Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Winter Garden

Yep, that's all I have.  Some basil and a sad little flat leaf parsley plant.  I like to keep a few fresh herbs, but there's not much growing on the farm yet.  

But, the seed catalogs have been arriving and I'm already beginning to dream of next summer's garden.  Any avid gardener will understand this statement:  This year I will have the most perfect garden ever!

As an admitted seed junky, going to Home Depot can be very dangerous.  The seeds displays have been put out and who can help but look to see what's new and interesting?  Sooooo, I've bought the first packets of seeds.  My fingers are itching to get in the soil and radishes and lettuces are fairly cold hardy.  

I'll plant these with some other cold hardy plants - spinach, kale, chard, and non-bunching onions.   

The first batches of seeds will be planted in our high tunnel...
(old picture, thankfully we don't have nearly this much snow, hallelujah!)

...under a low tunnel.  This gives the newly growing plants a little extra protection from the cold on those nights when the temperatures dip down well below freezing.    

Source: Johnny's Seeds

 Spring is very slowly inching it's way towards us.  Next week begins maple season!  I can't wait to get out walking in the forests again.  It's a lovely, and exhausting, time of year.   

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How To Get Beautiful "Hard Boiled Eggs" - Steam Them!

I have tried just about every single way of trying to get my farm fresh eggs perfectly boiled with a shell that peels off nicely.  Anyone that keeps chickens knows that peeling a very fresh egg usually ends up with a lot more egg attached to the shell than to the egg itself.  I've tried baking soda, salt, and vinegar in the boiling water.  I've tried boiling for a certain amount of time and then cooling quickly.  I've tried shaking the pan to crack the eggs a bit.  I've had limited luck with all of them.  

Then, one day I was cruising down the internet rabbit hole and came across a very simple recipe for steaming, instead of boiling, eggs.  I was intrigued.  The recipe was short and simple and it promised eggs that peeled easily.  I sure wish I could backtrack and remember which website I found this on because I would love to give them credit!  

Here's the recipe: 

Fill steamer water to low level.  Put eggs in steamer.

Set steamer for 20 minutes.

Put the hot eggs in an ice water bath as soon as the timer "dings".  

Keep eggs in ice water bath until cooled. 



I've found that about 95% of the time the eggs peel completely clean.  The eggs are perfectly cooked without the sulfury green ring and the texture of the whites is cooked without being rubbery.  You can see that the yolk of the this egg is very slightly undercooked in the center.  I think they didn't cook quite as completely because I put so many eggs in the steamer.  Usually I would cook 4 - 6 eggs at a time.  But the taste is not affected at all!

Let me know how steaming your "hard boiled" eggs works for you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We Had A Great Reprieve, But Winter Has Come

We had a great break on the weather this year.  We've had some cold temps and lots of rain, but not a lot of snow.  Now it's here.  

This is the time of year in which I think, "Why am I doing this?"  

I haul warm water twice a day to the chickens, pigs, and goats.  Luckily the horses have a large tank with a heater in it - but, we don't have water run to the barn yet, so I must haul a garden hose into the house to thaw out and then haul it back outside to fill the tank - twice a week. 

Through snow.  

I have a great sled that has high sides and makes it much easier to haul the water, but then I hit a bump, or deep snow,  and the buckets fall over.  And then I want to cry because I have to take the buckets back into the house and refill them with hot water.  

Pooh freezes to the floor of the pens and I have to chip it off.  Doors that previously opened easily become wedged with snow or ice and must be shoveled out and the ice carved away.

Everything is harder in winter!  

Ok.  End of whining.  Critters, who's presence I deeply enjoy, are depending on me and it's time to get to work!  

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Fences!

One of the best things that has happened at the farm recently is that we have finally moved the horses over to our property.  

The biggest challenge to this move was putting up fences.... extra time was absolutely not on our side this year!  

But we finally got it done and I'll tell you, my hubby definitely believes in the make it right the first time theory!

Five strands of electric fencing and a heavy duty gate!  

This small area next to our house will be the winter pasture.  Obviously it's not enough for four horses to live on permanently!

So the next project.... fencing in the 10 acre property across the road.  We had a portion of it cleared this fall - leaving part of the crappy poplar trees as a windbreak on the left hand side and some of the right hand trees for aesthetics and that's where the beehives are located.  Now the big task of finishing the clearing, getting it fenced, and getting pasture seed planted begins!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy 2016!

Meet the critter crew at Fitzgerald's Family Farm: 

Some of the old crew:

Petey.  Making a silly face.

Daisy.  Pitiful as ever. 

Tigger.  Breakfast time.

Violet.  No the camera is not sideways.  Her head is!

Rosie.  She didn't want to stand still for a photo.  

Flower.  Digging into breakfast and, hopefully, bred!

Candy Cane.  She doesn't like to leave her spot by the wood stove. 

Boots.  Serene as ever. 

and Hobbes.  The great hunter.  

Now meet some of the new crew!

Do you remember Lady?  She was in the pasture near our house and has finally moved to our barn!

Sassy.  Our 27-year-old formerly wild mustang.  

Bandit.  The only boy of the horse bunch. 

Of course, as a gelding, he has to get up close to see what's going on.  

Willow.  Formerly known as, Ever, she's still getting used to things and did not like the look of my camera!

Oops.  An old face.  Ducky, and two of his three girls.  

A new rooster.  I raised all buff orpington's last year.  He is a replacement rooster for Foghorn Leghorn - who was off eating somewhere.  He is as yet unnamed because if he's a mean rooster his name will become chicken soup!

Rooster number two.  This guy was one of the little fluff bundles that came walking out of the weeds this summer.  So far he doesn't have a name, but he seems to be pretty mellow.  

William,  who we suspect may be Willhelmina.  My friend gave him/her to me as a rooster, but if he/she is a hen she'll go back to live with them.  It is a beautiful lavender orpington with a rooster tail, but not showing other rooster characteristics yet!  

And that's it!  Sweet Pea, the gilt, left for freezer camp after four unsuccessful (trust me - eyes on and she was definitely bred) breedings.  

We wish you a very Happy New Year!