Raindrops are falling on my head

The full moon arrived two early mornings ago and brought with her much action.

We welcomed a new baby cow into the world yesterday morning.  Our Jersey cow, Daisy, had a girl.  Wide-eyed and full of wonder, the new babe is waiting to be named. Pictures of her are coming soon.  Right now she  is nestled in some hay with her momma.  Both are shielded from the rain in the barn this evening.  Milking is just around the corner.  Daisy’s other cow buddies Babe and Cinco are feeling the separation from her.  Longing ‘moos’ reflect off the hills.  It’s a big, exciting change for everyone here.

The clouds opened up and sent down the rain this morning.  A good soaking has left the vegetables extra happy.  Asparagus is shooting up faster than we can consume it. Abundant lettuce in all shapes and sizes.  Tomatoes are ready to be transplanted into the almost completed hoop hut.

This past Saturday was our first market of the summer in Hot Springs.  I took down some produce and eggs and set up at Harvest Moon, hoping for success.  It was so successful, in fact, that all was gone within the first two hours or so. It was nice to meet new faces in Hot Springs.  I feel my roots beginning to grow deeper and stronger here in the past few weeks.  There is so much community opportunity in Hot Springs.  One step at a time will spread the word of Saturday markets.  I’ll be this Saturday starting at 9 til about 2.  Come down and get your farm fresh eggs and home grown produce :)

Today Dory and John racked the dandelion wine.  This is our first time making it and there is lots to learn about the whole wine making process.  If anyone has ideas and/or advice on this new path for us, please share.

This weekend we look forward to having some friends over to help us do some farm chores.  We are going to begin volunteer days more officially throughout the summer.  Let us know if any one out there is interested in visiting us and helping out around the farm.  The more the merrier!

Life is good.  Really good.

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Flowers, flowers, everywhere

A new wave of flowers and ornamentals got planted today. Some seedlings from the greenhouse, others direct-sown seed — zinias, cosmos, impatients, nasturtiums, edible flower mix, coleus. Many went in front of the house — around the spiral and above the walls and stairs. So green and lush everywhere! Judging from the blackberries and insects, we should be beyond any real cold snaps … early for it to be so warm!!

Also planted a large tray of sorrel starts. First time growing sorrel. I’ve only had sorrel as an ingredient in Jamaican bottled iced teas and sodas before. Sort of lemony and tart. Interestingly, wikipedia says that its sharp taste is due to oxalic acid, which it says is poisonous in large quantities and is the component in rhubarb leaves that makes them poisonous. The concentration in sorrel is much lower than rhubarb, which is why sorrel can be eaten in moderation. If wikipedia is to be believed, sorrel is safe in salads as well as cooked applications like soups (saying it is used similarly to spinach in cooking).

Our other floral project — a 5 gallon trial batch of dandelion wine, which we started three days ago, is bubbling away in one of our new glass carboys. A few weeks ago, friends and family picked bunches and bunches of dandelion blooms from around the property, and the blooms were frozen so we’d have time to gather supplies for the actual making. Dory did some scoping online and found most sites recommending just using the petals, i.e. removing all the green that holds the petals. I’m not sure how it would have measured out fresh, but the the frozen measure, after loosening the mass some, was 25 cups. That’s a lot of petals!!!

Carboy with Dandeliion Wine Must

Carboy with Dandeliion Wine Must

We went with the simple “old fashioned” recipe we found online for the most part. It was a recipe for a single gallon and our carboy holds five. So, I also looked at a more complex dandelion-rose wine recipe that was portioned for 5 gallons to get an idea of how to adjust the recipe up. Had to make a couple of other modifications along the way too, since we couldn’t find the white raisins that we bought. The notes from the same site with the two recipes said the raisins were in the recipe for their tannins, since floral wines are lacking in tannins and can thereby taste blah. The notes mentioned being able to use strong tea for tannins as well. So, I took a leap of guess and added both some strong tea and some white grape concentrate to make up for the missing raisins. It will be some time before we know how successful the experiment is.

The lower garden.

The veggie gardens are also perking right along. The lower garden is jam packed — beets, carrots, kale, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, lettuce, onions, oriental greens, chard, radishes, and on, and on …. We’re relishing the asparagus that’s rolling in from the upper gardens. Potatoes are mostly in, with a final potato spot still in the works for later this week. And, even with all that, there’s still a slew of seeds yet to plant … things that need the soil to be a bit warmer, like corn and beans. Tomatoes and peppers are happily getting bigger in the greenhouse … almost ready to go out to the hoop hut area. Flats of cucumbers and squash got started in flats today too. So exciting to have everything chugging along so well. I can’t wait until we start harvesting stuff that we’ll freeze or can. Looking forward to a myriad of tomato concoctions, a variety of pickles, blueberries galore …. The never-ending garden story!!

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From the Outside looking In

Today is officially my 40th day of living at Sunswept, after having left my suburban life in Alpharetta, Georgia and following my heart to my new home. I now wake up with a different understanding of what it is to start my day. It is one that is woven amongst the dirt, the animals, the air, the trees, the community. A softer life. A brighter morning, even when the sky is full of grey.
Swirling with activities, the farm is a carnival. Blooms are face painting the hills, birds entertain us with songs; frogs and toads provide the bass and the woodpeckers peck out a percussive beat. The trout bring the acrobatic flips and dives, chickens give a good chase and jump fences and our dogs are their own kissing booth. Let us not forget the delicious meals created on nearly a daily basis here. A fried pie is one carnival item I’d like to try…perhaps I can get an original Mrs. Brown’s Fried Pie from the creators themselves, John and Dory, some day…wink wink ;)
The lower garden beds are fully planted. Lettuce, spinach and kale, oh my!  The upper gardens have been twirled, potato and asparagus plots are weeded and the hoop hut has been u-barred.  Woohoo!  Many hands and much community have made this all possible.  Transplants of so many sorts and more seeds are starting in the greenhouse.  We are so lucky that everything is growing well and living big!   More bee hive boxes have been painted are await their new tenants.  We do experience a HUGE PEST, though….the CHICKEN!!!  We have about seven MacGyver chickens who mysteriously escape the fencing system around the farm and sneak their way on to Non-Chicken territory. Chicken herding is among one of the many daily chores. Aieee.  I just chuckle at the extreme intelligence of our MacGyvers.  I mean, really, how do they escape?!?!   A kind word, I have found, tends to get them back to their home faster than the old stone throw, although, that can be quite swift, too.

I am like a baby fresh out of the womb.  I like it.  So much to feel and see and figure out.   My missteps lead to clearer direction and these to new ideas.  Oh, so much to tell about, but the evening is winding down and would like to make some plant labels before I mosey on to bed. I will lay my head to rest being in full appreciation of this world around me. I will give as much as I am able when I rise in the morning.

‎”When we give, we simply make room for more to come in.
When we become deeply, authentically generous, it signals
to our abundant universe that there is a conduit open to
receive and distribute. We become part of the vital
natural system.” ~ Lenedra J. Caroll I borrow this quote because it so eloquently sums up how i feel about my experience here.

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seeds

As a seed must release its form in order to grow, we, too must release who we have been…… in order to birth new reality.  Nature reveals her beauty throughout the changing seasons.  Thirst for life to begin again is palatable at the Ides of March.   Seeds open to sprout and root, then no longer being a seed, and life buds into new beginnings. Each bud to grow, must release itself into the BlOOM, and Flowers morphs to become Fruit.  Such is the way for all life; to grow is to change.  Fruit then begins again &  opens its Heart to gift the Seed within.  Seeds shed their form in order to become the Tree. While  dark & cold of winter time softens the seed’s protective shell, the tender first extension of growing is allowed to come new again in spring.    Life spinning up out of the ground literally rotating its way into this world is an amazing advent of spring ..

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“It’s common to say that trees come from seeds. But how can a tiny seed create a huge tree? Seeds do not contain the resources needed to grow a tree.  These must come from the medium or environment within which the tree grows. But the seed does provide something that is crucial : a place where the whole of the tree starts to form.  As resources such as water and nutrients are drawn in, the seed organizes the process that generates growth.  In a sense, the seed is a gateway through which the future possibility of the living tree emerges.”

As the rains come in springtime, the name for the valley we live in – Spring Creek – becomes so obviously well named.  Water pops out of the ground everywhere, like every 10 feet!! – there is another little springlet that just can’t be contained by the ground and the water just pops up everywhere. This is exuberance that can not be contained.  Robins have arrived to mine for the worms that surface with the rains. Woodpeckers are reverberating through the trees empty still of leaves.  Hard beaks marks out a rhythm that rings over the hills cause the bugs are waking up under the bark of the fallen and standing dead trees, the woodpecker is fattening up with tasty treats. We moved here 33 years ago, on the spring equinox –  balance point, equality – moving into the light of the sun.   This symbolic wink of balance represented by Equinox is a mindful gesture ever present still.  Balance is but an instant, pulsing in and away.  Seeds unfold into the earth and up toward the sun, growing to bloom and to die to be again a seed to bloom again… balance  ever-changing, and never a done deal..

On a farm, life is immediately out the door, full circle surround around , always – everyday –  a sensual life.  whether is it the warm smells rising on a spring breeze, or mud so slippery skating on a slope is a talent to learn quickly, farm life has immediate texture and grain –  cause that mud is such a texture that when butt hits slick We rarely dictate what there is to be done here, more often our job is to recognize the moment and respond..  That can only happen well when we really are paying attention to the situation present at every moment in every day.  This simple practice – which farm life evolves from – is basic to all other relationship.  Like a seed, this sense of being in the present moment expands beyond mud and breeze into all other areas of living.  the farmer just has the practice with earth to wake up to be part of every day, local and close.  sensual awareness comes alive..

Farm life, like a sailor’s life requires situational awareness, ie: awake to the moment willing to respond to.   We serve as the listeners to the moment, and watching the pulse & the heart beat of the seasons.  Farm time does not correlate with clock time, these are different standards of time judgement.  To be embraced in nature’s time is to sleep and wake at the feet of the universe.  to  open to  the connections to the land weather and cycle becomes a lesson for all of life, and grows stronger season to season. here come the spring,  welcome hOMe to earth. be part of it all.

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mother awakens

the beginning of spring green swells with every rain storm.  today rains with lightning and the thunder beings showed up most of the afternoon.  i will have to check with my good buddy,  alvin calvin, (one of my old timey neighbors who has been at our side since we arrived here in the mountains 33 years ago),  to see what the folklore is about lightning in february,, maybe it was snow in april… ??    i hear  the thunder rumble across these mountains still without leaves on the hillside trees, so the thunder rumbles through without getting caught if the dress of summer fullness. the sound is really different with thunder in the mountains of winter.

on a farm, first you grow the soil.. all farming starts with the earth, the richness of the dark dirt is the grounds for the growing of summer.  the warm weather has us starting garden soil amendments, and lime especially good for our fields here in the mountains.  this is the time of year, as is winter, when john and i move last years well composted horse and chicken manure onto the veggie gardens..  this winter our tractor was down for most of the cold season.  still we cleaned out barns (manure management)  and heated our house with wood as usual..  more geezer power less carbon fuels this season,, that is for sure.

while the ground is so soft from the rain and freeze and thaw that highlights our southern winter, this is the best time to pull into the garden now and pull grasses and ground ivy, and other intruders sneaking into the garden,  the loamy soil,the heave of frosts still and the wetness makes it easier to clean the garden edges of those plants poised to invade the lush fertile ground we have been building with manure amendments and rock phosphate every year to 10 years at least.  this winter warmth has us out and about in the land again.

earth mother awakens

it is wet everywhere right now. even my best traction shoe treads can’t keep me from sliding up and down the slopes even the little rises have me skating on the mud.  there needs to be a name for the mud season between frozen ground of winter and settled earth of spring growth.. mud season -comes along – dividing the seasons now.  the farm house shows the changes too, i promise, especially with 4 sets of dog feet adding to the traffic.

these warm days bring the bees out, and in doors to the fragrant flowers abundant indoors on house plants as no pollen is in the making outdoors yet. raphe & I checked the hives on a warm day last week.  We have 2 strong hives!!   2 more hives coming to add to the bee yard this april  growing slowly to  sustainable hive yard.  our hives are very strong and full of bees, even brood!! –  sign of health and wellness in our bee world.  i added a pollen patty to both hives, so they can find support of good food for development even in february.  a swarm may be a possibility by late march being that there is brood now.  checking the hives weekly and watching the hive’s brood and development begins again as the weather warms..

the chickens are loving the earth now thawed.  they are scratching everywhere finding bug larva and seeds that withstood the winter.  we are determined to keep chickens out of the many flower beds around the house. chickens can free range everywhere else but garden beds( many ).. right now chickens are winning. people are working at reducing chicken prints in growing places..  when the dogs see us chasing chickens… they think chasing is for everyone.. bad habits are hard to break.. we are still, after all these years working on this one interaction of bird and dingo…  learning learning…….

Vanessa & I  have jumped into seed catalogs, which always brings the growing season into the mind now, replacing cabin fever with the beginning stir of the growing time.  colorful flowers and thick spinach leaves can’t be to far behind the seed catalogs reviewed.  we have had fun this week figuring what we will grow together this year.  seeds come in many forms, some go into the  dark moist earth ground, some seeds go into the ground of the mind.  as a farmer seeding time is a full of possibilities.  watching the process from seed in ground through the growth of the green to fruit abundant build understanding of how all life moves forward.  i may plant the seed in the ground, but it is the universe that shows up with water light air and earth to provide for me/with me.  the love and grace surround me.  IT is time to surrender to the flow of life love & light.  enjoy the rising spring richness, vivid with life and life change.

heart arising/ splash!

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solstice

solstice sun, the ridge rider

as the sun light rides the southern back ridge of the farm, the light shines into my eyes and through my family cranberry glass set in the south window for just these days, brightening my heart and reminding me of my ancestors and their love of me as one of the strong foundations that i come from. no origin is without some person puzzle to define and answer.  all our personal meanings in life are unique, and, yet some how the journey is archetypal in the process and the geometry of the journey, we each fill the vessel of self knowledge with our own personal walk on this life journey.  i am so in the presence of that kind of thinking at this time of the year.  the snows and the enduring cold of the early weeks of december puts all that happens here onto a survival mode.  the weather caught us, without reasonable firewood to heat our house, our only heat option.  our tractor has been busted and in the almost fixed place for a few weeks. we the geezers needs tractor power these days.  it is kind of nice to feel small and vulnerable, and know that it is through grace that all transpires.  no matter how well you sustain, you are on the wings of the moment to provide the floor of any individual stance.  winter is your reminder of the larger picture and the divine context.  a farm keeps you in the rhythms of this.

as i wonder where my place is in this moment, and where i have any connections of myself with my own dreams, along comes a string of phone calls and the connections appear.  the federal government comes to check out our farm for our libations license just after christmas, the final step of our libations opportunities.

the work horse of the cider time

officially the farm is our business facility.  all but upstairs of this place is an offering as part of the non profit conservancy we have been establishing here.  as synchronicity would provide public friend #1 – bill whipple calls to ask to use the license for parsnip beer sweetened with sugar maple sap this spring. his vision for himself is to create libations truly local and unique.  this sure sounds like a start.  i have had parsnip beer before,, really good actually.  could i have said yes any faster?

add to this the communication with mana!!! (www.http://sacredforms.com ) who was here summer solstice this year & will come again in 2011!

we will plan something this i know,

and!!

the anusara instructors of asheville (mado, meghan, joe, deirdre, and gayle, and talks w/joyful belly about the food) will celebrate community in an immersion retreat here in the summer as well.  oh boy oh boy oh boy..

we are to hear about a grant we have proposed by the end of the year.. money to continue development of libations opportunities.  also in the possibilities are a visit from our friend, peetambar, from varanasi this coming year.  peetambar came and stayed w/us for about 6 weeks in 2008 and taught yoga here, chanting and sanskrit.  and Ibrahim, who’s family founded atlantis healing center in giza by the great pyramid may come to stay for a bit as well.  his center has cold pressed essential oils for generations. his knowledge is vast on these subjects and egyptian teachings, just as peetambars are of sanskrit.  my counsel for the farm this year is to move into true sustainability here, growing our gardens for a full years sustainability.  we built a real root cellar this year, now we must remember how to use it and plan for that now.  all the dreams of a winter day….

my longest help interest other than boys, horses, & dirt, has been astrology, something i picked up in 1968 in coconut grove florida.  passionate for years to learn all i could, i found my teachers, as passion draws into existence.  as i moved out of florida and back to family in the early 1970s, i wrote for the underground newspaper, and had radio programs about the astrological moment through the university of pennsylvania’s NPR station, WXPN, and Princeton’s associate as well.  moving here to spring creek in the late 70s just kept my love of this star language more within myself, but always part of my symbolism and understanding of cosmic order, a clock of time as nature unfolds.  so here we are.  this solstice is oh so special, full of the highlighting of eternity.  a lunar eclipse visible to all the americas occurs just hours before the solstice on the 21st.  we will be able to see it as partial about 3:14am monday night/tuesday morning.  this eclipse is a “super moon”  the moon is huge in the sky closest to earth, so the tides for all of the liquid world will be high.  this is the only eclipse at solstice moment for decades to either side of this solstice.  the ancients who track such things would have know this. this is the clock striking a moment in time.

mayan torus

all this fall there has been a rare dance between venus and mars and the sun.  the mayans based their calendar on venus’ cycles and would have surely known of this waltz in our evening/now morning sky of our venus.  on august 20th, had you looked up in the sky, just after sunset you would have seen venus kind of blurred more than usual.  venus always looks kind of very bright but less “crisp” than other lights in the sky cause of all the clouds it has but that night and for a few after that, venus would have looked especially!! fuzzy, cause that night not only did venus conjunct mars,  venus has moved directly IN FRONT OF MARS that night.  that hasn’t happened for our eyes for thousands of years!  also, this particular conjunction occurred just before venus turned to move in front of the sun diving back to solar center from her highest distance.  venus moved from being an evening start  to a morning star.

mars gets into the dance between venus and the sun of this sort every 32 years, and starts a new cycle of growth.  the mayans found all of this very important to them. so did the egyptians, and our lives also show these signatures. the last few months have been about this transition and now at this eclipse venus is back where she was in early october when she began her move back toward the sun.  we are in new territory, potentially with clearer values and awareness of what is important to us.  do you not also see we have flipped out of our old personal cycles?  things are somehow by relationship, not the same.. on new ground, since the end of summer?.  these are special times.  the mayans _ who’s calendar is so in the mind of this time – would have known this as i have as i look at my ephemeris to see what is coming in the years ahead.  as venus has danced this rare dance with mars, and begun again a refreshing new cycle of patterning, this eclipse and solstice also marks an opportunity to join our conscious rational minds into the party and celebration of mind, and mind’s eye, and the power of that.  we know now consciousness is all there is really,  matter is vibration, all is that, and thought is an original point of vibration.  vote with the return of the light the solstice moment and this full moon monday night with your heart and your inner solo candle to move into the unity of the one life, bring your heart beat to the drum that entrains to the heart beat of the sun and the earth which we are the witness of both. this is the download of the time and the energetics of this eclipse and full moon/solstice signal. solstice s 6:30pm tuesday, soon after this full moon .  the mayan calendar counts down to this event.  western calendar increment of years is not accurate, it is astronomical events that time mayan time.  this is the astronomical event which governs the timing of the calendar, and the calendar of the egyptians so visually expressed at the zodiac on dendera, where we were this october.  the waking up of our left brain selves is reaching a lightning speed.  i see the glimmer of the winter sun leaving my hearth twinkling now only through the trees, and the light  running now up beasley cove’s west fang slope before lifting the day’s light up to the planes that will soon shine in the dusk sky along with the satellites and the first stars, and jupiter.  But, i am already in the long shadow of winter at just past 2pm,making my peace with my maker and my self.  hold the tension between your highest vision and dreams and the current state of self and union.  add to this recipe your devotion to the return of the light, and add what is yours really the only thing that is really yours,  your own  inner light to this combined brightness.

heart earth

don’t listen to the voice that says you can’t, or aren’t, or won’t, your too small, you don’t matter.  add no fear desperation or angst, include everyone with  open handed desire for the betterment of all, give that now, and join the galactic center in the alignment of the sun and moon at this solstice moment and full moon eve. align your heart with the heart of the galaxy, dusk monday (moonday) through dusk tuesday as a holy ground to begin again.  jump the yule fire into the new day dawn.shed your differences and find the groundswell of common ground which is always the root.

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scorpio time


the seasons change, now the deep shadows keep the north spots cool all day, and wet.  fallen leaves gather there to rot and become rich to the whole of the forest in the process.  the tree trunks stand out now more with the rusts and luminous yellows staging their star role in the scenery now.  the spiders, and the mice want to come in.


Before their was tobacco as a crop, these mountains grew apples as a livelihood and made some of the best hard cider from anywhere.  there are still the remnants of the old orchards back in these hills. it is the hard cider apples that are left on the trees now to pick to get , pick up and press.

this past warm saturday gave us the beauty to walk out onto the mountains sides, crunching over the fallen leaves, saying again hi to our neighbors and gathering the natural bounty of the mountains at this time of the year.    western north carolina is known for its excellent apples, and it is only !!  the high mountains here especially around max patch that grow the really good cider and hard cider apple varieties.

the work horse of the cider time

i have spent some time grafting and recording these old orchards.  we visited some of these heritage orchards for our apples this year.   i have 21 success stories of grafting doing well in their nursery that are from grafts of these old trees are in one of my vegetable gardens.    we have over 100 apple trees planted, mostly cider varieties. most are young but we get apples from some of our trees now, and have begun to graft the old timey varieties form the old orchards..

we pressed 35 gallons us old geezers we did.  first day, we didn’t have the mountain bike gears set right  – so we were failing at 1/4 of a press.  some folks – who met us at the slow food fundraiser  – came by and got in there and helped pedal and john and i swapped, until i kinda said,, something is not right,, i am NOT that old.  we made pedal gearing adjustments and sailed through the next 23 gallons like yoginis in action.  JUST ONE more of the reasons to stay in shape, eat right and love life!.   this year we pressed 35 gallons for ourselves,,  yeah,,!!  john and i pedaled and the cider poured out.  the colors are deep in the cider and the hillside.  smiles all around.

many things still in the garden

many things still grow in the garden, and now that the cider is put away, and some keeper apples are in the root cellar,  off to pick green tomatoes, and the thousands of tomatillos in the garden…  where are the other robots???   i have so many peppers and choyote squash and i have some good recipes to try.  some things like the celery will just get better as the weather cools.

bob our youngest horse is wonderful  .. he loves his people time, their fingers, and voice snuggles and ear rubs.  i can rub him all over, and work him on a lead.  he know many commands and is the smartest horse i ever met. he can open gates, and more.  his mom, Grace and Auntie Joyti live here too and i can now ride them, we are training them all slowly and with love and patience..

eye of bob/ self reflections

Grace will now let me ride her and she loves it so.  more time to them please universe. enjoying it all,, jewelry making too, shows ahead, shop time competes with farm a blessed need to balance it all,  always the way,  love the challenges…  understanding please to beloveds  for absences in communication land… inner life is calling..  the light retreats to solstice.  so it is…….and so it is within world as well.  time to stoke the inner flame and return to the source, and integrate with the land, family and the wonders of the universe.  privacy is wonderful within the farm and its rhythms.  the rooster grows and you know where you are.  there are always eggs to collect.  i’ll see you’ins at yoga….

8 fold symmetry symbol of "The Breathe of the Compassionate" symbol of manifestation

lucky bob

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variety please…

I know we need the rain … it’s been terribly dry for months and months. Though, a little variety on both ends of that spectrum would be preferable to the all-or-nothing philosophy that the rain gods have been practicing this year. Might I request, mother nature, that you sprinkle some sunshine into the wet weeks and a few showers into the dry weeks? A solid week of cloudy dampness is a bit too much for light-sensitive folk like myself. Still, it’s nice to have the landscape looking less hard-pan and the plants so perky.

Rain clouds make for picturesque misty mountains.

Speaking of plants, the basil is flourishing. I picked a large basket-full yesterday and didn’t even make a dent in the basil patch. Since there’s sooooo much pesto made and put up already, I decided it would be nice to dry some. I know most folk poo-poo using the flower heads, but I find them best for drying. Their flavor is a bit strong when fresh, but this translates into just-right strength once dry, since drying saps out flavor. Also, when you knock the buds off the stems, they are small and dry easily and don’t need to be crushed (which causes flavor loss) to get them into jars. I dried both parts of the plant yesterday … leaves and buds, with one quart zip-lock of each in the final result. Because the buds dried more quickly and evenly, they kept much better color too. Probably won’t bother with drying leaves again.

Corinna

Corinna, who’s staying here on the farm to take care of all the animals while John and Dory are traveling these next couple of weeks, found a recipe for basil & lemon sorbet, which we will try soon, but I’m sure that won’t make a dent in the basil patch either. I need to come up with something that uses LOTS of basil that’s not pesto! It won’t be long before the first frost and all that luscious herb should get used soon!!

We had enough banana peppers the other day that I decided to do a bit of canning. Found a recipe for banana pepper relish in the “Stocking Up” book, but didn’t have quite enough peppers for the whole recipe. Down the page a bit, there was a recipe for green tomato relish, and I thought “why not?” and did the relish with half and half. The sweet of the honey-vinegar, with the spicy of the pepper, toned down by the green tomato worked really well. Was great with smoked salmon and melted sharp white cheddar as an open-face sandwich. And there are three quarts put up for the winter.

Even with the cow giving far less milk — a gallon a day — since she was inseminated, we still have more than we can drink. So, we’ve been making ice cream, yogurt, and fresh cheese to make use of the bounty. I kept hearing that “real” ricotta was made from whey, not whole milk. So, after Corinna made some queso blanco with the whole milk, I gave making whey-ricotta a whirl. The recipes don’t lie when they say that the yield from whey is quite low. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have a use for it since it’s more plentiful than the cheese in the first making.

In hunting for whey-ricotta recipes, I learned some stuff I hadn’t known. Apparently, ricotta translates as re-cooked … as in you cook the milk once to make other cheese, then you strain out the whey, and then re-cook the whey to make the ricotta. Also, a goodly amount of the protein from the milk is in the whey … I suppose that’s a no-brainer since whey powder is probably the most popular protein drink additive. So, another use for the whey liquid from cheese-making is to add it to baking to up the protein content, not to mention adding more flavor than water.

Ricotta & Cherry Muffin

I found a recipe for cherry & ricotta muffins. So, that’s where my scant cup of ricotta went. I used some whey in place of the recipe’s listed buttermilk, since I didn’t have that. They came out VERY moist … almost more of a cupcake than a muffin. Yum!! Next thought for milk use is some yogurt cheese.

Once the rain lets up a bit, we need to get out and seed some lettuce and spinach. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow and saturday, then rain for the next six days (sigh). I’ll be out here at the farm again Saturday, since I have to come this way to go to a Terra Madre meeting nearby that evening. If the weather report is correct, Saturday should be a great greens-planting day.

Yolk Art

Corinna has been taking some great pictures. We’ll be cooking and she’ll suddenly dash off to grab her camera to capture a neat food shot. One recipe called for egg yolks … having used a yellow bowl created an artsy look … click.

From the chicken harvest, there was a bag of feet, which make great soup stock and a rather halloweeny frame during cooking … click.

Stocking Feet

My daily recipe from Chow.com for today was a Butternut Squash Lasagna that sounds totally drool-worthy, and I just so happen to have a butternut from the garden, so that will have to be the next dinner project. Can’t wait!!

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adventure with udder

Since the wonderful slowfood event, I am here at the sunweptfarm to volunteer when Dory and John are in Egypt, to take care about the farm. Of course with helpers!

Yesterday, the first time I milked the cow Daisy, wow–what an adventure! It works nice and Daisy was friendly with me, I only have to hold her tale–very important, so as to avoid a strong dirty touch on my face. But now, Dory told me we are milk-sisters.

After this satisfying work, I cleaned the gutter on Dory’s jewelry shop; of course I needed a ladder for that work.

Later on, I met John at the kitchen and he asked me, what sounded to my ears like “ladder,” how it worked with the udder.

I answered: good, I used the ladder and the dirty things came out.

Wow–his face was surprised! I think afterwards he was thinking: Wow, why did this German woman need a ladder for the udder? She is really not so small.

So, after clarifying that the ladder was for the gutter, not the udder, the adventure of the farm can go on.

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