Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, James!

I love you and hope you have a wonderful day!

If you get a chance go say Happy Birthday to James. Just pick a post any post and wish him many years.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ag Review

Have you ever heard of "Ag Review"? Nearly every state has an Ag Review either in print or more often then not, a spot on a local radio station. They are often daily, but sometimes weekly, summaries of agricultural news for that state.
Well, here is the St. Brigid Farm Ag Review...
This past week I made my first attempt at cheese making. Here you'll see a few pictures. First I'm warming the milk, then it's dripping and finally the end product. I let it drip too long and it's a bit dry. This is called Chevre or French Style Chevre. It can be used in place of cream cheese in nearly any recipe. You can also season it as a spread for crackers. I have yet to try it but hope to make a yummy cream cheese kind of dessert for the weekend to come.

(you can click the pics for a much bigger view)

I've been busy working on the garden. I still have poles to string for beans and peas but all rows are coming through the soil now. The 9 tomato plants are in and I chose yet another method to see how they do this year. It is hard to grow tomatoes in Washington, but I'm determined. They say tires help keep the soil warm as they absorb heat. They also stay warm into the evening and give off that heat to the plant. I also hope to construct some sort of row cover using flexible conduit for later when the rain season begins but my tomatoes are done yet. In the first picture I'm standing in one corner of the garden area and you can see the whole area. Next year I hope to have more of the grass dug up into beds. Looking at the picture you see the raspberries on the far left, the first bed in front is peas and spinach (which is NOT doing well). In the next bed you see onion, potatoes and on the far end one loan squash plant (not visible in the picture). In the way back next to the raspberries we have 3 apple trees. One of them did not produce this year. I'll have to figure that one out yet. Next to the potato bed is an empty bed where I'm dumping manure from the goats and chickens to decompose and have a great bed next year. After that are the tomato tires and rows of pole beans and pole peas.

Here is a close-up of the beans, peas and tomatoes. Below is a close up of the one little raspberry that was ripe. I snuck it. Shhhh! It was so yummy.
This a branch of one of the apple trees.

The livestock is well. I really think Butter needs to wean from her mother but I'm not in charge of that. Once she does we'll probably get nearly a gallon of milk a day. As of right now we get just over 1/2 a gallon and it's more than we need. I hope to make cheese more often. My goal is to make LOTS of cheese and to never buy it again. I can't wait to learn how to make hard cheeses like cheddar. The chicken production is down slightly. We were averaging 18+ eggs a day but now we are averaging 16. Time to really think about another coop and more chickens. More and more people from Church are inquiring about purchasing eggs and I don't have enough.
We sold the Caravan! And now have just the trooper to sell. I'm pretty used to the big Suburban now. It has a huge tank and we filled it for the first time since the first day we got it and it still only took 22 gallons (35 gallon tank we think). We got 17.8 miles to the gallon, all city miles. Our caravan gave us 16 miles to the gallon, city. So we are a tad better, plus diesel fuel here in Poulsbo anyway, is cheaper than unleaded.
Oh, I forgot to mention. This past weekend the weathermen had NO IDEA what the weather was going to be like. It was gorgeous! Very little rain and lots of sun. Today the same. I have 2 loads of laundry hanging out on my temporary clothesline! I love freshly sun dried clothes.

Below, is a very cool picture (if I do say so myself) of a huckleberry bush. We have many of these on the property. They are so delicious. I've never had them before so I need to research recipes. Anyone have a good huckleberry recipe? I'm most interested in preservation for future use. There are so many!

Well, there you have it! Ag review for St. Brigid Farm.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Community and Down on the Farm!

I’m reading a really good book called MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook : for the farmgirl in all of us by MaryJane Butters. (Arielle—she wrote the forward in Women of the Harvest) I love it! I’ve devoured it! The section of the book is called “Each Other” and talks about community, the good old days, lending a hand, farmstyle celebrations, etc. She talks a lot about when she was growing up in her Mormon home and community (she has since left the Mormon faith) her mother and all the neighbors were immersed in helping one another. Her mother led a group called The Relief Society. These Mormon homemakers met once a month, taking turns teaching one another and providing relief to those whose burdens had become too heavy to bear alone. Her mother told her, “We had lessons on things like manners, sewing, and cooking, and we organized ourselves into a clean-up team. We also emphasized the importance of dressing nice and helped each other with that.” Her mother also met twice a month with another group for nearly 50 years. This was a group of 15 women that came from a cross section of religions. One night a month they would play pinochle and the other night was for needlework. And her mother said, “And we always made a big deal out of our birthdays.”

MaryJane continues by saying “What I remember of my childhood challenges me now. The buzzword these days to describe what I had is ‘community’. Our entire culture as Americans has changed, but what hasn’t changed is our collective longing for community—the ‘full purpose of heart’ I grew up studying. It’s a way of life that’s hard to keep, and it’s an unbelievable amount of work. But the promise to be faithful to the good in each other is a promise absolutely anybody, anywhere, can make and decide to keep, religious or not.”

This has really started me thinking. It’s hard for me to put in words. Many days, more often than not, I feel like I’m desperate to just touch base with others. I could never really put my finger on the feelings until I read this and now I am convinced it is just what she is talking about that I am missing…ongoing relationships with other women. To help each other, to play, to talk, to encourage, to learn.

I’ve discovered that I am really a home-body. I don’t like to go places very often, most especially with a car full of children. Despite this I desperately find myself yearning to have meaningful conversation with other adults, other women.

When we lived in Bothell my neighbor and friend, Helen, and I would meet 1-3 times a week for morning coffee. We would also help each other with childcare. This is something I don’t have here anymore but I miss it a great deal. I wouldn’t trade my 2.6 acres, goats, chickens and gardens for anything but I feel that there is more to community then what I see right now. I want what those Mormon homemakers had in each other. I want what those 15 women had together for 50 years. I want community.

I’m not sure where this will lead me. It has inspired me though and I hope to be able to encourage others and to grow friendships.

(I’ll check to see if any of the neighbors hope to move anytime soon!

So, speaking of community! The biggest event this weekend on the farm was a roof raising party for the guest house! We had FIVE families and 2 singles join us yesterday (June 17) to get the roof on the guest house!! The sheathing is on the roof and the sides. Ready for shingles, siding, windows and doors. Thank you so much to all who took the time, energy and money to spend the day with us!!! You definitely have an invitation to utilize the guest house once it's done, almost anytime you want.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bread Recipe

Grandma Syverson with her 3 oldest children, the girl in the polka dots is my mom.

As per Arielle's request...

Grandma Syverson's Whole Wheat Bread

3 c. scalded milk
3 c. hot water
1/2 c. sugar (I think I used less)
dissolve 2 pkgs. yeast in this.

In very large bowl mix:
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. salt
1/2 cup melted fat or shortening

Slowly add the liquid. Mix thoroughly. (It will be soupy at this point.)
Add 7-9 more cups of flour. Her recipe calls for white flour but I used 100% hard whole wheat. I also added wheat gluten per package directions. I do believe that when all was said and done I ended up using a total of 15 or 16 cups of flour which means instead of the 7-9 more it was more like 12 more.
Knead 15 minutes.
Raise till double.
Knead down and raise again.
Knead down and form 6 loaves. Raise one hour.
Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.

We made this on Friday and still have a loaf left. Sundays we don't each much bread because we are gone most of the day. In a typical weekday we go through nearly 2 loaves a day for our family of 6.

This is how I made it. Her recipe card had very few, if any, detailed directions.

Grandma Syverson is on the left.
Grandma Kauffman is on right, also an amazing cook.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bread Baking Day

I’ve been baking bread on and off for a few years now. Mostly only baking bread that I can do with my Cuisinart, thinking it is much easier than the process by hand. If I were to bake bread 100% of the time never buying, we’d need 1-2 loaves a day. I’ve experimented with bread recipes because I’ve felt that I could never get it right. I’ve never been happy with the bread I’ve baked. I bake with 100% hard whole wheat and it doesn’t rise as nicely so a friend told me to use wheat gluten and that helped some. So I went on baking with my Cuisinart and trying different recipes that fit the machine. A couple weeks ago Kelsey and I started a tradition (I’ve spoke of here before) where we get up and milk and when we are done she puts together bread for the Cuisinart and we bake 2 loaves everyday. She LOVES it. This past Friday, however, I decided that I wanted to FINALLY try my grandma Syverson’s recipe for whole wheat bread, the one that makes 6 loaves. I’ve never tried it before because it wouldn’t fit in the Cuisinart AND it seemed to be such a detailed recipe using such things as scalded milk and melted fat. And the recipe (written out by her hand) didn’t tell me HOW to do it just listed ingredients. So because I was unfamiliar with how to put it together I never tried it. Friday I got brave. I wanted 6 loaves and wanted to try her recipe. So with another of her recipes in hand that had more detail (it was a similar recipe for bread, just made only 3 loaves) Kelsey and I went at it. After the first rise in that big bowl in the picture I was SOLD!!! NEVER NEVER had my bread rose like this bread did. It filled that big bowl! When I put it in the pans to rise…it filled the pans the way all the recipes have told they should and I’ve never been able to do. It was beautiful!!! It is SO tasty too and cuts so nicely, not crumbly. All along I’ve been searching for the easy way (by machine) and never been able to find a recipe to work, never having bread rise well. And all I needed to do was to look to grandma, the woman who baked bread all her life.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tickled Pink... announce with great pride that on July 18th, which is the Feast day of our Church, St. Elizabeth, my dearly beloved, James, will be tonsured a Reader!
Here he is reading the Epistle on Pascha! He's a natural. Of course you can't "hear" him and his very wonderful voice ( I know I've mentioned before my love of his voice, singing or otherwise.) but I just wanted to put some kind of a picture up.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

So far today on the farm...

It's 12:45pm and this is what acquired today from our far.
One dozen eggs collected, I know we'll get more as we've been averaging 18 a day. Yesterday we collected 21!!! We have 23 hens. Kelsey and I baked 2 loaves of bread. We started a tradition, not set in stone yet because it's so new, that when we get in from milking around 6:30a.m. we start our bread for the day. We've done it all week and she seems to like it! She actually does the main work in the Cuisinart and I finish it after the first rise. The dimples in today's bread were caused by a curious 6 year old.
Firefly has been consistantly giving us over a quart of milk each morning, some mornings more than 1 1/2 quarts. I hope this keeps going up.
So even though sometimes I feel like I don't accomplish much, I look at this and know I have done well. It is so rewarding to provide for others.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Mom and daughter...the goat milking team.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What's happening down at St. Brigid Farm?

I've updated the look of my blog. I wanted to make more "farmish" (I don't think that is a word.) and this is how it turned out. I'm not done.

The goats are doing well! Most days I get 1-2 quarts of milk which is sufficient for our consumption on oatmeal and just plain drinking. But not enough for cheese, which is what my goal is. We can't wait to breed and have more next summer, plus I can't wait until Butter is weaned so that I can get more milk. Technically the more I milk the more milk she should give so maybe I should milk her out in the evenings as well.
The chickens are awesome! They give us 15-20 eggs a day and we LOVE selling them, today I sent 2 dozen with James to work. Plans are being made for another coop to expand the flock.
The guest house is slowly taking form, not much has been done to it since the big barn raising as we've been consumed with the goats and garden. Another work party is being planned for the 16/17th of this month. We hope to get the roof on that weekend.
The garden is taking shape as well. It will not be nearly as big as I had hoped there is just so much to do since I am starting from scratch. Plus I have to rethink placement of some of the beds since one big area doesn't seem to get the sun I thought it would. I've been watching the sun and it seems shaded quite early in the day, but I might be able to utilize it for some things like cucumbers or peas or spinich all of which can handle less sun.

Anyway, that's what's happening on the farm. I hope to write more frequently on our adventures on the farm with more pictures. It sure is a learning process and I am loving it!
I believe that someday we will need to upgrade to more land, but in the mean time this is just the right step to take for adjusting and learning.