Friday, July 27, 2012

Silly corn, revisited...

I come from a long line of corn on the cob lovers. In our family we anxiously awaited the season for fresh corn, and once it arrived we had it often. My father could eat 3 or more ears at supper, a feat I greatly admired. It was often my job to husk the corn, and that was a labor of love. My mother would boil it, and we'd rub butter over the hot ears, then sprinkle with salt and enjoy. This has been good enough for me my entire life... until my niece Aimee introduced me to what we call "Silly corn." We named it that because it so good it is just plain silly. I've posted about this before, but in case you missed it, I feel I must share again. What you need is: fresh cilantro, mayonnaise, lime slices, salt or something like Adobo seasoning (my niece uses paprika), very fresh corn Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until it is a bit browned in spots. Brush with mayonnaise, sprinkle with cilantro, squeeze fresh lime juice over the whole thing, sprinkle with salt or Adobo. I can't quite describe it, but there is something about the grilled corn, the sharp herb, the lime... oh, your taste buds will do a little happy dance when you try this, I promise! To me it is the taste of summer. I grew a whole patch of cilantro in the herb garden this year so I could enjoy silly corn any time I wanted.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

So egg-cited..!

Here is my day: up at 6 AM, feed and water the pigs, pony, chickens, duck and rabbit. Feed and milk the goats. Carefully store the goat milk in sterilized jars. Tidy the kitchen, feed the dogs, make breakfast, shower, dress go to work. At work I groom 10 or so animals. Then I come home, feed/water and exercise dogs, start supper, feed and water chickens, pigs and pony. Milk and feed goats. Check the garden and pick anything that is ripe. Make yogurt from the goat milk. Finish cooking supper, eat, do dishes, then go check on all the animals, taking time to enjoy them and just BE in the quiet evening. My days are full of activity and joy. As I went to tuck the chickens in for the night I noted that the coop needs a good cleaning and that there was something that didn't belong there under the roost. I looked more closely and there was a very small egg half buried in the shavings. What is so thrilling about a very small egg? you might wonder. This little ovoid tells me that the new layers that arrived as golf ball-sized chicks at the end of March are now beginning to lay! The first eggs from layers are always rather small, and are often laid somewhere other than the nest boxes. It is early for the new birds to begin to lay, I would have been delighted if I had a few eggs by the end of August. This little brown beauty tells me that my egg production is about to increase, and that makes me SO egg-cited! My chickens bring me a lot of pleasure. I love to see them exploring the yard, catching bugs, scratching about. And those eggs? They are a treat to find and taste so good! I waited a long time to add chickens to my life. They were worth the wait!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The way my mind (doesn't!) work...

When we brought our baby piglets home the first week of June they were 6 weeks old and weighed about 25 lbs. or so. I know a little bit about pigs, from reading and because a good friend of mine has raised them for the last few years.
We put them in a big pasture with deep grass and a nice boggy area that pigs would like to wallow in. I knew that wherever I put them they would "root" with their noses and dig up the dirt, leaving the place looking like a mine field. I knew they would roll in the mud to keep cool and ward of biting insects.
I knew these things but somewhere in the deep, dusty recesses of my funny, fuzzy head, I believed my pigs would be different. They'd be TIDY pigs. They'd leave the pasture un-plowed and eschew mud for, perhaps, a little dance under the sprinkler.
Much of their pasture IS still tall grass, but they are diligently working on one corner to make the mother of all pig wallows. The odd little part of me that thought these pigs might be different is appalled. But the rest of me breaks out in spontaneous grins when I see the piglets deep in mud, grunting in delicious contentment. I have happy pigs.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beach day...

This weekend has been summer hot. This morning after doing some chores we decided a beach visit was in order.
We drove to Birch Beach in Owl's Head. It is not a far drive... and it is free. The tide was low and there were only about 100 people on the entire beach. We found a place far from any one else and spread our towels out. We walked the beach, collected shells and pebbles, and waded in the icy water. Then we laid on our towels and chatted... and I fell asleep in the warm sun, to the back ground sound of happy children, gentle lapping waves and gulls calling. I didn't sleep long, but woke feeling as rested as if I'd been on a week long vacation. On the way home we picked up a couple of lobsters and some fresh corn on the cob. Chris got supper started while I milked goats and fed animals. Then we sat at our picnic table and had a messy feast. It was pretty much a perfect day. My skin smells of sea salt and fresh air, and the memory of today is already a carefully constructed treasure.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hot summer day...

We went swimming today, my daughter and I, at our favorite semi-secret place. We parked the car and walked here....
From the blueberry barren we took a left down the wooded, fern fringed trail.
Past the boggy area where the bull frogs call...
To where the water is clear and sweet. There were only three other people there, a family of mother, father and adorable 4 year old daughter. Their French bulldog was with them, and greeted us as we approached the water. We were hot, and the water called us.
There are cold springs in the pond; most of the water is comfortably cool, but then as we swam we'd find a place where icy water bubbled up from below us. We'd tread water there a while, then move to where the water was warmer. All around the edge of the pond is trees. One sweet little cabin nestles up to the far shore. It is quiet there, peaceful, magical.
As my sister Dicy would have said, "OH! What FUN!" I love summer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Making goat milk yogurt...

Regular blog readers know that I added a couple of dairy goats to our family this summer. I have been trying my hand at making yogurt. The recipe I have been using is ridiculously simple: take 1 quart of milk, warm from the goat. Add 2 tbs. of yogurt (such as Dannon) that has live active cultures. Stir well and keep at about 110 degrees for 8 or so hours until, voila! you have yogurt. The first batch I made on a very warm day. I put the jar on my very warm porch and when I got home from work the yogurt was done. It is a thinner, more watery texture than store bought yogurt (much of which has additives and fillers and things like gelatin in it,) but the flavor was really nice... mildly tangy and so good with fresh fruit. Yesterday I made a second batch, and this time I strained it through cheese cloth. The results were just as flavorful, but slightly thicker. I am tweaking my methods. Today my jar of milk is sitting in our food dehydrator, which I can easily set to 110 degrees. I am hoping this more uniform heat will help things firm up a bit more. If not, I may try a different recipe for the next batch. Excess milk goes to the piglets, who seemingly find it delectable. They make amazing slurpy noises when I pour it in their pans, and fight over it like... little pigs!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What summer looks like...

Left to my own devices I would happily spend most days puttering around our house and yard. Luckily Chris and his adventurous spirit keep me out of being in a rut. Today we went to Arts in the Park in Belfast. The weather was stunning, and the festival a feast for the eyes.
The setting was on the harbor, a bald eagle swooped low over head, turning lazy circles, it's white head gleaming in the sun. Everywhere people were talking and laughing and visibly enjoying the day.
There was food and music...
And color...
We drove home the long way, along the coast. And we grabbed 4 lobsters... only $17 bucks! First corn of the cob for the season and a leisurely supper at the picnic table. That is what summer looks like.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yes, please...

Double rainbow in my back yard? Yes, please!
Making friends with my new goat? Oh, yeah! She gives wonderful milk. Last night I made goat milk ice cream with blueberry topping. It was great! Today I am attempting to make yogurt. But most of all I am making a friend and that is so sweet.
Speaking of pals... Liz came over this week with her big old truck and her big old trailer and her adorable horse. We went for a ride and it was fun!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Things that are addictive...

In April we brought a mama goat and her buckling to our little farm. We'd never had goats before. I had NO idea how much I would like them. Luna, the mama goat, has particularly won my heart. She snuggles. I had no idea a goat would snuggle. We also very much like having goat milk available. But since Luna is nursing her buckling, sometimes he gets what I consider to be "my" share of the milk! I was recently perusing the "swap" paper, (a very dangerous pastime!) and found a goat for sale that looked interesting to me. We went to meet her last week. She has a similar personality to Luna's, it seems, and is giving two quarts of milk a day.
We arranged to buy her, but we were not quite sure how to get her home. Then I had the bright idea that if I cleaned all the junk out of the back seat of my truck (stacks of magazines, random trash, piles of books, and other things that did NOT belong there!) I could flip the seats up and the goat could stand in the narrow space that would create. Eureka!
I'd like to say she hopped right in, but that would be massaging the truth a bit. Still, it wasn't too difficult to convince her that a ride in a F150 might be nice. Once in she rode like a seasoned traveler. There were no inconvenient "potty" problems, she never made a sound, and didn't seem in the slightest bit distressed.
Joy, the very nice lady who sold us the goat, said that ideally we would let the goats get to know each other gradually over several days. If I had a barn I could have put the new goat in a stall and let the other goats visit over a partition so they could get to know each other. She said if they were put right together there would be head butting and unpleasantness while they worked out who the herd queen is going to be. But I didn't have a way to keep the separated for a few days. So all the way home I visualized the goats getting along nicely, being happy to meet each other. I reminded myself of the rule we have here that everyone must get along. With hesitation in my heart I led the new goat out to the pasture and stood by to see how things would go.
There were a few head butts. Luna is here on the left, looking quite acrobatic. The new goat in on the right, looking like, "Oh you must be joking. I outweigh you by 40 pounds and can't you see I am as regal as a goat can be?"
And then they all went out for a nice lunch. The new goat charmed me by dining on thistles, a plant the other animals refuse to touch, and one I would like to have far fewer of in my pasture. A little rain shower kicked up and all three goats wandered into the shed to wait it out. And now...
More grazing. I think everyone is going to be getting along just fine. We are very excited to have a new goat!