Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jack Frost was busy elsewhere and decided not to pass through R & C Farms Thursday night, thank you , Jack. It would have been a long night picking green tomatoes. I think we have a reprieve for a few more days. The Farmer has been busy wrapping up odd projects to prepare for the onset of winter. Filling the barn with hay, topping off the silos with feed, and hauling poop to the watermelon patch. We got the last of the mushroom logs inoculated this week, so we will sit back and wait for the "magic". ( not to be confused with magic mushrooms). Still waiting for water in my fancy sink in the market. The Farmer has gone through two sets of faucets, and no matter what he does, they leak. He has hinted that in the shallow well out front it shouldn't be to hard to rig up a bucket, a rope and a crank . Ha! Ha! That's what we get for trying to save a few pennies and go for an off brand. I have been up to my eyeballs in caramel apples, I had several orders this week, and they were such a hit, we are going to be doing them through the holidays. The Turtle apple, Almond Joy apple and the M&Ms apple are at the top of the list. They make a perfect "for whatever reason" gift. It is time to drag out all of the holiday baking recipes. All sense of healthy eating goes right out the door at holiday time around here. I love to make candies, cookies, breads, cakes, and anything else with lots of fresh butter, eggs, and sugar. Luckily for this calorie challenged household, I sell it in the market or give it away.Gift baskets are going to be available again this year, filled with all sorts of goodies. Details will soon follow. The MARKET HOURS:Thurs. Fri. Sat from noon until 4pm, or special appointment if that is not convenient. We will keep these hours until Christmas, at which time we will close for a period through the holidays. A few crops are coming on , as we are harvesting yellow squash, broccoli, green tomatoes, soon to be red tomatoes, eggplant, some greens, lots of herbs. Soon to come are green onions, new potatoes, green beans. The milk is holding steady, the chickens are a loosing proposition right now as they just eat and sleep. Five eggs a day from fifty hens is a dreary ratio. But I look on the bright side...... thats almost three dozen eggs a week! From our farmstead to your table, thank you for all of your support!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't throw those pumpkins away! If you did not carve them up and put candles in them, and they are not full of dead moths and melted wax, prepare them for your pumpkin recipes and WOW everyone with the knowledge that you used real, honest to goodness, straight from the vine, pumpkins.Chances are they will be drastically marked down at the markets, so get some. Here is what to do: One of several methods used to get pumpkin for cooking.... Take a pumpkin, if it is big, you can do this in sections, if it is small, cut it in half. Some pumpkins are grown small for the pie purpose,they tend to be sweeter and a little less stringy, to me a pumpkin is a pumpkin, which is really a squash!I will use whatever I have. Rinse it off, to get any dirt or bug pooh. Half or section it, and scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff. Save the seeds for roasting or planting. Rinse the sections or halves and place face down on a large baking pan .It must be tall enough on the sides so that you can add about half an inch of water in the bottom. Bake/steam in the oven slowly, I use a 350 degree oven and check every 30 minutes. The rind will turn darker and pucker a little. To test pumpkin meat, turn a piece over and prick with a fork, it should be soft to the rind. When thoroughly cooked remove from oven and let cool slightly. I use an ice cream scoop, and scoop out the pumpkin meat into freezer containers or baggies. If it is watery, you can let drain a little through a seive. Viola! To make puree just put in the food processor. Freeze until needed. Sweet potatoes are also available now, you can do a similar process with them. Wash thoroughly, spray lightly with a little olive oil, place on a baking sheet, bake slowly in a 325 degree oven. When completely done, almost squishy remove from oven and cool. Slice in half and scoop out the pulp and put into freezer containers for use later. If you want slices, peel with a sharp knife and slice. Your sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie and muffins, will be heavenly! More Bee News.... The newly adopted hives all stayed, the Farmer is elated. They will need to be fed through the winter, as they may not have enough honey stored for their colonies. Now is the time I would not want to be a drone, as they are soon to be doomed. As the bee undertakers are removing their bodies from the hives, we are noticing some of the unfortunate ones on the ground at the entrances. For those who are unaware, the drones are "done in", as they are totally useless to the hive through the winter, as all they do is eat, and take up space. The execution squad takes care to rid the hive of any freeloaders. What lesson can we learn from this???????From our farmstead to your table, thank you for all of your support!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"When you're all alone in the Country and the night is dark as pitch, don't shout out because you know there's no such thing as a Witch! When you hear a howl in the Country and you're hiding in the ditch, shout OH- HO!! because you know there's no such thing as a Witch! If anyone was up this morning and outside about 5:30, and looked to the western sky, you beheld the most beautiful Halloween moon, setting on the horizon, thus inspiring me to remember the words to a song I learned when I had my first experience with trick or treating as a youngster. Funny how some things hide in the back of your mind, and something like a Halloween moon at 5:30 in the morning triggers sweet memories from way in the past. Halloween is just around the corner, we wish we would have had all of our projects finished so we could have had a bang up fall festival, but for sure next year, as the pumpkin patch will be all composted and we will plant oodles of pumpkins. The team of mules and the plow I mentioned previously are more of a reality than I had hoped, as the Farmer wants to build a hay wagon for rides through the country. No tractor driven wagon will do, it needs to be Clip and Clop in a harness with reins. I wonder if there is a mule driving school????? I am one step closer to my ice cream machine, as The Farmer got the sink put in the market, no water yet, but a great big stainless steel sink with a fancy sprayer, to wash the fruits and vegetables. Fresh strawberry, blackberry and peach ice cream will be served up early next Spring. The newly adopted beehives seem to be settling in. From all indications, the queens were in the massive bundles of bees, so everyone stuck around. For all of those who have asked for green tomatoes, we have picked some for the market this weekend....still waiting patiently for ripe ones. The fall pickings will soon start of cucumbers, peppers, squash, green beans, and greens. The chickens are on strike, they are picketing for longer days before they will lay again.(it takes about 14 hours of light for egg production) We will probably put a light on them in November, that will turn on at 6:00am and see if that will increase our meager egg supply. The milk supply is still holding steady, cows milk and goats milk. Our MARKET HOURS are Thurs. Fri. Sat. noon until 4:00 pm. or call for a special appointment. From our farmstead to your table, thank you for all of your support!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How can something bring such joy and ecstacy to someone(namely me) and such fear and misery to another( namely Rocky)? It is the substance that will endure the ages(they have found it in the Egyptian tombs) it will make anything it is poured on taste good( aka my sometimes doughy pancakes) it prevents sneezes, watery eyes, and stuffy noses in the Spring ( a teaspoon a day) not to mention it's use as a salve for boo boos and burns. I have seen this fearless man, who goes into burning buildings without a moments hesitation, put his gloveless hand down a spider and snake filled well to check the water level, ride an unbroke horse, bulldog a calf, be brought to his knees by sticky honey fingers! He cannot stand anything sticky on his hands, and for a beekeeper that is quite a predicament. We have been in the process of adopting a hive from a barn that is going to be demolished. It is a several days process, following steps to secure the queen, the bees, and retrieve any salvagable honey and honeycomb. After setting the queen, and her court in a new home, all of the honey and wax comb that was left was put into a cooler. Now during this process, Rocky had on his protective bee garb, so honey and skin were layers of leather and cloth apart. All of which can be thrown in the wash machine. He brought the cooler home plopped it on the back porch and called Randy the Bee Man to find out how to get the honey out of the comb, as it was random chunks and could not be put in the extractor. A most horrified look crossed his face, as Randy explained that the honey would need to be squeezed out by hand, chunk by chunk. I just giggled!" Oh, Rocky, we can have a date night and squeeze honey all night long!" I couldn't wait to plow my hands into the cooler and start squeezing the liquid gold from the wax comb. With an ashen pallor and glazed eyes he shook his head and said " Carol, please, please, please will you do it? I will do anything else, just don't make me touch that honey with my bare fingers, I will use a fork, some tongs, wear gloves, anything, just no sticky fingers." LEVERIDGE was shamefully my first thought, but as good sense took over, I agreed to knead what honey I could from the wax chunks, and let him breath a sigh of relief. Now let me tell you, he will be the first one at the table with a hot roll in one hand and the honey dipper in the other, scooping up glob after glob and drizzling it over the top, but heaven forbid any should accidently plop on his thumb, it is straight to the sink to wash it off! I am trying to think back on all the chores that I did in between the honey squeezing, and what I touched with barely rinsed, still a little bit sticky honey hands. Let's see, I drove the E-Z go, checked the animals at night with his flashlight, went through the dairy barn front door, answered the phone, drove his pick-up to the dollar store, opened the refrigerator, flushed the commode......... and I won't even mention caramel apples! From our farmstead to your table thank you for all of your support!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ho seems that I have come full circle and I am spending a good share of my time waiting and watching for tomatoes to ripen! Weren't we in this same spot a few months ago? They aren't turning red any faster now than they were then! I keep telling myself that patience will be rewarded in the form of spicey salsa and chunky chili sauce! Since the pace is slowing down at the farm and our activities are limited by shorter days, all will probably get a more intimate glimpse of a more personal nature of the inner goings on here on the farm, as if all of the shennanigans with the cows and the bull, the does and the buck, the hens and the rooster, aren't intimate enough, you are going to learn a little more about The Farmer and the Other Farmer.(the terms that my young neice uses to describe us) The motivation behind this tell all, is to help you better understand our dedication to our land, our stewardship over our animals, and our devotion to each other, and why we have chosen this age old profession to wile away the hours, when we could be fishing, golfing, playing tennis, or traveling the world, enjoying any number of activities, instead of toiling daylight til dark intent on making a success of this small 40 acres we have been blessed with. Rocky was raised "Old School", doing farm chores since he was a boy. A man's word was binding, an honest days work, for a fair wage. Play hard, work harder....he is no stranger to a 16 hour work day.... so it is second nature for him to rise at the crack of dawn and work until the last glow of light dims, when the sun goes down. For those unfamiliar with country life, there are very few things that can be put off until tomorrow. If it doesn't get done today, usually... well, it MUST get done today, thus the long days. Now if you can imagine pairing this rough and tumbling country fella with a city raised, hoity toity, teetotalling, fashionista, you would have a clear picture of spontaneous combustion! We were like oil and water, the only thing that we had in common was that we had NOTHING in common! He was used to country raised, fun loving, wild living gals, and I was used to solid, serious, business minded, boring, guys. For some reason, I just could not stay away from him. I was hooked! Bait, line and sinker! We are the poster couple for "OPPOSITES ATTRACT". Now almost 20 years later, the rest as they say, is history. He took me in, a divorced woman with 4 very small children, a yankee, no less, and taught me what a pinto bean and okra were, showed me how to cook turkey fries, a best kept secret to say the least, let me help dress a wild hog ,( after he explained to me "No, Carol we country folks do not put clothes on pigs") explained the difference between fried chicken and chicken fried ( who would have thought!) Let me practice driving a standard shift in his new pickup, and most of all gave me a whole new perspective of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I taught him that" Gone with the Wind" is not just loosing your hat during a Texas gale, Spinach salad CAN have nuts and fruit in it, and even though bluegrass music is the original country music, a fiddle player and a symphony violinist are truely not very different. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, religious girls most definitely can be fun. And yes, in a family, the more the merrier! So on our story goes, I will share some of the highlights and the lowlights, letting you get to know us a little bit better, and give you a more personal glimpse of one of the most fulfilling ways of life that exhists. More of the R&C Saga to come! From our farmstead to your table, thank you for all of your support!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The strawberries are all nestled in the ground! We will pray for a mild winter, with sporadic rain and plenty of sunshine, but realize that here in Texas you get what you get and hope for the best! Rocky has gone crazy with the onion bulbs and garlic. Watch for a buy one get three free sale in the late Spring. The tomatoes are slowly making progress. We are picking one or two each day, waiting patiently with our bushel baskets in anticipation of plenty to can for tomato sauce. Lo and behold, the new variety of blackberries that we planted, that produce late Spring and Fall, are now blooming again. We are going to have a few blackberries later in the season. As we are doing caramel apples for the holidays, I purchased the neatest gadget that everyone probably has, but I have just discovered. As I once had a catering business, I am the gadget queen. It really has nothing to do with carmel apples unless you like to dip slices into caramel, but has everything to do with apples. It is an apple pealer, corer, slicer all in one. It is amazing! I went through a bag of apples just to watch it do its wondrous deed! After every single apple I would look at it and just go WOW!!! Rocky is so grateful that it takes so very little to really impress me, but is a little tired of applesauce, apple butter, apple crisp, apple muffins..... The MARKET HOURS are Thurs. Fri. Sat. from noon until 4:00pm. We dug up the sweet potatoes and if you are looking for any the size of a football, here is the place to come. ( we also have regular size) We never quite know when to dig them up. The milk supply is still steady for now, but as the winter approaches the supply will lesson. Even though we will continue to milk, as the girls near the end of their lactation cycle and get ready for the new milking season the production will slow down. It may be wise to stockpile some just in case, as we will be closed some for the holidays. There is a spot still available in the canning class Oct. 19. Check the blog on Sept 23 for information, or e-mail or call . From our farmstead to your table, thank you for all of your support!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Farming 101( with a little help from the Bible!) For everything there is a season and as much as I would like to claim that I can grow anything, anywhere, anytime, it just ain't so! We have had several calls this week inquiring if we had fruits and vegetables to pick, and aside from an abundance of okra, and a leftover squash and cucumber plant, the fall crops are just a smidge from being ready to harvest. The tomatoes and peppers are just setting fruit, the squash and cucumbers are just blooming, and the beans are about the size of an inchworm. We have had to replant the carrots and the beets, as it was too hot. Since the melons have been protected by the sweet potatoes, they have continued to produce, but as we are digging up the sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and honeydew will soon be a sweet memory. Thankfully the greens are finally making a show. Rocky is on his way to Arkansas to pick up the strawberry plants, so this weekend will be a swirl of planting activity. Approximately 12,000 plants will be put to bed for a winter of rest and relaxation, in preparation for an abundance of production in April. Love is in the air, that and the smell of a Buck that has had to practice a summer of celebacy. We are careful to stay upwind and heaven forbid we should touch him for any reason! He is just "deeelirious with deeelight", as he is now with his harem and he has no competition for their affections. ( remember the other buck that got the Big Head?) There are a couple of spots still open for the canning class on Oct. 19. E-mail me for more information or check the blog a couple of weeks ago posted on Sept. 23 for details. Caramel apples are now available in the market, some are just plain old big, gooey, caramel only apples and some are just plain FANCY, covered with all sorts of decadent goodies, apples. Prices are $4.00 and up.We will have pumpkins, but they are pie pumpkins, and will produce through Thanksgiving. FALL MARKET HOURS: Thurs. Fri. Sat. from noon until 4:00 pm or special appointment throughout the week. From our Farmstead to your table, thank you for all of your support!