Category Archives: food

New Arrivals

There are surprise babies at Tuppinz Farm!

A bunch of “scrubbing bubbles” appeared in the poultry food line yesterday:


“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

We have 18 new guinea keets!

When the guinea fowl go broody, they do it in secret. We never know if a hawk or fox has made off with one of them (we wouldn’t mind too much as we love the wildlife also), or if they’re not coming home to roost at night because they’re on a nest. Apparently this time it was the latter. I think I spy another hen on a nest out in the sheep pasture… we’ll keep an eye on her to see if another clutch hatches out.

Our tick population is well under control, and guinea fowl are amazingly loud, so perhaps if all of these grow up to adulthood, we’ll fatten a few for the freezer.

Our chicken coop was also home to another hatch of babies – barn swallows:

The parents kept the coop insect-free while feeding their young, so have been quite welcome. Chef Jeff tells me he would give the babies a little pat on their heads each day. Don’t they look like they’re smiling? Having barn swallows grace our farm with their presence is something we look forward to each spring. They zoom around like tiny fighter jets all summer long, catching bugs on the fly. Beautiful birds. We always sigh and know it’s springtime when we see them return.

This is my favorite hen, Pigeon Pie. She is a Quail Antwerp Belgian bantam.

When it’s my turn to feed the poultry, she is first in line, and flies up onto my outstretched arm, or onto my head, or right into the feed scoop to fill her little beak and scatter food everywhere, creating a pile of chickens, ducks, guineas, and geese at my feet so that I can’t take a step. Today, she thought I had something special for her in my egg basket, and flew up to take a peek. Sorry, Pidge, just my work gloves and camera in there…

Weather is perfect here today – sunny, not too hot, breezy. Baby kestrels are learning to fly and hunt. Dogs are napping. Sounds like a plan. Blogger just ate a complete post I had done with it’s “autosave” feature (I hate that feature!) Perhaps they could nix that, and get the autopublish feature up and running again? Sigh.

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm guineas, food, nature, positivity, summer, weather

Holiday Weekend

It was a beautiful holiday weekend here in Wisconsin. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

The Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks were moved out to their netted pasture. They are about a month old now. They’re loving the fresh air, sunlight, grass, and insects. Our broody Wyandotte hen hatched out nine adopted babies, so that little family was also put in the electric netting for “safekeeping”.

In addition to moving the chickens around, Jeff and our Farmhand Extraordinaire, Dakota, got us caught up on goat vaccinations and hoof trimming, fencing, yardwork, hay moving, and a billion other tasks. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!


We had a great time at the Altoona fireworks with our friends, Dakota’s family. Dakota’s brother, Tanner, gave us a private fireworks show in his backyard afterwards. This is his stash. It was quite an impressive display!

We watched Tanner’s fireworks from the comfort of our friends’ new screen porch, which is the ultimate in summer comfort. What a great area to relax with friends! These guys are great hosts and it’s always great to spend time with them.

That’s Dakota there in the center of the photograph. We are going to miss him when he goes off to college this fall. Jeff says that Tanner will have a job here on the farm as soon as he is old enough. Two finer young men can’t be found!


Knowing of our love for fishing, our friends generously invited us to access the Eau Claire River from their property. Chef Jeff and I had a lovely afternoon there yesterday. Though we didn’t catch anything, we enjoyed being out in the woods and seeing the gorgeous scenery.

Afterwards, the Chef prepared the catfish he’d caught last week according to a recipe from this beautiful book, which also included recipes for homemade refried black beans and great guacamole. It was an outstanding meal, though we somehow got our hands on a jalapeño that must have been grown near a nuclear reactor because that thing was HOT – and this judgment from people who use habañero sauce on a regular basis!


We are so glad that Otter is acclimating to her new home. The other dogs love her… well, Molly tolerates Otter, but Molly’s coming along (that’s just her way – growl first, make friends later.)

Otter has Lyme disease so she’s on antibiotics for a little while. She doesn’t seem to have had toys or chews before; she’s finally understanding that baked cow ears are a good thing:

When Otter was found she was suffering from heat exhaustion. We are so grateful to our wonderful vet for taking her in for us for treatment and boarding, despite her history being unknown. We intend to go to a town meeting to see how we may be able to change the policies and procedures of our township in order that stray animals may receive temporary housing and care in a more efficient manner; we are not served by the County shelter due to the lack of a financial agreement between them and our township. There has to be a better way, and we shudder to think what could happen if one of our own beloved dogs went missing.

So yes, now we are a five-dog family. I would think we were certifiably nuts, except that the entire vet staff said they hoped we’d keep Otter because they knew we’d be good parents. And Valentine is getting up there in years and has Cushing’s, so, after all, we may be back to a four-dog family in the not-too-distant future anyway.

But if I had my wish, there would be a loving home for every dog… until there is, we will take in whomever the Creator sends us, sharing our blessings.


In crafting news, I am this close to finishing up my Drops blue alpaca lace shawl… just on the final rows. I started a Koigu “mindless” sock for traveling-to-fishing-holes knitting, and I hope to do some sewing this week before Saturday’s MaryJane’s Farmgirls meeting, where everyone will ask me if I’ve made any progress on my current stitching project (not yet, and it’s already been three weeks since our last meeting!)

I’ve seen a cute sewing pattern made up on this blog, and I purchased a copy here. The construction looks super easy, and I think it will be a neat use for some of my Tanya Whelan/Free Spirit or 3 Sisters/Moda girly-girl, flower fabrics.

Have a wonderful day!

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm fence, farm knit, farm recipes, fiberarts, fishing, flowers, food, gratitude, holiday, knit, nature, pets, summer, weather

Happy Birthday, Bemma-Boo!

Miss Emma turned three yesterday!

Chef Jeff always wanted to take Miss Fiona to Panera for soup in a bread bowl when she was with us, but he never got the chance. Thinking that life is too short to miss an opportunity, he was determined to treat Emma this year, so we took a little time off from chores and away we went.


Note Chef Jeff’s shirt…


Emma eyeing her soup and bread bowl (Chef Jeff ate most of it.)


Drooling isn’t very ladylike, Emma!

Afterwards, we took Emma to the pet store, where she carefully sniffed everything, finally picked out her own treat, and proudly carried it up to the checkout on her own. Everyone who saw her in the store got a good chuckle.


“Yum!”


“This is the BEST birthday EVER!”

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, food, gratitude, pets, positivity

Daily Gratitude

A diamond-shaped wood splitting maul that will help us finally be able to chop the wood in the woodpile so that it actually fits in our small fireplace.

A husband who takes over splitting wood after I’ve had my three test whacks. The splitter works great. My bad shoulder, not so much…

A full wood holder by the back door.

Aromaleigh mineral makeup sending out inexpensive trial packets (with no shipping charges) so I can play around and see what actually works with my skin tone (please excuse the rare and icky photo of my tired-looking, winter-weary, test-makeup face with no foundation.)
The generous samples are enough for several uses. If you have trouble matching your skin tone, see their “linen” foundation shades.

A husband who believes the dogs value his cheffing skills as much as anyone; Molly is waiting impatiently for her venison tenderloin and brown rice dinner on a fancy plate for New Year’s:

Dogs that play together so nicely but pretend to be fierce, making “WAAH WAAH WAAH!” noises while gnashing teeth that somehow never actually touch:

New yoga DVD#1 (with meditation talk by the Dalai Lama).


Zakuski

A favorite meal of ours is one consisting of zakuski – a Russian word for appetizers. Chef Jeff prepared a zakuski meal for New Year’s.

It was accompanied by my plum pudding (a/k/a flaming booze cake) which I’d prepared back in November, as is traditional.

It was also accompanied by vodka (traditional) and Scandinavian berry liqueurs (a new tradition).

К здоровью! *

* To health!


Fiberarts

Finished keyhole scarf (one skein of Inka yarn).

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Filed under farm chores, farm knit, fiberarts, food, gratitude, holiday, knit, pets, positivity, yoga

What Was I Thinking?

Musings on the February Lady Sweater:

1) A lovely pattern… for someone who isn’t pear-shaped like me.

2) I like the color I chose, but I don’t like the “Factory Farms” yarn. Splitty.

3) Come to think of it, I don’t much like “Factory Farm Yarns” itself any more. I had an awful time with their interchangeable needles. I did some research online and found out many people had trouble with them. Yes, I know they are exchanging them out… but for how long? And why should I have to wait when I want to knit?

I also had several poor experiences with “Factory Farm Yarns'” customer service. We’re talking bad enough to make me cry.

I then heard that “Factory Farm Yarns” allegedly asked for information from an American craftsman (someone I actually know) about how his product was made… and promptly took that information, and resources from the craftsman’s supplier, and had their own similar product manufactured overseas. The craftsman’s handmade items – and his family – took a hit. Not cool.

I realize that “Factory Farm Yarns'” prices are “good” – but with those low prices comes a lack of personal attention. When I made a goof on this sweater using “Factory Farm’s” yarn, I certainly wasn’t going to be rude enough to take it to my LYS to ask for their help. So I saved some money, but who did I have to help me out?

And if I don’t support my local LYS, they may not be there in the future! That’s more important than ever with the little hiccup the economy just had. I’ll be damned if I’ll see Dixie ever go out of business, after she and Cindi were so kind and welcoming to me. If not for the LYS, I probably wouldn’t have any friends in this town, as that’s the only place a farmer lady gets to meet others – and I’ve met so many dear people there! (Hi Sue, Sonja, Dianne, and of course Michelle!)

I don’t buy factory farmed meat. As with my food, I want to buy local when it comes to my yarn and needles – needles that I may just need the same day in an emergency, rather than a week later… and ones which I expect to last a lifetime rather than fall apart on their first outing.

So I’m making a couple of resolutions for 2009:

Buy local in all things and support vendors in my community. If I need something they don’t have, I’ll buy from another small vendor (I will be loyal to YDK but I can continue shopping at The Loopy Ewe for Araucania, and because of their great personal service.)

No more “Factory Farm Yarns”. I’m not sending my dollars straight to their executives’ pockets, with no benefits going to the poor people in other countries who make their allegedly copied stuff.

No. More. Sweaters. I need simple, meditative knitting that I can pick up at any time, without following a pattern – especially with Chef Jeff here after his company’s reorganization! [SHOOT ME NOW, SHOOT ME NOW!] I just gave over half of my clothes to Goodwill because, living on a farm, I never wear anything that isn’t sweats/fleece or Polartec or denim.

With four dogs jumping on me all day, I definitely do not need a lace cardigan. (A lace shawl, though, to take away this constant chill, would be a good thing. And that’s what I’m going to cast on with my YDK yarn just as soon as I’ve ripped out this cardigan. Maybe before.)

And I would like to knit more for charity in 2009 – helpful for my mental state, and helpful to someone who actually needs clothing.

Now, what to do with my “Factory Farm Yarns” stash…? It’s bugging me to look at it. I feel like a sellout having it here.


Chef Jeff is cooking duck a la Francais tonight; olives, capers, fennel, and red wine. He’s also making duck stock. The smells here tonight are making my stomach growl! I guess it isn’t so bad having him home for a time (but ask me how I feel after I’ve seen the pots, pans, dishes, and glasses in the kitchen later tonight!)

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Filed under charity, farm ethics, farm knit, fiberarts, food, knit, yarn shop

Holiday Spirit

Chef Jeff found out the day after the election that his company was laying off 1800 people. I have heard of doctors actually quitting their practices due to the impending health care changes; they know they won’t be able to provide the standard of care they would wish to while limited by government time and cost mandates.

I’m afraid that people who desire “health care for everyone” might not realize that they’ll be paying for it with their taxes, and that it will mean substandard, government-“coordinated” (ahem) care for them and their families – those without care may get it, but those with health care will lose much of what they’ve come to expect. Physicians and health care companies already know that. Socialized medicine is an interesting idea – but “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” and the government hasn’t exactly been great at administrating “helpful” programs thus far (Google “Indian reservation”).

I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to a Sesame Street-ish, feel-good attitude that, if we just believe what politicians tell us, we’ll live in a Utopia of free, top-quality medical care. Words are cheap… good medical treatment, and good medicines, are not. *

A few days ago, Chef Jeff found out that he would be retained – yes, we have been on eggshells this entire time, which did not make for a very joyful Thanksgiving, but did make for vastly increased wine consumption during that particular holiday. Good thing Festival Foods had a by-the-case sale.

Chef Jeff, relieved and thankful, therefore decided that this holiday was one of celebration and deserved a real tree.

Tree shopping in Eau Claire is vastly different than in Milwaukee. Here, they use the honor system:

And our huge Fraser fir tree was a bargain at $35; in Milwaukee, this would be about $100! What are trees going for in your neck of the woods? Just curious!

Chef Jeff got some new, efficient LED lights and decorated the tree perfectly.

Molly and Emma are all aglow with Yule colors as well:


I made the best ever mac and cheese the other night, and thought you might like the recipe, as it earned an “Excellent!” from Chef Jeff – something I’ve never received before. Just don’t tell him how easy this is!

Homemade Mac and Cheese
Adapted from The Farmer’s Wife Comfort Food Cookbook

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c milk
1 tsp. salt

3 c pasta
salt for cooking water
1 c. grated cheese
2 c. buttered breadcrumbs (allow 1/8 as much butter as crumbs; melt butter, add crumbs, stir until coated)

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly oil a baking dish (mine was about 10×10).

Cook pasta in salted water until just al dente. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to baking dish.

Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet; add flour and salt and stir to blend. Cook a little while on low until “floury” flavor is gone, but do not burn! Add milk a little at a time, blending, and stir until thickened (it will still be a bit runny). Turn off heat. Add grated cheese and blend.

Pour sauce over pasta and top with breadcrumbs. Don’t worry if it looks “liquid-y” – the pasta will absorb the liquid as the dish bakes. Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until brown and bubbly. Major yum!


Chef Jeff is home for two weeks for re-training. He needs my computer and Internet connection for web conferences. He has already taken over my knitting room for studying.

I was going to post a pic of the new DROPS Inka seed stitch scarf I’m knitting, but I am being kicked out – no time to even make a link for you.

It’s going to be a very loooooong holiday…

* I respect that you may not share my opinion. It is, however, founded on the following: the fact that I have many relatives living in two countries with socialized health care (it sucks for them); the fact that I have a dear friend who lives in a third country with socialized health care (it sucks for her); and the fact that many of our family members and friends are physicians, pharmacists, nurses, health care workers, or involved in pharmaceutical education. Therefore, I do feel justified in sharing my opinion on this subject on my personal blog.

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Filed under farm recipes, food, holiday, pets, winter

A Few Of My Favorite Things, Part Five

As the countdown to holiday gift giving continues, I have a few more of my favorite things to share with you.

For the environmentally conscious on your list, may I suggest a basket from Juniper Ridge? Their organic, sustainably-harvested natural goodies smell just wonderful. Chef Jeff loves their Siskiyou Cedar soap; my favorite is Desert Piñon. Wreaths, tea, smudge sticks, incense, sachets – you can give your recipient the true scent of the West.

For someone who isn’t feeling very well, how about a package from Healing Baskets? They have some simply wonderful ideas for sharing comfort and helping you to say what’s in your heart. They have specific items pertaining to cancer, divorce, loss, or the blues – touching and thoughtful items. You can choose to have them sent as a prepared basket if you so desire.

Not sure of someone’s shoe size? Zappos offers free shipping, exchanges, and returns! I have purchased several pair of shoes and boots from them and their service is fantastic. They offer super-speedy delivery, even with the “standard” option (it always comes faster than they say it will!)

I didn’t realize that walking around on farmland would be so traumatic to my feet. The Birkies and Keds were abaondoned after bouts of plantar fasciitis and twisted ankles. Next came waterproof workboots, which were great for a while, but the ground here is as tough as farm life, and the leather soon became too loose to offer any support. So what does the modern farmerette pick as her footwear of choice? Technical hiking boots with outstanding support! Oh geez, they’re on sale now! Shoot! Well, I’d buy them at twice the price after wearing them – they are awesome and I can’t recommend them highly enough. I have narrow, flat feet and they are the most supportive and comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. They’re standing up great to daily farm use.

Zappos also carries Ariat riding and western boots, which are lovely for any horse (donkey, mule) owner on your list.

Speaking of farm duds, I’m really pleased with the Lands’ End jacket which arrived a few days ago. I can pretty much guarantee you that you will not be the least bit cold while wearing this coat, whether in Chicago, North Dakota, or Alaska! It’s fantastic and super toasty… even without a bunch of layers underneath, even while standing still!

I now understand why Inuit coats have fur around the hood – the (fake) fur on this hood keeps the wind and snowflakes off of my face, kind of dispersing them before they can hit me. Love it. Another thing I really love about it is that it has a two-way zipper (very helpful when bending to fill chicken feeders or pick out the donkeys’ hooves). It zips up past my chin, but no metal touches my face – just cozy polarfleece. Great design – nothing worse than a cold zipper on your chin or neck!

This jacket gets an A- – the minus being only for the fact that the pocket openings aren’t angled. But as I’m usually carrying an egg basket or water bucket while wearing it, that’s not a big deal. Sign up for the Lands’ End e-mails before you place an order – they’re offering great sales and free shipping bonuses these days.

For your favorite epicurean, what about a custom tea blend from Adagio? Choose their favorite flavors, name the tea, and then upload artwork for a custom label. Yum! (I believe you must create an account and be logged in to have access to this option in the “blends” section – yes, I just checked, you do.) Not sure what your tea lover likes? Adagio offers several samplers of “trial size” tea tins.

I have my own blend there – it’s called Chocolat Framboise Caramel. Guilt-free indulgence.


Here’s my favorite pic of the day: Molly sleeping.

When she’s awake, Molly has a curly tail like a Husky. Sometimes, when she’s very sleepy, or asleep, she forgets to keep it curled up.


I have already fallen behind on my holiday preparations. I have some caramels made and ready to be shipped to dear friends in Belarus, but my plum pudding has not yet been steamed, nor have I started on the liqueurs or sugar cookies (though I have received all my orders of cutters, decorations, and ingredients, thank goodness!)

Having Chef Jeff home for a long holiday weekend meant the kitchen was in a constant state of messiness, and I’m only now catching up on the cleaning, and making room to work.

I also have been a bit distracted by that DROPS alpaca shawl that I started – once I had a few rows completed, the pattern was easy to memorize, and I’m enjoying listening to Jaques Pepin’s biography while sneaking in a few rows a day. The shawl is knit from the center top (10 stitches) downward and outward – my favorite construction method. The yarn is super soft, and not at all splitty – yay! Mine came from YDK, of course.

Have a lovely week!

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