Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tour of the Compound

I am going to try to do a tour of the yard and gardens (compound) with camera in hand on a regular basis, when I see changes taking place. This morning after milking was the first of the season.

This side of the house faces east and is considered the front!  No one uses the south door.

This is  the drive that divides the yard in half and goes straight back to the farm buildings and the farm.  There is also a lane down the middle of the farm that you can access all the various pastures from.
This includes from left to right:  The hummingbird bed, the new bed, the ash tree bed (behind all this is the garden proper and to the right behind, is the driveway bed and the well- house bed.
I decided to insert another picture showing a little closer the above beds:

Turning to the right or east, are the well house bed, farm sheds and grass and cellar beds,

The backside of the cellar bed has morphed into a new herb bed with garlic, hyssop, sweet william and some others that I can't remember.  Behind the grass bed near the fence and the redbud tree is the new 'hidden' garden where I planted 'Grace' smoke tree, dark red mums, three daylilies with burgundy eyes and an iris (can't remember which one).  I am not sure the chrysanthemum made it through the winter.

Enough for now.  Next I will do a walk about around the house and foundation beds and the garden fence border.  There is not much to see inside the garden yet.

I am embarrassed (not too much) that I only got two things on my list done.  DH wanted to watch the movie from Netflix, Madness of King George, so we did.

The main thing was I got the seeds planted.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Little Pleasures of Life

From Cattle and other animals

This is one of them. The babies all grown up now love to visit through the window with me when I am at the computer. They use the porch swing as their personal gym set. They can get that thing rocking so much I fear it will hit the side of the house. The black one (a she) who still has no name is the most curious of what I am doing. The other is a Bengal-type cat who I have named 'Zelda'. She loves to climb up the corner post of the porch where I have a clematis planted. I am still trying to capture that event....she comes down faster than she goes up.

The other two join them now and then. There is another black one and a gray one.

We visited the in-laws yesterday and the already had company so we didn't stay long. They are doing well. We took them 2 dozen of the excess eggs.

Today's Plans (maybe if I put it in print, I will be obliged to do it)

1. Plant pepper and tomato seeds
2. Check and see what flowers I can plant
3. Broadcast older seeds in front ditch
4. Divide nepeta
5. Do a tour of the yard and gardens
6. Get mower, tiller, string trimmer up and going (actually this is DH's job)
7. Paint the cane bottom chair and drop-leaf table painted (white).

That's enough; I won't get nearly all that done. This is milking morning. The table and chairs will just be done when I get time. Both will need oil primer then a coat of enamel.

Friday, March 26, 2010

This and That - Ramblings and thoughts

It was 28° this morning and a heavy frost covered all! I knew the minute I cleaned off a flower bed that would happen. It does every year.
Frost on HB Bed

The sun is out now and it is very pleasant; all signs of frost gone. It didn't hurt the daffodils. I picked a small bouquet to enjoy while I am on the computer.

From Gardening 2010

I have been meaning to remind everyone to pick some bare branches of forsythia and bring in. I picked these the first day of Spring......later we got 2 inches of snow and ice. They bloomed out fully in two days.
From First Day of Spring 2010

Need to get the pizza in the oven.

Have a great day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Garden Cleanup Begins

I know we will have more freezes and frosts but I checked my journal from last year and began even earlier then so I started. Cleanup consists mostly of removing the dried tops from the year before and
pulling up all the elm tree seedlings. I did some pruning too.

The weather was perfect. I had to take my jacket off about midway through. I got the Hummingbird bed outside the kitchen finished. It never has many weeds because of the leaf mulch that blows into it.

Here it is before:
From Gardening 2010
and after:
From Gardening 2010
I also moved the birdbath to the end closest to the house. The stump it was sitting on is disintegrating badly and it was pretty lopsided.

I got the Cellar Bed done too.

Last week I did a very foolish thing. I burned off the grass bed. It works great, but I should have done it a month ago. I have probably killed a lot of iris and a few perennials. What a fire it made! If I had done it before the greenup happened, I think it would work great. Maybe cover the iris bulbs with a wet rug first.

Glad I got started. It is raining this morning so no outside work today.

Things To Do Today:

1. Make bread...almost out
2. Plant more seeds
3. Make clabber into cottage cheese
4. Read

I took a few pictures of the daffodils. I have have several that aren't even budded yet.

From Gardening 2010
From Gardening 2010
From Gardening 2010

Hope everyone has a happy, productive day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Busy Wednesday - Outdoor Gardening at Last!

I decided to milk this morning so I could make more cottage cheese....that went as normal.

Eight eggs today, 9 yesterday and 12 the day before. We have decided they like the egg pellets better than egg krumbles....its is probably just the nice weather


I have to get involved now and then when we work the cattle or ear tag them. That is not DH's thing. His thing is to corral them when necessary. I wanted to ear tag the two babies and then turn the young bull out with the breeding age heifers and the mature bull. We are hoping he will be young enough he won't be a threat to the older one and they will learn to get along.

Here is a piece of equipment that no one should be without if they are going to keep cattle. We didn't have one for years and years....now we don't know why, other than the high cost, of course. We just used an alley and a headgate but decided to finally do it right. What a delightful thing. I can work the cattle without any help once they are corralled. It consists of a hold pen, a half circle working pen with a crowding gate and a 20 foot alley ending in a squeeze chute. Here is what I did this morning while DH was checking cows.

Here they are both trying to crowd in together.

From Cattle and other animals
and this is Ferdinand
From Cattle and other animals
He tossed his head around too much so I put the 'squeeze' to him,
From Cattle and other animals
and here he is now identified,the wet down his face is a pour-on permectrin to control face flies and lice.
From Cattle and other animals
and this is Miss Ginger who was much more docile. She is Willow's 2009 baby, Half milking shorthorn and black angus.
From Cattle and other animals

She has deepened in color until she looks almost black. She is a sweetie.

I worked in the yard for 3 hours but will post about that tomorrow.

DH just told me he saw the bluebirds going into one of the nest boxes out by the cellar. Still no martins.
Errands took care of the morning.

I did get the grass bed burned off. I realize I should have done it a month or so ago. I know I scorched some perennials, especially some iris. I hope it doesn't keep them from blooming but it was so easy rather than cutting them down that I plan to do it next year (earlier) too.

Chickens gave us 12 eggs yesterday and 9 today. DH talked me into making him another angel food cake yesterday and I went ahead and did the lemon sponge cake too. It now resides in the freezer. I did take two pieces to my sister in the Nursing Home.

Bought the cat a new dish for her food and water....DH was using miscellaneous things that looked a bit sorry. At first she just looked at them and then at me like what????

I put some new gift seeds of hyacinth bean vine in to soak tonight. I also made several paper towel roll disposable pots. What an easy and useful thing that is.

From Gardening 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy First Day of Spring

From First Day of Spring 2010

This is how it looked at my house! I think most of it will melt off today. We didn't get nearly as much as some communities north. I heard Bolivar, Mo. got over 6 inches. Ours was a mix of sleet, freezing rain and snow.

Our company left yesterday morning and all got home safely. I have my usual letdown when company leaves and spend most of the day resting in my nest in the kitchen. This time I had a new book to read that my Iowa sis sent me, The Help. I am really liking it so far.


I cooked a regular turkey dinner for the birthday girl and had very little left. I always send as many leftovers as they are willing to take home with them.

There weren't that many this time.

Late yesterday I boiled the turkey carcass and made turkey vegetable soup that will last us several days. I just strained the broth and cooked brown rice and some frozen mixed vegetables in it. Very tasty. I had never done the carcass thing before but kept hearing about it. I have now done it twice. I just cover the carcass with water and boil for an hour or so. The broth is very flavorful.

I made my old standby chocolate cake with fluffy white icing. Our granddaughter always requests that.

The icing is so simple and I have never had it fail. The best part is
you don't have to stand over the hot burner beating it!

This is from my old Better Homes and Garden cookbook:

Fluffy White Frosting

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
l teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Cook and stir till bubbly and sugar dissolves. In a small mixer bowl comine egg whites and vanilla. Pour sugar mixture slowly over egg whites with mixer beating constantly. Beat until stiff peaks form, approximately 7 minutes.

Frosts top and sides of (2) 8 or 9 inch layers or (l) 10-tube pan cake.

The cake is also very simple:

It is from a Softasilk cake flour box from many years ago.

Best Chocolate Cake

2 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 sq (l oz each) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an oblong 13x9 or three 8-inch or 2 9-inch pans or two 8 or 9 inch square pans.
Note: I always cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of a layer pan so I can be assured of getting it out cleanly.

Here is the simple part, you measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes on high sped, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s). Bake oblong 40 to 45 minutes. Round pans 30 to 35 minutes. Check with wooden pick inserted in center.

Frost with frosting of choice.

I forgot to take a picture of the cake. I get a tad flustered with extra people in my kitchen!

This is my morning to milk so I better get ready. Ahhh, the sun is shining brightly now!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I am happy to report the bread with the substitution turned out well. I have to remember it is a Hodgson Mill cookbook so, of course, they are pushing their products. I think I will continue just using oatmeal with some extra bran or wheat germ.

I squeezed in planting a flat of vinca and calendula while the oatmeal mix was cooling...I think that is what my daughter calls multi-tasking. I also have my only viable hyacinth bean seeds soaking. I will plant them tomorrow in some homemade paper pots. I still haven't found the Jiffy Pellets I bought.

The plans for tomorrow are to finish cleaning the house and then make a quick run into town for some things for the turkey dinner I am doing for our granddaughter's birthday this Saturday. She loves cranberry sauce so that is one item on the list.

Will finish this post tomorrow morning.

Morning has arrived....very cold at 5 AM, 31° but it is supposed to be warmer and sunnier today. I will check on the cold frame as soon as it is daylight. The only worry is the little pot of lettuce that was just up about 3 inches.

Another picture from the farm. I was actually checking the cows and Biscuit takes every step I take. I am yearning for green pastures again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of the Not So Good Things About Country Life

When things go wrong, you don't call the utility company! You take care of the problems yourself which usually means calling service people. Day before yesterday just about 3 pm. DH came in from doing chores and asked if I knew we had no water............I did not know. Replaced fuses in well house, still no water. Called the well man; he came out and said it was the pump and he would be back in the morning......

This meant a trip to the neighbor's for some water for morning coffee. While there, DH remember he had filled the milk tank about half full of water for just such emergencies.....so that was great. Toilets can always be flushed with a 5 gallon bucket of stock tank water if necessary but drinking water is another thing.

$1000 later, we had a new pump. They hadn't been gone 15 minutes when I found we had no hot water pressure. Return trip, and removing all faucet filters, blowing out line and all seems to be OK. It will take a day or so for the sediment to settle down and the water be back to normal.

Such is life in the country. I always worry about young people who have no experience at all taking on the rural life. The first thing they should have is a sizable "repair" fund that is for just such emergencies. I still wouldn't live any other way, but it certainly isn't a cheap way to live.

Today is bread-making day. I love to make bread.....I may have mentioned that once or twice before! It is also my morning to milk, so it will be a busy day.

Milking went well; she was down about a quart. It could have been the cold light rain that was falling all morning.

Got out the ingredients for our favorite Honey, Oat and Wheat bread and found I was out of the Hodgson Oat Bran Hot cereal it called for. I decided to substitute whole oats. The only other change was I brought the wet ingredients to a boil and poured over the oatmeal and let it rest until just warm. It looks good and rose nicely but the real test will be cutting and eating a slice.

While the bread was baking I did a thorough job of mopping the kitchen floor which to me is on hands and knees.

I am feeling pretty good about the day. Maybe that makes up for the several days when I do very little but read!

Friday, March 12, 2010

We had very strong gusts of wind night before last. It blew one of the storm windows on the cold frame 30 feet across the garden into a steel fence post. I had a lot of shattered glass and twisted aluminum frame to pick up. That's a first. I am thinking now I will cover an old wood window frame with some leftover greenhouse plastic.

DH reminded me I needed to milk this morning so I did....found where the wind had blown a sheet of plywood off the barn too. It was covering a doorway to keep the wind off the milk maid!

Back to gardening:
I know I was late doing it, but I decided to separate the cabbages and onion plants which were in the same flat (a mistake since I don't think the onions can take the cold the cabbages can). I trimmed the onion tops and put into another container and will put them back under the lights during this cold snap. The cabbages are in the milk parlor to recover from being individually potted into large six packs. I probably threw away half and still have almost 24 of them left. I will be looking for ways to store them later!

Today the plan is to plant vinca seeds and check to see what else could be started for earlier bloom.

I have one clump of daffs in bloom and a few tiny white crocus. I plan to do a camera tour of the grounds this morning and see how things are advancing.

From Gardening 2010

From Gardening 2010
From Gardening 2010

These could be time-lapsed photography, but they are three separate clumps showing the progression to full bloom. I have lots more coming.

I saw lots of perennials up through the mulch and the lilacs, redbud and dogwood are loaded with buds, no color on anything yet, including the fruit trees. I am thankful.

I did see where I can plant lots more bulbs....I have about half the front shrub border without anything planted. It is the north side but the daffodils should bloom before anything is leafed out. It is a tentative plan for fall.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Indoor Day of Mending

It is very windy and overcast today and supposed to rain later. We got a light shower before we got up this morning.

I have been putting off one of my least favorite jobs.......mending. So I got out the machine and started. I did 6 pair of jeans, some his and some mine and on pair of pj bottoms, his. When I finished I told him the time had come.......I want and need a new machine. Mine is a 1970 era Kenmore. Surely they have made some improvements!

I put the flat of cabbages and onions out in the cold frame this morning and will take the snaps out after I water them.

From Gardening 2010
From Gardening 2010

Here is a picture showing the difference between a city garden and a country garden. This is my east yard....near the cellar beds.........it was too wet to put the hay in the field out back........so it is in my yard! I don't really care. DH will move it soon.
From Farm and other Miscellaneous Pictures

I have a pot of chili simmering. I am using the chili powder I ordered from American Spice Company. I have never ordered spices online, but I am thinking that is the way to go. I am sure glad I got the light blend; it seems pretty hot to me.

I will finish the David Baldacci book, First Family, this afternoon. Life is good!

I won't talk about yesterday..........it was truly a lost day............sister issues (are you listening Ilene?).

Some Gardening at Last!

We had a perfectly beautiful day Saturday. I was finally outside doing some necessary chores before the actual growing begins.

I made a list of things I need to get done. I did the most important first:

1. Build hay bale cold frame
2. Finish pruning fruit trees
3. Prune black berries
4. Spray dormant oil spray on trees
5. Prune shrubs and roses
6. mulch berry patch
7. Research how to do raspberries
8. Begin hardening off onions, broccoli, cabbages, and snaps.
9. Prune Clematis
10. clean all flower beds

DH was a big help in getting the hay out of the barn loft and delivering to the garden gate. Then we covered with the old storm windows. I decided to leave the coating of dust on the glass to help screen the tender plants from the sun.

From Gardening 2010

Then, after a little search for the pruners, I finished pruning the fruit trees.  I am sort of finding my way with the pruning and think I did one absolutely wrong....pruned off my second tier of limbs. Oh well they will grow again.

I pulled down some scaffolding limbs to a more horizontal position and weighted them down with bricks. This is supposed to encourage fruiting spurs forming.

From Gardening 2010
Next I waded into the berry patch.  This is a dangerous job.  The thorns are vicious!  I finally finished them up and feel quite proud of myself.  I didn't do them last year and it was a jungle that I finally abandoned to the Japanese Beetles.

From Gardening 2010

Rains are expected over the next 4 days so I may not get anything done outside for a while.

I received my onion plants from Dixondale but it is too early to plant here. We are considered northern Missouri for planting not southern which is what we are geographically speaking.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Making Mozzarella

I didn't realize when I began this blog there would be so many food posts. But this actually reflects my life. I love cooking.......and eating.

There just isn't much gardening going on here yet.

I decided to make another batch of 30-Minute Mozzarella this morning. I tried to take pictures during the process, but DH was out choring and I had to hold the cheese with one hand and the camera with the other. So I apologize up front for the quality of the shots. It is a very simple process and I follow Ricki Carroll's recipe in her cheese making book to the letter. It is readily available online.

First the best part. I had to have some toasted on homemade bread drizzled with grapeseed oil (my new favorite cooking oil)and black pepper with tiny tomatoes on the side. I must say I did enjoy it. It melted nicely. I even got the onion skin sheets of cheese on the finished ball of cheese.

From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

Step l. Citric acid and rennet added and whey brought to temperature:

Just beginning to make curd
From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

Step 2. Curd formed and ready to be dipped out to microwaveable bowl

From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

Step 3. Curd pressed to remove excess whey which is put back into large pan of whey from the cooking process.

From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

Step 4 thru 6. Three microwaves with pressing and stretching after each.

From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

Step 7. After last heating, salted and ball formed ready to chill
From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

And the final product

From Making 30 Minute Mozzarella

It really is a pretty simple cheese to make..........and eat.

I have some gardening projects reserved for this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sweet Rolls for Breakfast

Good morning. I am feeling very proud of myself. Up showered, ready for the day (to the barn to milk!), exercise bike for 20 minutes and breakfast over with. Now just waiting for 8AM to head to the barn.

We had DH's folks out for Sunday dinner. I made my usual 24-Hour Refrigerator Roll recipe which makes a lot! I took enough out for dinner rolls and now have a lot of dough left in the frig. This morning I took enough dough out to make a pan of cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I don't do this often, I promise!

I pinched off a wad maybe the size of a grapefruit. While still cold, I rolled it out on the counter top (didn't need flour at all except for my hands). I made a small rectangle about 2 x 10 or so. Spread butter, brown sugar and cinnamon over and rolled it up jelly-roll fashion. Cut into 1 inch pieces and put in buttered pan. Let rise to double on top of range with oven preheating so it was pretty warm. Bakes at 400° for maybe 15 minutes. Iced with maple icing which is just powdered sugar, little maple flavoring, dab of salt, enough milk to make barely spreadable. Drizzled over warm rolls. Here is what we had:

Posted by Picasa

I got this recipe from a local cooking show back in the 1970's. What I love is that you can make it a day or more ahead of a big dinner and don't have to make a huge mess in the kitchen the day of the dinner.

Overnight Refrigerator Rolls

I use my Kitchenaid Mixer with the flat beater for the 1 minute and then switch to the
dough hook for adding the rest of the flour. I then knead it with the mixer for about 5
If you want you can just mix the dough well by hand. Seal it in a tight bowl (very large)
and put in refrigerator without any kneading at all.

2 packages yeast
2-1/2 cups 105-115° water (feels hot on underside of wrist)
3/4 cups soft shortening (I use butter)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
8 to 8-1/2 cups bread flour
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
In mixer bowl:
Add yeast to warm water; stir to dissolve yeast.
Add shortening, sugar, and beaten eggs; blend slightly. Add 4 cups of the flour and beat
one minute with mixer until smooth. Add rest of flour.

Spray top of dough with Pam or rub oil over., Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
If you want to make the rolls without refrigeration, you will have to either knead the dough in the mixer for 6 minutes or on the floured board for 8-10 minutes and then let raise until doubled, about l hour. Then punch down dough and make rolls.

This recipe can be divided into thirds and make the following:

Dinner Rolls - make up in your favorite shape. Let rise to double and bake at 400° for 20 minutes.

Doughnuts: Roll out 1/3 dough to 1/2 inch thick. Let rise on floured surface. Deep fry at 360° for 3-5 minutes turning once.

Coffee Ring: Make walnut size pieces. Dip in a mix of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon after dipping in melted butter. Layer in Bundt pan sprayed with Pam. Let rise and bake.
Note: You can also make the dough by hand just stirring it all together with a large
wooden spoon. , spray top with Pam, seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I have a large plastic bowl with a snap on lid that I use and don't use the plastic wrap. When you bring it out of the frig, let come to room temp and then form into rolls, don’t let the dough begin to rise again. Just let it get warm enough you can work with it.

I have also made cinnamon raisin bread from this dough and think I will try just a standard bread loaf with the rest this time...just to see what it does.