Wednesday, February 29

Monday, February 27

Friday, February 24

Friday Night Surprise Dose of Cute: Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

Estelle with her newborn twin boys, first lambs of the year -
Estelle with her newborn twin boys

Early last Tuesday morning my hunky farmguy Joe drove off to spend a week visiting his family out of state. We planned the trip so he would be back in time for lambing season, which would be starting around the first of March.

Estelle decided not to wait.

So far she and her twins, who were born a couple of hours ago, are doing great. And if 2012 is anything like 2011, there are going to be a lot more lambs bouncing around the barn by the time Joe arrives back home Monday night.

And so it begins!

Need a bigger dose of lamb cute right now? You'll find all the 2011 lambing season posts here and here. (This photo is one of my favorites.) I'll be down at the barn.

©, where this is always the cutest—and most tiring—time of the year. All that constant lamb cuddling really wears a girl out. Or it could be the weeks of nightly 2am trips down to the barn. But I bet it's the cute.

Friday Dose of Cute: The Beauty of Black and White

Mr. Midnight in the snow -

Have a beautiful weekend!

More Mr. Midnight? Here.
More farm cats? Here.
More snow photos? Here.

©, where there is always beauty to be found in the simple everyday—and that's one of the best things about living here.

Wednesday, February 22

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Chicken Cute

Lulabelle in the snow -

More wordless cute? Here.
More chickens? Here.
More snow? Here.

Monday, February 20

Friday, February 17

Friday Farm Photo: The Great Backyard Bird Count Starts Today—and You're Invitied To Join In!

Wild turkeys in the snowy hayfield -
We counted over 40 wild turkeys in the hayfield last Friday—a new record.

Warmer temperatures and lack of snow in parts of North America have set the stage for what could be a most intriguing 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which runs from Friday, February 17th through Monday, February 20th.

Bird and nature fans throughout North America are invited to take part in this neat four-day event, a joint project between The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada (BSC) that engages bird watchers in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.

Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. It's a great opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks while making an important contribution to conservation.

It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It's free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds. Last year, an estimated 60,000 bird watchers submitted over 92,000 checklists online. There were 596 species observed and over 11.4 million individual birds counted.

For more information, check out the Great Backyard Bird Count website. Details on how you can participate are here, and you can read more about the GBBC here. You can learn more about birds in general at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds website. And at, bird-lovers can share stories and information about birds and help protect birds from activities that harm them and their habitat.

Happy counting!

©, where we're fortunate to be surrounded by all sorts of birds on the farm, but my favorites are definitely the gorgeous wild geese that migrate twice a year overhead (we just saw some this morning!) and this amazing little owl that showed up one cold and windy, heartwrenching morning back in 2008 and stayed for most of the day.

Wednesday, February 15

Wednesday Dose of Cute: We Want Our Treats

Teddy demanding treats -
And we want them now.

More sheep? Here.
More snow photos? Here.
More treats? Here and here and here. (In case you hadn't noticed, life on this farm revolves around treats.)

©, home of Teddy, the eight-year-old enormous (and rather pushy) pet wether.

Tuesday, February 14

Tuesday Farm Photo: Valentine, Farm Style

Hay covered heart in snow -
Happy Valentine's Day

Need a bigger dose of love? There are all sorts of other found farm hearts here. And you can see some of my ever growing collection of heart shaped rocks here and here. They aren't all perfect, just like love isn't perfect.

I'd forgotten how many stories are woven into some of those heart rock posts—and how incredibly bright green it is here in early spring. This morning I took a quiet trip down memory lane, revisiting everyone from a growing up baby Cary to Rosebud and Snugglebunny (one of my favorite ewes, who sadly died last fall). Saying goodbye to New Cat, and reading through your amazing outpouring of heartfelt comments. When we started losing baby lambs left and right. My dear, sweet brother.

Happiness and sorrow, all wrapped around rocks in the shape of a heart. I have hundreds—both rocks and memories. Cherished, one and all.

Wishing you peace, joy, and love this Valentine's Day—and every day.

©, where yesterday's gorgeous snowfall is melting, the champagne is chilling, and I'm getting ready to bake up a quick batch of those delectable little Baby Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Cookies because (hard to believe as it may be) one of us has (temporarily, I'm sure) actually reached chocolate cupcake overload.

Monday, February 13

Recipes: Easy Little Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream Frosting and Cruciferous Vegetables for Valentine's Day

Say I love you with a big helping of antioxidants! My fondness for this crunchy Napa Cabbage and Broccoli Winter Slaw with a Creamy Dijon Dressing just keeps getting stronger.

Radishes and brussels sprouts add extra color and flavor, and everything is quickly chopped up in the food processor. It even goes well with champagne, though of course I think pretty much everything goes well with champagne.

And then there are these Easy Chocolate Babycakes with Mocha (or Chocolate) Buttercream Frosting, which definitely go well with champagne (and milk). They're made with the batter for my simple Emergency Chocolate Loaf Cake, which I've been making for about 14 years, and are really cute and really tasty.

And I could just leave it at that, but I'm going to share some recently acquired chocolate cupcake wisdom with you instead.

More below. . .

Friday, February 10

Friday Farm Photos: Okay, Now It Feels Like Winter

Snowy farm morning 1 -
Hey look, I'm actually letting you see (the better looking) half of The Shack. (The glass in that second story, plastic-covered window literally just fell out one day onto the ground below—I tripped over it in the grass and couldn't figure out where this big piece of glass had come from. I wasn't kidding when I said the place is falling apart!)

More photos below. . .

Wednesday, February 8

Wednesday Dose of Cute: Meet Our Future Milk Supplier

One day old Jersey heifer calf 1 -

For the past five years (I can't believe it's been that long already) we've been buying our milk from a farm about eight miles down the road. This homesteading family of ten drinks a lot of milk, and they also make their own cheese and butter—something I've been meaning to start doing for, oh, the past five years. The money they make from selling their extra milk usually covers the cost of feed for their very small herd of Jersey cows, so it works out well for everyone.

More below. . .

Monday, February 6

Monday Dose of Cute: It's A Brand New Week

Six starving donkeys -
Seven whole days to try for treats.

More donkeys? Here and here.

©, where everybody only thinks they're starving. Every day is actually treat day for our seven donkeys (Daphne, aka The Daphinator, is off to the right, braying loudly), but they think it should happen twice a day. Or even three times. You've got to admire their optimism and persistence.

Sunday, February 5

Sunday Dose of Cute: Sheep Shearing Day 2012!

2012 Sheep shearing day 1 -

Last Saturday our longtime sheep shearer—who thankfully hasn't retired yet—arrived at the farm about 9am and sheared 33 of our 42 sheep, 20 of whom are pregnant. Lambing season will start around the first of March, and you can learn why we now shear the sheep before lambing season here.

Ten-year-old Silly, the oldest member of our flock (all my really old pet sheep have died), didn't need the stress of being sheared in the middle of winter (we'll shear her ourselves in a few months), and the other eight are Katahdin hair sheep, which don't need to be sheared. You can read more about how and why we added Katahdins to our flock four years ago here.

The shearer left about four hours later with payment of $6 per sheep, plus a tip and half a batch of Nigella's big chocolate chip cookies. Despite this being the earliest we've ever sheared (we were his first sheep of the year!), we lucked out and only had to reschedule once. We'd planned to shear Friday, but the sheep weren't dry from Wednesday's rain, and you can't shear wet sheep.

Lots more below. . .

Friday, February 3

Super Bowl Recipe Ideas: Easy Black Bean Chili, Homemade Beer Bread, and Manly Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

Quick and Easy Black Bean Chili -
This thick and hearty black bean chili makes a great dip, too. (recipe here)

Still finalizing your game day menu? You're sure to score big with these winning recipes from the Farmgirl Fare archives.

My Quick and Easy Tex Mex Black Bean Chili is loaded with beans, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and corn. It's low fat, full of flavor, and easy to make vegetarian. It also tastes great as a dip or on nachos and even freezes well. What are Farmgirl Fare readers are saying about it?

My friends said it was the best chili they ever had!!

Just made this for a Super Bowl party. My fiancé had been worried about a vegetarian chili tasting right but said that this recipe was the best chili he'd had in years! I added one minced chipotle and a teaspoon of the adobo sauce and used water instead of stock.

Beyond Easy Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Recipe - Farmgirl Fare

This Beyond Easy Homemade Beer Bread has been one of my most popular recipes since I first shared it back in 2005. Five minutes of work and you'll be rewarded with a warm, crusty loaf in under an hour. Try dill and cheddar, rosemary and feta, onion rye, or even whole wheat. The flavor variations are endless.

Big, Soft, and Chewy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies -

I've been baking these Big, Soft, and Chewy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies for 20 years, and every guy who's ever tasted them has loved them. (I love them, too). My hunky farmguy Joe says they're even good with beer—and nobody ever guesses they're made with whole wheat flour.

Go team!

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

©, where it's not about who wins or loses—it's what you eat during the game.

Thursday, February 2

Thursday Dose of Cute: A Very Happy Groundhog Day

Bert and Bear under the laundry line -
My four-footed laundry helpers are back in action.

Sunny, breezy, and 64 degrees on the second of February in Missouri? You can bet the laundry line was in full swing today!

More photos below. . .