Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daily Doings and Update on the Barn Babies

February 26, 2014

This was a long put off shopping day.  I am proud of us; I think we have gone almost a month without visiting Walmart!  That is my goal.  We also stopped  by our local market, Murfins, because I will not buy some  fresh things from Walmart (such as eggs).

February 27, 2014
Today is 'milk' day.  I am not out but since we will have company soon, I want to get some ahead.  .  All the grands, but especially our son's kids, absolutely love our whole, raw milk,  If they come when Willow is dry they  let me know  how disappointed  they are.  I have taught them a little farm animal biology about her having to be dry 60 days and then having to wait 3-5 days to use her milk.  They may start timing their visits accordingly!

I plan to be like the Administrator of the Family Cow Forum who is in her late 80's and still milks daily.  I don't even have to do that, only when we want and need milk.

Do you read food labels?  If not, please start doing it now!  I thought I was being very conscientious about that since becoming a nut about real  food (not processed, home cooked and grown if possible) but now and then something slips past me.  For instance since DH started eating a yogurt daily and I was too lazy to milk more often  to make  yogurt, I have just been buying him a week's worth with blueberries.  He likes Dannon's Orikos Greek brand. I finally read the label.....they use cornstarch to thicken it.  Now that is not horrible since cornstarch is a food product and not a chemical, but it annoys me  and seems  like cheating to thicken it that way.  It could possibly be even more nutritious since they aren't draining the whey to keep it thick.  I need to be open minded.  However, there are more things added.  Mine has only whole milk, and a  starter that is just a little natural yogurt.

Another product that jumped to my attention  was vanilla.  I have made my own for a couple of years now and even got my son and ex-DIL making it.  Gave my Sis l0 beans too.  She told me she thought it didn't have a vanilla taste!  Well she ordered two bottles of Mexican Vanilla and brought one to me the last time she was down.  It was a full quart so I thought I would just use mine up and then use hers.

Here are the ingredients:  Vanilla bean, Extract in Purified Water, Vanillin (Artificial Flavor), Alcohol, Corn Syrup, Natural Dark Color.

Mine would be:  Vanilla beans, alcohol.

You can't take pure, natural, or any of those other terms for granted.  You have to read the label!

BTW, the older my vanilla got, the sweeter it got.....and the smell was wonderful. 

These two are of  Willow's calf, a bull.  He will become a future herd sire in 2015 as a 2 year old.

This is the calf we  bought to put on Willow  so I wouldn't  have to milk daily,

That is Jewel's rear you can see.  This isn't a prime animal; he has too much Jersey in him and probably some Holstein. He comes from what is called a rainbow dairy herd. (I won't share my opinion of those dairies which are mostly grass based!)

and this is Jewel's first calf, a heifer.  I love her beautiful brown color


There would have been several more cats enjoying the morning sun but my 'assistant' decided to drive
 Willow past the door into the field and the cats scattered.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guest Photographer

 I began this  a week or so ago.....should have dated it.

I am disappointed to report our warm weekend slightly evaporated. It was l7° this morning and very windy. Our 59 morphed into 35!

We are doing a bit of household chores this morning....long overdue. I have a different (for me) chicken pot pie in the small oven. I made this one with pie crust instead of biscuits like usual.

This afternoon is reserved for a visit to MIL. She needs another grab bar in the house. We will be testing the new drill/driver I bought.

I spent more time texting yesterday afternoon and evening than I thought possible. Daughter's daughter a few times and the older one granddaughter lots of times. She was visiting her boyfriend and they were cooking dinner. First she wanted to know how to mash potatoes.....then make dinner rolls. When I told her how long that took I suggested biscuits so emailed her both recipes.

She texted this AM; potatoes were great. They decided to get a “crappy mix “ for the bread. This child has not been reared in the kitchen. Her mother is not a cook. Her Dad is but their schedules don't mesh. While she is in school, he is at work. I need her down her for a week or so. I may try to teach her a crash course via texting (I hate) and the telephone on her days off, Fridays. I am happy she wants to cook and will help her in any way I can.

Well, a week has passed and nothing of great significance got done. Just routine things.

We did pick up the bull (yes, I said bull) we had processed. Long story, short: My helpmate sold all the calves without checking with me....that won't be happening again!. Anyway, the good news is the meat so far is delicious. There is zero fat which means some of the cuts will need to be tenderized to be easy to eat. The roasts and round steaks are fine because I cook them long and very low in the crock pot. I have already done round steak and it cooked very tender in less than three hours on high.

The hamburger is delicious. I am happy because we were completely out of beef.

We will be sharing with both sets of kids.

Today I am going to thoroughly re-organize and clean the back porch. My plant light shelving has to be cleared off because I will be planting seeds soon. Anything left vacant on the porch becomes instant shelving for “stuff”. Now that stuff has to go. My shelving project isn't going as well as I thought it would but I will still finish it and use it. Nothing is ever as simple or as easy as you think!

We will have company beginning Thursday for a long weekend. Granddaughter is coming down. Her BF will be home that weekend also so she won't be here that much.

The following photos are courtesy of DH. I told him no cows this time. He was trying to show me the new fence we had repaired last fall. You should have heard us! He is not good describing locations and ,just possibly, I am not good at understanding.  We might have got a little loud..

.I really liked this one of the Oak tree,

We had some north property line fence repaired last fall because of a neighboring bull that kept coming back and forth. The neighbors shared the cost (thank goodness).

The details of the fencing.  We are very happy with the finished product and we should be; it wasn't cheap.

I hope this is a Sycamore because we  had to cut the huge one we had in the West boundary line and I love how they look in fall and winter.  I asked DH if he could find it again.......he thought he could.  I see a new house being built back in the woods behind us so I am thinking that young tree is on them; not us.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

What a dreary day it is.  Yesterday was nice  and sunny; today is it drizzling rain.  It is warmer and I am not complaining about the moisture. I always think of Ian Tyson's  song  Moisture.  How true this is for farmers!

Most of the snow is gone!  We are much warmer these  days.

This was taken from the west side of the house.  looking northwest.

The wood pile is going down,

Yesterday was a very busy day for us.  My computer was not staying hooked up to the internet.  I determined  it was the router since when I plugged the rooftop connection into the tower  without going through the router, I got connection.  We drove to a small nearby town where I was told to go by the company we use (Total Highspeed).  He tested and said the router was good.  He finally came up with the idea the tower connection cable me be  going one for free (they are connected with Highspeed).

I am now connected.....but why did I get connected using the old  cable?  I am still a little nervous about that.

Before we left the town, Republic, Mo., I told DH if he needed anything from Walmart he better stop and we always need cat food!  He came out with the food and a box of chocolates for me! First time in many, many years....bless his heart.  I forgot to mention that while at the computer store, I spied a used laptop for $199.  I have been wanting one for kitchen used (recipes online and my recipes) and I went back to the truck and asked DH what he thought and he said get it; Happy Valentine's Day!.  What has happened to my husband of 53 years and who is the strange man in my house.

The day before we had picked up the two hogs we had ordered and I had thawed two package of ground fat.  I decided to set up the computer; make bread and buns and let the fat be rendering while doing all of the  above.......and I did.

Bread was white this time.  I made two loaves and a pan of 8  buns.  It turned out great (thank you KA flour).  Periodically I just stirred the rendering lard.  I used my trusty maslin pan on top of the gas range.

By the hunt and peck method (no manuals) I added  my WiFi info to the laptop and copied my recipes to it.
I am now connected but I don't like the touch thing and will pick up a mouse for it, assuming it will  accept it.
It is a 4-year old Lenovo Thinkpad, office type (he said  it means it is more heavy duty).  It is certainly heavy in weight.

I did have quite a mess in the kitchen!  I got a full coffee can, part of a  pint  jar and about a quart I just poured into my remaining lard container.  This morning I am doing a secondary rendering of the cracklings since I knew there was more left.  It made me thing of virgin olive oil and whatever they call that second squeezing of the mash.

I wish I knew  what to do with the cracklings.  We weren't impressed with them in cornbread but I may try it again. If you have any ideas please share.

The second rendering is being done in  my new Lodge chicken fryer.

Wow!  This is enough  for one day.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blogs Are My Medicine

Reading Blogs is a  delight on these cold, dreary days!  Thank you all for helping me.

Another gloomy Sunday with temperatures near freezing but down in the low teens tonight.  I call anything under 20° dog nights.  We bring Sugar on to the back porch when it dips that low.

I milked this morning.  Willow didn't give quite as much as usual but no wonder.  The Jersey now follows her up the ramp eagerly like she is afraid to be left alone.  I check her udder and if it seems empty I just let her eat.  I don't need the milk and I figure her calf does!  We have to let them leave at the same time too or the Jersey gets very nervous!

Our neighbor called early this morning after driving his wife to work to tell us not to get out if we didn't have to.  The roads were covered in black ice and were very treacherous.  I was happy we did our shopping locally yesterday.

The bird feeder is serving double duty these days.  I dump  the leftover seeds after filling the kitchen window feeder.

Gail and Ilene, I have added you to me list so I will get notified when you post.  Gail let me know if you can if the email thing is working for you now.

Lunch today was leftovers but I did make a very simple apple tart with some apples that were getting way past prime.  I layered some apple butter on the crust and then a layer of apple slices tossed with sugar and flour, rolled up the crust edges and baked.  It may not have been prime but we enjoyed it. I do love having the frozen crusts ready to go.  They get soft very quickly laying on my cast aluminum  pan.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Keeps Coming On

Weather has been same old/same old.  Warm a couple of days and then below normal (way below) for 5-7 days.  We are in the cold period.  We got another snow of 3 inches and it was near zero this morning.

The birds are keeping me busy filling the 4 feeders.
3 photo P1200779_zps02eec457.jpg
Nothing new or exciting going on here.  DH is doing his chores; I am milking (when needed), doing a bit of housework.  The cows are coping far. 

I did receive the sander pad for my orbital sander.  It fit perfectly.  Now when we catch a warm day, I will sand all the pieces for my back porch shelving unit. 

Did I ever tell you about my falling into the kitchen table some months ago (maybe even longer).  I fell onto a chair that then pushed the table across the kitchen (it is on rollers).  I wasn't hurt but the chair was damaged beyond repair.  I have been looking online about buying a couple of odd chairs and using a mis-matched set at the table....almost order them too. When I was out in the shop trying to get my power tools together, I spied my old kitchn chairs!  I found three perfectly sound chairs that will suit.  Of course, they need to be sanded and then painted.  I think I will paint them dark red with a little rustic finish then use a clear poly coat on them.  I don't know if I should do them different colors or just use the one.  I tested the sander on one in the kitchen and found that was a serious mistake because I didn't use the little plastic attachment to catch the dust......I covered the stove and dishwasher and the floor.

DH had a birthday....we had planned to go out with MIL, but the weather caused a postponement.
I made him a chocolate cake and fixed one of his favorite meals:  Mashed potatoes with hamburger gravy, creamed peas and no salad.  I thought sure I had cabbage for cole slaw but was wrong.  He was very happy anyway.