Saturday, September 27

Saturday Farm Photo: Sheep Gone Wild!

Havoc—or Hysterical?

Want a bigger taste of country living?
Haybarn Photos
Haying Season Photos
Sheep Photos
More Sheep Photos
Lambing Season 2008 Part One
Farm Landscape Photos
Lucky Buddy Bear Photos
Farm Stories
Farm Life Tidbits

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where there is no reality, only perception. So when your visiting foodie mom runs over to you on your way back from the barn yelling, "Come quick! The sheep are wreaking havoc in the hay!" you walk across the farmyard, assess the situation, and calmly announce, "That's not havoc—that's a photo op." And then you start clicking away. Note: this photo was actually taken way back in February of 2007 (I've been sorting through old photos) which explains the lack of leaves on the trees and the large section of hay missing from the falling-down haybarn.)

Friday, September 26

Friday Daily Dose of Cute:
Are Those Donkey Treats in that Bucket?

Sorry Girls, Just Dog Food

Need to stock up on cute for the weekend?
Baby Donkey Photos
Donkey Photos
The First Daily Doses of Cute
Daily Doses of Cute Part 2
Daily Doses of Cute Part 3
Daily Doses of Cute Part 4
Daily Doses of Cute Part 5

Daily Doses of Cute Part 6

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where baby donkeys Evie and Esmeralda have taken on the job of border patrol guards, and you can't get past them without an inspection—only they don't actually pay attention to any borders.

Wednesday, September 24

Wednesday Farm Photos:
The Higher and Higher Cost of Farming

The truck wasn't armored, but it probably should have been.

It's always nice when you realize that your bank account is at the point where you can splurge on something big. For many people that means a relaxing vacation or a faraway trip—maybe even one with three or four stars. Others purchase a gorgeous new wardrobe, indulge in a designer shoe addiction, or head to the jewelry store for a sparkly little bauble. Some might decide to finally buy that fishing boat or four wheeler or even a brand new car. Us? We fertilize the fields.

Just like vacationing, ideally you want to fertilize every year, but in both cases that often isn't feasible. And when we were given the price quote for fertilizing this summer (our fertilizer guy literally asked if we were sitting down before he told us) we realized—as have many other struggling small farmers this year—that this may very well be our last opportunity to fertilize for a very long time.

Heading out to spread the wealth.

Last month we paid a whopping $4,300 to organically fertilize 44 acres of grazing pastures and hayfield. Two years ago it cost about half that much—just like feed and fencing supplies did. And of course we're all dealing with the doubled price of gas.

But we know we're lucky compared to the farmers who use toxic chemical fertilizers. What they could buy two years ago for $200 now costs $1,200—if they can even get it. A lot of fertilizers are simply no longer available at any price. The main reason for the shortages and skyrocketing costs? The corn-based ethanol fuel craze—which is definitely not the answer.

Fertilizing the Front Field

The one upside to all of this is that farmers who have never thought about natural alternatives are now being financially forced to try them—and they're discovering that they work. Of course that's another reason our fertilizer costs have gone up, but it's one I'm a lot more willing to pay for.

Want a bigger small farm experience?
(some categories may overlap)
Farm Stories
Farm Life Tidbits
Farm Landscape Photos
Haying Season Photos
Lambing Season 2008 Part One
Lambing Season 2008 Part Two
Back to the Beginning: My Early Farm Adventures

©, the fertile foodie farm blog where fertilizing season is the only time we're glad that much of our 240 acres consists of hilly forest rather than open fields—and some welcome late summer rain has really helped that high dollar fertilizer we put down soak into the ground, which makes a big difference.

Tuesday, September 23

Tuesday Daily Dose of Cute: Where the Boys Are

Patchy Cat and J2 in the Cat Cabin

Want to see more farm feline photos?
Farm Boss Patchy Cat
Sarah Kit Kat Kate
New Cat
Molly Doodlebug (aka The Doodle Monster)

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we'll never stop being in awe of the innate elegance and grace of cats—and sometimes we love a photo so much that we decide to post it even though it isn't 100% in focus.

Monday, September 22

Monday Farm Photo: A Bright Start to Fall

Sedum Autumn Joy in the Kitchen Garden

Wanna see more sedum?
(Actually it's the same plant, different days)
9/8/05: Sedum Autumn Joy is Blooming & Buzzing
9/27/05: Autumn Bloom
9/11/07: Welcoming Autumn with Open Arms (and Wings)

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we absolutely adore autumn and are happily breathing a So long summer! sigh of relief as we continue—both in the garden and around the farm—to drink in the month long happy hour known as September in Missouri. Happy first day of fall!

Monday Daily Dose of Cute:
Bonding with Her Baby

Dolores & Daughter Esmeralda
(who is already 2-1/2 months old!)

Need more hee haw in your life?
Baby Donkeys
Donkey Photos
More Donkey Photos
Donkey Doodle Dandy

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where having two baby donkeys who can't seem to get enough pets and snuggles is almost more cuteness than we can bear—and all the donkeys have this ability to look at you in such a way that you always feel as if you've just interrupted something really important.

Sunday, September 21

Sunday Farm Photo: Last Day of Summer

And A Hint of Fall Color to Come

A year of Farm Photos ago:
9/18/07: A Peaceful Slice of Life
9/23/07: Hello, Autumn!

Two years ago:
9/20/06: Heart Rocks, Morning Sun
9/21/06: Clip Clop Swish, Clip Clop Swish
9/22/06: Morning Calm Before the Storm Rumbling Overhead
9/23/06: Last Night of Summer Spectacular Show
9/23/06: Autumn Is Here

Three years ago:
9/20/05: Green, Green, Green—But Not for Much Longer
9/21/05: Donkey Doodle Dandy Loves to Hang Out in Corners
9/22/05: Happy First Day of Fall

And out of the kitchen came:
What To Do with Green Tomatoes? Make Salsa-Like Relish!
Kissing Summer Goodbye with the Easiest Greek Salad Ever

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where, now that it's no longer sweltering outside, my trusty stock dog Lucky Buddy Bear and I are trying to get back into our routine of daily walks on the ridge above the farm. For years we went four miles a day nearly every single day, but for various reasons we slacked off. Way off. We're starting up again with just two miles, though it is the steepest two miles, and this photo was taken on our way back. Speed is not a factor, especially considering that this afternoon (which was beautiful) we must have stopped at least six different times to admire and take pictures of wild mushrooms. Unfortunately they weren't chanterelles. Who knew there were mushrooms that are blue?

Saturday, September 20

Saturday Daily Dose of Cute: Goat Chowder (Not A Recipe)

This bottle baby drinks more than milk.

You know it's going to be an interesting visit to a new friend's farm when you climb out of the driver's seat of your car and a baby Boer goat jumps in.

After I'd scooped him up and deposited him back on the ground (a small amount of cuddling may have been involved in the process), Chowder ("the grandkids named him") proceeded to nuzzle my leg and nibble daintily on my knee, duck under electric fence wires so he could follow us as we walked around the fields, play with some rocks, and look so darn adorable I must have squealed "He's so cute!" about 300 times.

At one point while we were sitting around talking about everything from Kubota tractors to the best way to deal with seed ticks (duct tape!) and enjoying the sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, Chowder began heading determinedly toward the small patio table next to us.

I grabbed up my camera case assuming he was about to eat it (because you always hear that goats eat everything), but was quickly informed that what Chowder was really going after was my soda. He was then given a small drink.

This amusing little guy, who is slated to become a "teaser goat" to help bring the does in heat during breeding season ("He'll still have all his equipment, he'll just be shooting blanks") didn't come home with me that day, but somebody else did. More about our newest four-footed member of the farm hopefully
soon. Hint: It's not a goat. Update: Meet her here!

©, the soda slurping foodie farm blog where despite my saying repeatedly over the years that I would never, ever have goats, there are probably going to be a few of these brush and bramble eaters in our near farm future. No dairy goats, though.

"We're trying to reduce your workload, not increase it," Joe reminded me when I said something about homemade goat cheese. "There's no way you want to have to milk a goat twice a day, every single day." And despite the dreamy cheese idea, he's absolutely right—although he's the one who's pushing for the goats. "But no nannies—and no babies!"

Thursday, September 18

Thursday Farm Photo: The Best Part about Putting Up Hay?

When all that's left to do is admire the view and wait for winter.

Want to see more?
Haybarn Photos
Haying Season Photos
Hay Feeding Photos
Handmade Fence Photos
Farm Landscape Photos

It's always a little discombobulating coming back to the grid after being without power—especially if it's been off for 53 hours. When we lose electricity we pull out the oil lamp and candles and pretend we're camping—which isn't a whole lot different than everyday life in The Shack.

Things outdoors pretty much continue on as usual when there's no electricity, but not much happens inside (and it sure does get dark early in here). A power outage also means there is absolutely no excuse not to head out to the weed-filled garden and get to work cleaning out raised beds (which you've been putting off for far too long).

Our stovetop burners use propane so we can still cook lots of things, but because we're on a well, no electricity also means no running water, and that can get a little tiring after a while (and boy do the dirty dishes pile up quickly). We're very lucky to have the spring so we always have access to water (which we boiled when we ran out of drinking water), and fortunately bales of hay will stay fresh whether there's power or not, unlike the contents of our several chest freezers.

These long outages usually occur during winter ice storms, so worrying about anything defrosting isn't a concern. This time was a little iffy. But thanks to a little cool snap, the numerous large plastic bottles of ice we keep on hand that went into the fridge, the generator we finally borrowed from the donkey peddling cowboy around hour 36 (because ours wouldn't start), and the fact that the freezers were crammed to capacity, pretty much everything except a couple of cartons of ice cream stayed frozen solid.

©, the neatly stacked foodie farm blog where losing power for an extended period always reminds us of just how much we heart electricity—and makes me wonder if perhaps I should rethink my current thoughts on canning. Except pretty jars of preserved garden tomatoes are one thing, but canned lamb just doesn't sound very appealing.

Saturday, September 13

Saturday Daily Dose of Cute:
Here A Nibble, There A Nibble

Evie & Daphne Enjoy Brunch by
The Shack

Not enough cute for you?
Baby Donkey Photos
Donkey Photos
The First Daily Doses of Cute
Daily Doses of Cute Part 2
Daily Doses of Cute Part 3
Daily Doses of Cute Part 4
Daily Doses of Cute Part 5

Daily Doses of Cute Part 6

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where little Evie—who is already seriously fluffing up for winter—has finally (finally!) crossed over into the Land of Lets You Hug & Pet Her. I'm absolutely thrilled, but little attention hound Esmeralda is not liking the fact that now she only gets scratched and snuggled with one hand instead of two.

Thursday, September 11

Thursday Farm Photo: A Very Local Dinner Starring Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms

Dinner is served—and it doesn't get much better than this.

On the menu: Sautéed golden zucchini and crisp pan-fried potatoes just harvested from the kitchen garden, grilled lamb leg steaks from our own lamb, wild chanterelle mushrooms found a few steps from the farm. Seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. A bit lacking in color, but oh my god was it good.

We don't usually have hurricanes or tropical storms here in the landlocked middle of the country, but last week Hurricane Gustav brought us some welcome late summer rain. Wild mushrooms were soon popping up everywhere, and a few of them were even edible.*

I enjoyed last spring's big morel mushroom bounty immensely, but my heart truly belongs to chanterelles. Apparently I'm not alone, since they're the most sought after wild mushroom in North America. Chanterelles aren't very plentiful around here (at least where I've been looking), but this is the time of year when they're most likely to make an appearance. I did find a few while walking along the ridge above the farm the other day (talk about a great incentive to exercise), and although they were a little past their prime and caked in mud from the downpour, I was able to salvage enough for a couple of swoon-worthy bites.

The first year I lived in Missouri I happened upon several pounds of chanterelles near the entrance to Windridge Farm—and never found anywhere near that many again. There were so many I even made a savory chanterelle pie with a creamy sauce and lattice top. Talk about decadence! Usually, though, my chanterelle bounty is so small that I turn to the same boring but delicious way of preparing them—simply sautéed in plenty of organic butter. A hunk of warm crusty bread is essential for soaking up every drop of the glorious juice.

Wild mushroom hunters and lovers unite! Are you a wild mushroom fan? What kinds do you look for and how do you like to prepare them? If you've written about wild mushrooms on your own blog, you're welcome to leave a link to your post in the comments section.

*Foraging for wild mushrooms can be a wonderful and rewarding thing to do, but you should never taste (or even touch) a wild mushroom unless you are 110% sure that it is edible. Most mushrooms are poisonous, and many are deadly. Please be smart and stay safe!

© 2008, the award-winning blog where a dozen years ago I was lucky enough to come across a wild chicken of the woods mushroom (not to be confused with a hen of the woods, or maitake, mushroom) on my first 4th of July in Missouri. It was like finding a couple of pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast sitting next to a tree. Doused with teriyaki sauce and grilled, it made a fantastic and filling meal that so far I've only been able to dream of reproducing.

Monday, September 8

Feel Like A Little Focaccia?

Focaccia: Easy To Make, Impressive to Look At, & Delicious of Course!

I recently shared a recipe for
Lamb Burgers with Garlic, Shallots, & Feta that were served up on homemade rosemary focaccia. I promised that the focaccia recipe would be up soon over on A Year in Bread, and it is!

Wondering what A Year in Bread is? In the spring of 2007, two bread baking buddies and I started a fun year-long project where we chose a monthly theme and then each shared a different recipe for that type of that bread. We started with pizza dough (because it's less intimidating than making loaves of full-fledged yeast bread) and went on from there. Our search system and site navigation are severely lacking right now, but there are links to all the monthly archives in the left sidebar of the homepage.

We slacked off a little toward the end of the year, never got to the highly anticipated sourdough section as planned (though Beth has some great starter-making photos), and due to other commitments (you know, like lambing season) have sadly ignored the site for much of the past several months.

And while Kevin has moved on to bigger and better things (including becoming the Guide for Cooking for Two on, Beth and I have big (though slightly less formal) plans for another Year in Bread—just as soon as she finishes putting the final touches on the text and photos for her wonderful upcoming cookbook (which includes a couple of my recipes!), Picture Yourself Cooking with Your Kids.

In the meantime, you can check out our roundup of all the sandwich bread recipes we've shared so far on A Year in Bread. The weather is finally cooling down, which means it's time to pull out the flour and crank up the oven. Ready, breadie? Then come bake bread with us!

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where lately we've flipped over focaccia, including a scrumptious yet simple stuffed version filled with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella that will hopefully be posted soon (like while tomatoes are still in season).

Thursday, September 4

Easy Lamb Recipe: Slow Roasted Dutch Oven Shoulder Roasts or Shanks with Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Rosemary, and Red Wine

Frozen whole tomatoes are tossed right in - no need to defrost.

So why am I posting a cozy winter recipe that requires hours of oven time even though for many of us the heat of summer is far from over? Because I've just shared a really easy way to freeze tomatoes—which work beautifully in this recipe—on my kitchen garden blog, along with a lighthearted explanation of why my once much used canning equipment spends most summers gathering dust.

If you're lucky enough to have a tomato glut on your hands right now, you might want to save some for later. Of course if it's already cool enough in your neck of the woods for this kind of hearty fare, feel free to toss in fresh tomatoes instead. Either way, enjoy!

"You're right," Joe said as I dished up this hearty one pot meal last winter, "a lot of our food isn't pretty."

I tend toward homey comfort foods that, while simple to prepare and deeply satisfying, often leave something to be desired in the looks department. This meal was decidedly not beautiful (or photogenic), but it tasted wonderful.

The nicest thing about dutch oven cooking (I love my enameled cast iron dutch ovens) is that if dinner ends up being served a couple of hours later than planned, it will only taste that much better. And the leftovers are delicious. This is slow food at its best.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference. Natural, grass-fed lamb raised by small producers is becoming more and more readily available around the U.S., so there's no need to buy frozen lamb that has traveled halfway across the world. Not that I have anything against sheep farmers in New Zealand and Australia.

Browned lamb shoulder roasts - funky looking but tasty.

Each lamb shoulder has two small roasts which are oddly shaped, but—like most of the 'cheaper cuts' of meat—are full of flavor. If you can't find shoulder roasts for sale (sometimes the shoulder is left whole), you can substitute lamb shanks or even lamb sirloin roasts. Just make sure you use something that has bones.

The other ingredients and amounts are flexible when cooking this way, so feel free to adjust them to suit your taste. A few handfuls of sweet red pepper (from the freezer perhaps?) tossed in are very nice. I've also made this with just the onions and garlic (no wine, herbs, or tomatoes) and it's delicious.

Cold weather comfort food that will make your kitchen smell divine.

Susan's Slow Cooked Dutch Oven Lamb
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
2 pounds yellow or white onions (about 8 small), peeled and thickly sliced
5 pounds lamb shoulder roasts, sirloin roasts (bone-in), or lamb shanks
1 cup red wine (I use Cabernet)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
1 pound frozen whole paste tomatoes (or 2 cups good canned plum tomatoes)
Salt & pepper
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Sprinkle lamb roasts with salt and pepper and then brown on all sides (in batches if necessary), using tongs to turn the pieces. Watch out—the oil will splatter. Remove lamb and set on a large plate.

Add onions to dutch oven and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Make a well in the center of the onions and add the garlic. Cook, stirring so that all the garlic touches the bottom of the pot, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix garlic with onions.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the wine, bring to a boil, and stir up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.

Stir in the rosemary and parsley.

With slow roasting, the dutch oven does most of the work.

Move the onions to the side and set the lamb roasts on the bottom of the pot. Cover the meat with some of the onions.

Scatter the frozen tomatoes over the meat and pour on the remaining 1/2 cup of red wine. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Put on the lid and set the pot in the oven. Cook for 2½ to 3 hours (or longer), stirring everything around after the first and second hours. Be careful not to burn yourself.

If the meat hasn't already fallen off the bone, it should easily come away with a fork. Serve up the meat with the onion tomato mixture on the side, or mix it all together into a glorious, sludgy mess. Garnish with more chopped parsley if you want to pretty it up a bit. Add a nice green salad and pass warm slices of bread.

Feel like baking your own bread?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (ready in under an hour!)
Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones
Carrot Herb Rolls (and a beautiful bread book for beginners)
How To Make Your Own Pita Bread & Pita Chips

Love lamb? Here are more of my Less Fuss, More Flavor lamb recipes:
Lamb Burgers with Garlic, Shallots, & Feta on Homemade Rosemary Focaccia
Grilled Lamb Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper, Parsley, & Kalamata Olive Relish from Cooking with Shelburne Farms
Easy Ground Lamb & Feta Stuffed Mushrooms
Onion & Herb Crusted Lamb Spareribs and Grilled Lamb Leg Steaks

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

©, the slow cooked foodie farm blog where I was really tempted to wait to post this recipe until I had a chance to take a more appetizing, less embarrassing photo of the finished dish (maybe even one without a big splotch of sauce on the plate), but considering how long it takes me to get around to doing anything (these photos are from February) and how not into food photography I am (partly because my kitchen is always a cluttered mess), I figured it would probably be at least another year or two before that happened, so it was ugly or nothing. But it really does taste great!

Thursday Daily Dose of Cute:
Even Kitty Cats Need to Eat Their Greens

Greenhouse Kitty

© Copyright 2008, the aleafy green loving foodie farm blog where sorting through a zillion old photos is a boring, time consuming job but it does have its benefits; some of our favorite photos often slip through the cracks, like this one taken back in May of Topaz (before she moved outside and slimmed down) inspecting some salad greens—right before she started eating them.

The lemon balm and Greek oregano (in the pots on the left) and Swiss chard (which is one of my favorite—and easy!—things to grow) are all still going strong, but that beautiful, heat-hating arugula has long since gone to seed.

Now that the days will be cooling down, though, I'll start watering the section of raised bed where the seeds fell (since I was too lazy to actually collect and save them), and a whole new crop of arugula will hopefully sprout up in a couple of days. We'll go from seed to salad bowl in less than a month.

Topaz will be thrilled—and I will, too of course. (And we've decided that it's okay to use crazy run-on sentences in the copyright notice.)