Sunday, June 29, 2014


Saturday has come and gone, and I did not get my usual blogpost done.  That was because a good portion of yesterday was spent preparing for, driving to and from, and enjoying the Nix reunion, which is held every two years.  It was great to get to visit with my elders and betters, and many cousins and their kids and even grandkids. It doesn't seem like we should be old enough for that, but of course we are.

Meanwhile, here at the farm, hatching was happening.  The second black hen has been patiently biding her time on the nest.   Yesterday two chicks hatched, and this morning two more, one of which didn’t make it.  The rest of the eggs are not showing  any promising signs, which is really disappointing.  Three chicks are better than no chicks I suppose, but I was really hoping for more. The third broody hen's clutch is due to hatch Tuesday or Wednesday, so hopefully I will have a better report from her corner of the coop.

Tiny chicks just hatched

The six other chicks are really thriving and putting out more feathers

View of the garden from the roof of the Summer Coop.  Thanks Kevin!
Right now, it’s raining again.  The hay should have been baled and in the shed by now, but it has been rain on and off all this past week.   We watch the forecast, and hopefully will be getting a chance to do some haying activities later this week.

The garden looks pretty good, but is it?  It’s about two weeks behind schedule in my estimation.  I am not very hopeful of getting any melons this year.

So, that’s about all the news from Ole Lake for this weekend (I think!).  Have a great week!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chick update

Sunday morning.  It's raining again.  It's just a gentle rain and not too darkish out so I am hopeful that it will clear up soon.  Meanwhile, I'm hangin' in the kitchen while the Rhubarb BBQ sauce does it's thing in the canner. 

Out in the Winter Coop, Mama Blue Hen and her six little ones are doing just fine. 
Check out those cute little feathers!

The garden is mostly maintenance chores right now.
Yesterday, since the tomato plants are such precocious
 things and prone to wandering off, I caged them. 
Hard to believe but this plant will be growing out of the top of this cage in a month or so!

OK you locals.  The Aitkin County Fair is coming up fast.  So, what are you entering?  The fair is an important event for our residents and visitors, and I feel that it is important to support it.  For some folks, this might mean buying a ticket to a show, riding the rides, getting some fair food. To me, supporting the fair means putting things out there for people to see when they visit.  I will have some canning and baking this year; maybe a couple of hens, not sure about that yet.  No new quilts to display.   So how about you?  Doing any crafts?  How is your green thumb? Do you make the best pie this side of anywhere?  Put it out there!  It's not about getting the blue ribbon, although that's nice.  It's about supporting the fair, and maybe showing the younger generation that somethings are worth doing and doing well.

Entry day is Tuesday, July 8.  I hope I see something there with your name on it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rhubarb and long grass...

Last Sunday wasn’t too productive with more precipitation, so spent some quality time in the kitchen with the good old “pie plant”.  No pie, but I made Rhubarb Iced Tea, Rhubarb BBQ Sauce, regular Rhubarb Sauce and canned that, and our favorite rhubarb dessert, Rhubarb Cobbler.  Inspired by that, on Thursday this week I made Sweet and Sour Sauce with Rhubarb too.  This morning’s muffin’s were, of course, rhubarb.

What?  Did she say Rhubarb BBQ Sauce?  Yes I did, and it is delicious!  Nope, didn’t come up with that on my own.  I ran across the recipe on someone else’s blog that I follow, and she got it from another website.  Doing a search, I see there are many other versions, some of which have raisins, and/or mustard in them, but that would NEVER go down with this family, I can assure you.  This recipe was well received by everyone, even my sister Carolyn who is up here for two weeks.  Anyway, the recipe makes a small batch, which is nice when you try something new.  I plan to make a much larger batch this weekend, and can some for future enjoyment.
So, because I know some of you are going to want it, I will tack the recipe on at the end of this post. 
picked more rhubarb this morning...
It’s been a rainy, cool week again; too much rain.  The wheat field is decidedly soggy; hay is underwater in places when it should be cut.  That’s the way it goes some times.  As far as the garden, well, the weeds love the rain!  Some of my crops are decidedly behind where they should be, others are doing fine.
The picture above is Chinese Cabbage which is new to me this year.
  I plan  to have some in my salad for lunch today.
  The lettuce in the greenhouse is bolting and about done for.  This lettuce in the garden looks great though!
Kevin's favorite, the peas, are coming along nicely! 
Vinca and Daisy are enjoying the pasture, but as you can see from the long grass, the two of them do not eat enough to keep it down.  Hmmm, maybe we need more goats???  This afternoon we plan to try introducing the doelings back to their mamas.  Are they weaned yet?  Will let you know tomorrow.

The grass is long in the chicken pasture too.
Ever vigilant, Javier keeps a sharp eye on all activity around the farmyard
When Carolyn comes up north during the warmer months, she stays in her home-away-from home north of the barn.  Her two cat companions, Sunny and CJ, are along for some country air.  You can see them peeking out through the screen door.

City cat CJ gets a view of the country through the safety of the screen door...
Carolyn and I visited the Farmer's Market in Aitkin this morning.   I would encourage all of you locals to stop in there on Saturday mornings and support our area growers.  You can meet some very fine people and find some excellent food there.  I brought home bread, fruit syrup, radishes (mine aren't ready yet) and asparagus.  Strawberries are just starting, so next week I would think there will be some nice ones!

And here is that recipe:  

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
(from Eating Well Magazine)

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced rhubarb, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1/4 cup ketchup 
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add rhubarb, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the onion and rhubarb are soft, about 10 minutes.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just ordinary things

It’s been unseasonably cool this week, and somewhat rainy, which is what it is again today.  One morning it was only 39 degrees when we got up!  While this is great for giving us a respite from the ‘skeeters (only until it gets up to 50 degrees or so), it’s not so great for the garden.  The tomatoes and melons are looking downright sulky.  I don’t have too high of expectations for this year’s garden crop.

The six new chicks are doing just fine under the watchful eye of Mama Blue.   With the exception of the little family, and the other two broody hens, the rest of the hens moved last evening to rejoin Javier and the breeding flock at the summer coop.

So, nothing too exciting here, just everyday life.  I decided to share this photo with you.

This is the view from my milking stand.  This is what I look out at twice each day, and each time I do it is a different scene that I never tire of.  The view is across the pasture, then beyond that the field that is now green with young oats.  Then the woods.  Every day is a different experience.  Some days, there may be a horse or two, or a deer or two, or more.  The color of the sky, the endless shades of green in the field and woods; it’s new every day.  Later this summer the greens will give way to less vibrant, but no less rich colors. 

Some folks might look at that and see an ordinary scene from an ordinary place.  I see my home, and I am grateful to live here.

I must mention the fence, those white bands out there.  Kevin just put the fence back up this morning.  Again.  The white strands are new; maybe the deer will pay a little more attention.  We can only hope.

So, that's today, Saturday, June 14, 2014.  Just an ordinary day, in a very special place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Terrific Tuesday, and News from the Coop

Another absolutely beautiful day to be home.  I haven’t actually made it out to the garden yet, except to harvest some onions for my salad, but I’ll get there.

First off, a chicks update.  There are six healthy, fluffy, and totally adorable little ones.  We made a little fence out the front of the coop so Old Blue (she is now wearing a blue legband) can take them out for foraging lessons.  When we first started doing this with hens and chicks, we worried about the cats helping themselves to a chick buffet, but hens are very good at taking care of chicks, so no problem there. 

Almost as cute as goat kids!
And, in other news from the coop, we have a third broody hen!  Yahoo!  This is a mutt hen that I purchased last fall, and she was probably destined for the crock pot this fall… but her fate has changed and she has probably earned herself a pretty long life.  I’m not sure what her lineage is, but she’s passably close enough in looks to my Rhode Island Reds that I will keep her and add her to my breeding flock.  Hopefully, some of her chicks will get the broody trait too.  I would really like my flock to be self sustaining some day.

Dedicated to the task at hand... er... claw...

So, this is Brandy.

I think this is his first appearance or mention in the blog.  He has been part of our family for many years, but recently we have concluded that both of our horses would be better off with a different home.  This is really a tough thing for us, but it is the right thing to do.  I am hoping that Huckleberry can find a place with someone who can train him up and use his speed and power from some gaming or maybe trail riding.  Brandy here will hopefully become a good family horse for someone else. 

Kori and I saddled him up today for the first time in a couple of years.  Honestly, it went so much better than I expected.  I was prepared for a tantrum… “what, a saddle?” … but really he was most cooperative and we had a nice little walk around the pasture.

OK.  Lunch break is over, I am out to the garden.  I  hope to give you a garden tour one of these days, so I had better get after those weeds!