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Ninety + Days…

On Columbus Day weekend, I heard myself saying to some visitors, “We have a farm blog.  Well, actually, I haven’t posted for a while.”  After they left I checked… July?!  O-MY!  Then I was bogged down with preparing for the trip to Rhinebeck.  And then there was…well, who knows…just days that go by.  Believe me when I say I’m not sitting around sipping champers and eating bon-bons!     

Before we get into the holiday crazies…I bring you August through October  in review…not in any particular order —

The little layer chicks I brought home from Maryland in May and their more local buddies got a new home and just loved being out on the grass.  At first, we kept them in their hoop house and moved it daily.  But once they’d learned that this was their “home base” we let them out to forage and moved the house every third day.  This turned out to be a really nice way to raise the hens.

chix hoop house

The chix learning about living on the land.

Jim gave me a Flower CSA Share for my birthday so every week there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers in our veggie CSA bag.  What a lovely gift!  Big points for the hubby…

CSA bouquet

Fresh flowers every week!

The Ranger chicks grew really well on the pasture — just as we’d hoped.  Thank you Rangers!  Yum!

oven ready ranger

chicken ready for the grill

We had a couple of wild storms. One of them took down what was left of one of our ancient sugar maple trees in the front of the house.  So sad that it’s gone.

maple tree down

The end of our ancient maple tree.

 That same gust of wind opened a fairly wide path through our oldest stand of lilacs, too.  Fortunately, the lilacs will regenerate themselves over time with careful pruning.  This made us feel a little better…


rainbow over the barn

We participated again in the Maine Fiberarts Tour Map Open Farm & Studio Weekend.  My friend, Penelope, came on Saturday and kept me company.  I was here alone as Jim had gone off to NY state for a week of T’ai Chi Camp. It was a fun weekend with a number of people stopping by and was especially nice to be “stuck” in the studio — I actually made some progress on a project I’ve been working on. (more about that later) And Jim had a wonderful time at camp.

Jim got tired of hearing me bitch complain about the “coffee dust” that covers everything in the kitchen every time he grinds his beans.  He drinks a lot of coffee…he grinds a lot of beans.  So…he made this screen.  He really believes that it works and keeps the dust loacalized.  He’s not wearing his glasses or doing the white glove test (that’s against the man rules) but hey! he’s trying.  And the whole idea is just so Jim… lol!

grinding coffee

Jim's absolutely awesome coffee containment system

 The hearing protection is for real.  He spends a lot of time around loud equipment so he lives with those yellow pillow-type-earmuff-things draped around his neck…or on his ears. You wouldn’t believe where I’ve seen him with those things on…     

We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with dinner at our favorite lobster shack.  This was the view from where I sat.  I wish I’d thought about taking a picture of the lobsters before my hands were full of butter…

view from MBLC deck

View from Muscongus Bay Lobster Company deck.

Earlier in the summer, I made some strawberry-balsamic-black pepper jam but didn’t take any photos.  I haven’t made much jam so I was a little nervous about the process.  It was fun, though.  We haven’t tried it yet…only made a few jars so we’re saving it to be enjoyed at Thanksgiving with some fabulous cheese from our friends at Ruit Farm…and maybe (if we don’t die) we’ll give some away at Christmas. 

We were gifted a ton of green tomatoes (thanks Greg & Aaron) so I made some of our favorite relish.  It’s pickled rather than sweet.  We shared it with the tomato growers and have enough to keep us happy til next year…and maybe some to give, too.  I also put up a few jars of pickled veggies with multicolored cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers and chunks of green tomato.  I added a couple of sprigs of fresh tarragon to the normal pickling spices & garlic.  Looking forward to trying these.

pickles etc

cooling jars of pickles and relish

Our CSA grower, Rosey, offered us some ripe tomatoes.  She cautioned that they were “sound but should be put up very soon.”  I took her up on 25 pounds and went to work on them immediately.  I just love the Italian “tomato squashing  machine” that Jim and I bought when we were first married and had a huge garden.  You put the washed, quartered tomatoes in the top and it spits out the seeds, skins etc separately from the juice and pulp. It took no time at all to process about half the tomatoes into sweet, juicy pulp. I was tempted to just drink it right down!  But I let it reduce to about half its volume in the crock pot overnight.

cooking tomatoes

first batch of tomatoes cooking down

The aroma in the house was amazing!  The next day, I repeated the process with the other half.  Now we have a nice stash of tomato puree in the freezer to be enjoyed during the dark days. 

The Common Ground Fair was great — it never disappoints!!  YAY for MOFGA…we are so fortunate to have this organization to work on our behalf.  I took a couple of fleeces from our crossbred sheep and one that I’d debated keeping for myself (silly me!) and put them for sale in the Fleece Tent.  The one I was going to keep, Hazel (aka NoTag), I decided to show as well.  It won a blue ribbon in the natural colored, longwool division!!   Honestly…Hazel is a beautiful ewe but is the most unfriendly/uncooperative sheep we have.  The blue ribbon is making me like her more but all our applause and sweet talking isn’t making her warm up to us.  She still won’t give us the time of day.  I wish I could put a photo of her here but she’s not big on photo taking.  I’ll keep trying…

Rhinebeck (NY Sheep & Wool Festival) came and went.  The weather was typical… from the drive down in the rain to the damp, raw days in our booth.  But as always, we had a great time, saw lots of people we only see there and we made new friends, too.  I didn’t get out of the booth much and forgot to take photos when I did…

Our May hatched layer chicks began to lay eggs and what beautful eggs they’re giving us!  Yes, those dark eggs really are that dark…

colorful eggs

colorful eggs!

We said good-bye and a very big thank you to our Berkshire X pigs in early October.  They grew beautifully and are providing us and a bunch of other families with delicious, heritage breed, old world pork.  If you try this type of pork, you will never be able to eat “the other white meat” again.  If you’re my age, you’ll probably recall the flavor of this pork from your childhood. YUM!

2 comments to Ninety + Days…

  • That italian tomato-processing machine — in my family, we have always referred to it as the “skitchitutto” (not sure of that spelling!) which I believe translates as squish everything! My boys are still fascinated by its workings.

  • Pam

    Thanks for that info, Kris! Any paper that came with ours is long gone now. I’m sure new ones can be found and they’re probably “improved” and made of dishwasher safe materials, but ours is all metal and makes the most awful clanking, grinding and snapping noises. I’m fascinated by its workings, too — How does it know?!!