Echinacea is one of my favorite plants. It's an easy to grow, no maintenance, heat loving, cold tolerant, drought tolerant, long blooming, self seeding, pollinator attracting, poor soil loving, insect resistant perennial that's pretty much impossible to kill. It also happens to be one of the most popular medicinal herbs in America.
But most importantly, it's beautiful, especially since the flowers look different at every stage. More about growing echinacea here and more echinacea photos here.
Much to their delight (not), our herd of donkeys has been living out in the (well-fenced) front field with the sheep. This command decision was made, without consulting the donkeys, for two reasons: to give Donkeyland a rest and allow it to hopefully reseed itself, and because the seed stems on the grass in the front field grew up so high this year (yes!) that the sheep were afraid to venture very far out in it. This meant that a lot of good food was going to waste.
Enter seven tall and fearless longears.
In retaliation for being wrenched from their homeland and imprisoned with a bunch of woolly beasts, the donkeys have been spending much of their time hiding out in their secret donkey clubhouse, a darkly shaded area of cool bare dirt at the edge of a small ravine and under a giant cedar tree, away from the riffraff and gnats.
If you try and sneak a peek into the clubhouse to make sure all seven donkeys are still alive and well, they give you dirty looks and then gallop haughtily off into the brush.
When we first moved the donkeys out front, they would spend a lot of time standing at the gate that leads out of the field and up to the barn and the house, like they were waiting to be rescued or released, though Joe said it might have been because the nearby fly trap kept the gnats away. (We've been using these regular size and big bag non-toxic Rescue fly traps around the farm for years; they stink but they work great).
As we were leaving the farm yesterday to run some errands, the donkeys were once again lined up at the gate, staring us down as we approached. Joe said, "When I came out earlier I told the donkeys to stay up here so you'd be able to see them." Three and a half hours later we returned home to the rear view of the exact same scene.
"How long did you tell them to stay there?"
I don't know what was going on this morning, but when I hiked out front to check on everybody, the donkeys all piled out of the clubhouse and came over for scratches and pets. They tanked up on water, licked some salt, nibbled some minerals and diatomaceous earth (you can read about the many ways we use this wonderful, all natural stuff around the farm here), took turns taking dust baths, checked out the grass, and totally ignored the sheep. I snapped more pictures of them than I've taken in the past month.
Double rainbow over the hayfield (it was brighter in real life, but you can just make out the second one above the first).
Did you have a good weekend? We were thrilled to get over two inches of much needed rain in the past 48 hours, with a chance for more in the next few days. Woohoo!
I'm loving the break from my daily sweat-drenched watering sessions in the kitchen garden, though they're much more enjoyable since I bought some of these awesome, ultra light (made in the USA!) Water Right hoses two years ago. What a difference. I used to dread watering.
We're slowly getting back into the swing of things after a whirlwind 10 days of plane travel and cross-country road tripping (Joe), stocking up on a ton of groceries in the big city and getting 10 inches of hair lopped off (me), enjoying the company of a hard working houseguest (Joe's older brother, who hasn't been here in 6 years and who managed to squeeze in two fun bread baking lessons in between helping Joe with the enormous job of cleaning out the spring boxes), and stuffing ourselves with lots of wonderful homemade food (everybody). It's been crazy hot and humid, but that's sum, sum, summertime.
Scared of pie dough? This easy biscuit crust is perfect for beginners (recipe here).
It's become an annual tradition to give this longtime favorite recipe from the archives a little summer shout out. Tomato season hasn't started here on the farm yet (ripen, ripen, ripen), but you don't have to wait for us. Enjoy!
Do tomatoes and basil say summer to you? Do you love pesto and savory pies and melted mozzarella cheese? Then you'll want to celebrate the bounty of summer with this Savory Tomato and Basil Pesto Pie.
This is one of my most popular recipes, and men seem to especially like it. The other day my friend Susan in Vermont said, "I'm making your tomato pesto pie for dinner tonight. I made it last week, and my husband fell in love with me all over again." You'll find more rave reviews below.
When my pal Finny, who has been known to live by the motto All pie all the time, first made it back in 2006, she added a layer of insurance for her meat loving husband—cooked and crumbled Italian sausage. How brilliant is that?
If you're scared of pastry crust, you're going to love this recipe. The biscuit dough is practically foolproof, and the pie itself is easy to make but looks impressive and tastes delicious.
Don't believe me? Below is a sampling of rave reviews from the comments section. Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to come back and report on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest too!
Read the Savory Tomato Pesto Pie reviews below. . .
It's easy to freeze zucchini for winter, but you could also make an extra loaf or two of this scrumptious Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Bread and freeze it instead.
If you're up to your ears in zucchini and bored with the same old cinnamon zucchini bread, you're going to love this favorite recipe from last year. It's not a savory quick bread, but with less sugar than many zucchini bread recipes, plus some whole wheat flour and olive oil, it doesn't feel like you're eating cake for breakfast. (Not that there's anything wrong with eating cake for breakfast.) It also makes a delicious afternoon snack.
The flavors of the rosemary and lemon are pleasantly subtle, but you can bump them up if you like. This bread tastes even better the next day, will stay moist for several days, and freezes well. I like it best sliced, toasted, and slathered with butter. Enjoy!
The only thing sweeter than a bird hitching a ride on the back of a sheep? Three birds on one sheep.
I didn't get around to putting together a Friday Farm Fix last week, but it wasn't for a lack of cute. Here are nine favorite four-footer shots taken around the farm during the past week (sorry, no chickens). Hover your cursor over each image for a description.
A healthy, crunchy slaw that's made with green and purple cabbage, green onions, carrots, and sweet peppers and tossed with a tangy lemon caper dressing.
Love coleslaw but tired of the same old mayo-heavy recipes? Liven—and lighten—things up with this colorful, flavor-packed version of an all-American classic.
This tasty, low fat slaw is made with yogurt and a lot less mayonnaise than many traditional coleslaw recipes. It goes well with all sorts of summer meals and is perfect for bringing to potlucks, picnics, backyard barbecues, and buffet parties. I love having a bowl in the fridge for a healthy snack or the fastest dinner salad ever.
Having a batch of this flavorful, herb-packed dip on hand in the fridge makes it easy to bypass the sweets and grab a healthy snack of fresh summer veggies instead, although it also tastes great with pretzels and potato chips.
You can thin it out with a little milk or buttermilk to make a flavorful salad dressing, or you can pack it in a pita (homemade perhaps?) with some greens and chopped vegetables. If you let the dip chill for at least a few hours before serving (or overnight) it'll taste even better.
Any way you serve it, it's a celebration of the season. Enjoy!