Saturday, February 8, 2014

Critter Watching

I grew up on a farm and we always had animals of some kind.  My father raised beef cattle, hogs, and rabbits when I was very young.  We always had cats and at least one or two dogs.  As I grew older, we no longer had hogs or rabbits, but we acquired chickens, geese, turkeys, horses, and mules and still had the cattle.  So there was ample opportunity for watching a variety of animals. 

For entertainment, we'd take walks in the woods and sometimes would come across wildlife, whether it was squirrels, a snake, a bird, a box turtle, or an insect.  And we listened for the different bird songs or insects noises.  During one of these walks we came upon a king snake eating something...I don't remember if it was a mouse or frog.  Poor snake couldn't move.  I've never again come across a snake eating its lunch.   I still like walking in our woods or at any of our local parks because you never know what you might find....and the fresh air is great, too.

Sometimes, on Sunday afternoons Daddy would take us for drive.  Occasionally, Grandma and Grandpa, who lived on the next farm down the road, would ride along with us.  It was fun to see turkey, geese, or deer out and about.

Which brings me to the present.  Now I'm an adult and though I did live in the city limits for a period of time, my family and I live in the country on our few acres and have for many years now.  We have goats, chickens, cats, a dog, rabbits, and guineas.  It is so entertaining to watch the animals!  They all have their own personalities.....just like people.  The goats love attention and follow us everywhere when we are in the barn, field or woods with them, especially the baby goats.  They jump around, running here and there and back again.  There's the boss goat who doesn't like any of the other goats, but is so sweet to us humans.  Even our buck wants to be hugged on.  All of the goats love their cheeks rubbed and they love to eat sunflower seeds.  Not all of the cats get along with every other cat.  Some of the cats are so sweet and cuddly while others more stand-offish and don't want to be bothered. The chickens crack me up when one finds a worm or some tidbit and another chases it trying to get it for itself.  The rabbits are just cute and furry.  Some are more friendly than others.  The guineas can be rather stupid at times.  They fly over the fence, but then can't figure out how to get back over it.  But they eat the ticks and bugs!

Wintertime is fun because I keep my bird feeders filled and enjoy watching the variety of birds that stop by.  I like the cardinals, probably because they are my favorite color.  Last year I watched something I had never seen before....a male cardinal picked up a seed and "fed" it to a female cardinal.  I think the little tufted tit mice are very cute.  I usually have a downy woodpecker who visits the suet feeder.  And there's lots of dark eyed juncos...also known as snowbirds, a couple kinds of sparrows, nuthatches, and sometimes yellow finches.  I have my bird feeders hanging on the posts on my front porch so I can see the birds up close.  I can look out my front door and watch them for many minutes at a time.

In town or in the country, animal watching is very entertaining and I highly recommend it!  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Latest Goat Adventure

Our latest group of baby goats are now 9 - 10 weeks old.  Hubby didn't let them out of their stall as it was still really cold and dark when he did chores yesterday morning.   Later in the day, when it was warmer, I let them out and decided to walk down in the woods with the babies.

The six little goats all walk as closely to me as they can and I try not to trip.  The buck and does trot out ahead of us.  Once down in the woods, the goats begin munching away on dead leaves and dry weeds.  A few of the adults are up on their hind legs trying to reach the few dry leaves still attached to the trees and the babies all stay in my vicinity.  Once in a while, one baby or another would come to me and jump up with their front feet on me, my absolute least favorite thing the babies do.   After a while, I decide to squat down so I'm level with the babies and can pet and hug on them when they come up to me.  Of course, they have to nibble on my chin, my hair, and my gloves.

Now I'm on a steep slope in the woods, facing downhill, with lots of dry leaves everywhere and guess what happens next?  A baby goat jumps up and puts its front feet on my back.  It's just enough to roll me completely over on my right shoulder and then slide for several more feet before stopping.  When I stopped, my hat flew off my head.  It's okay, you can laugh.  It was pretty funny, but I was glad no one saw me.  And I wasn't hurt.  Of course, not one of the babies will admit who did it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back Again!

Hello!  It's been so long since I last blogged anything.   Staying too busy with my soaps, farmers markets, craft shows, baby goats and more are my excuses.  Then sometimes I wonder if anyone really cares about what's going on here in my little spot in the world.

Only three more craft shows this year and then I'll get a short break until late winter/early spring.  I still make goat milk soaps so I can fill any internet and wholesale orders I receive, but not as many as I make during the farmers' market season.  My Christmas scents this year are Woodland Elves, a nice piney, crisp scent; Frankincense & Myrrh; Pumpkin Pie; and Apple Jack & Peel.  Black Raspberry-Vanilla is my customers' all-time favorite and Lavender is also a good seller.  I did give a few small bars of goat milk soaps to a new friend who writes a travel blog.  She's going to use the soaps and write a review of them.

On the fiber front, I finally finished a pair of socks for my 2nd daughter that should have been done ages ago.  Now I need to put together a care package and mail it to her.  She's attending a university away from here and appreciates receiving stuff from home.  I just need to put package together for her more often.  Next I need to finish a sock cap for my hubby and even though it's not finished yet, I've started crocheting a beautiful, black, cotton poncho for me.  Will make one like it for my older daughter, but  in a different color.  It doesn't matter if she reads this; she already knows about it.  :)  And I also bought 5 sock yarns to knit socks for me and a lacy scarf or two.

I recently canned apple pie filling and dehydrated quite a few apples.  Looking forward to making granola once the oatmeal I ordered has arrived.

And during the last week and a half, eight baby goats arrived here at Patchwork Acres.  One more mama goat to go, but she'll be a while yet.  We got 7 little doelings and 1 little buckling.  Our first ever mostly doeling year!

And I've still been baking.  Today I baked a loaf of white bread with ground flax seed and a pan of cinnamon raison rolls with cream cheese frosting.  Family says not to bother if there's no cream cheese frosting.  I agree!  Still feeding and using my sourdough, too.  Have you heard of fermented foods?  You know, like sauerkraut?  I love sauerkraut and have been fermenting my own, as well as other  veggies.  Then once the baby goats are needing all of the milk, I can make more soft goat cheeses and freeze milk for making my soaps.  I am going to try making another goat milk product.  If it works, I'll post about it later.

Until next time!

Friday, August 31, 2012

No Rain Yet and other Ramblings!

This is day 144 of the drought in my part of the country.  The weatherman assured local viewers this morning that remnants of Hurricane Isaac would definitely bring us some much needed rain.  We did get less than a tenth of an inch of rain this morning here at Patchwork Acres, but nothing since.  The sun has popped out occasionally, but not for long.

I didn't go one of my farmers markets to sell soaps today because of the rain prediction; plus, I had sourdough bread rising and needed to get it in the oven past the time I should have been on the road.  When we woke up this morning, it was so sticky, humid due to the tropical air moving into our area.   I was going to wrap soaps for a custom order, but the soaps are too damp from the humidity.  I decided it was too uncomfortable to make soap, as well.   It's not so humid now and there is a nice breeze blowing, so it's bearable here in the house.  We turned off the A/C several weeks ago when it cooled down a bit and the humidity dropped.  I don't plan to turn it back on until next year, if possible.  I like having the windows open to smell the fresh air.  Plus, it saves on our electric bill if the air conditioner isn't running.

Because of the drought, my garden---which started out with so much promise---is rather sad looking right now.  I have gotten enough tomatoes to can a few and have some to eat.  Both the sweet and hot peppers aren't producing like normal and they are smaller than they should be.  The habanaros haven't set any fruit at all yet.  Some of my vegetables didn't even germinate.  I have been watering as needed so everything doesn't completely die, but even so, rainwater would be much better for the plants.  My plan is to do some cleaning (weeds still grow in a drought!) in my garden next week and start my Fall garden even though I'll have to water....unless we get that rain that's been predicted.  I want to plant lettuce, spinach, squash, peas, and green beans.

Even though it's been so hot and dry, our goats are still producing a lot of milk, enough for my family  and several customers.  I made mozzarella cheese a week or so ago, and we quickly ate it.  I like to make it and put it in the freezer for when I make home-made pizza.  Anyway, our buck was checking out one of the does yesterday.  And depending on when he does "his job", we could be expecting baby goats near the end of January or first part of February.

So I've had a bit of a lazy day, hoping for the rain to come, knitting with a new yarn, checking email and Facebook, and baking my sourdough bread.  The computer control on my oven went out a while back, so I wasn't able to bake for a few months; but my husband installed a new one.  The oven now bakes a little hotter than it did before, so my sourdough bread is a bit darker than I would usually bake it because I forgot to set the timer for a few less minutes than the recipe called for.  I am sampling it right now and it still tastes good.

I mentioned that I was knitting today.  I have a new yarn from Knit Picks called Chroma.  I bought the fingering weight yarn in the color, "Prism."  I love how the colors subtly change from one to another.  I'm knitting myself a pair of socks with this yarn.  I didn't pay attention when I bought it and didn't know until I started knitting that the yarn was a single ply, rather than a 2 or 3 ply sock yarn.  But that's okay; it's knitting up just fine.  I'm halfway finished with the first sock----working on the gusset, then on to the foot and toe.

First Friday is coming up next week at the art studio where I am a member.  First Fridays are always fun.  I get to see the other artists in our studio, plus the other studios in our building, and get to see all the folks who stop by the look at the artwork.

Well, it's time to get started on supper tonight.  We are eating leftovers of one of my favorite dishes to make.  It's called Chalupa Grande and it's basically pork cooked with pinto beans, spices, onions, garlic, onion, and green chilies.  It can be served on rice or in a flour tortilla with cheese, salsa, and/or hot sauce made by one of our market vendors.

Maybe I won't take so long between posts.  That's always been hard for me to do with our dial up internet, but broadband is supposed to be here soon!!!  Until next time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

This and That

Well, as usual, I've not been blogging on a regular basis.  Between S L O W dialup internet, farmers markets, making soap, and trying to finish planting my garden, along with my regular chores, it's hard to find time to sit down and write.  It rained 3/10ths of an inch of rain this morning, so I won't be working outside today.

We have 4 baby goats to bottle feed right now.  They are growing fast and so cute!  Three little bucks and one little doe.  The little doe will be heading for Georgia once she's weaned.

My garden is doing well, with what's planted, but I've still got a lot of work to do.  Peas are going gang-busters and have lots of beautiful purple flowers.  We've been eating lettuce and spinach.  Asparagus was early and is done for the season.  I wonder if we got a lot of wind overnight, because my beet tops are leaning over, as is my cilantro, which by the way I've never seen cilantro so tall!  Over 4 feet!   I'll be planting everything else as I can.....beans, corn, squashes, okra, cucumbers, anything and everything.

This past weekend my hubby, son and I spent the weekend at the Cat Ranch Spring Art Show & Rendezvous.  We're members of the Cat Ranch Art Guild, started in memory of Tom Runnels, a local artist, sculptor, and writer, who passed away in 2000.  Several of the Guild members had booths with local made items and artwork for sale.  The Rendezvous folks also items for sale and folks were welcome to sit and visit with them about the Rendezvous and times past.  A blacksmith and his helper had the forge fired up as they were making items while people watched.  There was an International and National Atlatl contest, as well as archery contests.  My son loves bringing his longbow and practicing his archery skills.  He showed me how to throw the atlatl and I gave it a couple of tries.   Sunday morning there was an short outdoor church service that started with singing a few songs.  It was beautiful, with the birds chirping in the background and nice breeze blowing, as we listened to the preacher's message. The Cat Ranch Fall Round Up and Rendezvous will be at the end of September.  It's in the planning stages already and looks to be bigger than ever.

Well, I need to get to the kitchen and get busy making more goat milk soap.  Probably a gardeners soap, as my inventory on that one is low and this is the gardening season!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday - In the Kitchen with Sourdough

It's 9:32 a.m. as I sit down here at my computer.   I have several sourdough "projects" in the works.  After getting hubby and son off to work and school, and doing my outside morning chores, I spent some time in the kitchen with my sourdough.  First of all, last night I mixed up some sourdough, water, and flour for bread and let set overnight.  Then this morning I added more flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda; kneaded it, and now it is sitting another 2 - 4 hours.  Later I will punch it down, form 2 long French bread-style loaves, and let it rise again before baking it.  This bread is soft and tastes heavenly!!!!  It's delicious fresh or toasted with butter and home-made jam or turned into French toast in a few more days....if it lasts that long.  Makes great sandwich bread, too.

Hubby helped me butcher a rooster over the weekend.  I put him in the slow cooker with water to cook this morning.  After lunch I'll take the meat off of the bones and will make chicken enchiladas for supper tonight.  Will probably let the bones and water continuing cooking for another few days to chicken broth.  I also have brown rice soaking that I will cook for supper, too.

That brings me to the next sourdough item in the kitchen today.....sourdough tortillas. I used to buy tortillas in the store; but they have a bitter after-taste.  I prefer to make as many foods as I can myself and thus avoid the pre-packaged, preservative-laden foods; and I know that anything I make myself will taste as good or better and will be healthier for me and my family.  My sister gave me a Mexican cookbook one year and I always used the flour tortilla recipe in there.  Tortillas are so easy to make.  However, I recently found a sourdough tortilla recipe, so I'm making it for the first time today.  These will be used in the chicken enchiladas for supper tonight.

And lastly, I "fed" my sourdough starter and it's bubbling away.  There are three ways to start a sourdough starter:  mix up flour, commercial yeast, and warm water;  or mix up flour and water and "catch" your own yeast; or find someone to share some of their starter with you and all you have to do is feed and start using it.  When you feed your starter, you can add as little flour and water or as much as you choose.  All depends on how much baking you will be doing with the sourdough.  Feel free to use white flour, whole wheat flour, or rye flour to feed your starter.  The whole wheat and rye flour will produce a more "vigorous" and bubbly starter.

If you do an internet search on sourdough, you'll find lots of information on the health benefits of sourdough.  It's how our ancestors made their breads before there was commercial yeast.  Sourdough breads also have a longer shelf life than breads made with commercial yeast.  There are lots of sourdough recipes.  Besides breads, sourdough can be used to make dinner rolls, sticky buns, cakes, muffins, biscuits, cookie bars, pretzels, pizza crusts.  I like making sourdough foods for all of these reasons.

A few folks have asked for my sourdough bread recipe and here it is.  It doesn't use commercial yeast to help with the rising, just the sourdough.


1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups flour (I'm using bread flour this time.  Will have to try whole wheat next time.)
1 T salt
1 T sugar (optional - I used it)
1 tsp baking soda
cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet
boiling water for oven

Put starter in a bowl; add warm water and 3 cups flour.   Mix together well.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let it set for at least 2 hours, or can sit for as long as 24 hours.

When you're ready to continue, add salt, sugar, and 2 more cups of flour to the sourdough "sponge" and mix it until it's holding together.  Use more flour as needed, and knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes.  Grease your bowl, knead dough another 3 or 4 minutes; then put dough into greased bowl.  Cover and let it expand 2 - 4 hours.

After that time punch the dough down.  Shape it into 2 French-style loaves and put the loaves on cornmeal-sprinked baking sheets.  Let bread rise another 2 hours or so.

When it's time, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a baking pan on the lowest rack in the oven.  Place the other oven rack above it.  Just before placing bread in oven, make diagonals slashes across the tops, about 1/4 inch deep.  Brush bread with cold water.  Put 2 - 3 cups hot water in bottom pan in the oven.  Place bread on rack above water and bake about 25 minutes.

The bread crust will be hard when you take the bread out of the oven, but after cooling about 5 minutes, it will be soft and chewy.  If you prefer a crispy crust, turn oven off, but leave bread in oven for 5 minutes.

If you want a darker crust, you can brush an egg wash on the bread and you can sprinkle seeds of your choice on your bread.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's Happening at Patchwork Acres Today?

Wow!  It's been over a year since I last blogged and I've had to start over setting up my blog!  So much has been going on.

The weather has been very mild this winter.  My son has only missed two days of school due to weather conditions, much less than last several years.  So, school will get out on time this year, which makes my son very happy!

Currently, we have one baby goat, over a month old, that I have been bottle feeding.  We've named her Cinnamon and she will be a replacement for one of our two goats that will be going to the sale barn later this year.

I've been busy making lots of goat milk soap.  Before long the farmers markets will be opening for the season and my Spring Craft Shows and various festivals will be starting as well.  Also, it will be time to start my garden soon, so I need to get as much soap made before then so I can spend time in the garden. Have big plans to put out a bigger and better garden this year.  My garden has been rather dismal the last two years and I really want a better one this year.

This morning my husband, son, and I moved our young chickens to a different chicken house.  Hubby caught one of my roosters that I will butcher after lunch.  Will put him in the slow cooker tomorrow and make chicken "something" for supper tomorrow.  Hubby suggested chicken enchiladas.

I've also got sourdough bread rising.  It's actually time now to divide the dough and shape.   Then it rise for a third time and be ready to go into the oven and bake.  I love the smell of bread baking!   And I really like using sourdough to bake a lot of different things:  breads of course, muffins, cakes, sticky buns, rolls.

The other kitchen "chore" I did this morning was to prepare a head of cabbage for lacto-fermentation.  I've been doing that since last summer.  Except for my son, the rest of my family loves it and I especially love how nutritious it is for us.   My father-in-law likes the fermented cabbage, aka sauerkraut; and I took a jar with us and left it the last time we visited them.  Since then I've made cortido, which is a  Latin American sauerkraut.  My husband likes it better than the plain sauerkraut.  Will have to take some to my father-in-law and see if he likes it, too.

My latest fiber projects are that I'm hand knitting fingerless mitts for a fiber friend of mine.  She raises alpacas then prepares the fiber:  spins, dyes, & crochets the yarn.  She has a knitting machine that she makes many items with, but she doesn't hand knit.  She mailed me a package of several colors of alpaca/merino blend yarns and I've knit one pair of mitts so far and am working on the second pair.  Alpaca yarn feels so wonderful soft and is very warm.  Here's her Etsy shop URL:   Check it out and support a local artisan.

For the last year and a half, I've been a part of an art co-op and that has been a lot of fun.  All of the artists take turns working in the studio and we get to meet a lot of interesting people and other artists.

Maybe I won't be so lax at my blogging.   We still have dial-up in our rural area and it takes a while to do some things online.  So if I don't post in a while, it's because I'm busy doing something or just not taking time to get online!