This morning in my nightie

I made peach jam .. wow that shot has come up very orange hasn’t it. Well they were very very  bright peaches when I picked them.  Kind of. 

And now the Peach jam. Better colour.  Very yum . Six pounds of fruit. Four cups of sugar and three tablespoons of lemon juice.  Do the wrinkle test. Done.  Eat fast. 

Here is the mint jelly – dripping (it will take the day).. oh and hmm.. yes that is baling twine ..  holding it up.. oh.  Ok moving right along!

These are the little cucumbers that I turned into the pickles you will see below

All before I had even  dressed this morning. I did all this hot and messy work in my nightie early early.  Actually I often work in my night attire in the morning.  The kitchen gets hot.  I am the barefoot cook. Plus I do not like to mix farm chores with canning/bottling. When I make cheese  I have to stay clean for Hours!! It is Awful!  OK I am going to leave you with the pickles as I am going to begin writing my next series of posts that are actually ABOUT how we farm as we do.  But first I am off outside to do dirty stuff.  See you soon. c

Bees move house.

As promised here are the photos of us housing the new bees.  I am learning as we go with bees but one thing for sure is that when working with them I  move slowly and gently so as not to cause a ruckus. For some reason this is always accompanied by a soothing monologue. I tell them what I am doing and why.  In a very low and soothing voice. I drone on!!! (terrible pun)  OK, First the new super. For the moment it is sitting on a window screen which is set on a pallet under the trees. I was horrified to discover that the Pallet has Monsanto proudly stenciled onto the side .. horrors. I will paint peace signs all over their name later on!!

Here I am unpacking the nuc. It was a perfect temporary home.  You can see the frames that I placed in there are full of bees. I will unpack each of those frames and replace them in the new super carrying their load of buzzing girls with them.

Mercy, those gardening gloves are ugly aren’t they. My beekeepers outfits are just whatever is hanging around that is pale. I wear long-sleeves because when I get hot I begin to glow (ladies never sweat they glow – don’t you know) and it seems the little bees are a bit attracted to the ‘glow’ and they tickle when they stand on me.  Hence the covered arms and legs in 98 degree heat. Moving slowly and calmly is an exercise in discipline when it is that hot!

And next we will see a frame of busy little bees, they really are moving so fast in there, desperately worried about their new babies as they are transported.

And the relief when they are all finally in their new home.

Now look below and you will see all the wee girls who have been left behind in the cardboard nuc. They will have to do The Crawl. You will remember last time they  did the bee crawl. Once again I will place the box so that they can see the dark entrance and hopefully they will puddle straight in like good little bees.

And on with the lid. Technically it is not actually a lid but we are still awaiting a delivery from my bee stuff suppliers. So in a week or so they will get a new top and bottom and a second story.

Well, all the left over bees did crawl straight in. So grateful for the extra room I am sure. Those nuc’s are useful but small.  Now this hive can get on with the important business of making babies and storing honey.  I am not sure that I will be stealing any honey from this hive this year,  we will see. If they give up any for me I will show you.

Well my gas tank was filled this morning (yay) so I am going to pick some peaches, set the gas burners aflame and  make peach jam.  Then pickle all the little cucumbers that seem to have been multiplying in the bottom of my ‘fridge.

See you again soon.

c

I guess my brain went blink and forgot to blink back.

Does this ever happen to you.  I  decided to make a pound cake yesterday morning. It uses NINE eggs and my little cluckers are laying so well that even though I  give away four dozen eggs a week  and sell a few dozen to my regulars, I always have 3 or 4 dozen  in the ‘fridge needing to be cooked.  

Now pound cake goes into a cold oven so I had done all my prep when  I turned on the oven.  Nothing happened.  It is a gas oven. I stood with my cake tin in one hand and my confusion in the other and looked at the oven quite perplexed.  I am sure my little brow was furrowed. These things are supposed to just WORK when I push the little buttons! So then I turned on one of the burners to check if that worked.  Nothing again.  Very slowly the realisation crept into my sleepy brain the I had run out of GAS.  A quick check of the enormous tank that lives in the garden confirmed this.  Usually a big truck comes and fills it up. But someone has to CALL the little man with the big truck don’t they! mm

OK.  No hot water.  No hot food.  So I called the company that handles our gas and the dear lady very sweetly told me in a very matter of fact and up beat voice that there is a fee of 200 dollars for the truck to come out of its way on the same day and was 4 O’Clock OK?. I spluttered and said “um.. well.. gee 200 dollars ..hmmm..  no … um.. well.. no ..thank you that is very kind, but No lets leave it for now.  I will do without  gas for a bit.”  The woman on the other end was gobsmacked, but you will need your gas won’t you? Her voice had dropped as though she suddenly realised that she may be dealing with an irrational person.

Now I had been  feeling all satisfied because I choose not to use air conditioning (and yes it is 100 degrees today but I this is my third summer without AC.  I hate to break that kind of record), or watch TV  or ever feed anyone processed foods (never, ever)  or use the dryer in the summer and do without services that really are luxuries, or eat genetically modified food or go on frequent cross country shopping trips. But to do without hot water  or the stove?  Wasn’t this taking things a bit far?.  I can just hear that poor woman telling her boss about those foreigners and their strange ways and they probably never wash anyway and I feel sorry for the children!! Her boss would nod sagely with half an ear on the phone.

But it really has not turned out so bad. It is actually ok.   Last night  after my swim I boiled some water in the kettle, poured the water into a big basin  and gave myself a wash. It was fine. I felt refreshed. Actually I was probably cleaner because usually I just wallow about in a hot bath until I feel done then I get out again.  The Silent One had a cold shower ( and was NOT Silent about it either) and he definitely felt refreshed.   I have not needed hot water all day, just boiled a wee bit for the dishes in a kettle and washed the laundry in cold.

Tonight we will grill.  I have picked zucchini and some baby beetroot  these will grill up nicely drizzled with a basil oil and popped on skewers. We will have some of our own lovely lean grass-fed beef steak.  The beetroot leaves will make a  salad.  I can even wrap a few freshly dug little potatoes in tin foil with a big dollop of butter and if I put them on the grill first they should cook.   Quite a feast really, even without the pound cake.  Which by the way I fed to the chickens, uncoooked of course. They were ecstatic!

I am wondering how long I could actually go without having that gas tank filled.  How long could we go without hot water and an oven.  I could dig out the electric fry-pan. Dare I call the woman back and tell her not to come at all!!

Rhetorical question really.   I am way too lazy and often too filthy to do without hot water!! They are coming to fill it up on Monday.

c.

Oh no, I almost forgot to give you the recipe for the pound cake be warned I am really quite terrible at recipe writing.  Elise  at //simplyrecipes.com/ is much better at it. She has a formula.!  And I need to work out how to link it to a list.

Anyway pound cake is very old-fashioned and an excellent way to help your kids and the hard workers of the family eat eggs and good butter. Eggs are a fantastic food.  Good butter cannot be replaced with ANY of  those over processed over colored sludges they have lining the shelves of the supermarkets so don’t even think about it.  If you saw what color that stuff starts out as you would NOT eat it.  I always use Organic Flour then I am sure it is not genetically engineered wheat. the Silent One does not want to be a part of that particular experiment either.

POUND CAKE

Soften half a pound of butter.

Add 3 cups sugar and beat sugar and butter until creamy.  Add 2 teaspoons vanilla. One at a time add 9 fresh eggs.  Keep beating between each egg.

Slow mixer down and slowly add 3 cups of Organic Unbleached Flour, alternately with 1/2 cup of either cream or whole milk. NO half and half – that is terrible stuff.

Pour into large cake tin. Put into cold oven and turn on to 350 degrees. Start checking in an hour. If you can smell it check it. Usually this cake takes about one hour and twenty minutes in my oven.  The cake is cooked when a knife speared in comes back out clean. Cool in the tin on a rack.

In the summer I store this cake in the fridge.  It will keep for quite a few days.  It is a big cake, so if you like you can even store half of it in the freezer.

Ok I am off out to shift the captured swarm out of its cuddly little nuc and into a proper hive. I will take pictures for you. Mercy all this swarming. I hope we  get honey this year!

c

PS Sorry there are no pictures of the cake but I cannot cook it can I –  with no gas! Next time.

.

Hot day on the prairie.

So TonTon and I went for a walk with the camera today and here are  a few of the shots.

Only Thing Two will eat with a chicken. Thing One is appalled and has gone back to bed.
That is Thing One reclining in the back there. A Laid Back Cat . They should be out in the barn chasing mice. But Oh no.. Too hot
This is Queenie. Our baby Hereford and future mother of the beef herd. She loves the camera. !Daisy cooling her feet in the duck's paddling pool. She has no respect that cow.
Mia my most favorite lamb. Though she goes a little heavy on the mascara!
Mama the senior sheep (she had quads this spring) and a smattering of her chook flock.

There now. A few of my Motley Crew. As you can see it was a very quiet day on the wee farm. Bees are all present and accounted for. Phew.  Vegetables are growing and the animals are just hanging out like  sleepy girls in the long grass.   c

It all started out so well…

I woke up this morning to this gorgeous day. The dogs and I start at 5.30. Still, sunny and so lovely. After the walk around the fences,  I began to make Ricotta cheese with the whey from yesterdays cheddar and started the butter.  I took yesterdays cheddar out of the press and popped it into my cheese fridge (a converted wine fridge.. I never keep wine long enough to  even NEED a wine fridge!!) So I am toddling on with my day, happy as the proverbial lark, wander out to hang a load of washing on the clothesline and find this:

 ANOTHER SWARM!.( the soundtrack of the day hits the LOW notes.)  However  (deep breath) this time I am ready. I only panic in a very mild way. Then I make up the little cardboard super that I bought last summer  (when I remember where I got it I will tell you), it is called a Nuc.  ‘Course now I have to convince them to move out of the wee oak tree and  INTO their little mini home. First I will take the passive route and allow them to decide to go in. Evidently if you put the box on a white sheet they see the little dark hole and walk right in. So I will make the offer. Mm.  Well  my plan is that the little scout bees will be flying about, then they will look down and “Wow look at that piece of real estate, it even smells good and there is a feed waiting  woo hoo.” They  will fly back to Old Miss the Queen sat up there all Queenly like in her oak tree her bee minions fanning her to keep her cool. The Scouts will do the  Waggly – ‘Found us a new pad’  Jiggly dance, everyone will agree in record time and later this afternoon they will pick up their beds and walk right in. Single file would be pretty!?

Nothing happened for a long time. And then nothing happened again. Well  I got bored waiting. I went out with my hoe, climbed up the wobbly yellow ladder and gave the branch a good hard wack, they dropped with a shush onto the white sheet like good little bees and Who Knew commenced to crawl right in. I was impressed –  I have to tell you that I was actually feeling rather smug!.   Well I sat down and watched them crawl in and then I watched them crawl BACK OUT! oops.

There now, well, that was earlier.  Now it is evening I am sitting in my study writing and waiting for the night to fall. We have eaten, pork soaked in home-made mint sauce, grilled onions in a herb vinaigrette and newly dug potatoes drenched in my own butter.  Our John the silent one who gets up for work at 4.am is snoring quietly in the West Wing. Dogs are walked. All I have to do is lock the chooks up and carry this box of bees to its new home.

And as you can see the bees have slowly slowly been absorbed by the little cardboard Nuc.

Tomorrow I will work out how and when to transfer them from their Nuc (fabulous name) to a proper hive but not yet.   Of course I don’t actually have another hive but I think I can cobble some bits and pieces together.  But tonight all I have to do is move them under the trees  to the bee garden.  Soon.

Night is falling, the birds are changing guard and soon the fireflies will begin to dance up out of the cornfields.

Time for a wee wine on the verandah as I wait for the bees to drag their last few lazy bones inside the  refugee  shelter. Then I will move them (actually I am not sure exactly how I will move them but I do not want to break the ambient tone we are developing here.) Then it is a swim, then a shower then bedtime for me.

Ni night,  (next time I promise I will begin the introductions!)

cecilia

Sustainable chatter.

This is brilliant. I am sitting here at my old desk in our little old House on the Prairie  writing to you and I have NO IDEA how to make this blogger stuff work.  But I am desperate to just find the voices. . My husband (known from now on as ‘The Silent One’ .. he is that type.. we bought him an IPad for Christmas and never heard from him again)  Anyway he and  I live right out here in the boonies, far away from everything.  Real Middle America.  The Midwest.  The land is flat and home to Industrial Horticulture. They grow Corn and Beans round here. It is barren.  I am from New Zealand and he is an American through and through right down to the home made fruit wood charcoal in his grill.  (In NZ we call this a Barbie, (the grill that is)  no relation to the doll). And the house he grew up in is just around the corner.

Now I  know you are looking at the picture above us (I think as I cannot see my published page yet) and wondering what has gone wrong-  there she is in the prairies surrounded in NO PRAIRIE just corn, and yes it is growing so fast shortly it will be as high as an elephants eye and the header has a picture  of  a forest!!.. Mm. that is because all this is so new to me that i have not worked out how to load my own pictures yet.  So please bear with me or give me some serious advice.  But I LOVE to learn so drop in again.. it will be better every time.

The Fourth of July is a perfect time to start.  Because the independence of the internet is mindblowing. Tomorrow I will begin to introduce you to the cast of characters that make up our tiny farm. We have sheep, cows, chickens and the usual motley assortment of dogs and cats. Oh and guineas. Lest we forget they will remind us. Plus huge vegetable gardens. Lovely meadows laden with clover and grasses.  Flower gardens, piles of flowers. And herbs, herbs, herbs.

I know you are wondering why I am on here. What we want to achieve is a state of self sufficiency in a sustainable manner using organic methods. We do not have air conditioning or central heating (yes we do get to 10 below and more in the winter and  wabder about the 90’s ion the summer).  We grow all our own vegetables and meat. The Silent One is working on solar water heating (without buying a ready made unit from God Knows where) and I am working on a way to heave the water up out of the ground without using electricity.  Pioneers did it!! But nothing is perfect.  My bees swarmed yesterday. More on that tomorrow. And the Japanese Beatles have arrived today.  mm

However.. tomorrow I will begin the introductions and tonight I will work on my layout. O I HAVE been able to load a pic so ignore paragraph two.. it is now obsolete!!

What do you think!?

Cecilia