Monday, June 20, 2011

100 pounds of rolled oats???

So the bulk food co-op that I go to has outstanding prices!  This is where I get my wheat to grind.  So the other day, I was there and thought...hmmm....we really eat alot of oatmeal.  How much does a big 50 pound bag cost?  What?  That cheap? ....It's $1.89 for 12 oz at the grocery store...and this is 50 pounds.  I'll take 2.....

fast forward to today... 100 pounds of oats are in the middle of my kitchen.  What do you do with 100 pounds of oatmeal??  I started putting it in my plastic buckets for storage.  50 pounds of wheat will fit in two buckets.  Well, 50 pounds of oats by volume is ALOT more!! We're up to 3 buckets on the first bag, plus the oatmeal container in the I've already made granola with some...and there is at least another bucket worth in the FIRST bag. 

So how about some oatmeal recipes??

Next up....Pinto Beans!!

More on Kefir.....because you asked! Edited

I'm not the "smarticles".  There is an Aussie dude that has a great site...I'll find it again and put it here that I got most of my info from.  That's where I decided to try it because it's supposed to help alot of the health issues I have....

Kefir is pronounced keh f é-er [as in keh in kettle, and fear

Kefir is a refreshing cultured-milk beverage which originated in the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, believed to date back at least 1,000 years. The tribes-folk of this particular region who possibly developed kefir by sheer accident consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities. These people were renowned for longevity, living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.

Kefir has a uniform, slightly creamy consistency, a sour refreshing flavour, with a slight subtle aroma of fresh yeast [or a very subtle beer-like aroma]. Kefir also has a slightest hint of a natural effervescent zesty tang. There is an assortment of some 40 aromatic compounds contributing to the unique flavour and distinctive pleasant aroma of kefir. Rounding this off, kefir contains between 0.08% to 2% alcohol. However, about .08 to .1% alcohol is a realistic figure for 1-day cultured kefir. Whereas kefir stored for a number of days after separating the natural mother-culture, kefir grains [see following], contained up to 2% alcohol, and possibly 3% alcohol, depending on the type of milk and ripening conditions. [Yep-- wow!].

A batch of kefir grains consist of many individual white to bone-coloured mostly self-enclosed bodies made up of a soft, gelatinous biological mass somewhat resembling cooked cauliflower rosettes. The complexity of the kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, lipids [fats] and soluble-polysaccharides. Kefiran a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues, is the major polysaccharide of kefir grains and is also found in kefir. The bacteria and yeasts not only create the bio-matrix structure, or the grains, the organisms are also harboured by the very structure that they create; abiding on the surface, and encapsulated within the grain itself <[The abode of the friendly microbe]>

Traditional kefir [real authentic kefir] is easily prepared at home, just as it has been for many centuries by the ancients of the Caucasus Mountains. Fresh, non-pasteurised or pasteurised full-cream, low fat or non-fat milk is put in a clean suitable container with the addition of a smaller portion of kefir grains. The content is left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The resulting developed cultured-milk is strained in order to separate, and retrieve the kefir grains from the liquid-kefir. The grains are added to more fresh milk to repeat the simple process for the next batch. This procedure can be performed on an indefinite basis... for kefir grains last forever.

Strained liquid-kefir may either be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or ripened at room temperature over a period of days. The ripening process is not only useful for individuals who wish to reduce lactose in their kefir, it is important to increase some b group vitamins [For details explaining the simple procedure of ripening, please follow this link situated at Dom's kefir making web page]. Ripening improves overall flavour, while increasing vitamins B1, B6 including vitamin B9 or folic acid, and carbon dioxide including alcohol also increase.

Friday, June 17, 2011

As if babysitting Sourdough wasn't enough....

I will blog more about this as I learn...but I also picked up some milk kefir to start doing.  I am attempting to convert some of the milk kefir grains into water kefir grains.  It needs babysitting and messing with just like sourdough....

Last night, my willing family each had a small glass of kefir milk....even Boy!! 

Milk Kefir (left) Water Kefir (right)

Sourdough, Phase 2

After 5 days of "feeding" and tending to my sourdough, I finally had to do something with it.  I looked for recipes and found one that had to rise for 12 to 15 HOURS....are you serious!!!

So I went back to the site where I got the starter recipe.  Usually the first few batches don't work out well because it takes time for the wild yeasts to fully get into the sourdough (so I've read).  So I found a recipe that looked doable "Sheepherders Bread." and made it.

It seemed to rise fine, but the oven was not hot enough to stop the rising and keep the bread from my bread was concave instead of convex...and I was a bit vexed too! :)  Boy calls the bread that does that "cat ears".  So here is my first attempt at sourdough bread.  And despite the cat's actually pretty yummy!

Sheepherder Bread

1 cup sourdough starter, room temperature*
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup light rye flour
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour**

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oh...the carnage...and the miracles!

What a title, right??

I mentioned about the stupid critter (s) the are in our area....well more carnage in the past few days.

On Saturday, one of the white delawares.
On Sunday, Raindrop, our half-blind Comet that we nursed back to health...the second.
On Monday morning...poor Rooster BooCoo was not found...neither was three of the "guard guineas".  One or two of the guineas are the "loud-mouths" that call everytime something is amiss (in their estimation anyway-sometimes a shiny car is enough to set them off!)

The hens (turkey, guinea, ducks) will not sleep in the hen house now.  They are too freaked out, so they have been sleeping on the woodpile, the gas grill, the TOP OF MY CAR (!!!), on the wishing well, and who knows where else.  So I did some rearranging.  I moved the 16 juvenile birds that are about 2 months old, into the bigger moveable coop.  There were 3 new guineas, my new flock of turkeys (5), 4 new Buff Orpingtons, and 4 new Americaunas.  They were doing great in the little moveable coop, but with the forcast of storms, I wanted them to have more room.  So off to the bigger coop. Then Iona was moved to right outside the big hen yard.  Boy and I waited until dark and moved all the birds that were out nesting in the various places into the yard.

Next morning....ah, no dead adult birds.  Went around to the back of the hen house to the moveable coop..Oh my stinking head!  6 dead.  2 guineas (those must taste really good), 2 turkeys, 1 buff and 1 americauna.  And the guinea that is left, I will be surprised if it survives as it has a terrible wound across the back of it's neck.  We think it is a opossum because it only seems to eat the heads (Opossums are the zombies of the animal world!!)

Last night (Tues) Same routine, Boy and I waited until dark then rounded up the big birds.  Put Iona on her chain by the big hen yard.  And now Danny has a farm job!! He was hooked up to the moveable coop.

Hooray!  It worked....for now.  I didn't sleep well.  I kept having nightmeres of "something bad" happening to Boy's dog and being the worst-mom-ever.  But it went alright.  Now Kristl is the only 'slacker' on the farm!

Iona on guard duty
Oh, and the miracle....I almost forgot!!  Remember I told you we had 3 duck hens on nests.  The morning of the great carnage, I went out an found 11 ducklings running around the hen yard!! Yellow ones, black ones and both black and yellow! 

But wait...I figured it was the hen that had been out under the rabbit cages.  I went out to the barn, and low and behold...she is still on her nest....what?!?!  Back out to look at the flock.  Come to figure of our original hens (a grandma as Boy says) who was unique in that she has one brown eye and one green/blue eye was out there....I realized I hadn't seen her in a while.  Quack (her name) had hidden REALLY well and she is the mama! 

Quack is the one with the white chest

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Sink!

Today was a day of driving all over tarnation and not getting very much done!!

I went to the other side of the city to the hamlet where I grew up...that is now so built up that I had to sit in traffic (WHAT?) to pick up a utility sink for in the barn (Shouldn't that be "an utility sink?" It doesn't sound right).  It's a cheapo sink but I hope to get it hooked up to the water and level the ground a bit under it and maybe not have such a later.

Also a wonderful man met me to give me 3 heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato plants and 3 Habenaroes (not sure about these as they are TOO hot) but we'll see.

Had another cord of wood delivered in preparation for winter.

Set traps around the coop, the chickens will not sleep in the henhouse.  They are on the firewood, the gas grill, in the barn, everywhere but where they should be...why?  At first I thought, "Oh, it must be too hot in the house..." then I found a headless chicken.  STUPID POSSEMS!  Or Racoon.  Either way, they need shot!  So we are working on convincing the hens that it is OK to go in there to lay and sleep.  We can't find the hidden stash of eggs from yesterday either....still looking.

That's all the updates for now.  More soon

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Bunnies!

Last year we raised and bred Californian Rabbits.  Sadly we lost them all at various times to illness or...something....I really should read "Raising Rabbits for Dummies"! 

Anyway, we are starting again.  This time we are raising New Zealand Rabbits.  They are a bit bigger, still meat rabbits.  But they come in more colors, so this will be fun!

Over the weekend, I spent a most enjoyable hour with a gentleman that runs a tree farm.  Last year he got into rabbits, and his rabbitry is wonderful!  Completely an inspiration.  Me, not having funds to completely redo our rabbitry, I just bleached the cages we had, and let them dry in the sun.  From him, I purchased 4 rabbits to start our breeding program.  They are not quite to breeding age...they need another 6 weeks for that.  We got 3 "red" does, and a black buck.  They are Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, and Peter Rabbit.

Sourdough...started! Number #81 in the works.

I mentioned a few months ago that I wanted to start sourdough bread....and mentioned it to Man.  He was reading an article last night and asked a few different times..."When were you going to start doing sourdough?"

So....after reading many articles (everyone has their own "sourdough religion")  Here's what I started:


2 cups all-purpose flour
  I did:
 1/2 cup Rye flour (heard that was most active with wild yeast
 1/2 cup freshly milled hard white flour
 1 Cup of store white flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)**

2 1/4 teaspoons of active-dry yeast

2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)***

** Adding a little sugar will help jump start the yeast process, as yeast feeds on sugar for its energy. Yeast rises by feeding on the sugars in flour, and expelling carbon dioxide in the process. That's why using just a little sugar can help boost this process. Don't overdo the sugar.

*** If the water you use contains chlorine, use distilled water, bottled water, or tap water that you've allowed to set out for 24 hours when you make your starter. Chlorine can stop the development of yeast.

One of the articles I read was HILARIOUS.  Like I said, "Sourdough" folks are VERY serious about their starter.  It has to be fed daily and fussed with (why I hadn't really started...the other reason I've hesitated was I couldn't figure out how to "catch" wild yeast that was just blowing in the air of our house....huh?)

Anywho....I loved what she said: "I find working with a sourdough starter can be very time consuming. Especially if you follow what most sourdough books say and feed them everyday. That's too much work for me as I already have a cat. You even need a sourdough sitter when leaving town. Because I don't use my starter everyday, I store it, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. "

The rest of the instructions are:

Mix the flour, sugar, and yeast together in a clean and sterile container (use only glass, glazed ceramic or crockery to hold your starter. No metal or plastic) that can hold two quarts. Gradually stir in the water and mix until it forms a thick paste (don't worry about any lumps, as they will disappear).

Mixed and also our other "granola project"
Sprouted Mung Beans for stir fry.

Cover the container with a dish cloth and let it sit in a warm (70 to 80 degrees F.), draft-free place. NOTE: Temperatures hotter than 100 degrees F. or so will kill the yeast.

The dish cloth will let wild yeasts pass through into the batter. The mixture should bubble as it ferments (this will foam up quite a bit).

Let it sit out from 2 to 5 days, stirring it once a day. The starter is ready when it develops a pleasant sour smell and looks bubbly.
Once your starter starts bubbling, then start feeding it daily with flour and water according to the directions.

After sitting overnight

Then stir it, cover loosely with plastic wrap (allow a little breathing space), and store it on your counter top or in the refrigerator (your choice).

Feeding your Sourdough Starter

Your starter should be fed daily if left sitting on the counter. Every other week, if refrigerated.

Counter Stored Sourdough Starter: Daily remove one (1) cup of starter (use this starter in a baked item, give it to a neighbor, or throw it away) and replace it with one (1) cup of warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.) and one (1) cup of flour. Let it sit out for a few hours, covered, to become active before using in your baking.

Refrigerated Stored Sourdough Starter When storing starter in the refrigerator and you are ready to use it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Then feed it with one (1) cup flour and one (1) cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.). Let this sit eight (8) hours or preferably overnight. It is now ready to use in your sourdough recipes!

NOTE: If  the sourdough starter has been stored in the refrigerator a long period of time, like a couple of months, you will usually need to do the feeding process 2 to 3 times to "wake" it up and get it real active. You need to take it out of the refrigerator 2 to 3 days before needing to bake with it and proceed with the feeding process every day.

If you think that your sourdough is too sour, throw all of it away except 1 cup. Add 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of warm water to it, and let it ferment for a day or so.

Freezing Sourdough Starter: If you will not be using your starter for some time, freeze it. Two days before you need to use it, let it defrost. Then feed it and let it ferment for a day

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And as soon as I said it...

We lost 3 ducklings last night and a baby chick too.


And now the other two are gone too. 

You don't get emotionally attached to crops....this is hard.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Babies!

I can't recall if I ever mentioned that three of our Muscovy hens went broody this spring.  They are all ducklings that were hatched out by one of our ducks Brownie.  So they are "first generation" to our farm.  After the first went broody, we calculated her hatch date sometime around Memorial Day. 

On Memorial Day Monday, she hatched out 2 ducklings.  Unfortunately, one didn't make it right off, and the second drowned the next day.  (You must be careful around water, wear your safety gear)

The same morning we found the poor unfortunately duckling that had not made it out of the pool, we discovered the other duck had safely brought her clutch into the world.  5 ducklings.  It's officially been a week today and we still have 5.  We are calling this one a success.

The last duck is still patiently waiting.  Her nest is under one of the rabbit cages in the barn.  It's the rabbit cage that the kittens go in to eat their food (The big chickens LOVE kitten food).  It's very cute as we have the door ajar and a blanket hanging over the door.  The kittens climb up the blanket to get in to eat.  A few weeks ago, my Boy brought me known as Timmy (I told you...we are not cat people!) and all the hair was missing from his tail...and it looked raw and terrible!  The duck apparently had nibbled all the hair off as his tail hung down in front of her face.  The cats and the duck are good pals now as they share a water dish, and I have seen Timmy curl up next to Mama3, the only one that seems to be able to get near her without getting snapped.

Anyway....back to the babies.  Boy has made a moat through the chicken yard.  And frequently fills it with water.  We have discovered that the new babies love to swim in the moat under the watchful eye of Mama2, Mama1, and the Daddies (Drake and DuckStew).  Sometimes the Maiden Auntie (the only female that didn't go broody this spring) will also watch.

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Maybe we should go with every OTHER day...

I'm getting better about posting but not quite with the EVERY day part.  Lots going on here!  Lots of friends over...enjoying the sunshine...getting work animals.  Babies being born (both of the two leg and 4 leg variety.)  Lots of fun stuff.  I have a full day today, but I promise I will try to post pictures in the next 24 hours.  (I did actually get them uploaded, so that's half the battle.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

I had my MRI and blood tests was not a good day in the Wallace Homestead.  But today is a new day.

I had one of my closest friends come over and spend most of the afternoon with me.  She brought her 3 boys which are Boy's best buddies.  They had a blast playing in the barn...eating in the barn....playing with the cats...I haven't really been out to the barn to see what they were "building" but I am sure it will be fun.

My friend looked at my 101 list and there is 2 on there inspired by her and she is going to help me accomplish them!! WOO HOO!  She is one of those friends that inspire you to do things you've never done before.  She really pays attention to what you say and makes you feel like you are her most important friend...and she has a lot of friends (and that's probably why!).  I love spending time with her.   And Boy loves her boys and constantly asks if one of them can be his "brother" even if it's just for one night.  I can understand that, because I am so glad she is my "Sister" in Christ! So we try to get together when we can.

The garden is in a doing fairly well.  I haven't gotten the official count, but there are at least 40 tomato plants and 20 pepper plants.  The tomatillo is blooming.  The potatoes are doing well also.  I will take pictures later.

I'm off to try to help in Man's business.  I don't think I am much of a help, but I guess any little bit helps.