summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Our Tractor Gets A New, Actually Two New, Tires

A few days ago, our farm tractor got a flat tire during our most recent winter blizzard.  The damage was beyond a repair.  Glenn immediately got on his cell phone (yep, right in the middle of his snow removal activity - not a second to waste) and ordered two new rear tires.  He could not be without his tractor. Unfortunately, the tires were not in stock and had to be ordered and shipped.  Glenn followed-up with a daily phone call to get a status report.  Day by excruciating day, Glenn became more and more anxious.
Finally, the tire guy arrived in the yard today to replace the two rear tires.  We have been handicapped for days without the use of our tractor.   
old tires - ready to recycle
still had plenty of tread, though
The replacement took place right where Glenn parked the tractor.  These tires are huge and heavy and beyond Glenn’s capability to remove and replace them on his own. He just does not have the proper equipment for such an undertaking.  Each tire weighs about 800 pounds.  A majority of that weight is due to the liquid that fills the tire. The liquid has to be drained, via pump, before the old tire is taken off the tractor, then the liquid has to be returned to inside the new tire. 
NEW tire
new tire label still attached...that's new
look at that thread and little rubber hairs - new

Voila - two brand spanking new tires ready for work detail. Glenn relaxed. He had his tractor back.
To a farmer, new tractor tires are to be celebrated, sometimes admired, and even flaunted.   
That is…until the bill arrives - ugh!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Simply Nature

The day before the storm...
Changes between one day and the next can often times be dramatic as we certainly just experienced. Today is sunny and bright.  The blizzard of the past two days has moved on and a magical and very white world remains. 

The day after the storm...

I finally donned my outdoor wear, not exactly suitable for snow as much as for cold but the only clothes that would keep me somewhat dry and comfortable, and took a short walkabout to explore my immediate surroundings.

Buddy finally decided that the worst was over and made his way out of the doghouse which is located within the barn.  Snowball happily ran, jumped, slid - enjoying every inch of the snow-laden yard seemingly relaying to Buddy all what he had missed during his self-imposed sequester the past wo days. I had my loyal companions at my side again. 
The livestock, mostly the cattle, made their own trails through the snow.  The sheep were less prone to wander being shorter and the walking more difficult for them.  Glenn helped by plowing a few well-placed paths between food, water and shelter. 
The chickens will remain in their house for a while.  I cannot even see their access door as it is well under a cover of snow.  But, that is OK with the chickens as they do not like their feet touching snow.  Never have.
Mother Nature can certainly create elegant beauty.
The action of the blustery wind and the resulting drifts are so interesting - modest yet astonishing shapes.  In various places, exposed ground gives way to 3 and 4 foot hills of gracefully sculpted snow.  Rooftops skillfully decorated with nature’s own icing.
The result is of peace fashioned out of chaos. 
Simply amazing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Very Winter Day

Well, the snow came.  I cannot tell you the depth since along with the snow we had strong winds which blew the light snow into drifts and mountains and such.  Glenn guesstimates the depth at about 18 inches with drifting up to five feet high - that's a bit over boot tops!
Snowball running toward me. I was standing inside the back door.
Snowball was quite happy. After all, he is a Pyrenees Mountain Dog.  Buddy was nowhere to be found.  I finally found him settled in the doghouse which is located inside the pole barn.  He was happy to stay put.
Snowball taking a nap on a mountain of snow while it was still snowing.  He is one happy Great Pyrenees.

The snow fell all day Friday and some on Saturday.  The winds howled.  I rarely saw the snow coming down vertically.
Glenn spent most of the day plowing our 7/10th of a mile driveway so that we could access the public road.  Glenn made it through the woods as anticipated and near Route 11 a 5’drift, also anticipated, blocked his way.  The plow was not going to move that drift off the lane.  So, Glenn returned to the house to get his tractor.  He would have to dig through the drift with the bucket on his tractor.  He has had to go through this process a few times over the years since we took residence here, but not very often thank goodness.
Unfortunately, today he had a tractor mishap.  He got a flat tire on the rear right tire of his tractor.  Actually, the tire was slashed.  And, that means the tractor was not only out of commission, but now we need to buy a new tire.  Have you ever seen the size tire on the back of a tractor?  It is huge and very expensive.  Glenn was able to dig through the drift before having to limp back up the drive on that flat tire. 
The tractor is the workhorse of the farm.  Glenn still needed to feed the cattle.  So, Glenn climbed up on his next and only other option, his Caterpillar frontend loader, and moved a bale of hay out to the cattle with that monstrosity. The Cat moves via tracks, so the moving is slow and when Glenn drives through the yard with that mammoth the entire house shakes.
Then, even though my fingers were crossed, the electricity failed at 3:00 PM.  Our solar back-up seamlessly went into action to keep the priority outlets working.  We have several full freezers to maintain along with the circulator on our wood-burning furnace, refrigerator and such.  I tuned off the heater on the hot tub to conserve our stored power.  I just did not know how long the grid would be off.
Thankfully, after two short hours, our power was restored.  Perfect!  I could now make the new recipe I had planned for dinner...shrimp and sausage jambalaya.  I had never ever made jambalaya.  Mid-recipe, I needed to add Creole spice.  I did not have any as I am not fond of hot, spicy food.  I quick looked up a recipe, compliments of Emeril Lagasse,  on the internet and mixed up some Creole spice. 
The jambalaya tastes a whole lot better than it looks -
shrimp. sausage, rice, green peppers, celery, onions, Creole spices, tomatoes -
The jambalaya was tasty and just a bit spicy for my mild preference.  Glenn likes his food a bit more spicy, but he ate three bowls so I guess the jambalaya was to his satisfaction.
A bowl of jambalaya is a warm and hearty ending to a very winter kind of day.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Calm Before the Forecasted Storm

Today was sunny, calm and cold.  The forecast is for a major snowstorm to begin arriving tomorrow and lasting for a couple of days. The mild and spring-like days of this past December are gone and left in their wake is a garden full of daffodil leaves protruding 6-inches out of the ground. 
yikes...I even see a yellow flower bud...winter?
Glenn went into action…he installed the snowplow blade on his pick-up truck, purchased the requisite gallon of milk, helped Becky honker down her farm, and plans to move all our livestock closer to the house before the actual snow flies.  He wants to be sure his chore time during the blizzard will be as easy possible and preparing will help.

I bundled up and went out to give my chickens fresh water and collect eggs, filled my wild bird feeders, recovered one of my raised strawberry beds with pine boughs that had blown off during our last windy day, and enjoyed watching the birds (mainly chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, juncos and a few woodpeckers) visit the full feeders.  Early during my chores the zipper on my old, oh so comfortable and only winter work jacket broke -ugh! The best I could do was to put on a heavy sweatshirt over the thin sweatshirt I already had on under this jacket.  It worked.  I was just as warm.  So comfortable in fact, I decided to go for a walk.
As usual, the dogs were at my side within seconds.  They must have a special sense as to when I decide to take a walk rather than just putter around the yard doing chores.  Buddy and Snowball never miss a chance to go for a walk.
Walking at this time of year is a bit hazardous for me.  The ground is frozen solid as a rock, but the sun thaws a thin layer creating a slick surface.  I usually use my bamboo walking stick to give myself an extra point of contact with the ground for added stability. And, sometimes I just have to take baby steps.
Today’s walk went without incident. 
Now, we wait for the snow. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lemon Cheese Cake

I have moved on…to baking cakes.
I just discovered a new-to-me author and I am reading my third book from her pen.  The author is Celestine Sibley.  She has been added to my list of favorite authors. The second book that I read of hers was A Place Called Sweet Apple.  She writes about buying a dilapidated old cabin, renovating it with the help of friends and neighbors and her life there.  The book concludes with many mouth-watering, southern recipes.  I started with a cake recipe. You know me…I love carbs.
The recipe is a gem from her Mother and the author admits this is one of two recipes she has never tried herself because she feared not living up to the high culinary standards of her Mother’s.  But, I tried it.
The cake is Lemon Cheese Cake which confused me from the start since there is no cheese in the cake.
The ingredients and directions were simple.  The anticipated result sounded delicious.  I got to baking.
Remember those extra dishes I saved myself from washing when I made the KFC Cole Slaw.  Well, I more than made up for those few dishes here.  In preparing the cake and lemon filling, I used, in no particular order:  3 glass cake pans, 2 cooling racks, a one-cup glass measure, a two-cup glass measure, a medium stainless steel pot with double boiler insert, a one-cup dry measure, a half-cup dry measure, a teaspoon measure, a mesh colander, 2 glasses, 2 mixing bowls, grater, juicer, and various utensils which included a spoon, a fork, a whisk, a wooden spoon and a spatula... WHEW!
Now, that is a lot of dishes.  And, they were all necessary.
I hand mixed all the ingredients.  Why?  Because that is how Sibley’s mother did it. Also, the directions call for ‘fold in’ ingredients and that can only be done properly by hand.  ‘Fold in’ is a slow and delicate process.  I can remember my own mother ‘folding in’ during her own cake baking.  ‘Folding in’ is not an easy technique either.  Even though a gentle mix, it takes a lot of muscle.  Fortunately, I needed a bit of exercise for the day and this ‘folding in’ provided a real workout.  Let’s just say my biceps felt the burn.
I baked the three tiers.  I spread the cooled real lemon filling between the tiers and on top.  No extra frosting was required.  I was ready to eat my cake.
Yummy.  You have to really like lemon to like this cake.  And, I do like lemon. 
The cake tasted like a cousin to another favorite of mine, Lemon Meringue Pie as the fillings in both taste just about the same.
And, there is nothing like opening the cake container (yes, another dish) to cut into the fresh lemon-filled cake for a pure sweet sour flavorful treat.
Next on my agenda…dieting.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Must See

Glenn rarely goes to the movie theater.   It has been years since we have gone out to a movie together.


Glenn and I just got back from seeing the new movie 13 HOURS. WOW!


We totally recommend this amazing true story movie - all Americans should take the time to see this very intense movie at least once.  Glenn plans to see it again. 


Enough said!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

I am still in my cooking mode.
My newest recipe attempt…Brown Sugar Meatloaf.  This particular recipe came from my friend Ann.  Yes, the friend I rarely see and that, my dear readers, has not changed.
I have not made any type of meatloaf since I have been doing my own cooking.  My Mom occasionally made meatloaf and Glenn said his mother made meatloaf all the time.
When I did get the meatloaf urge, Glenn quickly dispelled my anticipation by saying that he did not like meatloaf.  What is there not to like?  Glenn likes beef, ground beef and any other cut of beef found on the bovine.  How could he not like meatloaf?  Thus, the menu always changed and the meatloaf was never made…until the other day.
Again, like usual, I made the recipe my own by making minor revisions to the recipe I was given.
I used 2 pounds of ground beef instead of 1 ½ pounds since our ground beef is packaged in one pound packages.  I used buttermilk since I had that on hand, from my making my KFC Cole Slaw, instead of regular milk, half & half or cream as suggested.  Pretty much, the remaining ingredients remained the same.
I made two loaves.  Ann suggested freezing one loaf for later.  I just refrigerated loaf two for the next day. 
Drum roll, please.

The meatloaf was fabulous right out of the oven and even as cold leftovers.  And, served with the KFC Cole Slaw and baked potatoes (our homegrown variety, of course), the meal was so satisfying.
Glenn’s comment, “You can make that meatloaf again. It was DELICIOUS! “
After near 40 years of marriage, I finally have his approval to make meatloaf.
Note:  Glenn takes credit for the meatloaf tasting so good because I used our premium South Poll beef.  Whatever…

Friday, January 15, 2016

KFC Cole Slaw

I have been quite the cook lately busy trying new recipes.
I like cole slaw and my most favorite is that which is served at Kentucky Fried Chicken establishments.  For flavor, it beats even the homemade kind offered at many non-franchise type restaurants.
So when a KFC copycat recipe surfaced in my e-mail, I just had to print it off to make it someday.  Cabbage is the main ingredient and I do not keep cabbage as a staple in my refrigerator.  I had to grocery shop first.
 Yesterday was the day I made the cole slaw.
Like always, I do make a few personal revisions to any recipe that I use and this time the changes I made had more to do with technique than with the actual ingredients.
I started by shredding the cabbage by hand rather than with the requisite food processor.  I was trying to cut back on washing a few dishes and I was trying to save the wear and tear of my food processor.  My food processor is very old and I use it a lot when I can tomatoes.  This past season, I noticed a bit of a slowdown in the mechanics.  Ever since, I have been trying to find a good replacement and I have not.  Good friends are hard to replace.  Are there any suggestions out there for a reliable, durable, economical and well-manufactured food processor?  Am I asking for too much? In case a replacement is not found by the 2016 tomato harvest, I will be using my timeworn but still operable processor hoping beyond hope that it will last another season. Food processing my tomatoes during the canning process is essential.  There is no other option, no other alternative for me. Consequently, I am utilizing it as little as possible. 
My hand-shredding produced a coarser chopped cabbage rather than a fine shred from a processor.  I also rough-chopped the carrots instead of processing thin shavings.
Once I shredded/chopped and mixed all the ingredients, the cole slaw was supposed to marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.  By my timetable, we ate it at the 7th hour.  Leftovers will make the overnight schedule.
Looks like KFC...does it taste like KFC?
The findings…KFC copycat or not?
Even after a short marinate, I will make this recipe again.  This cole slaw is a great tasting slaw, KFC-like but fresher, and so easy!
A Colonel Sanders I am not, but my homemade cole slaw is a fabulous substitute.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Caught Out in the Cold

My bird feeder was empty.  The day was cold.  My feathered friends needed the supplemental food.


I thought I would make a fast trip to fill the bird feeder that sits just outside the living room window.


I filled my bird seed scoop from the storage can located in the storage room which is accessed from the outside off the front porch.  I carefully walked through the house not wanting to spill any seed, through the solarium and out the back door which is the shortest way to the feeder.  I only use this inside route in extremely cold weather as I usually just walk around the outside of the house to fill the feeder, 60 seconds tops. 


The feeder was virtually empty, but the holes in which the birds retrieve seed were semi-blocked with the remnants of frozen seed.  So, even though I was cold, I decided to take the extra minute to dig out that frozen seed before filling the feeder.  As I was digging, I heard the storm door bang shut.


The wind blew strong.  I tried to finish my task at hand quickly. I was getting colder by the second.


I walked the few steps to the back door to return inside and the door was locked. The wind actually caused the door to lock.  I was getting extremely cold because I had not anticipated being out in the elements for longer than a few seconds.  I wore no coat.  And now, I had to walk around to the opposite side of the house and hope that I kept the front door open, as in unlocked, when I filled my seed scoop.  I had.  I do have a habit of locking every door as I pass.


I put the seed scoop back into the can of bird feed and hurriedly stepped back inside the house.


The house was not real warm, but after several minutes outside in the very cold, blustering air, it was very comforting.  I thawed quickly.


Next time, I will take the extra time to throw on a winter coat before starting the shortest chore.  I should always anticipate the unexpected.


I just hope I made my birds happy.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grey Day

mountains undercover
The day was overcast and very grey.  Rain was forecast to arrive late in the afternoon even though it looked like the rain would fall any minute.
I had just taken my chocolate banana bread out of the oven to cool.  Perhaps, if I was lucky, I could get a walk in before the rain arrived.  I needed to work off a few of those added calories that would come with enjoying my baked chocolate goodness later.
I decided to walk down to the pond since that is my favorite trek with the dogs.  I also decided to wear my rubber boots.  I usually wear running shoes, but it was muddy and damp and I thought the rubbers would give me a bit more protection.  I have never worn these boots for any more than a few minutes or so doing farm chores in the muddy paddocks, so I was putting a great deal of trust into my decision.  The boots worked better than anticipated.  My socks did not slide down off my feet into the boot toes as they have so many times before, but my feet were a bit loose sliding around inside the boots as I walked.  A heavier pair of socks would improve that situation the next time.
And, just in case I did not be the arrival of the rain, I wore plenty of clothes to keep me warm and dry.  I did beat the rain and I was sweating from the over-abundance of clothing, but, better safe than sorry as the old saying goes.
the Mallards have returned
At the pond I was surprised by two ducks, a Mallard couple, swimming around the partially thawed water.  I have been watching for Mallards for weeks and was so happy to finally see them enjoying our pond.  My decision to walk to the pond today was definitely a good one.
As I made the turn to return to the house, I noticed that I had completely lost sight of Snowball. Buddy was at my side.  I called and whistled.  No Snowball.  I kept looking down into the far pasture and calling.  All of a sudden I heard the bushes in the woods behind me rustle.  Snowball came happily bounding out of the woods.  It is amazing how the dogs have the superior ability to get 180 degrees around me without my knowledge.
And, it is amazing that Snowball is actually starting to listen to my commands.  Now, if he would only stay and watch the sheep as told. 
After all, he is the guard dog. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Soft Bananas

There are (were) three bananas sitting on my kitchen counter.  They are over mature as far as eating bananas go, but not quite as rotten as I like my baking bananas.   But, I was tired of looking at these fruits deteriorating by the minute.  If it was summer, the kitchen would be filled with fruit flies.  Good thing it is not summer.


I decided to make a loaf of banana bread.  I usually use my Mother-in-law’s tried and true recipe, but I wanted to be a bit more adventurous today.  I had already made my own version of tzatziki sauce for ground lamb burgers (so good - now we know the attraction for our huge and ever-present coyote population) earlier in the week which was followed by my own homemade pizza, crust and all, twice thereafter.  The old standby banana bread just would not do.


So, I searched the net and the first recipe to appear on the screen was Chocolate Banana Bread.  I love chocolate.  Glenn usually passes on Chocolate.  Glenn loves banana bread especially with nuts.  We have some precious black walnuts cracked and gifted to us by the guy we give hunting rights to on our farm.  He collected the whole walnuts from our farm and returned them in a very edible form.  Glenn eats those nuts wisely as he knows how hard it is too pick them out of the shells. Those black walnuts would also definitely make a special banana bread.  I do not like black walnuts.


Chocolate, black walnuts, chocolate, black walnuts.


Chocolate won!  I had no doubts.


And, that chocolate banana bread is (was) so delicious particularly with a glass of milk.


That banana bread…gone!