Friday, October 28, 2011

my morning

I milked Maggie this morning for the first time this cycle, and I'm sure I'll have many more milking's with her too. Matthew had to leave very early this morning for work, so the kiddos and I had chores. I don't mind, I rather enjoy taking care of things on the farm. Probably a good thing too. I was having a hard time getting into the swing of living on a dairy again. I have really enjoyed having the time off, and was thankful we dried Maggie off when we did. It really isn't ideal to dry a cow off in the middle of the season of growing grass when your wanting a mostly grass based dairy cow, but that's how it worked out. I wouldn't complain if that is how it works our again. I was so busy with the gardening and canning and all that good stuff milking a cow was the last thing that was on my mind. I'm sure we would have worked out something... but it was good for me! We tend to share the chores, and the work load of the farm. It's nice to work together as a team. The kiddos are always willing to lend a hand too.
As I went outside to milk this morning it was 7:15. The sun was still coming up, and it was a brisk morning. The kiddos were getting up and dressed, so it was quiet when I went out. I had the milk pail in hand by my side, gloves and wipes in my back pocket. My cowboy - eerrr my girls would pop in and say "cowgirl boots mommy"! here, as they clinked the hardening ground. The crows were out and I heard them cawing to one another, and strangely enough I liked that sound. Abby and Time Out were out in the pasture basking in the sun that was starting to warm them up. Abby let out a friendly winnie to welcome me and say good morning, as she always does when she sees me. The sheep were just getting up and let out a good morning baa as I walked to the cow barn. The baby chicks greeted me as well with happy hungry peeps, and ran after me to get some grain. I greeted all the animals with a good morning. It felt good to be outside with a milk pail in my hand, the cool, damp, fall weather on my face, my hot breath blowing out  into the cold morning air as I called to the animals. I peeked my head in the cow barn and both were laying down. I said good morning to Maggie and she got up while I was getting her grain and minerals. Dandie got up and bounded around the barn as I brushed Maggie down to get the hay and sawdust off her. I decided to wait a while to see what Dandie would do. She was too busy showing off for me to be bothered to eat. She ran, hopped, and bounced around me. She would come up to me and nuzzle my boot or leg, and jump when I would reach out and pet her. Then she would put her head down and jump sideways, so I scooched down and copied her, she looked at me and jumped the other way as I laughed. She flicked her tail in the air and jumped up on Maggie's stanchion, then back off and fell flat on her face. That made me laugh as she got her long legs untangled and shook herself off. She looked at me as if to say she meant to do that and decided to stop being silly, for about a minute. Knowing I had to get things in order and start milking to get it done I sat down and the kiddos came in. Dandie had new people to show off for! As I sat on the stool and started milking and the milk came down and hit the empty pail with a swish, squirt, noise I realized I had missed milking. The munching sound of Maggie eating, the grumble of her belly, her occasional mommy moo to Dandie, the calf being a goofball,  the kiddos laughing as they played with Dandie and then ran off to help feed and water the other animals for me. The older two helping Rachel get dressed and ready to go with her Aunt, cousin, and grandmother for the day and making sure she had on matching clothes and shoes and socks on her feet. What a blessing to me to have them be so willing to help me without me having to ask. I quickly warmed up as I milked and the pail quickly filled with warm milk and the snish, swish  noise it makes as it fills up. My hands were burning slightly, but not as bad as I had thought they would, and I was glad of that. I relaxed into the rhythm of milking and the noises that I love so much and was glad I had to milk this cool fall morning!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

what's cooking in my kitchen

Geeez it's been such a week here. Not really busy, just I don't really know what, just a week. Settling in with a new calf I think has thrown me off. I don't even really know why. It's not like I am going in 1000 different directions this time of year.
So I decided that something sweet yet slightly tart would be good to share. One of my sisters had just raved about a Raspberry Crisp she made. Then my other sister talked about it, actually just about anything raspberry she is in love with, and she said how wonderful it was. So I had to make it too, I couldn't be left out of the wonderfulness of it all!. I needed my mouth to water, and make my kiddos wonder what new delicious thing I was creating in my kitchen as they smelled it cooking! I love it when they walk in the house and suck in a loud breath of air and  exclaim that my kitchen smells like a bakery! Hey living on a farm, it's nice to hear that! I think all you farmers get my point here! It's Pioneer Woman's recipe on her food blog, just type in Raspberry Crisp for the recipe! Oh man it's really good too! I had to double it for my large brood, but I highly recommend it. So without farther to do! Lets look at some pictures and get hungry for some Raspberry Crisp shall we??!!

Some yummy raspberries, cornstarch, vanilla and sugar

Flour, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, oatmeal

raspberries on the bottom, flour mixture on top, pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes or so

hot out of the oven and ready to be devoured, eerrr or eaten, which ever you prefer!

mmmm, so yummy. It's good with ice cream on top of it whiles it's hot, if your into that sort of thing!
I don't care for ice cream on anything, so I didn't have it on my crisp. I do like ice cream, alone. Kinda like cake and ice cream, oooohhhh don't let them touch each other! Yuck! The ice cream melts and makes the cake all soggy and wet, eeewwwww. I know just a weird bit of information about me. Just thought I'd share! But if we had some whipped cream, oh yeah that would be good. I told you weird right?! The rest of my family had the ice cream.
Happy cooking all!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

tickled pink

Do you see what I see???

We are so excited to  announce the birth of our newest addition to SweetLand Farm! A healthy heifer calf!!!! She was born yesterday around 2 pm! As you can see it occurred outside in the pasture. I took this photo shortly after she was born, she's still all wet and had yet to stand up. I only got so close and then zoomed in. Maggie is very protective of her, and we didn't want to interrupt her just yet. We had no idea what sex she was at this point.
Let me back up a little.  We had gotten home from church and we were expecting company soon. We had a few things to get done before hand, and had Little Matt go check on Maggie and he comes running back down that he thought she had calved. Matthew and I went up and low and behold there she was all wet and just a cute as anything. I had grabbed the camera just in case! She was up in the left hand corner of the pasture way in the back. What a great place, quiet and sheltered. We left her alone after we took the kiddos up to see our new baby. The weather was great yesterday too nice and warm for a fall day. Later that day we had to get the calf in the barn and milk Maggie, but to first make sure the calf was eating and got some of that good colostrum. I got to pick her up and carry her a bit too, she's probably about 50 pounds. Nice size baby girl. She was still wobbly on her long legs and to get them in the right direction was a work out. She reminded me of Bambi when he goes on the ice, legs going everywhere. Maggie was talking to her lots too once we had them in the barn, and just loving on her, drying her off with her long tongue. Matthew helped her get into position to eat

Took to it like a champ! Our company arrived and we had to show her off, but they all had to stay out of the barn because Maggie was nervous with all the people she didn't know, and we didn't want anyone to get hurt. They all thought she was cute! We left them alone to bond until it was time for milking to relieve Maggie a bit. Then again left them alone and peeked in the window to check on them from time to time. They were both tired. No wonder, having a baby is hard work, and trying to stand is too!
I got up around 4am to check on them and they both were laying down sleeping. So I didn't disturb them.
 Here she is still wet and in the barn. Still real shaky on those long legs!

This morning after eating. Her pink tongue and a little milk on her nose! Check out those lashes. Enough to make any woman jealous!

Here she is this morning resting. Her belly full, and now it's time to sleep. We decided to name her. Little Matt picked out her name. He had it picked out with the last one, but it was a bull calf,  and now we used it with this one. It's Dandelion, but we'll call her "Dandie". I think we are all smitten with her. I mean she's a baby and just so darn cute. Now we pray she stays healthy and strong. We are thankful for her and the blessing she brings to our family farm.
Have a great day all!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

apple cider pressing

A number of years ago we bought a cider press. It's come in very handy too. We've even pressed pears in it and made pear cider and mixed it with apple cider. Just an interesting twist on the flavors. I'm not a huge fan of pear juice, kinda pulpy. We freeze some and turn some into hard cider. Both are yummy to enjoy in the winter! It's all arm power to turn it, the ole arms get a work out. The kiddos even give it a whirl, the older two can do it, the younger two need some help.
 Alright, so I'll break it down per photo. Kinda 101 cider pressing! It's fun.

 This is what our cider press looks like. Very basic and simple. There is a handle on top that twists down when it's being pressed, but I didn't get it in the picture.

This is where you put the apples to be ground up. You can see the teeth of it too. They are sharp and will cut your fingers in good shape.

Grab some kiddos and have them start grinding up the apples. My sister and brother in law came over to join in the fun. They have 4 kiddos too! The red wheel turns the grinder.

 Gotta keep on throwing in apples and grinding to fill up the bucket. I love the sky in this picture. It was so beautiful to look at, so many shades of blue and gray! It's over looking the cow pasture and the hay field.

Here is the bucket under the grinder. The mesh bag holds in the apples, and we fill it to almost the top before we cover and press it. But this is what the apples look like.

 Here it is covered and starting to press the apples! Yummy! The kiddos can do this part too, to a certain point, until it gets too hard to turn the handle. You can see how it collects in the wooden part of the press and then comes out the hole into the bucket.
This is for My Man. He loves this part when the cider is coming out and looks really good. Love the color of it. We like to grab a cup and drink some to make sure it tastes just right! It usually does. Yes we drink it raw. I know shocking right? We know where they come from and use clean apples, and we are careful when we press it as well. We have never had any problems come from drinking raw cider.

This is the pumas (left over apples). We feed them to the pigs and our neighbors cows. We throw it in the bucket of the tractor and it's easy clean up. The mesh bag makes it handy too. When we dig out the cider press we wash all the parts and bleach it as well. Then when we put it away we wash it and make sure all the parts are clean, dry, and then store it away until next season!
Well that's all there is too it! Easy, right?!
Have a great day!

Monday, October 17, 2011


I said a while back that we had another harvest of something coming, and we did. It wasn't the second crop hay either. Although we were happy to get that. Very happy.

It was apple picking! When the weather is cool and the apples are ripe and ready to be picked, we go!  There is a man that lives nearby and he gives us his apples in return for some cider. We think that is a good deal. The kiddos love to go pick apples, climb the trees and shake them! That's great fun for them, and us. I don't too often climb trees, but... never mind.  It was a warm, quiet Sunday evening, and we figured we'd better go get the apples before another frost hit them. The first one was fine, but we didn't want to wait any longer. The apples this year are great and the trees are loaded! There have been some years where the weather isn't that great, and the apples don't grow that well. Guess that comes with everything though. But thankfully it was a good apple year. The apples are Northern Spy. We usually try to get more then just one kind of apple for cider, because it makes a better flavor of cider, but we didn't have any other kinds this year when we pressed it the other day. It still tastes good! 

Can you see my boy up there? He was out of the car and up the tree before I could get out of the car!  He even took his bucket up there. He eventually dropped the bucket, shook the tree and came down, after he had his fun, then picked up the apples he shook free.

My girl decided to pose and smile a toothless smile at me. She lost her two front teeth recently and I just love her smile. Kiddos look so cute when they don't have there front teeth! The smiles are just great! She and her cousin that is the same age as her lost them about the same time. So she has company in wanting her two front teeth for Christmas! Ahhhh not ready for that! Even though it's right around the corner! yikes!

My baby is too little to climb trees, so she just grabs the closest branch and hauls the apples off! She always looks so pleased, and can hardly wait to bite into one. And don't take her apples out of her bucket unless you ask first. She gets upset when you remove all her hard work. But she's more then happy to let you help her fill  up her bucket!

Kinda bleary I know. My camera isn't working all that great all the time. Kinda annoying.

She put that apple in her seat in the car and ate it on the way home. All the kiddos picked out an apple to eat on the ride home. They happily munched and crunched and giggled as we drove home after picking for a while. With all of us picking it didn't take very long to fill our buckets and be on our way.
My camera died shortly after these pictures were taken. So that was all I was able to get. 

I have pictures coming of pressing the cider. I wanted to get a short video of it, but too much was going on, and I need a new memory card, so I just have pictures. Yeah I know I need to get the pictures developed, but some other day I'll do that. I like to save them up!! hahhaahaha. Long story, my family gets it though! So when I get them on the computer I'll share them! And IF we press more cider maybe I'll get a video, not making any promises though! We got all our apples pressed, and I don't know if we'll be getting more.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

fall in maine

One of the reasons I like Maine, (and I tend to complain about living in Maine a bit, mostly in the winter. It's cold, and too much snow.)  I do like fall here. The colors are amazing, orange, purple, red, yellow to name a few. And the contrast of the blue sky makes it even better. I like to see the colors change and watch when the sun hits them and the wind makes them twirl and dance around the branches until they finally come off and tumble to the ground. The kiddos like to go to my parents house and jump in the leaves. They have great big wonderful maple trees that drop their leaves and are the best to jump in them. The smells change here too, from the sweet scent of the grass to a deep earthy smell. It lingers until the snow flies and covers the barren ground with a nice white blanket of snow. Until that happens and the leaves all fall I like to enjoy the earthy beauty of the trees!

I think it's nice to look at. The view is from our place. Not bad right?!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

maggie pictures

This morning while Little Matt and I were out doing the chores I took the camera out with me. I was able to snap a few pictures. (My camera has been acting up lately. Not really sure why. The pictures have been coming out blurry and unfocused. And often times there is a black spot in the picture. Not a huge black spot, but it looks like smoke or something. Again not really sure why. Maybe it's dying. I think I would be lost without my camera. I tend to take it everywhere, most of the time, unless I forget it!! hahaha! I would like to get one of those fancy ones, maybe next time around I'll get one. I still like mine, and it works, usually!)
It's a cool, damp morning with dew on the ground and a fall chill to the air.  The sun is up, but the clouds are covering it so it looks misty out. I could see it through the feather looking clouds, and tried to get a picture, but it didn't come out nice. The weather has changed back to fall weather, and I turned the heat on to take the chill off this morning. I didn't think a fire would be necessary, just some warm air to warm me up. Burr!
So here are the pictures of Maggie and the broilers like I said last night. No calf as of yet! Believe me when that calf drops I'll be getting some pictures on here! I'm excited for the big day!

I know it's her hiney, but you can see the calf on the side and how big she is on that side!

big mama! i think she's a nice looking cow

looks like this guy is hollering, but he's really just trying to get the fresh grass. he stuck his head out of the wire to eat some. guess it's greener on the other side of the fence! we had just moved them too!
Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

busy times

It's been a busy month of October for me. Actually since the middle to end of August it's been busy for me. With the garden produce, the canning, home school, and well life, it's been busy. I'm almost done canning for the year and am very pleased and thankful for what got done. It will be nice when I'm all done, I still have some apple jelly and apples to go. I'm gonna try to can some apples that are cut up and see how they taste. Just something different. And freeze some for pies this winter!
Both our gardens are fully harvested and resting for the winter. The fences are down and the lawn is mowed.  Matthew put some manure on one of them and the hens have been out there eating the worms and doing a great job of spreading it around for me! I'd like to get some garlic, (since, someone, ahem, who shall remain nameless tilled it up last fall) planted. We shall see.
We ended up getting 217 bales of second crop hay in this past weekend! The whole field didn't get hayed either! The weather was perfect for it, hot and sunny during the day with no humidity, a slight breeze, and cool nights without the dampness that usually comes this time of year. A bit of an Indian Summer! It's been so nice, I've even just gone out and sat in the sun for a while, just to enjoy it. We had a neighboring farmer come and mow it, we just didn't have time, Matthew has been very busy at the mill. Last year we didn't have extra hay and had to buy it this spring. We had a bit of a wet spring. Now this year we have gotten almost 1000 bales from the field we lease. The chicken manure we put on it last year really improved it! We are thankful for that!
My SIL and her kiddos came over today and we canned the last of the carrots. Just gotta tell you that we got 3 bushels of carrots from our garden this year! NEVER had that many carrots! EVER! So I thought that was cool. I split the last bushel with her, and will give some to a friend of mine. We decided to try with the last 6 quarts to cook them with honey water. We'll see how they turn out. I like to put honey on the carrots once in a while, and thought if they were canned with honey water that maybe that would give it more of a honey taste.
Maggie's due date is tomorrow. So we'll have to wait and see if she calves. I'm tempted to go sit on her. I don't think she'd like that though, and I'm not into cow riding. I'll leave that to the pros! I should get a picture of her to show you how big she is. I'll do that tomorrow if she doesn't drop that calf tonight! Would be nice to see a picture of the ole cow on the blog. Been a while. It's been nice having the last 60 or so days off from milking. I have a feeling when I start milking her again, when Matthew can't, my hands are gonna burn! I'm looking forward to it though! Ha! Now how many women look forward to hand milking a cow and having their hands burn!? She seems to like the broilers that we have and often sleeps near their tractor. Speaking of the broilers, we didn't harvest them. They were too small on Saturday, so we'll see how they do this week. I think because of the heat we've had they have grown. They tend to grow slower in the fall due to the cooler weather. But these guys sure do love to eat the fresh grass we put them on every morning. Maybe I'll snap a picture and stick them on here too! Ugly looking things that they are!
 Here are a few pictures of the haying that took place this weekend. I mean check out that sky! So beautiful!

A couple kiddos running along behind the baler. I'm so pleased at how good it looks. I told Matthew it looks good enough to eat!
Have a good night all!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

what's cooking in my kitchen

 I caved and bought some tomatoes. The temptation to make homemade V8 juice was too great. I only had to buy half the tomatoes because I had some given to me and I still had a few of my own home grown tomatoes. I decided that I would give it a whirl. Turned out good too, the kiddos and I thought. Matthew needs to try it. I didn't put in all the sugar it called for either, lesson learned from the tomato juice. The flavor is wonderful, rich, not too salty and not too sweet! I found a few different recipes for it online, and went with the one that would make 10 quarts in a batch (I only got 7, but close enough). I have enough juice to make Pasta e Fagoli six times this winter! That is exciting for me. I know I'm a dork, but it's still exciting! I'll let you know how it turns out. I've shared pictures and the recipe for that before, so I'll just show you and tell you how it tastes!

the veggies, yes I know there is only 7 there. I think the seasoning counts as the rest...unless I forgot one! ha

all cut up and in the pan with all the seasonings and spices!

all cooked and ready for the sieve!

going through the sieve

here it is all juiced and ready to go!

I don't have a "juicer" to run the veggies though, just the above sieve, so it's got a texture to it, but doesn't V8 juice anyways?

all I need is to can it and then store it!! the color is great too!
There you have it! I can't wait to try some soup!
Have a great weekend all!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

harvest day

OK so we have lots of harvest days, but today was a different type. We the kiddos and I - because Matthew was working, - pulled up the last of the carrots, the bean plants and the weeds. I gave a bunch of carrots to my SIL because she has helped me a great deal with canning this year, so that was a small thank you.  We canned 37 quarts of carrots yesterday. I'm not sure how many quarts are left to be canned, but will be glad when they are done.  We also picked all the winter squash and pumpkins too. We are supposed to get a frost tonight, but I think we might have gotten one last night, at least a small one. The weather was really crazy late in the afternoon here yesterday. One minute the sun was out the next it was raining/snowing/hailing and the wind was blowing. It blew so hard it moved our hay wagon several feet! All the animals were staring at it and the kiddos were hollering that it was going to hit the house! Wild wind! When we had tropical storm winds it didn't move, and I don't think we tied it down. I'll snap a picture of how big it is! Then last night it was cold, really cold! Almost bitter, you know fire weather, and then this weekend it's supposed to be in the 80's!! Crazy! I have to admit I'm looking forward to the warm weekend! It's been cold, wet, and windy here. Burrrr...
We have to pull all the other plants that are left in one of our gardens, I'm not concerned about it, nothing is growing. Just will be nice to get it done. This weekend is supposed to be really nice, so we have all weekend to get the gardens cleaned up,  the fences taken down, put away, and the lawn mowed. So nice to get things harvested and cleaned up for the cold weather that is coming. It's nice to sit back and look at everything that has been done over the summer and the fall. That's when I remember what I did all summer and fall, and all spring weeding and tending the gardens! Love the harvest! Not so much crazy about the cold weather, but am glad when all the work is done until the spring with maple syrup, that begins our year of growing and running! Hard work is rewarding for me, and we are trying to instill that in our kiddos. I think they enjoy the work, most of the time, but sometimes it's nice just to goof off!

Oh my! Looks really bad. Weeds are taking over. And the carrots to the left! Yikes!

Ah that's better! The fence needs to come down and the lawn needs to be mowed, but it's weeded!

Disregard the garden in the back  ground, and look at it now! Much better, and the sheep are taking a snooze in the sun!

Winter squash, pie pumpkins, and cabbage. Looks good!

My helpers!

The hay wagon that blew!

Our next big harvest will be coming soon! You'll have to check in often and find out what it is! I will have pictures to share along with a story or two!!
Have a great day all!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

chicken run

Mama Hen has done her job. She has trained her chicks and tended to them beautifully. She defended them with every fiber of her being. I saw it. As a good mama should. She showed them what to eat and how to enjoy a dust bath, eat bugs and food scraps and where to drink. Who to run off and who to run to for help.
I've noticed the past few days how she had been leaving without them, and not responding to them real quick when they would call out to her. She would stand back and watch and see what they did. Then yesterday she officially kicked them out of the nest. She runs them off to eat on their own. She ignores them and will have nothing to do with them. She won't let them roost with her. The babies seemed to be at a loss yesterday too. Plus with the down poring of rain we had they hid most of the day. Then this morning she chased them off so she could eat, and wouldn't let them have any. While I was feeding the other animals this morning I noticed that the chicks were running after me hollering as if to adopt me as the new "mama." I resemble food apparently. So I fed my new babies and they happily ate, and let me feed the other animals. DaLaney was greatly concerned about Mama Hen's attitude to her babies and questioned it. I gently told her that this was her instinct to make them be independent and that they were old enough to take care of themselves. I said that she might want to be laying eggs again, and she knows that this is what she needs to do. Her babies are grown, and that she has done a beautiful job of raising them. Granted they are only 7 weeks old there about. But her instinct had been amazing to watch. She was raised with a light in a box, not by a natural mother. I find it simply amazing how her instinct kicked in and she knew what to do for her babies. I'm simply amazed at creation.
So here is a today picture of my new charges.  I think they are kinda cute, kinda ugly, but I'll keep 'em. At least the hens, the roosters will have to exit the farm. I think there are two roosters. But that is just a guess. I'm hoping for 3 hens that would be really cool!

 I thought this was too funny! This little chick wants my job of mowing the lawn!! hahaha. Actually I think this is one of  the roosters, due to a huge comb and wattles compared to the others is what I'm judging it by. I don't know how to tell the sex of a chicken!

Looking at me expecting something. Like wheres the food? They followed me all over until I gave them some food away from Mama Hen. This is the one that was on the lawn mower.

Here are my little charges. Happily eating the grain I gave them away from Mama Hen. It's been raining for about 3 days here and everything is muddy. Kind of an interesting combo, New Hampshire Red with Silver Laced Whyendott.

Here is Mama Hen. She's wonderful and beautiful in all her mama glory!  I think I will protest a great deal if My Man wants to get rid of her. I kinda have a spot for her now. Maybe it's a mommy thing, I don't know. I hope she starts to lay again, and stays a while longer on our farm. She'll always be called "mama" now.

Have a great day all!!