Sunday, December 27, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

While preparing for this holiday season I had lots of thinking time. We made several homemade presents. Including a couple fleece no sew blankets , coasters made with Christmas napkins (this tutorial even has a video), vanilla extract, braided fleece dog toys, and several tourtiere pies. While crafting and cooking I thought about what things I may want to do differently in the new year. Year after year there are always the most common goals I set: loose a few pounds, get better organized, etc.... but this year my #1 goal is to practice Random Acts of Kindness more often! Then I thought, heck with the new year! Why not start now? So the weekend before Christmas I packaged up a couple plates of leftover ham dinner, some desserts, and a fresh tourtiere pie and dropped it by the old farmer's house a couple miles down the road. Then I woke up Christmas morning and cooked them up another meal and delivered it just before noon.
Why? Because they have no children, no local family, and they both have significant medical problems.
We met them about a year ago when I randomly stopped by the farm to see if he had a duck I could buy. We've been friends ever since. He is a proud man who asks little of others but always goes above and beyond to help others. Every time I see him he tells me a story and I listen. You never realize what you'll learn from others when you first meet them. Nor do I think others realize what how they teach others just by example. So from here on out I plan to bake & deliver a meal or at very least bread or a dessert every week. Why?
~It is the right thing to do.
~They have no family and my grandparents have all passed.
~They can use the help and we have the ability to help.
~It is a valuable lesson for our children, they too learn by example!

What are your goals for the New Year? I challenge you to add practicing more Random Acts of Kindness to your list!

I will end this post with a few quotes to think about:

~Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you-not because they are nice to you, but because you are. ~Author Unknown

~Beginning today,treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of reward. Your life will never be the same again. ~Og Mandino

~ Never doubt that a small group of commited people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that truly has. ~Margaret Mead

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Grocery Shopping

On Christmas Eve I went out behind the barn and dug up a couple rows of carrots. Enough to fill two large bowls. They were under at least 6 inches of snow but the ground had yet to freeze. It would have been a whole lot easier to dig up a month or so ago but....I didn't. I had it with picking and processing, thought about mulching the beds but I didn't. Little more work but it still beats buying a bag at the grocery store!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Healthy & Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Looks kind of like this picture but with a lot more white stuff surrounding it. Someone decided that winter was to begin this week in Maine. The week before it was in the 50-60's and the only attire needed while working outside was a sweatshirt. We had a storm at the beginning of the week and it is snowing as I type. This past Wednesday was the kids first snow day from school, always an exciting moment.

If you want to read a bit about where we bought the greenhouse here is the post form back in April .
Credits to Maine Man who worked from dusk til dawn to finish this project.
First breaking ground...

Lots of cow poo dropped off by the farmer down the road.

Then MM tilled it in.

Doesn't look like a whole lot but MM spent many hours putting this together. Our new neighbor just across the way even commented on his persistence when he is out working on projects in the yard.

Challenging moments. I wouldn't exactly say we work well together. If only pictures could speak!

farm help

farm clown

Temporary side enclosure. MM will do something different come Spring to promote optimal ventilation. We do have a big box fan we bought along with it but we'd rather not use if we don't have too.

We put up 48 feet of the 96 feet we have. It is good to start with. See if it will withstand a Maine winter. We can learn from our mistakes on a smaller scale and if we find we need more we have it.
Now to all you with greenhouse experience...
Is this considered a hoop house where it is not heated or a greenhouse?
Do you have anything growing is yours right now? What do you grow in yours typically?
I have some kale and mesculin greens all sprouted. Should I attempt to put in the ground? If so should I put a row cover on top?
HELP....any advice appreciated here!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Making Memories

We took a ride on the back forty and found the MOST BEAUTIFUL TREE in the WORLD!
(our world that is)
Then the kids and I took cover.


The first Christmas Tree to be cut off the farm

by our sweet Maine Man

2 Very Happy kiddos!

Then over the hills and through the woods we went.....

back to the farm.

To do our favorite yearly tradition.
Dad puts on the lights.

Followed by the kids decorating with lots of ornaments. Many that they have made in years past.

While jamming to Christmas music.

And a whole lot of horsing around!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for...Maine Man of course! Without this man this farmhouse and land would be merely that. He is what makes this farm a FARM! What would we do without his know how to fix and do just about anything, his can do attitude, and his strong work ethic?
He truly is OUR HERO!
I am thankful for... Ms. Turkey who gave her life to nourish ours yesterday and for days to come.

I am thankful for....the bounty of our harvest!

I am thankful for....the kids next door who add great joy to my children's lives!

I am thankful for....these stinky little pigs. Barbie & Que. It is so nice to never have a scrap of food go to waste.

I am thankful for...our 20 little laying hens. By far one of the most efficient animals to have. Nothing like going out to feed them and returning to the house with a basket full of eggs for breakfast. Immediate gratification, I'm all about that!

I am thankful....that we are able to raise most of the meat we eat!

I am thankful for...these two munchkins!
For...helping Dad the other night get dinner ready and do dishes
For...being each others best friend (all though some days you may not admit)
For...being considerate & kind to others
For...doing so good in school gratitude to the animals you eat each night at the dinner table
For...helping your Dad process the animals, you know how spleeny mom is ;)
For...being the BEST kids a Mom & Dad could ever ask for.
For...being yourselves!
There is SO much more to be thankful for but it's getting late and I will end this post with a BIG
THANKS to all my family. I would not be where I am or the person I've become without your love, support, and guidance!
Lastly I am thankful for... ALL my friends, both live and virtual! I am fortunate to have such a great support network!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

This years pumpkin crop was not as big as we anticipated. Last year we had enough for the kids to set up a stand and make a few bucks. I really can't complain because we still had plenty for ourselves, some to give away, and the rest went to the pigs.

The kids made a few jack o' lanterns and I cooked some up and froze it.

We cooked up some seeds tossing them with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Next year I'll be sure to try Don's recipe for pumpkin seeds. This post is also a great tutorial for making pumpkin puree for anyone that may be interested in learning more. Up until last year I had no idea that you could just cook up any old pumpkin. Regardless, next Spring I will try and grow some pumpkins specific for cooking in hopes of a richer flavor and smaller pumpkins for easier handling.

I put 20 bags in the freezer. I have cooked two dishes with it since. A tasty pumpkin custard that the whole family enjoyed and the other night I cooked up a delicious pumpkin soup that
I will make again for sure. Here is the link

and the recipe...

Simple Pumpkin Soup

1/2 cup onion

3T. butter

2 cups of mashed cooked pumpkin (or canned)

1 teas salt

1 T sugar

1/4 teas nutmeg

1/4 teas ground pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup of half and half (can use fat free)

Those are not exactly the steps I took. I removed both the chicken stock & the pumpkin from the freezer and thawed them in my crock pot. Then I added spices & cooked onions. After a few hours I ran it all through my food processor to chop up the pumpkin a bit more. In addition to the above spices I added 3/4 tablespoon of cumin, meant to add curry but it still tasted good.
Perfect soup for the season!

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 Tally

This past year I tried desperately to keep a tally of all the food we produced here on the farm and gathered from mother nature. Well I tell you, I failed miserably! I was able to keep track of most of the meat we put up but there was no way that I could track all the fruits & vegetables.

In addition to grocery shopping in the garden nightly this summer we picked lots of wild raspberries, domestic raspberries, and a few strawberries & blueberries. Next summer's fruit harvest should be more plentiful. The kids and I also went strawberry picking a couple times and froze all we could. For the second year in a row I bought 20lbs of Maine blueberries from a local. You can't beat the price or the taste!

I froze what I could from the garden including beets, cabbage, beet greens, swish chard, green beans, peas, pumpkin, and rhubarb. I canned dill pickles, zucchini pickles & relish, an beets. In cold storage we put up onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, yukon golds, hubbard and buttercup squash. The eggs tally lasted until mid July and the count left off at 3373 eggs. We eat lots, give plenty away and sell to a few locals.

Here is our meat tally. Keep in mind all of the chicken & turkey we put up are on the bone.

Rabbits - 10lbs (still have 7 full grown meat rabbits to put up or sell)

Ducks - 13 lbs (we have 8 Muscovies that we intended to eat but have become attached to and 3 Khaki Campbells) They will reside in the greenhouse this winter. I will be posting about that as soon as it is complete.

Fish - 6lbs (this is inaccurate, it is the only # I had written down, I did not do a good job tracking this....oops)

Pork - 270lbs

Turkey-82 lbs

Venison- 88lbs (thanks to Maine Man. I did get a shot at one for a first this year but I missed :(.... couple weeks left in the season.

Chicken - 423lbs (we have 15 Cornish Rocks roosters left in the barn that probably weigh at least 8lbs dressed) Seeing how we have no more freezer space or the need for any more meat MM will do the deed this week and we will give to family. Early Merry Christmas ;)

Partridge/ Woodcock - I forgot to track....

Total Tally - 892 lbs (after MM takes care of the broilers and the rabbits we should be up over 1000lbs. I will update the tally when all is complete)

We gave some meat to family& friends. Some we bartered for homemade wine & cider. The rest will nourish our family right through a good portion of 2010.

Not only did we raise all these animals but Maine Man processed 100% of the meat. He really lives up to his name!

Interestingly, we tried to sell the last of the rabbits and cornish rocks and nobody was interested.(I didn't even mention prices) I also offerred one of our grown pigs to a family member for free and they declined. The basic reason is because nobody wants to do the deed. I can't say I blame them because I am have never been interested in that either. Give me the meat, I'll package but I'm quite all set with the rest. Although the more I get into this lifestyle the more I think... well maybe. Funny how you acclimate to your surroundings. A couple years back I would not even considered it. Heck, I go hunting. Not sure how I'd feel if I shot one but hopefully someday I'll find out. It is kind of sad how much we have distanced ourselves from killing animals for food. Some can barely even recognize meat as living animals that were killed for their consumption. :(

P.S. We also put up 4 quarts and 1 pint of maple syrup. Can't wait to tap more trees next year!
Not sure if I'll keep a running tally next year but I am glad I (somewhat) I did this year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homemade Earring Hanger

I'll start to by giving credits to my friend Mary for the original idea. She made me an earring rack several years back. I've used it every day since! So I decided to experiment and make a couple of my own. Since they came out ok I plan to make a few for Christmas presents.
My daughter & I put the above two together. We went to a thrift store to pick up the frames then over to the hardware store to buy black fiberglass screening. (84ft for $6)
Then we stapled the screening onto the back. Easy, inexpensive, useful project.
The above rack now holds my earrings (picture is a little sideways...oops!)
If you click on the picture it will enlarge. Most of the earrings were also made by Mary.
Crafty lady, isn't she?
This is Flower Girl's. Pretty funky earrings for a 7 year old. Trust me, she is not allowed to wear some of them in public.

I will end this post with a couple random links I'd like to refer back to and for you to explore if you desire.
Making liquid soap - I'd love to give a try at this sometime. I am going to attempt making bar soap soon, I've done it once before.
Blueberry Gateau - made this recipe the other day..... yummy!