Saturday, October 22, 2011

Henry T.

Brand New!!

 24 Hours Old

Henry T. Hood: 8 lbs 8 oz,  20 inches long, first son of Travis & my Daughter Lydia, much anticipated little brother of big sister Taylor.

He had a bit of a difficult entry into the world, but everyone is doing fine now. He is our 5th grandchild. The 3rd boy grandbaby and the third redheaded grandbaby.

Watch out world the redheads are winning!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sweet Hot

Who knew? Jalapenos pickled in a sweet vinegar pickle are so yummy!
Sweet then with a kick!
We will definitely make these again... maybe even again this year. Those crazy pepper plants are loaded again. Good thing we only planted two!

"I'm glad I'm not a better gardener"

"Or I'd be drowning in veggies!" That is my daughter's assessment of the success of our little raised bed garden in her side yard. It's beds are bursting with tomatoes, basil, beans, onions, carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, watermelons, canteloupe, peppers, pumpkins, and beets. "Can you imagine what would have happened if I'd been better at remembering to water it?"

We've put up jars of pickled beets, green beans, zuchini relish and sweet hot jalepenos. We've  frozen plump bags of  green beans and watermelon juice. And now the tomatoes are finally starting to turn yellow, orange and red. Look out salsa here we come!!

Thinning a necessary evil

In the spring, I sprinkle little  packets of hope in my garden and cover them with a cozy blanket of soil. Then with time, water and warmth they sprout. Hundreds of tiny plant babies reaching up with their little leafy arms begging for my attention and love.

Crowded together in the rows each one cries out for my attention. I know I need to thin them out. Some must be sacrificed so that the ones who remain can grow big and tasty.
I hate thinning if you haven't guessed.
Every spring I vow to do a better job. Keeping the spacing right when I plant instead of just flinging seeds into the row and waiting to see what happens would help. However, each spring I am ceased by doubt. Will all the seeds grow, will any of the seeds grow? Doubt leads to more seed throwing.

The result: I have hundreds of needy little seedlings vying for my attention.

This year I did better in the thinning department. I managed to thin the carrots and beets. We ate some of the beet greens and sent all the rest of the thinnings out to the Red Wattles for a snack. Knowing we were "up- cycling" the thinnings into yummy Red Wattle pork made it easier.

There was no denying that thinning resulted in bigger beets this year and we actually got a few gourmet baby carrots for the dinner table. A feat never managed by me in the past.

So next spring look out! I am going to fearlessly thin, selecting only the strongest and healthiest seedlings. Unless it looks like the seed might not all grow...

Oh what to do, what to do?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kitchen Krashers

This was Emily and Anders kitchen. With their permission - somewhat reluctantly given I think- Lydia and I crashed their kitchen. Let's face it there is nothing so intimidating as living in a house while you are fixing it up. Especially if the kitchen isn't right and it gets out of control.
So after days of scrubbing, an immeasurable about of elbow grease and cleaners and a good bit of cussing, and some help from Emily's Uncle Glen and his tools, Emily's dad and his paint roller and Joel's comedy relief we got it all put back together. 


I love the happy yellow paint that Emily picked out!!
Em's mom is working on the cutest curtains for the windows.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Home sweet future home

This is a green home recently built in Kentucky. It is 75% less energry use than a standard new home. It features solar panels for electical production, energy star appliances and super insulation and sealing. All this coupled with proper orientation in order maximize solar gain in the winter and minimize it in the summer.
I found it online by doing a search for "Green" builders in Kentucky. We really liked the look of the house so we contacted the builder: Peoples Self Help Housing Inc., a group that works to create efficient housing for low income households.
Greg Miller sent us the floor plan and drawings of  how the house was constructed. We love it. It's just the right size for the two of us, super energy efficient and cute as a bug to boot.
I've already got the rockers picked out to go on the porch!!

Now all we need is the property. Sigh.... can't come soon enough.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


All these spuds from just 3 feet of row in the greenhouse.. I am amazed!

Presto Pesto!!

What do you do with 12 cups of basil leaves? Make pesto of course. At least that's what Lydia and I did this week when it was just too blazingly hot to work outside in the afternoon.
First we toasted nuts on the stove to enhance the flavor. Walnuts for Lyd's and pecans for me. Walnuts don't like me much. Then we peeled lots of garlic cloves.
Then garlic, nuts, Romano and Parm cheese in the food processor.    
Add the basil and some EVOO. Pulse pulse pulse until it's all nice and mooshy.
Then plop spoonfuls into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the pesto cubes into freezer bags or containers. Now whenever we want to dress up some pasta or liven up a salad - just pop out a pesto cube and thaw!! I love making our own "fast" food. :^)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The balcony garden

Ok so I can't keep my fingers out of the dirt. I admit it.

I just got done repotting my succulent collection into one big pot. It looks like a mini-prehistoric forest now.

And we couldn't be without at least one tomato plant. We are trying to see if it will grow all they way around the railing, up the side and over the top then back down the post before the frost kills it in the fall.

Of course we are also looking forward to yummy "Sweet 100" tomatoes too.

My favorite Poppaw Brian Pic

This was taken on Kacie's graduation day at the Borden Park. I don't know who was having more fun Poppaw Brian or Emma!

It's a dog's life

Honey got tired of waiting for me to play ball and decided to take a nap instead.

Office day

Yesterday was cleaning day. Today is office day. I've tidied up the piles on my desk and now I'm going to tackle the email, Red Wattle Hog Association paper work. Then the newsletter will go out and if there is enough time I might actually get my annual membership drive mailing done before November!!

Here goooooos!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pretty flowers all in a row

I love day lillies. They come in so many colors and supply a fresh bloom each day for your viewing enjoyment. These are all in bloom at Lydia and Travis's farm.


These are the first potatoes. We stole them from under the giant potato plants growing rampant in the greenhouse. It's amazing what can happen when you tuck in some schriveled up old taters leftover in a bucket from last years harvest!
They were yummy with raw cream butter and a bit of sea salt. :^)

Greenhouse update

Help I've fallen and I can't find my way out the jungle!!
This is what happens when you neglect the greenhouse for 2 weeks and the
tomatoes, weeds and potatoes go wild.
We've got to hack our way in there this week and make some sort of order out of this tangled jungle.  

I know they're weeds

I know it's a thistle, a weed, a nuisance, but weeds can be pretty too. I took these pics on Anders and Emily's farm in Kentucky early in the morning when I went out for a walk up the hillside. I wonder if you could dry these. A whole bunch of them attached to a wire and bent into a heart would make a lovely wall decoration. Hmmmm.....


Last week  Lydia and I picked the last of the beets from the greenhouse. Burpees golden, Chioggia and Bulls blood were cleaned, cooked and peeled. Then we sliced and pickled them with the "Spicy Pickled Beets" recipe from the Ball canning book.
The results: 19 pint jars
We kept the different kinds of beets separate to see how they would do with the canning process. The Chioggia looked a little pale and I was disappointed that the characteristic rings didn't show up well after canning. The golden beets didn't hold their lovely golden color and though they taste wonderful they are not very visually appealing. The Bulls Blood are lovely and delicious.

We have more beets planted in the garden now and plan a fall planting for the greenhouse for fresh eating and greens.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Old hen really old hen

When we left the farm we left one old hen who had taken up residence in our barn. She is pretty ancient for a chicken being about five years old. Since we've been gone she's become my son in law, Travis's, barn buddy. She let's him pet and pick her up. Follows him around in the barn. And still lays more than a couple of eggs in the warmer months. He even named her "Momma Hen". She's the barn elder and must be the wisest and wiliest chicken alive - after all if she wasn't someone would have eaten her long ago.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some PIG!

Hello, did you bring treats?

Oh you did bring treats!
This is Moose. We gave him to my son in law as a Christmas present last year. Now he is huge and the sire of a good looking litter of piglets with his "wife" - Lucy.

True to his Red Wattle lineage, he is laid back, calm and friendly and never aggressive. He has almost reached his adult size now. He has great shoulder & back width. Hams are well rounded. His legs are sturdy and well placed.

I'm really pleased with him... but then I again I picked him out to keep and I named him.. So call me prejudiced.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Almost automatic milking machine

When Hazel the Jersey milk cow moved to Kentucky with the kids she was bred and due to calf in the spring. She calved  and Anders started hand milking her, but he soon realized his hands weren't going to hold up to the job and Hazel's patience for the slow process was wearing thin. So with no electricity in their barn and not really wanting to spend what it would take to get an electrical surge milker setup, they started looking for alternatives.

Anders spent some time online researching non-electric milkers and settled on the Henry milker. This little gizmo developed by Mr. Henry in Alaska arrived less than a week after the order was placed. Great service!! Gotta love cottage industry's attention to what is important.

Amazing! It was put together out of plastic tubing, the vacuum pump from a brake bleeding kit, and a 60cc syringe with the plunger discarded and a standard mason jar. One plastic hose line carries the milk into the jar and another creates a vacuum to pull it in and the syringe serves as the teat cup. It was originally developed for goat milking.

Anders made a couple of modifications to make it work better for Hazel. He added a couple of shut off valves in the lines and another teat cup to the set up so he can milk 2 teats at a time. He also changed from quart to 1/2 gallon mason jars so he didn't have to  change bottles so often. He carries the whole set up to the barn in 2 milk crates.

Now twice a day, he brings Hazel into the barn and gets her settled with her feed in the stanchion. Then he washes down her udder. Next the valves are closed and the line pressurized by squeezing the vacuum pump. When the pressure is right, the teat cup is placed over the teat and the valve opened. The milk starts to flow almost immediately.  I couldn't believe how simple it was.  Anders sits on an upturned milk crate for a stool and watches the pressure gauge, occasionally giving it a few squeezes to keep the pressure up. As the milk bottles fill he shuts the valve and moves to another bottle. When a quarter is empty he shuts the valve moves the teat cup and opens the valve again. He sings quietly to Hazel as he works. It is all very calm, quiet and laid back. Not at all like milking was when we had Hazel and used a surge milker. No vacuum pump noise, no hurrying to be sure we got the teat cups off at the right time. No frenetic pulsing.

Now he is done milking in about 10 minutes with minimal effort, minimal noise and no electricity.

Hazel seems to like this arrangement too.

Nah nah you can't see me!

Short stuff the bull calf is temporarily living in the back yard at Anders and Emily's. Every time I tried to get a clear shot of him he would hide in the weeds.

Karate Duck

When I went outside first thing in the morning at my son and daughter in law's farm,
 this is the first thing I saw.
Duck on fence in perfect "Karate Kid" form.
Laughing I ducked back into the house for my camera.  
No hawk better come by and try to mess with this clawed member of the wood duck family.
He's ready to take on all comers with a karate kick!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Front porch playpen

Joel's new favorite game is to throw the dog's ball over the rail of the porch so that poor Frankie has to wriggle his self under the rail and scramble down the steps after it.
Joel tried this trick with some of his toys and was a little disappointed that Frankie didn't retrieve them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To market to market

Tuesday is Farmers Market day in Lexington, so we loaded up the carseats and the little ones and headed to town to see what goodies we could find. Our trip netted a yummy watermelon, corn, tomatoes and some killer hot sauce. Joel was all about the samples. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Emma Loo hoo

Our grandaughter Emma came for a visit at Lydia's last week. She is really getting big! And she finally has enough hair for a little Pebbles Flintstone ponytail.

10 am

Brian peeks his head in the bedroom to ask if I was really serious when I said I wanted to get  up and go to farmers market this morning. I mumbled something and struggled up from sleep. I'd only been asleep about 4 hours after a 12 hour shift at the hospital.

After bumbling into some clothes we headed downtown to the Crawfordsville Farmers Market. It felt funny to be on the buyer's side of the tables. We walked all through the market scoping out what was available, then turned around and made our buying sweep: Honey, raspberry jam, onions, peas, zucchini, tomatoes, french tarragon, chocolate mint, cucumber, cabbage,,,

Folks kept trying to educate us about their products. Hey that used to be my job!

The only person that didn't try to educate us was the lady with the unimaginably gorgeous heads of cauliflower. You have to understand that cauliflower defies  my every effort. Only once in my 49 yrs have I successfully grown heads of lovely creamy white cauliflower. We were in awe of this amazing brassica. Brian and I both tried to weasel the secret of perfect cauliflower out of the lovely Hispanic lady. She only smiled and said you have to have a plan. 

Right I always have  a plan it just very seldom works!

We finally gave up trying to get the secret and just paid for one of her perfect cauliflowers.  It was worth every penny- both pretty and pretty tasty too!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Miss Taylor

This is Taylor, the oldest of our grand kids. She wants to be a veterinarian.
Today she was experimenting with what Red Wattles will eat or won't eat from your hand.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Graduation Day

This is Kacie Jo Jordan.
The youngest of our four children and the newest high school graduate.
She will be pursuing a photography degree at University of Louisville in the fall.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Change of plans

Looks like Oregon is out and Kentucky is in.
Brian and I had a long heart to heart talk and agreed we just couldn't be that far away from the grand babies. After all, we have 4 grand kids and one on the way!! Who's gonna bake them cookies and sing them silly songs and play make believe and dress up - oh and teach them bad habits (that's Brian not me) - if we move to Oregon?
So now we are looking for the perfect place in the Bluegrass State. What would be the perfect place:
about 1/2 and 1/2 woods and cleared
an older home - circa 1850-1930 or stone, brick or cabin with a basement or root cellar would be nice
water source - a good spring or well
everything else is negotiable.

Of course we are just in the "shopping" stages right now. Brian has 3 more years of school before we can go anywhere.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Almost Amish Anders

This is my son, Anders. He almost always wears a hat,  a long sleeved button up shirt and dark pants. He has long hair and a long beard. On more than one occasion I've been asked if he is Amish.
Well, not quite, but he is working toward being self sufficient and off grid.
So maybe he's almost Amish?

Sleeping angels

Shhhhhhhh.... don't wake the baby.

How soon they forget...

A year ago these were my Shetland ewes. They came when I called. The new my voice. Now they are Anders and Emily's. They look at me with uninterested eyes, turn and walk away.
You would think if they don't remember me, they would at least remember that I carry the feed bucket!

Kentucky Hazel and Little Bit

When my son, Anders and his wife moved to their farm in Kentucky so did our milk cow Hazel. Last week she gave them a nice looking 1/2 Dexter bull calf. He's just a little bit of a thing so that's what I call him. The kids may want to name him something more portentious like. . . T-bone. :^)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tractor driving with Poppa Jim

My grandson, loves tractors. All tractors: lawn tractors, paddock tractors, Allis Chalmers, Massey Ferguson, Ford, Case, Kubota and especially Poppa Jim's John Deere.  Joel waited all day for this ride. Look at that face. Driving the tractor is serious business!

Stuart Little

Stuart isn't too sure about all the remodeling going on around his house. He looks a little worried.

This is my bug catchin' hat

I like to send Joel new hats. This one was a great find. It keep the sun off of him and it has a nifty little pocket and an "official" Bug Catching Club patch with the slogan "we'll leave no leaf unturned"
This hat and a diaper is Joel's latest fashion statement.
Gotta love farm kids!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Greenhouse greens



Swiss Chard
These should all have been grown outside in the garden. But necessity is the mother of . . . well adjusting. Lydia and I have been growing our spring greens in the greenhouse. Lydia has to check the beds and the flats everyday to be sure the soil isn't too wet or too dry. It's been a real learning experience for her. She has been a real trouper. 
This week with warmer weather we've taken the doors off the greenhouse to increase the circulation. We'll be pulling the greens soon and planting tomatoes, peppers and green beans. . .

Oh and waiting for it to stop raining so we can work outside in the garden. :^)