Just added to the Etsy Store!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Every evening at about 4:30, you will find the Pecks out doors feeding all the animals. The sheep gather at the gate as the back door opens convinced they have been starved (trust me they haven’t).
Josiah, our 15 year old son does all the water chores. If I don’t catch him before he goes out he will go without a coat. Josiah has Autism and is a huge blessing; he has done so much better than anyone expected and is a huge help around the farm. He still needs to wear a coat though :)….and gloves!
Buddy is our farm dog. His job is to keep any stray dogs off the farm and away from the sheep. He supervises chores and keeps us in line.
Layla and Daisy May find the camera interesting and take a few moments from eating to smile.
Milking is a family affair and the cats watch in hopes that they might get a few drops.
Thanks for stopping at chore time! I hope you enjoyed the tour!
In other news, this week’s update is all done. Stop by www.countingsheepfarm.etsy.com see what is new!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
I am short on pictures and I apologize for that. I think when I tell you the whole story you will forgive me….
The first part of this meal requires (as mentioned above) that you make a confit. A confit is a way of preserving a dish by covering it in fat. I chose to do a chicken and olive oil confit. I followed the recipe to a T, placed the dish in the oven and happily continued about my day. The confit bakes in the oven at 200 degrees for 12 hours. Unknown to me the olive oil was overflowing the pans and filling the bottom of my oven…..
This particular dish is made over a few days so I wasn’t distressed. I simply cleaned the bottom of my oven, listened to my husband grumble about the smoke, worried about the birds and prepared for the next step.
It was a far bit from payday so I was not able to use fresh herbs as suggested. I finished up the next part of the dish which involved soaking the beans overnight, cooking them with onions, herbs and pork belly and browned the sausages.
I had doubled the recipe because of our large family (it wasn’t necessary) and I filled a LARGE Dutch oven and started the oven to preheating.
Smoke! Once again the house was filled with the noxious fumes…
I walked into the kitchen thinking I had somehow missed some of the olive oil, expected it to burn off quickly. Flames were shooting out of the bottom of my oven!! Unbeknownst to me the olive oil had leaked down by the warming unit and was now burning with a vengenance.
Long story short, and lots of salt later…I was able to clean the oven (another day of work) and finally cook the cassoulet. Would I do it again? Yes! (carefully) it was a fabulous dish.
You can find the recipe here.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
If you are new to the blog, part 1 is here.
Kate and her husband Roger, along with her brother Bill, run the Hycapacity Dairy here in Western Michigan.
Kate was gracious enough to allow me to tag along during an evening milking. Camera in tow, I showed up with my trusty muck boots at the farm.
Feeling a bit out of my element (okay more than a bit….I will admit that although we own three cows I am a little frightened of them) I came in the milk house where Kate helped me get ready to milk. I donned gloves and an overcoat and entered the parlor. Kate went through the milking process with me so that I would be able to milk along with her. We stood in the “pit”, about eye level with the udders and got to work. First we stripped the teats (which basically means to milk by hand) to be sure that there were no signs of mastitis then the teats are dipped in a solution to clean them and kill the germs. The teats were then wiped clean with a paper towel and the milker is attached.
Once the milker has emptied the udder and is removed the teats are dipped a final time with a new solution designed for protection and to once again kill any germs.
There were a few heifers that came through who were just learning the ropes and occasionally one of them would get a bit restless. I watched as Kate would rub their leg, letting them know she was there. They would stand still again, content to wait a few more minutes for supper.
The cows are milked 12 at a time, 6 on each side of the parlor. As they walk in they are interested in the newbie. Bright eyed and curious, a few of them stop to check me out :) Kate points out who is who.
“That is Snowflake….”
She then tells me a bit about them. She cares about her cows.
“These cows eat before I do. Every night.” Roger tells me.
After milking was finished there are the calves to tend to. Kate and shared the work of feeding the calves less than a week old.
I am struggling with the best way to end this post. There is so much that depends on this small family farm, on family farms in general, big or small….on the farmer. So much that those of us on disconnect can not begin to fathom. What are the right words to express the debt of gratitude we have to these men and women who do the work required to place food on our tables yet struggle because often the money is not there to put food on their own?
In the end I want to you to understand that the farmer isn’t in this for the money. They are not greedy monsters mistreating their animals and injecting them with every antibiotic and hormone imaginable. They love what they do, the animals they care for, and the land that makes it all possible. It’s in their blood and part of their spiritual make up. It is the love of the animal, the love of the land that propels them and keeps them going. Despite the criticism, the misunderstanding and the mounting bills….
Are there those who mistreat their animals? Yes. Those who are careless with the resources they have been trusted with? Sadly, yes. But I caution you….do not assume that they make up the majority. They do not.
I sit here on my small plot of land, my small farm with my few sheep and a couple of cows and realize that we are all part of a big picture working together toward the same goal. The freedom to do what we love and support our families while we do it.
I would love to hear your thoughts….
Look for Part 3 in a week or so.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
My niece was given news today that no parent ever wants to hear….
“It’s time to prepare for the end”
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing.
To think that providence would take a child from his mother while she prays….
Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed
and why should we be saved from nightmares.
We’re asking why this happened
to us who have died to live
This is what means to be held
How is feels when the Sacred is torn from your life
and you survive.
This is what it is to be loved
and to know
that the promised was when everything fell
You’d be held…
Please pray with me that my niece and her family will be held during this difficult time. Hug your little ones and thank God for each day.
Ashlee, you will be amazed at what you can live through, even when you may not want to.
……Lyrics in italics are from the song “Held” sung by Natalie Grant.
As I mentioned before The Counting Sheep Farm group on Ravelry is working on monthly challenges for 2011. This month the challenge is selfish knitting.
I am working on the cowl Jindayne Cowl just for me :)
During laser therapy for my jaw the technician and I were talking about 2010.
I feel like 2010 just came at me and all I could do was dodge the obstacles…..
I am not interested in doing that this year. For the first time in my life I have make 10 well thought out goals. (If you want to get going on your own goals, here’s a good place to start.) As you can see I have two wonderful notebooks for my 2011 Goals. The large one is my Master Journal. I use it to write my thoughts in daily, plan my to do list for the next day and write down my accomplishments and setbacks. The small notebook I carry in my purse, just in case I have something to write down that can’t wait.
One of my hopes for 2011 is to accomplish more in the crafty arena. I am a little late to the party but I just joined Iron Craft Weekly Challenges for 2011. I am looking forward to the first challenge!
Looking forward to 2011 being the best year ever!
PS: For those of you waiting for Part II of The “My Friend Owns a Dairy Farm” it is in the works. Watch for it this weekend.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Each day for the next 4 or 5 days a new section of the etsy store will be on sale! Today it is Fiber!
If you haven’t seen the last post My Friend Owns a Dairy Farm Part 1 please check it out! I would love to hear what you think. For those of you who have Part 2 is coming soon.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Sometime ago I dreamed of owning my very own cow, for my very own milk. I begged, pleaded and cajoled. I even drug my son into the whole mess. (A mess which he loves. He now owns three cows and sells cow shares.)
And one fine day we got our very first cow.
Now I should say…I have always had a sense of respect for the farmer. I have always thought they worked hard and got a bum rap at times. I really thought I was pro farmer before I became a farmer. I didn’t realize how far removed from my food I really was…
On the before mentioned fine day I sat down to milk my very own cow for my very own milk. When I finally finished I vowed never to complain about the price of milk again! I had been slapped in the face with a tail (covered in manure), knocked over, and slimed. She left the barn cleaner than I was and wondering what all the fuss was about.
But these animals get under your skin. You don’t care about the slop and the mess. Instead you are thankful for this sweet animal and her wonderful milk!
I still didn’t understand much about a real dairy farmer. I will admit as much as I tried to be pro farmer some preconceived notions slipped in…many of them shaped by HSUS and other masked do-gooders. But I wanted another cow. I wanted a Jersey. I was tried of being kicked and bullied by the temperamental Dexter. Enter Kate and Roger, registered Jersey breeders and **gasp** commercial dairy farmers….
I want to tell you about my friend Kate and her husband. I want you to understand how hard they work at what they love. I want you to applaud them and in the end I want you to stand behind them. They are America’s Dairy Farmer and what they do is good.