Wednesday, June 30, 2010

pastured pork

Ahhhh, two HUGE extremely time consuming projects (hence the lack of posts this week...) done and I can now devote the time needed to other projects that need attention. What a welcome relief that is! One of those other projects was to move the pigs, again. Well that project got moved up to top priority today. Andrew and I returned home this afternoon only to find one of the two pigs was greeting us by the garage. I didn't see it at first, he did and my first reaction was oh crap! (Tying to keep it clean.) Then I thought I was in for a chase, turns out she was quite content following me back to the pen they were in. Upon inspection I found no reason for her to be out, still have no idea how it happened, but there she was following me around like a puppy tail wagging and making happy little grunting noises. Well, since I was thinking about moving the pig pen anyway and one is already out..... it seemed obvious to let the other one out. So we had two happy little, er, well not so little anymore! pigs running around the farm today while Andrew and I moved the pig pen to a fresh spot. Thank God for wellies! When the new pen was set up and ready to go they walked right in and promptly started squealing, eating, rolling, playing and rooting. Pigs' tails have never wagged so fast, well, except maybe on Joel Salatin's farm. :-) I was so pleased at their innate happiness I sat down to watch them, yes, in the pig pen! What a concept, letting a pig be a pig!

Freedom and Bethany enjoying their new digs.

Delighting in the happiness of our pigs.

Letting a pig be a pig! Wonderful concept! Almost like it was meant to be like that way huh?!

Friday, June 25, 2010

a first of many

I remember well when Faith turned one that feeling of great sadness thinking well, that was it, no more firsts; being thankful that I'd been there for pretty much every single one up to that point, but just couldn't help feeling sad about it. I could not have been more wrong, granted there was only one first birthday, Christmas, mosquito bite, (yes, I recorded that) etc., but I did not realize that there would be so many other firsts I'd not be able to count them all and I'll tell you I'm enjoying all, (well, if I'm being honest, most) of them now. Tonight was a perfect example of one of those firsts. We had the privilege of listening to a nationally known musician and composer play the Leipzig Chorales from Bach at this Basilica! What an honor! I had been dying to go into this building since I first saw it but wasn't sure I could, however when this concert came up we jumped at the chance! I told the kids what we were doing this morning and they spent the rest of the day in eager anticipation. Excited they would now be attending their first "real" concert.

This building is more grand than anything I've ever seen, and probably ever will. I've heard tell that the lighthouses along Americas coasts are the equivalent to the castles in Europe, personally I've not been able to wrap my head around that concept despite seeing some beautiful lighthouses, but that's what they say. (Someday, I'm going to figure out who they are and ask them what makes them the final authority on everything.) Anyway, the architecture of this building is exquisitely ornate and incomprehensible. It towers over all the other buildings in the area and demands you look at whenever you drive past. It is truly magnificent and tonight I got to go inside!

When Faith was about three years old she'd take a pair of scissors and cut slits in the long side of a piece of copy paper and place it in front of her and look at me face beaming and proclaim "Look-a me Mommy! I pray de pinano!" When she was a bit older I took her to an event I was volunteering at and there happened to be a lady who was playing the piano, Faith took to her like a duck to water, this lady also took to Faith! She asked her if she wanted to go have a look at the pipe organ that was in the front of the church and Faith nodded, off they went. From that day on she has loved the organ. Currently she's taking piano lessons and has now for 4-5 years now, I think when her legs are long enough to reach the pedals of the organ that will become her instrument.

Both of my children love classical music, Andrew especially enjoys Mozart. He too plays the piano and for his recital next May really wants to play "Fur Elise" I think it's extremely ambitious, but also know that if anybody his age could do it it would be him! After all he played Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven this year. You know, da da da daaaaaaaa, da da da daaaaaaaa I cannot tell you how proud I was what during the concert tonight both of them stated to me that they recognised different pieces that were played. Talk about a heart pop! (A moment when your heart is so full of joy that it feels as if it might actually pop.)

The Basilica
Faith and Andrew walking in, both in awe, I mean eyes popping and mouths hanging open as if they were trying to catch flies!

inside. It was breathtaking! I too was gawking in amazement feeling like a 7 year old who'd just been told to pick anything at F.A.O. Schwartz! Between the building, being there with my children experiencing another first with them, and the music I was speechless, a rarity for certain.
Faith and Andrew hearing the first notes being played. Some of the pipes had just been replaced, some of which were 34 foot pipes! Talk about an impression!

After all was said and done and the last of the 17 pieces were played we got to meet the musician and he took a few of us upstairs to see the console. He talked a bit about it and gave a demonstration, up close and personal. Rarely am I speechless, it's even rarer that Andrew is speechless, tonight was one of those occasions and for good reason, this thing is amazing! I'm certain if I did nothing else ever again and only spent my time learning to play this I would not be successful, so many keys for your hands and feet, then all the buttons and levers and switches and the coordination needed to get it to sing! WOW! Did I mention he's one of the youngest people to ever play all of Bach's music written for the organ?! Few people have done it in a lifetime, he's doing it in a year. We met a very talented young man tonight!
On the way home all three of us said we'd love to listen to him play again and again and again.

see Jenny......I can make biscuits......

....whipped cream too, if I'd bought the heavy cream instead of the light. I bought the light for my coffee and thought why not give it a try?! Mental note, light cream does not turn into whipped cream, however it still tastes great. Fresh mint from the garden, to make it look pretty.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

fishing with Daddy

Ron took the kids fishing Friday after he got home from work, they didn't catch anything but had a great time. Faith took most of these pictures, I think she may have an eye for this!

I love these two shots, top and bottom, Faith took them and I think she did a heck of a job!

berry delicious


ladling into jars...(the funnel it the same on used many many years ago by my grandmother.)
out of the water bath...
finished product...
*This batch is headed to a friend of mine in Colorado. I made many more jars after these were done. I think this is some of the best jam I've ever made, it's lip-smacking delicious and it's all about the berries!

mighty large ferns

While playing in the woods this weekend Andrew came across these ferns and showed them to Faith, who in turn stated she was sure the dinosaurs are coming back. Ah, the imagination of children.

*These are the largest ferns I've ever seen, they are HUGE!

Friday, June 18, 2010

over 40 pounds of strawberries is alot of strawberries

It's that time of year again, time to head out to the strawberry fields! We love homemade jam and strawberry rhubarb pie, so we need lots of berries! Today we picked over 40 pounds and might head back for another picking as the berries are exquisite this year. SO juicy and bursting with flavor. I think I'll dehydrate some to put in our granola and possibly make some fruit leather, oh my my mouth is watering!

in case you ever wondered what 40+pounds of strawberries looked like!

I did mention they're juicy, right?!

I've been making my own jam ever since Faith was a baby, mom showed me how and I've just stuck to it. The first ingredient in my jam is, oddly enough, fruit! Not sugar like some recipes, hummm could that contribute to the weight issue America has??? Well one year after putting up enough jam for the year I got a survey call. (I have to chuckle about it every time I think about it, I'm pretty sure the 'noise' on the other end of the line was this guys head exploding.) I don't remember what all the rest of the survey entailed, but I vividly remember the part about the jam consumption in my household. He wanted to know what type I bought, what brand, how often, etc. I told him that I no longer purchased any jam, because I made my own......pause......"ok" (clearly looking for that box to check), "what flavors did I currently have in my home?" I rattled them off, hoping I didn't leave any out, ....strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, apple, pear, raspberry, blueberry, grape and grape apple! another long pause........."really?.......I don't have room for all those. You said strawberry right?" Smiling I said correct. the funniest part was when he asked me how many I currently had in my home. .......Just shy of 200!!! (Some were Christmas gifts, I've always had more talent than money...) I said with a grin and a smirk, clearly having fun with this guy now but being totally honest. Very, very long pause..............................(insert sound of head exploding here)................"uh,.......................well, computer won't let me go that high, can I just put down 3?" Sure, what ever it takes. Glad I wasn't the one paying for this info! He did say that I was not the usual responder to the questions, humm imagine that!
Now I need to go take care of the rest of the berries!

6 weeks make a huge difference!

The broiler on the left is about 6 weeks old. The one on the right is only a few days old. I cannot believe how fast they grow!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

oi! you're such a turkey

Our newest additions to the farm, temporarily at least. Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys and a few more broilers.

Sound asleep standing up, I've had days like that.

lookee here at what I won!

I'm so psyched, one of the blogs I read frequently is Harvest Kitchen Sisters and I highly recommend you go check it out, it's great blog and done differently than other blogs I've read. It's written by two sisters, one that lives in the country on a farm and one in the city and they both write about similar experiences but from a different prospective, it's neat. Well, they had a 100th post contest the other day and I entered and won! WOW, that never happens! When I got the mail today it had arrived, I was on my way into town with much to do today, but I desperately wanted to stop and start reading. I flipped through the book and the first section is about turkeys, which just happened to be one of the things I was doing in town today, picking up our day old turkey poults. After dinner tonight and before the barn chores were started I knew I had to check it out. The kids were outside riding their bikes and I headed to the hammock, book in hand. I'd devoured the first chapter and by the time I was done with it Andrew had crawled into the hammock with me and I read it aloud to him. I think he enjoyed it as much as I did.
The authors description of her first turkeys was written well, stating that they were similar to the chicks but seemingly on acid. Our turkeys seem very awkward and lack coordination. Lack fine motor skills, lack something, that's for sure. They are however fun to watch. I understand there is an interesting part about pigs as well which I'm looking forward to reading. Thank you Harvest Kitchen Sisters for the contest and the book!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Lots of Love"

At age 5 Faith and I were sitting on the couch watching the local news one evening when a story about a young girl who'd just cut her hair off for Locks of Love was being told. She watched intently and after the story was over she turned to me and said she'd like to do that. So she decided to do just that! She's done it three times now, meaning she's donated over three feet of her hair to what at 5 years old she thought was "lots of love" and it's stuck. I'm SO proud of her for not only doing it once, but three times now. What a great girl!

2010 before...
...after...'s a threepeat!

2008 before...

2007 before... (her first donation)
...over a foot of hair!
You make me so proud Faith!

a favorite view...

damn stupid tax!

If I were not paying "stupid tax" I'd be team penning in the weekends! There is a place right up the road from me where our local team penning group practices and I'd be there all the time if it weren't for the stupid tax we're working on, ugh! Until that time I guess I'll have to practice with the goats, they didn't mind too bad! Andrew and I then Faith and I took turns team penning the goats this glorious afternoon and what fun! It was also very motivational, it only made me want even more to get the "stupid tax" paid off so the kids and I can do this while Ron will be out on his 4-wheeler. I think I'll print off one of these pictures to remind me and keep me motivated.

*These pictures were taken by Faith.

Monday, June 14, 2010

peony's are under rated

I may have mentioned before that I love flowers; really love them, that's why I was so crushed when the goats ate my irises this year. It was completely my fault, but was crushed just the same. I also happen to think peony's are under rated and under appreciated. First of all, the foliage is stunning and the proud little blossoms that are no bigger than an avocado seed stand so tall then explode into a grapefruit sized blossom with a fragrance that'll leave you breathless. Seriously, why have these been overlooked, the actual blossom is very long lasting when cut and placed in a vase on the table. And did I mention the smell; it's as intoxicating to a florist as second crop hay is to a farmer! Oh mercy! I wonder why more people don't have them in their gardens.

I don't know what it is about this particular color flower that is so stunning to me, there's something to be said for the gobsmacking color that most flowers achieve, but the simplicity of a champagne colored flower mystifies me.

How's that for a burst of color?!
Whenever I see peony's it reminds me of my grandmother, she had such a wonderfully scented flower garden; hyacinth, daffodils, peony and lilac adorned her garden and she would always let us pick a flower to take home with us. She'd carefully wrap the stem with a wet paper towel and put it in a sandwich bag for the long ride home. I don't ever remember getting them home to a vase, but I remember the scent of the garden. My garden will always have a large bunch of yellow daffodils and peony's and a warm memory of my grandmother.

on their own

These are Queen's babies, now 7 weeks old and officially on their own. I walked outside today and saw them in the pasture with mom nowhere insight. I knew it was coming, but it saddened me to see it just the same. I guess no matter which species babies grow up too fast.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

smiles on our faces and peace in our hearts

After dinner last night Ron thought it would be a good idea to have a campfire, he was right! The great thing about our property (they are SO many others as well...) is that it is wooded, thickly wooded. Which means we never have to look too far to find wood for a campfire. Having thickly wooded property is good, cannot see the neighbors and bad because there are lots of blow downs. Coreah loves it, we've no need of a chipper, she's a buzz saw on 4 legs! She'll grab onto an end of a blow down and drag it out of the woods for us, then proceed to chew it up all over the lawn.... until we put it in the campfire. No worries, she'll just go get another one.

It was a long day mentally and just what I needed to get over it, just exactly what is is that when you're around a campfire takes away all stress and anxiety of a bad day? We all sat out there as a family around the fire and occasionally the goats would wander over to see if we'd cracked open the s'mores, vegetarian of course! It was 10:30 before we came in and headed to bed with smiles on our faces and the peacefulness of a campfire in our hearts.

Harley enjoyed it too.