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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Life On A Farm Is Kinda Laid Back"...

and kinda not...

I have to believe John Denver thought he was right when he penned that thought in his song, or maybe he was high ( but only on the Rocky Mountains I'm sure- I kid! I kid!) when he dreamed that line up.

Whichever is the case, I'm scratching my head and trying to remember the last time life on the farm felt even remotely "laid back".

Facts are facts and the facts are,
there is no good ole summer time when the livin is easy on a farm in Florida.

Since I seem to be doing an awful lot of phrase and song quoting today I should probably through in the one that best applies here:

Make Hay While the Sun Shines!
{insert your own sound of whips cracking here}

The problem with using the sunshine to "make hay" is that most other chores are commonly done in the sunshine, or at least the daytime, also. So if the day is now solely devoted to haymaking where do those other things fit in?

Well thank you for asking...

they fit into the pre day and post day you slackers!
(ahem, I mean me, I'm the slacker - not you)

It just makes sense!

or at least it seems to make sense when the grass is growing an inch a day and you know you have at least 600 bales to put up before it quits growing so there is enough to feed all winter.

No one has figured a way to get the horses to understand they dont need attention, or gotten the cows to milk each other, or told all the young stock to worm and vaccinate themselves.

No.

Instead, they all stand around like a bunch of losers waiting for us to do it!

Its probably our fault for not training them better when they were little but they just act like they are on summer vacation lounging around chewing their cud while we race around like crazy people trying to fit all the normal chores into the day.

Actually, now that I read that sentence, I think maybe they are on to something and we really are crazy!

Be that as it may I took my camera with me yesterday to record a day in the life of above mentioned said crazy people....

Day begins:

6:15 throw on clothes, grab a pot of coffee and a box of doughnuts (otherwise known as moral builders) and try not to be the last one to show up in the barnyard ( I wasnt - I was the second one there - hooray!)

6:45 Up before the sun has made much of a dent and I can barely see the cows heads in the mist. I will call this picture

"Cowrillas In the Mist"




These young heifers are not used to seeing humans cavorting in their pasture in the predawn mist and so naturally are a little suspicious but food must be the universal language of come hither (see doughnuts above)because the mere sound of the grain cart rumbling towards their feed trough is enough to win them over and make them through caution to the wind



after a few tasty mouthfuls they are herded into a corral where they are put one by one into a chute. Even though they are young (thus the worming and vaccinating) they still weigh about 400 - 500 hundred pounds so we restrain their heads for our safety. each one gets wormed and vaccinated




along with a reassuring pat that its all gonna be over in a minute...



10:45
After the heifers are happily munching the rest of their grain, free of our "interference" with their daily routine, it is time to for tractors to be fueled up and time to hit the hay fields.

This will continue in shifts all the live long day.

Lunch will figure in there somewhere eaten beside tractors idling in wait



on and on, under the sun



8:45PM This picture was taken on my last shift as "water boy" 8:45 PM




8:50 The sun is sinking fast,




the field is done being raked and the baler can go on into the night since it has headlights and the air is hot and dry and wont put any moisture on the ground until after midnight.

9:00 Time to go do the night milking for the final chore of the day.

Only a 14 hour day....

and we got everything scheduled for this day done, not bad!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Weekend - In Food, More Or Less

One of my oldest friends,
oops! she wouldn't like that- I'd better rephrase...

one of my bestest, most long standing friends from when we were both teens,
that's much better!

came to town to help celebrate an award that another friend of ours was receiving on Friday at a banquet.

The banquet was awesome, a beautiful restored historic building, great music, wonderful food and a lot of interesting people.




The dessert was a molten lava dark chocolate confection with a crispy chocolate crust.



The "after party" Martinis where I entertained myself with trying to catch the "glow" in the martini glass using a small table candle as back lighting.




Did you know that warm pomegranate martini s are not tasty?

All in all (warm martinis aside) it was a richly elegant evening and a wonderful experience.


The next morning was more my speed however. The local 50's diner. Clinking of heavy china, the heady aroma of brewing coffee, a grill turning out such delicacies as bacon, hasbrowns, and don't forget, pancakes.

And grits!

And raisin toast!

Even the air in this place is practically edible.




It is one of those breakfast anytime of day places where you can stay as long as you want - and we did. 3 hours actually! After the late night that had come before, it was fun to sit, relax and talk about anything and everything from college bound kids to those among us who are college bound ourselves!

Since my friend doesn't visit often and since she has a lot of roots in this community and is in pretty hot demand when she does visit...I was very glad we got to squeeze in one last bit of time together on Sunday, the following morning.

We met at what my son calls the "Hippie Cafe" but really it is a delightfully "artsy" cafe (there are several artists involved in the business actually) with an emphasis on wholesome and delicious foods.

Things like steel cut oats cooked long and slow the old fashioned way. Every fresh seasonal fruit imaginable and oh yes!

A waffle station where you get your waffle to order. On this day it happened to be ginger bread waffles served with bananas, walnuts and a dollop of heavy cream.



Although they are wonderful for a lazy Sunday brunch, they are especially known for their to-die-for from scratch dessert pies cakes and breads, some of which you can see in the dessert case in the picture above.

Maybe it is because of that, this place always smells like frosting.

Cakes baking,

warm sugar and vanilla.

That is the appeal of this place...

oh!

and all the art work -which is everywhere- is original and for sale.



Feast for the eyes, feast for the soul.

I don't know when I will see my friend again. We both seem to be getting busier rather than slowing down. I do know that when we do finally get together, it will be like it always is...an instant reconnection and the easy familiarity that is the identifying mark of true friendships.


"I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Presto Pesto!

You know how one day you can look at your garden and say I really need to harvest that basil soon and then the next day you say that again and before you know it a week has gone by and basil is threatening to take over the planet?

Ok, maybe not the planet, but definitely your deck and most certainly the container that it is growing in?

Yesterday was that day. I had grandiose plans to dry the basil. I even had some wonderful little spice jars to put the dried basil in, thinking of what great gifts that would make this winter.

Only thing is, it is not winter...it is summer and the hay must feel it is in serious competition with the basil because it is growing equally as fast - or faster if that's possible.

They hay can not,will not,wait. That means the hay wins - the basil loses...

its head that is...

yes,

I grabbed the scissors and lopped off the tops of the basil and in 15 minutes had turned it into pesto!

Pesto is easy and fast. I love to make things that sound exotic and hint of faraway places and actually take less than a half hour of my time!

There are very few ingredients in pesto:

Basil, olive oil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, lemon~




NOTE* It is better to use grated fresh Parmesan if you have it, which I didn't, the canned works in a pinch.

Wash the basil and take most of the stems off, just using the leaves.






For every 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed down you will add:

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese (or canned will work)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts will work)
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS. fresh lemon juice

Combine the basil with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor or a blender. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add lemon and taste. Adjust ingredients by adding a touch more olive oil, lemon or salt if you dont thing the cheese has added enough salt.

It doesn't work well to leave it for long periods of time in the fridge so I freeze mine (an ice cube tray works great but I don't have one so I made dollops of pesto and froze them and put them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. If you freeze the "dollops separately - they wont stick together in the same bag.


Interestingly ugly isnt it?



Ahh..but when you throw it in hot pasta it is beautiful indeed!~

It's A Small World

Welcome to the liquid wonderland home of "Bubbles" and "Pearl."









They are a couple of optimists.



I know this because they never see the glass as half empty.


No.


To them, life is rich and full and satisfying.





Some may see them as living in a watering trough.



They love it that they don't live in someones home in a fishtank. That they can look up and see the open sky above them anytime they want.





It's true, that no one gives them nice tasty fish food once a day but they have visitors...



visitors that eat grain and grass and lets just say they are a tad sloppy when they are slurping!






Bubbles and Pearl enjoy the visit as well as the "groceries" that fall out of the visitors mouth.


Speaking of visitors, they get lots of them...








That's the way it is when you have a waterfront home....

you are very popular with guests!

Pearl knows this so she cleans a lot! She likes a nice presentable home for her visitors. Who knows? They might even bring their camera and take pictures. So Pearl cleans while Bubbles watches...



They are just your average stereotypical type that way.

Average is their idea of perfect. They are happy living on what some would call the cutting edge of mediocrity. They dont travel much and dont enjoy long walks or any airborne sports.

No, they are happy in their rich little ecosystem that gives them everything they need. In the little quarter inch space of their heads, where their minds reside, they are busy, productive and content.

Just hanging out
lovin life
and going for a nice swim each day.

Hey Laaadee

Lady is a horse.


She is a most trend conscious, fashion setting horse. Her halter always is the right shade to match her mood.
She recently got a fantastic pedicure.
I haven't had a pedicure or even a haircut all summer. She looks all tr├Ęs chic, while I look like a lost sheepdog.
I say that to say this...


shes obviously my go to person to get advice on getting my hair done next week.


So Lady can I talk to you a minute?


Lady - Oh its you again....did you bring me an apple?




Me - Oh, um no, I forgot the apple - I will go get one in a sec- right now I have a question to ask you...how do you get your hair to look so good all the time?

Lady - Well I think its important to develop your own style. I had this style till I read some chic named Rihanna started copying it...



so I had to move on to this,




the difference is subtle but powerful, no?

Me - No...I mean....yes! Its very powerfully subtle!

I also like your highlights.



Lady - You really don't know much about this do you? This is a blend of high AND low lights - that's all part of my "customized" look.

Me - Ah yes, when I run my hands through it I see the low lights - you are sooo right on about that Lady!



Me - So you have been a LOT of help. I am going to ask for something artfully tapered and perhaps a slightly windblown look....and highlights AND lowlights for sure. Thanks Lady. You're the best!

Lady - Yes I am. Not to change the subject....but about that apple we discussed a few minutes ago???

Me - Yes! Of course! Be right back!

Lady - Ok, Ill just wait right here...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg...

My chickens have been on a bit of an egg laying hiatus over the winter and early spring. Did it have to do with the sudden disappearance of half the "sisterhood" last fall?

I don't know.

But I have cut them some slack now that I am down to the FAB FOUR plus one very happy Rooster. Finding an egg or two or even just the occasional egg was ok, I was happy with that.

In my determined attempt to make room for natures way of doing things and allow them to free range, I have learned that life does not follow a straight line.

Instead, nature likes to confound and delight us with periods of deprivation followed by a glut of unannounced abundance.

Ah yes, mother nature is a tricky little thing and the biggest lesson to learn from her is to take NOTHING for granted.

We can take electricity for granted,

we can take cell phone reception for granted,

heck, we can take life and death for granted,

but whatever you do...

Do NOT take a chicken for granted!

For if you do,

you will feel really dumb later because chickens do the totally unexpected thing.

Always.

For instance,

after laying very few eggs at all - we started getting a LOT of rain. Bugs were forced to the surface rather than drown underground this meant my chickies got to feast.

and what that meant was...

instead of the occasional egg here and there, they got serious!

Each morning when I would opened the hen house I would find 4 eggs.




One from each hen (even Turkey Lurkey who has always felt that egg laying was beneath her exotic self!) in 9 short days I had(yes count em) 3 dozen eggs! Gulp.

I washed the eggs and tucked them away in my fridge only to watch each successive day bring with it a profusion of more eggs.

Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!

I finally just boiled a dozen of them to make deviled eggs because I know that deviled eggs in my world are like milk bones in a dog world. There can never be too many! The guys will just scarf them down at will.

After I boiled the eggs I stuck them on the counter over the sink and admired how pretty they all looked.



Pictures of minutiae are always fascinating, right?

Trying to make my faucet handle add more dimension and failing in my objective...



Lets try this again...



A little better - at least you can tell it is a faucet!

On to the good stuff...



Everybody makes deviled eggs pretty much the same way I guess. Here's my list of players:




I have one secret ingredient



Not the peppers, just the juice! It adds a touch of "zing" to the eggs. I use about 1 tsp. but use more or less to suit yourself. It wont change the consistency enough to make a difference - just makes them taste really good!

You can sprinkle them with paprika for the "pretty" if you want.

I heart eggs~

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10, 2010



The summer solstice was on June 21, give or take a day or so and depending on your time zone.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Rises Sets Day Length
Sun 5:09 A.M. 8:31 P.M. 15:22


The day was 15 hours and 22 minutes of sunlight.


We are slowly and imperceptibly moving towards the shorter days of Fall and Winter.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rises Sets Day Length
Sun 5:19 A.M. 8:28 P.M. 15:09

13 minutes less each day already....

less time to check the coop for eggs...

less time to feed something...(cows, horses, chickens - take your pick- there are never enough hours in the day...)



July 10 is the 191st day of the year

There are 174 days remaining until the end of the year.

Interesting things happened on this day...

In 1890 Wyoming became the 44th state.

In 1985 Coca-Cola Co., bowing to pressure from irate customers after the introduction of New Coke, said it would resume selling its old formula.

I remember that last one!

July 10 is also known as the day we cut a 20 acre hay meadow.

Tomorrow we bale if all goes well and the rain stays away.

I drive the rake that gathers the hay for the baler, so I have a date with the grass and a hot drying sun tomorrow.

My chariot awaits

Friday, July 9, 2010

BEST FRIENDS




This is "Tick" and "Tock"

They are "Besties"

aside from being "beasties" which is a whole other story!
They have been best friends from the day they landed here in my little steer pasture.

They eat together

The chew their cud together

The rest of the cows respect that they are "together" and obligingly make room for the two of them to be beside each other all the time.

They are also gaining a LOT of weight...

here's "Tock" two months ago...



and Tock today,



Hello ladies! Wouldn't we all panic if that was a pic of us in 2 months time?

Our belly spreading out on both sides and never mind our thighs or unmentionable butt!

Tock however doesn't mind...

he is above our fashion conscious world.

His world consists of

hay

grass

and hanging with his BFF



Sometimes...

the world is very simple isnt it?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Manicure Monday!

So today was back to work for all the ladies of the farm.

The day began with "Lady" getting her hooves trimmed...

Her hooves had gotten long, with her living on soft ground and not being ridden. It was slowing her down enough (along with the fact that she is getting OLD) that the other horses were giving her a hard time. So she packed up and moved to better accommodations and now lives amongst my grass fed beef herd. She pined away for her "buddies" across the road at first but then she settled in and enjoys her days being the "tallest" and the only (horse) in her new pasture.

The farrier came early. 7 a.m. and he was here and ready to work. I was still padding around in PJ's and watching the action out the living room window...

All the smaller steers lined up at the gate to watch Lady once she was taken out. It was SO funny. It was like having front row seats at "Avatar" or something. I swear you could have given those calves popcorn and Jujubes and charged them each $15.00 per ticket and not heard the first complaint!

Each time I would cross the living room and look out the window there they were...all lined up watching intently. It was so cute and I did the internal debate...

get out of pajamas, get dressed ( I mean the farrier was there after all...) and try to snag the shot? After the third time, scolding myself inwardly I did throw on clothes and sneak out the back door so as not to alert the steers, in my attempt to snare that awesomely cute pic.

Only by the time I snuck around the back of the house and got lined up...

the calves were at intermission apparently, leaving me only a good shot of "Lady" getting her back hooves done and aptly demonstrating why a farrier earns his money if anyone does.




Next it was time to travel back to the Dairy and watch a different farrier ply his trade on the moo cows.

I was struck by the fact that horses being plains animals, need hard rocky ground to gallop upon to keep their hooves trimmed naturally. Being in a soft grassy pasture 2000 miles from their natural habitat, necessitates intervention to trim what rocks and mountains and grassy plains would have done automatically. Cows on the other hand, are pasture animals. They thrive on soft lush ground and the lay down a lot - unlike horses who stand most of the time - even when sleeping.

The problem for the cows is because they are a dairy herd they have to go into a milking barn twice a day and barn floors are made of concrete for sanitary reasons. As a result, all that standing and waiting their turn, leads to their hooves getting longer from TOO much hard surface.

Ironic isn't it? It is better to work with habitats and nature rather than against it. It becomes up to us to prevent foot problems and intervene if a problem does occur.

Manicure Monday functions a LOT differently if you are a dairy cow than if you are a horse. A horse can be bribed to stand still with a bucket of grain. A cow just wants to come in and get the milked so she can go back out on the pasture to eat grass and lay down. Any disruption in that routine is viewed with suspicion and not welcome at all.

Because cows have a split hoof they need a highly trained kind of farrier to take care of them. He brings special equipment to make it as non traumatic for the cows (and safe for his hands) as possible.

First he sets up a chute that will lift the cow up on her right side for her "manicure".



He lays out all of his tools on the bed of his truck. He even sets up a fan to blow on the cows to keep them cool and not stressed as much as possible.



This cow is older and has done this before, so she was pretty calm about the whole procedure.

She seemed more affronted by me standing in front of her eyeballing her with my camera than anything...



Ups a daisy, goes "Daisy"!



She was very nonchalant about the whole thing and looked at me as if to say
"Are you getting all this?"



After a little filing and buffing she was all done and down she went....

ta da!

Piece of cake!



She even paused, turned and glanced back at the lift in curiosity before turning again and ambling her way out to the pasture on her newly coiffed hooves.



The next cow couldn't have been more different. For one, she is younger and more excitable and hadn't ever experienced the lift before. Because she is younger, her hooves were actually in good shape overall, only over the last few days she had started to walk very slowly and there was some swelling and tenderness in her front right foot indicating most likely an abscess from stepping on some sharp object.

She didn't enjoy the lift anymore than a baby enjoys the pediatricians office ...



I think her expression pretty much sums it up.

Sure enough she had an abscess but it was caught early. The farrier made a cool looking little "shoe" for her to cushion her hoof while it heals.



He mixes an acrylic just like they do at the nail salons and coats her hoof protectively and attaches the "shoe", then wraps the whole thing in a medicated wrap that will stay on for 4 days and then be removed.



The farrier stopping to go talk to her and let her see him to help calm and reassure her



Hang on Miss 217, you will be all done soon!

The acrylic attached shoe will fall off on its own after a week much the way acrylic nails loosen and fall off without upkeep. By then her hoof will be good to go.

Within an hour she was walking well and the only evidence of the mornings shenanigans was her bright red ankle wrap.

The farrier: This man was so skilled at his work and so knowledgeable and kind to the cows. It was really awesome to meet him and we will definitely be keeping him!



So that sums up manicure Monday. Anyone need some work done?