Summer Food Processing, New Pigs, New Pastures, and Heat!

It is really feeling like Summer, with high temps and it’s accompanying elevated humidity. I am not a Summer person. While I love the produce Summer provides, and how pretty and lush it is outside, I am counting down till Fall begins. Summer is beautiful, hot, sticky, and filled with hard work. Once Fall and Winter hit, all of the bounty from the Summer stickiness becomes comfort food, and it warms the kitchen and fills the house with delicious smells while the wood stove warms us. To me, this comfort in Fall and Winter give Summer it’s worth.

This is a Purslane ferment with garlic and last year’s dried cayenne peppers. Purslane is a super healthy food, and I am lucky that not only does it grow nicely and wild here, but it kindly grows right in my garden! Since Purslane is so healthy, fermenting means that we can eat it all year instead of just Summer. The carrots were from our local farmer’s market. I have been itching to ferment, and my garden does not have too much to harvest yet. Next to the carrots is an Echinacea Tincture. It has leaves, buds and flowers of the Echinacea plant (Purple Coneflower). This is covered in vodka and will sit till Fall when I add some of the roots to it, once the plant has gone dormant. Once ready it will get strained and this tincture will hopefully help us when cold/flu season comes around. The last jar on the right is Spruce tips in sugar, for Spruce tip syrup. It has a ways to go as all the sugar has not melted yet.

I was ready to feed the carrot tops, from my farmer’s market carrots, to the chickens, when my friend said, “do you know you can eat them”, well NO was my answer. So, I looked up some recipes and made something delicious. Thank you friend.

Here it is, carrot top Pesto! I used carrot tops, basil, almonds (it’s what I had left from my granola business I just sold), garlic and olive oil. It’s absolutely delicious!

First harvest of fresh broccoli:)

These are collards, stacked for chopping. They went into the freezer for Winter.

My kitchen table, in the summer becomes my drying area. Here I am drying some red clover to add to what I have collected already, it is good in tea mixes. Also Mullein in the front right to be used for colds/coughs. Pineapple weed (wild Chamomile) in the back right will be wonderful in tea, and smells so much like pineapple! I pick off the flowers and dry them. In the picture I had not done this step yet. There is Yarrow in the back left, which has many uses which I am learning about now in my readings, and lastly a few Mullein flowers. I had quite a few Mullein plants around here last year, but I am not seeing as many this year. The yellow flowers, take a long time to harvest as only a few flower each day on the very tall stalk. They are often used for helping ear infections, by making a medicinal oil from them.

The grapes, despite our poor training for them, look like they are growing well. Last year our grape juice had so many varieties in it, it tasted nothing like store grape juice. It tasted like grown up grape juice, with a really nice flavor to it.

Piggies! We just got these adorable little girls. They are more friendly than their counterparts last year, and cute with their little spots!

This was a big morning at our farm. Hubby has worked so hard to get things fenced in the front of the farm where we have wonderful grazing land. It was a big job! This was their first day down there, and they couldn’t have been happier. They have a stream to water at, and lots of grass to eat, and tree branches to browse. We are pretty happy to, because they have just begun what we have wanted for a while, they are going to clean up the area. When they are done it will be beautiful. We know this, because they cleaned out our woods already, which are now more beautiful than ever! Highlands are amazing cattle.

Now I am off to give fresh cold water to our 45 younger chickens, our 11 two and three year old chickens, and to two cute little piggies. They will all feel refreshed from this, however, with 93% humidity, I will not. Shower time.

Bubbling soup, and a crackling fire…

I cleaned up from a simple dinner of grilled cheese with delicious 5 year local cheddar and homemade soup. Then I sat down, with a hot cup of Ginger Lemon tea (this is new for me, never have been a tea drinker) which I really like, and opened my computer to work on Quickbooks for my business. My intention was to get all book keeping done tonight. Then I started thinking about the garden and then pretty soon Quickbooks was off the desktop and i started working on my garden list. While I was pausing to think about what else to add, I realized how quiet the house was and that all I could actually hear was the simmering beef broth on the stove top, the crackling of the wood fire downstairs, and an owl that was just down the hill from the house. Nights on the farm are very quiet. This sparked yet another of my, multiple time a day moments, where I just feel so grateful, and so lucky and so happy to live on our hill, and be able to do what we do here. It seemed like a good time for a blog post, so now work and the garden were both off my desktop.

We’ve been wanting to have a “farm meeting” before Spring hit, so we could talk about animal and garden plans etc. It just kept not happening so on our most recent drive to see my folks, we had our farm meeting in the car. I of course hadn’t thought of this idea before hand so all my perfectly organized notes were no part of the discussion unfortunately. We did pretty well though and I am excited about all of our new ideas and plans.

We confirmed a previous passing conversation about not having new Chicks on the farm this year. We have gotten Chickens in the Spring for the last 3 years. We had pigs the first 2 years and then not last year, so each Spring we do things a bit differently. Last year we raised 50 birds for the freezer and 8 new hens. This year after talking it over we have decided to not get new birds. We still have the layers from the year before in a different coop and run and we decided we will let those birds do their thing in the cow yard and be free ranging birds. They are not our main layers anymore, although they do lay, and if we were to lose a layer, which of course we don’t want to happen, I sure wouldn’t want it to be one of our current layers, who have another whole year of laying. This will be a good experiment. Additionally we realized that if the older hens range than we can move the new layers into the old layers pen and this will free up the chicken area in our permanent coop, to be a well fertilized garden. This will be new garden space, and since it is completely fenced in, I will let all the pole beans climb up these fences on all three sides. This frees up space in my other garden where they were last year. In the Fall when the younger layers head into this area, the things planted there will be done and the chickens will enjoy cleaning it all up! We also made a decision that this year will be a pig year, we will get 2-3 feeder pigs, same as last time, Large Black Hogs. So this covers the pig and chicken plans for Spring.

Lastly for animals it brings us to the Cattle. We are pretty sure by an incident that occurred recently that we will likely have calves in September. Our original 9 cattle ended up as 8 when we sold a calf, then 6 when we processed to steers. Now we are at 5 and the decision is that one of our two last steers will get processed in the Spring and one toward the end of Summer. This will leave us with our 3 mama cows and our bull. We had been worried about having calves and not having enough pasture to support the animals, but now that we have thinned the herd, it is a good time for calves. We will have a huge new pasture open in the Fall, that will give us endless grazing for our small herd and will be wonderful to finally see happen.

In garden news:

We will now have 3 gardens! The mini high tunnel that is in use right now will be where I start all my greens early, and it will keep the bunnies away too. The big garden will be extended a bit and now I have the chicken yard to plant in too, this will help provide some of the extra space I will be needing this year. We also discussed fencing the big garden which would be a big job but would be helpful for years and years, I am really hoping we can get to this.

In other random news, we are seeing loads of Eagles, and I am loving it! These were feeding on a deer on near the road, we turned around to go back for the shot!

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I worked on another loom project. This one for my west coast daughter. We recently visited and I brought it with me. It turned out looking like this.

black and white mat

Naturally I have to bore any reader with my newest ferments. This includes my first true Krautchi. Well it’s real Kimchee but I used regular Cabbage so it is Krautchi:)

all new ferments

Finally, it seems Spring is coming early so my daughter and I…

bucket cleaning…washed out the buckets and got to work…

sap collection

We rounded out this weekend after tapping the trees with a wonderful family dinner with fish we caught ice fishing, a veggie dish with red peppers, green and yellow beans, and broccoli, our bartered and roasted potatoes, some Krautchi and a bowl of Strawberries and Blueberries for dessert. Pulling all this colorful and pretty produce out of my freezer amazes me every time. This dinner was like summer with all the veggies and fruits. Finally we played a new game. This is saying a lot because I am a total wreck at learning games, but I learned it and now officially love playing the Settlers of Catan. All four of us liked it, mostly the three of them were in amazement that I could play it;) It was a great farm weekend.