Wednesday, June 27

Wordless Wednesday Dose of Cute: Ram Tough

Da Big Guy and The Kid -

More wordless cute? Here and here.
More sheep? Here.

Tuesday, June 26

Tuesday Late Night Dose of Cute: Bird Watchers

Bird watchers -

More chickens? Here.
More Mr. Midnight? Here.

©, on the inside looking out.

Monday, June 25

Monday Dose of Cute: Anyone for Apple Cider?

Daphne -
Actually we donkeys prefer our apples whole, thanks, but you go right ahead.

Please see my long replies in the comment section below if you're wondering what these BlogHer review posts are and why I do them. Thanks.

One of my favorite movies is The Horse Whisperer, and one of my favorite lines in the movie is when Kristin Scott Thomas' character, a New York City magazine editor, says to Robert Redford after spending the day working a bunch of calves on Redford's Montana ranch, "Is it cocktail hour yet?"

Happy hour is an important part of life on our farm, even if, as is common this time of year, it doesn't start until after 8pm.

So when my publishing network, BlogHer, asked if I wanted to be part of a review program for Michelob's new ULTRA Light Cider, of course I said yes.

More below. . .

Saturday, June 23

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #15

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

(1) Lokey and her newborn chicks -
Lokey and some of her newly hatched chicks

It was kind of a whirlwind week. Like it was Sunday, and then it was Friday. There was a trip to the vet with a very well behaved Bert (even when some guy walked in the door and said, "Hello, fat little dog!"), a couple of blissful afternoon hours spent swimming at the river (something we've decided we need to do a lot more often), and even a little pizza party. There was champagne and an indoor picnic dinner (one of our favorite meals) on the solstice.

Why are there so many chick pics in this week's Friday Farm Fix? Because there are baby chickens everywhere. I'm not going to say the actual number because Joe is going to read this, and I don't think he's done quite all of the peep math yet. He has noticed that we seem to be buying chicken feed a lot more often when we go to town. And he kindly set up the fancy waterer we bought last year in the newish open chicken pen, which you can see hanging from a tree below.

We were thrilled to get a little over an inch of rain at the beginning of the week, which was more than we've had at one time in months. The fields are parched and sparse. It's been blast furnace hot every day, with no more rain in sight. The sheep and their guard dogs spend the afternoons tucked under the cool of low hanging cedar trees at the edge of the front field. There are green tomatoes getting bigger. Sum sum summertime.

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

Monday, June 18

Monday Dose of Cute: Farmgirl Fare on Facebook, Pinterest, & Twitter

Lucky Cherry and Isabelle -

Farmgirl Fare on Facebook
Farmgirl Fare on Pinterest
New posts are announced on Twitter

See you there!

©, where wooly beast lovers will find more more sheep photos here. And there's a cute overload of little lamb pics here. Baaaa!

Saturday, June 16

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #14

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

(1) Mr. Midnight -
Mr. Midnight knows the secret to staying cool—you just have to sprawl.

Birds seem to be this past week's theme around the farm: baby chicks, big chicks, wild turkeys, and the two graceful white mystery birds we saw in the front field one evening when we hiked out to count the sheep.

I guess maybe they were young egrets? I love to be around birds but am embarrassed to admit I can't identify very many of them. They looked like they belonged near water. We do see great blue herons around this area sometimes, especially near the river. They used swoop down and grab catfish from the pond at my old farm. Such glorious creatures, even if they are thieves.

These two seemed sort of lost, circling around the field and coming back toward us. Or maybe they just wanted to stay near the sheep. The photos below aren't real clear because I took them on 20x zoom. It sort of drives me crazy that so many creatures are afraid of people but not sheep or dogs or cats or even donkeys. Although it would be nice if the deer were still afraid of the dogs. I'm covering more plants in the garden each night than I did when there was a threat of frost because otherwise they'll munch it down.

We often see wild turkeys in the hayfield, and some years in the spring there are two hens who march around out there with their babies trailing behind. For the past few weeks one hen has been staying pretty close to the house, ambling around in the grass by herself for long stretches during the day.

I haven't gone out to look for a nest because I don't want the dogs to follow me and bother her. I'll never forget the time we were walking through the hayfield and Robin came out of the bushes that grow along the edge with an enormous turkey egg clutched between her jaws.

No sign of any baby turkeys with this hen yet, but on Monday afternoon when I went to pick up the mail and our weekly two gallons of raw Jersey milk, I stopped to let a hen and three little babies cross the highway in front of me. When I drove back maybe 45 minutes later I saw them again, crossing back over in about the same spot.

26 more farm photos below. . .

Recipe: Big and Manly Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip and Raisin Cookies for Father's Day (Because Dads Love Cookies, Too)

Big, Soft, and Chewy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies
Ready for a different chocolate chip cookie? These big treats are soft and chewy with a crisp, buttery edge. Don't let the whole wheat scare you away! (recipe here)

In my previous urban California life, before I moved to the wilds of Missouri and became an enthusiastic but clueless farmgirl, I owned a little bakery cafe. The decor was vintage, the made from scratch fare was of the old-fashioned, comfort food variety, and the cookies were always big: classic chocolate chip, chunky oatmeal walnut raisin, old-fashioned peanut butter, double chocolate chip.

Trust me when I say that guys love big cookies. I think it has to do with being able to grasp them with their oversized hands, rather than trying to deal with some dainty little thing. Big cookies are manly.

The majority of men who visited my bakery went for the chunky oatmeal walnut raisin, but if I'd had these whole wheat chocolate chip and raisin cookies in the display case, I know they would have been a bestseller.

They're soft and chewy with lots of vanilla flavor, a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a crisp, buttery edge, and every guy who's ever tasted them has loved them. (I love them, too.) I gave a stack to the farrier and his son once when they were down here trimming donkey hooves, and a year later they were still talking about them.

The chocolate chips and raisins taste great together (although you can skip the raisins if you prefer), and the whole wheat flour adds to the flavor and texture without making them taste like health food. In fact, you don't even need to tell anyone they're whole wheat.

If dad likes cookies, try baking him a batch of these for Father's Day. And if for some reason he doesn't care for them, you'll just have to eat them all yourself and go buy him a tie.

As for the recipe, which I originally posted back in 2005 along with the story of my two pet chocolate chip sheep, it was given to me 20 years ago—by a man. Oh, and my hunky farmguy Joe wanted to make sure I tell you that these cookies even taste good with beer, although I recommend an ice cold glass of milk.

©, where the animals are cute, the work is hard, the food is fabulous, and the homemade cookies are almost always big.

Sunday, June 10

Tail End of the Week: Friday (Sunday) Farm Fix #13

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

6-9-12 Friday Farm Fix #13 (1)
On guard in the front field

For the first time since last September, the entire flock (except for the two rams) is together again. Half of the sheep had already been grazing out in the front field, which is our main pasture, for the past couple of weeks, and a few days ago the moms and our seven remaining lambs joined them.

How do we know it's time to stop creep feeding the lambs? When they're too fat to squeeze into (or out of!) the creep feeder. Of course they don't agree with that reasoning. Nevertheless, the twice a day treats (with hay in between) are over. It's time to graze.

The plan is for the flock to live out in the front field for the next several months, protected by Daisy and Marta and free to eat during the night when it's cooler. Hopefully there will be enough grass out there for them (and the donkeys in Donkeyland) to feed them through the fall. The heat and drought aren't giving in.

I don't remember the fields ever looking this bad, although Joe says they have. In many places you can see more dusty bare ground than grass, and what little green there is just keeps getting browner.

All we can do is pray for rain.

20 more farm photos below. . .

Tuesday, June 5

Milestone Photos: Loving Seven Years of Farmgirl Fare

Farmgirl Fare birthday heart rock (1) -
Heart rock found on the way to Donkeyland the day Farmgirl Fare turned seven.

Seven years last Sunday.

I've been a blogger longer than I've held any other job except sheep farmer, though I tend to think of farming as more of a whole lifestyle than a job. But I suppose being a food and farm blogger is a lifestyle too. I was a farmgirl for 10 years before I started blogging, but it's hard to remember a time when I wasn't farming and blogging (and carrying my camera everywhere).

A lot has changed around here during the past seven years, and yet many things have stayed the same. I still have sheep. I still have dogs and cats and chickens. I now have seven donkeys instead of just the one (much to his delight). We've said goodbye to many beloved animal friends and welcomed new ones into the farmily.** We (finally!) live in a new house. I have a wonderful hunky farmguy I love even more than I did seven years ago.

I now have friends around the world. During the past month, you've come to my little blog from 146 different countries. How cool is that? (Hello, Zambia!)

If you'd like to go back to the beginning, there are links to all the Farmgirl Fare archives over in the left sidebar of any Farmgirl Fare page (just scroll down a little ways).

I still have stories to tell and favorite recipes to share (you'll find all the recipes I've already posted in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index). I still long to spend more time on my neglected kitchen garden blog. I've figured out Pinterest and Facebook. I'm still finding heart shaped rocks.

I'm grateful to you for choosing to spend time here, and for all of your comments and feedback and kind words. I know some of you have been around since the beginning!

I'm grateful to the sponsors who choose to advertise with me, and to my publishing network, BlogHer.

I'm grateful to all of you who take the time to start your shopping trips by clicking on a Farmgirl Fare link first (like to a book or product I've recommended), including that little black amazon logo that's always over in the right sidebar of every Farmgirl Fare page. When you do, we receive a small percentage of the sale (at no cost to you) no matter what you end up buying.

Every little bit helps, and your support really makes a difference. It allows me to spend 30 to 40 hours a week blogging. It allows me to spend more time taking pictures, telling stories, creating recipes, and meeting and inspiring people around the world. It allows me to work at something I love doing.

It also helps keep the farm going.

I have no idea what I'll be doing seven years from now. On Thursday morning (at 4:30am! by myself!) I'll be heading off to a two-day workshop that may take our struggling farm in an interesting (and potentially profitable) new direction. Exciting times surely lay ahead.

I do know that right now I'm here—and I'm so glad you are too.

Thank you. For everything.

**I proofread this post several times before noticing I'd typed farmily instead of family. I love it.

©, where the last time I spent a night away from the farm was during my week long hospital stay two years ago. Before that I can't even remember. Can you say serious homebody?

Saturday, June 2

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #12

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a new series on Farmgirl Fare where I share a random sampling (that sometimes appears on Saturdays) of what's been happening around the farm during the past week. Just joining us? You'll find all the Friday Farm Fix posts here.

6-1-12 Friday Farm Fix #12 (1) -

The word of this past week was definitely PEEP! It seems like there are baby chicks hatching everywhere, including another one since last night. The chick pics were starting to take over this post, though, so instead I'll do a separate peep report in the next few days. Maybe the number of new babies will have stabilized by then. In the meantime, they sure are cute to watch.

A brief respite from the unseasonable heat and humidity, along with just under an inch of rain (woohoo!), has made us (and the entire farm) very happy indeed. We turned off the a/c and even put a blanket on the bed last night. We're headed right back into another heat wave, but at least the dust has settled and the grass in the fields doesn't crunch as much when you walk on it. They're even teasing us with more rain in the 10-day forecast.

My hunky farmguy Joe is doing better (hello Sheep Working Sunday!) and was even out on the tractor yesterday and today. I've been busy planting and picking (and watering) in the kitchen garden. Four more tomato plants went in the ground (lots more still to go) along with eight California Golden Wonder sweet peppers, and 20 tiny purple basil seedlings were transplanted into individual plugs. Learn what to do with purple basil here (hint: it makes amazing pesto).

The garden is at that point where everything seems to be suddenly taking off. One day you're delighted to spot a couple of baby beans, and just a few days later you're filling up a colander.

We've been enjoying the first sweet and crunchy, easy to grow Dragon Tongue beans (I love them raw), pretty salads starring Parris Island cos lettuce, and spring onions galore. The flea beetles have been enjoying pretty much everything. Fortunately their nibbling doesn't usually kill plants. The first Japanese beetles have already been spotted; fingers crossed their numbers—and their damage—won't be nearly as bad as last year. They do kill stuff.

I picked 8½ pounds (!) of volunteer Swiss chard from the greenhouse (and that wasn't even all of it), along with enough lemon balm to make about 75 gallons of sun tea. Learn How To Grow Your Own Swiss Chard from Seed here. I see a Swiss Chard Artichoke Pizza in our future, and some of this Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad with Garbanzo Beans and Cottage Cheese. Read about growing, drying, and using lemon balm here.

It's hard to believe it's already the beginning of June, although it's pretty much felt like June since March. The echinacea (purple coneflower) just started blooming. We'll be picking juicy, ripe tomatoes before you know it.

21 more farm photos below. . .