It's time again for making pumpkin pies. I started making our pies with homemade pumpkin puree a few years ago-it's amazing how light it tastes compared with store bought pumpkin puree in a can.
1. Pick out a nice looking sugar pumpkin. The bigger it is,the more puree you will have.
2.Cut the pumpkin up into pieces.Place in a microwavable bowl with 2" of water. Cover,and microwave on high for 15 minutes. It the rind is not soft enough to peel back,microwave on high for shorter increments of time.
3. Once the pumpkin rind is soft enough,wait until the pieces are cool enough to handle,peel the rind off the pumpkin pieces,and puree in a food processor.
4.Line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth. Pour the puree in to the cheese cloth.
5.Twist the cheesecloth and strain out as much water from the the puree as possible.
6.I weigh my puree into 15 oz batches,putting the batches I don't need right away into zip lock freezer bags and freeze them until I need them.
15 oz is approx 1 3/4 cups of puree. 15 oz will make one pumpkin pie,or (2) 9 x 5 x 3 pumpkin breads.
A few weeks ago,our neighbor came up to our door,opened it,and said,"Rick is passed out in the yard." I ran outside with him and there was Rick.laying on his right arm,out like a light. He had been working on building one of the walls for the barn. We tried to wake him up,but couldn't. His eyes were fluttering,and his hands were shaking. I called 911 and he was brought to the hospital in the ambulance.He was awake when Zach and I got there,but confused. He didn't remember what happened. He didn't remember being in the ambulance. Then,he passed again. His eyes fluttered,his hand shook. After a few minutes his eyes opened,and I told him to squeeze my hand if he could hear me,because he was just staring in to space. He squeezed it. I asked him if he wasn't able to talk to squeeze my hand again. He did. Then, less than a minute later,he was out again.
This happened several times. The Dr said it was either seizures,or "pseudo seizures." Because of his history,they wanted to send him to the VA Hospital down in West Roxbury, MA.
The next day,I went down to see him.
They had him all attached to various wires so they could track his brain activity. He did wind up having another episode during the second night of his stay,so they kept him there for three days to get a good reading.
What they determined was he was having pseudo seizures. When he had the episode in the hospital, there was no seizure activity. Rick had begun a very intensive cognitive PTSD therapy program a few weeks before. He has to write a trauma statement,with daily homework about the event,and the residual problems that is has caused.I am not allowed in with him at these sessions so he can talk freely,in case there are things that he does not want me to know about (there are).
These sessions,while good,make him think about things and emotions that he has tried to suppress for almost 10 years. It has put him through an emotional wringer. Because the memory and emotion part of the brain are on the same loop,it can get overwhelmed and basically shut down (this is the easiest way to think of it). This is turn causes him to have what looks like a seizure. We were told that it should stop after the therapy is completed. If not,they want him back for a week so they can monitor him further.He cannot drive,or climb anything higher than 3 ft until these "episodes" ( as I call them) go away.
Some days he is fine. Some days he has as much as 6 episodes in 45 minutes. Thankfully,it's been over a week without one,so that is good. It really drains him mentally and physically.
We do have new addition...Rooster Cogburn! Our neighbor gave him to us. He is a very pretty Rhode Island Red. It took him a few days to find his voice,but he cock-a-doodle-dos throughout the day now,and loves to walk around the yard,strutting his stuff. Hey,if you were the only male among 21 females,you'd strut too!
This past Sunday,Rick and Richie officially graduated from the NEADS program. Rick is officially trained enough to have his service dog-he is licensed for 5 years. At that point,he will have to go back and be tested again,just to make sure he is doing the right things. It was a lovely ceremony. They had 26 dogs and partners-they had children,veterans with PTSD,physically disabled people,and those who use the dog for therapy or ministry purposes.
Here is a pic of some of the graduating veterans-Rick is in the blue shirt. The gentleman in dress blues to Rick's left was in Rick's class. He also served in Ramadi Iraq at the same time as Rick,and come to find out,Rick's unit helped his unit when it came under attack,but they never met when they were over there.
I thought I had newer pictures of the barn,but I guess not.
At this point, the doors and window areas are cut out,and all four walls are up. Rick has been working on leveling the ground. Because it is getting rather late in the year,we are going to get the hayloft floor/first floor ceiling up,cover it with a tarp,and call it good until Spring when we will put the roof on it.It will just have to be shoveled off during the winter because it will be flat. We have the dog kennel chain link fencing panels that we will use for a fenced in area until the Spring when we will get our permanent fencing up.
This is what we woke up to this AM:
Since deer season for rifle opened up Wednesday,this is good for tracking. Rick and his brother went out early this AM--saw a deer,but couldn't get a shot off.
Have you been hit by this winter weather? Has it affected your farm in anyway?
One of the problems I have is that I am a terrible procrastinator. In fact,a few years ago I posted about how I was Queen of Procrastination. I have great ideas,and get all excited about doing them...however,I never seem to do them in a timely manner. It's one of faults and I completely own up to it.My intention is always wonderful. Getting intention into action is whole other issue.
Take for instance,The Lamp.
The Lamp is a lamp that my Mom gave us several years ago. It was a wedding gift for my parents,which makes The Lamp 67 years old. I don't ever remember The Lamp being used. It was always stashed in the "cubby hole"-- the area off my bedroom that had a door leading to it (those who grew up in Cape style houses or the like will know what I am referring to).
At any rate,Mom gave us The Lamp,and we used it. It worked great,then it died on us 5 or so years ago. Diagnosis: it needed to be rewired. Seems simple enough. Well,like anything else I have never done before, I looked up what I needed to do,and printed out the instructions. Note the date I printed it,so you can see that when I say I am procrastinator,you know I kid you not:
Judging by the date,I must have been in a New Year's Resolution mode (another thing which I never stick to,so I no longer make them). So there it was. Fix The Lamp!!!
Time rolls by....2010,2011,2012,2013,2014.....and this whole time,The Lamp sits on my bedroom floor,as well as the shade. And it sits...and sits...collecting dust.
Four months ago,I finally pulled out the instructions to see what what I would need to buy to fix The Lamp- wiring,a plug,and a light socket. For four months,these items would hang out in the bedroom as well, though they did get moved from the closet,to on top of my yarn basket,to finally falling on the floor and being ignored.
Two days ago,I rolled up my sleeves and decided that 5 years was enough.
It was so pathetically easy.
Here is The Lamp with all it's replacement parts:
Here it is all fixed! I don't think it took 1/2 an hour to read the directions,figure out a couple things,and clean it up.
I also scrubbed the shade with a brush and some dish soap. I got most of the dirt off,though it still looks a bit on the yellow side.However, it's much much better than it was. Here The Lamp is in it's place of honor. Please note the Outlander book!
So there it is....The Lamp..which only took 5 years and 1/2 an hour to fix!!
Thank you for the kind words regarding the loss of our dear Samson.He was a very good pup and we miss him terribly.
Things here have been busy...one thing after another,it seems. School is back in swing,and with it,Boy Scouts. The Fall is always hectic with Scouts,we start our weekly meetings again,then have various fundraising that we do for the Troop.
I had an operation right after Labor Day -nothing serious,just taking care of some <cough> feminine issues <cough> which sidelined me for a bit over a week. I am now all healed and back in action. The one thing I learned when I was recuperating is that running a house and trying to do the outdoor chores is too much for Rick. Physically,it's not an issue. Mentally,he can't keep track and gets scattered. Because of his PTSD/TBI,Rick needs a schedule. Anything that crops up-even a visitor-will throw him off,sometimes for the whole day. With me laying in an Oxycodone haze, I wasn't thinking of reminding him of things. Dishes would go unwashed for a day or two,even though he would see them and know he had to wash them-but then he would forget. Mind you, I am not complaining,just sharing what goes on when someone has to deal with these issues. What I should've done was made a list of daily chores before I had my surgery so he could follow it. That would've been most helpful for him.
Fall is finally here,and the leaves are starting to change. The days have been quite cool,even though we are going to get some nice warm weather this weekend.We are getting a lumber delivery tomorrow for the barn. The barn has been a slow process. Rick's brother was going to help when he got laid off for the season,but there is extra work at his job that needs to be done,and he is now working 6-7 days a week,leaving at 5:00 AM and not getting home until dark. Our friend George has been kind enough to help out on Saturdays when he can.We have decided that the roof will have to wait until Spring. The hayloft floor will be laid down upstairs,and then we will just cover it and make sure we shovel it off in the winter,so basically it will look like a box for now.
My garlic came out lovely this year. I have 50 hardneck plants. There is nothing better than fresh garlic!
I can't forget the Greek Oregano!! I
Our small apple tree was laden with fruit this year-we had 13 lbs of apples off one little tree!Now if I could only remember what kind of apple tree it is...the tag has vanished off it. Our Jonathan apple tree is about ready for picking too.
We have new member of the family. Her name is Meadow.When we first saw her,her eyes were a lovely green color which reminded me of a meadow (hence the name). It must've been the way the sun light was hitting them,because I have not been able to see that color in them since. She is a rescue dog that came up here to NH from TN. She is part Hound and part something else. She is a lovely little girl and is very smart. She is almost 3 months old. She will never take Samson's place,of course...and some folks may wonder at the fact that we got another dog so soon. Well, all I can say is that she has brightened our household--we really needed it.
Zach and I came back from school shopping last Thursday,and Rick was laying on the bed.
He had made a phone call we were both putting off. He had called our vet to make an appointment to put Samson out of his misery. We had to be there on Monday. Rick said he almost threw up when he was still on the phone,he felt so bad.
However,it had to be done.
We got Samson from a local ASPCA in December 2003. In fact,Rick and Samson were up here in the house before Zach and I were. When we decided to buy a house,the first thing Rick said was,"I want a dog." We looked on line,and he saw this dog that to me looked mean (he didn't like his picture taken). Rick went the ASPCA to check him out and he really liked him-he was a black lab/bull mastiff cross that was a lovely brindle color. They figured he about a year and half. He had been left behind by people who moved-literally,left tied up outside. A kind neighbor took him in and brought him to a shelter,and he was moved to the ASPCA where we got him. When Rick brought us to check Samson out,we were put in a room and Samson walked right up to Zach,sat next to him,and leaned on him ( Zach was in kindergarten). We knew we had to have this dog. Zach named him Samson Sunny D Shaw.
He was a lovely dog,and I even forgave him when he got loose,grabbed a chicken,dragged it into our neighbors yard and ate it. Feathers and all. We noticed in the last year that he was starting to slow down,which was to be expected. Then,his hind legs started giving out a bit. Xrays showed he had arthritis in both his hind legs. We were told it wasn't going to get better,but we could put him on some nerve pain medication to help with comfort,and fish oil to help his joints. It worked to a point. Then,he started not being able to squat when he pooped,and sometimes he didn't even bark to go out-he would just poop,like he didn't even know he had to. Then his legs started getting worse and worse-he would fall on his stomach climbing the stairs,or getting off the couch. We knew what we had to do,but we kept putting it off-for us,even though we knew it really wasn't fair to him. He was nearing 13 years old,and we had him almost 11 years. His face had turned gray and we could tell he was tired.
The worst part was knowing that Monday was coming up.I would look at him laying in the sun and think "he has no clue that this is last time he will lay there." When we were driving him to the vets,we rolled down the window and he stuck his nose out,smelling the fresh air. I cried the whole way. Rick asked if I wanted him to drive,but I was OK to drive. It was the longest 6 minute drive of my life. Rick,Zach,Richie,and I went into the room with Samson. The vet and her asst were so very nice,and I felt bad for them,having to do this. I laid down on the floor next to Samson,put my head on his side,and held him. Rick and Zach patted him,and Richie licked his ear. It was painless and quick.We went out the back door and had a group hug,crying. I was so glad all of us went together. I had every intention of going about my day to try and keep things normal,but there was no way I could. I was a mess the whole day-I cried so much that I got a terrible headache and had to lay down. None of us went to Scouts that night-my head hurt too much and I randomly burst into tears. Yesterday was better,but I was still quite drained and still cried once in a while. The house is so quiet without his heavy steps in it. We miss you,Samson. I hope you are running in a meadow somewhere,chasing chickens.
A whole month has gone by already! I can't believe it has been so long since I posted last. Thankfully,I know you all will forgive,as you know it's a crazy time of year,and here is no different.
Let me preface this post by stating that I am a BeekGeek. I say that loud,and I say that proud. ( I saw BeekGeek on a license plate and figured it was appropriate)
What,you may ask,in the wide wide world of sports is a BeekGeek? It's a fan of the Beekman Boys (AKA Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell).I first became aware of them when I saw their show,The Fabulous Beekman Boys,on Planet Green a few years ago,and I immediately fell in love with them. Sadly,their show didn't last,but it created a very strong and devoted group of BeekGeeks. I have their series on my Kindle,and I have all their recipe books-each one autographed in person,of course!
Why my love for the Boys? Well,I found the show and their philosophy very inspiring.Their story in a nutshell: they were driving out of NYC to pick apples,stumbled onto Sharon Springs,NY,liked the town,and happened to see the Beekman Mansion was for sale,which they fell in love with. They bought the mansion,and started a farm with a gentleman named Farmer John and his goats,which started them making goat milk soap. They support local farmers. They raise heirloom veggies. They won the Amazing Race. Right now through the sales of their Mortgage Lifter Tomato Pasta Sauce they are donating money to small farmers to help them out.
Thankfully,My Dear Friend Michelle is also a BeekGeek ,so she gets it. Last November,we went down to Stonewall Kitchen in York ME where they were doing a book signing:
They were very kind and friendly. It was like we were old friends.
I get their email updates,and one that came through was about the Sharon Springs Garden Festival on Memorial Day weekend,and they were going to have a tour of their property. i really wanted to go. Rick said he had too much to do,but I should ask Michelle if she would like to go. Girl Trip!
Thankfully,her scheduled allowed for it,and we made plans for the 4 hour drive to Sharon Springs,NY. Even though it was Memorial Day weekend,we were lucky that we didn't hit any traffic ( we did avoid all the big highways,though). We got to our room in Cobbleskill,NY,unloaded our bags,and went to Sharon Springs to check things out.
I failed to mention that My Dear Friend had broken her leg in a sledding accident and had to have surgery on it,and she was still on one crutch/boot. She's a trooper!
It had rained,so apparently that drove the crowd away by the time we pulled into Sharon Springs. I saw the store,and saw Josh in front,and exclaimed,"Josh is in front of the store!" Michelle stopped the car immediately,screamed,looked,and pulled into the American Hotel parking lot,which was right across from the store. By the time we got out and walked to the sidewalk,Josh had gone inside,but we still took photos of their store:
We went into the American Hotel,run by Garth and Doug,who we had seen on the series. We were going to try and get into there for brunch the next day,but to our surprise,they had seating available for dinner. Doug,who is also the mayor of Sharon Springs,took our reservation,which Michelle put under her name,and Doug serenaded her with a few lines of "Michelle" by the Beatles,which made her blush. We couldn't believe our luck-dinner at the American!!! Here is a pic of the front of the American Hotel:
We had some time before dinner,so we went over to the Beekman 1802 store,and Brent happened to be in there . It was really neat to be able to chat with him with out a line of people behind us,and he was just as nice and friendly as he was back in Nov. We each bought a "Goat Tote" bag,and he was so very kind as to sign them,and,since Josh was in a meeting,hold our totes out back so Josh could sign them and we could pick them up the next day when we came for the book signing.He also gave us a meal recommendation-beef tips with mashed potatoes and blue cheese. We took his advice and it was delicious! Our appetizer was a sampler plate with crab cakes that was excellent,also. We each tried their House Garden Martini-neither of us having had martinis before-and it was a wee bit strong for us. We are not martini girls,but the onion and the pickled green bean in it were very good :) The next day was the tour,and their property is GORGEOUS!!! The mansion was built in 1802 by Judge William Beekman (hence the name of their business Beekman 1802 and the name of their show,The Beekman Boys). We were not allowed inside the house,but we could stay on their property as long as we wished,which was great. This is the view of the front of the house.....
And the back....
And part of the view from the back...
We also got to meet Roger Hazard,from A&E's " Sell This House!" I love that show,and it was really cool to chat with Roger:
Farmer John took us on a tour of the barn and answered questions about his goats. Sadly,Polk Spot,the Diva Llama,was not having any of this and stayed hidden,which bummed me out greatly. ...
After the tour,we got on the shuttle and headed back to town,where we were able to chat some with both Josh and Brent.Josh signed our bags,and they both signed our cookbooks. I love this photo of the four of us. I have it framed above my computer. You can see my post its on pages of recipes that I tried. (they were very good,by the way!)
Michelle got a bit of a thrill when Josh offered his arm to help her down the stairs. How can a girl say no to that? ( even though she didn't need any help). Lucky lady!!!! It was an awesome trip!
I feel bad about not posting more,but it's been so crazy around here! Yard clean up is nearing it's end,which means we can start on the barn. We have had lots of scouting activities to either participate or bring Zach to. I have been busy reading up on things,designing labels,and yesterday I made some laundry soap-one batch for us,and I did make another so I can begin to sell it. I did have a nice overnight trip with my Dear Friend Michelle to Sharon Springs NY for their Garden Party and to visit the Beekman 1802 store and chat with Josh and Brent and get autographs (more about that on my next post).
A few weeks ago,the NH Farm Museum held a shearing demonstration,so I went. Rick and Zach were at the Boy Scout Spring Camporee that weekend,so I was by myself. Tim and Lisa,who own Heart Stone Farm over Milton,were giving the demonstration ( Tim sheared,Lisa discussed the fleece). Come to find out,their farm is only about 5 minutes from us. I was able to chat with Tim and Lisa after he sheared one of the Museum's sheep,ask a few questions,and glean some insight into the world of shearing one's own sheep. I told Tim about how we came about becoming farmers,Rick's disability,etc,and he mentioned that his wife was a veteran as well. Both he and Lisa suggested that we have our sheep professionally done first,then take shearing classes because it looks easier than it is.
After liking each other on Facebook,I received a message from Tim saying that he and his wife had been talking and because Rick was a veteran,he was offering his shearing services for free. He mentioned that many times,shearers don't like to shear small flocks,and won't go to a house with only three,but he like to help us out. Well,that was so kind of him,and we were a bit nervous about attempting it ourselves,so we happily accepted his offer.
One thing we have noticed is that the sheep owners circle around here is not very big. In fact,I originally wanted Babydoll Southdowns because they are small and I felt that would be better for our size of land,but I couldn't find any on line and knew no one who would have a clue as to what a Babydoll Southdown was,let alone point me in the right direction. Come to find out,Tim and Lisa have Babydoll Southdowns! Right now I am happy with my Romneys,but getting one or two Babydolls at some point may not be out of the question.
Because the circle is not very big,everyone who has been in this circle that we have come in contact with are more than willing to help in anyway possible,because they remember what it was like for them starting out and having no local resources whatsoever. Lisa offered to show me how to skirt fleece at their place,and Tim told Rick he would show him how to give the sheep shots when the time comes. He even trimmed their hooves for us,and showed Rick how to do that.Morning,noon,or night,if we had an issue with the sheep,we can call them. If sheep get sick,they tend to go down hill very fast. Now we have two great contacts-Priscilla,who sold us the Romneys,and Tim and Lisa.
Tim did tell Rick that our sheep are in excellent health,and that they have beautiful fleece. He can tell that we care for our animals.
It's amazing how small the sheep look once they are shorn:
This is Starlight's fleece. She has some lovely reddish color in it:
This is Violet's. She is all white/beige:
This is Woolsey's. Woolsey has darker wool with some tan and reddish color in it.
You can see the lovely crimping that each has in their wool. My next step is skirting,which cutting the nasty areas off and taking out the big pieces of vegetation,etc. Then,the fleece gets cleaned,Once it's dried,it gets "filcked" which means the smaller pieces of foreign matter get cleaned out,then it gets carded so all the fibers go in the same direction,then the fleece gets spun into yarn. I am not going to dye these,I am going to leave them their natural colors. Today it's raining,but it gives me a good chance to putter around inside and get caught up on some housework before I have to bring Zach to the Dr's for his camp physical once he gets out of school. I will leave you with this lovely sunrise we had yesterday!
When the weather is nice,we take the goats for a run up the Class VI road that runs along our property. There are only 5 houses on it,and it's a dead end,so it's not busy at all.
Since Zach was in school,Rick was the runner this AM:
Our neighbor who lives behind us had her Great nephew visiting,and he loves our goats. She has brought him down on a few occasions to visit with the animals,and he adores the goats. He had to help Rick with the morning run:
It's great to introduce little ones to farm animals,and wonderful to seem them have fun!
The Ladies see us running with the goats and they call out to us..."BAAAAAAAA!!!!!" They let us know in no uncertain terms (very loudly,I might add) that they are hungry and ready for breakfast. We tell them to please be patient,the little ones have to come first. Patience is rewarded by some fresh water and tasty feed hay.
While they are still a bit skittish,yesterday I was able to pat Starlight for a few seconds,and when I got a quick pat onto Violet and Woolsey,they didn't bolt away from me like before. They just backed away a few inches. I guess they are finally getting used to me :)
I can't believe it's been so long since I have posted.Between Boy Scouts,Dr appts,reading up on "how to" do this and that, running errands,and taking care of the animals,it seems like time has gone by in the blink of an eye.
We are finally out of the throes of winter,the snow is gone,and the leaves are now coming out on the trees,the forsythia is blooming,and the weather is getting pleasant-thank goodness! It was a long,snowy winter,and we are finally to my favorite season-Spring.
The Girls are now laying on a regular basis,and we are letting them free range once again. I love the way they scratch at the ground and eat the bugs they find-their fluffy bottoms are quite cute ( am I the only one who thinks that? )
The goats are doing very well. Scout,Rick's wether,is on his last week of bottle feeding. We are down to one bottle feed a day for him. On Friday,Blizzard,my wether,goes down to one bottle feeding a day. By the end of the month,all the goats will be off the bottle. We have not found another doeling yet. The Ladies are doing great.I went to a sheep shearing demonstration at the NH Farm Museum a couple weeks ago,and chatted with Tim,who was doing the demonstration. Come to find out,he and his wife,Lisa live only about 5 minutes from us. His wife is also a veteran,and he offered to to shear our sheep for us for free so he could show us how to to do it so we wouldn't have to attempt it by ourselves at first. I thought that was pretty nice of him! Last week we had a bit of rain and a rainbow appeared-it started not far from our house. I have never been so close to a rainbow before.It was really cool. It started a few doors down from us,then went over the edge of our yard and across the street!
Today we are going down to my sisters house for Mother's Day dinner. Since she and my Mom are moving down to TN in early Fall,this may be the last Mother's Day we have together. Aside from that and the basic dishes and sweeping,I am not doing a darn thing all day! Today I am Queen! I hope all you Mom's out there get spoiled like you deserve! I got a lovely breakfast served to me on the deck this AM,and a back massage coming this evening from my hubby :)