Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Big Snow

Well, it got here. We ended up with 7 inches. It is the finest snow and very tiring to walk in and footing is treacherous. We were 16° this morning when I got up at 4:30 AM.

The very first thing I did when it got daylight was to refill the bird feeders. I took a very bad shot of the the Feeding Tree just to show how many Cardinals visited this morning. I think I counted 22 males.
From 7 inch snow of january 2010

We decided I should milk this morning since tomorrow will be colder yet. I couldn't resist taking a picture of my helper. He has to get Willow up for me because she would rather the babies nurse than I milk! I have to go into the pen for her. She comes right to the gate for my husband because she knows he isn't going to milk!
From 7 inch snow of january 2010

and of course, Biscuit wanted his picture taken. He is usually known as Digger Dog.
From 7 inch snow of january 2010

All outdoor chores are done, for me at least. My next thing will be to try once again to make ricotta from the leftover whey from the cottage cheese. If this fails, I vow to never try again.

Update on the Bubblewrap as insulation: We are pleased. There has been no condensation on the glass so no running down the door and freezing on the tile. Of course, we knew the draft stoppers for the doors was a good thing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Storm

When we got up this morning, not much had happened. We had maybe an inch of very fine snow on and some falling. It is a cold 21°. No ice for us. Finally about an hour ago a very heavy snow began falling. We will wait and see what we get. Now they are saying tops of 6". It is worse south of us which seems strange.

I finished another batch of cottage cheese this morning from yesterday's milking. Now I am letting the whey which was very white set overnight to develop more acidity and will try for the last time to make ricotta. It is supposed to be foolproof....not in my case. You just cook the whey and the top foam is the ricotta.

I wasn't happy with yesterday's whole wheat bread. It didn't raise much the last time or I didn't let it raise long enough. Anyway, it was very heavy and dense textured. The flavor was great and it toasted good but not what I want. I am having a good time trying for that perfect loaf. So far, we like the Honey Wheat Oat Bran bread the best.

Here are a couple of pictures of the bread:

From Food
From Food
From Food

Now, I have to tell you why the bread didn't rise to the tops of the pans like I like......It was just for two loaves....I made three out of it! Most of the recipes in this book make three loaves...........not this one. I had to laugh when I looked it up. I am rethinking my assessment of the bread. I believe I might do it two loaves the next time.

Snow has let up. I doubt we get the 6 inches.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Storm is on the they say.

They are telling us we could get upwards of 12 inches of snow and temps dropping down to 8°.

That prompted us to head to W-M to buy some Bubblewrap to stick to the back door glass that sweats and freezes in extreme cold. There is no storm door out there and no room for one. The I decided to make two draft stoppers for the north door in the living room. It has an aluminum storm door which, in my opinion, is useless. I have plans to have that replaced this summer with an insulated one. The other one is for the said back porch door. Got it all accomplished. Now sure the bubblewrap is going to work. I may just do two long strips over the panes instead of the individual ones on the 12 panes.

Well, the night passed down to 23° and the pieces of bubble wrap stayed on with no signs of leaking sweat down the door.
This was milking morning. All went well. I bottled part and brought part down to make cottage cheese again.

What else can you do on a cold, dreary day, but make bread. We weren't out but I had a yen to do Sorghum Cracked Wheat bread. I have made it before but it has been a long time. I just used the KA mixer and after about 4-5 minutes of kneading, sprayed the top with olive oil and covered with a damp cloth for the first rise. I didn't even get it out and do the final knead on the board. I just left it in the bowl in the rough form from the dough hook. I won't make any difference in the final loaf. It makes a pretty sticky dough.

From Food

Picture for the Day:

DH yelled for me to come take a picture of Emmy sitting on the stump right outside the kitchen window. She was watching the younger cats cavorting in the flower beds. She isn't too please they are here.

From Cats

That's all that's going on in my world today. Just warily watching the skies for the storm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's a grey and damp Friday. These are not my favorite kinds of days, especially when they start with an 8 AM dental appointment. It really wasn't too bad, just a cleaning and x-rays and the good news is all is well! I almost panic when they squirt water in my mouth while working. With my sinuses, I think I am going to choke to death...........enough about that.

In our little town, the library is just across the lot from the dentist and there is a drugstore and a Dollar General, plus a few other things in the shopping area. I took advantage and stopped in the Dollar General for a hand mirror and the visited the library for a new load of books. Mostly mysteries, but a couple of different ones for me....I do read the mysteries too. This was an unplanned visit so I just browsed the shelves. I really like to order the books online and just go in and pick them up.


I tried a new method of baked beans yesterday using the crockpot and we both think they are very good. I used the Great Northern that I had but think they might be better with navy beans, good nevertheless.


They are finally doing much better. We are getting between 8 and 4 daily now and are accumulating quite a stockpile.

Cattle: DH moved them to a 7 acre lot at the back of the farm that hasn't been grazed since spring. It will be interesting to see how long that holds their attention. We need to pull them off that whole section because we will be cutting hay back there this year.

Gardening: I will need to clip the daylilies seedlings under the lights. They have reached up to the bulbs. It will either be that or move them to another shelf where I can raise the light fixture. They are currently on the top shelf and that light is stationary.

The amaryllis bulb I brought inside now has two blooms open and two more to go.
This original bulb is probably 4 years old and was a gift from my sis's greenhouse.

From Plants

I think the rest of my day will be spent in my 'nest' in the corner of the kitchen with a good book.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finishing the Cottage Cheese

We are having another beautiful sunny day. I love them just as long as it doesn't get too warm too soon.

I finished up the cottage cheese which is very easy to do. I cut the curd into 1/2 inch or so pieces with a long spatula, brought the whey and curds up to about 120° stirring gently now and then to keep the bottom from sticking. Then I let the curds set in the warm whey until it was the consistency I like; lifted the curds out of whey with my favorite kitchen tool, a spider, into a large sifter and let them drain. Pour into glass bowl; salt; add some cream if you like (and I do);
Salt. I have already had a dish. I do love it.

Yesterday I cooked a couple of butternut squashes that were getting some bad spots on the bottom. I chopped off all the bad, scooped out seeds, cut off the tops and baked the remaining squash in the oven until tender. I scooped out the flesh and let it drain for a while. I got about 1/2 cup of juice from it. I have the squash in the fridge now. I will probably just freeze it.

I cooked the bad pieces to soften for the chickens and added the rinds of the baked ones and they had a feast last night.

This morning I made buttermilk pancakes and added the 1/2 cup squash liquid to the buttermilk. Didn't hurt a thing that I could see.

Now what on earth to do with all this whey? I refuse to attempt ricotta cheese again. It has never worked for me. I wish I knew why.

Farm Report: Three new Black Angus babies on the farm.....very early spring calving season has begun.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It is a beautiful sunny day this morning.  We did have a light freeze overnight with a little glaze on some mudpuddles.

I decided to milk again because I want to make cottage cheese.  I have 5 quarts setting to clabber right now.  I added 1 1/2 cups of my home cultured buttermilk to get it started.  By tomorrow I should have a good, firm curd.

I am trying a new recipe for Pumpkin/Raisin Muffins.  I am trying new recipes that call for pumpkin since I had such a bumper crop last year of Butternuts and Long Island Cheeses.  I will let you know how it does.  The Recipe is from Betty of Mennonite Girls Can Cook

I sorted all my yarn stash into the bargain under-bed containers I bought and now have actually slid them under the bed!  Must do some serious house cleaning later today.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rambling Thoughts and Catching up Journal

I haven't done anything very memorable for the last five days, but lots of my days are that way.

I finished my book "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society".  It is a collection of letters between friends.
I learned some more WWII history.....I didn't know the Germans occupied the Isle of Guernsey for almost the duration of the war.  I totally enjoyed the book and didn't want it to end.  It is the kind of book you can put down and come back to later, in fact, I did this to make it last!  A very pleasant read.

I made another batch of jam,  strawberry this time like I thought I was doing when I thawed cherries  last time.  I used liquid pectin....I don't think I will use it again   The jam is a little softer than I like but it is very fresh tasting.....I think I will keep it.

From Food

This was errand day.....a trip to the feed cooperative for the chickens and a stop at Walmart for a few items.
They had their Christmas storage containers on sale and I picked up 4 of the under-bed ones for storing yarn.  It just took 3 so now I have an extra.  I bet I can find a use for it.

I finally got all the seeds on a couple of spread sheets but the actual organizing of the seeds is not done.  Maybe I will force myself to do it tomorrow.

From Miscellaneous


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Cold is about over - reading a very good book

This morning it was -4° and I think that is the last of the abnormal cold! Hallelujah! All next week is going to be nice, nothing unusually warm but around 43°.

I started a highly recommended book, 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society'. I am almost finished and have enjoyed it tremendously.  When I saw it was a collection of just letters between a group of people, I thought it couldn't possible hold my attention............wrong.  It is a delightful book.

I will start another hat for our KC granddaughter sometime today.  Surely I will move along much faster after doing two and won't be ripping out anything.

We managed to save all the eggs from freezing yesterday by collecting them 3 times.

I had DH  hang a suet feeder outside the kitchen window hoping to attract a few different species for enjoying and photographing.

I didn't get started on the seed spreadsheet.....see how I procrastinate; not a good quality.


I am happy to report I got all 60 of the different seeds entered on Excel....there are lots more out in the milk parlor that I will do later when it gets past 10° outside.  It went very smoothly.

Speaking of bird suet (and I was earlier) I decided I would make us a suet cake (not really, but kind of).  I got the recipe off the cereal bag several years ago.  I think I like it better than DH but I made it anyway:

Cereal Granola Bars

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup syrup
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups  Malt-O-Meal Honey & Nut Toasty  O's Cereal
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 T sesame seeds

In  a large saucepan combine sugar and syrup and bring to a full boil while stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well.

Press into a 9x13  ungreased pan.  Let set up some and cut into bars.

Yield 36 bars.

I didn't have sunflower seeds so chopped up some English Walnuts....any nut would do.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Craft Project - Crochet

The weather is a recurring theme here.  Today the high is supposed to be 12° and tonight should set a record low.
Snow still covers the ground so hay feeding is a steady job for DH, maybe every two days or so.

I got out of the house for the first time in three days yesterday to do some errands.

I have been crocheting for the first time in several years..........and making lots of mistakes.  When the grands were down over the Holidays, they both wanted ear flap caps and went online and found the pattern they liked.  It was listed as simple but I could never figure the pattern so ended up with some ad lib ones.  I did this after ripping out the lavender one 4 times!  I sure hope  they fit.  The are extremely easy (except for the design) and could easily be made in one day.


Gardening:  I got my last order of seeds yesterday from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  Their service has been the best, no delays, and no back orders.  I will certainly use them again if I need to.  Once reason for going all open pollinated is to save my own seeds so that should I don't have to order repeatedly.  I may try different corns or squash now and then......can't resist when everyone starts talking about their favorites.

My afternoon project is going to be getting all my seeds on a spreadsheet like Ilene does (her Blog is A Visit with Grandma).  I thought that sounded like a super idea.  I can't count the times I have spread all of them out on the kitchen table (two or three boxes full) to find something or see if I had something.

It will be a good day for it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Cows

We live on a farm so now and then I will do some pieces about the farming side of life.

We have Black Angus cattle.  I have a Milking Shorthorn cow for milk and her adult M. Shorthorn daughter who is old enough to breed now.  She had another heifer calf this year who is out of our Black Angus Bull....don't know what kind of milker that will make.

Here is a picture I took in warmer times when I was checking the cows.  Our dog, Biscuit, was with me.  I seem to always have in the background of all pictures I take outside, either the dog, the cats, or my husband!

Biscuit checking the cows with me

DH takes care of the cattle; I just look on.....until we have to 'work' them, then I do all the shots, ear tagging, etc.  I also do the record keeping.  I keep a spreadsheet of our inventory.  I finally think I have it updated correctly.

For the most part, the cows are not a lot of work.  Winters are the hardest, especially snow and ice when the pastures are covered.  Then, hay has to be fed.  We use large round bales and they are fed with the tractor.  Most good years, we don't have to feed hay unless the ground is covered with snow.  We have been blessed with lots of rain for several years now.

One more picture.  This is Willow, my milk cow.  She is a bit stubborn and independent but has been perfect for just DH and me.  She also raised two calves a year, hers and an extra.
Willow the second day at our farm

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It is -5° here this morning and is supposed to get colder by Thursday.  I don't know if the temperature if affecting the internet or not, but I can't get anything to work this morning.  I can get on, but it is slow as molasses.

I plan to milk this morning.  I hope the poor cow is OK.  Her teat ends are a big concern for me.  She can get into the shed which is deep packed bedding.  I hope she has taken advantage.  I will be feeding her lots of extra this morning.  I will let you know how things go.

We got up another heifer that looks pregnant.  I hope she is just fat!

The holidays are truly over.  Our company left yesterday and I have emptied all the goodie tins and may just pitch any leftovers in the candy line.

I have a new project to begin which is very good for this time of year.  I know I will be a bit rusty but hope that can be overcome quickly.  Our granddaughter and grandson want a Peruvian Earflap Cap.  They found a crochet pattern that they liked and picked out some yarn from my stash.  I will start today.

I worry about everyone in this extreme cold.  Nothing works like it should....old farm truck won't start, one of the tractors won't start....and who knows what else we will find this morning.
So far we have no frozen water lines.  We have been leaving water dripping any day and night that temperature is below 10°.

 I do hope all the homeless found shelter last night....that worries me always.

We are snug inside and will make short work of our outside chores.

Floridians are worried about the citrus crops and so are we.

Update:  I t has warmed to 16°.  Morning chores went well; cow was fine.  Actually I was out about an hour and didn't get cold.  It was a big help that there was no wind.   Not looking forward to the predicted -8°  Thursday.

I made a big pot of chicken and rice soup with mixed vegetables and okra for lunch...........and supper.

The birds are eating the seeds as fast as we can fill the feeders.
From Birds

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Potato Bread

I was very happy with the way this bread turned out. It rose beautifully and had a very light, soft texture, maybe not as flavorful as the mixed grain and whole wheat breads, but very good.

We are a little  warmer this morning.  It is now 20°, but we  got 2-4 inches of snow overnight and it is snowing lightly now.  No wind, thankfully.

The tractor didn't start yesterday so DH is on a run into town to pick up something to pour into the gas tank.  He kept a light on it all day but it  still didn't start.  He thinks the internal heater has failed.  It is the one we feed hay with so imperative to get it repaired.  If worse comes to worse, we can always just turn the cows into the stored hay but that isn't ideal.

Our son and grands are coming in today from KC where they spent the night with our daughter and her family....en-route the long way home from a ski trip to Colorado.  I talked to the youngest granddaughter last night and it sounds like they had a great time.  She got a cell phone for Christmas and uses it at every opportunity.  It is a new day!

I am fixing our son's favorite dinner today.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, a salad and rolls.

Dessert  will be the chocolate cake I baked yesterday.  I haven't had a test piece............I am proud of myself for resisting!

Final Seed Order for the 2010 Garden

I just sent in my second order to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Surely, this will finish me for the gardening year. Most were vegetable seeds but I did succumb to blue bachelor buttons, caldenula (will be planted in the garden), and a rare variety of French marigolds 'Tashkent' and some blue larkspur. I am having a hard time reestablishing larkspur again. I will plant the marigolds with the beans.

The big project looming ahead is getting a new plot ready for open pollinated corn and squash that is very far removed from my main kitchen garden. I might even have to buy a 2 or 3 bottom plow for the tractor or hire it plowed or..........use the thingy we have that looks like a disc with serrated edges.


Today I am trying a new recipe for Potato Bread. I added some whole wheat flour to the recipe but all else is the same. It is a bread that has two rises before the final proof for the oven. That always makes for a more flavorful bread.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Southern Authors - Rick Bragg in particular

I want to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.
(an Irish Blessing)

I had posted this yesterday when I realized it was my third post for the day, a bit much. So, I deleted it and here it is today

There is just something about southerners and writing, maybe a special gene? They can tell stories like no one else and Rick Bragg heads up that list of professional writers in my opinion!

I have read all his books and will soon own them all. I received his latest for Christmas and am reading it now, the most they ever had. It is good on so many levels, about the cotton mills of the south, globalization and how it has affected working Americans, his people (the working class of southerners in Alabama right on the Georgia line). It starts in the early 1900's and comes right up to 2001 with stories told him from the descendants of those early mill workers. It breaks your heart, but it is also uplifting to know the strength of these people. I think I identify with it because I come from that same class of working people who originated in the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina and migrated to the hills of southern Missouri, Christian County, in particular. Oh Lord it is like hearing stories told in the kitchen when we as children were sent outside or were banished to the living room but would listen as hard as we could to what the women folk were saying that we shouldn't hear.
They didn't work in mills, but were laborers of one kind or another. They worked hard all week and drank hard on the weekends. During my Grandpa's time, lots of troubles were resolved with fights, knives usually the weapon of choice. There were moonshiners in the area, every man had coon dogs and that was a favored pastime, that and squirrel hunting.

I would suggest you read at least one of his books; his writing alone is worth it even if the stories don't interest you. They are not huge tomes, but don't let that fool you. They are stripped down to the bare essentials of truth. They flow over you like music. I can almost cry reading them.

Now I will listen to Levon Helm's The Dirt Farmer and my nostalgia will be complete.

I finished the book late yesterday. It should be required reading for all Congressmen and women! Maybe they would think harder about passing laws that send all our blue collar jobs to other countries..........