summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pretty Parsley

The first harvest of the season - put up, that is…parsley.  I cannot count the short row of radishes that Glenn relished ala carte, the 30 pods of sugar snap peas that I sautéed in butter and enjoyed  with brown rice, or the leaf lettuce we add to our salads when we remember we have plenty to gather from the garden.  And, I will only quickly mention the bare ground peppered with weeds where Glenn had planted rows of sweet corn. And, none grew. Yikes!


To date, the garden has not been a real success.


But, I did check on my lone parsley plant yesterday and discovered lush, compared to past years, growth.  It was thick, leafy, and healthy. And, extremely green!

Take a whiff...can you smell the  aroma?
Immediately, I clipped much of the plant leaving enough, hopefully, to continue to produce more throughout the summer.  Oh, the aroma - so sweet, so flavorful and evoking memories of my childhood.  My Grandmother used a lot of parsley, that she grew in her tiny garden, mainly to flavor her homemade soups.  Her kitchen, which was directly above ours, was frequently infused with the fresh parsley bouquet.  Happiness and simple times lovingly comes to my mind when I smell fresh parsley.


I snapped off the leaves from the stems, gave them a good rinse and placed them into the dehydrator.  In short order, a few hours later, the leaves were dry.  I crumbled them and rubbed them through a wire-mesh sieve.

Even the color says 'fresh'!

Still so green, and still so fragrant.


Voila. Fresh, natural, dried parsley to add to home-cooked meals.


Now, all I have to do is take the time to cook…maybe lasagna or beef stew.  Either dish would season nicely with the parsley and either one also utilizes our delicious home-raised meats.


Hmmm...maybe I should just leave the packet of pretty parsley out on the kitchen counter to reminder me, an incentive of sorts, to cook a nice dinner.  Or, I can just place it the cupboard with my collection of other spices and herbs rarely to be seen again.


No…this time it stays on the counter.  Just enjoying the color is worth my efforts.  And, if I use it to make dinner…an added bonus!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Here and Gone

This morning’s walk started out with a bit of a stir.  Near the house, lying at the side of the farm road, almost into the woods was a dead opossum.   Or, was it dead?


The dogs advanced on the lifeless body with both caution and aggression.  The totally still body did not move, did not flinch even with the circling and barking from both Buddy and Sammy.  I hesitated from advancing too close.  My immediate concern was that this opossum would jump up and bite me.  I remained much further away than the dogs.  I was not taking any chances.


I managed to divert both dogs’ attention into following me.  So, we proceeded on our early morning walk through the cool and shaded woods.  Peace surrounded us.


Yet, as we walked, I thought to myself, “Maybe this critter was just playing ‘dead’.  After all, we are talking opossum here.  Well, we would know on our return.


Sure enough... this was a definite case of ‘playing dead’.  The supposedly lifeless body of the opossum was gone.  Both dogs sniffed the now deserted site.  I bet they were wondering about the whereabouts of what they were considering a breakfast treat.


I was just glad that the opossum was gone and would not require a more formal disposition.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two Robins Come And...

The robins returned to our yard to nest again.  They reused the nest that they had built the previous spring which is located up in a corner of our pergola.


The sitting parent always few off the nest whenever we opened the back door and walked onto the deck and cautiously watched from a safe distance nearby, either atop a fence post or on a tree branch.


When the eggs hatched, the robins were observed waiting that same safe distance for us to leave our post…usually relaxing in the shade of the pergola.  The birds’ beaks were always filled with tasty morsels for their hungry young.


I thought there were only two babies for the longest time.  Then a few days ago, I moved closer to the nest and discovered a third beak peeking out from the nest. Surprise!


Today, the robin family was gone.


I will not disturb the nest and I will anticipate their return next spring. The robins know they are welcome!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ewes Fate

We regularly cull the livestock on our farm.




There are several reasons….the female is not producing offspring to our standards, the female has birthing issues, the female is old and losing vigor, the bull/ram is too closely related to the present breeding stock (offspring from said males are now at breeding age) or our overall number of animals have increased above what is prudent for our management practices or for the current pastures conditions which are usually weather dependent...a dry year produces less grass; thus, fewer animals can be properly nourished.


Today, we culled seven old ewes.


Glenn and I were easily able to manage and load the ewes without our main help…Becky.
I  love sheep.
My rationale for being partial to the sheep - they are so much smaller than the cattle and so much less threatening to me.  Think of it…a cow weighs about 1300 pounds, a ewe only about 125.  125 pound animal is a lot easier to move and guide than one that outweighs you 7-fold or more. 


Once loaded, we drove north to one of the stockyards in Harrisonburg.  Unloading was a snap.  We followed our animals through the weighing process.

our seven ewes waiting in the pen (top of photo)
our sheep are hair sheep - compare to the wool sheep in the other pens

ewes getting weighed

overview of interior of facility - not a single cobweb

front of facility - large truck is labeled 'cow taxi' - even farmers have a sense of humor

I was amazed at the cleanliness of this particular stockyard inside and outside - neat, tidy, well-maintained, and nary an odor.  I did not even notice one fly. And, friendly. I was pleased and impressed. This is not a typical stockyard environment. 

weighing - ewes are in the pen just beyond the windows

We got our weight tickets and bid farewell.  The auction is tonight.  Payment will be made by the early part of next week.  And, we are keeping our fingers crossed that prices will be on the high end.  (Note: It’s uncanny how Glenn usually manages to take his livestock to market on a week when the prices tend to fall.)

auction area - show ring - ready for business

Falling prices has been our fate for years.  And, we accept it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dinner Time


Becky's first pig litter ever...taking one of their many daily meals.

Sweet Melody

The birds have been particularly happy this spring as I witness the seemingly unending tunes by these chorale experts. My guess is that the winter was a difficult time for them, too, and that they are just as thrilled, as I am, that spring finally arrived.


Today, I was personally serenaded by a song sparrow.  The notes were charming, crisp and melodic.


And, to make my attendance all the sweeter…I had a front row seat.  Actually, I was standing, but you get the point.


I was able to settle close to this small creature who had a ‘big’ voice. I could clearly observe this bird separate his bill, his throat pulse and hear the notes flow effortlessly.