Chokecherries!

We picked chokecherries this weekend.  Because they are small and usually located on hard-to-reach branches, we don’t make them a centerpiece of our diet.  They provide a welcome accent. Cooling on the sideboard today:  a thick, rich crabapple-chokecherry jelly.  We use Pomona’s pectin, so we can get by with very little sugar or honey (still a lot of C6H12O6 and C12H22O11 compared to what we normally eat, but a far cry from traditional jelly recipes that specify equal parts sugar and fruit). Here is our general recipe:  Place 5 lbs chopped crabapples in 5 cups boiling water, then… Read More

Keep Going in the Wrong Direction

[Note:  There is a naughty word below, quoted in context.  Please don’t read any further if you are offended by such.] There are probably people like this in your life too. I am privileged to know people with whom I can talk shop about farming, and even when we don’t agree we can have worthwhile conversations.  But there are a few who vociferously express their unassailable, unalterable opinions.  I used to be more mild mannered in dealing with these characters, but I’ve realized that I have nothing to lose in telling such a person… Read More

Labor of Love

Last night I stayed up to 2:30 making crabapple cider.  We haven’t been able to find someone willing to custom press apples, so until we can buy or build a grinder and press, we make do with a 1960’s era Acme Juicer.  It does a great job of extracting juice, leaving a very dry pomace, but the process is time consuming as it is only good for a little less than a quart at a time.  Making a six gallon batch requires hours and hours washing and selecting apples, pre-chopping in the food… Read More

Placentophagy

No, I’ve never eaten a placenta, human or otherwise.  No, I don’t haven an opinion on whether postpartum humans should consume their recently expelled afterbirth, raw, cooked, pelletized, or otherwise.  I’d definitely try it if Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall prepared it with shallots and garlic on foccacia.  His River Cottage Meat Book has a place of reverence in our gastronomic library, so I’d try anything he cooked.  But I don’t think I’d undertake to prepare a placental pâté on my own. Most land mammals eat placenta, including all classes of domesticated mammalian livestock except camelids as far… Read More

Pre-stocking the Pond

The water in the new pond is only about a foot deep (which apparently qualifies as deep enough for Allie and Harry to go swimming every time they go out there) and the banks are bare compacted clay.  Along with using the pond for stockwater, we would like to be able to fish it eventually.  Based on what we’ve seen with other ponds, it will take a few years for the pond biome to develop, but we’re trying to give it a bit of a head start. I’ve broadcast oats on the banks to… Read More

Spud Light

Dave saved me a week’s worth of hot digging. I admit that after about 10 hours of shovelling dirt to get at the potatoes last year, I wasn’t eager to plant them again. Potatoes are a lot of work. Once the seed potatoes are cut and put in the ground, and the plants have grown about a foot, they need to be hilled. From the time they sprout, they need constant observation to keep the Colorado Potato Beetles at bay. The eggs of these insects are hidden on the underside of the… Read More

Dried Food for Man and Beast

Late July and early August bring the rush of winter preparations.  Night temperatures have come close to dropping below 50 degrees several times and we feel the drive to step up our work of stocking up.  Rachel posted recently about dehydrating herbs.  We also like to dehydrate apples.  We have many apple trees, some wild crosses and some cultivated old trees.  Of these apples, only the Northern Spy variety are really good eaten raw.  The others are either soft-fleshed and tart or just rather bland.  But we’ve found that the less palatable apples become vastly improved after… Read More

Getting Back to Normal

Over the last two weeks, excavating contractors have been digging a pond and building a road across the farm.  As they have been doing their thing, they have kept me extraordinarily busy trying to work around them.  The construction has required that we remove lots of fences, relocate equipment, and re-route buried pipes and conduits.  The cattle rotations have been disrupted and the pigs have been stuck in the same paddock longer than I’d like.  We’re glad that the construction has wrapped up; now we can start to get things back to normal.

Red Tractor Blues

I kinda miss my 45-year old Case 530 backhoe.  It was always either broken down or on the verge of breaking, but the business ends of the machine (the implement attachments) were built much tougher than anything on our new tractor. The new Case 65A has a 25% horsepower advantage, far more traction and stability, and a lot of other advantages going for it.  But I wonder what kind of longevity it will realistically have.  With just 80 hours on the clock, I tore the front loader bucket off while doing some not-especially-taxing loader work.  I… Read More