“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Frost? Lets Bake!

Today Fall really showed her face. The weather has been wet, but today the damp and coolness started to penetrate the house and my bones. Its really time for soup and baking.
So in an effort to keep the house cozy and warm, I baked a double batch of the Amish Friendship or Friendly Bread. I have directions with both names and two somewhat different ingredient lists.My second batch had a bit of an eruption and blew up onto the muffins. I wasn't sure how to deal with the two different timed bakings, but it all worked out fine. And the explosion was very tasty!
Tonight as we were bringing the animals in, my neighbor told me that there was a frost warning. It took me by surprise, as I have been watching the temperatures and the weather reports. The full moon is in four days, and I was looking for frost warnings, but I guess I missed it. As we looked at the evening sky, that halo that signals bad weather was ringing the moon.
The only saving grace may be those clouds, but the wind is supposed to blow them away by morning. I do hope it holds off. I picked my peppers, but I would like to have the tomatoes last a little longer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

White Dove or Homing Pigeon

This afternoon, I happened to glance out of the window at just the right moment to see a flutter of white. Pure white.I looked again, and there was a large, white bird on the corner of the barn roof. After taking a couple of pictures I went back to what I was doing, expecting the bird to fly off sooner than later. I have to admit that at the moment I saw the bird, I had some frustrations on my mind. The sight of the white dove came as a "sign", and I yelled "Peace!" and laughed out loud.
Three or so hours later, when it was time to get the goats in, I saw a white flutter again and we found the bird on the roof of the small goat shed in the "high security" area. I got a little chicken feed and tossed it in front of the bird, as by then it was on the ground next to the shed.
As we tried to take a closer look and give it some food, it scurried inside the shed. I think it was probably a bird released in a ceremony, or an escaped bird from a magic act. Does the band make it a homing pigeon? If so, I guess it is just resting on its way somewhere. It was a nice surprise for all of us, goats included. A few of them spent a little time looking at the dove through the fence.
If its there tomorrow, I hope it stays out of the way of those darned barn cats. If it does stick around, I'll have to learn some magic tricks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Freezing Eggs

These are two bags of frozen eggs that I have started to prepare this month as I saw the hens start to molt. Soon we will not have the excess of eggs that we have all summer. Production is slowing down fast as the days get shorter. The hens need 11 hours of light to produce eggs, and you may notice how terribly short the days are starting to get. We can turn on the light in the barn to keep them going, but we let them have this rest period to let nature work as it does.I had read about freezing eggs, and this year I decided to give it a try. When we get to those bleak days in December and January when there is a deficit of eggs here, and at other farms, and I cannot bring myself to buy any at the grocery store, I am going to dig out one of these bags and have a fine omelet, make a batch of crepes for dinner, or something else yummy.There are several methods to try, using milk and/or salt, or sugar, with the eggs. My first bag I used a splash of milk and salt. Since then I have only used a dash of salt. The most important thing is to start with the freshest, clean eggs.
I cracked four into a bowl. We usually use three for our Sunday omelet, but I am splurging while I can. Perhaps we will have you over for breakfast and have to share!
I beat them with a fork to combine them as well as I could.
Looking pretty good. They say not too much air. Maybe too many bubbles?
Then I added a bit of salt. Just a couple quick shakes. If you know you want sweet eggs for a recipe, you can add sugar here instead. Milk also. Just mark your container each time with the ingredients. I also put on the exact date. Things get moved around in my freezer so much. I want to be able to identify the oldest to use first.
I poured the eggs into a pint freezer bag, and pushed out as much air as I could. I sat the bag flat so it freezes nicely. Then I can stack it better later.

Some methods used ice cube trays, and then transferred them to bags. Its up to you. I'm looking forward to these fresh eggs in the dark days of winter. Maybe you want to run out to your local farm and try this too. Let me know how it goes. I can't wait to see myself.

Here are a couple of sites I checked. There are lots more.

Georgia Egg Commission

How To Freeze Eggs

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fall Arrives

In the past week, the grasses and foliage have started the fall ritual of turning colors. Red seems to be the first color to arrive in significant quantity, although some of the grasses have been browning too. That may be more due to the dry weather we have had until the past couple of days. Last night the temperatures turned just a little cooler, making us realized its time to be thinking about frosts and sweaters.Morning scenes like this are pretty usual here, as we seem to hold the fog or mist between the hills much of the year. With the cooler, damper weather it just lasts longer these days. This day actually turned out to be sunny.
The beautiful thing about the mist is that it brings out the best in the spider's art work. Some mornings, with the right angle of the sun, it looks like we have a field of webs to the point of being pretty spooky.
To point out how dry its been, the grass in the foreground, and along the water's edge is growing on exposed pond mud. Today's rain may help fill the pond and the creeks around here, and our new water tanks.
This is Mia on the hunt by the pond. Chipmunks seem to be the critter of choice these days, but I'm not sure what she is finding up here. Maybe fish if the water gets any lower.
And another beautiful web on the rose hips by the pond. Soon the rose hips will be table decorations.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Seton Hill University Pipe Band

Kilts were the fashion this afternoon in Ligonier, although I thought it was a bit hot for wool. A good little crowd came out to listen to Scottish bag pipes on the Diamond.The new paint on the bandstand roof looked great in the September sun.The Scots came out in their best. This was the week-end of the Laurel Highlands Games at Idlewild Park, and the kilts and plaids were out.The Seton Hill Pipe Band played a variety of pieces from somber to marching tunes.Yes - they did Amazing Grace. Does anyone not get emotional when they hear it?There were some toe tappers, and I wished we had someone to dancing to them.SEE VIDEO OF SETON HILL UNIVERSITY PIPE BAND IN LIGONIER, PA


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flax Scutching Festival

The 102nd Flax Scutching Festival in Stahlstown, PA is one of the more interesting events I have been to in a while. More than entertain, they teach and provide a living history of the flax industry. And its pretty darned interesting!
Although a bit long on the feet, especially for Mom, the demonstration was well worth the time and the bargain $4.00 entry to the event. For $1.00 more you could take a long hay ride around the fields. I will find someone to go with me again for sure.
It is a collection of old farm arts and machinery, as well as crafts done well, and a good variety. Not well in the commercial way, but in the crafts way. I wish I had taken more photos, but I really enjoyed talking to the quilters and crafters for information. One table had jewelry made from bones, shells, and other not usual material. Unique.And there was no shortage of good food which we tried from soup to funnel cake, and plenty of main courses to make everyone happy. We passed up the buckwheat pancakes, but there was a crowd still enjoying them mid day. To appreciate them more, you must realize that the batter is started two days before the event to get it right. We came home with wonderful apple butter and a bag of fresh, warm kettle corn. Mom is happy because its keeping her warm! I should have gotten more information, but this machine made a lot of noise grinding the wheat and separating the hulls. I think it was running off a tractor via a belt. There were so many old working machines, it was wonderful to see.We came home with fresh ground corn meal, wheat flour and bran. I see baking in our future.

If you also go onto the official web site, there is a terrific You Tube video that gives a great taste of the event. http://flaxscutching.org/

It is a nice event, and I thank the participants and volunteers for doing such a great job.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunshine and Leftovers

One of the many sunflowers we can see over the weeds!!! Thank goodness they are tall.
Snickers trying to look hungry and needy. Did it work for you? Mom was heading to the composter with the corn cobs and mussel shells from a great dinner, and the barn animals always come looking and hoping.
The chickens ganged up and got half a corn cob from Mia, who carried it from the compost, but was too intimidated to grab it and run further.
Snickers got the other half of the cob and spent a good deal of time with it. The corn was sweet, so some did not even have butter remains. I guess sweet corn is a cat food now.

One of the hens did not heed the growling and got a bit too close for her own good. I wonder how well chickens hear. Hmmm?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spring Development Two - Part One

This is the pipe for the second spring that is being developed to supply the barn with water. It will also have a faucet for the garden.


Bob taking a break from running the machine.
The guys think we should open a quarry as we have unearthed several substantial rocks. I wish I had a backhoe.
The frost free faucet is loosely sitting in the ground, and will supply the garden and the other fields with water when we want it.
This rock was too big to deal with. The pipe went around it.
The chickens kept pace with the backhoe, and almost got mashed a couple of times.
The old pipe going to who knows where, with the new pipe taking over.
Heating the pipe for stretch and flexibility to fit and shrink over the metal fitting.
The last connection on this end. Tomorrow the tank gets placed and connected.