There is this wonderful scene from Pooh’s Grand Adventure (persevere through the
advertisement!) that perfectly captures my feelings about this time
“Hot chocolate-y mornings and
toasty marshmallow evenings indeed!”
Summer is hot and bright and the day is filled to the brim with
endless tasks on the farm. After the sogginess of spring it
is a warm and welcome relief to be planting, weeding, and eating
the early harvest of new greens and sweet berries. Seems that
there just isn’t enough daylight for the tasks before you.
Autumn brings the fruits of your labor. Like the ant,
endlessly preparing for the winter to come I am grinding through
canning and preserving. Right now the harvest is in full
swing, canning and pickling and freezing and butchering and
storing. About the middle of October someone will mention
putting something up in jars and I think to myself that I just
can’t do one more batch. Just can’t. Lost my will to can.
Do not have to fill EVERY jar.
Then it is done. The frost hits the pumpkins, rain starts
and harvest is finished. The endless trips down the stairs to
the basement canning pantry with full jars and the commensurate
number of trips upstairs with boxes of empty jars – wide mouth
quarts for pickles, peaches and tomatoes, narrow mouth for grape
juice and apple cider – it just stops. And then, a reversal
happens and suddenly the full jars are coming back upstairs – two,
three, four at a time – to make stew, soup, chili and other warm,
comforting meals for cold, dark, winter nights.
Q: What happens when a farmer with a bad
knee chases pigs through the garden?
A: A farmer with a torn ACL!
Now, if this were a real joke the punchline would be funny
rather than painful!! Why was I chasing the pigs through the
garden? Because they were out of the pen and having a joyful,
if short-lived piggy frolic through the fall plantings!!
Last Wednesday reminded me of several things…the importance of
latching the gates, how much damage livestock can do in a
relatively short period of time, how quickly hogs can move when
motivated, that pride cometh before the fall, and the fine and
perilous line between health and injury.
On Tuesday I took some pictures of the garden to share with
friends because while it was a bit weedy it was producing like
gang-busters. Tomatoes, potatoes, beets, onions, corn, basil,
cucumbers, peppers…the list goes on and on! I was putting up
pickles like crazy, making pesto with the basil, freezing gallons
of green beans – and in one quick trip through the garden the cows
and the hogs took care of all that.
What? Cows too??
Yes. When I got up early Wednesday morning the cows were
standing in the front of the house having spent an hour or so
trampling things down and mowing through most of the beets, green
beans and corn. With a little cajoling and bribing with grain
the girls went back in their pasture, I got the chores done and
went on with my day. THEN, right before dinner and in the
aftermath of the bovine invasion, hubby looked out and said, “Are
the hogs supposed to be in the chicken pen??” The answer of
course is “NO!” We dashed out and herded the hogs back to their
pen. A couple thoughts about big hogs: capable of short
bursts of high speed, they are short on stamina and quickly get hot
and tired. Pretty soon they just want to go back to their
wallow and cool off! Before they get there they can make you
dodge and run a bit – which is when the torn ACL happened.
The hogs zigged, I zagged, and my knee didn’t so I ended up
hobbling back to the house for an ice pack.
Convalescing helps with the pain but my mobility is still pretty
compromised and I will find out on Monday if surgery is in my
future. In the mean time teenager #3 is doing most of the
chores, including milking and feeding the chickens, in addition to
her own chores. Regretfully, this solution isn’t sustainable as she
starts OC next week and won’t have time to milk in the morning
before school. To deal with my limitations we are working on
getting rid of the hogs a couple weeks early (okay – tomorrow!) the
flea-infested, egg-sucking farm dog is going to the groomer
tomorrow so I don’t have to wrestle her into the tub and I am
working on finding a temporary home for one of the cows. I
can milk but it takes forever because I move very slowly!
As I make calls and get offers of help with milking and chores
from other farmer friends I am very touched by the out-pouring of
compassion and concern. I have also spent lots of time thinking
about what would happen if I was farming full-time. I have
several other off-farm jobs, including my gig at WSU Extension,
most of which can be done sitting down. And, more
importantly, we have one full-time off-farm income with good
benefits and health insurance. As a full-time farmer I would
be hard pressed to take time to recover properly. Cows need
to be milked and hay needs to be cut. By way of illustration,
one of our hay growers took a fall off a horse last summer and
broke his pelvis and one leg. His neighbors cut and stacked
his second cutting hay and his father-in-law did all his irrigation
for the remainder of the season. We saw him in October and he
was still limping badly but he could get up on a tractor and do his
own farming again. It was a significant challenge for his
family and they are still digging out from the medical bills – and
his wife works for the local school district s they actually had
A frequent comment about farming in Kitsap is that it is
“Part-time” and while that is a valid observation – this isn’t
solely a Kitsap phenomenon. Nationally, 85-95% of farms have off-farm income. Kitsap
merely mirrors the trend nationally. Reasons for off-farm
income are varied – but many farmers I know rely upon off-farm jobs
for health insurance. Given that farming is one of the
most dangerous industries, the importance of medical
coverage can’t be understated. As more and more young people
enter agriculture (which is great given that 60% of farmers in the US is over 55) the trend of
relying upon off-farm income is going to continue.
The next time you are thanking a farmer for feeding you, wish
them good health as well. They can use it!!
Making Peach Pickles today (see the recipe from “So Easy to Preserve” below) because that
is one does this time of year when you have green peaches and don’t
want to wait for them to ripen because you MUST can something!
Method: Wash and peel peaches with a sharp knife, and drop into
a cold solution of ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid and 2 quarts water.
Dissolve sugar in vinegar in saucepot and put on range to heat.
Boil 5 minutes and skim. Add spices (tied loosely in cheesecloth).
Drain peaches. Drop drained peaches into boiling syrup and cook
until they can be pierced with a fork, but are not yet soft. Remove
from range and allow peaches to set in syrup overnight to plump.
Bring to a boil and pack into hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace.
Cover with syrup, maintaining the ½-inch headspace. Remove air
bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 20 minutes in boiling
water bath. Yields about six pint jars.
This extension-tested recipe is safe for home canning if the
directions are followed. But it is sort of boring – it makes
me wonder if there isn’t something more. I miss the days when
community recipe books said things like:
“According to Mrs. Ina Mae Jones of Petersburg, these
pickled peaches are a perfect accompaniment for roast pork and
delightful on ice cream. Her bridge club is clamoring for the
If the bridge club is clamoring then this is something that I
MUST make! It seduces and entices me – I can
envision the pork roast on a beautifully appointed table with a
gleaming jar of beautiful golden pickled peaches bringing a bit of
sunshine to a dark winter meal. Oh, wait, that is just what
the blog post will look like!! The reality is quite different
– at least at my house! I also recognize that however
glamorous and attractive the cookbook or blogger makes a dish or
recipe sound, if it isn’t safe for my family then I want nothing to
do with it!
WSU Food Safety trained me – vigorously I might add – in safe
and appropriate procedures to preserve all manner of foods at home.
I am anointed by The Mother Ship (WSU Pullman) to provide
information and answer questions about all home preservation and
food safety issues using APPROVED MATERIALS. These are
defined as anything that was tested for safety (for processing time
and preservation method) by the National Center for Home Food
Preservation or any Extension program
dated 2010 or later. We are not able to teach classes or
certify volunteers in a Master Food Preserver program because our
Kitsap) does not have a food science or food safety
faculty member on staff. Right now there are only four
counties with a food safety faculty member – which is about par
with the rest of the nation. Shifting priorities within the
national land grant university system in general and extension
programming in particular 15-20 years ago moved resources from
traditional home economic and natural resource faculty (food
safety, clothing and textiles, agriculture) into economic
development and youth and family since folks weren’t cooking,
canning, sewing, and farming as much as in the 40s and 50s.
Like all large institutions this change took place slowly and
over a decade or so and was combined with regionalization of
programming in an age of cost cutting, changing the face of
A few years back we had this little economic downturn and
families and individuals returned to many of those tried and true
ways to save money in tough times – cooking, canning, sewing,
gardening, farming – and not only did they start to do those things
– but they started to BLOG
about it!! Many folks tried to pick up traditional food
preservation and canning skills after their families had taken a
couple generations off. Lacking experienced teachers and
taking the lead from the explosion of DIY and cooking shows folks
started trying new things and tweaking recipes not realizing that
the principles of safe home food preservation are based upon the
acidity of the product being canned. Low acid foods CAN NOT
be processed safely in a water bath canner. So, that
onion jam recipe that looks so tasty? It can’t be safely
preserved – you can make it and keep it in the fridge – but don’t
can it! When Martha Stewart makes jam and seals it with
paraffin? Run away! Use the jar labels but not the
food preservation advice! Someone gives you Grandma’s
cookbook? Put it up on the shelf along side those vintage
kitchen tools – it will be a nice decorator touch. I know
that this may hit close to home for some because often if I suggest
that using a recipe from 1940 might not be safe in an online forum,
a Facebook flame-war errupts as everyone weighs in with “I have
been doing it this way for years and we are fine!!!” My
response is often: “If your doctor pulled out a medical book from
the 1940s as his major resource in treating cancer for you or a
member of your family, what would you do??”
So, what are you to do if you have a question about a recipe or
need food preservation or food safety questions answered?
Extension is online and here to help! Check out the
WSU Kitsap Food
Products page for links to all of all the extension
publications containing safe and tested recipes for a wide range of
home preservation. Check out the National Center for Home Food
Preservation for recipes and tips. Or, give us a call at
360-337-7026 and leave a brief message. We will get back to
you within 24 hrs if possible. If you are right in the middle
of a project and need help NOW you can tap into the resources of
our neighbors to the south and call the OSU Food
Safety/Preservation Hotline at 1-800-354-7319.
It is staffed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday,
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from July 15 to Oct. 11. In
2012 they responded to about 3,500 calls from consumers!
I went grocery shopping the other day.
And, I spent more than $100. That isn’t a big deal – it
is just that I don’ t do it very often. My grocery bill
is typically $30-50 a month for food – and another $50 or so for
other essentials like TP and shampoo. That isn’t much
considering that the “average” family spends between
$150 – $290 a WEEK according to the USDA. Why is our bill
so much lower than the national average? Mostly because we
plant and grow our own veggies, raise meat and eggs, preserve our
bounty, process in the home dairy and cook at home. Simply
put, we produce more than we consume.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, my feed bill is not
inconsequential. I spent $240 at the feed store last month
and I do get the hay pretty cheap ($195 last month) but that still
puts our food costs at about 25-50% of the cost of the average
Which begs the question — is there really that much
savings in fermenting your own pickles??
I guess so. I mean, we do ferment our own pickles (there
are 2 gallons of cucs in brine sitting on the counter right now and
if the kitchen wasn’t such a mess I would snap a picture for the
blog!), preserve jams, jellies, green beans, salsa, tomatoes, grape
and apple juice, apple sauce, and pickles, and make our own yogurt,
butter and cheese…which is a bit more “Pioneer Woman” than most folks.
But we don’t make EVERYTHING. This should be pretty
obvious since there are s’more fixin’s and potato chips on my
receipt! I am thrifty, but not insanely DIY enough to
make my own marshmallows no matter how easy that America’s
Test Kitchen says it is. You will also notice that there are
potato chips (You MUST have potato chips for a BBQ!) and a couple
loaves of bread on there – because I haven’t had time to bake bread
lately. Like I said, we are thrifty – but not Amish!
So what is the single thing that saves us the most $$$ on our
food budget? I cook at home and I make most meals from
scratch. Snacks are homemade (chocolate
zucchini bread anyone??) and ingredients are fresh, local or
homegrown, and unprocessed. Simple. But time consuming
at times because we are more scratch than most. Take my
lasagna for example The cow is days away from calving so we
are a little light on milk right now, but I love to make lasagna
because is uses 5 gallons of milk! The mozzarella cheese
takes three gallons and with the left-over whey and two more
gallons of whole milk I make the ricotta. Then, a pound of
hamburger and a pound of ground pork (from our own beef and hogs),
canned tomatoes (from the garden), garlic, onion (ditto!) in the
sauce and the only store bought input at this point is the lasagna
noodles. My recipe makes two 9×13 pans of lasagna – which
should be at least four meals unless I am feeding the hay
crew dinner. Pop one pan into the freezer for another day and
I have a couple of cheap, quick meals for busy nights down
The real cost of this kind of cooking and lifestyle? My
One can feel just a bit like the “Little Red
Hen” (I milked the cow, I made the cheese, I assembled the
lasagna…) because it is time and labor intensive. Is this the
most efficient use of my time? Perhaps not when one looks at
the cost of a pan of frozen lasagna in the grocery store or Costco.
Is my time really worth only $9.99 for a whole day’s work?
Depends upon your perspective. At the same time I am
making the lasagna I am building relationships with my children who
work with me, passing on skills that many have forgotten or never
learned, and making a conscious decision about the value of
producing rather than consuming.
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not
everything that can be counted counts.” ~ Albert Einstein
WSU Small Farms Team is here to help! The Bainbridge
Grange has invited us for a Home Canning
Q&A on August 13th at 7:00pm! The grange
is located at 10340 Madison
Ave NE, Bainbridge Island. Topics covered will include
basic canning principles, water bath vs. pressure canning, types of
equipment, and approved recipes and resources. Pressure gauge
testing will be available at the workshop for $5.00. Whether
you are just getting started or would like to update your knowledge
of home food preservation, join us and learn!
If you can’t make it to the workshop WSU is available to answer
food safety and preservation questions by e-mail or phone.
Contact Diane Fish (email@example.com) or call the Small Farms
Program at 360-337-7026. Online food preservation and
safety information is available on the WSU Kitsap Extension website
Pressure gauge testing is available by appointment for
a $5.00 fee. Gauges should be tested annually.
A couple weeks back farm girl friend Shannon and I took a little
road trip to the mother ship (WSU Pullman) for a food
safety adviser and preservation workshop. Along
with 33 other folks from all over the state we were the first group
in almost 10 years to receive food preservation training from WSU.
We can now answer questions and share resources about food
preservation so give our office a call (360-337-7026) if you need
some help preserving the harvest! But, I digress. One
thing that we did while we were there was practice canning,
pickling and preserving! My favorite recipe of the week?
Marinated mushrooms!! So, this week I was at the local
grocery store and they had beautiful button mushrooms on sale.
What is a girl going to do but buy FIVE pounds of
mushrooms and pickle ‘em.
I cracked a jar and had some with steak on Sunday night and ate
the leftovers for breakfast this morning. I am thinking they
would be divine with an antipasto plate. Time for some
fresh mozzarella! Now, there are lots of variations on
the web – but when canning it is important to use tested recipes
from approved sources. If it is an extension publication,
published by the USDA or shows up in the Ball Blue Book you are
good to go. If your recipe is from a blog, just say “Whoa!”
It is crucial to have proper acidity and processing method
and time for home-canned goods to be safe for your family.
Here is my recipe for Marinated Whole Mushrooms (from “So Easy to Preserve” from the
University of Georgia)
5 pounds small whole mushrooms
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
2 cups olive or salad oil (I used olive)
2 1/2 cups white vinegar (5%)
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP dried basil
1 TBSP salt (canning and pickling salt!)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup diced pimiento
2 cloves of garlic, cut into quarters
25 black peppercorns
Select very fresh unopened mushrooms with caps less than 1 1/4
inch in diameter. Wash and trim stems to 1/4 inch. Add
lemon juice and water until covered and bring to a boil.
Simmer 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms. Mix remaining
ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Fill jars with
mushrooms and hot, well-mixed oil and vinegar solution (I ended up
layering my mushrooms and mixture so that all the onions/pimientos
weren’t on the top of the jar). Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims. Adjust lids.
Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. This
recipe makes 10 half pints.
The 2012 Dark Days Challenge is upon us. Shannon,
who is more motivated to participate in these sort of things than
I, signed us up. And then today, she had a dinner failure.
So, it falls to me to keep our end up. Good thing that
we had a decent dinner tonight. Those Sundays when we eat
left-overs, chips and salsa and scrambled eggs for dinner don’t
really make for a very convincing blog about sustainable, local or
organic meals….all winter long.
During late summer and early fall the blog world is full of
folks posting about eating local, 100-mile diets, 100-foot meals…ad infinitum.
Now, I am not a complete zealot like the 100-mile folks.
I am not going to run down to Scenic Beach and dip water out
of the Hood Canal to evaporate and make sea salt. We grow and
raise about 90% of what we eat and I cook from scratch much of the
time – which upon reflection makes me sound sort of Amish which
isn’t the case (the bonnet not withstanding) – but let’s just
say we are less dependent upon the grocery store than the average
Frankly, during that time of year I am too busy canning,
freezing, picking, weeding, feeding, milking, and mucking to blog
about what we are eating. I think
about blogging a lot while I am doing those things! But until
they develop the technology for me to plug a USB port unto my ear
and download all those great blog posts composed in my head it
isn’t happening. The really interesting thing about those
days in the garden and nights canning and freezing is that I am
doing all the time consuming and hard work associated with warm
winter meals. Beans frozen in August take minutes to heat for
dinner in December. Tomatoes blanched and canned in September
make pasta dishes in minutes for mid-week meals – garlic harvested
in July is Fettuccine Alfredo when I have a yen for
something rich and creamy.
So, as we kick off the “Dark Days Challenge” I thought it would
be interesting to go back in time and take a look at the genesis of
The menu -
Pork Chops – the last of the chops from a hog butchered last
spring. We buy piglets from a neighbor, fatten them on extra
milk and grain and butcher about twice a year. We don’t buy
any extra meat and eat out of our freezer all the time so we go
through a whole hog, half a beef, 20 or so broilers and 10-15
stewing hens a year.
Smashed red potatoes – from the garden with fresh cream and
salt and pepper.
Milk gravy – pan drippings, milk and Shepherd’s
Grain Washington grown white flour!
Sauerkraut with apples and onions – we had great plans to
collaborate on the ‘kraut this summer but the day we were planning
on doing it I got side-tracked so Shannon made it. She
jump-started the fermentation with whey from some
homemade yogurt and it has a wonderful zing to it.
The King apples were picked at my mom’s house right before
Thanksgiving and the onions were from the garden. I season it
with a bit of brown sugar, pepper and caraway and saute
until caramelized. Very tasty.
Applesauce – from Mom’s apples. I typically can 15-20
jars – need to get around to doing that.
Pickles – dutch spears made from the abundant cucs we planted
last spring. This is a refrigerator pickle recipe that I got
from The Joy of Pickling. I only made a few
because I didn’t know if we would like them. Need to make
more next year! Sweet, tart and spicy!
And the best part about this meal? It was a meal eaten
around our family table with my husband and children, we were truly
grateful for the bounty of our life, and were able to talk and
laugh as we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Regardless of
whether your food comes from 100 miles or 1000 miles from your
home, if you are unable to eat with the people you love, they are
dark days indeed!
Early this summer I posted about the busy-ness of farm life in
the summer. Now that we are in late fall there is much less
going on but there is still some activity. Here is a sampling
of what happened this week on the farm.
We got a new rooster the other day. Until now we have only
had roosters on a temporary basis. When you raise chickens
straight-run (from eggs instead of buying them at the feed store)
at least half of the flock will be roosters. But, on our farm
– when they crow, they go – straight into the freezer!
However, a good rooster takes care of the hens in his flock.
He will call them to tasty tidbits, send out the alarm
when predators come around and for natural flock behavior
hens need a rooster. So when Shannon ended up with an extra
roo this year we offered to take him. Foggy (a nod to Foghorn
Leghorn!) is a handsome fellow with golden plumage and a dark brown
tail. Perhaps we will have some chicks in the spring if we
get a broody hen!
Time for once a day milking! Alexis has been dried up for
about a month now, Ellie is on her way. We went out of town
for Thanksgiving after morning milking so Ellie is now down to once
a day milking. She is still giving almost two gallons a day,
most of which is going to Frank. He is the bucket calf we got
last summer after I had a moment of insanity and bought a second cow! Originally the plan was to
just graft him on to Alexis and let her raise him so I only had to
milk one cow. After two weeks of tying up a homicidal and
unwilling mother cow twice a day while he nursed to make sure she
didn’t kill him outright, I decided that I would rather spend 5
minutes milking her than 20 minutes watching her. Frank took
to the bucket like a champ and is growing nicely. He is
scheduled to go into the freezer with the hogs in a couple of
weeks. Everyone is appalled that I am going to process a veal
calf because there has been so much press around animal welfare
issues on veal but Frank is not locked-in-a-box-in-the-dark
veal. He is
We also need to have fewer animals in our pasture during the
winter to keep down the mud and because both cows are going to
calve in March, Frank has to go. Besides, by Christmas there
will be no more milk.
We enjoyed Thanksgiving with family. My contribution was
PIE. I spent the last week making apple pie filling with
Shannon. I put 15 quarts in the canning pantry and I think
she ended up with about 12 quarts. I still need to do some
apple sauce but that is it for canning for this year. I
called my sister-in-law all excited about the prospect of bringing
an apple pie – only to have her say, “…and I will be making apple
and pumpkin so how about you bring something else!” So, I
brought Pecan, lattice-topped Cherry, and Chocolate Silk Pies.
The chocolate silk pie was a last minute addition because I
had extra pie crust and have been on a pudding binge lately.
When you have gallons of extra milk you get creative – and a
batch of pudding uses 2 quarts of milk! My recipe is adapted
from one I found on Culinate for Creamy Chocolate Pudding. I make a triple
batch with whole Jersey milk and omit the butter (there is a limit
to how much fat one needs!) For pie filling I add a bit more
corn starch than the recipe calls for and the resulting pudding is
more like chocolate ganache than pudding. It is dense,
chocolatey, smooth and creamy. Heaven! I brought home
leftovers of the pecan and cherry, but the chocolate was GONE!
Our turkey dinner will be either Sunday or Monday depending
upon when my bird is defrosted. Sooner would be better than
later because it is taking up precious fridge space but I am
willing to wait for turkey leftovers!
My mom’s firewood is finally done and in the woodshed.
After 40 years of heating with wood I keep thinking that she
will give up and get a pellet stove. After all, she will be
78 this year and doesn’t get around as well as she used to.
But, no! Last year when her woodstove died she bought –
you guessed it – another woodstove. Because she has a small
house she has a small stove – with a 14″ woodbox. This means
that we need to make sure that the wood is cut small enough and the
pieces are well split. Every year we put her wood up, and
every year we wait until it starts raining. This year was no
exception. But, the wood is in and she will be warm this
winter. My kids used to grumble about helping split and stack
3 cords of wood but now they are older and appreciate the chance to
help their grandma. It is gratifying to see my grown kids
serving others and reaching out!
Our family is blessed by a bountiful life and at this time of
year we are very conscious of our fortune. We have a full
pantry and freezer after a summer and fall of “putting up” from the
farm and garden. Our children are growing up to be generous
and capable people. We are part of a wonderful community of
farm friends and others who enrich our life. We have good
health, a comfortable home and stable jobs in a time when many
don’t have those blessings.
As we approach the holiday season, I try and keep in mind that
the most important things in life aren’t really things at all.
We try and give experiences for gifts but if you are going to
give this year, be farm-friendly. Several local farms offer
CSA’s or Farm Share programs and I can think of
nothing better than the promise of fresh veggies during the depths
of winter. The local farmer’s markets have extended their season so
you can still buy gifts from local vendors. And for the
kiddos on your list there are a couple books that are favorites
around here and help children learn more about farm life.
Seems lately that most of the things I do happen by moonlight
(or Moooo-nlight as the cows would say!) As summer comes to
and end and the days get shorter there just doesn’t seem to be
enough daylight for me to accomplish all the things on the list.
Milking by moonlight has become a common affair, as well as
doing the rest of the chores. At our house evening chores
consist of putting the chickens to bed, including rounding up the
few that feel the need to roost on the apple trees in the orchard
rather than in the safety of the coop. Then, we milk and feed
the cows, give the calf some milk and tend to the hogs.
Milking is fairly straight forward, taking about 5-7 minutes per
cow on a good day, but it doesn’t take much to upset the girls and
slow things down. Cows are really creatures of habit; they
thrive on constancy and change upsets them. Elinor gets
milked first, followed by Alexis. They greedily race out of
the field and into the milking shed in anticipation of the grain in
the feeder – unless I have forgotten to toss the grain in, or if
someone is visiting and decides to watch me milking, or if there is
a wayward chicken in the feeder, or if a truck is running in the
hay barn…and the list goes on. Any of the aforementioned
things can throw the cows into a tizzy resulting in them ducking
out of the milking shed and ending up in the middle of the
barnyard, sans lead rope and halter, while I frantically try to
entice them back with a bucket of grain. As you can imagine,
this is much easier in the daylight. Fewer shadows to spook
the cows, and they are easier to see in the daylight as they run
around the yard! Fortunately, we have never had to chase them
back from the road, and they are pretty easily coaxed back by their
fundamental greed for grain. After one of these merry chases,
they will fuss and squirm during washing up and milking, taking
forever to let milk down and dancing around during the process as
well. After all, they don’t get out much and a gallop around
in the moonlight tends to get one all worked up – even if you are a
cow! After we are done milking we feed Frank(enfurter) the
bucket calf and give the remaining milk to the hogs. Frank
was supposed to be grafted on to Alexis so I would only have to
milk one cow, but apparently she has NO interest in being a foster
parent, and after two weeks of trying to overcome her homicidal
(bovicidal?) tendencies while he nursed, I gave up and he
now drinks from the bucket. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t
persist in trying to nurse on the girls when he is out in the field
with him, but they treat him like a very large, black and white
spotted fly; they kick and swat at him until he goes away. I
don’t let him out with them very often because he is so annoying
that they end up exhausted from running away from him.
Other late night activities at our house? Snapping and
blanching green beans, making freezer jam, canning pickles,
processing peaches and tomatoes, and making salsa. Seems that
by the time you spend all day picking beans, berries and cucs and
working on the farm, the only time left to preserve and process is
after the sun goes down! So, after all the outside chores are
done, we clear off the kitchen table, dump a 5-gallon bucket of
beans on it, turn on a good movie and the entire family snaps
beans. It is something I remember doing as a child, and I am
sure my kids will have similar memories. In talking to
Shannon, apparently having a “family snap” wasn’t unique, though
she remembers doing it while watching sports on TV! Involving
your kids in food preservation is a good way to start them off
right eating seasonally and locally.
If you want to learn more about food preservation by moonlight
(or even by daylight!) check out our newest series of classes.
We are partnering with the Kitsap YMCA to offer a fall
canning series. Follow this link for registration information. If you
want to learn more about sustainable farming (mostly during
daylight hours!) WSU Kitsap Small Farms team is offering the
Sustainable Farming and Ranching Class beginning on September 29th.
Information on this class is on the web at http://county.wsu.edu/kitsap/Documents/2011_Small%20Acreage%20Flier%20and%20Registration-%20Silverdale.pdf.
Learn what it takes to have a sustainable small acreage farm
or ranch and take a realistic look at goals, resources needed and
opportunities available. Guest farmers speak to the class and field
trips are taken to local farms. Open to academic students and
community members for continuing education units.
Shannon and I talk to people all over the county and beyond
about what we do and everyone has advice for us about what classes
we should offer (it is sort of like being pregnant actually!)
After looking at all the requests, and discarding some of the
more unusual (do people REALLY want to learn how to make their own
shoes??) we put together our summer/fall offering. In keeping
with the national trend toward sustainable lifestyles and looking
back at cool skills that are still relevant today, we put together
what we think represents a pretty cool offering!
So, grab a gal or guy friend and join the WSU Kitsap Small
Farms Team this summer in a six-week adventure exploring the
tricks and techniques to living a more satisfying and sustainable
lifestyle! Whether you want to preserve the best of the berry
season with jams and jellies, take your home brewing to the next
level, conquer your fear of pressure canning, make creamy fresh
cheeses, learn soap-making, or your mission is to preserve the
crunchiest pickle, Hip Homesteading has something for you!
Thursday Classes 10 am—1 pm
July 7th—Jammin’ ~ Make delicious jams and jellies
July 21st— Cheesemaking ~ Fresh cow and goat milk
July 28th—In a Pickle ~ Crisp and crunchy pickles and
August 4th— Soap Making ~ Sweet-scented delights for the
bath and body
August 11th- Under Pressure ~ Pressure canning and
preserving low-acid foods
Fieldtrip: Thursday, July 14th 6pm—9pm ~ Homebrewin’ @ the
Slippery Pig Brewery with Brewmaster Dave Lambert
Monday Evening Classes 6pm—9pm
July 11th— Cheesemaking ~ Fresh cow and goat milk
July 25th—Jammin’ ~ Make delicious jams and jellies
August 1st—In a Pickle ~ Crisp and crunchy pickles and
August 15th—Soap Making ~ Sweet-scented delights for the
bath and body
All Classes are held at the Silverdale Community Center, except
for Homebrewin’ which will be taught at: Slippery Pig
Brewery, Finn Hill Rd, Poulsbo WA
98370. Cost is just $35 per class, and as always 4H and
FFA youth are FREE.
Register Online at: http://county.wsu.edu/kitsap/(click on
“Calendar”) or by mail: WSU Extension Kitsap Small Farms
Team, 345 Sixth Street, Ste. 550, Bremerton, WA
98337. For more information contact: Shannon Harkness at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 337-7026.