Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Dose of Cute: Attention Farmgirl Fare Readers Using Internet Explorer

Daphne braying - FarmgirlFare.com
Please come back!

Hi! Are you having trouble opening Farmgirl Fare? Thanks to all of you who have alerted me to the problems you've encountered lately when trying to open my blog—the page won't finish loading, your computer freezes up, etc. I really appreciate your feedback.

The issue seems to have started when Google totally revamped Blogger (my blogging platform) last month. I'll spare you the details of the many frustrating hours I've spent trying (to no avail) to figure out what the heck happened and instead skip right to what I have figured out:

If you're using Internet Explorer as your web browser, you should try switching to Firefox or Google Chrome.

Internet Explorer is notoriously slow and clunky and despised by web professionals. Firefox and Google Chrome are both safe, free, easy to install, and far better and faster than Internet Explorer. (There is also Safari, but I don't have any experience with it.)

Everyone who has reported trouble and then switched browsers was immediately able to open Farmgirl Fare and In My Kitchen Garden (my offshoot garden blog) without any problem. If that doesn't do the trick, please let me know. Thanks!

© FarmgirlFare.com, where I realize posting a notice about not being able to open a blog on that blog does seem kind of pointless, but I know that a lot of you who are using Internet Explorer will still be able to see this short post via your feed reader or Feedblitz e-mail subscription or on the Farmgirl Fare Facebook page.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #11

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a new series on Farmgirl Fare where I share a random sampling of what's been happening around the farm during the past week. Just joining us? You'll find all the Friday Farm Fix posts here.

5-25-12 Friday Farm Fix #11 (1)
Heading up the driveway.

This past week was hot, dry, and disappointing. On Tuesday we sold half of our sheep at a monthly sheep and goat auction, including 27 of this year's 34 lambs and our four-year-old Katahdin ram, Edward (we still have two rams left). It's not something we've done very often.

For the past two years we've sold most of our lambs in late summer to the friend of a friend who kept them on his farm for a few months and then butchered them himself for an out of state, ethnic niche market he has.

For many years we've been trying to build up a business selling our whole, naturally raised, grass fed, custom butchered lambs directly to customers (for less than the cost of inferior, supermarket lamb), but there is simply no local market for it.

We tried delivering lamb to city buyers 200 miles away, but that didn't work out. And shipping frozen packages of lamb to customers across the country is impractical and cost prohibitive (and goes against the whole local thing).

Last fall, an opportunity came up that looked like it could become a local ethnic niche market for us, and I agreed to specifically breed several purebred Katahdin lambs—which we don't like to do because they're so much smaller than our Katahdin/Suffolk crosses—for someone who was to pick them up here on the farm at the end of this month. She backed out of the deal last week.

Many people have told us that our lamb is the best they've ever tasted.

Livestock prices vary—that's just the nature of the business—and, around here at least, sheep and goat prices usually fluctuate a lot more than cattle prices do. For the past few months, lamb and sheep prices have been high, but our lambs weren't big enough to sell yet.

Unfortunately lamb prices dropped about 40% between last month's sale and this month's. After paying the hauling and commission fees, what we ended up with doesn't even cover the cost of feeding the flock and their two big guard dogs (Daisy and Marta) for the past year, let alone all the other expenses involved.

Not very good for a year's worth of hard work.

We decided a few months ago that we would try selling our lambs early this year, mostly in an effort to cut down on our summer workload—and hoping the prices would stay high. At the time, we were getting some rain and were hopeful the grazing pastures and hayfield would soon be lush. Instead they're sparse and burning up from heat and drought.

Right now we're usually putting up hundreds of bales of spring hay; this year we aren't putting up any. All we can do is hope for rain and summer grass.

Today when Joe hauled water out to the donkeys (Yes! After nearly four weeks, my hunky farmguy is back outside on limited duty!) he called me on the two-way radio (we love these and carry them constantly) as he was driving through Donkeyland checking on the field.

"How does it look?" I asked.

"Not too bad—for July."

So even though the auction prices were heartbreaking, it's a good thing we went ahead and reduced the flock because there isn't a whole lot to eat out there.

As I walked back through the front field on Tuesday after opening the gate for the guy who was hauling off half of our flock, feeling tired and sore, anxious and hopeful and a little sad, I looked down and saw a big beautiful heart rock, embedded right there in the driveway.

This is my 17th year raising sheep. We didn't lose a single lamb this year.

We've been doing a lot of talking these past few days. Plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming. Prioritizing. As Joe often says, "We'll figure something out; we always do."

21 more farm photos below . . .

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Quick Chick Pic: Looky, Looky

Lokey's lookalike chicks (taken 4/24)

More chick pics? Here.
More chickens? Here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the flap happy foodie farm blog where Lokey's 10 chicks, who like to travel around in a pack, have figured out that they can fly and are now focusing on taking over the farm. We have 14 chicks altogether right now, and as you can see, it's hard to tell a lot of them apart!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #10

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a new series on Farmgirl Fare where I share a random sampling of what's been happening around the farm during the past week. Just joining us? You'll find all the Friday Farm Fix posts here.

5-18-12 Friday Farm Fix #11 (1)
Vintage washtubs in the homemade greenhouse

How to describe this past week? Hot, dry, and way too dusty. We've had less than two inches of rain in the last eight weeks, which was supposed to be our rainy growing season (remember when the creek flooded last year?). The grass in the fields is already going to seed and burning up, and even the weeds are shriveled. You'd think it was the middle of August rather than the middle of May.

When the forecast is calling for a heat index of 127 degrees—and they've taken out the promised rain—you know it's time to just stop checking the weather.

My hunky farmguy Joe spent another week out of commission, though his back is slowly healing. He even came down to the sheep barn last night to help a little with chores—after the sun had ducked behind the ridge. He has one more week on the medicine that really knocks you for a loop if you go out in the sun.

In the meantime, the scenery is pretty, the air conditioner works, and there's plenty of food, which is good because that no-sun medicine has also given Joe a humongous appetite. Yesterday out the bedroom window we saw a doe with a baby fawn that was so small it looked like a rabbit. (And that gorgeous brown moth below was almost as big as the fawn.) And the bright side of having only one of us working outside for the past 20 days? There's a lot less dirty laundry!

I've been spending a lot of time in the garden, planting, weeding, and watering (these ultra light Water Right garden hoses are the best). From garden to kitchen: lots of Italian parsley, basil, and chives, Red Russian kale (from last year's plants), the entire bed of gourmet lettuce (it's more than it looks like once you start cutting!), green onions and spring onions, and of course Swiss chard.

My favorite basil pesto recipe (which works with green or purple basil) is here, and I'm thinking about parsley pesto. Have you ever made it?

28 more farm photos below. . .

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #9

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a new series on Farmgirl Fare where I share a random sampling of what's been happening around the farm during the past week. Just joining us? You'll find all the Friday Farm Fix posts here.

5-11-12 Friday Farm Fix #9 (1) lambs in the creep feeder - FarmgirlFare.com
Our little lambs have big appetites!

Thanks so much to all of you who sent healing thoughts and helpful suggestions to my hunky farmguy Joe after I told you in last week's Friday Farm Fix that he'd thrown his back out. We both really appreciate your kindness. He still spends most of his time flat on his back, unable to stand for more than about 10 minutes at a time (though he is able to walk around), and, after 12 days, is very tired of being housebound and unable to help around the farm.

He is able to rest and sleep more comfortably, thanks to some medicines we picked up on Tuesday, along with several new novels from the library. We're also continuing with the other treatments I mentioned last week (heat and ice, fresh burdock compresses, the inversion table—he's hanging upside down right now—all sorts of topical remedies, etc.), and slowly but surely he's healing. It takes time. Homemade bread and oatmeal coconut cookies help. So do smiling beagles.

The weather has thankfully cooled down; it's been in the 70s instead of the 90s, often with a pleasant breeze. We even got a half inch of rain the other day. It's too little, too late for the spring grass in the fields, but we're grateful nonetheless.

The hay—what little there is of it—is ready to be cut and baled now. Joe isn't supposed to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds for the next month. And bouncing around on the tractor for several hours at a time isn't even an option.

My hunky farmguy, who worries a lot less about things than I do, always tells me that everything will somehow work out—and usually he's right.

I don't write about the chronic physical challenges that we both deal with every day (because everybody has problems), but suffice it to say that farming is hard work, no matter what kind of shape you're in. We get injured and banged up a lot. When something like this happens and one of us is totally immobilized for a lengthy period, we can't help but wonder, at 43 and 54 (which we don't consider old), how long we can keep doing this.

Meanwhile, life goes on. A few weeks ago we had a hard, late frost, and the new leaves on many of the trees froze, turned brown, and blew to the ground. It felt like autumn in April. Most of those trees are already once again covered with new green growth. They simply shook themselves off and started again.

22 more farm photos below. . .

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recipe: Savory Chive and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Scones


These easy to make scones would be a perfect Mother's Day treat.

It's chive season in my kitchen garden! I've been sprinkling freshly snipped chives on all sorts of things, but my favorite way to celebrate this easy to grow perennial is in a variation of my popular Savory Feta Cheese and Scallion Scones, a recipe I created 20 years ago during a scone craving when there was no butter in the house. It uses softened cream cheese instead of butter, which quickly mixes into the flour with a fork.

Fresh homegrown chives are an inexpensive gourmet luxury. You'll find more about growing and using chives, along with my simple homemade herbed yogurt cheese recipe here.

These scones are light and moist on the inside, with a pleasant little crunch on the outside. Serve them warm from the oven instead of rolls: plain, buttered, or with cream cheese, goat cheese, or homemade herbed yogurt cheese. I like to split and toast them in the toaster oven, then slather both crunchy halves with butter. They're great for making little sandwiches, and I've even used them in place of burger buns.

They also freeze beautifully. Defrost them at room temperature and heat at 375° for about 5 to 8 minutes. If you're in a hurry, you can defrost them gently in the microwave and then heat them in the oven or toaster oven (I love my Oster toaster/convection oven for things like this).

Recipe below. . .

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Hip Hip Hooray!

Happy World Donkey Day 1 - FarmgirlFare.com
It's World Donkey Day!

More photos below. . .

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #8

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a new series on Farmgirl Fare where I share a random sampling of what's been happening around the farm during the past week. Just joining us? You'll find all the Friday Farm Fix posts here.

5-4-12 Friday Farm Fix (1)

We were really hoping to get some rain from the several big storms that came through this past week, but we ended up with less than half an inch. Today's forecast said 93° with 80% humidity and a heat index of 102°.

We've hardly had any rain this spring, and the grazing pastures and hayfield that feed our sheep and donkeys simply aren't growing enough. It's disappointing and frustrating, and there's nothing we can do. Tonight's forecast is calling for an 80% chance of up to .3 inches of rain tonight and tomorrow. We'll take whatever we can get.

What we need even more than rain right now, though, is for my hunky farmguy Joe to feel better. On Monday morning he threw his back out, and he's been out of commission and in terrible pain all week.

We've tried everything from arnica gel, DMSO, and Biofreeze to burdock leaf poultices and hot compresses (these Thermalon heat/cold pads are great). Anti-inflammatory herbs, hot whirlpool baths, ice packs, the inversion therapy table (one of the best investments we ever made), homeopathic pellets, Chinese pain patches, our beloved Kneading Fingers back massager (another great investment), foot reflexology—all our usual favorite remedies (we get banged up a lot on the farm!) just aren't working.

On Friday he was finally able to (barely) make the 70-mile round trip to the chiropractor. Tomorrow we'll head to the medical clinic. As our longtime chiropractor put it after adjusting Joe three times on Friday, "As much as I hate to say it, sometimes you just need drugs."

So anyway, that's why this week's Friday Farm Fix is appearing on Sunday afternoon—and this week's recipe (as per my lofty new One Recipe Every Week plan) didn't appear at all. Also, I spent a lot of time watering. I did manage to snap quite a few pictures, though. Enjoy!

A whopping 30 more photos below. . .

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I'm Doing 30 Days of Yoga with Marianne Elliott—Care To Join Me? (There's a Free Courage Workshop, too)

Bert doing yoga and getting a drink 1 - FarmgirlFare.com
The downward dog.

Do you know Marianne Elliott? She's amazing. She's a writer, a yoga teacher, a courage cultivator, a human rights advocate and consultant. She was a human rights lawyer in New Zealand and a United Nations peacekeeper in Afghanistan (and she's actually back in Afghanistan right now). She's a storyteller.

Her recently published memoir about doing good and being well in Afghanistan is called Zen Under Fire. She writes for The Huffington Post. She calls her blog "a watering hole for do-gooders, wanna-be do-gooders, and recovering do-gooders." She is beautiful inside and out and has the most wonderful New Zealander accent.

Marianne has also created 30 Days of Yoga, a series of online courses "to find and keep your own home practice of yoga." There's a standard version, a beginner's version, a busy people's version, and even a curvy people's version.

In a recent blog post, Marianne announced that she is turning 40 this week—and that she is happier, fitter, stronger, and healthier today than when she was 30. Why? Because of yoga. So for her 40th birthday, what she really wants is to share yoga with us. It's time to get your yoga on, she says. And she's right. Excuses why you can't? She has the solutions so you can.

Almost a year ago I signed up for the standard 30 Days of Yoga course but then was unable to follow through with it—and I've been meaning to go back and re-start it ever since. I have no excuses, and Marianne's gentle birthday nudge was just what I needed.

More below. . .