Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday to me Cheesecake

My very favorite dessert-type food, other than plain berries or maybe peaches, is cheesecake. New York baked cheesecake to be specific.
Baked Cheesecake on tie-dye.
Now, I don't eat processed sugar any longer, or white flour, but I just made a really awesome creme fraiche, and it's my birthday, and I wanted cheesecake. So I made one, and it is the best cheesecake I've ever eaten. Shawn even agrees. I'm trying to share the recipe here, but keep in mind that I  make my own cheese and I do cook with a "little of this and a pinch of that" so... your mileage may vary.

Jen's birthday cheesecake

1/2 cup real butter
1 1/2 cup War Eagle Organic White Wheat Flour
1 Farm fresh egg
1 Tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 350, melt butter in your largest quiche pan as you preheat the oven. When butter is melted, pull pan out of oven and add flour, egg and honey. Mix thoroughly. Pat down in pan and up sides. Prick crust with fork and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 475 degrees.

2 1/2 pounds creme fraiche
7 eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup goat milk

Blend ingredients well and whip up smooth and fluffy. Pour into crust. Bake at 475 for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200 and bake one hour. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in there for another 6 hours. Then chill over-night before eating.

Simple and super delicious.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Boomer's babies

Gypsum nuzzles her new daughter Honey Jade, Boomer's first lamb born here,
 while her sister Demi heads out to pasture with her son, Hagrid. Gypsum and Demi are bothdaughters of our Icelandic ewe, Chalcedony. Gypsum's sire is Dapper Dan,Demi's was Homer, a CVM ram.

Finesse's daughter Halcyon, Boomer's second lamb. 

Pequena llama checks out the new baby.

Boomer is watching
in the background. Both Finesse and Gypsum are first-time moms.
They are doing incredibly well.
When we brought Boomer home, right before Christmas last year, it was pretty late to try to breed him to any ewes. But, I decide to go ahead and try to breed him to a few of my Dapper Dan daughters.

Even though it was late in the breeding season, two of the ewes settled. Sunday morning, Gypsum had a beautiful little ewe lamb that we've named Honey Jade, in keeping with her family line of rocks and minerals.

Then, Monday morning, Finesse had her own little ewe lamb, Halcyon. Finesse is the daughter of our first Jacob ewe, Thyme. She is from a very long-lived line of ewes that grow beautiful, strong, fine fleeces. I'm excited to see what Halcyon's wool looks like as she grows.

So now we're done lambing and kidding for 2012... and just look at all the great "H" names we didn't get to use - Hydrangea, Heliotrope, Hester....

While one part of me thinks we need more sheep, so that we can use up those names, the practical part of me is looking at the drought we are in and just hoping we can find hay to keep the sheep and goats we have.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Looking in from the deck

Looking into my office (on the right) from the new Admin deck at the
Ozark Folk Center. 

Do you have an office window?
I'm blessed to have two. I feel a little guilty about it, but I do appreciate it.

And, until the Admin deck was built this at the Ozark Folk Center this winter, it was a nice, private window that nobody even saw. Suddenly, every person going to the Restaurant, or gathering with a group or looking for the bathrooms walks right by my window. I realized that and wanted to take a look at what they might see.

Here's the view looking in. The first thing you see in my stained glass bunny. My nana made it for me, back in when I was first homesteading. One year I was having so much trouble with my bunnies not breeding. She made me this bunny that would never frustrate me. It's a happy sight for me each time I see it.

The plant is a rattan vine that Shawn got me for my birthday last year. It's a little potted plant that I was going to plant next to the front porch of our house. This little vine got so happy in my office window, I've just left it there. It now frames the window in year-around greenery. Every once in a while I have to convince it to not grow into the ceiling.

My Louie spinning wheel and basket of whatever fleece I am spinning at the time is sitting right there in the little alcove between my desk and the window. Tucked down at the bottom is the sign for either the angora goat or wool sheep, depending on which critters I've brought in to be at the spinning and weaving shop this week.

Office sweet home, I think it's a nice view for folks walking by.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another reason I love chickens

Kitty and I like to watch the chickies. 

Silver laced Wyandottes are supposed to be good foragers.
The way our little babies go after left-over people food, they
are proving this to be true.
.The baby chickies are now feathered enough that they can go loose in the tractor during the day. They still need the extra warmth of their box with the heat lamp at night.
They love to flutter and fly about the coop after bugs and shadows.
The compost bucket in my kitchen has been called the "chicken bucket" for most of my life and now I remember why. I've started giving the chickies the spoiled salad, stale bread and vegi peelings. They gobble them up. I hate  to waste food, so having the chickies to make use of food that is just not quite up to human consumption makes me feel a whole lot better.

The other night before I tucked them into their box, Kitty and I spent about half an hour with our faces pressed against the chicken wire, just quietly watching chickies. I think it's amusing that I can't sit for half an hour to watch television, but I can stand and watch chickens for that long. (note the multiple closures on the chicken tractor to keep out coons, possums, kitties, foxes and...)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery - the jewel of Mountain View

Bright colors greet you when you enter the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery.

The Gallery is made up of 3 main rooms.

Every week when I go in, I find new items that have been
brought in by members.
The Arkansas Craft Guild is a member owned and operated co-op of crafts people. The co-op is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The co-ops gallery is in Mountain View and it is one of the things that drew us to this town. The shop is an incredible collection of art and talent. It's a real jewel among the wonderful shops in downtown Mountain View.

Now that I'm a member, I volunteer to work the shop most Sunday afternoons, from 1-4. It's my responsibility, but it's also a privilege to be able to share all this creativity with visitors to the area in such a beautiful setting. The co-op is growing, to, with 11 new members being accepted in the April jury out of a record number who applied.

Credit for the look of the gallery goes both to the artist who create and send in their wonderful works to sell, and to Becki Dahlstedt, the guild member volunteer gallery manager, who puts in very long days making the gallery shine.

It's a joy to be a part of this group.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New rugs

I just finished a whole group of rugs and to them down to
the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery The one on top is
First's fleece of many colors.

This rug is woven from Demi's fleece
I do try to weave a little every day. The felting and washing has to wait until weekends or other days off. I finally got a collection of rugs finished and taken into the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery.

Several are done on a green warp, more on a red warp and a few on a painted purple warp. I have another series ready to felt and wash a soon as I have some time at home.

I've got a couple new shawls ready to go into the store, too. Just keep on weaving.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Costuming and status

When you attribute human qualities to animals, you are being anthropomorphic. I go the other direction and watch behaviors in my flock and see parallels in the human world. What's that called?

Yampa's yearling daughter Geo. My only dairy goat with horns.
Geo really is a beautiful girl with a great udder.
Statis in the flock is pretty obvious even to an outsider. There are bosses and then there are low ranking animals. Usually, a young animal growing up in the flock takes it's mother's rank, but not always. Yearlings are frequently at the bottom of the pecking order.
My dairy and angora goat flocks were separate for years and had established rankings. Yampa was the undisputed boss and she did nothing to keep her status, no one ever even thought to challenge her. As is often the case in herds and flocks, the number two, Erie, was the enforcer. She bawled, bashed and bit other goats to make sure they knew she was boss over them. She always automatically defered to Yampa, but not to Yammie's daughters.

In the angora flock, Bramble was a gentle boss and Abracadabra ranked second. It was mostly just an eating order, untli Tillie joined the flock. Tillie quickly let everyone know she was boss and she enforces it with blows from her horns.

Over the last year, I've sold both of the flocks down. Drought, high feed costs and job demands have stretched our resources and it's just made sense to have fewer sheep and goats. I went from 9 milkers, with assorted bucks and kids to 4 dairy goats, total. Erie, Beannie, Cricket and other long standing members of my dairy flock have new homes. I kept Yampa, her yearling daughter Geo and this year Geo gave me two very beautiful daughters by Footsie, Harley and Henna.

The angora goat flock went through similar shrinkage. Bramble and Eve, two of my all-time favorites angoras, started jumping fences, so they went to new homes. Abra, Rose and many other followed. I still want my red buck from Indian Spring, so Sultan went to join a new flock. I now have angora does Tille, Fantasia, Fritillary, Gamma and two wethers, Glitch and Gizmo.

With only 10 goats, I put them all together.
What a bruhaha that's been.

Yammie is still boss, though Tillie disputes it. The two dairy kids don't worry about status, they mostly climb through the fence and live with the sheep, though they do sleep with their mommy at night. Geo also sleeps with her mommy, Yampa, at night, but other than that, she ended up a the bottom of the herd, with even the little angoras eating before she does.

Geo kept getting her head caught in the fence, high and low.
The last two weeks, probably in an effort to get more food, Geo kept getting her head caught in the fence. I always disbud my dairy goats, but for two years I was without a disbudding iron. My Rhinehart 30 burned out after more than 20 years of service and literally thousands of baby goats. I didn't think I needed to replace it. After two years of dairy goats with horns - I replaced it this spring. But Geo has horns, and she kept getting caught in the fence. I was afraid she was going to hang herself or that Tillie would break her neck while she was stuck.

So, in desparation, I taped a stick across the top of her horns. We've done this off and on in the past, mostly with bucks, I was reluctant to add extra pointy bits to a dairy animal that I have to handle twice a day.

Geo's new headgear.
It's been fascinating to watch the transformation of this meek little dairy goat yearling. Now that she has a big, impressive looking headdress, she suddenly has status. I have not seen her hit anyone, she still thinks of herself as low enough rank that it hasn't occured to her that she could hit anyone. But suddenly, the rest of the flock, except Yammie, fades back and lets Geo get grain. They don't shove her out of the best dust wallers and they leave her settled when she beds down.
It will be interesting to see if this new status holds when the flock gets used to the costume. Will Geo get used to her new status and change her behaviour to expect this new ranking? Or will Tillie decide to beat her up for "pretending".

There really is something to the old saying "The clothes make the man." or, the headdress makes the goat?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day on the farm

The baby chickies are now in the chicken tractor, with their
new perches and a draft shield.

The momma and baby sheep are grazing the front yard,
though with the lack of rain the grass won't last long.
Elizabeth and her triplets are in front. Pequena is
guarding from the shade of the maple.

And I got a riding lawnmower - and a bouquet. Being able to
mow the pastures will help with reclaiming them.
 It's been a good mother's day. We finished the chicken tractor and got the chickies moved out of the bath tub and into their new home. They are growing so well. Their little wings are half feathered already.
I remembered why I like chickens while watching the little ones gobble down every moth that comes to their light. They aren't up to eating June bugs yet, but give them a week...

We did our weekly check of the sheep and goats this morning. The girls are feeding the lambs well and several are starting to get thin, so we'll add some corn back into their ration.

The pastures are getting sparse, with no rain in at least a month. We have found some fresh cut hay though.

And, as a special present, Shawn bought me a riding mower to cut the pasture grass. The sheep won't mow the "roughs" but if I mow the grass after it gets long a tough, then they love the tender grass below.

What a good mother's day!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Chicken tractor, day two

Chicken wire now all laced over the top and door
framed in.
After a wonderful float with the current Road Scholar group down the White River, we resumed working on the chicken tractor.

The baby chickies arrived happy and healthy and are temporarily ensconced in the bathtub. We put them in a box so we could shower last night.

Robin and Summer  came over to help for the afternoon  and after I finished lacing on the outer chicken wire, the guys got to work on the back wall and the door and frame. Shawn says he now knows why chicken tractors are so expensive!

Now it's off to work and hopefully we'll finish the tractor tonight.

Thanks, Shawn and Robin for all your work and to Summer for a great dinner! My chickie project is a wonderful birthday present. I appreciate all everybody is putting into it.

25 Silver laced Wyandotte Chickies. For at least the last
40 years, chickie feeders and waterers came in galvanized
steel or white plastic with red bottoms. Now, with the
popularity of backyard chickens, you can get colors!
Mine are purple.

Back added door built and ready to cover with chicken wire.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The baby chickies have shipped

Saturday morning I had a message on my cellphone that our baby Silver Laced Wyandottes had hatched and were on their way to the post office. They should be here this morning. I called our post office at 6:15 a.m. and they said the truck doesn't arrive until 7:00.

I was expecting them tomorrow, and so agreed to be one of the river guides on the Road Scholar trip down the White River this morning. Not sure how it will all come together, but it will work out.

We haven't finished the chicken tractor yet, either. We 've had days set out to do it, and friends offering to come help and Robin and Summer gave us the wheels for it, but I always seem to forget how intense opening month is at the Ozark Folk Center. I've been putting in 50-60 hour weeks at work. Morning and evening chores and milking are still the bookends of my day and they keep me grounded. The garden is growing well. I've been able to keep it watered and keep the weeds directly away from the planted plants.

I've got a good stack of rugs woven and I've figured out some new felting techniques (including trying to felt one in the driveway - less than a stunning success.) I volunteer Sunday afternoons at the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery and thanks to Becki Dahlstedt, the gallery is doing great. So, it's not like I've been slacking... it's just that the chicken tractor isn't finished.

But, my plan is to set the wee chickies up in the bathtub on newspapers with their heat lamp and food and water. Then we'll float the river and get the Road Scholars safely to their picnic lunch. And then, Robin and Summer are coming down the mountain from Fox and we'll all finish the chicken tractor and have a great dinner of....