Roasted Sea Salt Grey Ghost Squash Seeds

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Its fall and that means squash and pumpkins are coming in by the wheel barrel and bins full.. such bounty.. we had a low threatened of 4 and we did get just nipped but only in our most frost prone area so far..  still we also noted that we were dry now and had a days of rain coming.. 

So it was time to bring them in and they are scattered all over the house tucked here and there as they are drying and curing.. I grabbed a  Grey Ghost Squash, the top was cut off, the seeds pulled out, the guts to the chickens, the seeds to be washed for future use and the squash itself, had butter, maple syrup and pink sea salt cracked in it and the lid put back on with a heat hole cut into it and put into the oven to roast away till tender.  I will personally feast on a bowl of it.. and the leftovers will be used for a dish as a accent for hubby LOL

I then washed the seeds in cool water, just using my hands to get the last of the fresh off the seeds, then I put a touch of good olive oil, seasoning salt and mixed it though, then spread it out.. then cracked larger sea salt over them and roasted till golden brown and the shells have firmed up. 

Unlike different pumpkins or even some squash, my grey ghost seeds are either a very slow eat, crack, scrape out edge side, the middle is tasty and I like the flavor very much and its a nice slow snack.. or you need to eat them whole.. 

If you have any kind of bowl issues where extra fiber can give you issues please do not eat whole shell on pumpkin or squash seeds.. the fiber load on them is massive and they are going to pass right though.

 

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October Unprocessed Challenge 2021

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The “Kitchen Test” Definition

The first question I’m always asked is, “How do you define unprocessed?”
Obviously there’s a wide range of implications in that word, and we will probably each define it slightly differently for ourselves. My definition is this:

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

I call it “The Kitchen Test.” If you pick up something with a label (if it doesn’t have a label, it’s probably unprocessed), and find an ingredient you’d never use in your kitchen and couldn’t possibly make yourself from the whole form, it’s processed.

It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.

I am once again taking on the october unprocessed challenge.. its always good to find out where you have creep..  sometimes you find yourself buying something or using something that you could be making yourself. 

Examples of creep that I am aware of.. Salad dressings..  given how many salads we eat, we have taken to having a much wider then normal selection of dressing and they are all bought from the store..  its helpful and useful but at the same time, many of them could be made at home.

My biggest challenge for myself will be my sugar in my coffee..  but I have lots of honey and maple syrup in the house as well as raw brown cane sugar.. 

I am giving myself a added little push, I will do my best to make sure that as much as possable that most things come from within a 100 km of the farm..  

As always I will own up if I fail and why,  the first thing I will say is that while my food box does buy ontario/quebec when possable, canada however some of the things that come in it are from the states and even around the world.. they are however cost effective and unprocessed.. 

So the first switch of the day was my coffee.. I had to move from my favorite instant coffee to my french press with ground..  its much stronger and more bitter.. 

Anyone want to join me?

 

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Fall Round Up -Ground Cherry Mincemeat Tart Recipe

Looking for a way to use your fall apples and your amazing fall ground cherries, I have a lovely tart that can easily be scaled up to a pie if you perfer..

Just another Day on the Farm


Apple-Ground Cherry Mincemeat Recipe

  • 6 cups of peeled, cored and coarsely chopped fresh fall apples (I used Spartan)
  • 2 cups of husk removed Ground Cherries
  • 2 cups of golden raisins
  • 1/8 of a cup of finely diced dried ginger
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. of Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp of all spice
  • 2 Tbsp of water (just to start it off so it will not burn)

In a heavy bottomed steel pot, add everything together and on med heat (4) bring to boil, Cook till the apples are soft, give it a mash with your potato masher, you want bits left.. not smooth, so don’t mash too much but enough that it breaks the apples down some. At this point.. lower that heat to a barely there simmer.. Stir often..

Slow and steady will win the race.. cook it down till its thick, o the…

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Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

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O that irony of duck momma’s..  This spring we came into the year with 4 proven hens, 2 2020 hens and one big old chocolate drake.. Their job this year was to be fly eaters and garden helpers..  Now on a normal year I try for a min of one clutch per hen.. and they average at least 12 ducklings per clutch..  and I normally run 4 duck hens.. so give or take 50 babies..

I took a good hard look at my freezers, my pantry, my lambs and pork from last year and the fact that I have ordered half a beef for late fall from down the road plus the chicken I have raised this year and went..  let have a no duckling year..

Now I have done this once before.. its not hard. the hens lay eggs, we collect the eggs, they lay for a crazy long time, we get a LOT of duck eggs and at least one hen will find some spot to sit a nest and show up with a clutch.. but typically its a smaller clutch maybe 4 to 6 as she had to find a spot that was very much NOT ideally to lay and sit on..

This year has been a shake my head, so first off.. we have two to four duck eggs coming in like clockwork.. this SHOULD mean that we are getting most of the eggs.. right?? RIGHT?

So this spring one of the duck went MIA and that only means two things.. a) fox got it, as there was no blood or body, like there would be if coon or b) she snuck off and is sitting and will show back up with babies in tow.

And sure enough.. 14 babies .. hiya..  I gave them away.. its a no duckling year, I didn’t have the baby feed in, I did not want to run baby duck pens, it was NOT the plan.. so I put them up on facebook.. take them and they are yours..  they were going for 10 dollars a duckling locally is sold so as I expected, they were picked up the very same day..

and I gave the hens the talk.. look, this year just be ducks.. happy happy ducks, no momma requirement needed..  and we doubled down on not letting them out to early, collecting the eggs..

Then as I expected one of the hens had a half hatch of 6 healthy and I went ok.. whatever.. grow them out, 4 big drakes and 2 hens.. lovely birds.. then I had a slow down on eggs, but all the hens were eating and drinking and being head counted..  then one went MIA for a single day, and showed up with 14 babies (how? my best guess is that they were nest sharing) because within 72 hours the second hen showed up with another 14..  yes you read that right.. 28 ducklings..

and so we went hunting and found the next nest and dang if they were not almost ready to hatch.. the thing is that we were still collecting duck eggs, so some of the hens at least where still laying while sitting and that is just not done.. its really not.. I still do not get it..  but they are sneaky things..

13 more ducklings joined the duck flock.. 32 plus 13.. 45.. right on target for a full production year.. till yesterday.. I heard them, that high pitched, I am lost, I am lost, I am lost..  and there was my oldest biggest momma duck.. proudly, o so proudly showing her clutch of 16.. yes 16! healthy new babies..  Largest hatch we have ever had on the farm..

45 plus 16.. 61.. sigh.. lol.. Fall is the worst time to sell duckings, their worth drops 50% or more.. because it cost more to raise them in the fall then in spring an summer.. true.. but these fluffy butts are thriving and growing rapidly.

I had figured I would have all my butcher done by X.. but now I have to plan in duck butchering.. so that changes a few things..  Now to do a full hunt to try and make sure there are no more nests hidden..

How is it possable that on my NO DUCKLING year that I have more babies then the years I plan for them.. and how did they pull of the magic trick of still laying eggs?

I will not be short on duck for 2021/22 that’s for sure..  Did you have some surprise? hatchings, chicks, ducklings or ?

Posted in Life moves on daily | 15 Comments

Lamb Stew Fall Garden

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We are in zone 5 for our gardens and we are coming on the tall end of a number of things, still this fall garden based soup is lighter overall then what I think of as a cold weather winter stew.

Lamb Fall Garden Stew Recipe

  • 4 slices of Bacon or a small chunk of smoked Bacon end, chopped finely
  • 1 pound of grass fed lamb burger 
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 med onions
  • 2 med Squash (any young squash that needs to be used up, that will not mature in time)
  • 6 med to large diced tomatos
  • Salt, Pepper, Herbal Blend (no salt herbal blend)
  • 6 cups of veggie broth

In your favorite soup pot at med heat, add your chopped bacon and cook till med done and the fat has started coming out, then add your garlic, onions, cook till they are softened and brown edges and the bacon is getting more crispy, then add your lamb hamburger and chop it up and fry it all together while stirring so it cooks in small bits (not large chunks) once the meat is browned.. Add veggie stock broth, and all prepped veggies.. 

Cook approx 20 minutues till veggies are tender and serve.. 

4 Large portions of Soup 

Farmgal tip, cut down the stock to two cups and simmer it down and serve over pasta or rice..  would easily serve 6 main meals this way.. 

If at all possable use smoked bacon, it will add a depth of flavour to the dish in a very nice way!

Posted in Garden harvest, Lamb Recipes, Soups and Stews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making Salt Cured Green Olives

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You can imagine my excitement when a girifriend of mine found boxes of fresh raw green olives, yes they came from the states..  Needless to say two boxes were gotten.. one for her, one for me.. a bit of time down the google rabbit den, some reading and poking around my ferment books and a few other really old cookbooks and I have the basic’s

The first thing I did was take out what looked like a perfect smaller fresh raw olive and bit into it.. they said they would be bitter and not eatable.. but they also keep saying, start testing the olives at a certain point to find out when they are not bitter and so on..  how do you know what the starting point is if you don’t try a raw one.. 

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Whoa.. I have a pretty good bitter profile given the wild forage I eat, far more then the average person and that olive had me spitting and mouth puckering and also running split as my body went.. out, out.. get it out lol

Then it was a matter of sorting, tips off, checking for any turning color, any with clear splits or to large skin pits.. thankfully not to many had to be removed and then it was ready for its first salt soak..  3 tbsp of salt per gallon of fresh water and so each bowl was prepared, salted, water added and lids went on and into a cool dark place..  Water Change and fresh salting twice a week for 4 weeks, then moving over to once a week for 4 to 8 weeks and then the final salt cure and prep for a few different ways.. 

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Like most ferments, its takes a prep, a little bit of work and watch but mainly time 🙂 

I really look forward to reporting on this project..  making homemade olives has always been on my bucket list.. I normally much perfer black olives so it will be interesting to see if I like nibbling on big green ones, I think some can be stuffed, I will find different ways to use them I am sure.. and hope to gift some out to a few select friends for christmas gifts (fingers crossed they are ready)

Posted in Fermenting, food, Food Production and Recipes, Food Storage | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Filling the Freezers -Lamb or Hoggart 2021

I had been told that I would need to wait till next week for the lamb and Hoggart to be ready, I had no issue with this, it meant that they would hang longer and I am always ok with that.. compared to many places, we are far to fast to cut our lamb and package it and I have even been known to ask and pay extra to hang my own longer..  

Instead on thursday afternoon, I got the call, they were in fact ahead and it was ready, come friday..  Yes, sir.. I will be there.

Got the bill, price was fine but the amount, had my head doing that auto jerk and my eyes widen a touch on the sheet.. 

There in Black and White on the bill was 620.5 pounds (not including bones)..  The smallest lamb, the one born almost 4 months in difference was 28 pounds, and the rest of my lambs, ranged between 44 to 56 pounds.. (again without organs or bones)

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Milk crate after Milk crate came out for me to move over into packing my little car.. the guys as they brought more out said.. are you sure you are going to get it all in there?? and drive careful on the bumps.. 

Now I knew that I had picked a medium sheep breed in my choice of hair sheep, the average female is around 110 to 120 pounds and even my big hair ram was around 160.. I have never minded my small lambs sizes.. 

So when I added in a bigger meat breed ram, I knew it would increase lamb size, then throw in the fact that all my lambs this year were all BIG singles and I knew that I would have bigger lambs, and because I had cut down numbers the year before an with some lucky rains the pastures did not bad, plus my normal feeding out of sqaush/pumpkin/apples as my “no grain” finish..

But call me a bit dumb struck at the return differnce.. I butchered early.. normally I send my lambs end of oct/early nov, they went 4 to 6 weeks early this year and I thought that would reflect downward on the sizes.. 

I have never been so grateful to have a spare freezer to turn on.. I had space planned in a different freezer but honestly.. without that full empty being turned back on.. there was just no way I would have had enough room.. 

What I do regret is sending the ram, I know we made the choice we did, but clearly that ram nicked together with my female in a OUTSTANDING way! 

And I can’t easily get another one, the folks that sold me the ram, sold out the flock this spring, so I can’t go back for another one either very related or possable even the same breeding.. 

As for now, I will enjoy all the unexpected bonus that has filled my freezers.. and you can expect lots of new lamb or hoggart based recipes over the winter.. 

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Barn Kitten -Bells

Bells

Introducing Bells, a wee barn kitten, I was visiting a friend’s farm when I saw this scooped up wee baby getting some cuddle, this is a very good milk barn, the cats have a clean dry barn and are feed daily with 24 hours fresh water, with two of them also being the front hunters..  One of the semi-ferals must have had Bells. 

Bells is thin but once she was found, the barn/farm did start giving her extra feed, I grateful they took me up on my offer to home her.. while I know she would have had her own stall, been feed and gotten cuddles to be made friendly, there are still lots of risks at that age and its hard for a baby on its own to keep warm enough..  no kitten pile 

So I loaded her up in a box I had in my car with a shawl and home she came..  introduced her to hubby, got her combed out with the flea comb, got a bath/dry, a number of small meals into her and while she certainly does get held cuddle time, I also set up her sleep box..  

Its a insulated food box, so its water proof for easy cleaning, its heat or cold reflective so once I warm it up, it helps hold the warmth, and I got a awesome present from my friend Cate of a huge homemade bean bag and its perfect, its pretty much the average length of a momma cat, so I heat it, put it in the curve and put Bells in the middle/mock belly area.. she rests up on it with her paws and head but she has warmth all around her and as she is mobile she can adjust herself to where she wants to be.. 

This is critical to help keep Bells body temp stable, to help digest meals, which also means relaxed sleeping.. There is no extra at the moment on Bells, the fluff is hiding pretty much bone thin..  She is just a mear 1 pound 8 oz..  

I will be doing lots of little meals and I am very sure that soon enough we will get a little padding on those bones.. I will be in contact with me vet as I need to get kitten wormer,  I have the Revolution in the house but I think Bells needs to be bigger and stronger before I even want to consider it..  I do want to make sure Bells is wormed but with the gentlest and correct weight wormer. 

Otherwise, Bells looks to be very good health, Lots of barn cats have underlying cat diseases but not this barn, clean eyes, clean noses, no ulcers and so on.. Even though all my cats are altered and vaccinated, its still a very good thing to know that I do not have to worry about those possible issues

At the moment, I am comfortable that despite Bell’s young age, I think things should go well..  I will share regular updates if you all are interested?

 

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Herbed Meatballs Baked with Peaches in a Chokecherry Sauce

In my wonderful “Full Bellies” community supported food basket was 4 peaches among lots of other fruit. What to do with this lovely fruit and how to make it part of a meal with protein..

Baked Herbed Meatballs with Peaches in a Chokecherry Sauce

  • 1 pound of grass fed ground beef (would be outstanding with any dark wild game meat, deer, moose or elk)
  • 1 med or large yellow onion, peeled and sliced in thin slivers
  • 2 med or large garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 large peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tsp of herb blend like a no Salt Mrs Dash, 1/2 tsp of salt 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vineger
  • 3/4 cup of Chokecherry syrup if you can’t get chokecherry, then consider Black Current syrup or Black Current Jam as a replacement 🙂

In a bowl place your pound of minx or ground meat, your herb blend and your salt and pepper, mix it well together and make 4 to 6 meatballs depending on the size you want.. set to the side and wash up.. 

In a oven proof dish place your sliced peaches, onion, garlic, vinegar and pour in the syrup (if you are using jam, mix with the apple vineger to thin it down so it will pour more easily.. then tuck the meat balls into the dish. Bake in a 350 oven covered for 30 to 35 min, then uncover and bake another 10 to 15 min at 350 till meat is browned well on the top. 

Serve on a bed of rice is ideal, or can be served with a baked potato on the side.. or serve in a bowl with a side salad.  The blend of Peaches and Black Chokecherry is delightful and works perfectly with a herbed rich meatball.. 

This recipe makes a standard 4 servings with side dishes or 2 very large main course.. adjust as needed..

 

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Health Being proactive

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A apple a day keeps the doctor away

Such a old fashioned saying..  Its not wrong, what you eat or do not eat does point in fact effect your body.. as does the water you did, the way your move your body, how much sleep you get and so much more.

The past year was certain to be a wake up call, we are no long longer spring chickens.. we have been to the ER more in the past year, then we have been in the 20 before it..  both of us have needed time in the ER  and its been a year since Dear Hubby went by ambulance twice in less then 24 hours.  So many medical appointments new doctors so many follow ups..  

I am honestly not sure what it was like Before Covid in the medical system, but we have been actively working within, and there have been some real challenges, like always having one of us sitting (and or walking the parking lot) waiting hours and hours at hospitals because you are not allowed in..   Odd hours, so many odd hours for tests..  can you get to the hospital for a 11pm cat scan..  well yes we can.. but honestly its odd that so many different levels are running 24 hours a day trying to deal with both the current and the backlogs that seem to grow with each wave.. 

I am glad that I was able to move over from my old clinic where I had a nurse under the care of a doctor who saw to my health needs, we always had a lang barrier, and at times really struggled to be able to talk and I rarely felt like I was heard.. but given that I wanted very limited things, it did not matter to much really.. however I much perfer the fact that hubby’s doctor and clinic took me on and I do feel like we are getting much better service.  

The difference in the clinics is amazing..  the old clinic, closed their doors and phone call only but send everything out to be done, will take weeks.. New clinic, a really good mix.. In person as needed, Phone calls when reasonable to do so, plus they have a number of services available in house.. As a added bonus, we moved to the drug store right next door (as the clinics are in two different towns, old one 20 min one direction) and new one 20 the other way from the farm..  and they have a great working relationship. 

Add in the fact that they are breaking ground on a small hospital in that town which will work with a larger hospital up the road by about a hour from the farm but the new clinic doctors will have full rights at it so in the longer term this was a really good move as we age 

Still there are so many peaple that have moved in the past 18 months and are struggling to find a family doctor, there are many that suddenly had freedom to move rural, heck to move provinces.. took advantage of the high housing prices in the cities to cash out and buy in the east coast..  look at our own local area, they say that the base cost of our little farm has doubled in value..  crazy.. but for some, the perfect time to sell and move further out.. without thinking about medical care. 

Even for those living right in the city’s close to it all.. that does not mean you are going to get good care at that moment. Our Health Care system is excellent for Life and Limb Care.. have a heart attack and you are going to get care now..  its excellent for routine already there care..  getting my inhalers, hubby getting his meds, working with our dental clinic, our eye clinic, my physio, and now foot clinic for hubby..    

The inbetween.. not so great.. those waiting lists are crazy, 12 to 30 months on a waiting list.. Ideally will get back to you in 6 months but it will most likely take a year plus..

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But despite what everyone things in regards to canada, all our health care is not free.. 

Ideally you are smart enough and able to have Health Insurance.. because its very much needed!

Insurance helps pay 80 percent of the Dental,(with limits on what) 80 percent of eye care but limited on how often, if you need it more, then you pay out of pocket, my physio is out of pocket because I am picky on who I work with, if I was willing to drive 45 and work with the person they wanted who REALLY made it clear that If I just lost 100 pounds, I would be fine..

so I pay out of pocket to work with a clinic at the nearest town where I get treated with respect but pushed just a little as well..  The foot clinic is out of pocket as well.. at least until we need home care.. ha.. as if you can get home care..  We are to get homecare for one thing, but due to the shortage of nurses, its not what the Doctor asked for.. both the timing, no in home travel, we need to drive to them, and we are not getting the care required.. 

So that means we are buying all the gear needed and that we are using it ourselves, which is fine but its again all out of pocket.. what the heck do peaple without extra income do??  I swear its not just food banks that is needed, so its medical needs..  I finally get it when peaple talk about making a choice between rent and medications..  

One of hubbies meds is close to a thousand per renewal, its 80 percent covered.. and believe me, I am glad of it.. but that is just one.. and he is on a number of things.. if everything had to paid out of pocket it would be higher then what our monthly house payment was (which thankfully we no longer have, never been grateful ever to the farm paid off, well other then taxes.. they just keep on coming.. )

I expect that for some, they feel the warmth of the fire, others are getting closer and closer to the flames and sadly, I expect there are more and more that are getting burned.. 

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So what do we do about it..  Eat well, sleep well, be more careful and thoughtful on foot wear, socks, keeping up on dental, keeping on eye care, stretching, walking, weights.. taking more care on farm work choices.. no more.. I can do it.. NO.. stop.. think it though.. ask for help.. work it different..  yes it can take longer but adding in extra few minutues, or waiting a hour or even a day in most cases (not all) can be done.. is its a pain.. of course it is! 

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However if there is ever a time to stay out of the need for medical care for taking a risk, now is the time.. Stay safe out there.. do the little things, they add up.. stay the course and watch your mental health.. plant the flowers, pet the cat, walk the dog, watch the sunrise and the sunset, step out of the big picture often, and just as old fashioned.. live in the moment..  there are times we need to look lessons learned and times we need to plan with forward vision.. but please remember.. the here and now is a fleeting magical moment.. enjoy it.

 

 

 

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