Fig Tree

A couple weeks ago we went to the Franklin Farmer’s Market just outside of Nashville.  I love that farmer’s market, it’s full of energy, beautiful produce, arts and crafts, music, just what a farmer’s market should be and I wish we had something like that in Huntsville.  I saw eggs selling for $5 per dozen and raw goat milk (labeled for pet use only) for $9.95 per gallon, so of course I’d love to be able to sell at a market like that!  Anyway, we’d been talking about getting a fig tree, and as luck would have it there were some for sale at the market.  This is a Brown Turkey fig, which is supposed to do well in the South.  We also picked up a horseradish plant, something Jon’s been wanting for awhile as he loves horseradish.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be getting the garden ready for the winter, putting a layer of leaves on the raised beds, as well as planting a few more blueberries and blackberries.  The kale, spinach, chard, carrots and lettuce I planted a couple weeks ago is doing well.  Other things keeping us busy will be picking up the buck we’ll be leasing to breed the goats next week.  He’ll be our aromatic guest for about a month.

This is the best time of year to trail ride so I’ll be fitting that in when I can.

But first, it’s off to the rodeo!  We’re flying out to Kansas City to see a PRCA rodeo and then on up to SW Iowa to visit Jon’s family.  I used to barrel race all through my teenage years and as an adult until a few years ago, and I still appreciate a good rodeo.

Success or Failure?

One chick out of 20 hatched.  If you’re looking at the numbers, it’s a failure, but if you’re looking at the experience and lessons learned, I would call it a success.  One of the hens decided to “set” about 3-1/2 weeks ago.  I had had one do this in the spring, which was a complete fail because she broke all the eggs.  But I thought there’s nothing to lose so we would try again.  I put 20 eggs under her and let her do her thing.  She broke a few but not many.  This past weekend I went out to do chores and was quite surprised to find the hen and a little chick outside of the chicken coop.  She had been setting in the top nest box in the coop, so apparently the chick hatched, fell about 3 feet out of the nest box, made its way to the door and fell another 2 feet out of the coop.  At that point we thought maybe we should move her to a ground level spot isolated from the other chickens, so we moved all her remaining eggs along with her new chick to the new box.  The next day another chick was hatching, but she wasn’t sitting on it.  The little thing peeped and pecked all day long but died before fully hatching because she apparently abandoned it, along with the rest of her eggs.  One chick is enough for her, I guess.  It’s sad because I broke the rest of the eggs and most of them had fully developed chicks inside, so if she would’ve finished her job we would’ve had lots of new chicks.  I have to wonder if the move caused her to abandon the rest.  Next time one of the hens goes broody, we will immediately isolate her.  It’s been interesting watching the hen teach her chick things.  She has a special cluck when I feed her and the little chick scurries out from under her, then she picks up some food and drops it in front of the chick, encouraging it to eat.

Open For Business

Today we opened our soap shop on Etsy.  My daughter and I make all natural goat milk soap, handmade in small batches.  There are no harsh chemicals in our soap, only goat milk, natural vegetable oils and 100% pure essential oils.  We started making soap because of the abundance of goat milk we had.  After trying reading a few books and taking a class on soapmaking, we began experimenting with different recipes and blends of essential oils.  We settled on a recipe that includes olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil and shea butter.  We loved how moisturizing it was, even in winter our skin didn’t get dry using it.  We had a few friends try it and got enthusiastic feedback, so we decided to try selling it, and today is our Grand Opening!

Applesauce

September means apples, and that translates into apple pie, apple crisp, apple muffins, and of course applesauce.  We are lucky enough to live only about a 10 minute drive to an apple orchard and for me that means multiple trips during the season to buy apples.  In the spring of 2011 we planted a couple apple trees but until they start producing I buy local apples.  I made my first batch of crockpot applesauce today and the smell throughout the house was pure heaven!  I make many, many batches of applesauce for use during the winter with oatmeal, pancakes, baking, etc.  I can’t stand the stuff sold in the grocery store–tasteless and just yuck. I like a little tartness so I always add some of my favorite apple–Granny Smith–to the standbys of Golden Delicious, Gala or Fuji.

Crockpot Applesauce

Fill crockpot with peeled and chunked apples.  My 5-qt crockpot takes about 15-20 smallish apples or a dozen large ones.  Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, brown or white, and 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon or a couple cinnamon sticks.  Cook on high till soft, usually a couple hours.  Mash with a potato masher.  Freezes well.

Goat Bells

My son went to Europe this summer, his high school graduation gift from us, and very thoughtfully brought back these goat bells and collars he purchased from a local vendor in Switzerland.  I love to hear their melodious tinkling every morning as I go out to milk them  Such beautiful music to start my day with!

No Sweat

Today was the first day in months I didn’t sweat through two sets of clothes a day while doing chores.  When I walked outside this morning I could feel the first hint of fall, cool, crisp air and no humidity.  I was born and raised in Iowa and have lived in Texas, Colorado and Kansas, and I will never get used to the humidity of the south.  The animals felt it too.  The goats ran to greet me when they heard me come outside, the rooster had an extraordinarily robust crow, the cats raced and cavorted beside me all the way to the barn, while the squirrels taunted them with their chatters and scolding from the tree tops.  Relief.  Rejuvination.  Welcome Autumn.