Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Dose of Happy Cute

Chickens checking out the rolling beagle - FarmgirlFare.com

I hope you're enjoying the weekend!

More chickens? Here.
More Beagle Bert? Here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, over easy and rollin' along.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #27

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

(27-1) Seven-year-old Great Pyrenees Daisy, one of our two livestock guardian dogs, leads the flock down the driveway - FarmgirlFare.com
Daisy, our seven-year-old Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog, leads the flock down the driveway. (Marta was napping.)

The only thing about starting back up with the Friday Farm Fix is that it's making me realize just how fast the time flies by. It's already Friday again Saturday again?

Here's what's been happening around the farm this week. . .

The highlight was seen from the upstairs bedroom window: a mother doe nursing her itty bitty spotted fawn about 75 feet out in the hayfield. So sweet. You can just make out the baby in the photo below.

The humidity jumped up to 87% in the house and had us turning on the upstairs a/c and wondering how we were going to survive the next four months drenched in sweat, but thankfully we've been given a brief reprieve, with a few beautiful breezy days and sweet cool nights. Temporary bliss. We're gearing up to hopefully start cutting some hay next week if the weather cooperates; it can heat back up all it wants to then.

I spent as much time as I could in the kitchen garden, planting, plotting, mulching, watering, clearing out a few more raised beds, and picking lots of bolting Swiss chard (cold tolerant, heat tolerant, easy to grow!) for the chickens. I've also been marveling at how much farther ahead things were a year ago this week. Look at all that beautiful basil! (The Friday Farm Fixes from this time last year are here and here.)

We signed on for a month of rabbit sitting. So far so good.

We fed about 5,000 ravenous mosquitoes. I think this may be the worst they've ever been, but at least their appearance means we've had a more 'normal' (and much needed) wet spring.

I made yet another version of a yellow cake with easy lemon curd that I've been sporadically working on for the past couple of years. Joe loved it, but I don't think it's quite there yet. At this point I've decided it would probably be easier to simply bake a plain yellow cake and pour the lemon filling over each slice.

23 more photos and the rest of the weekly recap below (hover over each image for a description). . .

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Easy French Bread Recipe: Four Hour Classic Parisian Daily Baguettes (Baguette Normal)

Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguettes, an easy French bread recipe - FarmgirlFare.com
This simple straight dough French bread (not sourdough) is the perfect baguette recipe for new bread bakers.

Note: If you're a beginning bread baker, you might find my Ten Tips on How To Bake Better Artisan Breads at Home helpful. And if you've been longing to learn how to make your own sandwich bread, my popular Farmhouse White Easy Basic Sandwich Recipe (which can also be made with whole wheat flour) is a great place to start.

While e-mailing back and forth six years ago, I asked Daniel Leader, founder of the renowned Bread Alone Bakery in New York and my bread baking hero, to recommend a summer picnic bread from his new book, Local Breads. He immediately suggested I try the very first recipe, Parisian Daily Bread, or what he calls The Four Hour Baguette.

Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguettes, an easy French bread recipe (1) - FarmgirlFare.com

"It's simple, it's foolproof, and it's delicious," he said, and he was right. I've been baking it ever since.

I credit Daniel's wonderful first book, Bread Alone, with turning me into a bread baker, and I've been recommending it for years to anyone interested in learning how to bake their own bread. After 20 years it's still in print, and considering there are thousands of new cookbooks published each year, that's really saying something.

My original copy of Bread Alone is in four pieces. My second copy was signed and sent to me by Daniel himself when he learned my first one was falling apart, which of course thrilled me to no end. (Sidenote: one of my favorite novels is also called Bread Alone, written by my good friend and fellow Daniel Leader fan, Judi Hendricks.)

Fourteen years after he wrote Bread Alone, Daniel came out with Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers. It's the culmination of dozens of trips to Europe over two decades in search of bakers who are still using time-honored methods and ingredients to create loaves unique to their towns and cities. Part travelogue, part bread making class, and part gastronomic history lesson, the book is full of colorful stories of local artisans and 80 of their authentic treasured recipes.

Beginning bread bakers needn't shy away from Local Breads. The first 60 pages are packed with detailed information on equipment, ingredients, and techniques, all of it clearly written and easy to understand. Even better are the several dozen Q&As throughout the book, which are Daniel's responses to the questions most frequently asked by his students at the Culinary Institute of America and other places where he teaches bread making.

The only trouble you might have is ever making it past this first recipe.

Recipe below. . .

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Rooster Thinking

Rooster Andy (1) - FarmgirlFare.com
Wait, how did I get up here again?

More photos below. . .

Monday, May 20, 2013

Make Ahead Recipe: No Mayo Lemony Tuna and Artichoke Cooler-Pressed Sandwiches with Fresh Basil

Tuna packed in olive oil with marinated artichoke hearts, lemon, and fresh basil on baguettes makes a scrumptious, no mayonnaise twist on tuna sandwiches. Perfect for toting on picnics or hikes, to work, or just out to the backyard (easy Four Hour French Baguette recipe here).

We love sandwiches. We eat so many sandwiches that we often go through two loaves of homemade sandwich bread each week, and there are only two of us. We also love potato chips. So when my publishing network, BlogHer, asked if I was interested in sharing a sandwich recipe as part of a Perfect Picnic Pairing campaign with Kettle Brand Chips, I knew they'd come to the right blog.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #26

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a sporadic series 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 previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(26-1) Incoming! - FarmgirlFare.com
Incoming!

I'm not quite sure where this past week went, so I'm not quite sure what all we did during it besides a whole bunch of laundry. I think we had some rain; I know we hoped for more.

We said farewell to the wet weather creek, which hasn't run this long in years. Hopefully we'll see it again before next spring.

There was lots of lawn mowing and weed whacking and mulching the raised kitchen garden vegetable beds with green gold (aka grass clippings).

I cooked a fresh ham roast and made a batch of Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies and a batch of double chocolate chip cookies and baked three Four Hour Classic Parisian Daily Baguettes.

We hooked the 16-foot flatbed trailer up to the '86 pickup and spent 11 hours out buying lumber and groceries and supplies while the new cat, whose name at this point is still That Cat, went to the vet to get tutored (my mother is probably the only one who will get this decades-old Far Side cartoon reference).

We ate big freshly picked Swiss chard and kale chopped salads most nights and had macaroni and cheese with leftover ham three times (I may have made a little too much).

Oh yeah, there were two (!) big black snakes curled up together in one of the nesting boxes in Rooster Andy's coop. Black snakes LOVE fresh eggs. The slithery couple was put in a cooler (which wasn't easy) and relocated to another part of the farm, hopefully far enough away so they don't make their way back. I actually snapped a couple of pictures, but I didn't think you'd want to see them.

And I guess that's about all—or at least all I can remember. The rest is in pictures.

18 more photos below (hover your cursor over each image for a description). . .

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Heads Up: A Great Deal on My Favorite Farm and Garden Cart

Attacking a neglected raised vegetable bed in the kitchen garden - FarmgirlFare.com
Using some muscle last month on a neglected (and falling apart) raised bed in the kitchen garden.

One of the first purchases I made after moving to the country 18 years ago was a 7.5 cubic foot Rubbermaid utility cart, and to this day it remains one of the best things I've ever bought. We use it so much around the farm and garden that a couple years ago we bought a second one. (The cart pictured above is the older version; you can see our newer version in action here.)

The one-piece construction is incredibly durable and tough. They can be either pushed or pulled, are easy to clean, easy to dump, don't mind being left out in the weather, can handle rough terrain, and can haul up to 300 pounds.

Over the years we've used ours to transport everything from firewood to sick sheep. They're perfect for hauling manure from the barn, weeds to the compost bin, and grass clippings to the vegetable beds. I can't imagine gardening or farming without them.

We paid $189 for our second one several years ago, but right now they're available from amazon for just $139 each, with free shipping (just choose Free Super Saver Shipping when you place your order). They won't ship for 3 to 5 weeks, but if you're willing to wait, you can save a lot of money (the regular price is over $240).

I'm not sure how long this price will last, so if you've had your eye on one of these carts, now is the time to pounce. We're actually thinking maybe we should get a third one—that's how great they are.

P.S. These rugged carts can handle a lot of use and abuse, but I wouldn't, ahem, recommend throwing heavy pieces of firewood into them from several feet away, or turning them upside down and standing on them, especially if you're a very big guy. If, however, such a thing should happen while your back is turned, large cracks can successfully be mended with pieces of old metal license plates and/or metal strapping, preferably by the person who is responsible for causing the cracking.

Also, you can use your cart to move the generator, but take it out before you actually run the generator. Otherwise, the heat blasting out of it could melt a big ugly hole in the side of your brand new, shiny cart. Not that anyone would actually do this.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the rockin' and rollin' foodie farm blog where we haven't yet figured out how to put the donkeys before the cart.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Dose of Cute: Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day (1) - Eugenie checking on her four-day-old twins - FarmgirlFare.com (2)
Eugenie checking on her four-day-old twins (taken February 2nd)

9 more mothering moments from the 2013 lambing season below. . .

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #25

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a sporadic series 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 previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(25-1) Hay inspectors back on the job - FarmgirlFare.com
Hay inspectors back on the job.

It's been quite a while since I posted the last Friday Farm Fix, but the other day Joe and I were talking about how much we both miss this series. We love being able to look back and see everything that was happening around here during a specific week, and I confess to sometimes including extra photos especially for us.

This time I thought I would also a list of some of the things we've been doing around the farm, for those of you who are interested. If you've been missing your Friday Farm Fix, I hope you enjoy this cute-filled, spring green installment.

So what's been happening on the farm during the past week? We've been busy. . .

—Eating giant freshly picked kale and Swiss chard salads nearly every night.

—Splashing through the creek.

—Worming the sheep and trimming some hooves.

—Planting 10 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (the 5 pounds of Pontiac Reds already in the ground and a few inches tall froze this week but should hopefully make a full recovery).

—Reorganizing the walk-in pantry (it looks and feels so much better in there!)

—Cracking up at our new farm cat (a proper introduction will hopefully be coming soon, maybe when he gets a real name).

—Getting invaded by armadillos (including one that almost dug its way into the shop, which is attached to the house, the other night at 10pm).

—Enjoying the unseasonably cool (mostly under 80°) and beautiful mid-spring weather.

—Locking seven wayward, disappointed donkeys back in Donkeyland (I told you they'd start misbehaving).

—Stopping to smell the lilacs.

—Trying to fix the broken sickle bar mower and the little antique diesel tractor so they're ready for haying season (with a minor head wound to Joe and a sledgehammer to my finger in the process—ouch).

—Celebrating the much needed rain and hoping it keeps on coming.

—Polishing off the third (!) batch in a row of these addictive (and almost too easy to make) Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Cookies (hint: you can double the recipe).

—Loving all this gorgeous green.

16 more photos below (hover your cursor over each image for a description). . .

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Thursday Night Quick Dose of Cute

Evie staring into the barnyard

More Evie? Here.
More donkeys? Here.

© FarmgirlFare.com

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday Dose of Cute: Day of Rest

Donkey day off (1) - FarmgirlFare.com
You don't have to tell them twice.

Donkey day off (2) - FarmgirlFare.com

More donkeys? Here and here and here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the longeared loving foodie farm blog where our seven donkeys (who provide priceless entertainment value while keeping down weeds in the fields that the sheep won't eat) have been temporarily released from Donkeyland and are currently out on the loose. They've been mostly hanging around up by the house which is nice. It's fun having them close by, though I give them maybe another day or two before they start misbehaving or wandering off (most of our property is wooded and really steep, and our perimeter fencing is non-existent).

In the meantime, they're conveniently located for cuddling. This morning even Dan wanted to be scratched (and hugged!), but Evie and Daphne kept cutting in. (Dolores and Evie were just outside of these photos, both asleep while standing up.)

Friday, May 03, 2013

Friday Dose of Cute: Farmgirl Fare on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter

A little lamb love - FarmgirlFare.com
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See you there!

Note to Farmgirl Fare Facebook fans: If you're a fan of the Farmgirl Fare Facebook Fan Page but aren't seeing each new blog post announcement, it's because Facebook now wants people to pay to promote their posts. But it's easy to fix. To see all my new posts on Facebook, go to the top of the Farmgirl Fare Facebook page and under "Liked" click "Add to Interest List."

Note to Pinterest fans: You can easily pin any photo on Farmgirl Fare by using the 'Pin it' button (which is working again!) at the top of each post. You won't see the 'Pin it' buttons on the Farmgirl Fare home page, just on the individual post pages. (If you're on the home page, click on the title of the post to go to that post's page.) And thanks for all your pins!

© FarmgirlFare.com, where everybody loves that Beagle Bert.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Thursday Dose of Cute: Heading Out to Breakfast (and Another Farm Life Tale)

Sheep heading out to eat breakfast (1) - FarmgirlFare.com

I was planning to post this series of photos with just a sentence or two about why the sheep were still spending each night in the barn, but then I realized some of you might look at the pictures and wonder where all the lambs are.

I haven't been up to writing about that just yet. I've been telling myself that the story wouldn't really be complete until we picked up our mail and got the check, but that was just an excuse. So I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you what's been happening.

More photos and story below (hover over each image for a description). . .