Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

This past week has been busy, just as every week seems to be in the spring.  Last weekend the fields were planted; field corn in the back fields, soybeans in the rest.  The fences have been repaired and the bull, whom Travis has named Max, has been dropped off.
 Max is a massive animal.  His head is broad, like a small table, and his chest is the size of a refrigerator.  He is gentle, but he is still Angus.  Travis and Arliss have been warned not to go into the pasture with the cows, just to be on the safe side. I don't have a picture of Max yet, I forgot to take my camera when I went to see him.
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Moonbeam keeps trying to get close to see me, but not close enough to let me pet him.

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My two trusty buckets are on the right
I spoke with the oldest E. brother as the fields were being planted and he said that we really needed to get some rain.  I agreed. I have been taking two 5 gallon buckets to the garden to water the vegetables each day.  I don't mind the work, I figure I'll have best looking arms by the time the summer is done.

Well, no sooner did the crops get planted then the sky opened up.  It has been raining here on and off since Sunday, sometimes pretty heavy.  We have had nearly 6 inches and lots of wind as well.  I know we have been lucky compared to other areas of the Midwest and southern states.
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The sky Sunday night about an hour before the rain began.

School will be out within the next week and that means long days of bike rides, playing in the barn, and trips to the pond for Arliss and Travis.  We like to take a few days during the summer to go into the city to visit my aunt and see the sights as well.
There will be camping out in the tent, fishing with Grandpa, and fun with friends.  I love watching the boys discover and have new experiences in the freedom of summer.
Until then I will be emptying the de-humidifiers and checking the cellar for salamanders.  They tend to like the seeping that happens when it rains.

Sending love and rainy kisses from the farm.
oxox






Monday, May 16, 2011

Gingersnaps

Item ThumbnailMy grandmother was known for a few specific dishes in our family: her Cherry Soup, her carmel corn, and her Gingersnap cookies.
When Travis was 8 months old he tasted his first gingersnap when we were visiting at Gram's house.  He only had a couple of teeth at the time, so it was eaten more by sucking on it than anything else. To this day they are one of his favorite cookies.




To make Gram's cookies you will need:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1 tsp. salt
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cream together, add 1 egg and 4 Tb. dark molasses

sift together:
2 1/4 cup flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. each of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Item Thumbnail   Item Thumbnail

Blend well.
Put the dough on a sheet of waxed paper, flatten it, and refrigerate for a couple or hours or overnight.
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Form into balls about the size of a walnut.


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Roll in granulated sugar and bake at 375 about 10-12 minutes.






If you want "dunkers" then cook for 15 minutes.
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Gram also notes in her recipe:

"Watch so they do not burn, as molasses tends to do this."

Travis is now old enough to make Gram's cookies by himself, but he prefers to ask me to do it.  As is the custom, the dough is often "taste tested."  I don't condone this, but it has been known to happen.

We love Gram's cookies. My mom and I love to make them during Christmas, but they also are made whenever Travis asks for them.  Arliss prefers sugar cookies -but that's another post.

Sending sweet smells of warm cookies from the farm.
oxo

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pictures of My Week

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filling a bucket from the spigot at the barn
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My garden with english peas growing in the center


Things have been hopping around here and I haven't had a chance to sit down and tell you what I've been doing.  The weather has been great most of the week so I have been working in the yard. Since a picture is worth 1,000 words... here are a few--pictures that is.  Enjoy.
Sending love and fresh flowers from the farm.
oxoxo
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My grandmother-in-law's double bloom lilacs.
 Transplanted from OK to CO to IL.
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This was the thunderhead for the storm we had yesterday
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Day is done, gone the sun...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Never a Dull Moment

Item ThumbnailThis weekend was Mother's Day.  I was surprised by a homemade present from Travis.  He has been working diligently out in the garage with power tools.  He made a wooden heart for me and painted it green, my favorite color.  Arliss gave me a clay bowl he made in art class, I loved my gifts.  The boys and I also put together a picnic table my dad made about 25 yrs. ago.  The pieces were all there, but it was a bit like doing a puzzle without the box top.  With trial and error we succeeded.

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my potato starter
Today I was up and ready to start my day well before 8 a.m.  My garden has been tilled by Mr. H., my neighbor, so I can start putting my plants in this week or next.  According to family tradition potatoes are supposed to be planted on Good Friday.  My dad told me how he remembered many a wet, cold, Good Friday out in the field with his father planting potatoes.  I didn't know about this tradition until Easter Sunday where with a smile, I was told it was too late to plant the potatoes now.  Gee, thanks.
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14 potato mounds
So, two weeks later, I planted my potatoes.  My dear friend, Abby, who grew up in Idaho, told me about starting the potatoes in a quart jar of water.  The potatoes rest just over the water with the bottom tip sitting in it.  If you've ever grown an avocado plant you know what I mean.
I marked my rows in the garden with a thin rope and built my mounds for the potatoes.  I finished planting the 14 potatoes just as the storm clouds rolled in.

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isn't the color amazing?

Item ThumbnailNext on my to-do list was to pick violets for violet syrup.  I found a blog that posted the recipe and I am excited to try it. If the recipe intrigues you here is the site: http://chiotsrun.com/2011/05/03/making-wild-violet-syrup/    I picked 2 quart jars of violets and will be starting the recipe when I finish posting here.  All of the picking turned my fingers a light purple color.


I love days like today; I made a new loaf of sourdough bread and it tastes terrific.  I have been tweaking the recipe I originally started with and have really made it my own.  I will make a separate post another time.
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yummy with butter and jam



The mail just came and I ran outside to get it, only to find 10 duck eggs scattered around the base of a tree.  We've been watching 2 ducks  roost in the trees around the farm, but I didn't think they would try to raise a family 20+ feet above the ground.  Unfortunately, 5 eggs were empty, two were opened, another cracked, and still 2 more were intact.  My husband grew up with ducks and geese and I am hoping the 2 eggs are not completely lost. I don't know how long they were outside on the ground.  I suspect a raccoon to be the initial culprit.

Whew, it isn't even 2 o'clock and I've already had a full day.  Here's hoping your week is wonderful and full of joy.

Sending love and violet kisses from the farm. oxox

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Lovely Day

Today was sunny.  I know it seems silly, but April was a record-making rainy month here and I for one, am grateful for any sun we can get.
So in honor of the sunshine I cut the grass.  This was a big deal; it was the first cut of the season.  I have a walk-behind mower and a riding mower; unfortunately the riding mower is only riding, it's not mowing right now.  The blades will not engage when the deck is lowered.  So, I walked.
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The pink "berries" are baby pine cones.  The green in the back is grass waiting to be cut.
To those who live in the suburbs and can cut your grass in 45 minutes (front yard and back yard) walking isn't a bad thing.  For me, to walk and cut the grass means I am cutting and walking for 3 hours or more.  It is lovely if the weather is not too hot, but it is also time consuming. To pass the time I pray, I sing, and I plan the rest of the day.  I just need to remember to write down what I plan to do when I am done.  My to-do lists often get muddled or forgotten by the time I am done mowing.
Today I found a bird's nest that had been blown out of a tree, a vole trying to get away from the mower, and a bird egg.  The egg looked like a malted milk egg from Easter, but it was the real thing.  No baby bird, it too had been a casualty to the winds during April.

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Bossie and her calf, Moonbeam 
As I finished mowing I checked on the cows.  Hmmm, it was too quiet in the barn yard.  Yup, they decided the grass was greener and knocked over/ ran over a section of fence to get to the tasty green grass.  I made sure the gate was closed so they couldn't head into town and called the E. brothers to let them know what the cows had decided.


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There was no stopping the cows


I went back to mowing and came back about an hour later to check on the cows only to find them missing from the pasture.  Good grief!! I started to look for them in the cornfields, all the while thinking about what I would do when I saw them.  When I turned around to go get my car I found all of the cows were back in the barn.  Stinkers!!  As I glanced around the pasture I found one calf that hadn't heard that recess was over and was now stuck with the human and no mom to protect him.  Eventually he found his way into the barn with the rest of the cows and I closed up the hole in the fence.

With such a sunny day, I had a couple of loads of laundry on the line.  I have learned that doing a "laundry day" can be too taxing on the septic system so I now do a load every day or so.
The asparagus patch here was originally planted by the first owners of the house or their children.  I panicked last fall when I learned that I might have killed the plants when I cut down the overgrown patch.  Much to my relief I have over a dozen stems poking through.  To keep from running over them with the mower, I put a chicken-wire fence around it.

By the time my day was done, my yard looked great, my laundry was finished, the asparagus patch was safe, and my face was pinked by the sun.
All in all, a truly lovely day.  Tomorrow's forecast is rain.  Imagine that.

Sending love from the farm, pink cheeks and all.
oxoxo

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Signs of Spring Continue

We've been busy here and I have not stopped long enough to let you know what we've been doing.  So, instead of cutting the grass I decided to share a few pictures.
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waiting for the cows to come over

We had the cousins here Sunday while my dad did some things to get his 1929 Dodge ready for summer. He also checked on his 1948 Farmall H tractor to make sure it was ready to go.  My 4 year old nephew heard the tell-tale sound of the tractor's chug-chug start and screamed, "TRACTOR!"  He immediately came running over to see if there might be enough gas/oil in the tank for a ride.  When Grandpa starts the tractor the rest of the world stops.


The cows were feeling friendly as well.  We took turns feeding them fresh grass and laughing when their rough tongues touched our hands.  Arliss described it best; "It feels like you rubbed your hand on concrete." Item Thumbnail

Other fun included the cousins taking turns swinging in the hay mow on the rope.  By the time Grandpa's to-do list was done, the kids were tired but wishing to stay longer.

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trillium
I took some pictures of the white trillium that grows near my maple tree.  It is such a shy kind of flower, very pretty though.  I also have thousands of violets growing in the grass, such a bummer to have to drive over them with the lawn mower.

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The bus just brought home Arliss and Travis,  it's homework time now.
Sending much love and wishes for spring.
oxox