Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cooking LAMB

I am still enjoying the remainder of the grass fed Vermont lamb I purchased last fall.

The latest cooking adventure has been lamb chops.

Easy to cook and delicious to eat.  I am no domestic diva, but even I can broil these up correctly.

But the thing that is even more amazing is that each and every lamb chop is in the perfect shape of Vermont.

So if a lamb is raised in, say Wisconsin or Texas... is the lamb chop in the shape of those states ?
Just wondering......

Friday, March 29, 2013

Its Maple Syrup Time

Well, its the sweetest time of year again.

And here is the song to go with it.  Click to listen, while you read....

Maple Syrup Time-Pete Seegar

When the village library decorates its windows with buckets, jugs and sweet books.......

Tis now the season for buckets on trees..........

  and trees full of buckets.

Tucked away in the mountains and hills are sugar shacks that are gearing up for making maple syrup.

Sugar shacks come in all sizes, configurations and colors.

They are hidden in the woods and on hillsides.  Some look like little cabins.

Others are more portable, obvious and easier to get to.

 I found this one right on the side of a main road and it was sucking down some maple sap from the trees above. I could hear the motor running.

Some sugar shacks look like something out of a story book with everything in miniature.

This new shack doubles as a bus stop shed for the kids.

Very cute and in just a week or so there will be steam coming out of the top of every sugar shack in the state as the sap is boiled off to make delicious sweet maple syrup.
There is a full weekend of Open Sugar Shacks where everyone gets to sample, maple candy, maple coffee, hot dogs boiled in maple sap, maple ice cream, maple butter on maple bread.... the list goes on and on!

Maple trees are one of my favorite trees in the forests. Their spring time buds are the first I see every year. They shade us in the summer, provide shelter for many birds nests and turn beautiful colors in the fall. The sweet sap is a bonus.

It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of Maple Syrup.

It also takes a lot of wood, labor, time and patience for it all to come out perfect.

This past weekend some friends and I went to local sugar house during the BIG Maple Open House Weekend.

Although no one was boiling sap yet, because the daytime temperatures were too cold to do so, we still got a full tour.

This particular sugar house was a very modern metal building.

 They had big trucks to collect sap.

 Inside there was the required Vermont Syrup grading kit.

 And a new reverse osmosis machine to extract the most sugar possible from the sap

and a huge double decker vat to boil it all in.

Stainless steel from one end of the building to the other.

Here is a view of the16 filters that maple sap must go through, to remove any "impurities."

This is where the final product of Maple Syrup is bottled by the wife of the sugarmaker.

After our grand tour we were treated to raised donuts and warm maple syrup.

A crock pot kept the fresh, sweet syrup at a perfect temperature.

This year I decided not to have the maple coffee as I was awake for 3 days and nights from the affects of it last year.

So instead, I had 2 donuts and a lot of maple syrup.

I literally danced out of there.

Of course no visit is complete unless you go home with a gallon or so of the sweet stuff!

 My favorite maple syrup treat is vanilla ice cream with maple syrup and a few sprinkles of cinnamon on top.
I also like to put the syrup in my coffee and in my milk.

What do you like your maple syrup on or in?

Got some in your kitchen ?

Monday, March 25, 2013

S is for Coop Chatter

S is for Stealth.   S is for sneaky.  S is for spy.
S is for Speckled Sussex
S is for side porch.
S is for eScape.

Who let the hens out ?

Who let them on the porch ?

 Who left the door open

So flock could critique what they saw?

Who brings the treats out ?

Who gets them first ?

Why do hens play coy and ignore the one they idolize, the Bringer of All Things Good ?

And act like the attention they receive is no big deal...

 But.....Every so often looking in the window to see what I am doing and telling the other hens every move I make.

And when I arrive to feed the herd, I get the same sort of look.... in a Bovine way.

It feels good to be so needed and wanted.... but I could sure use a few days off to pamper myself.

Any affordable, realistic ideas ?

Friday, March 22, 2013

February Fish'n Friday

(I guess I forgot to post this last month...oops...)

Well its FFF and there are lots of trucks full of ice fishing gear headed to every pond and lake in the area.

I knew something was up when I drove to the village and several trucks had orange flags sticking out of buckets in the truck beds.

 Serious stuff.

I went to the drive up window at the bank and the truck in front of me also had a truck bed full of buckets and ice jigs.

I drove by one of the fish'n villages later in the day and took a look around.

 Seemed quiet here.

 There were some homemade unusual fishing shanties on the ice that were worth looking at.

The best fishing happens before a snow storm.

Have you got a winter fish'n village where you are?

Ever been ice fishing ?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wall Cows

All fine Vermont homes have cows on their walls.

While visiting a new friend I happily noticed that this home is no different.

I learned that the artist who painted these cows is a farmer who is trying to rebuild his 200 year old barn from the bottom up.  He does not live very far from me.

The old barn needs a new foundation.

I just learned that he has a studio on the front of his house. I am sure the paintings are a way to raise money for his barn project.

I do intend to go take a few photo of the barn repair in progress and perhaps go look at his art.

I will try to leave my wallet at home....

Got cows on your walls ?


Saturday, March 16, 2013

ASalted Herd

One of the most critical items for a herd is salt.  All animals need salt.  Rabbits, goats, sheep, horses, moose, deer, elephants, they all need salt.

In the summer I use loose mineral salt and in the winter I use mostly a red salt block and some loose mineral for this herd.  A red salt block contains salt and other minerals where as a white block is only regular salt with no other minerals

Winter is too damp here to use loose mineral, so mainly I stock up on salt blocks and use them in my vehicle as ballast to keep me stable on these wild rural roads.

I carried this 50 lb block over the snow piles, dropped it into the salt tub and then waited to see who would be my first customer.

A steer came and put his good hoof forward and took a few licks.

Then his friend came.

They started lick'n and chewing n the new block.

While they were busy I continued to fill up the water tub.

Had a rainbow of colors sipping and slugging.  Was surprised to see Panda the black heifer drinking with the big red Alpha cows.  I guess she is gaining in status with the herd.

I glanced back at the salt area to see Gwen waiting her turn for a lick.

 As I checked fences I again noticed the SAME heifer INSIDE the hay ring.


Ok Folks, you should have the NAME of this mischevious heifer engrained in your brain.

Whats her name ??

GLENNIE, heard my not-so-pleasant voice and got up.

I thought she was going to exit the hay rack on her own, but OH Noooooo, she just went back to chewing.

Shorty, the gentle black steer, on the right, didn't let her bad behavior affect his cud making.

To make it worse, the heifers mom, Gracie, is laying down to the left and seems to endorse these bad table manners.

I may have to re-subscribe to Cow Etiquette magazine....soon.

 Here is the question of the week:

What do you do with your bale plastic?

The town just north of us is recycling it now.  I am thrilled.   The farmer and I are rolling and piling ours near the barn door so it can be loaded on the truck and transported to the recycle center.  This really takes a big worry off our shoulders.  This bale plastic is made into plastic knives, forks, spoons, solo cups, Frisbees and all kinds of other materials. 

There should be an ag plastic recycle center in your state.  Greenhouse plastic, row covers, all kinds of plastic (all of it a different grade) is recyclable.  Some is clear, white, green or black.
Do not burn it. Do not bury it. Find an appropriate place to bring it.            

Got any good uses for bale plastic ? 
I may use some for weed control in my garden and some small row covers.  I just have to cut it off the bale a little differently so I have long strips of it.    If you have a farmer near you who uses plastic and you have a just might want to approach them for a few big sheets of it.   Recycle, Recycle!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Winter Barn Wednesday

This barn sits on a hill overlooking the mighty Connecticut River Valley and is witness to the growing and harvesting of hundreds of acres of corn, hay, pumpkins, fiddleheads and other diverse crops.
For over 200 years this barn has seen many changes and been well used.
It now has a small herd of Dexter cattle that take shelter in it on rainy, bitter cold days.

From a mile away the barn still looks large. I estimate that it is over 300 feet long.
It was once a very active dairy barn in its day.

Click on the photos to enlarge and enjoy them.

Such a majestic old barn, built by settlers and pioneers to this valley 2 centuries ago.

The hand hewn beams and siding were cut from the woodlot that once surrounded it.

The land of this farm has suffered the land acquisition by railroad, highway and tax lots.

But the biggest loss will be this barn when the rain rotted beams start to collapse on each other.

Note the big wet spot on the side of this barn.

The roof on this side still looks good.

But age and lack of repair are starting to take its toll.

 I drove up the highway on the front side of the barn to get a closer look at the water damage.

As I got closer, it got worse. I saw where the beams are already buckling over the windows.

 With no place to pull over I did some drive by clicking.

Front looks good.

I plan on going back in better weather and somehow walking over to the front and the "other side" of the barn, where the cows are.

It is a narrow road with no where to pull over, so I will have to find a willing volunteer to drive by and drop me off.

Well worth it to document this classic barn before it falls to the ground.