Thursday, October 31

Monday, October 28

Monday Dose of Cute: Hangin' with the Big Dogs

Hanging with the big dogs (1) -

This is a low maintenance time of year with the sheep. Breeding season is over, lambing season won't start for another three months (which I know will go by in a flash, it always does), and there's still enough good food out in the pastures so that we don't have to do any supplemental feeding. We're behind trimming hooves, but we're always behind trimming hooves.

If the weather and the grass hold out, we may not have to start feeding any of our homegrown organic hay until winter, which would be really nice. In another few weeks we'll separate out the 15 bred ewes (including the two that I'm afraid aren't pregnant since they were seriously flirting it up with Da Big Guy the other day) and start giving them a daily ration of grain to make sure they're consuming enough calories to sustain the twins and triplets that are probably growing inside most of them. This past lambing season we ended up with 19 live lambs from 9 mamas, and not a single single.

For now, though, the entire flock is fat and happy and living together (minus our ram, Da Big Guy, and his buddy Teddy) with their guard dogs, Daisy and Marta, out in the securely fenced, big front field. This means peace of mind for us, and an easier job for the dogs, since they don't have to worry about any of their sheep wandering off in search of better snacks.

Twice a day I head out front to count and check on everyone and visit with the dogs (and maybe do a little sheep snuggling too). Lately the flock has been resting at the very far end of the field, but I don't mind the hike. With the lovely weather and beautiful autumn color we've been having, this is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. And it's always more fun when Bear and Bert come along with me.

18 more photos below. . .

Friday, October 25

Friday Dose of Cute: Have a Relaxing Weekend.

Beagle break -

©, still getting used to the fact that it was 21 degrees this morning. Polar fleece, here we come!

Tuesday, October 22

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Color Me Autumn

Color me autumn (1) -

Mother Nature always gives us a leaf changing show in the fall, but we never know how good it will look or exactly when it will happen. This year? The time is now. And it's looking very nice indeed.

7 more photos below. . .

Tuesday, October 15

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, & Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

Arugula salad with pan-fried herbed potatoes, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and kalamata olive vinaigrette -
A flavor-packed main course salad bursting with seasonal bounty (recipe here).

It may have taken until October, but I finally have tomatoes, potatoes, and arugula in the kitchen garden at once. Let everyone else go on about apples and butternuts and pumpkins; I'm making this Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, & Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette.

Somewhere in the midst of an overwintered kale extravaganza and a lettuce explosion last spring, I forgot to plant any arugula. Fortunately this cold-loving little brassica can go from seed to salad bowl in less than a month, so the two small patches I planted in early September are already providing us with peppery bounty.

Despite several nights in the low 40's and even one chilly dip into the 30's, my four Sweet 100 cherry tomato plants are still ripening up a few fruits, thanks to an old bed sheet protecting them from the cold. And although the Yukon Gold potatoes were ready months ago, I've found that the best place to store them is right in the ground where they grew.

These herby potatoes taste great on their own, and the quick kalamata olive dressing is nice on other salad greens too. To make this a more substantial meal, simply add some slices of leftover grilled chicken or steak.

No arugula? Try some nice crunchy romaine lettuce. I've been having really good luck the last few years growing Parris Island Cos, a tasty heirloom that is amazingly heat tolerant.

Seasonal eating can sometimes be a little tricky, and even a little tiresome, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere. But after 19 years of tending a large garden while living far from many ingredients, I've learned that the (sometimes year-long) wait for a special dish just makes it taste that much better.

It's a brief and special time in the garden right now, when the late summer bounty overlaps the first fall harvest, and this scrumptious salad is the perfect way to celebrate it. Once, until next year.

©, always eating well, just not always on time.

Sunday, October 13

Friday, October 11

Friday Dose of Cute: Heading into the Weekend

On the run -
Have a good one.

More sheep? Here.
More farm landscapes? Here and here.

©, always moving toward the food.

Thursday, October 10

Thursday Dose of Cute: Down at the Sheep Barn

Down at the sheep barn (1) -
Great Pyrenees livestock guardian Daisy and nine-year-old pet wether Teddy.

Bye, bye, breeding season! These weeks are flying by so fast it's frightening. On August 27th we moved our six-year-old ram, Da Big Guy (born during the 'D' year) in with 15 ewes, and last Thursday we moved him back out. If all went (and goes) well, adorable bouncing baby lambs should start arriving the end of January.

A ewe cycles every 17 days, so we kept the ram in a pen with them for 37 days: two cycles plus a few extra days just in case. Hopefully, though, lambing season won't last nearly that long. Last year nine ewes had 19 live lambs (plus one newborn that died), which was fantastic, but they spread those lambs out over a month.

The idea is to have all the lambs arrive in as short a time as possible, although that doesn't always seem like a great plan when you're short on sleep and babies are being born every time you turn around. But the alternative—endless days of round the clock barn checks with nothing going on—is even more exhausting.

During the past few years we've significantly reduced our flock in an all around effort to simplify our lives and reduce expenses, so besides Da Big Guy and his 15 babes, we had a separate splinter flock this year of just eight sheep: three 2013 lambs that we'll have butchered next spring, three big old pet wethers (they also make great ram companions), my baby Cary (who I decided not to breed again after her first horrible experience), and nine-year-old Silly, a sweet old retired girl who is Da Big Guy's mother.

When we pulled Da Big Guy out last week, we put Teddy (aka Uncle Teddy) in with him and merged the rest of the flock back together.

We combined this merger with a sheep working session, trimming some hooves, running everyone through a zinc sulfate foot bath to treat foot scald (raw spots between the toes from moisture), and giving everybody a dose of organic garlic juice and apple cider vinegar as a natural wormer and all-around health tonic.

More photos and story below. . .

Monday, October 7

Recipe: Healthy Rice Salad Packed with Raw Vegetables and Fresh Greens

Healthy rice salad packed with raw veggies and fresh greens -
A pile of fresh vegetables and herbs is stirred into hot rice, then tossed with a simple olive oil and lemon dressing: easy, nutritious, gluten-free, delicious!

We love rice, and of course we love all-natural foods that are produced by socially responsible companies. So when my publishing network, BlogHer, asked if I was interested in creating a healthy recipe using one of RiceSelect's Royal Blend® rices as part of an upcoming ad campaign (which helps me and over 3,000 other mostly women bloggers bring you all our blog content for free), I said sure.

RiceSelect™ is a research based company focused on high value organic and all-natural products. All RiceSelect products are verified non-GMO and are grown, milled, and packaged in the United States under the most stringent farming and production guidelines. Their farms use a sustainable environmentally friendly process that assures socially responsible production.

There are three RiceSelect Royal Blend® products, and my recipe calls for the Royal Blend® with Brown, Red, & Wild Rice, which is an all-natural blend of Texmati White, pre-cooked brown, wild, and Thai red rice. It has no added sodium, a wonderful nutty flavor, and is ready to eat in less than half an hour.

In the 15 minutes it takes the rice to cook, you can turn a simple side dish into a healthy, colorful, flavor-packed feast. A pile of fresh vegetables and herbs is stirred into the hot rice then tossed with a simple olive oil and lemon dressing. It's delicious warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Recipe below. . .

Sunday, October 6

Sunday Dose of Beagle Cute: Picking Dinner, Choosing Yoga

Garden greens and Bert (1) -
Fresh salad fixings from the organic heirloom kitchen garden.

Ready to do something really good for yourself? It's not too late to join me for Marianne Elliott's upcoming 30 Days of Yoga: A Lifetime of Well-Being. The preparatory lessons start next week.

You can read more about this wonderful course (which I've done before) here, and you can register here. I hope to see you there!

Meanwhile. . . (more photos below)

Friday, October 4

Friday Farm Photo: Have a Beautiful Weekend.

Rainbow over the hayfield -
After a brief rainstorm yesterday.

More hayfield photos? Here.
More farm landscapes? Here.

©, shiny and bright, not a coyote in sight—but we can hear them howling out there all night.

Thursday, October 3

How To Make Pear Butter in the Oven: Easy, Low Sugar

Really easy low sugar pear butter made in the oven -
Very ripe pears are the secret to this flavorful, foolproof pear butter that will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. No canning required! (recipe here).

Pears are in season, and there's nothing like homemade pear butter. This popular Really Easy Low Sugar Pear Butter recipe I shared a few years ago is so simple, and it tastes divine.

There's no peeling or coring required, and because it cooks in the oven instead of on the stove top, you don't have to babysit a simmering pot for hours. It's also a great way to use up bruised and battered pears, which taste extra sweet.

Pears are plentiful and cheap right now, and in many places they're available locally grown. Unfortunately pears are also high on the Environmental Working Group's list of Most Contaminated Produce (apples are #1), so it's especially important to seek out organic pears if at all possible.

A good mature pear tree can literally produce several hundred pounds of fruit each year, so ask around. You might discover that a friend or neighbor would love for you to take a bushel or two off their hands. You can also search for fresh pears near you.

If you're facing a mountain of ripe pears, making pear butter is the perfect way to use them up. You can process jars of pear butter in a waterbath canner, but it will keep unprocessed in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks (I never have any around longer than that).

Homemade pear butter makes a wonderful gift, and if you don't want to bother with the canning process, simply tell the recipient to stick their jar in the fridge and enjoy it right away.

©, sharing recipes, stories, and photos from our crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—but not real good about sharing the homemade pear butter.