Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #32

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 (sometimes actually on Friday). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(32-1) Marta and Daisy snoozing in the creekbed shade - FarmgirlFare.com
Marta and Daisy snoozing in the creek bed shade during the heat of the day.

Wondering what was happening on the farm this time last year? Check out the Friday Farm Fix #16. (It's so nice to still have grass in the fields this year!)

Hot, hot, hot. That pretty much sums up the first week of summer on the farm, with each day hotter and more humid than the next. We all spent the week just trying to beat the heat.

Thursday night a huge thunderstorm crashed and boomed around us for most of the early morning hours, bringing high winds and a much needed 1½ inches of rain. Thankfully it's a little cooler today, and there's a gorgeous breeze blowing. We may even get some more rain tonight.

After 18½ years in Missouri, this San Francisco Bay Area girl still isn't used to the noise and ferocity of thunderstorms, especially at night. A few years ago I learned that the Pacific coast is one of the few places that doesn't regularly experience thunderstorms. The rare appearance of thunder and lighting was always a big deal when I was a kid. Now I just whimper and snuggle up to my hunky farmguy Joe, then lie awake worrying about things like big trees falling over and how badly (and in how many places) it's raining inside The Shack.

The best part of the week was the daily sightings of a young doe and her spotted twin fawns in the hayfield. This graceful trio has been coming out of the woods near the house each evening, but now we're seeing them in the afternoons too. Mama strolls through the grass, alert at all times, while the babies scamper and play around her.

All week we've been calling each other on the radio announcing "Doe and twins alert! Doe and twins alert!" (These handy little two-way radios are one of our best farm purchases ever; we've been using them every day for years.)

In other (much less cute) wildlife news. . .

18 more farm photos and the rest of the weekly recap below (hover your cursor over each image for a description). . .

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday Dose of Cute: The Next 30 Days of Yoga Session Starts July 8th!

Happy Lucky Buddy Bear - FarmgirlFare.com
Get happy, do yoga (no mat required).

Have you been wanting to try yoga, or wishing you could establish (or restablish) a regular yoga practice at home? Marianne Elliott's 30 Days of Yoga: A Lifetime of Well-Being brings the benefits of a yoga class into your own home, and it works. I've taken the course twice, and it really did change my life.

The next session begins July 8th, and registration is open now.


Marianne is an author (her book, Zen Under Fire: How I Found Peace in the Midst of War, was just released in the U.S.), yoga teacher, courage cultivator, and human rights advocate and consultant, as well as a former human rights lawyer in New Zealand and a United Nations peacekeeper in Afghanistan. She created 30 Days of Yoga for herself because she struggled with her own home yoga practice, and her approach is grounded in a radical form of self-kindness.

30 Days of Yoga is a lovingly crafted online course to help you develop and sustain a home yoga practice that adds self-care, kindness, and a greater sense of well-being to your daily life.

There are three different 30 Days of Yoga courses to choose from: the standard version (which I did), one for total beginners, and one for people who think they're too busy to do yoga. The standard version lets you choose from several different yoga practices to suit your needs and goals.

Each course includes daily e-mails and weekly podcasts from Marianne, plus additional special practices, access to a special course site, and an e-book containing all the written materials from the course.

You'll find plenty of support and encouragement (and meet some really neat people from around the world) in the private 30 Days of Yoga Facebook group, which you can remain a part of after you finish the course. You can also request a personal yoga buddy for the 30 days (I'm still good friends with mine).

Happy Lucky Buddy Bear (2) - FarmgirlFare.com

All the details, including a link to three free sample videos (the yoga for bloggers is wonderful!) are here.

Marianne says that a little bit of yoga every day will not only keep you well, it will also help you stay clear, connected, and courageous—all qualities you need to do your great work in the world. I totally agree. 30 Days of Yoga might be exactly what you need. I know it was for me.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where, as demonstrated here and here, yoga is for everybody.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Dose of Cute: Monday?

Donkey staredown - FarmgirlFare.com
Might as well face it.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

More donkeys? Here and here and here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where seven longeared somebodies think they haven't been getting nearly enough treats while living in the summer front field location of Donkeyland, but their rounded bellies say otherwise. (Plus the treat-crazed sheep living out there with them launch a full-blown donkey treat attack whenever they see the bucket—and it's 21 against 7.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A No Mayo Tuna Sandwich Recipe with Artichokes, Lemon, and Fresh Basil

Lemony Tuna and Artichoke Cooler-Pressed Picnic Sandwich Recipe - FarmgirlFare.com
Lemony Tuna and Artichoke Cooler-Pressed Picnic Sandwiches with Fresh Basil (recipe here)

These Lemony Tuna and Artichoke Cooler-Pressed Sandwiches are perfect for summer—and they aren't just for picnics. Tuna packed in olive oil is combined with marinated artichoke hearts, lemon, and fresh basil on crusty baguettes (homemade perhaps?) for a scrumptious tuna sandwich made without mayonnaise.

They travel well, taste delicious, and can be made several hours ahead. I even like them the next day, when the lemon flavor is more pronounced. They're perfect for toting on picnics or hikes, to work, or just out to the backyard.

They're also the perfect way to celebrate the first homegrown basil of the season, especially if it's just a little harvest. Enjoy!

Love fresh basil?
It tastes great in herbed yogurt cheese.
Or try this Big Bite of Basil Herb Dip or Salad Dressing.
What to do with purple basil and my favorite basil pesto recipe here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where sandwiches are a way of life.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #31

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 (sometimes actually on Friday). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(31-1) Bert still likes his chicken TV - FarmgirlFare.com
Beagle Bert still likes his chicken TV.

Wondering what was happening on the farm this time last year? Check out the Friday Farm Fix #15. (I miss not having all those baby chicks around this year!)

Happy first day of summer! We spent it recovering from cutting the third—and final—section of the hayfield. It's been sweltering this week, which is great for the hay but rough on the hayers.

It felt ironically appropriate to be lugging 148 square bales of hay from the field into the barn on the longest day of the year, since that itchy, exhausting, sweat-drenched job always makes you think that the day is never going to end, especially if you aren't as young as you used to be (which is why we broke down last year and bought a 25-year-old round baler to help out).

But it also feels really good to be done with haying for the year, and to have a nice crop of hay in the barn. The 330 square bales—which we're figuring as 300 since some of them are really light—along with the 26½ big round bales from the second cutting, plus 43 high-dollar square bales of alfalfa leftover from last year, should (knock on wool) be plenty enough for the coming winter and next spring, no matter what might happen.

In comparison, two years ago we put up just under 900 square bales (and had plenty of hay and more sheep), and last year we didn't put up any hay because of the horrendous drought.

This year's hay all looks pretty good, and it's such a relief to know that even if the fields burn up in a summer drought, or the cool season autumn grass doesn't grow, or we get extended periods of early snow on the ground, or there isn't enough rain and the grass gets a late start in spring, the donkeys and sheep will still have plenty to eat. You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us.

20 more farm photos and the rest of the weekly recap below (hover your cursor over each image for a description). . .

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #30

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 (sometimes actually on Friday). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(30-1) Cutting the far end of the hayfield - FarmgirlFare.com
Haying round two: cutting the far end of the hayfield.

Wondering what was happening on the farm this time last year? Check out the Friday Farm Fix #14.

I was going to just blow off this week's Friday Farm Fix—seeing as how it's already Sunday afternoon—but while sorting through the past week's photos (so many!) I realized there were some things I wanted to capture and remember, like all that really tall and thick hop clover in the front field. It feels like something out of The Wizard of Oz out there. Picking the first spring green garlic (so good chopped up in tuna salad). Fearless Jasper working on his junior stock dog badge.

And, most importantly, that we put up 26 big round bales of hay. Or, more correctly, that my hunky farmguy Joe put up 26 big round bales of hay. All I did was make lunch, deliver gallons of ice cold fresh mint sun tea and snacks, and drive the truck with the flatbed trailer back and forth when we brought the bales into the haybarn.

The only time I even touched any hay was to help move a bale that had rolled down a slope and onto one of the windrows of raked hay. Compared to the hot and sweaty effort required to bring in square bales, I practically felt guilty.

Putting up round bales is a whole new thing for us, and I'm hoping to write a separate post with more about it, but since I was also planning to put up a separate post about our first 2013 cutting of hay (in square bales) a few weeks ago and still haven't, I figured it might be now or never.

Something I did finally get around to posting this past week is an update on my garden blog about everything that's growing in my organic kitchen garden right now. We've been savoring the last of the beautiful lettuce, lots of green onions, and the first of the spring onions. Also on the menu this week:

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

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Dose of Big Dog Cute

Happy Marta (1) - FarmgirlFare.com
Happy Marta

Happy Marta (2) - FarmgirlFare.com
Happier Marta

Wishing you a wonderful week.

More Marta? Here and here and here.
More farm dog photos? Here and here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where the joyful urge to fall over and roll around on the ground is reaching epidemic proportions.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #29

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 (mostly on Fridays). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(29-1) Everybody knows Bears like the water - FarmgirlFare.com
Lucky Buddy Bear cooling off in the creek.

Welcome to the Saturday evening edition of the Friday Farm Fix! The best news of the week is that last Thursday and Friday's five inches of rain started the wet weather creek running again on Saturday. A week later it's still gently flowing, thanks to another half inch of rain we got on Wednesday, most of which slammed down during a five minute period while I was out in the kitchen garden. I was afraid that if I went inside it would stop, and sure enough it did.

The biggest news of the week is that an enormous black walnut tree fell over in the barnyard during last Friday night's thunderstorm. Sometimes you don't realize just how tall these trees really are until they're horizontal.  Miraculously, nothing was smashed or hurt.

I laid awake half of Friday night worrying about the sheep while the storm raged outside, because we'd locked them in a section of the driveway adjacent to the barn without much protection from the elements. The next morning when I saw the fallen tree, I was so thankful I hadn't sloshed down there through the downpour at two a.m. to let the sheep into the barn and barnyard like I'd contemplated. And, like my hunky farmguy Joe assured me, they weathered the storm just fine where they were.

What else has been going on? Joe brewed a double batch of beer, and I made a double batch of these classic beef Cornish pasties (only this time I added an egg yolk to the crust); they're great to have on hand in the freezer for quick meals. I also bought and froze another four quarts of Amish strawberries to sweeten up our so-healthy-you-feel-virtuous-for-the-rest-of-the-day morning smoothies.

The weather has been hot and sticky (hello June!), so we've been drinking lots of fresh mint sun tea. So refreshing, so easy to make: just stuff a handful or two of fresh mint leaves in a glass jar, fill with water, set in the sun for a few hours, then strain and chill—or serve over lots of ice if you want some right away.

Lemon balm sun tea is wonderful too (you can read more about growing lemon balm along with my five other favorite herbs here). I love these half-gallon wide mouth canning jars and plastic screw-on caps for sun tea and so many other things.

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

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Recipe: Easy Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake

Easy orange yogurt loaf cake recipe - FarmgirlFare.com
A simple, classic orange cake that tastes great with strawberries (recipe here).

How about a sweet treat from the archives? This Easy Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake, which I originally shared back in 2008, is one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare and still one of my personal favorites.

It's an old-fashioned, not overly-sweet cake that mixes up quickly, can be eaten plain or gussied up, and stays moist for several days. It tastes even better the second day (so you can bake it ahead), transports well, freezes beautifully, and can be easily sliced when frozen.

It's heavenly with fresh strawberries or blueberries, especially if you add some whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream.

This is the kind of simple cake recipe that everyone should have in their collection (try a lemon or other citrus version instead of orange), and the comments at the end of the recipe are full of rave reviews. Enjoy!

More favorite cake and quick bread recipes:
100% Whole Wheat Coconut Zucchini Bread
Heavenly Lemon Coconut Quick Bread
Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Bread
Quick Chocolate Emergency Loaf Cake

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet & savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

P.S. Sadly, strawberries are #2 on the Environmental Working Group's list of most contaminated produce. Search for locally grown, organic strawberries (which will be so much more flavorful than store bought) on Local Harvest, or find a U-Pick farm in your area on PickYourOwn.org.

© FarmgirlFare.com, always up for cake.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #28

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 (mostly on Fridays). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(28-1) Tiny fawn in the hayfield - FarmgirlFare.com
Tiny fawn hidden in the hayfield.

Whew, what a week. In five days we managed to accomplish three big tasks that had been looming over us: clipping poor matted Marta Beast, putting up the first batch of hay, and getting the sheep sheared. I just realized they all have to do with cutting.

Tuesday morning we were so wiped out that we both slept in until 10:30, and that was before the hardest work even started. Then the power was out all Tuesday afternoon (which also means no water pumped from the well), making us even more discombobulated.

Saturday we spent an unplanned four hours wallowing on the ground in the sheep/bunny barn with our new animal clippers and a (thankfully) drugged Marta, who is a 100+ pound mix of three thick-coated livestock guardian dog breeds: Great Pyrenees, Komondor, and Anatolian Shepherd. She's also a big mess. Marta could find a mud puddle in a desert, and unlike her Great Pyrenees partner, Daisy, she wasn't blessed with that amazing self-cleaning gene. She also hadn't been clipped in two years, so this was a real challenge.

The last time we had Marta professionally cut it took them five hours and cost a small fortune. The 80-mile round trip drive wasn't much fun either. So we decided to invest in a good electric clipper—which actually cost less than the last grooming session—and try tackling her ourselves.

I wasn't sure it (and we) would be up to the job, but this little Andis professional clipper outdid itself. If it can handle Marta, it can probably handle anything. She won't be winning any beauty contests (which is our fault, not the clipper's), but she looks much better than she did, and I'm sure she feels a lot better too. (Note for home dog groomers: blowing off the blade every several minutes with compressed air to clean and cool it and then oiling it made a huge difference. We're also going to buy a second blade that doesn't cut as close; parts of Marta are very pink!)

34 more photos and the rest of the weekly recap below (hover over each image with your cursor for a description). . .