Wheat Harvest

Dream big or sit on the front porch…or… Dream big, grab your hoe and rolling pin and make things happen!

I love that the eggs in our kitchen came from our coop, the raspberries in my scones came from our berry patch, the honey from our hive, the wheat from our field and ground to flour in our kitchen and if I were ever not pregnant when it came time to start milking Lucy and Sweet Caroline there’s potential for fresh dairy products from the barn. That’s just the bakery side of the farm. To say that we are blessed is an amazing understatement, to say we are thankful is the same.

This season was another season of ups and rained on hay but it was good. For the first time I can say that the bread I just took out of the oven is 100% homegrown and homemade. It started last year with the plowing of new ground to prep for the wheat field. Then in the spring, planting. We made it through a pretty dry spring and a wet fall but were able to harvest enough wheat for baking.

I cleaned the grain by hand and sent it through the mill. It was then mixed with water and set on the counter to ferment. Sourdough starter was made. The starter was added to more flour, water, honey and salt. Dough was formed into loaves. I hauled a load of “kitchen wood” from the barn to the house and started a fire. Bread was made.

The most satisfying loaves of bread I have ever baked were shared for supper. There is many thanks to be given for this bread, to my husband Mike, my dad Matt, my mom Dianne and our neighbor Mark. There was tractor work, babysitting, encouragement and support.

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My Straw-Chef Hat

Wheat Field

I had planned (we can pause here for a good laugh) to trade my chef hat for a straw hat when we moved to the farm. I had for a while and now I wear both and I’m not sure how it has happened. Slow garden and waiting to harvest the wheat field I guess. I still am out early doing chores with Mike and I’ve started to spend more time in the kitchen again too.

Saturday I had planned to do a little baking; fill a few orders, prep for the next farmer’s market and some bread for home. I had the oven on and the mixer running by 6:30 in the morning. I was off to a good start mixing and rolling and baking. Mike was going to pick up a couple gallons of milk on his way home for me but I ran out long before he was going to be home. I called my dad and he brought up the milk from their house so I could keep going until Mike was home. Mom was up the night before with a new block of yeast, as I didn’t realized I was a low as I was when I was at the store.

The kids were in and out and lunch time came, they ate and Mike put them down for naps. I kept right on baking. I guess I lost track of time because all of a sudden everyone was crowding my space in the kitchen looking for something to snack on. I’d find them something and send them on their way. Finally Mike asked “What’s for supper?”

I gave him a blank look and “I don’t know.”

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A Little Farm First Aid Lesson

Lucy in the pasture
Lucy in the pasture

I am once again in need of yet another bookshelf… and a place to put it. I don’t know if I could convince Mike to build me a mouse proof room in the barn for a library. I’m sure he’ll figure something out for me. He’s good at that.

For now, I’ve started reading “Veterinary Guide for Farmers, New and Revised Edition” by G.W. Stamm copyright 1975. I’m learning all sorts of things; shots, sutures, temperatures, diseases, viruses, blood, puss and stool samples. No one is sick or injured but it never hurts to know that you read something about that and now what was it… That’s how this will go. Someday one of the cows will be sick and I will be standing there thinking “I know I read about what’s going on here, hmm.” I’ve never been super interested in surgery and such. M*A*S*H* is pretty much the extent of it (and of the military movies too). I can stomach it but ‘eh I can do without though too.

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Tales of the Pregnant Farmer: Nesting Theory

When asked when I’m due my usual response is “sometime between now and the county fair.” This is sometimes taken as sarcasm, unfortunately I’m serious. This time around I was given four due dates depending on who I talked to. An average “safe delivery” time can be two weeks before or after the due date, which means I have/had about eight weeks of “any day now”. So the no “real” due date answer seems to shock and/or annoy the person asking when. Hmm. How about Mama? Think about how annoying it is to politely answer that for eight weeks or longer?! Not to mention the weeks of comments of “how big you’re getting!” (that’s not a compliment no matter how you try.) The only acceptable thing to say about a pregnant ladies size is “you look great!” FYI.

All that complaining aside, life doesn’t stop because of it. I still mow the lawn each week and do what I can to help with yard work, gardening and so on. It takes a lot longer to get anything done, but it does get done. In an attempt to get this baby out I thought I’d give “nesting” a try. Pretty sure I didn’t do much for nesting with the other two. I didn’t really have time, nor did I slow down as much as I have this time. I washed the baby clothes the last time I had everything dug out of the kid’s closet to put away the out grown and get the next box of hand-me-downs. The house is picked up… I wouldn’t say clean, but picked up. Wash the floors during nap and by the next snack time they’re sticky.

Nesting it is. It was worth a try anyways.

The ducks really only need enough water to dunk their heads but they make such a mess splashing and end up wasting all their drinking water doing so. I had put a rubber feed dish in the run to give them something a little more to splash in. It worked… kinda. They emptied that and the drinking water. The days are warming up considerably and if I want this year’s chicks (who live with the ducks right now) to have water the ducks needed something more again. I think.

When they were in the house we had them in a small kiddie pool. The kids loved it. It was fun but it didn’t take long for them to outgrow the space and make the house smell like a chicken coop. It was time for them to move out. After the flock was in the coop the pool went outside to be stored until the next batch of chicks would grace the kitchen.

Well, my “nesting mother duck” came out and those ducks needed a pond of sorts. I dug out the pool, hauled it to the outside run and scrubbed it out quite nicely… I’m not sure why. It stayed clean about as long as a freshly washed kitchen floor. A short piece of fence post scrap was set by the edge in case someone needed a step in and I began filling the “pond”. While I was watching my handy work fill, Mike brought over the four-wheeler and wagon so I could get the coop cleaned too. I’m not sure what he thought when he saw my project but he didn’t object at least.

Happy Ducks
Happy Ducks

“I’m going to go up to Erica Lane and meet Uncle Greg in a bit. I’ll be back in after while.” Mike headed out of the run. By that time I had just about finished cleaning the mud out of the waterer. As I went to leave the pen and shut off the water I had a little bit of an issue… He locked me in.

Yep.

Stuck.

The hook and eye lock on the outside was too low for me to reach over and unhook. I’d like to think I could still fit through the turkey door in the other pen but once again that wouldn’t do much good because their door was closed with a hook and eye inside the feed room. The idea of trying to climb over the fence…well even I knew that wasn’t going to happen today. The landing might have knocked the baby loose which would’ve been helpful I guess. Luck was on my side this time. I remembered I had my phone with me because I didn’t want to miss my Uncle’s call.

“Hello?”

“Hi. I promise I won’t leave the yard if you let me out of the duck pen!”

“What?”

“Please? You locked me in when you left.”

(Short silence. Then laughter.) “I’ll be right over.”

Only on our farm would mama get locked in the duck pen on the 4th of July.

Once allowed out, I got the whole coop cleaned quite nicely. The ducks were swimming in the new pond. The Ladies were happy with their fresh bedding and watermelon rinds. The nesting boxes are all cleaned and ready for fresh eggs. Baby’s still not here… So much for the “nesting” theory.

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Good but not Great Pi

Since the last Pi day (3.14) my math skills have not improved, in fact they have probably gotten a little worse. I know my fractions well enough to convert my baking recipes and I can balance the checkbook. Any more than that and I need a calculator at the very least. I still only know pi is 3.14 and a whole never ending list of numbers to follow. Not once have I ever knowingly applied the numbers in any life situation, but I don’t pass up an opportunity to make pie either!

This year I tried a new recipe. It was ok, not what I had hoped, but edible. I made a cherry almond pie with a heavier frangipane and frozen cherries in the crust from the Croatian Turnip Green Tarte. My biggest complaint is it needed more cherries and less frangipane. I really like both, but I was really hoping for a heavier cherry presence in the pie. A little more cherry “goop”. Instead it was almost a cake-like filling in a pie crust. Good, edible, but not what I had hoped.

All was not a complete disappointment with the pie though. It was the first pie I baked in the “new” wood stove. We (Mike is very excited to use the stove too) kept a steady temperature of 375 degrees. The pie baked for a little over an hour before we let the fire go out and the pie cool with the oven. It came out with a perfect golden crust, the filling was cooked through. It could not have turned out any better especially considering it was the second thing we have baked in the oven so far and the first pie.

While the pie was baking we set the percolator on the stove and made the best pot of coffee. Piping hot and delicious! I don’t know what it is but percolators but they make the best coffee and when it’s over a campfire or wood fire cook stove it has an even better flavor.

Cherry Almond Pie
Cherry Almond Pie
Hot out of the wood cook stove.
Hot out of the wood cook stove.
Too much cake not enough cherry "goop".
Too much cake not enough cherry “goop”.
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