Sunday, August 29, 2010

Goats and grey hairs

I think goats were put here to take care of any hairs our children failed to turn grey. A month or so ago, my mother and I were outside working. We paused to take a rest and noticed that Tally was laying up against the fence in a weird position. I got up and started walking toward the fence to check on her. She didn't move, not even an ear twitch. As I got closer it appeared as if her eye was partially open and still she didn't move. By then, my heart was pounding, I just knew our sweet Tally was dead somehow. I arrived at the fence and crouched down, reaching through the fence toward her. She still didn't move a muscle. I touched her, fully expecting to touch a goat that was cold and stiff. She wasn't cold and stiff, she felt completely normal but she still hadn't moved. I gave her a slight shake and her head snapped and she looked around at me like "What? Why did you wake me up?"  My lungs began to work again and I believe I actually felt a hair turn grey.

I guess its a really good thing I wasn't a wolf or a coyote. She would've been half eaten before she got around to waking up.

Then last night we gave them their pre-breeding vacs,Bo-Se shots and copper bolusing (BTW, when bolusing, peanut butter is your friend. I couldn't believe how much easier it went when using peanut butter to hold the bolus in the bolusing gun until we depressed the plunger). And of course we stood out there for a bit to make sure that none of them were going to have a reaction to the vacs.

This afternoon my mother was outside and noticed that Lacey was laying flat out on her side with her head cocked at a weird angle, completely unmoving while the other two lay together on the other side of the pen. My mother hollered at Lacey. There was no response. She ran out there and opened the gate, still Lacey lay unmoving. My mother ran up to her and reached to touch her and Lacey yanked her head and looked at my mother like "What? Why are you waking me up?" I bet my mother could feel a few hairs turn grey.

I guess its good thing my mother wasn't a wolf or a coyote.

Sometimes, I guess goats just sleep really heavily. Or maybe the LaManchas just like playing jokes on us.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Attack of the Tomatoes!

Our plants have gone completely crazy this year. Now that is not to say that we aren't used to bringing in a very good amount of the delicious, red yummies but this year is a bit exceptional. We have been bringing in over thirty pounds of tomatoes each picking with a couple of pickings topping fifty pounds. The little buggers are everywhere. They are perched on top of my sugar and flour containers. they are in bowls, on the counters, in bags and a few are even hiding in the fridge.

To say that we have been doing quite a bit of canning is an understatement. We just ran twelve more quart jars through the canner this afternoon. Each jar filled with the taste of summer sunshine to be opened when the cold fingers of winter try to find their way in the house. Each pop of a lid as the jars seal inspires a feeling of contentment.

The only thing that really irritates me is when a jar breaks in the canner. We lost a couple of jars that was this afternoon. I was so disgusted when I went to lift them out of the water bath canner and the bottom of the jar fell out along with the contents of the jar. Time to buy some more new jars.

Now, the canning book says to get rid of all of the seeds and such and then after packing the jars to add water to the jars. The very first year we canned tomatoes, we decided that wouldn't work for us. We blanch and peel the tomatoes, cut the stem area off and put them in the jar just like that. We find that there is more than enough juice this way that there is no need to add water. Its all tomato. Then at the very end, we pour all of the left over juice into a jar and can it along with the tomatoes. No sense throwing it out. The juice is full of tomato goodness and the old saying, "Waste not, want not." applies quite nicely to this, but its not something the canning book says much about. Guess its just something you pick up along the way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dessert? Maybe?

Well I said in my first post that I would post even the things that go wrong and dessert tonight was one of those things. Now I don't routinely make dessert, I don't think it's necessary to eat sweets after dinner every night. But every now and then I decide to make something. This particular recipe I made up. Now I use "made up" loosely because its based on a similar dish I saw a picture of in a magazine. However that one called for instant coffee in the mix and other such things that my taste buds rebelled against the idea of.

However I love to cook and come up with new things and  looking at the picture the wheels in my mind started turning and I could think of something that did sound tasty. I started by making a chocolate torte that I cut into squares after it cooled and placed on a couple of parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Then I made chocolate mouse (yes all this is from scratch) and put a generous glob on each square. My mother meanwhile whipped up some meringue. Now the initial idea was to use a plastic bag with the corner cut out to pipe the meringue around each mouse topped torte square in a pretty swirl, however the bag wasn't really sturdy enough and it just didn't go as planned. I used to be a cake decorator and love putting pretties on things but at this point in time I don't have any icing bags or tips so my options are a bit limited and my temperamental Scorpio self was getting quite frustrated. This is a point in time when my husband usually leaves me alone to curse and grumble at the food. However my mother-having a more stable personality- swooped in and used a butter knife to spread the meringue around each torte. Instead of the pretty little swirls I had imagined they now looked like globs, although now that I have had time to come to terms with this part of my failure I can say they look more like cloud puffs. Then came my real mistake. During the making of these, we had lasagna in the oven which finished at just about the same time we turned the last torte into a puff. So into the oven they went for the meringue to get golden brown.

Did you know that chocolate mouse doesn't like a hot oven? Well I didn't.

By the time the first pan had golden brown meringue, there was liquid chocolate running all over the pan. I was not happy. My husband, sensing a brewing storm building in his wife, wisely suggested that maybe we should try using just the broiler. So I turned off the oven and turned on the broiler and once it was hot, in went the second pan. Although there was still liquid chocolate on the pan when it came out, it wasn't near as bad as the first pan. I am sure it would have worked better if the oven hadn't already been hot. Next time though, that meringue is getting browned with a butane torch.

Next time? Surely after my description you think the mess might have gone in the chicken bucket. And as irritated as I was, the thought crossed my mind. However, as I was standing there keeping careful watch over the garlic bread that was now toasting under the broiler (I have a habit of forgetting about the garlic bread and burning it) I grabbed a fork and stabbed at one of the cloud globs that was still bleeding melted chocolate mouse on the pan. To my surprise, despite the melted mouse on the pan, there was still a good deal of intact mouse on top of the torte. I forked up a bit of the meringue/mouse/torte and took a bite...I was instantly transported to some wonderful chocolate heaven. My bad mood and irritation were gone in a flash. I took another bite, you know just to make sure my tongue wasn't playing games with my mind and it was just as heavenly as the first. The third was also just as wonderful. Then I remembered the bread which thankfully hadn't burned during my brief chocolate mouse/torte/meringue vacation. My mother likewise enjoyed a bite and we began brainstorming on how to make it better, what would be best to do next time etc.

Dinner was served and each serving was accompanied by a little plate of what I was now calling Moose Droppings. It had stopped bleeding melted mouse by then and didn't look half bad. It was enthusiastically devoured by all.

So although it didn't go smoothly the first time out, I wrote down the recipe and into the box it went and the recipe title at the top of the card? Moose Droppings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Welcome to my in-town-hobby-homesteading blog

Hopefully I will get back here often and you will enjoy what you read. We have a tiny place here on less than one acre, in town. Okay, well, its a small town without even one red light but still a town none the less. On our tiny plot of land we have our little herd of goats, a small flock of chickens, three dogs, five house cats,four pet rabbits,vegetable gardens, a strawberry bed, a small blackberry bramble, an incredibly unruly group of pumpkin vines, and three children-all boys- 11,9,and 2.

I don't know if I would classify us as homesteaders necessarily. I don't know if I would classify us as hobby farmers either. We rest somewhere on the line between the two worlds. We have raised and butchered both rabbits and chickens in the past but for now we prefer to just have our pet rabbits and for the most part, pet chickens. Our goats, while providers of milk are also pets. We have our gardens not just to be self sufficient but also because we just like the taste of home raised vegetables better than the taste of what we can get at the store. We also like it because we know what has and has not been sprayed on them. We have our chickens because we enjoy their company and because they taste of their eggs outshine the taste of store eggs a thousand to one and also because we know the health and living conditions of the chickens. The same holds true for the goats. So since we really aren't doing it to be self sufficient but simply because our taste buds like it and we enjoy the work and company of the animals, not sure we can be homesteaders. Not sure we can really be hobby farmers either since we do preserve the produce out of our gardens and can butcher out and eat a bunny we raised.

We began changing to this lifestyle four or five years ago. We feel it is a better,healthier,greener, (and tastier) lifestyle for us and our children. In some areas we are still learning and in others we know our way around pretty good. Sometimes things go exactly as planned and other times everything than can go wrong,does.

I will do my best to come here often and share our adventures in "In-Town-Hobby-Homesteading" with you be they projects that came out great or projects that failed. Recipes that came off without a hitch and others maybe need to be rethought. Garden plantings that exceeded our expectations or plantings that we stood there and scratched our heads over and wondered where the heck those plants got off to.