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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Diary of a winter day

12:30 p.m.

Winter, ah! winter.  I find myself wondering why my son has my snowblower and I'm shoveling out.  How did that happen?

My horses spent the night under the barn.   I know this because I got up at 3:00 in the morning, wondering if both the barn doors were open or if I'd closed one of them, wondering if they were in and I could close them both.  Only one was open, so I struggled my way around the barn, down the hill, and there they were, contentedly munching away.  The goats were snug in their stall, out of the wind  the blowing snow.  Of course, being the curious souls that they are, they had to investigate.  "What are you doing here this time of night?  Is it time for grain?  Can we help?"  I told them no and locked them in so they wouldn't follow me.

There's something to be said for these big old barns. I'm able to fill the under-barn feeders through a trap door,
Ready to fill the feeder.

Both feeders filled and ready to close the trap doors
and the critters are out of the wind there--and boy! is it ever windy! 
Blowing snow--click to see more detail
The horses finally traipsed through the drifts to come into the barn, which is filled with snow from the wind blowing through the door, left open because they were under the barn.  Bad horses!

The sun came out for a moment, peeking around the clouds, but I don't think it's any more excited about the blowing snow than I am, for it went back into hiding once again.  I'm just about ready to tromp out there again, dig the path again, put out more hay, and fill the stock tank with water.  I can hardly wait.

2:49 p.m.

I'm dug out for now.  With the wind, that may not last long.  All my barn chores are done and I can once again relax.

The barn was empty once I got out there.  Signs of critters were everywhere, but their presence was missing.  Would somebody please tell me why goats will leave a snug barn with two feeders that they have all to themselves and brave the elements merely to eat hay under the barn with the horses?
Hoofprints in the snow
Breaking trail
I'll give them this:  once they saw me wading down to where they were, and heard me calling, they realized I had broken more trail for them.  They did not want to face the wind, and face right into it they must to get back inside. 
Under the barn
The goats stand on the large slabs of granite
while the horses make do from the ground floor

They surprised me.  I had seen Violet turn around and go back under the barn,
Violet and Cassie, thinking about going to the barn
But a few minutes later, as I was ready to roll up the hose and finish up, here they came, just as pretty as you please, as if it were the most natural thing in the world--which, of course, it is.

Hay everywhere. BAD horses!
By then I had filled the under-barn feeders, topped the stock tank, picked up most of the mess the horses had left, made ready the grain for this evening and dug out my car. 

When I left the barn, it didn't look like the goats were interested in venturing forth again,
There's something about a large receptable that Beatrice can't resist.
And when there's hay in it, neither can Cassie.  Musical feeders, anyone?
but they do like being with the horses.  I'll find out at grain time.  Until then, I'm staying in.

8:30 p.m.

I grained and milked the goats at 5:00.  When I went out later, much to my satisfaction, the goats were in, snugged away in their stall, even though there was no trace of the horses.  How they can stand those 35 mph gusts of ice north wind is beyond me. I refilled the feeders through the trap door and left them to their own devices.  Me, I'm settling in for the night. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The making of baba ghanouj

My son loves baba ghanouj.  In fact, he loves it even more than I do.  When eggplants come my way, it's the defacto use for them.  Oh, every now and then I'll have a yen for ratatouile or eggplant parmesan, but when I see an eggplant, the first thing that crosses my mind is baba ghanouj.

As i was going through my photos, I came across several taken last summer, documenting this simple but delicious recipe.

Take a few eggplants and roast them in the oven.  I split them in half and pierce the skin a few times to release steam.  I cook them long enough to make them very soft, and at a low enough temperature that I can forget about them for a while, usually somewhere between 250° and 350°, maybe a couple of hours, more or less. 
Roasted eggplant.  The one on the left has been pulped.
 When they're done, I scrape the cooked eggplants from the skin and put it all in the food processor with about 1/4 C Tahini, for every couple of cups of eggplant,
a little salt, 1/8 C of olive oil, 1/8 C lemon juice, and whirr it all together.  Oh, and don't forget the garlic!

I have two garlic presses, one with handles, and this one, The Garlic Twist.  Fast and easy, but not for garlic that has started to sprout.  It's one of my favorite kitchen tools. Smash the garlic to remove the skin (it falls right off), then twist it back and forth a few times, and voilĂ ! Easy peasy.

Chopping the garlic
I change the flavor of the baba ghanouj depending on what I add to it.  Usually, I add basil, sometimes roasted red pepper (Mmmmm!), but this time I added chopped parsley from my garden.  Flat parsley is best, just because it chops more finely, but I think parsley is just a little too bland for my taste.  I ended up adding basil to it.
Ready to dice
All done.  I eat these with pita bread or blue corn chips.  Yum!  By the way, change the eggplant to mashed garbanzo beans, and you hummus.  See?  Two great recipes for the price of one.

The finished product,  Baba Ghanouj.  Could anything be simpler?

No-poo, Oh pooh.

I decided to try the "no-poo" routine about, oh, maybe 2 months ago.  No more commercial shampoo, no more commercial conditioners.  So, at a friend's suggestion, I searched the internet and found a routine I could experiment with:

1 Tbsp baking soda in a cup of water to shampoo
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV) in a cup of water to condition

And so it began.  I dissolved the baking soda in a cup or so of warm water and slowly poured it over my scalp, massaging gently,  The rest of the hair got wet as a matter of course, but I massaged it through anyway; then a good rinse and on to conditioning.  The same  routine applied to the ACV: massage into the scalp, make sure the hair is wet down with the solution, and then a thorough rinse.

The results surprised me.  A comb went through my hair easily, and it felt, looked, and smelt clean and fresh.  Not bad.  I continued with this routine every 5-6 days until last week, when my hair started looked just a tad dryer than I wanted it. 

My friend had told me she used a raw egg yolk to condition occasionally, and I, ever willing to complicate everything, went looking for a "recipe" to do what should have been a simple task.  Why keep things simple when with a little effort I can make them really complicated?  Accordingly, I found a recipe to mix 1 tbsp olive oil and a tablespoon of water into the well-beaten yolk and leave it on for 5 minutes, before I rinsed thoroughly with lukewarm water.

What a disaster!  I felt like I had rolled my hair in an oil barrel, even before I got out of the shower.  I shampooed with Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap, rinsed thoroughly and used ACV solution to condition, all to no avail.  The comb pulled and tugged. The hair looked like I hadn't washed it in weeks, so greasy that it hung in clumps.  I deceived myself (I'm good at that.  Lots of practice.)  I told myself my hair was just wet, that all would come right when it dried. 

It didn't.  I tied it back and combed and brushed it daily before tying it back again every morning.  Today, after trying unsuccessfuly to rid my hair of the olive oil with the baking soda/ACV routine, I broke down and shampooed it with a commercial shampoo.  I then followed it with ACV solution again.

My hair is back to normal now.  I will never put olive oil in my hair again, no matter what great success others have had with it.  I'll try the egg yolk conditioner again, though, only this time it will be just egg yolk, beaten within an inch of its life so it behaves well on my hair.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pasties and Pastries

A woman at the local farmers' market sells wonderful savory pastries, full of chicken, beef, and vegetables.  Since I avoid commercial meat whenever I can, I buy her veggie pastries now and then for a quick lunch, with a ginger scone on the side.

Having quick meals at home, particularly since I often juice have juice, fruit, or cheese for lunch,  was particularly appealing since my mother, who is 90, doesn't "graze" like I do all day long.  I decided to turn my own hand to these succulent savories.

I looked up Cornish Pasty online and discovered that the real deal, real honest-to-goodness pasties, use only about four ingredients:  chopped beef, potatoes, swedes (rutabagas), and onions, with a little salt and pepper thrown in.  Well..I used carrots and celery as well.  First I tried an all-butter crust.  It worked, but was a little tougher than I'd like.  Then I decided to pull out the stops and use lard for the crust.  Omigosh!  Why did we ever believe the "experts" who said lard is bad for us?  The crusts are light and flaky, and the taste divine!

Chopped apple, carrots, potatoes, onion, and rutabaga

To some of the pasties I added chopped up turkey.  Today I added fresh ricotta cheese and chunks of apple.  They turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.  My mother, though, for whom I've ostensibly done all this, wants gravy in them, thank you very much.

The finished pasties

Next time.  For now, i have enough to freeze and keep handy for a month or two. They're stored in the freezer, right next to the zuccini lasagna and the eggplant parmesan.  Life is good.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Season (breeding season, that is)

Ike is gone.  I sold him to a local creamery as one of their herd sires.  He probably thinks he died and went to heaven.  My friend Charlie transported Ike in his truck and when Ike was turned loose with all those does! he was transported to a whole other place.

I know I have two pregnant does, Beatrice and Leah, but I'm still not sure about Violet.  The vet came out mid-November, but she didn't have anything definitive to say.  First she thought she saw a fetus, then she said no, and then she wasn't sure, because though she's ultrasounded dozens of horses, her experience with goats is minimal.  So, she said she'd be back in a couple of weeks, just to follow up for her own sake.  It's three weeks now, no vet.  I guess I'll have to see what happens come March.

Cassie, of course, is not bred.  She's too young, and the only Sable buck I had was her sire.  Maybe one of these days I'll be comfortable with inbreeding, but I'm not there yet. She might be ready to breed by the end of January, but I'm the only Sable breeder in the area, so she's got another year to grow.  I think I prefer that anyway.

And talking about breeding and herd sires, I've been talking to a breeder in Pennsylvania about getting one of her 2013 bucklings.  She's got lots of color in her herd, and my fingers are crossed for a Chamoisee, maybe even a doe.  Chamoisee isn't a common color in Sables, but I'd love to make it more common!

A new cheese blog

I've been making so much cheese lately that this blog was seriously in danger of turning into a cheese blog. So...I now have a new blog, devoted only to cheeses.  Maybe I can move the other posts there, or maybe not, but Yay!  now this blog is back to where it's supposed to be--a farm blog, a thoughts blog, a blog about life.
My new cheese blog can be found here.