Lambs are off to the Butcher!

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This was truly a Ram lamb year! Out of all our lambs this year, all of them were born rams but the very last lamb, which was born late which was a little ewe.. she is super tiny compared to the much bigger rams, but I have a regular buyer that also is looking for my smallest lamb and she will meet his needs and freezer space perfectly.

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This first born ram lamb is now MASSIVE and I expect he will come back as the largest of all the lambs. If I had wanted to hold back a new home raised ram, I would have been looking at this boy big time..  but nope.. all the lambs went this year.. 

As did some of the older ewes as well..  We shook the grain bucket and the flock followed us out of the pastures up to the front pen, we took two panels, pushed them into a much smaller space in the pen, and the required tags went into ears (after I had a crazy panic when the tags I was SURE I had order were not in the sheep box..) turns out that they were still in the cupboard where they came in the mail.. 

Then they had a nice rest overnight on lots of fresh bedding, some good hay and fresh water till the hauler arrived..  it went smooth.. door openned, grain shook, the sheep call and in they went.. off for their one bad day as they say.. 

Leaving me with just 5 ewes on the farm, all hair sheep.. no woolies left here..  I had to book these spots a full year in advance to get them in..  hopefully some of them are still open, I know Grandma should be as we pulled her two months ago out of the flock to prevent her being bred.. but the others might be.. we will see, we will see.. 

I look forward to coming into winter with a much reduced hay requirement, and will look forward to being able to help filled my farm gate lamb buyers freezers.. 

The Hauler was talking about the issues everyone is having trying to get in at the butchers..  I believe it.. I believe it!

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Spicy Carrot Salsa Recipe

Happy Thursday,

Looking for a interesting way to use up some of your fall goodies, both extra tomato’s and some freshly dug carrots? Got short stumpy carrots or got Ugly carrots, this is a great way to use them up and put them up for winter use.

Its a bright cheerful side and its waterbath approved for all you folks that do not have pressure canners.

Just another Day on the Farm

. This is a different Salsa but o its good.. hubby says he thinks its more like carrot BBQ sauce, I think its great as a wonderful add in to meats to make sandwhich’s and or as dip for veggies or to make a amazing salad dressing when mix’s with a little yogurt or for those that are willing to do so, a little sour cream or mayo. It is also awesome on a cracker with cheese.  As you can see its just a beautiful color.

  • 6 cups of chopped cored peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups coursely chopped peeled carrots
  • 3 tbsp of fresh ginger-peeled and coursely chopped in with the carrots in the food processer.
  • 1 cup of cider vineger, 1/2 cup of white wine vineger
  • 1 an 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1 tbsp of chili flakes
  • 1 an 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2…

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Chicken Broccoli Soup Recipe

Chickenbrocollisoup

Chicken broccoli Soup Recipe

  • 1 Cup leftover chopped Chicken Breast or any other Leftover chicken from a whole chicken pulled and chopped. You can add more chicken if you want.
  • 2 finely diced cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp of peeled freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 tbsp oil of your choice (can use chicken fat)
  • 6 cups of broth.. chicken or veggie broth please
  • 3 cups of finely chopped Broccoli flowers and peeled stems
  • 1 Large Peeled Potato, diced small (or perfect time to grab a pint jar of pressure canned potato cubes) or you can do two mid-size carrots peeled and diced. 
  • Salt, Pepper, Herb Blend (think Mrs. Dash No salt herb blended) to taste.

Instructions..  

In your good soup pot, add the oil at med heat, then add Garlic, Onion and Ginger root, cook till onion is softened and garlic has a bit of brown edges, then add in your Broth and Raw Potato and simmer about 15 min till potato’s are tender, then add in your Broccoli and cook another 6 to 8 min till it all comes together..  (if you are using canned potato, add the same time as the Broccoli as you will just be heating it up).

This is a clear broth based soup and its important that you add the ginger if at all possable, if you do not have fresh ginger, use 1/2 tsp of ginger powder.  Its more of a veggie broth taste with the Boccoli coming though at the top note, with a  full flavoured broth, with the protein hit form the chicken but the extra carb from the root veggie. 

Makes 4 Dinner bowl servings. 

 

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Seedless Concord Grape Pie

Do you like Welsh Grape juice or jelly? Do you love that amazing burst of deep grape flavour.. then let me introduce you to Concord Grape Pie. 

I have read about it in some of my older cookbooks and a number of church cookbooks from ontario all have Concord Grape Pie.. I have to admit that I read it and went hmm..  the process seemed a little time consuming.. and it is a touch but ITS SO WORTH IT.. 

You see its a seedless pie. I mean if you have ever eaten a concord grape, that big green pulpy grape inside is loaded with seeds.. and most folks do not like that much seed in their pie.  I do not mind some seeds depending on the fruit but I can see why this extra step helps make this pie a touch magic.. 

And is it magic, I kept taking a bite trying to figure out how to explain it to you.. its rich, its full bodied, its so grape and yet, its balanced.. Its a delight!

 

You take the skins off the grapes and set them to the side..  then you take the skinless grapes and you can give them a mash and then though a mill, I was doing such a small amount (I made a 4 inch pie) I just did it in my little screen.. but if I was doing larger amounts I would use the berry screen in the food mill.  It would give you the juice, the pulp but spit the seeds out the end..   

The seeds do cling to the flesh so you must give it a mash to help break it up so you can get all the flesh as possable to add back with the juice to the skins.

I made a butter pie crust and I adjusted based on the size of my pie (4 inch)..  using Tapioca flour to thicken the filling with a touch of salt, sugar, it took 35 min to bake to a golden brown at 350 degrees. 

While this is my first Concord Grape Pie, its not my first Grape Pie, I have made Green or Red Grape Pie for over 20 plus years..   The Concord Seedless Pie filling comes out different due to the skinning/deseeding process, it is also a intense pie in regard to flavor. 

My regular Grape pies are lovely and everyone who has them is always surprised they are grape pie but they bake down like most fruit pies and they a lovely spiced fruit filling, where the Concord Grape Pie is a burst of flavors in each bite.. 

I highly recommend adding this lovely pie to be made while the fresh concord grapes are available.

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Heliopsis – Bleeding Hearts

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What a plant, the flowers start out almost a deep red, shifting to golden hues that magically end up bronze.   This is a big plant.. It needs space and sun! 

It can be done in a mixed bed as the back border edge but for shear statement, a drift of these will stop peaple in their tracks from a distance.. 

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However its what is happening up close that has me writing about them today.. 

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From the moment the first flower buds start opening in july the native bees are flocking, little itty bitty bees to big fat bumbles..  I have counted 9 different type an sizes at the same time..  

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The blooms just keep coming till frost in Oct for this Hardy Zone 3 plant..  While my own garden this year has been a haven for so many native bees.. If you sit, you hear them, if you watch, they are everywhere..   Its been such a good bee year, that one of the natives went super queen and did a whole in ground nest of little queens, which lead to me being stung a number of times rapidly in a short time frame till I figured out where their nest was to avoid it..  

I keep reading on my garden groups, where are the bees? Peaple having to take out brushes and hand pollinate, moving flower to flower and so many photos of incomplete pollination on a number of things..   

Be in the town, Be in the City or be in the country.. no one could look at this plant and think anything but Ah, how pretty..  those walking by do not need to know that you put one or two of these in the edges to draw and feed the bees so they will also pollinate in your food producing garden. 

While I have a crazy amount of asters and golden rod to keep my hundreds (thousands) of native bees busy, most folks do not have the room needed to have it that wild in large spaces.. this plant is a excellent choice for a bee draw and feeder for the fall months.

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But don’t think these guys are done.. nope.. nope..  the seeds.. so many seeds! That small dessert plate is only holding 5 flower heads worth of collected seeds as I want to start more plants for next year.. (splitting the plants is ideal but I am cheap and want more more rapidly)

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Each dried flower head is a nice tight ball, filled with 20 to 40 plus seeds easily and they are a favorite food for these beauties! The Goldfinches have lots of different native feeder plants in our food forests but its always nice to add another one..  

Given each mature plant is covered in masses of flowers, that is a lot of really good winter seed feed for the little birds, while I always have feed out for them, I know that for their health, the more native plants that feed them, the healthier they will be!

Farmgal Tip : I do not want to many to be taken out, or grow more plants 🙂 but these are also excellent cutting flowers for the vase..  they hold up really well and add just the most beautiful textures and colors.. 

 

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Sunset River Dog Photography

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We are lucky enough to have a number of creeks but also the South Nation river just down the way from the farm, we can access it with some difficulty (due to the crazy steep bank down directly behind the farm and across the farmers field. 

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Having said that there are a number of places within a very short drive from the farm that have easier river access and this one is even drive in boat drop off point for heading up the river for fishing and such..    In the evening, the sunsets and casts its long points of fab color over the river, we have had cool enough nights that bugs are not near as bad.. if you do not bring the dogs and are quite, this is a good fishing spot and you can often see and hear them jumping!

The only thing jumping on this trip was Uther, when he came to the farm on his very first day, he walked himself into the pond and got out on his own but became a touch leary of the water..  Let me tell ya, we have spent ages trying to make him “like” deeper water and to learn to swim willingly..   Its taken us a year and half to get a water loving lab to the point that he SWIM’s! Whoot!

We are working on switching him from stick to dummy and from Dummy to waterfowl dummy.. its coming..  We have been Ultra careful with him and rules around the livestock, since the newborn duckling issue..  and he has been so SO good.. then last week he snagged a 9 week or so duckling.. but he didn’t bite down, when he spit it out, it was shocked and bit wobbly but he gave it to Hubby without a mark on it.. drool yes.. and he is getting better and better at the “soft” carry.. I must DNA him at some point to find out what the little bit of Extra is in the mix.. 

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It was a joy to see him working with Hubby, his return was excellent and we did some find it work, some directional training work and he never came back empty even if he did have to swim around and then listen and look when we gave him help..  Go Left buddy! Ok, swimming left.. Found it! Happy boy.. 

His coat feels so much better after a good hard swim soak and he has that otter tail down pat for help on steering, he is built like a tank let me tell you.. he is one power house of a dog. 

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Planting Fall Hard Neck Garlic 2021

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I did hold back my best Music Garlic that we grew this year and I look forward to growing it again next year.  Having said that, we have decided to expand our garlic selection.  We choose to buy from a grower in the ottawa valley for a few reasons..  Wide selection to pick from, organic and they are around 3 hours further north then use and whole two garden zones harder.. they are zone 3 and we are 5a. If it can grow really well in zone 3, it should do excellent in zone 5. 

We choose 4 kinds to add to the garden plans of 2022

“Fish Lake 3 (Very strong)
Hardneck Garlic, Porcelain
The premier and best known variety from the legendary garlic breeder Ted Maczka. One of our earlier varieties, this variety is stronger and larger than most porcelains. The white bulbs have 5 to 6 cloves and the clove wrappers are purplish pink.”

Ivan (Strong)
Hardneck Garlic, Porcelain
Don’t believe all the tall tales you hear about this one. This variety was cultivated in BC for years by a fellow named Ivan. One year he sold some of his surplus and the “Ivan” variety was born. When asked what it was called before it became famous, Ivan said “We called it garlic” So anyone who tells you it came from Mennonites or the old country is feeding you a story, lol. Its a lovely medium hot porcelain with 4-6 large cloves that stores extremely well.

Northumberland (Strongest variety we grow)
Hardneck Garlic, Porcelain
We’ve never seen garlic this size before. We almost mistook it as elephant garlic. It is the hottest variety that we grow. It has 4 large easy to peel cloves. This is the real McCoy folks.

Purple Stripe (Medium Strong)
Hardneck Garlic, Purple Stripe
In the absence of a compelling back story we call this workhorse variety “Purple”. Its medium hot, has good size bulbs, 8-9 cloves per bulb and stores well into the winter. One of our more vigourous varieties, it grows faster and multiplies faster than any other variety we grow. Good when you don’t want or need huge cloves.

I am excited to be growing a very early harvest one, two more really good keepers for winter and one that is to be a crazy fast and multi clove which seems just perfect for me for use in jars when you want to pickle with nice smaller garlic cloves.  

When you look at the photo I used, I would like to say that I did go a tiny bit cheap on my choice of the garlic, I bought large bulbs, which I was VERY happy with but I would like to point out to be fair to the seller, that he also sells extra large, jumbo and colossal. 

I am very sure that getting those massive bulbs would go a long way to giving you a jump start on the bulb size, I am very comfortable getting the large, growing them out and selecting seed garlic from them next year to size things up. 

I will note that they came with a very detailed sheet on recommends for feeding the soil, (which I have covered) but I was surprised that they recommended a full extra 2 inches of straw cover crop thicker then I have been using. I thought my 4 inches was good but ok, I will move it to 6 inches of coverage, I can do that.. 

We still have another two weeks give or take of harvest in Hill Garden before those plants will be taken out and the ground cleaned, prepped with compost and the garlic will be planted in rows, Each kind will get its own row, other then My Music which is going in a totally different part of the kitchen garden.

Typically we want to get our hard neck garlics in the ground by the end of sept, I expect that some folks are already planting in the colder zones here in canada and others are not even thinking about planting till oct in warmer zones.. 

Wishing you a good fall planting garlic planting season.

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Friday Ramble-Prepping for Another Lock Down

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While it seems like everyone around me is thrilled at all the things opening up, their children heading back to school, sports are a go, concerts and professional sport events where 10, 000 of thousands gather..  

As summer came into being, the lull came and I enjoyed outside visiting with friends, and one or two very select friends where we did some limited indoor visiting as well. As the summer went by, locally our numbers were so low that it was very much put on the back burner and when friends asked me what I thought, I was like.. enjoy the summer and we will see in the fall.. 

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Fall came early.. and really nothing much is changing for us, hubby was sent home and is working full time from home for the past 18 months and counting with no signs at all that he will be asked to go back to the office this year and maybe not next year and maybe not ever who knows at this point.. 

We continue to stream line the farm..  I am making the heavy choice to stop producing farm gate lamb, and we are cutting our flock down to personal use only.. keeping back a tiny little flock of 4 to meet our own milk, meat, wool and sheep compost needs..  The rest being sent out to the butcher mid sept.. 

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It will be a very small lambing season for us in 2022 that is for sure.. We have not had only 3 ewes since the first year we moved to the farm.. but it is the right choice..  in a way, “they won” the cost of the feed, the cost of the wormer,  Cost of tags, the cost of the hauler, the cost of the butcher, the cost of hay and 3 out of 5 drought years which has truly done a massive number on my pastures that need to all be sectioned off and redone over the next couple years..   Spring seed sowing will just not get the job done.. 

We have already downsized the small stock, bringing us down to just our turkey, chicken and duck flocks, plus one group of meat birds per year for freezer camp. 

The new barn we are getting is perfectly suited to the two horses, plus small number of sheep, where as the small stock will continue to use the croft barn.  If need be, I do have room to raise one beef calf, at this time, we have moved over to buying a full beef from down the road..  Its just so nice to do so.. but I am fully prepared to once again move back to raising our own beef calf every two years if we need to do so.. 

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We will continue to buy a weaner piglet and raise our own pork for the freezer, we didn’t this year and the chickens and ducks thank us very much, and really they are rocking it on the clean up, extra milk, just let it clabber and serve, extra produce bits and bobs, chickens, even butcher bits, throw it to the chickens who will take it down to the cleaned up bones. 

I have always been able to massively overproduce protein on the farm, eggs, milk, meat and so on..  I am working to find more balance, turns out I need a lot less livestock to just supply ourselves and our 0 mile closed loop..  Its kind of shocking really as I am so used to have so many more heritage breeding programs on the go. 

I am moving over from “Animal Heritage” breeding to even more Heritage Plant Breeding and Seed Saving..  Its different but just as important work..  I have always enjoyed my plant breeding and seed saving.. it will be a pleasure to give back to the community in this way, I continue to grow seed for a Heritage seed house that goes to them for resale on their site.. It is exciting to know that what grew on my land one year can be grown in hundreds of garden in the coming year..  

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We are ordering in locally produced ton of wheat, barley and oats plus our hay and straw and 480 pounds of BOSS sunflower seeds orders are all in place and looking good this year. 

That includes all the garden straw, I normally get 3600 pounds for the gardens but I am moving it up to 7200 pounds for 2022 as we are greatly expanding the food forests and somewhat on the gardens.. 

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So we are heading into fall in the best shape possible to enjoy our farm, our horses, hounds, purr-pots, the beloved fish and of course with even more bird feeders and a ever ready Camera .. its a little foggy on how the fall will go.. but I fully expect a winter lockdown.. its coming.. its so coming..   

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Turkey Vulture “the clean up crew”

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We were heading to one of our local fishing spots just down the way when we came around a curve and up flew this Turkey Vulture and I saw that it was feeding on a raccoon as our car went by, it flew back down..  Its not often you get to maybe get a photo or two of them actively feeding.. 

Adult turkey vultures are very large birds with long, broad wings, mostly dark brown feathers and sharply hooked white bills. They are named for their distinct red, bald heads, which look similar to that of a North American wild turkey.

Their bare head lets the birds stay germ-free when they are eating a carcass; otherwise their feathers would get dirty.

While they often feed near humans, turkey vultures prefer to roost and nest far from people in high secluded spots.”

I asked hubby to pull a 360 turn around and head back the other way to get to the curve in the road and park, this was really! pushing the very edge of the distance my good camera can do..  

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The bird settled and even feed but sadly the movement ones were all blur.. still it was amazing to get what I did, then with a push of wind, the rain just appeared from now where it seemed and it just sheeted down and the bird flew up and into the woods across the road for shelter.. 

We continued on to the river and just as sudden as the rain appear, it was gone..  

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King of the North Pepper Report

This big guy is the most picture perfect green (stage) King of the North Pepper, It was selected as our main seed saver for 2021. I might yet save from one more yet, I have my eye a different pepper plant and a huge delightful pepper. 

I started the King of the North Peppers in march of 2021 and they were moved outside and have been producing since mid july and still going strong coming into the fall season. I got the seed from West Coast Seeds and I have been very pleased with it. 

King of the North heirloom Pepper was featured on the cover of a 1934 Harris’ Seeds Catalog out of Coldwater, New York.

“Outstanding 1934 Introduction. Extremely Large, Early and Very Prolific. We put it mildly when we say that those who tested this new pepper last year were extremely pleased with it. The immense size, earliness and heavy yield make King of the North a variety that will give enormous yields of fine fruit even here in the North. The plants are medium size, branching and literally covered with fruit. The flesh is thick, mild and sweet.”

For me this is a short stocky plant, I grew it in a standard tomato cage for support but I expect you could just drive down a stick and tie it up and it would be just fine..  Full Sun but when possable< I put a little climber plant behind it for wind direction protection..  I find all peppers to be somewhat heavy feeders personally, and I recommend a solid 3 inches of well done compost in the soil and nettle tea extra feedings at least 2 or 3 times, you will really notice a leaf color change when it gets nettle tea.. and I personally find that the peppers are “just a touch sweeter”, I will even cut and drop young nettle leaves/tops around the base of my pepper plants. 

I have found the West Coast Seeds to be outstandingly easy to start for peppers, they do well in baggy method or heat mat or on the top of the fridge (warm spot in the house) but DO not start them to early, they are fast growers and they must! be kept short, if they get leggy, just bin them and start again and start them later next time..  pinch them back if you need to.. 

Once they are in the garden, they are a lovely surprise because while they will produce fast and can take the cooler temps, they can and will produce in warm temps.. mine loved my massive heat units this summer. 

If you live in a shorter season, if you live with cooler weather, if you like a blocky type pepper, a ideal stuffer, if you are always sad that your home grown pepper are thinner walled and much stronger in taste, I highely recommend the King of the North, its got a lovely sweetness and it for sure one of the thickest walled pepper I have had the pleasure of growing. 

I am happy to have put up at least a 3 year supply of home grown seed stock into my seed box. I look forward to growing it again in 2022

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