Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How To Make Pumpkin Puree and a Pumpkin Bread Recipe

 Take a nice little pie pumpkin and hack into that practically impenetrable outer flesh.  Then grab a spoon and scrape at the hard innards trying to pull the seeds out.


Take a look at that gorgeously cured, solid pumpkin.  

Wash off the dirt.

Put it on parchment paper (easier cleanup) in a jelly roll pan.  And bake at 400-degrees.  Start checking it with a fork after about 30 minutes.  Its ready when the fork easily pierces the skin and the flesh feels really soft.   

Let the pumpkins completely cool.

Cut the pumpkin in half.

Oooh, like slicing through butter!

Scoop the seeds and strings out of the nice soft flesh.  

You can save the seeds for roasting.  Or, if you have soooo many (like me) you can feed them to your pigs and chickens.  I've read that the seeds act as a natural dewormer.  Bonus!  Extra feed and natural medicine!

Scoop the flesh from the pumpkin.  You may need to slide your spoon between the hardened skin and the flesh, but its so simply done.

Throw the flesh in the food processor and puree until smooth. 

Done!  I put four cup portions of the pureed pumpkin in freezer bags and freeze it for winter treats and use some to make delicious pumpkin bread.

A neighbor gave me this recipe about twenty years ago.  It makes a really smooth, rich pumpkin bread. Yum!

Pumpkin Bread

3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. oil
2/3 c. water
2 c. pumpkin
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
3-1/4 c. flour
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
scant 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. baking soda

Put sugar in bowl, add eggs and cream together.

Add oil, water, and pumpkin.

Add dry ingredients.  Mix well.

Put in greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350-degrees for about 60 minutes.  

Makes 2-3 loaves (size 5-1/2x8x2)

Enjoy warm with butter!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ducky Gets A Name

A few days ago I put out a call to help me name my "angel winged" duck.  

I got some GREAT name suggestions:

Gabriel (an archangel)

Michael (an archangel)

Clarence (from It's A Wonderful Life)

Foggie (short for foie gras)

Angel (the vampire?)


 Daryl Dixon (from a Walking Dead fan!)

They were all such great names that I called a family conference to help me pick his name. 


Clarence the Duck!

Surprise prize!  The winner will have their choice of three Muscovy ducklings when our ducks decide to nest in the spring.  If Clarence does his job!  Here's hoping!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Its Time To Get That Garlic In The Ground!

Homegrown garlic is like homegrown tomatoes.  The flavor is so much more intense and complex than what you get from those cellophane wrapped packages (which have often been shipped from overseas) found in the grocery store.  A bonus of growing hardneck varieties of garlic is spring's delicious garlic scapes.    

Garlic went into the ground the other day.  The rule of thumb, the garlic guru from Wooleylot Farm tell me, is to plant around Columbus Day.  

Every spring, when I harvest the previous fall's garlic, I choose the biggest, plumpest bulbs for planting the next year.  As the years pass, I find myself with a larger and more beautiful garlic crop!

This is actually last fall's picture.  Oops, I forgot to bring out my camera!

A few weeks ago, I picked where I would plant the garlic and dumped a whole bunch of grass clippings in a strip in my outside garden.  When I pulled the grass back, I had this beautiful, weed free, worm filled strip of soil in which to plant my garlic.  I put two stakes with a string to mark where I located the garlic.  After I plant, and mulch the garlic, I leave the stakes and string in place so I know where I planted.  I sure would hate to accidentally rototill up my patch in the spring!  

I just came across a temporarily free ebook on How To Plant Your First Garlic Garden. 

P.S. I'm waiting for a family meeting to decide the name of our angel-winged duck.  I have a number of submissions through Facebook and I can't decide!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Name The Duck With "Angel Wings"

A friend had an overabundance of ducks and, happily, he passed a male and three females on to us.  As they grew, we noticed that our male Muscovy duck had developed an unusual condition named "Angel Wing."

From Wikipedia: 

Angel wing also known as slipped wing, crooked wing, and drooped wing is a syndrome that affects aquatic birds, primarily geese and ducks, in which the last joint of the wing is twisted with the wing feathers pointing out laterally, instead of lying against the body. Males develop it more than females.

Most recent thinking on the cause of Angel Wing is that it is due to too much protein and too many sugars.  The only wild waterfowl populations known to be affected are those fed by man.

According to Wikipedia, this condition renders the duck almost totally flightless.  Luckily, if this this big boy proves to be a good breeder, he will live out his life with us.  

Since he'll probably be staying, we're going to need a name for him.  

Suggestions are welcome!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why I Wait Until Autumn To Butcher Chickens

When I ordered my Cornish Rock meat chickens in August, I hoped to get them within a few days.  However, the company I order from, Ideal Poultry, wasn't able to ship them until September 11th.  I was o.k. with that.  On September 12, the post office called to let me know that my 25 chicks had arrived.  

Its always fun to get a box of peeping yellow cuties.  Fortunately, I lost only one chick in the shipping process, and the 24 chicks quickly grow into gangly, quite homely, little birds.

My chick set up is pretty simple.  I have two plastic kiddy pools that just fit into the garden shed side of my chicken coop.  I've used these same pools for many years.  I just clean them out, nest them, and stick them in the rafters when I'm not using them (this year, when I pulled them out of the rafters, I had a big mouse nest, with its stored seeds and lots of mouse poop, fall right on my head - I told the family to have me checked for hantavirus if I got sick!).  I start with one pool when yellow puffball chicks are tiny and can't jump well.  I like to use straw or hay in the bottom because it seems to give the chicks a more secure footing and prevents splayed legs.  

As the chicks grow, I put a chicken wire fence tightly around the outside of the pool to keep them from hopping out.  The fencing is just stiff enough that it doesn't need support.  Cornish Rock chicks grow fast.  I quickly find myself putting two pools side by side with the chicken wire wrapped around both and an opening between them.  I put in a rock or block as a step so that they can jump from pool to pool.  The heat lamp goes over one pool and their feeding/watering area is in the other.     

The chicks, when large enough, go out into the general chicken population.  I've read about Cornish Rocks who eat so much that they can't walk.  I've never had a problem with this because my chicks run around outside and in the coop, climb up ramps, peck at grass, chase after bugs, and, boy oh boy, do they eat and grow!  

The drizzly weather has everything muddy and bedraggled looking!

In six to eight weeks, around the end of October/beginning of Nov the chickens are large enough to butcher and this is when my reason for ordering chicks late in the year comes into play.  Its cool outside and my number one reason for ordering and butchering chickens late in the year.


I've ordered chickens earlier in the summer and then tried to butcher them in late summer.  I found that there's something about the smell of freshly butchered chicken that draws every fly from miles around.  Having a flies land on the meat as I butcher it, is simply disgusting.  By waiting until later in the year, after a few nice cold, insect-killing frosts, we can butcher our chickens without these vermin.    

This probably partially explains why, in the old days, autumn was "hog butchering time."  Now its chicken butchering time for me!  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Some Things To Know About Owning Angora Rabbits

#1 Rule of Angora Rabbits:  Start with ONE.  Do not get overzealous and buy four (like I did).  Start with one and get your feet wet in the wonderful world of fiber animals.  Plus, when you have four, you find that they, um, breed like rabbits, and you end up with more rabbits than you want to own.

#2 Grooming:  Be prepared to brush them many times a week.  Do not let the wool get wet.  Angora fur is soft and lovely, but it mats very easily.  Plan on trimming fur around their privates so it doesn't get poopy.  Trim their nails often.

#3 Feeding:  Angora rabbits need fresh water, a very high protein feed and lots of good fresh hay.  The hay is essential to keep them from getting wool block - a problem when they ingest to much wool while cleaning themselves and it blocks their intestinal tract.  Occasional treats.

#3 Processing Fiber:  Know what to do with the fiber when you get it.  Research, research, research!  Otherwise you'll find that you end up with bags of wool and you're not quite sure what to do with it.

#4  Be prepared to fall in love.  If you do decide to start raising angora rabbits, you will find they have the most wonderful temperament!  Who can pass up those adorable faces?  They're sweet and forgiving. 


After about a year of owning my rabbits I decided to sell them all.  I found that the time and care commitment I needed to give them was more than I wanted.  I have so much going on on this little farm and I found I couldn't give them the time they needed.  It wasn't the rabbits themselves (they're lovely), but the care of their fur that became a problem.  The person to whom I sold them owns rabbits and knows the level of care they'll need.  I miss the little buggers, but I feel relief that I don't have to give so much time to their care!   

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sometimes, You Just Need A Break

Sometimes, you just need to take a break.  On March 28, 2013 I decided I had just had my fill of blogging and I wasn't going to do it anymore.  I felt like I was getting stale.  Blogging had lost its joy for me.  I simply stopped.  

Now, 6 months later, I miss writing, taking pictures, and seeing my farm around me through the eyes of a blogger.  Blogging give you an interesting and fun perspective and really makes you look at what you're doing.  So, I've decided to get back to it!

I have lots of changes to talk about!:

New pigs

Maple and honey focus

Rabbits gone.

New barn.