Friday, December 30, 2011

Take 2

 Baby giant angoras, born December 22nd

and getting some fur, December 27th! This is the 2nd litter for our giant angoras, Chalcedony and Galena.  The first litter was born in October, just before the freak snowstorm and none lived.  Mama Galena repeatedly picked up the babies from the first litter, tearing the backs of their necks.  The two that didn't bleed to death didn't make it through the 10 days of no electricity/heat.  These little guys are doing wonderfully!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I do like green eggs and ham

I DO like them, Sam-I-Am!

My little Ameraucana is all grown up - she laid her first egg this morning :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spaghetti pucchini

The oddest squash ever.  Our zucchini, pumpkins and spaghetti squash cross pollinated.  They start off looking like a fat zucchini.  Grow to the shape of a spaghetti squash, while keeping the dark green color of a zucchini.  Then the color mottles to the greens of an unripe pumpkin and they turn a peach color.  Not yellow like a spaghetti squash and not orange like a pumpkin; something in the middle.  Very hard shell like a pumpkin, insides stringy like a spaghetti squash, but slightly sweeter.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I thought there was something wrong with her.  Every time I've gone into the barn since Friday, our littlest (not youngest, buy physically smallest) chicken has been sitting in the same nest box.  At first I figured she was just sleeping there; I generally go into the barn in the early morning when some of the birds are still roosting, and again in the mid to late afternoon, but when A went into the barn at almost 10 am yesterday and said she was in there, I started to worry. 

I went to check on her as soon as we got home last night, thinking she had hut her legs or her wing or something.  She didn't protest when I pulled her out of the box.  I put her down and she just looked at me - she seemed fine.  Then I noticed she had an egg in the nest! She's not hurt; she's broody!

So I put her back in.  Today, Holden put both eggs that he found in the barn in her nest in the hopes that she'll hatch at least one chick.  Of course, we have no idea if the rooster is actually mating with the chickens (A says he's seen him do it and it doesn't seem to be working), so there's no guarantee that the eggs are even fertilized, but we're excited at the prospect. 

The on egg she's been sitting on is tiny, and she hadn't been laying yet.  So either she laid her very first egg and never left the nest box, or she saw the guinea lay in there and decided she needed to sit on the guinea's egg.

Good ol' Roadrunner!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Excuse me, I can't talk right now, I have to feed my squirrel

Yes, I said squirrel. 

 Monday evening, A and the kids were taking the path up to the barn to check if there were any eggs before the lights went out.  Kenna comes running back to the house shouting at me to come out there RIGHT NOW!!

In the path, about 25 feet below a big squirrel's nest, is this little baby squirrel, who is chirping up a storm.  I realized that the chirping is the same sound I have heard for the past couple of hours as I cleaned up around that side of the house, so he's probably been there for a while. 

We've had orphaned baby mice die on us.  An orphaned baby bunny just this summer.  Not to mention the countless chickens and guineas we've lost in the past few months.  The last thing I wanted to do was take in another baby that was surely going to die.  Another thing for the kids to get attached to and then be heartbroken.

But A had other plans.  I think he was worse than the kids with the sad face when I said I didn't think we should take it in.  So now we have a squirrel.  We're on day 4 with him and he's going strong.

We're feeding him a mixture of kitten replacer milk and pedialite.  He's living in a little box in a nest of my fabric scraps, with the heat lamp over him.  We find him in odd positions like upside down with his butt in the air and his feet resting on his face.  The kids think this is hysterical.  He's gone through two name changes already - from the original "Squirrley" (Kenna said this one "just didn't stick") to "Quince" (I have no idea why).  I suggested Earl, as in he children's book, "Earl the Squirrel" about a squirrel with a little girl who knits him a scarf as a friend, but the kids looked horrified, because, as Holden yelled at me, "But MOM! Earl had to DIIIIEEE!" (see the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl" for clarification)

So now we have a squirrel.  A wants to give it a room with potted oak trees.  Or let it live in one of my currently unused rabbit hutches.  This morning, I asked A how he was, he'd been up for 2 hours by the time I got up at 7, and he said fine, other than the lack of sleep.  Clearly, he's never had a baby.  He's been getting up 4 times a night to feed the squirrel and make sure he's warm.  I think he needs a baby ...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World's smallest watermelon

The watermelon bed looked great all summer - lots and lots of flowers, vines growing over the sides, lush and green ... and so many little watermelon!

Well, they never really got very big.  They were like mini-melons.  Just slightly bigger than a baseball. 

(That's a quarter for scale)

But they sure tasted good! And little Farmer H is *very* proud of these little mini-melons!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Defective chickens?

It's October.  We got our laying hens as day old chicks in mid April.  That put them on schedule for laying around mid-late August. 

Apparently someone forgot to tell the hens that. 

Every morning, we would go out and look in the hen house.  Maybe today will be the day ... and nothing.  Days, then weeks went by and we still had not on single egg.  Our friends' chickens were laying tons of eggs and they were the same age as ours.  Did we get defective chickens??

I reasoned with them.  I asked nicely.  Then I started to tell them they had better start earning their keep as I was feeding them every morning.  Still nothing.

Then, after a long weekend away, we went out this morning to feed the birds, and I was going through my mantra of "Why are you not laying yet? you ladies need to start earning your keep", when lo and behold, in the back of one of the nest boxes, what should I spy?

Yay! Our first little eggs!!

So small, they both fit in the palm of my hand.

Of course, now this begs the question: Did two of our hens finally decide to start laying? Or did the 2 guinea hens that are 2 months younger than the chickens and due to start laying later this month start laying early? Hmmm .....

Pumpkin cupcakes with spiced maple cream cheese frosting

One of my favorite things abotu fall is baking up pumpkin treats.  This year, we wanted some special pumpkin cupcakes - we can't get enough of these!  Just sweet enough, just spiced enough, and the cupcakes are even delicious alone, without the frosting!

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
2 sticks Butter 
1-¼ cup brown sugar 
2 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk 
1 cup pumpkin 
2 teaspoons baking soda 
2-½ cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice 

1 - Cream butter and sugar together. 
2 - Add baking soda to buttermilk.  Stir and let sit.
3 - To the butter/brown sugar mixture, add the egg, beating well.  Mix in pumpkin.  Add the buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two and mixing well after each addition.  Finally, add the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  
4 - Bake at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a knife/toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean. 

Ingredients for frosting:
1 package cream cheese (I used reduced fat with great results)
1-2 cups powdered sugar, depending on your taste
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions for frosting: 
1 - Beat butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.  
2 - Add maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice and beat well.
3 - Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat well until combined.  This is where I stop; we like a less sweet frosting for these cupcakes.  Taste the frosting here and if you like a sweeter frosting, add more sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Holden planted a potato patch all by himself in June - he planted it, and has weeded and watered it himself all summer.  This morning we decided to dig into it and see what was going on.  Potatoes everywhere! This first harvest was only a small section of the patch.  He had one potato that was as big as a brick, but it was rotten on one side so we left it in the ground with the baby potatoes that were still growing.  These babies are now in a stock pot on the stove having been made into homemade clam chowder. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not your typical S'mores

I bought a Zoku pop maker recently and have just really started playing with it.  The kids love popsicles, but like most things, there are almost no brands that I will buy at the store because of the ingredients list, so this seemed like the perfect solution.  3 pops in under 10 minutes; 3 batches before having to refreeze the unit - heaven!

The first pops were just fruit - strawberry and tropical fruit.  Frozen fruit that we pureed and froze in the pop maker and the kids loved it.  But I wanted to try more ...

These are my current favorite.  The perfect summer treat, now in pop form!

S'mores Zoku Pops 
Ingredients for the base:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk (I used 1% milk with fantastic results - rich and creamy!)
6 ounces chocolate (I used a combination of 90% and 85% dark)

Additional ingredients:
Chopped marshmallows
Crushed graham crackers
Olive oil

Directions for the base:
1 - Mix dry ingredients together in a saucepan and add 1 cup milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens considerably. 
2 - Meanwhile, melt your chocolate. 
3 - Mix the chocolate into the milk mixture, whisking until smooth.
4 - Slowly whisk in the rest of the milk and chill.

To assemble the pops:
1 - Mix chopped marshmallow pieces into the chilled chocolate mixture.
2 - With sticks in place in the pop maker, pour the chocolate mixture to the fill line and freeze til set.
3 - Remove pops.  Drizzle one side of a pop with the chocolate shell, then sprinkle on crushed graham cracker.  Repeat for other side, and for each pop.

While in between batches of pops, keep the base mixture in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it adequately chilled.  I was able to get 4 batches of these done before refreezing the Zoku unit.

Directions for making the chocolate shell:
This is so simple, and only requires the last 2 additional ingredients above.  Over low heat, melt a small amount of chocolate (2 ounces or so was enough for all of our pops) with a small amount of olive oil (I don't measure - just a teaspoon or 2) until smooth.  Drizzle on your pops and it will harden.

Makes about 15 pops

* Chocolate pudding recipe is adapted from a Smitten Kitchen adaptation of a Scharffenberger recipe

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I had my doubts

I recently subscribed to yet another farm/garden/homesteading magazine, The Herb Companion.  Our first issue arrived with a cover story on pizza.  We make pizza all the time; it is definitely a favorite in our house. Their recipes look amazing, not your ordinary sauce-and-cheese pizza (which I don't like), but I had my doubts about their speedy crust recipe.  No rising time with a yeasted crust? Hmmm ... that goes against all of my intuition as a bread baker. 

I decided to give it a go last night. 

More of a flatbread than a pizza, but very delicious.  My very picky 10 year old proclaimed it the best pizza ever.  The recipe made two thin crusts - the kids had a half cheese only-half cheese and mushroom pizza; we had mozzarella, provolone, artichoke hearts, mushroom, roasted red pepper, garlicscape and shallot. 

This is the crust recipe here 
from The Herb Companion
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope dry rapid-rise yeast
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1/4 cup cornmeal
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. To prepare dough, add sugar to lukewarm water and stir. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and stir again until dissolved. Let the yeast mixture sit 5 minutes.
2. Using a food processor with a steel knife blade, add flour, cornmeal, oil, honey and salt; pulse off/on several times to mix. Add yeast/water mixture through feed tube while the food processor is running and allow it to “knead” for about 1 minute or until dough is smooth. Add more flour or water, if necessary, while kneading to get a smooth dough.
3. Remove dough from food processor and allow to rest 5 minutes. Spread/stretch or roll out dough on a floured surface to about 14 inches in diameter or the size of your pan. Transfer pizza dough onto a pizza screen, or to a pizza peel spread with coarse cornmeal (for easy transfer to a preheated pizza stone). Turn edges under to form a slight rim.

For the plain pizza, I made plain dough, taking half out of the food processor and rolling it right out.  For our pizza, I added fresh rosemary, basil and chives from the garden to the remaining dough in the food processor and let it mix just a bit more.  Also, I was out of corn meal, so I subbed flax meal. 

The only thing I will do differently the next time is to bake the crusts separately, with no toppings, until they are slightly crisp and golden.  Even though the recipe says it will make 1 thick or 2 thin crusts and you should only have to bake the crust alone with the thick crust, I found the thin crust to still be very doughy after baking the pizzas.  Delicious, but I would prefer a crisper crust next time. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I have heard it in many places that if you have livestock, sooner or later you will have deadstock.  We had our first experience with this on Sunday evening.  We'd been out all afternoon and when Kenna went to let the chickens in, she found one decapitated in the grass.  Nothing else amiss, the head was no where to be found, the fencing was all still intact.  Poor chicken; poor Kenna. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So that "and counting" part ...



4 brand spankin' new baby Ameracauna chicks.  These little ladies came from My Pet Chicken, which i didn't realize was local to us.  They have a chicken coop that I am dying to pick up for use as a hutch for the angoras ...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Night gardening: A cautionary tale

Le me preface this post.  I am a perfectionist.  Unable to sit still and do nothing, almost to the point of manic, I have multitasking down to a science.  I can't sit and watch a movie; I have to knit and watch a movie.  Otherwise I might just go crazy.  At any given time, I could wallpaper the local library with my to do list, and I tend to try to stuff as much as humanly possible into any given day.

Ok, that said, let's get on with night gardening. 

It started innocently enough.  I was at the barn putting the chickens to bed.  It was just before 8 pm, and there was still day light, but no direct sun, so it was cool and comfortable up at the barn/garden.  I built two new beds over the weekend and haven't been able to fill/plant them yet because it has been too hot this week, so I saw my chance.  Take the half an hour I had before the sun went down, fill the two beds with topsoil, plant and water.   Piece of cake!

Mr. Farmer-Man went to get the wheelbarrow.  I started without him, moving shovelfuls of topsoil from the pile on the side of the driveway to the first bed.  By the time he got back, I was almost done.  How's that for efficiency! He started filling the wheelbarrow to fill the back bed, while I smoothed the dirt in the other bed and started to plant.  We'd be done in no time!

What I didn't count on was the mosquitoes.  While I was shoveling the dirt maniacally, there were merely a nuisance, and I swatted them away with my hand and with the shovel.  No big deal.  Now, kneeling in one place at the bed smoothing the dirt, they were swarming me with the frenzy of a shiver of sharks in a chum bucket.  I swatted while I worked, but, being me, I refused to stop until I was finished.  I am bigger than they are, I was not giving in!

I finished planting the bed and told A, aka, Mr. Farmer-Man, it was time to go in, as I had noticed the wild arm flailing he was doing at the back bed as well.  We could finish the second bed tomorrow. 

As I got into the car to drive back to the house, the itching started.  No.  Itching is simply too mild a word.  It was like my skin was on fire with itching and there was nothing I could do to put it out.  I was itching like crazy and A was telling me to stop because I was bleeding and trying to herd me into a cold shower. 

A cold shower and a lot of peppermint soap later, i emerged to survey the damage.  My entire left shoulder was a mountain of mosquito bite - there were so many bites such close proximity to one another that the entire area swelled together.  I had broken blood vessels all over my shoulders, arms and back from scratching.  And, because although I sew all day long and pretend to be a farmer in the afternoons, I keep my fingernails long, the rest of the skin on my back was punctuated with red claw marks from scratching.  I looked like I got in a fight with the bear. 

So, if you ever get the bright idea to try to cram some gardening in after the sun starts going  down, please save yourself the pain.  Oh, and I did have the forethought to put on deep woods off.  I cannot even imagine what would have happened if I had been completely un-repellented!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Cannot wait to finish the outdoor run area for the bunnies.  Hutch #1 is assembled and ready to go!

1st day out

As you can see, there was a frenzy of excitement here today.  

The chickens went outside for the very first time!

 All the chickens, even the very large one on the left, were happily scratching for centipedes.  The big chicken on the left even ate one too, for good measure. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MA Sheep & Wool

We went to CT Sheep & Wool back at the end of April and as soon as we got home i ran to look up when there would be another we could go to.  MA Sheep & Wool is quite a bit bigger than CT S&W, but I loved them both.  Ironically, I found more yarn and fiber that I *had* to have at the smaller CT festival.

Both kids got to try spinning on a wheel.  Kenna has been spinning on a drop spindle since the CT festival and is getting pretty good at it.  We will be picking up a spinning wheel in the late fall/early winter for our fiber endeavors and both kids want to be able to spin.

The highlight of the day were the angoras.  

 This one is ours ♥

The sheep were cute too ...

So what did I do as soon as I got home and got the angoras settled in? Print out dates and directions to Dutchess County Sheep & Wool/Rhinebeck. 

Can.  Not.  Wait. 

Only 138 more days ...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So ... we're like, farmers now?

We've been reading, propagating, cleaning, building, stapling, fixing ... but now there are officially animals in our barn.

Lots of them.  21 6-week old chickens to be exact.  2 of whom *may* be roosters.

Some have names.  This is  Phyllis Diller

and this is Holden with the Yeti
and Kenna with Party.


There's no turning back now.  We're officially small farmers!