Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rustina, the guard cow

Much moo-ing was taking place and we just knew something was up. A quick check outside and we found that "something" (probably one of our kitties) was attempting to get on top of our "outside" refrigerator (in the woodshed) to check out our cooling pates.

Thanks, Rustina!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seven pounds, four ounces

We thought that this was the biggest chicken that we'd ever seen. It was chicken slaughter day and we were sure that we'd get the "big bird" trophy.

Our chicken co-op competitors, I mean friends, are the real winners. Their biggest chicken...

seven pounds, thirteen ounces :-0

I didn't even know that chickens got that big...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Successful meal planned week!

While meal planning is a great theory, the execution requires somewhat more self discipline than can usually be found in groups (at least in our group). This week, though, we've been pretty successful.

Monday - busy day with work/school followed by music lessons in nearby city until 6 pm. Well planned with a crock pot chili (meat browned Sunday night and beans soaked from Sunday afternoon).

Tuesday - school/work, home briefly, then two of us stayed home while the other two went off to soccer practice. Originally I had a meeting scheduled for later that evening and so planned a quick meal. Pork chops, brown rice and veggies (Rice made on Sunday night, added to the veggie dish right before serving).

Wednesday (today) - school/work and then an evening at home. Chicken pot pie (chicken and stock prepared on the unexpected Tuesday night off) with biscuit crust. Four small pies left over for the four of us to have for lunch at school tomorrow.

Thursday (tomorrow) - already put on the crock pot with the pork hocks (cured from Sunday night until tonight) to cook overnight. Tomorrow add sauteed onions and dried split peas for a pea soup and let it cook all day. Tomorrow is another soccer practice, but this time I have a meeting directly after school and the other three, plus two more, will be home briefly and then meet us (parent of the other two) at soccer practice after the meeting. No time to cook - will just get home and have dinner.

No school on Friday (in-service for the teachers, but the other two have play-dates scheduled). There are lots of leftovers - we'll probably finish them off that night.

From the farm:
Monday - ground pork
Tuesday - pork chops, broccoli, peas
Wednesday - chicken, peas, as well as butter, lard and milk in biscuit crust
Thursday - pork hocks, onions, butter for saute

A little heavy on the pork this week, but we're going to have one and a half *more* pigs in the freezer before the end of the month so we needed to make some room. We need to have more people over for dinner...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Some thoughts on cream...

These are some thoughts that you have when you have a cow and get three to four gallons of milk a day. The milk is strained into one gallon glass jars and put into the "milk 'fridge'" (yes, we have a refrigerator which is designated for the overabundance of dairy products). After a day or two the cream has risen to the top. The milk is skimmed and the cream is put into one of two categories in which the terminology and the science is contradictory.

The "heavy" cream is as the top. It is very thick on real, actual milk right from a cow. In contrast to its name it is actually "lighter" than the rest of the milk. That is why it floats on top.

The "light" cream is the next layer. There is no clearly defined demarcation, you just go by feel and experience. It is actually heavier than "heavy" cream, which is why it sinks below the "heavy" cream.

See the contradictions?

After all of the cream has been skimmed off you have skim milk. I have heard that there are people who actually prefer to drink skim milk above all other kinds of milk. Interesting.

We give it to the pigs (living at a friend's house - they swing by after work and pick up five gallon buckets of it) or we make "curds and whey" (yes, just like Little Miss Muffet ate) and give it to the chickens.

I was surprised at how many people jumped right off of the "healthy" soy milk wagon when we recently brought a quart of heavy cream to work. Don't think we didn't notice how quickly that quart disappeared...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A waddling of ducks

There is a very large list of collective nouns for ducks, but the one that best describes what we have here on Haldan Farm is a waddling.

About a year and a half ago we bought several duckling from the local farm store. After spending some time in a confined space under lights getting adjusted we let them have their freedom around the farm. They did their job (eating slugs) and proved to be so funny and cute that we were shocked that we hadn't thought to get ducks years before.

Haldan Farm is, though, in a place which features many predator birds (owls, bald eagles, hawks and more) and we had some losses and got down to one clever female. We bought a few more ducklings from the farm store and the adult female literally took them under her wing and we had a new waddling. They always travel together and are such a joy when returning home from a late-night meeting. No matter the hour, they wake right up and come and greet at the driveway. No one can sneak onto our property at night! They are immediately assaulted with a cacophony of "quack, quack!"

Recently we acquired five more ducklings. These, like all of the others, were kept in a confined space for the first two weeks so that they could adjust to our place, but the adult ducks had access to view them and visited regularly.

Today is the ducklings first day out and about and those four ducks are taking them for a tour - really! They are waddling around and showing the littles the place, pausing when necessary so that everyone can catch up. I never knew ducks could be so wonderful, and now I can't imagine a farm without them!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Snow in August

What do you do on a hot summer day in the Pacific NW? You go "to the mountain" to walk on the snow! Saturday was one of our warmer days this summer. We had three adults and three children (various combinations of family, relatives, friends) and headed up around the back of Mt. Baker. We got to see the active craters (dirty snow lets us know where these are) and we got to play in the snow.

The flies were a bit beastly, but repellent helped. We'll do this hike again, but after a good, hard frost to eliminate the bulk of the buggies. A great day, a great hike, and lovely people!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Toffee Oat Cakes with Caramelized Bananas

This video features my friend, Tina, proprietor of Scratch Desserts here in NW Washington. She is a wonderful pastry chef! This is her entry for a cook off:


Monday, July 18, 2011

Jam time!

While we have had a very wet and cool spring and summer, jam-making season has *finally* arrived! Reed picked a bit bucket of large ripe raspberries today, oldest child helped me to put them through the food mill to seed them, a little pectin (citrus pectin so that we can make very low sugar jam) and we now have 11 jars of jam (and oldest child got to eat the little bit we had extra).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Eating from the farm

Today we had chocolate cake to celebrate the 90th birthday of Reed's grandpa Tom. Grandpa Tom lived on our homestead as a child and played among some of trees which are still on our farm and still entertain the children.

After we made the cake we played the "what was from our farm" game and it was surprising that a chocolate cake could have so many ingredients from our farm. First, I need to admit that I bought a mix. The mix, though, was from a local baker who makes her own mixes (Scratch is the name of her bakery and she sells at the local farmers' market). We added, from our farm, eggs and milk to the mix. There was raspberry jam between the two layers, made from raspberries from our farm. The chocolate butter cream frosting was made with butter and milk from the farm.

Of course we also added to our plates, next to the cake, ice cream from the farm...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Noisiest farm on the block

That is how Reed described our place this morning. The baa-ing and moo-ing is quite impressive! The bovine spent the night, by their choice, out in the fields. This was the first time that Sir Loin and Rustina have been able to access each other fully since Sir Loin was just born. He's been drinking her milk from a bottle from the beginning, but only actually nursed for a day.

The sheep had been moved from pasture into the hay storage area of the cow barn (which is currently mostly empty) to protect them from the rain in preparation for shearing, which is happening today. They are not too happy in their new, though temporary, location and are baa-ing up a storm.

Because the bovine decided to spend their night in the fields they needed to be coaxed through the "lane" into the cow barn. Rustina was not thrilled about this, though she is usually quite ready to be milked in the morning. Hmm...

Then, after careful and tedious coaxing, when she was finally in her milking area, the baa-ing of the sheep was upsetting and "new." Cows don't like "new."

Finally in the stanchion the reason for her lack of enthusiasm for being milked was revealed. Apparently Sir Loin does not need a bottle this morning. He saw an opportunity and grabbed it. Instead of her usual 32# of milk (about 4 gallons), Rustina came in at 17#.

Oh, well. One less chore this morning...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hopeful spring after a long winter!

After a very long and dreary-weather winter spring has finally emerged. With it has come some farm successes, including thinning our bursting-at-the-seams flock of sheep and creating some unbelievable Camembert-like cheese!

Recently we posted some sheep on Craig's list. The response was like nothing we've seen before and we quickly sold 12 sheep (8 ewes, 1 ram and 3 lambs).

Reed *finally* cut into one of our mold-ripened cheeses after what seemed like an eternity (but was actually only 60 days) and lo and behold, success! He made a real, live (literally) mold-ripened cheese that smelled right, looked right, and tasted better-than-right.

Hopefully we'll have some dry weather here so that we can get some planting done. Somehow, having a fire in the wood stove in mid-May just doesn't seem right...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The cheese making begins again...

With Rustina giving us 5 gallons of milk a day (yes, 5 gallons) we are in a constant quandary about what to do with all of the milk. Sir Loin, of course, currently drinks about 2 gallons of that milk and we consume about 2 quarts in a given day. Cheese making is on of our answers - it puts the milk in a form which we can consume months from now. Reed began cheese making during Rustina's last lactation and with the large influx of milk he is back at it again.

So far, this lactation, he has made a cracked pepper hard cheese and today has embarked on a journey toward soft mold-ripened cheeses, such as brie and Camembert. The cracked pepper cheese will age until this summer, awaiting Aunt Mina - a lover of a local cracked pepper cheese. We hope that ours will come close.

To help us on this journey we have finally purchased the special thermostat which will keep our designated cheese refrigerator at the proper 54 degree F temperature. The refrigerators built-in thermostat will never let it stay that warm - this new thermostat over-rides the built in thermostat.

Tomorrow we start on our butter and ice cream making...Yum!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sir Loin

Our newest calf, Sir Loin, was born on March 5th. The birth was on a Saturday morning and Rustina was able to do it all herself. She is such a good mother and licked her baby very well. The baby was vigorous from the start and was up on his feet right away.

Sir Loin is half Angus and looks like an Angus. It is amazing the difference between him and Blossom (who was 15/16 Jersey). Blossom was much more delicate and angular. Sir Loin is very boxy and eats a whole lot more!

He is being fed Rustina milk via bottle and drinks almost 2 gallons a day! We worried that this was too much (a lot more than Blossom ate), but he seems to be thriving and has had no problems.