I am so behind on writing to my Janie’s Mill bakers. This afternoon I must sit down and do that. Are you all on that list too? That is a straight email list until the website is ready for me to start a blog. Let me know if you would like to be on that list and I will let you know how. Or email me at email@example.com. Mill Matters it is all about flours and bread. The Red Fife and the Einkorn are in the stack already, we are just waiting for label approval. I am so close to calling myself The Little Red Hen but I WANT to SHARE my bread!
So much excitement
Did I tell you I finished the HACCP plan for Janie’s Mill and my first peer review was outstanding. So now I can relax a little and just focus on updates.
One more thing then back to the farm. We milled pizza flour the other day – I can start selling it when OCIA approves our new labels ( merciful heavens they are strict ) anyway, when we mill pizza flour the extraction rate is such that we waste a lot more of the kernel, 600 pounds of wheat ( we mix Glenn with Turkey Red) makes 330 pounds of flour, so the bran has way more flour in it. I brought some of the bran home and mixed it half and half back to Glenn and it makes an amazing tasty loaf. But it proofs really fast. So I have to watch the rise closely.
Jake’s restaurant is open! It is called ACRESinn and is in Pontiac, Illinois. Naturally they are using our flours! Nic their baker makes lovely loaves and rolls.
Meanwhile back on the farm the cold stopped the birds in their tracks and they stopped laying overnight. We are collecting less than a quarter from both the chickens and the ducks. Usually they slowly drop production during the dark months but this is a dramatic change. So, not enough eggs to sell this week.
This is WaiWai sleeping under his blankets. He wriggles himself right under his pile of blankets but never far enough to cover his bottom. So last thing at night I tuck him in. He always says thank you. He does not want to sleep with other pigs so he has old blankets people donate to the farm. Pigs never pee in their beds so I have always given them blankets. Not Poppy though she just shreds them!
Sheila and her straw. She looks very healthy at the moment! Carrying a little weight into the winter is a good thing.
Del is just not dropping that last five pounds of milk that will take her below the safe amount to dry her up. (20 pounds) My goal is to pull the plug at the end of November. Fingers crossed. She is literally eating her new lovely straw, no alfalfa hay, no grain, no pumpkins. What a good cow. I will keep her just in case we decide to milk again – if I lose my job or there are severe economic changes. All dairy farms are having a hard time – big and small dairy farms are closing across the country at an alarming rate. Good organic milk is especially hard to find.
So I am keeping my options open and she is a lovely albeit big, pet.
Did you realize that with the constant rise in temperatures in some areas of the planet, dairy cows are having a hard time of it. Milk production drops when they are too hot. Not something we thought about, right? The big dairy’s are working hard on research in to how to keep cows cool in this climate crisis. Not to mention their sales crisis – REAL milk itself is close to becoming an endangered item in the supermarket fridges anyway, due to the downturn in sales. And – no skim milk is not real milk it is just watered down milk.
How did whole milk get such a nasty reputation in the western world. Oh yes! Marketing! If you tell a lie often enough people just believe it. Not us though – not The Fellowship. We triangulate our news and work hard on searching out the kernels of truth that hide in all this noise.
I am zooming over to California on Wednesday. My way of counteracting the nasty impact on the planet of my train travel and plane flights is to plant trees. As you can imagine we have lots of young trees here! I usually only add a couple on to my tree numbers for a California trip but I wonder what the equation would be. A tree per thousand miles? It’s 2,000 odd miles to Fresno.
About 8 and a half thousand miles to New Zealand – the world is so small – plus I am using public transport! Snort! Still, the trees assuage my guilt.
Do you see this hole in one of the chook-house doors? Something is trying to get in. Gnawing a hole in the door to gain access to my lovely chooks. It is tiny so far, the hole. I will fix this today. I wonder if this is the Bastard Mink.
We are warming up again. Which is good. You will remember that the farmers who were able to plant in that dreadful wet spring ( and one third of fields in the Midwest still lay unplanted) did so very late. So the harvest is late too. Anything above 40F and the corn standing in the fields starts to dry again.
Our organic corn is having a hard time of it. Low yields and wet. There will be plenty of stock feed this year!
How to prepare for a Plastic Free Christmas!
By the way kids hate wooden toys except wooden trains or those wooden bees we have in New Zealand but there are only so many wooden trains a person can give and the wooden bees are for toddlers!
And for a start we can’t use wrapping paper! Last year all the wrapping paper was made of some kind of plastic that even sticky tape rejected. And sticky tape! We would not use that either. String then and newspapers or decorated butchers paper for wrapping. I am good with that.
I think at least half of this is a discussion with the children about why I am not giving plastic this Christmas. So they get it but not in a way that decreases their joy when they do receive plastic from someone else!! How to phrase that sentence.
I have always been the book giver- safe in the knowledge that later in life all my dears will understand. As long as the books are collected. Because every year I see my books set aside by the parents for later! Maybe I should be giving hope chests or book cases.
Also by making a stand I make all the other givers of plastic wrapped gadgets and plastic toys and plastic made garments, feel judged in a way. Some grandparents get offended very easily especially by their peers. Especially me! Somehow I have made an artform of saying the wrong thing!
Anyway! For us today I would like to make a list of Christmas presents ( other than books book cases and hope chests) that I can wrap and that would travel, for all ages, that will excite all the little people who would rather have a bright pink dolls house made entirely of plastic!
Just drop all your ideas in the comments – riff off each other. I need help. All I am sure of is that I don’t want to continue to contribute to the bags and bags of plastic that go out to the curb the day after Christmas!
Wine for the parents is a wonderful plastic free gift!!
Already I feel a list coming – but I have put the bread in the oven so I have twenty minutes to shower and get ready for work – then when the buzzer goes off I take the lids off – turn the pots and I have another twenty minutes. Usually by the last minute of baking bread I am stood at the door ready to exit with my hot loaves on their cooling trays in the bin ready for travel.
Talk soon c
When I went to bed last night it was 4F (minus 15 celcius) – now, I know for you people up in the mountains to the north this is not too cold but for me here on the plains of Illinois this is bloody cold for November.
We did get a bit of snow with nasty ice but for the most part the cold caught me by surprise.
We seem to have jumped straight to that awful majestic bleakness of mid winter.
The wind had dropped by yesterday afternoon though, which made my afternoon farming almost pleasant.
After a long day in the mill – and it never seems long enough because the mill is like an alternate universe where time seems to behave differently – I quite enjoy feeding and watering the animals. I have the best of both worlds. The farming grounds me and the organic food industry stretches my brain ( and give me an income)!
Here is a little freezing duck video for you. I hope it loads. On that really cold day the ducks would waddle along a bit then sit on their feet to warm them up again. And they insisted on breaking the ice on their muddy pond so they could all flap about in there. The water froze to their feathers and they looked a bit silly. Funny ducks.
Last night when I put the ducks to bed, as I shut the door, I saw three chooks sitting on a bale in the Quack House. There was nothing I could do. It was dark. I just shut the door.
Let’s look at the weather.
Looks like we have a warm up on the way. That’s good. I really want to get more straw in for these pigs.
I hope you all have a great day. It is Wednesday here and I have barely scratched the surface of this week. I need to have another cup of coffee and make a list.
( sorry for the spelling mistake! I fixed it). A lovely local town donated all their Halloween pumpkins to us! Twenty something of them.
And the pigs could not be happier!
I am going up to Chicago at Thanksgiving. I want to get home-made whole kernel bread into the hands of the homeless. I am not sure how yet. But I do know I want to be on the streets.
I like thanksgiving. And many decorators and stores jump straight from Halloween to the Christmas holiday. Giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day, which is one of the few really universal American holidays that everyone can join, ( no matter your religion, or immigration status) has become a poor cousin.
So The Little Red Hen is going to go against the flow and thank the homeless with bread. Homeless people teach us the power of generosity, humility, empathy…. so many things. How to put that into a sentence that would not insult a person who lives on a city street?
This is still an idea in development.
I am not sure exactly where I will take it.
But my need to feed the homeless people one at a time started with one man who I gave pizza to one Christmas, years ago. I have been giving out homemade cookies ever since – trying to find him again. I never found him. The Still Man.
This story. This story is from my early blogging days when all those awards were flying about – do you remember them? I don’t do chain awards anymore but the story at the end of this post is worth scrolling down for. If only so I can give thanks for him. For this man who showed me his eyes and gave me so much.
Many of you will remember his story.
Now to get on with my Saturday. Only a few hours work today – I hope, then back to do the weekend mucking out.
Then walking West and looking back to the East.
Watching the wheat grow.
It feels like our house is on an enormous emerging lawn.
As my plan to be the Little Red Hen takes root.
Autumn is here I think. For the next ten days our average highs are in the forties. Cold is coming too. I have found some really cheap straw – in inconvenient big bales but really cheap. Soon the pigs will have extra warm beds. Plus big round bales tucked up close for winter shelters.
It is windy out there – rain in forecast I think – let me look.
OH!!! Well – that was unexpected!
That’s because I put half a cup of sifted buckwheat in there.
Everything else was the same. All Glenn. It is a cow pat! Amazing how buckwheat affects the rise of a loaf. Tasty though!
For a cowpat! Not pretty.
Above is my kitchen last night. All about the flour. It rained and rained – perfect time for baking. After chores I was soaked to the skin and cold! I am not ready for the cold!
Making bread is my favorite relaxation nowadays.
Del the milk cow, is dropping production nicely. Though not impressed with her bad bale diet it is helping with the plan to have her dry by the end of November. I will milk her this morning and inspect her udder. (The co-worker milks her during the week.) But I think everything is going according to plan.
Other than that today is all about getting warm straw in with the pigs, the barn scooped out, the Sunday clean out of the duck house, then pulling everything out of the big pantry and cleaning it.
I found another egg fridge so Heidi and I are going to declutter the Pantry and remove one set of shelves so I can fit another fridge in there. There is a lot of stuff in there that can be thrown out. No point keeping stuff I never use. Jars of old out of date food stuff from the days when I used to regularly feed big numbers of people. Dishes that someone else can use. Lots and lots of empty bottling glass jars that I will haul down to the basement.
And containers of stuff I never used in the first place. I just liked the containers!! Out they go as well. A well stocked pantry does not mean lots of stuff just in case. It means enough of the stuff you use. My well stocked freezers are certainly well stocked with what we eat!!
And the eggs make regular money to keep this shop afloat. And I can’t keep them in outside fridge for much longer! So the pantry must be better utilized.
My coworker collected nineteen duck eggs the other day! I hope that becomes a regular occurrence!
Saturday ( yesterday) at the mill – Saturday is a lovely quiet time to work.
Well, I heard the oven ding. It is up to 500 degrees. It can stay there for 30 minutes to heat up the cast iron then I will begin to bake!
Have a great day!
This old rooster.
He is positively ancient.
He is so scrawny that he is able to hide from the big young roosters, keeping out of trouble. Mainly though he just hangs out in the feed shed tucked in behind the bags.
In fact he has been around so long that even his name has drifted off into mists of time.
Do you remember the walnut tree that was split in half by the falling branch of another tree.
Well this year it has walnuts again.
It needs another good prune to try and keep the top balanced but all in all it has had a good summer. That split goes right to the base. So I think it will always need support and yearly pruning.
I hope you have a great day. It is Friday here. Only a half day tomorrow. Then a break.
Look at this!
It has been windy these last few days which has reminded us of how wind free this summer was.
However while I was at work there must have been one really strong wind – here they call it a Flat Wind. Whatever it was, it managed to topple two trees by the cows concrete pad.
They fell straight over the fence and into Pats paddock.
Two of my Mulberries. There are so few big trees here.
I opened the gate and let the cows through. They had those leaves stripped and gobbled up in half an hour.
Mulberry leaves are very high in protein. In fact they are a really good feed for all the animals. I have a whole stand of mulberries on the other side that I call my drought forest. ( It is a very, very young forest but in twenty years I hope it proves itself to whoever is here). Whichever way the climate tips more trees are always better. They can be feed for animals. The mulberry can be pollarded and will quickly grow back. It is great firewood. And feeds birds and me with those berries. They are great dehydrated and thrown into salads. Or frozen and added to smoothies all winter. And it is a native to the Midwest areas. Both the red mulberry and the white mulberry are natives.
These lost trees were growing for shade so it is a shame they fell.
They will be dried for firewood for next year.
It is this year we need the firewood, though this is not my department. The wood shed is not looking good for this time of year. I just know that turning on the all-house heating will be too much for our revised budget this year so I hope it is not too cold.
I work in a very cold environment at the flourmill so it will be all the same to me. I am gathering as much warm clothing (my farm warmies are not presentable at all) as I can, so I can stay warm in that vast warehouse with those cold shiny concrete floors!
This morning’s bread is almost ready for baking so I had better get moving.