Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let's Talk About Food

I'm very interested in food.  First of all, I love to eat.  Second of all, I'm extremely curious about how we produce/harvest the food we eat.  Where does it come from?  What is the cost of it's production to the environment?  Is it produced in a way that is congruent with my values?  Is it totally yummy?  Is it nutritious enough so that I can consider my food to be my medicine?

 I've been focusing on creating our own food infrastructure on our land so that we can grow most of what we eat. We are now capable of growing most or all of the meat we want to eat, all the vegetables we eat, all the fruit, most of the herbs and then there are the flowers for garnish and decoration.  We will be harvesting our own nuts some year soon.

We raise sheep for meat, goats for milk, cheese and meat, rabbits for meat, chickens for eggs and meat.
There are days when I'm too tired to cook.....and I'm grateful that Joseph finds it within himself to cook.  Then there are days when I walk through the garden after barn chores and am so inspired to create something new and yummy out of what I find that it doesn't matter how tired I am, I simply must cook something colorful and scrumptious.  I'm going to share some of what I've been feeding us.

This is a hard aged cheese variety that comes from Wales in the United Kingdom.  It was eaten by the miners who appreciated it's saltiness during their sweaty work.  They wrapped it in cabbage leaves to take into the mines for lunch.  It was the first aged cheese I made and it's wonderful because you can eat it as early as 3 weeks after you make it.  I've also made a batch of Parmesan cheese but it'll be 6 or more months before it's ready to try.
We sliced into it and tried it on slabs of fresh tomatoes and crackers.  We had chives, basil ribbons, dill and red amaranth leaves for flavor.  Very Yum!

Here's a Manchego cheese that will need to age for months before it's ready.  sigh........

Here's a recent salad using fennel flowers (those yellow starbursts), basil cut into ribbons, beet leaves and a special yellow tomato that might be our new favorite.

Here's another dish we ate the same night.  Can you tell the tomato harvest has begun?????

These are garlic scapes.  They are the flower buds that are best to cut off before they open so that the energy goes into making a bigger head of garlic to harvest later.  The scapes are harvested and used for all kinds of things such as scape pesto, soups, sauces and even as garnishes as the next photo shows.

This was yummy to eat.....strawberries fresh out of the garden, almonds that had been soaked in sea salt water, sprouted and then toasted and of course, all the fresh baby greens of chard, spinach, arugula and beets.

This dinner  (yes, we do eat a LOT) used our very own feta cheese on the salads and greens, garlic scape pesto and various other vegetables.  Makes my tummy rumble just looking at it again.

Often the day ends with walking through the garden and gathering food.....this is a little pile of berries picked on evening.  Strawberries, Honeyberries  (they are blue, related to Honeysuckle), red currents, red raspberries and golden raspberries.  Later in the season we added white currents, sea buckthorn berries, blue berries, black berries and black raspberries.

When you bring together fresh berries and fresh soft cheese from our goats you get a spectacular dessert.  We love to add a spoonful of maple syrup into a small mound of cheese and then top with berries.  It's so tasty that I could eat mountains of this dessert!  In this photo the dessert is garnished with fresh lavender flowers.

And now for some food photos......some without captions because they don't really need any.

This was a harvest sitting on the counter one day....a few potatoes, some burdock roots  (yummy raw or cooked), black beans, white beans, garlic, shallots, 3 kinds of beets, carrots, and a few shitake mushrooms.

And this was the type of salad I ate a lot of last summer.......mixed greens picked minutes before dinner, herbs and borage flowers.  The borage flowers have a cucumber flavor.

And this was Joseph's salad.....he likes the spicy things like more arugula and peppery nasturtium flowers.

Potatoes, freshly dug and washed.  Lightly cooked and then seasoned with a bit of butter, salt and dill or garlic......yum!

And Now for Some Sheep!

This is an overview of our sheep.....  We bought 6 ewe lambs and 2 ram lambs of a special breed of sheep.  They come in all colors and are very hardy.  They do eat a LOT of grass and hay....much more than the goats.  They also travel through the pastures more than the goats.  When we got the sheep in 2011 they were very scared of people.  If they saw us they would run away unless it was feeding time.  They are still wary of other people and so far only let Kathrin pat them.

These are the ewe lambs when they first arrived.  We were still working on the barn so they had to listen a lot of noisy building and had people around all the time.

Here are the two handsome rams.....

The first lamb born we named "Fauna".  She was a very cute lamb and loved to be patted, unlike all the grown sheep.

This little lamb has just been born to a lovely butterscotch colored ewe named "Lisette".  He is learning to walk and is looking for his mother's udder so he can nurse.  His mother is licking him to wash him off.  We named him "Orcus".

Here are Lisette and Orcus now.....look how big Orcus has gotten in just 3 months!

This is Lorelei with her newborn ram lamb we named "Vulcan".

Like baby goats, lambs learn how to act by watching their mother.  Fauna is checking to make sure she's doing it right.

When the lambs were born we put them in smaller areas with just their mom to make sure they had time to bond without other sheep getting in the way.  After a few days we let them rejoin the flock.

Several of the sheep have gotten tamer.  One of the grown sheep now loves a lot of eye contact with me, lots of patting and she definitely loves to hear sweet words.  She lets me touch her face, ears, horns and pretty much everywhere.  It's pretty lovely.  Most of the 5 lambs from this year love to be patted by me also.  They still are wary of other people.

This is the lamb named "Fauna" and you can see how fast she's grown.  She's very sweet and runs up to me to be patted.

This is "Cupid", another one of this year's lambs.  He's gotten very big and just loves having me to scratch him on the top of his head.  His horns get in the way of him scratching his own itches.

Each morning I lead the sheep out to pasture and it feels like a parade.  One morning I took my camera and turned around to take this photo of them following me.

The sheep move around from pasture to pasture during the day and one of their areas is the edge of the forest where they clamber over the stone walls and hang out in the shade when it's too hot in the sun.  Remember, they have been growing a new wool coat since spring and they get hot pretty fast!

A Glimpse or Two of Here

Okay, this is a special post for  group of special people who are going to join us for a day.  Since it's September and things look different at different times of year I thought it'd be nice to show some of the other views of this place......and some close ups of what happens here. In this post I'll share a few photos of some of the cuteness that abound here in the spring time.  These babies are bigger now and some of them have moved to other farms.  We still have 4 half grown goatie girls that are cute.  Three of them totally love being patted by just about anyone, one is a little shy.
This is a mother and son photo.  He's trying to be just like his mommy.

This little boy had played hard and gotten tired and fell asleep on his mommy.

They do love to climb around on the rocks and push each other off.

They also like to climb on people!

Twins!!!  We still have the boy from this photo and he loves to be patted.  He's grown now and like all our adult goats comes up to about my knee in height.  Our goats are user friendly and mostly like being patted although they are not used to a bunch of people at once and are not used to people moving fast.  We tend to speak gently around them and not move in ways that would scare them.

This little girl named "Chica" was born last year and this year gave birth to her own little girl baby that we named "Bonita".

Here is a grown up Chica with her baby Bonita.

Just like with humans, goat mommies and babies like to spend a lot of time near each other. Especially when it's nap time. The babies play pretty hard and then want to have some quiet time near their mommy.  This is Chica and Bonita again having a little nap under one of the platforms that Bonita was just jumping around on a short while before.

This mother and daughter snuggle looks funny because they are both chewing.  This is Luna  (Chica's sister) and her daughter Celeste.

If mommies are busy brothers and sisters like to snuggle up together.  These are Lucia's triplets.

Here's a short video showing how much the goaties love to play.  The mother goat Luna, who jumps up on the platform halfway through pushes off the baby that isn't her baby and lets her baby "Cielo" stay on the platform.
Because there are coyotes, bear, fox, bobcat and mountain lions the goats are guarded by 2 dogs.  They are brother and sister named Fergy and Vera.  They are a special breed of dog that originated in Italy to protect livestock.  They live with the goats all the time and patrol the empty pastures at night keeping wild animals away.

This photo is from last year, showing a half grown Tao hanging out with Vera.  He was nuzzling her a little bit and they were both watching other goats.

So that's a glimpse into the goat cuteness that lives here.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Flowering Progression

I have forgotten to take photos the past 2 or 3 weeks but I meant to take a weekly photo of a certain bench against our house to show the progression of bloom seasons.  Here it is April 25th and the wood poppes (yellow), Phlox stolonifera (pink), Daffodils (white) are all in full swing with bits of Plox divaricata (lavender colored), Pulmonaria (pink aging to blue), Grape Hyacinth (blue), and Epimedium showing at the edges.

May 29th   Notice how it's all about softer colors of lavender now?  Sure, the Peonies are blooming and the yellow Baptisia in the right front is adding a nice counterpoint to the blue-ish theme and there is that splash of shell pink coral bells but really, it's a fully different view.

Here's a different view taken the same day.  The first red rose is blooming but it's the peonies and iris that reign supreme.

June 18th  Now notice how the lavender shades are gone and it's all about that red rose blooming and all those green shapes and textures.  Yes the coral bells are still blooming and the honeysuckles on the arbor are blooming as well.

Speaking of green shapes.....I am in love with green in the spring after a long white winter.  Here's the view out our front door.  It faces East into a ravine and it feels like being in a tree house.

And then there are all the other colors to fall in love with!!

Time to get back outside.........