Friday, July 22, 2011

We have Moved!

Thank you for dropping by.

Today's post by the Farm Chicks can be found at Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Homemaking Week

This week I've found some time for fun in the kitchen. Blackberries have come in full swing in our county and we've all been busy picking and baking and freezing our fruits. I like to store fruit in the freezers for making smoothies, pies or cobblers. To freeze fruit, lay it on a paper-towel lined baking sheet and freeze in a single layer. When the berries are completely frozen, bag into quart freezer bags. :) So fun!

I've also been experimenting with making apple butter in the slow cooker. I put 3 lbs. of peeled and cored apples with 1/2 cup water and let it cook down for at least 12 hours on low. The apples will reduce down quite a bit. Add your favorite spices, like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and at least 1/4 cup sugar and let that cook together a few more hours on low. I loved how easy and delicious apple butter was to make!

This weekend I plan on making butter, and my herbed mayo, too.

What are you creating in your home kitchen?

What fun preserves or canning recipes would you like to share?

Comments welcome! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Berry harvest

Tomatoes galore
Turkeys hunting grasshoppers

The Turkeys are growing so fast!

Whenever I sit down to write this blog so many topics come to mind that I could share. So much discovery everyday, in the garden, with the animals, in our relationships with the community, the physical stamina we've developed with this job, (not the aches and pains) the joys, the sorrows of our first season.

What do I choose?

Well, this week let's start with black raspberries. They are all over Buxton Farm and we are carving out time everyday to hunt them down and gobble them up. They are divine! Michael and I are freezing them for our afternoon smoothies, eating them fresh on homemade granola in the early morning, topping them off with our homemade yogurt at the end of a long day. Later this week we hope to harvest enough to make jam!
Growing up in Ohio my sisters and I spent every July harvesting black raspberries. My grandma and my mom loved when we came home with tupperware filled to the brim. It wasn't an easy job and still isn't. Blood, sweat, and tears getting through the thorns to pick them but so worth it, the memories this harvest has brought back has been so sweet. My grandma enjoyed the berries in milk topped with white sugar! I know where I got my sweet tooth.

Tara Miller, from "Farm To You", stopped by this week to pick up eggs for Chef Randy at "Garth Newell Music Center" in Warm Springs. Tara has a really creative job. She comes to the country to gather food from all sorts of diverse farms and then takes selected items to her retail store in Lexington or in some cases delivers the "goods" to the consumer. I have great appreciation for her commitment and support for local food.

Last week I made homemade ketchup from our tomatoes in our hoop house. I'm headed to the kitchen to make tomato sauce today, the hottest day of the summer in the blazing kitchen! Looks like I will be seeing the cool river today as well!

We have an over- abundance of tomatoes, about 30 tomato plants coming in all at once. We've been trading for all sorts of things with our neighbors and eating up as many as we can ourselves everyday. My favorite are "Sungolds" from Johnny's Seeds in Maine. They are a small golden delicious sweet tomato. It's the tomato I prefer. I planted all these tomatoes and I'm not big into eating "night shades"! I look forward to spreading the harvest to the community and to our hens for any left overs. The girls appreciate them too. Stay cool!

Pretty Pickles

'Tis the season for canning and pickling! Ever wonder what to do with left over chard stalks, once you've cut off the leaves for sauteing? How about making some quick pickles? They sure are pretty, and taste good too.

Basic Pickling Liquid, taken from the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook by Thomas Keller:

1 cup champagne vinegar (we use white wine vinegar here, too)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
Group chard stalks into similar sizes, and pack them into a clean jar. Heat vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan until dissolved, then pour over the chard stalks. At this point, we add hot sauce, maybe some celery seed too. It's really fun to be creative and throw in whatever spices suit your fancy. Once the liquid has reached room temperature, put on a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge for up to one week.

Anybody else out there have some fun quick pickle ideas? Let's share them with each other in the comments section!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Knights of Old, er...Today!

With as many things that have been going on here lately, I'm way behind on everything. Last Saturday was our field day for the farm. We had almost 1,800 folks in attendance and I'm still trying to recover from the day.

Today, I wanted to share some pictures from the Renaissance Fair that came to the area. We have never been to one of these and since the boys are so into knights and swords, we thought it would be fun to take them.

We were a little disappointed with the lack of educational exhibitors they had there, but the kids still had lots of fun. We were hoping to see some jousting, however we found out once we got there that the jousting was held the weekend before. Maybe next year...
Travis trying his hand at the bow.

Andrew's turn!
A sword bigger than them all.

I can't imagine doing battle with this thing.  I'm sure I couldn't even lift it, let alone swing it!

A cute skit with a couple on horseback.
For only a dollar you can smash each other to smithereens. Huzzah!
This was held at Natural Chimneys and I think the kids liked the cave and big rocks best of all.
Fun day with fun memories.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Herbed Mayo

This is a fun and easy recipe for mayonaise. I made it for the team's supper to be served on homemade rolls with barbecued chicken. Everyone enjoyed it, and I think you will too!

The more the chickens are on pasture, the deeper the egg yolks' color, which produces a beautiful, buttery-colored mayo. I wish I could share photos, but the recipe will have to do for now.

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon mustard
1.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups oil
1-2 cloves zested or finely minced/crushed garlic
1-1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon, or to taste
pepper, to taste

In a food processor, mix the yolks, mustard, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. While the processor is mixing, slowly add the oil. Very slowly. :)
It should become fluffy and mix up well within several seconds. It's such a fun process to watch!
Spoon out the mayo into a bowl. By hand, fold in the garlic, tarragon, and pepper. Experiment with different amounts of the herbs and spices to suit your taste. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Buxton Bursting with Busy----ness!

The beautiful purple poppy flower is the first seed I've saved this year. You can see in the photo how it turned to a deep brown color as I let bolt in order to save the seed. It takes the flower sometime to bolt so be patient when saving seeds.
I shook the bolted poppy and heard all the seeds rattle just like a shaker, this means the seeds have turned brown on the inside and are ready to be split open. You want to make sure the seeds have turned from green to brown inside. I shake them out onto a tarp to make it easy to collect them. The seeds are really tiny. Afterwards, I tuck them away into an envelope with their name and year on it. I don't have to buy additional poppy seeds next year. Next I will be saving chard, beet , and lettuce, and sunflower seeds.

Two days ago I had a few hours to can some of our tomatoes from our hoop house. It was a delight. I made 6 jars of homemade ketchup. Yum!

Neighbors have been stopping in and buying up some of our delicious chickens. Kathy's mom, manager of "The Old Dairy" in Warm Springs loves our grass fed broilers!

The turkeys are growing fast! They are curious about everything and everyone. Fun to watch. I really adore the sounds them make.

We've had some really great helping hands on the farm this week. Hans, a volunteer, has a organic family farm that he is soon to inherit. He's a wizard in the garden. He made carrots rows (single dug )for winter sowing quicker than anyone I've met yet. His farm experience comes in super handy! Hard to believe we're planting for our November harvest. We're just now harvesting our spring carrots but experience how taught me that fall carrots are sometime much sweeter. Stay posted.

We're half way through our season and starting to find personal time for self reflection which we've missed. So much to digest since we arrived last fall. We've really focused on the basics our first year and our hard work seems to be paying off in very suttle ways.

A Favorite Quote

"He who is aching in every limb, worn out by the effort of a day of work - that is, a day when he has been subject to matter - bears the reality of the universe in his flesh like a thorn. The difficulty for him is to look and to love. If he succeeds, he loves the Real."
-Simone Weil

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Today is Field Day!

Good morning! We're headed over to Polyface in just a few minutes to help with Field Day today. Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 8, 2011

American Meat

American Meat is a new documentary being released this weekend - Saturday and Sunday. The debut showings will be held in Waynesboro and Staunton in honor of Polyface's Field Day.

Zynodoa Restaurant in Stauton will be hosting a  Farm Fresh Supper with Joel and Daniel Salatin in attendance (Joel at noon and Daniel in the evening.)

Want to learn more about the movie? Contact the Visulite Theater in Staunton and the Zeus Theater in Waynesboro for show times and tickets.

You can also visit American Meat and Zynodoa Restaurant on Facebook.

Polyface Facebook Page can be found here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thoughts In Pictures...

Wow, this is a busy week and Saturday is only two days away! This July 9th is our biggest day of the year, where over 1,600 guests will come and see Polyface Farm for our Field Day. Here are a few things I've been thinking about lately...

Chicks in the brooder



My first full year at Polyface Farm! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Share your inspiration!

It's July, it's muggy outside, and I keep looking down wondering where that new bruise on my arm came from, or how I got the scratch on my leg. Summer is the season we work towards all year, coming in like a mighty wave and sometimes being overwhelming with all its demands. So I'm finding it important to read some beautiful words about food in all its many forms. Here are several of the books and blogs I'm reading right now:

Simply Tuscan, by Pino Luongo - I picked this up in Goodwill last weekend, completely on a judge-a-book-by-its-cover whim. It has not disappointed! Luongo shares not only recipes from his beloved Tuscany but also inspiring passages on the place food has in our lives. "I believe that quality of life is something you either have or you don't; it's not something you compartmentalize or confine to 'Saturday from 3 to 5 pm.' And let me be clear: When I say 'quality of life,' I'm not talking about exercise or counting calories or what vitamins to take....No - I'm talking instead about such intangible pleasures as flavors, senses, emotions, and even laughs. This book will show you that these things can become as much a part of your daily life as breathing because, in my opinion, they're just as vital."

Jenna's Cold Antler Farm blog, Daily inspiration from a young woman farming and writing in New York I love reading about her adventures and how honest she is about the good, bad, and the ugly involved in the meaningful tasks of farming. If you haven't read her blog already, I recommend you start today!

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. A simply beautiful book on "meaningful ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see, from simple practices" such as walking, getting lost, and carrying water.

What books, blogs, quotes, songs, or other things are inspiring you lately? Leave a comment so we can all share them together.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Molding the Clay

Our garden summer harvest

Sunrise turkey feeding

Asparagus started from seed
Strawberry runners planted into ground
First Sunflower this season

Moving to Virginia and farming at Buxton is like creating a piece of art. A much larger transition than I perceived. Like an artist, we're creating from a blank

canvas, bit by bit filling it in, molding something bigger than us. There is no map to follow, only immediate hands on experience. I can't remember a time when I felt so many challenges at one time. Nothing has prepared me for the level of vulnerability I feel in this new position. So much to comprehend our first year, the steep learning curves are at times are exhausting.

I've been naive in some of my decisions which has caused me heartache. For instance, no one warned my about the number of pest I would encounter in our garden. My goodness, they are everywhere. Almost all of our summer squash has been eaten. It's one of the easiest things to grow in California. I never lost one! Looks like I need to plant a more resistant variety. There are always solutions....

Finally this week I actually "felt" our place here on the land. I had a moment where Buxton even felt like home. I think my body is slowly relaxing into a rhythm. It's a nice feeling, one I've missed since the season started. I'm certain there are more of these positive feelings to come.

I'm pleased to announce the arrival of our turkeys. They are so interesting and somewhat aggressive. The other night I was concerned "Jack" the guard dog wasn't around so at 3:45 a.m. I strolled out to check on them. So glorious to be out amongst the stars. A few bullfrogs hollered at me but other than that the turkeys were fast asleep. Very sweet. I miss being up late enough to witness the stars.

From our garden we've been eating "late" peas, delicious heirloom lettuces, potatoes, onions, turnips, kale, chard, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, (wild) berries, and basil. It's time for me to start preparing for fall crops. A little more rain would be nice! Our corn in the hoop house is bursting forth. Along with all the hard work has come abundance. There is so much potential at Buxton Farm.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Widowed during Hay Season

It's hay season on the farm. The last couple of weeks we made all of the hay here on Polyface proper and this week, they've been making hay on one of our rental farms.

Hay season is the time that I become a widow for a while (and also hunting season, but that's another story for another season). The guys work from dawn till dark to get all of the hay put up in the barns before the rains.  It's a very technical process. The grass must be cut and dried, then it's raked, then baled and picked up. If we get an heavy moisture after it is cut, they ted the hay before raking it. Tedding is a method that flips the hay over and spreads it out so that the underside dries as evenly as the top.

I didn't get a chance to get pictures from this week, so I thought I would dig back and share photos from days in the past.
This picture was taken when Daniel was just a boy. We don't drop bale anymore except on hills, but I love this picture so much I had to share.

The baler is the most complicated part of the process, so Joel or Daniel always run it.
A hay wagon is attached the to back of the baler and the hay is fed directly to the guys on the wagon.
The hay just keeps on coming...
and coming...
And sometimes we goof off for the camera.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stepping Out

How is your week?

We've been very busy here at Polyface Farm, butchering chickens, gardening, making hay, maintaining fences, laying water lines, and preparing for next week's big event: Field Day! It takes many people to make it all happen, and I am so grateful for this year's team.

Our summer interns have already been here one month and they are doing a fantastic job. Yesterday I was amazed all over again at the initiative and work ethic when there were multiple projects to do and they jumped right in!

As I processed birds with the team yesterday morning, I thought about how each intern brings something unique and special to the team. They are all from different parts of the country, have different families and backgrounds, and hold a variety of beliefs, yet there is a common ground: they all have a passion for what they do, but even more than that, they made the choice to take the first step.

Beginning that first step toward a goal can be the hardest one to make - but it is well worth the effort. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made or other priorities set aside to reach what we hope to attain. At times faith is the only motivator. But knowing you are where you are meant to be is priceless - whether that be working your job, starting a farm or business, homesteading, beginning a friendship or relationship, or stepping out into the unknown; there is something we were all meant to do in life. Every one of us has a purpose. What is your dream? What is your life's passion?

If there was one thing you could do, what would it be? If nothing hindered you from trying, what would you attempt?

Remember to cherish this season of your life. Press on toward the goal!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

Forgive me for sounding melodramatic here, as I know I am only discussing a simple tomato.
But few things in life bring about remnant lines of poetry I studied in high school.
T.S. Eliott came to mind as I trellised young tomatoes the other day, reminding me that
There is yet faith -
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting

I can't wait until these beauties are ripe!

What are you waiting for today, with faith and love and hope?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh Sew Knit

Hey all, it's Friday, so Sheri is here again!

I thought that I would share pictures of my newest handmade project. As you may know from a post (quite a while back actually) previously, last summer I learned to knit.
I've been sewing since I was about eight years and have always loved it, so when I saw this project which has a combination of knitting and sewing, I jumped on it.

This is our 3 year old daughter, Lauryn modeling her new dress.

For those of you interested, you can find the free pattern for this dress here.

Have a great weekend!
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