Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mission Accomplished

Gladys and Frances joined Legacy in the field today.

They had been quarantined these last two weeks in the back.  We chose to bring them into the field during our lunch break, hoping that the Great Pyrenees puppies would sleep right through the process... No such luck.  We ended up taking them out to give the does a chance to get acquainted without playful puppy distractions.
Legacy, Gladys, and Frances
Legacy did quite a bit of this head-butting. It looks like she will be the Herd Queen, even though she is a few weeks younger than Gladys. 

We watched on the sidelines to make sure the transition went along smoothly.  The puppies soon lost interest in the newcomers and went back to their midday slumbering in the shade.  We finally have our three does together in the field...

... their Herd-Sire-in-Waiting will have to watch from a distance for a few more months.

  Mission Accomplished!

Linking with Farm Girl Friday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Roses

I love roses, especially the wild and antique varieties - those which have not been hybridized for perfectly straight stems and tea rose shapes and have lost their scents in the process.  I have several varieties of these roses planted by our front porch. 

They are a faithful bunch, living through difficult times when I neglect them, still blooming here and there, then responding and recovering quickly when I finally come back to them with a little TLC.

I saw new buds everywhere this morning.  I fertilized them two weeks ago; and now, with all the rain we've had from the tropical storm, they are super happy.  This week, I also spread compost around their feet.  It usually takes about three weeks for them to burst into bloom after good feeding, deep watering and a light trim, which they got today.

It has been ten years or longer since we planted our roses.  Some came with us from previous homes.  I would have to consult a rose book to find their names again, as their tags are all long gone. 
I was inspired after reading Our Forest Haven, whose owner wrote about the wild roses on her Alaska property and the tea she made with them. 
I picked the petals off three unsprayed roses...

...and trimmed the white base on each clump of petals as I read somewhere that it adds bitterness.

 Boiled for five minutes, sweetened with a little honey... Rose tea is a treat.

Our next project, Rose Petal Jelly.

Rose Petal Jelly

1 cup fresh, fragrant, unsprayed rose petals
Juice of one lemon
2 ½ cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
1 ½ cups water

Rose petals are best gathered in the morning. Cut off the white base on each clump of petals as it adds bitterness.

Put petals, lemon juice, and 3/4 cup water in blender and blend until smooth. Gradually add sugar. Put mixture in sauce pan and stir in pectin, 3/4 cup water and boil the mixture hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Put it all back in the cleaned blender and stir until smooth. Pour into hot, sterile jars leaving 1/4- inch head space. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, or freeze.

Linking with Blooming Tuesday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June Harvests - Cabbage & Peppers

The garden has slowed down tremendously now with the summer heat.  This month, we have harvested the last of the cabbage and made sauerkraut in our German crock, which I love.  It takes several days for the shreeded cabbage to ferment, then it goes in the glass containers and the refrigerator. 

These days, we eat sauerkraut almost every day. I used to think sauerkraut was only good with sausages, but it goes well with any meat dish, and it has great health benefits when it is lacto-fermented.  The fermentation is started by simply adding water and whey left over from cheesemaking to the shredded cabbage - easy. 

I've become a fan of growing cabbage in the garden.  It is easy to grow and buying organic cabbage in large quantities can get expensive.  It has become another one of our garden staples, along with calabaza squash, lettuce, and peppers.

We still have Poblano and Jalapeno peppers in the garden.  They usually make it through summer and continue to produce till late October.  These two peppers have been the easiest to grow for us.  The bell peppers are producing, but a lot less.  I really like Poblano peppers.  They are spicy, but not too much so that the kids still enjoy them, and they are just the right size for stuffing. 

Peppers love the warm weather, and since our plants are planted in raised buckets, this way they aren't bothered by too much rain, as they thrive in well drained soil. 

We made Stuffed Poblano Peppers for dinner, doubled the recipe, and had plenty left-over to save for another dinner.

Kitchen Helper
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

I substituted browned ground beef for the black beans called for in the recipe.  It turned out great.  We have cut way back on our consumption of grains and have been feeling better since doing so.  I also switched from cornmeal in the original recipe to grits and figured that would be more than enough grain for us.  I liked the looseness of the grits, and we are big fans of grits here - Southern style.  That means no syrup or any other sweetener, that's a big no, no!  (If you haven't read the Ten Commandments of Grits, then please proceed to the link and take a look).

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in pureed
1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), minced
2 small onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves (2 whole, 1 minced)
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 cup yellow grits
1 cup shredded pepper Colbi or Jack cheese - I used Colbi
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise (stems left intact), ribs and seeds removed


1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeno, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt. Pour sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.

2.In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, grits, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin, and 3/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper.

3.Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle poblanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

4.Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes.


Linking with Harvest Monday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

...and more rain!


Tropical storm Debbie Debby is not expected to hit us directly, but as it churns away in the Gulf, we have been on the rainy side of it for two days now.  If it continues on its present path, it's expected to hit Louisiana. At this point, the ground on our property is saturated, so it's taking a long time for the water to go down.  Yesterday, we spent all morning raising up the goat's hut in anticipation for this problem.  I am hoping that it was enough.  So far, they've stayed high and dry through all the rain we've had this month...  It is coming down in buckets now, 17" for the month and 1" since midnight.    

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Fly Trap That Works

I enjoy rainy days, the sound of raindrops on the roof, the look of it coming down...  The downside though is that this month we've had almost 12" of it, and the flies have been hard to deal with, especially out in the pasture, where they were just like the plague.  After trying to milk the cow in the middle of this swarm, spraying her with Shoo Fly (a safe herbal insect repellent), dusting with diatomaceous earth - things that worked well in the past; we decided to go looking for fly traps and brought three types home - some sticky yellow tape, a sticky yellow stick, and this Rescue Disposable Fly Trap.

The drowned flies are about 2" deep, that's a lot of flies
The bag works well.  It says on it that it will trap 20,000 flies using a powder attractant that is sealed in the bag.  All you have to do is add water to it and hang it up, the flies go in the bag and drown.  The chemical stays in the bag, so there is no chemical contamination on our animals. The flies are caught inside the bag, no mess.  Well, I am impressed.   As for the other traps we tested, they only caught half a dozen flies or so.

We still have some flies, but the black swarm is gone, and we can use our Shoo Fly spray to keep them from landing on the cow when we are milking her.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chick Bouquet

We received new chickies on Monday.  They are so cute, an assortment of different types.   Here's the list:

Golden Campines
3  2 WHITE POLISH Females
4  Silver Spangled Hamburgs Females
1 x Free Rare Exotic Chick
Partridge Cochins
Silver Spangled Hamburgs
We lost one of the Polish chicks in transit and the rare breed freebie who died a few hours after coming home...  I so wish McMurray wouldn't ship chicks on Fridays. Lately, we have been getting chicks born on Fridays, then the call comes in from the airport Post Office on Saturday evening that the chicks are there.  This is the fourth time we've ordered from McMurray, and it's happened three times.  This time, we had too much going on and couldn't make the trip to the airport to pick them up, so we had to wait to pick them up on Monday morning at the Plant City office.  Obviously, that was too long a wait for the two we lost. 
Blue Laced Wyandottesa
Even though I only ordered one Partridge Cochin, I think they sent two.  I think they are beautiful chickens, but when I ordered, all they had was roosters.  Hopefully, we got a rooster and a hen.

White Polish
We don't usually get bantams, but I love the Mille Fleur chickens, so we got a few.  McMurray calls bantams, "The Flower Garden of the Poultry World."  They'll go out in the pasture with the goats and help with fly/insect control; plus eat the grain that the goats and cow drop on the ground. 

I had to put them in their own small box, as they were getting trampled by the others.  They are about half  the size of a regular chick.

I heard on the radio this morning about the European Debt Crisis and how it has fueled barter trading in Spain and thought we would be prepared for that with all the chicks we still have going in the incubator.  Hopefully, it will never come to that here in the U.S.!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On the Road to Roland and the Does

We were up before dawn this morning, out the door by 5:00 AM, and due in Newberry - just west of Gainesville by 8:30. 

We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise over the rolling hills of Ocala, horse country, and we made it there on time! 
The folks who sold us our new Great Pyrenees puppy, Roland, were kind enough to bring him down from South Carolina for us on their way to a fishing family vacation on the Gulf Coast.  That saved us a much longer trip up to northern SC.

We made good time and avoided rush hour traffic through Tampa.  Roland was everything Anne, his breeder, described.  Such a sweet temperament, he has.  He is gentle and very deliberate about everything. 
From the Whiteacres' we drove about 50 miles north to Glades Ridge, where we met Joe and got a tour of his farm.  We had been communicating by email for a couple of months, waiting on his goats to freshen. The last of the two ended up giving birth to triplet bucks, so he offered a nice three-month-old doe instead.  He sold us two lovely does.
As tempted as I was to introduce them to Legacy right away... I resisted and they are in on-farm quarantine for two weeks.
Here is one of the sires - T'amo Vida Mia  (Italian for " I love you, love of my life... I think).  He sired the older of the two.
Isn't he handsome?
I have to say that goat people have a knack for naming bucks.   Many of the names I've heard are so clever!   I find bucks fascinating...

Here's another one of the Glades Ridge sires, a La Mancha.
On our way home, we stopped for takeout at Fat Boys BBQ in Ocala.  We would have sat down and eaten there, but we had the puppy and goats in the car.  I had read a blog post about this place and it sounded good, so we decided to try it based on that recommendation – It was terrible = D.R.Y. brisket and chicken.  Oh, well, don't go there...
When we got home, we spent some time getting everyone settled in their new homes.  We spent a couple of hours with Roland, especially, introducing him to everyone one-on-one.  Lilly adopted him right away, she loves puppies - who knew?

Walking the perimeter...

...and getting an earful from Pearl about whose tupperware toy that is on the ground.

No matter, he took off with it.  Can you see him running off with the container in his mouth?  He stands up for himself, good boy!  This is just what Pearl needed...

In the end, they worked everything out by the water trough, under the watchful eye of Lilly, the cow.

We drove 362 miles today, and it went by in the blink of an eye.

A day full of fun and adventure!

Linked with Farm Girl Friday.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rain, rain...

5" and counting... as of June 1st!  That big red splotch was over our heads a few minutes ago.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The pecking order

Captain Hook and his favorite hen – both Marans, layers of beautiful chocolate colored eggs, and top of the pecking order in our flock.  He has his group of hens who follow him around and look to him protection. 

Our flock is divided into two groups which have remained separate, with the other group led by Captain Hook’s father  – Peter Pan.  There is no such a thing as respect for your elders in the chicken pecking order.  Captain Hook dethroned his father and pulled all his tail feathers in the process…  Such a meany. 
He now almost looks like… a hen… and hangs out inside the coop with the broodies or in the farther ends of the yard with a couple of his followers, out of Hook’s way.

Laying chickens offer much more than eggs, in the form of daily entertainment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Gaillardia pulchella
Indian Blanketflower is a Florida native wildflower I planted a couple of years ago from seed. It reseeds freely every year and spreads out like a blanket, forming a nice flower bed over time. It’s easy for us to keep it in check as it mows down looking like grass. I have it growing around the bird bath, which provides protection from the cats, making the bird bath less accessible to them.

 The bees and butterflies like its nectar, and the seeds are easy to collect. I once saw it in a flower bed at a place in Brandon that I drive by every week, a rare sight, possibly because it’s not for sale at the big chain garden centers.  It's supposed to grow well near the beach as it tolerates salt somewhat, so it may be more popular out on the coast.

Another nice feature about this flower is that it changes color as it matures, from bright yellow and red to the rusty red seen above.

The bed always shows various shades of yellow and red.  Easy to care for, colorful, and food for the bees - it's a keeper.

I'm linking with Blooming Tuesday, where you can see what flowers people are growing all over the world.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Harvest Monday

The month of May is almost over, hard to believe.  For some reason, May always seem to fly by me.  Perhaps it's because we are so busy this time of year.  The garden is one of those busy places right now.  It has been in full production.  It's the peak time of year for us here in Florida and a race against time, meaning weather and bugs.  As the temperatures and humidity rise, we see more and more damage on plants.  The bugs love and thrive in these conditions.

Cabbages can be left in the ground for a couple of weeks without a problem, unless the worms start chewing them up.  I'm spraying with Bt to give myself time to process the entire bed.  So I only picked a few for making sauerkraut.

The cucumbers are done.  We had a great cucumber harvest this year.  The calabaza squash is our first of the year, so we have a bunch more still on the vine.  It seems to be holding out ok.  Basil was going to flower and seed, so I trimmed it back and made two cups of pesto, yumm!

Carrots!  What a bumper crop of carrots we had.  I planted a whole bed of them back in October.  I neglected to thin them out and discovered that it wasn't a problem at all.  We just started picking the larger ones in January, then the smaller ones began growing bigger, and so it's gone since, with a long stream of production - just wonderful.  These were the Nantes variety.

Aside from the cucumbers, we've are harvesting peppers.  These are just a sampling.  the Poblanos are growing profusely in hydroponic buckets.  Peppers love hydroponics.  We have bells, jalapenos and poblanos growing.  I never know what to do with the huge number of jalapenos that one bush can produce. 

These little cherry tomatoes are called Everglades.  They come from a prolific plant which is a Florida heirloom.  These reseed freely in the garden.  I planted the original plants several years ago, and now they just grow here and there.  We have them for breakfast every day with homemade fresh cheese!

Happy gardening... I'm linking with Harvest Monday, have fun!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Increasing our herd, not so easy

Michelle likes to come out every morning and help with the farm chores.  She is our early riser, so full of energy in the morning, and always up and ready to go.

When we walk over to the pasture, be it morning or evening, it's like clockwork, we see all the creatures lined up looking over to the path, patiently (or not) waiting for us to show up with thier favorite foods.  They must hear us coming out and setting up in the back.  All, except for Pearl, should have plenty of grazing, but grain is highly favored and a must at milking time.  For some reason, they also love hay.  I don't know why they would prefer it to the fresh grass on the field, but they will rush over for it every time.  I guess we all appreciate a little variety.

Loyal and dedicated, Pearl.  She is also very affectionate and playful.  This is what gets her in trouble sometimes, as Legacy doesn’t really appreciate her puppyhood very much.  I am sometimes surprised at the patience she displays with Pearl.  She is a companion to her at this point, so I’m sure that helps. 

We are waiting on two kid does who were born a few weeks ago up in North Florida at Glades Ridge Goat Dairy.  When we hear the word, we’ll make a trip up to the Florida/Georgia border to pick them up.  We hear that the demand for raw goat milk is on the rise, as people are discovering its health benefits.  Finding does for sale hasn’t been easy.  I also suspect that the urban homesteading movement has finally reached us.  I love to hear about people raising chickens for eggs in their back yards.  I even had a friend who lived in a subdivision with strict restrictions a few years ago who had a flock of chickens in her garage!  She has since moved to her own piece of land out in the country and is as happy as a lark.   
Goats are actually less messy than dogs, in my opinion.  Their droppings are small, dry, odorless, but the greatest surprise for me has been just how sweet Nubian goats are.  Perhaps I should say that Legacy is very sweet…  I know temperament is one of the traits people breed for.  Well, then, Legacy is a keeper. 
So far, Poe has also been a good buck.  I am expecting him to become less gentle as he grows into our herd sire, it’s inevitable.  Those hormones will take over and drive him, so we’ll see.  I did meet his father and grandfather at the farm when I picked him up.  The father was rather shy, actually.  Grandfather was more people friendly.   So, I suppose that goats have different dispositions and personalities – God knows how to make life interesting for us.
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