Sunday, May 26, 2013

Priorities constantly shifting….

I am constantly re-evaluating what is important to me in my life.  As I do chores I have lots of time to reflect upon what makes me happy and what does not.  When we first started this journey I wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Over time I have realized how much time and effort this truly takes.  I have since taken the attitude that I will do what I can and I will outsource what I cannot.  In reality some times it is less expensive to do that and there is no denying that it is not so labor intensive.

This year I am not so into milking….just not feeling it!  Don’t get me wrong I love the act of milking.  It is meditative and rhythmic in nature allowing me time to pause and use all of my senses.  But caring for milking goats is time consuming and with the amount of goats I have not an inexpensive adventure.  Regardless, the number one reason why I have decided to only milk for a few weeks this summer is because it is nearly impossible to leave the farm for more then a day when you have a dairy animal.  There are very few people in this day and age that know how to milk and only a handful willing to learn.  It is a fairly easy task once you’ve practiced a few times but it does take a little skill and forearm power. 


Flower Girl and I milked two of our dairy goats for the first time last night in the rain.  We took a few pictures on my phone but the quality was marginal.  We will milk for the next couple weeks and freeze the milk in hopes to be make lots of soap for the Common Ground Fair this fall.  FG has yet to hear back if she and her brother’s applications have been accepted.  Until then we will think positively.


As far as drinking and cooking milk…. well I must confess I have been SPOILED with fresh raw organic Jersey milk that is delivered to my house in a glass jar weekly at a cost of $4.50/gallon since last summer.  If I feel ambitious and want to make cheese or something I just order more.  We are not big milk drinkers so some weeks I have leftovers and I make yogurt with it.  Now I want a dairy cow…lol.  Not now but maybe someday!



So with that said I have 2 of my dairy goats out on borrow for the summer.  They are at a friends farm that I know will take good care of them.  My other two does will also go out on borrow soon.  It would have been a shame to dry them up when I knew people wanted to milk for the summer.  The only goats that will be on the farm this summer are Dolly my Alpine goat and Johnny my naughty billy goat.  I would love to think I could put them in with the cows but I am not sure how that will work out.  Time will tell!

On a final note in follow-up to posting from my phone.  It works but is best for very brief posts.  The image quality is not even comparable to my Canon but I still think I will use it from time to time to share brief tidbits of the madness.

Praying for sunshine!!!  We were on vacation this week and it has been raining nearly non-stop since last Sunday.  Thankfully we went camping last weekend instead of Memorial weekend.  I have not finished or started any of my planned outside projects: plant the garden, open the pool, and clean the outhouse.  I have mostly cooked and cleaned.  My house is cleaner then I care to admit.  I’m even caught up on folding laundry which only occurs about once a year here.  Cheers to brighter days ahead!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


After a long Maine winter eating hay the cows are now enjoying fresh green pasture. We currently have two steers and one heifer.  Maine man has the pasture sectioned off so we can rotate paddocks as needed. So far this season they have been rotated 3 times. It has rained here for a week now so both the animals and we a pretty tired of it.  Looking forward to seeing the sun again.

P.S. This is a test post using my phone. Hoping I'll be more consistent with posting if this works.

Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

With canning season in the horizon I figured I’d better share this recipe.  I have experimented with making spaghetti sauce on several occasions and this recipe is the one I ALWAYS return to.  It comes from a good friend’s mom who has canned for many years. I am posting with her permission of course!

  • 12 lbs peeled and diced tomatoes (4-5 qts)
  • 12 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried sweet basil or 1/3 cup of fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

Put tomatoes, paste, sugar, basil, salt, and pepper in large pot.

Sauté onion, peppers in oil for 5 minutes adding garlic just before time is up.  Then add to tomatoes.  Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 2 hours or desired consistency.  Stir occasionally.  Pack into pint or quart jars.  Pressure cook @ 10lbs of pressure for 20-25 minutes or you can take the lazy easy way out and  freeze in plastic containers or bags.  I have been known to take that route on a good many occasions.


  1. I shared not only to be nice but mostly because organization is not one of my finer points and I would be distraught if I lost this recipe.
  2. I don’t chop up my tomatoes I use my tomato saucer I purchased a few years back from Johnny’s select seed.  It is pictured in this post from 2011.  It is by far one of my favorite kitchen gadgets!
  3. As my sauce is cooking I blend with my immersion blender (another favorite in the kitchen) so there are “NO CHUNKS” because the kids won’t eat it if it has “CHUNKS”.  PUNKS!!!!
  4. Last note….I promise.  A couple weeks back we were in Boston and we ate at an authentic Italian restaurant.  It was DIVINE!  My boy said “Mom this sauce tastes a lot like yours.”  That is all he needed to say.  I hoping to put up at least 30-40 quarts….enough to make it through a long Maine winter.  Happy Canning!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gardening Trials and Tribulations

A couple weeks back I awoke at 5:30 a.m. in a complete panic because I had forgotten my tomatoes out in the greenhouse overnight.  I slipped on my boots and ran out only to discover lots of limp vegetable seedlings. 50 plus plants tossed into the compost.  SO disappointing!   Thankfully I had enough time to replant.

Maine Man has decided to cut WAY back on gardening this year.  I’ll admit when he first told me I was a tad bit peeved because I have lots of big bad plans for preserving this year.

Last garden season I was in the midst of maintaining two homes while caring for my farmer friend.  I did not have a lot left to put into the gardens and preserving was not a priority.  I did make time to put up the best spaghetti sauce I ever did make but that’s about it.  That recipe I plan to share soon!

The picture above is from a few weeks back before any greens had sprouted in the greenhouse.   MM and CB did a little reorganizing and set up half of it for growing vegetables and the other half to house some birds they had ordered.

So far I have planted radishes, kale, bok choy, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli,  peppers, beans, beets, basil,and oregano.  They have all surfaced except the broccoli, beans, and peppers.  Not quite sure how I screwed them up but I did.  Since I have NEVER been the primary gardener of this homestead this should be an interesting year.  Regardless, whatever I don’t grow I will buy from local farm stands or the farmers market.  I have made a plan as to what I am most interested in canning: spaghetti sauce, salsa, beets, and pickles.  So I will focus more on the crops needed for the final product.  MM did plant some onions from seed.  He also planted some high bush blueberry bushes so I wouldn’t say he hasn’t washed his hands completely of gardening.  In addition to that he also has the responsibility of haying and maintaining our 40 acre pasture as of last year.  That in itself is a lot of work!

The meat birds are growing fast.  We are looking forward to filling the freezers.  We also have some pigs that will be going at the end of the month and a cow come fall.  It is rewarding to  raise some of the food that sustains our family.  I think more and more people are going to go down this path in the future.