was harmed in this quick maneuver), the elderly lady behind the counter asked if I needed anything else. I said "No, but the tomato seedlings look good". She said "a-yup" (no hint of enthusiasm). So I asked "What does the Almanac say about frosts and freezes for the rest of the year?"
"It says don't buy tomatoes yet". Dry, dry, dry humor in that one! I am not sure if there was a twinkle in her eye or if it was just kind of rheumy.
I left without any tomatoes. Dave says wait until the end of Feb; Theresa says you have to wait until the peeps (frogs) freeze back 3 times (has only been once so far); Duff says wait on the pecan tree to leaf out (that thing takes forever!). I will wait. If I just cannot stand it one minute more and I buy some seedlings, I will have to keep them in pots in the house until Feb is past. I go through this every year; a couple of sunny, warm days and I am in a rush to get the garden planted! Usually we get a freeze that kills everything a couple of weeks after the garden is planted. I am practicing patience (today).
The garlic soup was not a favorite, it has a water base instead of a cream or broth base is is really quite plain. I did not make the hollandaise or ladyfingers yet, so that is on my list for this week.
I also plan to thaw a ham and let it cook all day in the crock pot for pull-apart pork.
Wishing you a great weekend!

January 16, 2010

Farm in flux--always!

Finally we saw sunshine at sunset tonight!

Daisy in the trailer.

Daisy at home!

Max 2 yrs old.

Max 7 weeks old.
"Vinny", 6 weeks old.

I don't know anyone with a farm (of any size) that is not in flux. Ours too!
Today all the sheep left to live in LA with Theresa and Tom, and their heifer Daisy came to live with us. Daisy is 6 months old and has been handled extensively--which means she is extremely socialized, sweet, docile and trusting of people--fantastic! She traveled well, unloaded well and then discovered pigs. "Yikes! What the heck are those???" As she did heifer sideways cartwheels away from them! They really just wanted to greet her and sniff her. She had a look that clearly said "they smell funny". We plan to keep her in a small paddock for a few days and then put her out with Hattie. We can't put her with Vera yet since Daisy was still nursing some and she would probably try to nurse. We don't need anyone else taking milk from Vera!
Another change that is coming is that Max will be getting a little brother! The breeder we got Max from has another litter from Max's dam ( ). Vinny will be coming home with us in a couple of weeks! Above are pics of Max as a pup/grown and Vinny for comparison.
We are delighted to be able to get Max a brother!

January 10, 2010

Frosty Tx and Time to Plan!

The last few days have been extremely cold for our area (15 degrees at night). Two days ago the temp was 27 and the windchill was 10F! South Texas is not set up or prepared for such an insult! Pipes are freezing and breaking all over town, seems that is the main story these days on the news. We have not had any broken pipes (knock on wood), and have just had to break ice daily for the animals. The pond has been completely frozen over--this really confuses Max. I am not sure what the ducks think of it, they are hiding in the hay pretending to hibernate.
Vera gave a shy 1.5 gallons this morning. We skipped several days of milking in the last month: this or the need to increase her grain are probably both factors, we also have only separated the calf twice. That is an undeniable factor (the little piglet likes his milk!). She continues to do very well in the stanchion and is usually a sweet girl. This morning (we separated last night) she was more intent on getting to her calf than she was on getting her breakfast, you would think it was only a few days old the way she was acting!
I got a wild hair to repaint the dining room yesterday. It was a great idea for the room, just not a great idea for me. Too much stretching and moving in ways I should not have. I was in pain and too worn out to attend the Holiday Party for my office. Advil is a great thing. As for my coworkers, I will finally get to see them all on Monday. It has been a month since I have been there or seen them, I miss them!
My favorite seed catalogs have arrived! Seeds of Change, Seed Savers, Stark Bros and Richter's.
It is time to sit down with graph paper and plan out the garden. I do this every year, start with a bang and even remember to document what I plant and when. By May my record keeping usually leaves something to be desired. I have to remember to go through and catalog (and proof) seeds left over from last year. This time last year I neglected that step and ordered doubles of things I didn't need to, and ended up short on some other items.
My plan this year is to focus on our favorites, plant double the amount of tomatoes, revamp the herbs and plant twice as many pollinator flowers for the bees and butterflies.
The joy of winter is planning the spring garden (and the fact that all the weeds are dead)! It is all excitement and anticipation!

January 7, 2010

Learned something new today!

Don't laugh (too much), this is not profound but I learned to ride a 4-wheeler today!
It was so much fun, I was laughed until I was crying, or was that the wind chill of 10F? Seriously, I grew up doing all things aquatic. We lived on lakes, rivers, oceans, canals and I learned to swim in the Gulf Stream! Sailing, boating, swimming, fishing, skiing, para-sailing, snorkeling, etc is what our family did. This farming life is relatively new (<10 years), and well I just was so excited to learn a new skill!
I can see why people go hit the trails to ride their ATVs. It is fun! I successfully managed to drive it to the hay barn (at the breakneck speed of 3mph!), pick up a bale of hay and drive it out to the sheep shed. Again I say, wow! Dave says it is remarkably similar to snowmobile driving, so I am one step closer to Maine (in my mind anyway)!
Speaking of sheep...our friend Theresa saw the ad for the sheep today and she would like them--so we are bartering sheep for heifer. Woohoo!! We go make the trade next week!

January 5, 2010

French Cooking Update

So far the French Onion Soup, Beouf Bourguignon, Chicken Fricassee and Onion and Potato Soup are wonderful!
I did make a mistake on the Fricassee and the sauce was not as creamy as it should have been.
I have learned the difference between a saute, fricassee and stew. I have also learned that so far nearly every recipe starts the same--butter, onion and carrot. Much different than my tendency toward Italian food and starting every dish with sauteed garlic and onion!
I hope you are enjoying some cooking adventures too!

January 3, 2010

Cows are my love, obviously!

We have consigned to buy a heifer from our friend Theresa.
"Daisy" is from a cow that has genetically tested positive for a good amino acid (proline), as opposed to histine. This is a very good thing, and Daisy should carry the genetics to produce milk that has proline. In New Zealand and Australia there has been extensive research done on the difference in milk with proline vs. milk with histine. Here is a link to an article that can explain it much better than I can:
Daisy will be disbudded, vaccinated, halter trained and weaned in February when we go get her!
Daisy is 7/8 Jersey and 1/8 Guernsey; isn't she beautiful?!

January 1, 2010

French Onion Soup!

(Page 43) Is a great success! The Beouf Bourguignon is in the oven, the house smells fantastic!
A glass of wine, a slice of swiss cheese and a piece of homemade wheat, yum.

Happy New Year and Welcome 2010

It is true that time seems to speed up the older I get. Last year flew by and I expect this one will too in retrospect. I hope August and September heat fly by and leave us without a hurricane. Oops getting ahead of myself, need to focus on the now.
Mom gave me a choice gift card to B&N, which I have just redeemed online for several picks from NPR's reading lists. All are fiction, that is my thing when I have a chance to read for fun I want it to be for fun. Here they are, let me know if you have read any or suggest different ones for the night stand in 2010: The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?, Cutting for Stone, Happens Every Day and The James Deans.
THE cookbook arrived! I have been perusing the introduction with a smile, Julia was a witty one wasn't she? Dave has chosen onion soup to accompany dinner tonight. It should go well with the beef roast entree (I have not decided which Julia recipe to try). I heard from a dear friend (he may or may not join us in this endeavor) who cautioned that Julia likes to be liberal with the wine. He made the beef bourguignon and remarks that unless one is especially enamored of wine and wine aroma filling the house, the recipe will work with half the original wine called for. (grin)
We will bring in the first day of the new year with good food, friends, and an easy day at home. The most energetic endeavors (besides cooking) will be hanging a new curtain rod in the living room, watching the Parade of Roses (Conroe High School marching band is entrant #53) and draining the water pipes in the barn tonight (supposed to get down to 24'F).
We are thankful for our family, friends and farm. We wish you all the best in 2010!