Thursday, March 31, 2011

My first batch of Mango Chutney, make from a recipe shared from Kristin, the instructor of the cheese-making class Aylia and I took.   I will reprint it here if anyone is interested.

Mango Chutney adapted from Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard

Makes 5 cups

3                 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

2                 large mangos, peeled, and chopped.

1/2              red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (or any sweet pepper)

1-1/2 C       sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)

1 C             finely chopped onion

1/2 C          golden raisins (I used craisins, as I had no raisins haha)

1/2 C          apple cider vinegar

1/4 C          course grated ginger root

1 TBSP      fresh lemon juice

2 tsp            curry powder

1/2 tsp         each:  nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt

1.  Combine first eight ingredients.  Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer gently until fruit is tender and mixture is thick, about 20 minutes.  Add lemon juice, curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.  Simmer gently 5 minutes or so  Taste and adjust seasonings.......

2.  Remove hot jars from canner and ladle hot chutney into hot jars within 1/2 inch of rim.  Process 10 minutes for 1/2 pint and 15 minutes for pint jars.  Please refer to a canning manual if not sure.

Let me know if anyone makes this and changes anything that you like better.  I can't wait to use this with my next batch of paneer cheese I make!!!

On to other news, Rob finished the front deck benching/railing.  It looks fabulous!!!

So now we won't need to bring more chairs, as there will be plenty of seating!  On the right side of the deck in this photo, we will be moving the chiminea to the center so the bench/rail is on the one side and the chairs can be placed around the other side, again, so we can use the new seating and not have to bring more chairs.  The really nice thing is that the new bench/rail does not block the view at all from the front and office windows, so kudos to Rob, the handyman hubby!

On another note, we have scheduled R1 and R2 to be dehorned tomorrow, as they will be 10 days old tomorrow.  I figure we will have someone do this the first time and see how it is done and then perhaps we can do the rest.  Will have to see what all it entails and decide.

Your kid fix for the day.  More to follow.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Busy planting

Have been busy separating and repotting the tomato plants and pepper plants.  Gave some to Aylia today, as she had given me some different tomato seeds than I had, so we swapped.  Still need to plant beets, mangels, and sunflower seeds.

The new kids, R1 and R2, are doing super.  They are so funny, trying to jump and kick up their legs.  Too cute.

Phoebe and Monica have still not delivered yet.  Again, should be anytime now.

Pig is putting on the pounds and growing.  He has passed Marty the Pig in height and probably weight now.  They still get along great and Pig definitely defers to Marty, who is the head pig in his eyes.  hahahaha

Robert has been redoing the front deck, as the insurance company came out and took pictures, just to update their files.  We had taken off most of the railing around the deck, because it blocked our view at the height it was and also was not really needed, according to the building codes.  However, we got a letter back from the insurance company telling us that we needed to put back up the railing or basically they would not continue to insure us.  So Rob has been busy working on that, and pictures will follow.  It looks great, I think.

The sun has been so great instead of the rain.  It's actually 51 right now on Saturday afternoon/evening and very pleasant.

Rob made the mistake of leaving Pig in the garden too long the other day while feeding him and Pig tried to help by tilling up some of the new plants we had planted.  That didn't work out so well.  hahahaha  Sooooo, I have restarted them, they were lettuces, spinach, leeks and chard, I did manage to save some, but have restarted more in the house and they have already sprouted again.  YAY!

Remember Earth Hour is tonight at 8:30 pm Pacific Time.  Lights out for an hour or more.  Got all my hurricane lights ready to go.  Gonna catch up on some reading.

Kara's softball team won their first game Friday evening!  Yay!  She has been playing very well and hitting well also.  She made a double play out during the game Friday, catching the ball and then throwing the other runner out.  Way to go Kara!

Liam's first baseball game isn't until 04/07, so he is still just practicing for now.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

News Flash

So we had a wonderful weekend weather wise, which ended with spending the afternoon Sunday with family for Rob's birthday!!  Nice way to end the weekend for sure.

On to new news.  The tom turkeys have been sparring to establish dominance and, well, we have a winner.  This would be the loser below, which is now in the roaster oven cooking.  The toms were really going at it yesterday, and this guy just got so beaten up.  The first picture is him still alive hanging upside down before the whole process.  He had so many cut marks and open sores on his head at this point from the other tom fighting with him.
We weighed him before we started, because I wanted to see what the difference was before and after.  He weighed 20 pounds before we started.

He weighed 14 pounds after being finished.  The scale says 13.6 on this measurement because his neck is leaning on the deck, but when the whole thing was on the scale it was 14 pounds even.  So there was 6 pounds of inners, feet, head and feathers.  Very interesting.  FYI, the trachea looked link those bendable straws, clear/white with ridges.  Very interesting.
As I said above, he is in the roaster now cooking and will let you know how he came out.  The turkeys are a little quieter now, as there is only 1 tom and 2 hens, so a little less gobbling.

Wait for it, drumroll please.............
New kid goats!!!!!  We got home last night after Liam's last hockey practice and Rob said he felt like he needed to check on the animals.  All was fine and we went to bed.  I got up this morning to work at 4:50 a.m. and went outside to grab some firewood as the house was cold, and heard a very high pitched bleat.  I was like OMG babies!!!  I ran back in the house and got Rob up and grabbed a flashlight (without waiting for Rob) and went out to the goat house.  For sure, Rachel had her kids!!!  They were both doing fine, still had mucous on them, which we wiped off with towels.  Rob tied off their umbilical cords with dental floss so they were less than 2 inches long and cut the rest off.  They are both males (I had to check, yep little ball sacs on both,  hahahaha).  Both of their ears are straight, yay!, no flipped up on the ends like Phoebe's and Monica's.  Rachel's ears are both straight, so perhaps that is why these were.
The kid on the left is a little bigger than the one on the right.  The one on the left is about 7 pounds and the kid on the right is about 6.  I love their brown faces.  :)  They nursed and are doing great, as is Rachel.
So adorable.  I think we are going to just go with R-1 and R-2 for names to keep them straight and then Phoebe's will be P-1 and P-2, and so forth for Monica.  I believe we will mark the inside of their ear with a permanent marker for now.  The plan is to sell them all.

In the next two days, we will need to cauterize their horns so they won't grow.  We will need to buy/borrow a hot iron to do this.  I believe we will castrate both boys, but need to check in the book we have as to when this needs to be done time wise.

Busy, busy morning!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


So I am driving home from taking the kids to school this morning, and I get this picture from Rob on my phone with the caption "What's this?"
My reply was "OMG! haha.  Our first egg.  I am so proud!!"  Rob replied "Me too.  It's about time."

Too funny how excited we are that the chickens have started laying.  Hopefully, there will be plenty of eggs in the next few days and weeks, so I don't have to purchase any anymore.  Ironically, I had just purchased 2 dozen last night.  Oh well, I am sure they will be put to good use.  Dumbledore has his full crow on in the morning now.  Not too obnoxious though the tractor is right outside our bedroom window at this point, so should be a little less loud as we move it across the lawn.

All the sweet corn, popcorn and blue hopi flour corn have come up along with all the beans, peas, edamame, sugar pumpkins and more broccoli.  Have not planted the tomatoes or the peppers yet.  We will be making a trellis to put next to the house to attach the tomato plants to as they grown and that way I can put a floating row cover over them also and attach it to the trellis to keep them warmer, until it stops raining and actually gets warmer.

I am sooooooooo tired of the rain.  We have a very soggy back yard, more soggy than I remember in years past, so need to think of how to fix this for next year.  I really want to use some rain barrels to catch rainwater to use during the summer (and winter, as they can be placed so I don't have to haul water for the animals) to water the garden and water for the animals.  I was thinking of perhaps doing a pond on the west side of the property to catch rainwater and then use a gravity system to get it down here, but Rob's not too sure of the pond.  So I had another thought.  How about a line of rain barrels along the property line on the west side (which is the highest end) instead of a pond?  Might not look as nice, but hmmm a thought.

Pig is growing nicely and Marty is as hysterical as ever.  The girls, Phoebe, Monica and Rachel have not kidded yet, but it can't be too far off.  Their udders have gotten much larger and they are kind of waddling now.  Perhaps a week or two, or maybe sooner or maybe longer.  The next time we breed them, we will definitely keep better track of the dates so we have a closer approximation of the due dates, because this is crazy not knowing for sure.  We will only put one of the girls in with Gus at a time and monitor the "progress".

We did get lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, leeks, onions, and herbs transplanted in the garden.  They seem to be doing well, but again, I want to put some floating row covers on to keep the warmth in a little bit for them.  Next week, will have to transplant the beans and such listed above as they are growing too fast to keep in the starter containers for long.

Many thanks to Aylia and Kasara for the plastic jugs to use as cloches.  They worked out well and with Aylia at the coffee stand, I have plenty for a while.  :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Butter!

My first batch of cultured butter and the remaining buttermilk, which will be used in the next loaf of bread!!!
I did use the food processor to complete the butter making cycle, tried shaking and got it about halfway there and then was too tired.  haha!  Rob immediately toasted 2 pieces of bread and had some. It is very yummy tasting!!!  I did not add any salt, though, may have to try that next time.  We had nachos for dinner tonight and I used the mozzarella cheese Aylia and I had made on them.  Yay!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Who needs an edger?

This fine, precise edging job was done by none other than the very inexpensive, totally automated, Pig-edger.  He has edged most of the front planter and has done a super job.  I haven't even had to tell him where to edge next.  He just seems to know.  :)  hahahahahahaha

Cheese Making Day!!

Aylia and I had the best time at the cheese making class we took at North Seattle Community College on Saturday.  We made mozzarella cheese, which takes a lot of kneading of the cheese to get it soft and pliable, kind of like making taffy.  Here is Aylia with the piece of mozzarella cheese she was kneading.
We came home with recipes to make piima, a Scandinavian culture like buttermilk/kefir, mozzarella, paneer, which is very yummy and can be used in place of tofu, chevre, which we will be able to make if we want to use the goat's milk after they kid, and butter can be made from the piima, which we made at class and it was very yummy!!

This is the pot of paneer after you add the lemon juice to it.  It then gets strained with buttercloth (like cheesecloth, but better quality) and then you wrap it in the buttercloth and press it (in class we used a metal pan filled with water as the press on top of the wrapped paneer).

We also got to sample some gouda the instructor had made (that would be covered in the next class, that I believe Aylia, my mom and I will be taking in May), and it was very yummy also.  The instructor had made a "mistake" with a batch of paneer and it turned out like cheesecake consistency, so she topped it with blackberry and rose jam, and it was fabulous.  (The instructor said there are no mistakes in cheesemaking, just different variables, which makes for different consistencies!  haha)

Anyway, it was a very fun day and ended with Liam winning their game against Tri-Cities 8 to 3 and he had a hat trick (3 goals) and 1 assist.  YAY!!

When we got home, I put my 2 samples of piima in the fridge.  I will be making one with whole milk and one I want to make with heavy cream, cuz then I can make butter!

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Here is the turkey tractor below.  It comes apart into 2 pieces, which we can move separately and then put back together.  The red house has 2 nests in it for the hens, which will hopefully be put to good use soon.  We will be moving this every couple of days to new grass for them, just like the chicken tractor gets moved.

Below is Marty and Pig grazing in the front yard.  Rob let them all out yesterday and they went to town on the longer grass and weeds.  Yay!  That is Gus in the background on the left.  Pig is growing and is becoming a little less skittish.  He actually let me give him a scratch while he was eating yesterday.
I got the rest of our seeds started.  All but some pepper plants have sprouted, and I will be planting the cold tolerant sprouts this weekend in the garden.  Am going to try to use old milk jugs with the bottoms cut off for cloches to keep the new sprouts safe and warmer until they grow a little bit more.  Aylia and Kasara are saving milk jugs also, so we should have plenty, as Aylia says the coffee stand goes through 10 gallons a day.  I guess my Mini will be full of milk jugs this weekend when I go to collect them!  haha

Am working on the planter in front of our window and taking out the roses.  These will be replaced with 6 different types of blueberries with early season, mid season and late season, so we should end up with blueberries all through the growing season.

Kara has started up with fastpitch and is on the SHS JV team this year.  Not sure which position she will be playing, she wants to do first base or third base.  Liam has his hockey state playoffs in 2 weeks and baseball has started for him also.

Am trying to decide where to plant the corn and beans, because they are companion plants and need full sun, so probably some other place than the garden, as I don't think there is room in the garden.  When I decide that, pictures will follow.

The raspberries, strawberries and the peach tree all made it through the cold snap we had with snow and all, thank goodness!  Will be purchasing some floating row covers for the plants, also, as a deterrent for birds and slugs.

Have a good one!