Early Spring Sunrise Snow on the Silo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Putting up hay for the winter

One of the things about winter here in Wisconsin, you have to plan ahead to feed the animals. While I might be able to find hay to purchase during winter months, it's not always easy to get it to the farm and in the barn with huge snow drifts in the way. It is so much more convenient to get the hay right out of the field and put it up in the barn while the weather is still cooperating.
Boogie loves to climb on the bales as they are unloaded from the rack. he is much too brave, and not at all afraid of heights! He treats the pile as his own personal mountain.
He also likes to 'help' even though the bales each weight more then he does. He will be able to lift them soon enough, and probably won't be so happy about the prospect by then.
The large pile of bales unloaded from the hay rack and ready to be stacked in the barn. One less thing to worry about.
Even with that out of the way, I'm still hoping for a mild winter!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New mouths to feed!

In the wee hours of Monday the 13th of September, Emma went into labor and produced six black and white puppies. One struggled from the beginning and another just did not thrive so she ended up four nice pups, two bitches and two dogs.

This big little guy is quite the bruiser!
She looks like a little panda
Proud Papa is my oldest dog 'SilverCreek Intimidator'Their eyes are just beginning to open, more photos soon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Crop Failure of 2009

Recently there has been a great moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth on the interwebz as bakers, trying to satisfy their craving for fall favorites like pumpkin bars, muffins, bread and (my personal favorite) pumpkin cheesecake, are finding store shelves devoid of canned pumpkin due to last seasons crop failure. Well, never fear, this seasons pumpkins are in fine shape and the canned stuff will be arriving in store in plenty of time to put pies on the holiday table. In the mean time, if you just can't wait, it is very simple to make your own pumpkin puree to use in you favorite recipes.First, you need to select your pumpkins, and while a big carving pumpkin may seem like a great deal and give you plenty of pumpkin, they are really not your best choice. Carvers are grown for size and shape so they tend to be bland and stringy, save those for fall decorations and creating jack-o-lanterns. Smaller pie pumpkins are developed for flavor and texture so they work best for eating. Select small fruits with completely dry stems still attached for best results.
Use a large chefs knife to cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
The flesh can be cooked in a number of ways, the halves can be placed cut size down on a baking tray and roasted until soft in a 325 degree oven or they can be wrapped in foil and roasted on the grill. My favorite, and most frugal, way is to steam them in my turbo cooker or dutch oven on top of the wood stove. Then the pulp can be scooped out and pureed with a blender, food processor or immersion blender and used in place of canned puree. Butternut and other orange fleshed squash can be used in place of part or all of the pumpkin in most recipes if you have trouble finding pie pumpkins. This method can also be used to make a yummy side dish of mashed squash, I like to add butter and a touch of brown sugar for a nice accompaniment to pork. Divide the pumpkin into freezer bags or containers in 2 cup measures, since that is the most common amount called for in recipes, and freeze. Puree can also be pressure canned in pints, quarts are not recommended due to the density of the pumpkin or squash.Home made pumpkin puree is fast, easy and delicious! No need to ever buy canned again and since
pumpkins and squash are really easy to grow, plan to plant some in next years garden.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Beginnings of Autumn on the Farm(ette)

With August having been so hot, it's rather nice to have cooler weather, however I am not ready for cold just yet. Yesterday was damp and chilly, necessitating a fire in the wood stove. I took advantage of the 'free' heat source, cooking down a batch of apples for sauce, steaming some squash to freeze and cooking 2 pounds of pinto beans for chili and canning. I just love it when the stove does double duty, both heat and cooking. Today is really pleasant, sunny and warm, and I need to get a lot of laundry done as we are expecting rain most of the rest of the week. The one draw back of not using a dryer is working around the rain.
The harvest color of the day is bright red! The peppers are super sweet and Boogie polished off a small one straight off the plant. Some of these are already in the crock pot as part of a batch of beef chili. The pepper plants are having a surge of flowering at the moment, unfortunately it will frost long before these flowers produce any peppers.
I need to get plastic on the hoop house, now in it's new location out of the wind and with all day exposure to the sun.
It is breeding season for the Oberhasli dairy goats, and boy is the buck stinking up the barnyard. Fortunately I find the musky scent tolerable and Boogie doesn't seem to mind it at all.
I've been working on Chullo hats to stock at my store on Hyena Cart. I really enjoy working with the different wools and all the beautiful colors. It's also nice to have a small, portable craft to take with to play group or on lon
g car rides. It's also one of the best insurance policies against waiting for very long for appointments. It never fails that as soon as I pull out my knitting, they are ready for us! I'm also planning to stock some fun eyelash yarn skinny scarves.I was given a box of Concord grapes and canned them as juice and grape jelly. I used to have wonderful wild grapes here, but one bad winter took them all out. The few vines I have left don't produce fruit. I'll need to plant some grapes of my own next spring. Add that to the list.

The leaves are just beginning to change colors and the nights are quite cool. Days are shorter and frost can not be far off. The shorter days have caused my hens egg production to plummet, I'd better get a light in the coop if we want fresh eggs for breakfast. Boogies third birthday and the holiday season is just around the corner. Hope you enjoy the bounty of the season.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

East Troy Electric Railroad

With the passing of Labor Day, shorter days and cooler nights, one thing is certain, Grandpa will be heading south soon. So after chores I packed up the cooler with soda, juice and snacks for Boogie and I, a few fresh veggies and some home made cottage cheese for Bill, climbed into the go cart and headed across the state.
We met up with Grandpa at the cabin and headed over to East Troy, Wisconsin to take our little train fanatic for a ride on an historic electric rail line.

We located the train station, despite the GPS informing us it did not exist, and then grabbed a bite of lunch. Boogie fueled up on a favorite of toddlers every where, grilled cheese, 'fench fies' and chocolate milk.
Then we boarded a 100 year old trolley, made in Minneapolis, lovingly and proudly (if not so authentically) maintained and operated by volunteers. Boogie was very excited to actually be riding a Choo Choo! We headed off down the line and after about 300 yards, came to a complete halt. After 100 years of service the trolley decided to wait for us to board to decide to break down!
We were able to limp back to the station and after a very short delay, boarded train cars that ran on the Chicago elevated tracks through the early 1970's.
It was pretty neat to take my son on his first train ride in cars similar to those I rode on as a child. Yes, I'm that old.
The turn around point for the short round trip is a specialty food shop/orchard/greenhouse (aka tourist trap) called the Elegant Farmer. They are known for their 'baked in a paper bag apple pie' that, in addition to it's unusuall cooking method has a top crust which is more like a short bread cookie then a traditional pie crust. Unbelievably yummy and not recommended for those seriously counting calories. I, on the other hand, bought the largest one they sell and have plans to make some vanilla ice cream to go with it. If I keep this up they will need a piano box to bury me!

After, we went back to the cabin to relax a bit. Boogie adores his grandpa and loves spending time with him. I think Grandpa kinda likes the little guy too, they are quite the pair. I hope we can squeeze one more visit in before he heads south.
Finally, since I am more likely to gripe about his tantrums, the messes he makes and the artwork he creates in inappropriate place, I just want to say that Boogie was incredibly well behaved throughout the whole day. I know that being patient and resisting temptation at a place like the Elegant Farmer is an heroic accomplishment for a boy who is 'almost' 3 years old!
Way to go Boogie. Mommie is very proud of you!