Basil Pesto

Here is the pesto recipe.  Remember when making a dish with so few ingredients use the very best ingredients. At the Farmers Market in Evanston the other day I saw baskets of basil. Freshly picked. Gorgeous. Pine nuts are horribly expensive but worth it. Walnuts are an alternative.  Walnuts will change the color and taste though. Make sure your oil is the first press and from a glass bottle.  And lovely aged parmesan if you can bear it.

If you don’t have a garden, you can grow basil in a big pot on your window sill in a sheltered warm spot. As long as you croon to it every morning and water it TWICE a day in the summer.  Feed it once a week with a good natural fish fertiliser.  I LOVE basil!  Can you tell?

You will see from the picture below ( not a very good image I might add but I was in a hurry to EAT it!)  You can see that I actually stir the grated cheese in.  When we used to buy this in big jars freshly made on the Amalfi Coast in Italy the guy pulsed it in.  So you choose.

I take the flowers and stems off for this recipe. Though they are perfectly tasty in salads.

Basil Pesto

2 cups ripped basil (rip down the seam)

4 big chopped cloves of garlic

1 cup pine nuts

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup romano (this is optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In Food  processer:  Blend basil, garlic and nuts. Drizzle in oil.  Lightly pulse in cheese. 

Refrigerate. If I make enough I freeze  some in ice cube trays.   Place in a sealed bag.  They are fine in the freezer for a few months.  Then I use them for flavoring soups and stews during the winter. Lovely as a topping on grilled fish. 

A perfect lunch. 

Hot penne pasta, lightly stir in the pesto and top with grated parmesan and ground pepper.   Make a side salad of any edible greens you can find, dress with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and teensy drops of balsamic.  Divine.

OK. Just for discussions sake. I popped out and picked a cup of lime basil leaves. Halved the recipe. Replaced the pine nuts with walnuts.   See how fast it is the make? And LOOK! Not very pretty. But pretty tasty.  There is an  interesting lime hit left in your mouth.

A lovely girl from England who works in aromatherapy commented last night about Lime Basil.  Which got me to thinking  about how you could use this heady feel good herb in that line of work. Here is my suggestion. Grow a long bed of it.  At Dawn, when it is dewy and the world is still sleeping.  Sneak out. Throw your nightie into the weeds and tuck yourself in amongst the lime basil, wriggle a bit to release the fragrance, then just relax there, sigh, breath in that delicious scent and watch the the sky as it slowly lightens. Therapy.

I am making more summer sauce today. Our John is bringing in HUGE buckets of tomatoes every day now and so I had better get Cooking.  My summer sauce is the basic component for most of my winter dishes so I make as much as I can. I will write it up for you tomorrow.


Morning Walk through the weeds down the back.

Early this morning I took you all to walk the fences with me. I do this walk every morning and evening for the dogs toilet time.  This is the wild area, where the weeds and all that wild  grass is allowed to grow. I even throw seed gathered from the garden down  there to encourage wildflowers.   We cannot farm it anyway as the farmers are paid a government subsidy NOT to grow on it.  It is along a waterway.

As we pass I need to point out that our vines are still hanging in there. 

Thing Two is admiring Our Johns fence. It has kept the deer and coyotes out so far.

Daisy through the fence. So quiet and gentle at this time of the morning. 

A profusion of my weeds.  This is one my favorite shots this week.

There now. Home. I have made the pesto and will pop the recipe into a post tomorrow. I added lemon basil to this mornings mix but I am not sure that it is a success.  Good old fashioned basil is the best.  Lemon basil has a fantastic scent, and is good in salads when really fresh. The scent is quite divine. I roll the leaves over my skin  when no-one is looking. It is my favorite new herbal fragrance. No money in it though!

Still no rain but just a bit cooler, so I had better get out there and get busy.

Firstly, while the bread is rising, I will go and cut another load of corn stalks. Soon they will be too dry, the sweetcorn will be finished and the protein levels will drop so then at last I will be able to stop this chore. It is my least favorite job.  But I cannot let free, good food go to waste. Lots of fibre,  average forage.  Except I am doing the foraging.  The farm animals  seem grateful though. Well they better.

Talk to you tomorrow.


Why can’t a Guy buy a Girl a Drink?

I know that what I write today has nothing to do with old-fashioned farming.  But it is an old-fashioned thought. Queenie Wineti is supplying the visuals.  

You see I had this interesting experience in the city on the weekend.  I had walked from the Metra Station to the Union Station  to catch my last train, I had an hour to spare so I decided to sit down with my notebook  and catch up on a few thoughts. When I travel,  my favorite places to write are busy cafe’s or bars. So I found a little bar in the  Union Station terminal. Quite ghastly but dimly lit, which frankly I prefer in a bar. I hate brightly lit bars why do they do that?

I ordered a beer. Then almost bumped into a guy behind me as I  turned away from the bar.  At a glimpse this guy had an uncanny resemblance to an actor whose name I just cannot remember, you know the guy, he was in that thing, that one with that girl.   What was that girl’s name? Anyway he apologised, I accepted and moved away.

He sat at a table opposite mine.  He caught my eye as I looked up from my book. (oops, eye contact, bad)  Just one eye though as he was on his phone.  After a bit I went back to the bar to get another beer (it had been a long hot day in the city)  and still with his phone hand on his ear he raised his voice and called out “Put it on my tab!” to the bargirl.   I smiled at the bargirl,   (widening my eyes to her, like… shout across the bar why don’t you. )   Although I had not been asked if I wanted him to buy me a drink, I thanked him with a tip of the cold frosty bottle,  ( he was still on his phone) and went back to work.  A few minutes later, he said goodbye to his phone,  stood,  stepped right up to me  and said he hoped I was not upset that he bought me a drink. Some girls think it is an insult or something.

I looked up from my book, laid down my pen. Pushed my stool back to get OUT of his space, which had been my space – he was way too close.  And told him quite truthfully that No, I was in a bar, having a drink was not that unusual in a bar. And him buying me a drink was very kind and thank you very much. ( It was the manner in which he bought me the beer that was slightly less that clever. I mean one does not buy a girl a drink while talking to someone else ON a phone! )  I smiled. He had been brave. I flashed my diamonds around.  That usually calms them down a bit.

So we spent a pleasant few minutes having an old-fashioned chat about not very much.  I mean if a guy buys a girl a drink  and she accepts and I think it is nice to, then he gets a couple of minutes.  As well as that, when you get to a certain age it  doesn’t matter who buys the drink  as long as I get one.

Then he said can I tell you something and I paused somewhat apprehensively, turning my watch around my wrist so I could see it better,  (your three minutes is ticking buddy) and said you can tell me anything you like ’cause we will never see each other again.  He blinked at that but took it well I thought. It turned out that he had seen me at the Metra  (that is  5 blocks away) and just happened to be walking in the same direction, behind me, ( oh really I thought) and although he was catching a bus  (a bus?) he came into the railway station to have a quick drink.  (only bar in town open?, my right eyebrow raising) Then wow, he  saw me again.  (Oh goodness,  what a coincidence. Both eyebrows up by now)  So he bought me a beer.( Hmm. Well. OK…I had a stalker, an unusually honest stalker, who wore baggy shorts and looked like a guy in a movie ). But, why can’t a guy buy a girl a drink? 

He was a little earnest but not a crashing bore.  He introduced himself, we shook. All very civilised. His feet fiddled as he talked. He answered my questions about his kids (two both in college studying law and medicine)and his job, (who knows) and oh your grandparents are from Germany how interesting,( Don’t mention the war) I zoned in and out.  His wife was off the scene I gathered but one always wonders.  If he had been too dull  or even slightly lewd I would have said thank you so much for the drink,  it was lovely to talk to you  and now I  really need to finish this piece of work. I would have placed my half full bottle  firmly back on the table,  wiped my hands, picked up my pen and allowed the contact to drop.  He would have had  his three minutes of polite nodding and small smiles. Then the cut-off. I think it does not hurt to be polite.  Yet Firm. But I was still trying to digest his having followed me here. I mean that took a little thinking about. Was it a bad thing?

But maybe he was just one of those much maligned nice guys. But there was nothing on television, he actually really seemed like a nice fellow,  so he got twenty minutes and I got another beer.  And once he got over his terror of talking to a live woman he even became a bit interesting or maybe that was the beer. But it was a perfectly cool  interlude in a busy day.  Soon I began to slowly pack away my book and pens and he got the hint and thanked me genuinely for talking with him. Oh and evidently I am quite striking and have a distinctive walk.   I wasn’t going to argue though was I, that would have been rude.  Even if he had followed me half way across town.  And what does striking really mean anyway?  I am not sure I want to be striking. But I was determined to be kind.  (Why is that so hard?) I mean why can’t a guy buy a girl a drink.  Have a little chat without a keyboard   and then off we all go.  He really was a nice guy. And yes I meant to say nice.

And NO, I really did not think we had time to eat before my train, and  didn’t he have a bus to catch?  ( Oh yeah that’s right.)  So off he went. I wanted to tell him that he really should take  that plastic ID on a string from around his neck.  But maybe Mike was his second name or something.

The moment he was around the corner I upped sticks and smartly decamped to my gate to wait for my train. I sat quietly surrounded by about 300 noisy co-travellers and wondered.

Two people of the opposite sex can stop and just talk can’t they?  Mostly this is what people want when they buy each other a drink.  So why are guys afraid to buy a girl a drink nowadays? Are the girls so lacking in confidence that they feel they cannot control a small exchange of words?  Have they become harsh with fright?  Why are we dubious about accepting a drink even from a fairly harmless stalker guy.  Who I might add walked behind me for 5 blocks. Keeping his eyes to himself I hope!  Now,  I know that there has to be some kind of attraction and all that stuff, but come on girls we can manage that, can’t we? A bar is comparatively safe.   Men are not all bad. ‘No’, is a very useful word if an unpleasant connotation enters your conversation.  But do it gently.

So don’t be insulted if a guy buys you a drink.   If you want to accept, take the drink, say thank you, take charge of the visit by asking him a few questions, chat for three or maybe four minutes, (well I am a fast drinker) make sure he knows you are only available for a minute or two, ( wave to someone across the room, over his shoulder and mouth ‘back in a mo’) after his three minutes, excuse yourself, shake hands (this is important – a very useful social nicety that ends an episode), leave the glass behind, nice to meet you and be gone.

If you do not want to accept a drink, smile and say No Thank You.  Give no reason. No discussion.  Just No.  Smile and move aside quickly.  Be kind but firm.

Or and I know this is an outrageous thought.  Have a chat. You might enjoy yourselves. One day you may even meet a friend who was as stranger.

The loneliness and aloneness of ordinary and often very  intelligent and  lovely people is escalating.  It is making people sick.   We are looking for friendships with our keyboards.   No wonder we are all so shy and inept at real conversation.   A bar is one of the last bastions of controlled somewhat civilised communication.   In the afternoon anyway.  Well mostly controlled. Sometimes. And well civilised.. mm.. maybe that is the wrong word too.  But you know what I mean!

So let the nice man buy you a drink.  Only one mind.  Use words. Maybe he really is a nice fella.  I had a very enjoyable twenty minutes.  

OK.. back to the farm.  I know I promised you Queenie  but the others just kept popping into range putting in their two cents worth.

Be kind


Flowers in my garden that the bees love the most

Bees need flowers all summer long.  Millions of them. So we need to plant flowers we know will flower in early spring, right through summer and as late in the fall as possible. The wonderful thing about growing flowers for bees is that it seems that the ones they love the most are the ones that love to grow. And weeds, you will find a lot of weeds in this list. And there are a lot more that you will find in your area.  Some of these pictures are taken from stock, so some will be out of season but they are all in my gardens. This is a shot from today though. 

BEG the farmers  and neighbours around you to cut back a wee bit on their mowing along the roadsides when the dandelions and clovers are in flower. Clover is the biggie. Of course you have to be good too and not knock all those lovely flowers off with your own big fat mower.  It may look a bit raggedy for a while but try not to mow your own lawn when it is flowering.  Bees can comfortably fly two miles to forage but have been known to go as far as six miles if something tasty comes on the menu. So let people know that you have bees.

Before I start I must say that I sowed a whole lot of bee balm which is a great spreading plant. But I have never seen one bee on these flowers. Not one. Butterflies love it though. The flower itself is more suited to a humming-bird I think.  But no bees. Weird.

From some plants the bees get nectar and some they gather pollen. So make sure that your flowers are from  heirloom seeds or the pollen will be inert and therefore useless to a bee.  This is important.

Pussy Willow. This is the first flower on my property that the bees find. It is a small tree that is fairly dull for the rest of the year, but mine was heaving with bees in the early spring.

Fruit Trees. As many fruit trees as you can cram into your property.  Fruit feeds everyone.  Now I realise that the picture below is not of a fabulous apple blossom. This is an hydrangea. And no I have never seen a bee on a hydrangea. But it is just so gorgeous and we are having a bit of a flowerfest today so I indulged myself and popped it in anyway. This is from this morning as well.

Forsythia.  Very early spring. Comes out at around the same time as pussy willow so is a good staple. Prune after it flowers and it will flower from the new growth next year.  You can dig up and tear the roots apart quite rudely to propagate. It is very hardy.  This is an early spring shot. You can just see the new meadow beginning to sprout. 

Dandelion. If you have these in your lawn then REJOICE.  They flower early. The bees love them AND you can pick the little leaves and throw them in your salad. My father believes that dandelion tea, mixed with a little honey  and cider vinegar is good for what ails ya’.

Hollyhocks. Another easy care plant. Mine are quite out of control and bright pink (shudder) but they are so popular I am loath to dig them out. As if you can get rid of a hollyhock after it has got itself dug in!

Chives.  Just common all garden type chives. No winter can deter them and they flower madly, also of course great in the kitchen. Divide your plants after they flower every year, the bees will love you for it and so will your salads and summer soups.

Poppies. Throw piles of seed out for poppies.   Sow in the autumn/fall. They will not transplant but you can grow them in pots if you are clever.  Sometimes you will find them in a garden centre. Grab a couple – it will save you time. Once established they love to grow. Remember that they will flower in their second year.  And forever after.

Catnip and Catmint. White or Purple. These are brilliant great big weeds.  Though remember a weed is only a plant in the wrong place and there is a place for this weed. It attracts thousands of bees and when it goes to seed is full of little yellow finches. This is a protected plant around here. You will see it on the left of the first photo. Not photogenic, but prolific!

Lavender. These flowers were the major bee feeding spot for quite some time. My lavender hedge is right along the garden path leading to the kitchen door so you can imagine how gingerly my visitors would walk up that buzzing path. In areas with very cold winters plant early in the summer. If their root systems are well established they should survive. I grow Munstead. 

Salvia. All of them, especially the blue and purple ones  And sage, especially Russian Sage so the bees tell me.

Lilies.  The bees seem to loll about drunkenly in the base of these flowers, quite the picture of decadence.  This is a scented day lily. 

Borage is the top seller for bees. These plants are always heaving with bees. And in high summer when the flowers are over, you can yank them out and the seed it has scattered  immediately takes off and it  will be flowering again before the end of summer. So they start early, end late and are very popular. A very good trait in a bee flower. You will only need to sow these once.  And they fall all over and make a proper mess. You can eat the little leaves in salads if you like. And for the cocktail lovers you can freeze the flowers in little blocks of ice! Who knew!

Thistles. I know you have seen this picture before but I do like it. It seems that as bee keepers we need to ensure that some areas of our properties just go to seed and weeds and all that.  My gardens at this time of the year are so weedy for this very reason. (laughter) . The thistle is a great forage for the bees.  Hopefully you can keep them down the back though. Not even sheep will eat them.

Your vegetable garden zucchini, pumpkins, melons, beans, etc. Your whole vege patch and your bees will have a lovely productive relationship.

Lambs Ears. This plant has the most unappealing flowers on the planet.  So I only shot the leaves. But the bees are endlessly crawling all over the flowers. Plus Lambs Gars grows with such a dense pattern that is locks out weeds which is so helpful to the lazy gardener.

Sunflowers of all kinds. This is a small native sunflower. next spring we will bulk plant huge sunflowers for both the bees and the chickens.  (We are breaking in another two acres this autumn.) Also Our John wants to sow a quarter acre in Buckwheat which evidently makes the best honey. So I will try to find some seed.  I understand that it is not a wheat really.  I need to do some more research on this crop.  

Coneflower. A staple. once again choose a space where they can spread and just go for it. Fantastic native flower and grows like a weed.  All my wild garden visitors love it. Butterflies, birds and bees are all attracted to the coneflower garden. 

Anemone. My favorite flower. It comes late in the season and grows like a weed. Loves to spread, very easy to divide.   Flowering late is wonderful as most everything else has closed up its petals and just died from the heat and dry. The Anemone is a tough little number.  As you can see it is not quite flowering here yet. But soon it will be humming.

So that is most of the flowers I have for bees. Have fun. Now it is time for me to get back outside and get on with the fencing.  We are building the internal fences in the new meadow.  Actually this is my job as it is much lighter work that the others.   But I am not very good with wire. Or straight lines for that matter. Though it looks like it might be a little cooler day today.

We will visit Queenie tomorrow.  And make pesto.  I will leave you with my lovely anemone.


Farmers Market and Shocking Sheep.

I will let these images speak for themselves. These pictures were taken at the Evanston Farmers Market. The vegetables were from a stall called Henry’s Farm.  If you have a farmers market close by you that has food like this then you are SO LUCKY.


Well I was working away and I could hear this thumping  and bashing coming from the yards out by the barn. Went to investigate and there he was.  The Murphy (you will remember that we call the sheep being raised for meat The Murphys.) Jumping up and down on one of Our Johns old cars.   Just for fun!  What shocking behaviour!

Pop in tomorrow. I am going to have a wee think about the flowers you need to plant before you get your bees.  And we need to catch up with Queenie Wineti. She is growing. Such a sweet calf.  Now I have got to go out there and SHIFT that Murphy.  He is in Daisy’s ‘Flerd’.  I cannot believe she is letting him behave like that.


Hi Honey I’m Home.

Well, we looked inside all the hives and there has not been a huge escalation in much of anything.  I would say things are just puttering along slowly. Much slower this year due to those two hives swarming  at the beginning of the month and all that rain in the spring.   A couple of the hives will barely make enough honey for the winter, so these two I am going to start feeding with sugar water to help them along – we will not be taking honey from them anyway.  I do not want to eat honey made from sugar so i only feed non producing hives at this time of year. We want each hive to have two big heavy supers full of honey for the winter. There is often a lull in flowers during high summer.  The Blog bees have almost filled their two supers. When their top super in about 80 percent full I may put a little honey super on.  But not yet. They have to get all their own honey in yet.

However I have two hives with honey supers on and I was able to cadge one frame of honey off one of them.  The scent from this tray is heavenly.  I brushed the few stray bees off it.   Hurried it inside while it was still hot. Heated a knife. Gently cut the caps off the honey and let gravity do the rest.

Initially the honey and wax are strained through a sieve.  I was left with  quite a bit of wax this time. I will render the wax, store it and make candles in the winter.  Then I strain the honey through a brand new silk stocking (I know that is a terrible waste of a good stocking but it is sacrificed to a good cause). This is the result.

Lovely color for so early in the season.  Also you will see that the honey is a little cloudy.  This is raw organic honey.  It has not been heated or treated and it is ALL honey. So sometimes it is a bit cloudy.  The flower origins of the pollen/nectar can result in a more opaque honey too.  We have so many flowers around here it would be hard to tell which combination has  given us this honey.  It tastes just divine.

The plundered frame is out leaning on  the hive and soon the bees will begin to rob the rest of their honey back.   When they are finished I will store the cleaned frame ready to swap back in next time I collect some honey.  It has what is called drawn comb on it,  (I dripped the honey out of the comb) which saves the bees a lot of supplies and energy, so it will fill up faster. At the end of the season I remove the whole honey super and they will all retreat back into their larger frames and get ready for winter.

When the frame is clean I will show it to you. It looks amazing.

And look Mary’s Cat is learning to share!

So sweet.

I want to show you a few of the farmers market shots tomorrow. So I will get those sorted. They will make you feel hungry for good food!  Whats for dinner.. any suggestions?

I had tomato halves fried in butter and topped with pepper and basil for breakfast. YUM


Utopian to Utilitarian in the city

I am back. In my cool study. No one is any worse for wear due to my absence. Though Daisy set up such a racket of bellowing when I appeared that I had to go out and visit. She then commenced to try to get her tongue INTO my drink as I patted her bony head.   Which was not a pretty sight. Too young to drink though. I will show you a few pictures of the City then I must get out and get busy.

So I left the green country to take the train up to the city in a massive storm. Mercifully the train was fast, the wet tracks hissing as we travelled.   Wooshed us through the storm and spat us out the other side with very little drama.  Unlike this motorcyclist, who was riding past the train,  I was safe and dry as I travelled.  And so to Chicago. This is one of the ceiling skylights in beautiful Union Station. Then into the city.  I love Chicago.   My brain can download, save, sort its files and reboot in the anonymity of the big city.  The Loop had been washed clean by a torrential downpour earlier that day, so it was clean, sweet,  steaming and in order.

I have a dreadful affliction when it come to associating words with songs. And then the songs get stuck in my head.  Worse i even catching myself humming them as i work. After taking this shot I struggled with that old 70’s disco song – Car Wash.  So I had Rose Royce shrieking it into  my subconscious soundtrack for the day. 

Then as I rounded a corner.  Lost again of course.   I have NO sense of direction.There was a message from home!  Ah, Cheers!

Beautiful.  The design of these buildings by these long dead architects with such vision is still  simply beautiful. 

And then onto the Metra to go to beautiful Evanston to visit with my dear friends and see their farmers market (tomorrow I will show it to you) but Nothing could have prepared me for the Metra. It is raw, industrial, deeply depressing and NEVER go on this epitome of No Frills without an incredibly interesting book or a smart intelligent friend.  Though incredibly as we were packed into our silent rows, even after shooting enduring grandeur in the streets of The Loop, the rawness and toughness of the Metra train car was strangely comforting.  Of course my miserable subconscious soundtrack switched to Pink Floyd at this point with “We don’t need your education,  We don’t need your forced control”. Over and over and over again) Awful.   So maybe a hip flask would be in order for the Metra as well. And why is it that the subconscious soundtrack is always stuffed with songs you never ever  wanted to hear AGAIN!?

And now I am off to don my hat and veil, make like a nun and see to the bees.

Welcome to all the new readers who joined in while I was away.  I will make sure we get plenty of good bee pictures for you.  Maybe even HONEY!  The city was great.  And now I am  back to country living, with a vengeance, picking all my overgrown cucumbers and zuchinni, oops.   Oh and we now have tons of basil so I will make pesto later in the week.




Rude Railway Men and Roasted Chickens in the Heat

In the blog world there are no days.  Time has lost meaning as I write. People read my words and navigate their way around my site while I sleep. When the flag counter says yesterday the date is today.  I file as people are rising from their beds and I rest in yesterdays night planning tomorrows morning.   It really is quite an extraordinary thing.  When my mother died, she sent letters in envelopes with stamps and had her milk delivered to the gate in glass bottles.  She died when I was a young woman but she could never in a million years imagine that her daughter would be able to show pictures and have her words read simultaneously in countries that she had never even hard of.

I can file work here at noon and within seconds Senior Son can be reading it on an IPad – very early in his morning waiting for his car to warm up before he trundles off to work in New Zealand. And at the exact same time Beautiful Daughter is checking it out on her phone, in the early evening light right there in the center of  London. Eldest son reads it while he eats his lunch on top of a mountain in yet another country. Soon I am going to get a dozen clocks and put them on my wall with the name of a city under them just like they have on the big hotels, to anchor me as I slide further and further into the blurry fuzzy timeless space of the internet groggy bloggy world.

Well, I wrote that little piece at 5.30 this morning, I was feeling contemplative and a little sleep deprived.  As usual it was already hot and humid. 78F/25C and 84% humidity at 5.30 am. Except for that one rainy day, it has reached a hundred almost every day for AGES.    But,”what do you expect,”  Our John says,” it IS summer!”

Anyway this morning I went out to the corn field as I usually do to chop down a ute load of corn stalks for the farm family. I took the white truck.  Wearing whatever I was wearing, which was one small step up from a nightie.  It is usually quite deserted out there. I became a little apprehensive as we drove up, when I saw a Great Big Locomotive idling on the railway lines that run through the field.  About 20 feet from where I was to work.  Its motor was running and ticking.   I mean I was wearing the afore mentioned short skirt, the really short one (well It was HOT and I never wear it in public!) But there is lots of bending to chop and throw and lift  and .. well you know what I am getting at.  I don’t want to appear uncouth.  TonTon and I stood and stared at the train engine for a wee bit to check for inhabitants  there was no-one around and we saw no movement.  It was just parked or moored or whatever you call a locomotive left to sit. They do that sometimes in the season.

We were reassured. So I began to work.  Started chopping. At one point the engine let off steam with such a loud woosh that TonTon took off through the field and leapt straight back into the truck through the open passenger window. Coward. I must teach him to ride on the deck.  So I worked and bent over and  hauled and worked and dragged and sweated.  All alone out there in the field. Very hot by then and sometimes I would lift the hem of  my singlet  to wipe the glow off my face, watching the locomotive occasionally for signs of movement.  No movement.  I was working with my back to the train and once I heard voices and turned but then realised that it was just the train radio talking to itself.

I kind of day-dreamt to myself that any minute now a whole stream of clean lean handsome railway workers would stream out with cold drinks and and an umbrella to protect my complexion,  take the machete from my hand all courteous and gallant.  They  would fill the truck up in seconds,  then see me off down the road with a wave and maybe a rousing chorus from Oklahoma or something.  But no. It was hot. I was alone.  So I chopped and hauled and chopped and hauled. Gradually getting filthier and filthier.  The bed of the truck getting fuller and fuller.  Finally I  threw my machete on top of the last load and wiped my face on my T-Shirt one more time  ( thinking when would I remember to bring a towel and some water) turned to get in and there at the window of the locomotive was a MAN WATCHING ME!.  With a railways cap on his head!  I gasped.  (as you would) Where had he come from? Is there a downstairs or something in those engines?  I watched him back for a minute.  We were close enough for him to see me raise my eyebrow at him, (well really) which made him turn and look out the OTHER window so he could see me drive off.  Which I did. I tried to do a squealy when I hit the road but I have never been any  good at those so my exit was just a bit wobbly and dusty, not quite as indignant as I had hoped.  WELL of all the cheek. How Rude!  I should write a letter. That nasty little man had been WATCHING me work.  I hate people watching me work especially when.. well ..(splutter splutter) .. especially this morning.! Can you imagine?!  Chivalry is DEAD!

Anyway, just quickly to get everyone up to date. and our minds off that dull little man. Farm stuff. . .

Daisy, The miserable Hairy McLairy , and the two Murphys care a Flerd (flock and herd).  I am considering sheep therapy for Hairy, he is always miserable. I have never seen a smile on that sheep’s face.  But his ewes have multiple births so we cannot just let him run with the girls willy nilly (willy being the operative word,  I am not even sure I know what nilly means).  I need to plan that kind of thing.

Murphys.  You will remember that any lamb we raise for the freezer is called a Murphy. Unfortunately these Murphys are eternally cheerful and optimistic sheep which might make it difficult to eat them, but maybe not.  They have taken to sleeping in the root cellar in the heat of the day. I wish we could get Hairy down there. I am sure he would be happier in a cool dark concrete cell under the ground!  In fact it is probably the perfect place for him. He is such a miserable sheep.

Mama and Mia are together in the salad bar field.  I have planted everything in there, all the left over seed goes in there. Squash,  lettuce, borage, lemon balm,  onions, chives,  chicory and mint.  Poor mama is so hot.   That little field has a lot of shade too but she is really not doing well with the heat.  In that big wooly coat, that she has to keep because she will need it in the winter.

Queenie and The Baby Bobby are out in the 2 acre meadow, quite lost out there in the long dry grass.  But doing nicely.

So there you are.. everyone where they should be. Bees still humming along. I am looking forward to what we find on Sunday.   And I am hoping that I have some good shots of The Loop for you for next week.  Back soon. Have fun. c

Nothing much happening out here in the Boonies Today

Damn. Thought it might have rained. Nothing much happening out here in the Boonies today.  That is how we like it. 
Thank you for dropping in. I am getting more and more readers every day and I love that you are all popping in each day.    My intention is to write daily for one whole year.  Except on the days that I don’t.  And then I won’t. But mostly I will write and load images for you every day.  And I am loving this Blogg thing.  It sharpens the mind. You readers are my motor.  Driving me along.  Just for the record NZ and US are neck and neck for the top spot of the most readers.  With UK, Turkey and Aussie galloping up behind in that order.  I am VERY impressed.  Oops, Canada though is winning at the wrong end. After a year we can create a forum  and you can help me decide what we do next.
I will be in tomorrow but Friday and Saturday (Sat and Sun in NZ)  I am jumping on the train and taking the cameras to Chicago.  ( I love trains. You get to see the backyards of a country on a train).   I know, just as I discuss writing every day I take a few days OFF! Fickle thy name is woman.  I will wander the dirty streets a bit and do some farmers markets.  If all goes well I will be bringing back  images from the Big City ( I love the city)  and hopefully a few tasty ideas from the markets.
 But before I leave, you and I will tour the whole block and make sure everyone is settled in and ready for Our John to take over for a few days.  And on Sunday after my city sojourn, I will don my bee hat and give The Silent One the camera and we will have a look inside those hives.  I might even steal a frame or two of honey if there is any there yet.
Now in this hot weather don’t forget to get a bottle of cider vinegar, put in a clove of garlic,  and a chilli.  Pour a tiny slug in all the water containers every day until it is gone.  Especially chickens, sheep and cows.  It helps move parasites off the stomach walls. When Daisy sees me coming with the cider vinegar bottle she rushes over and tries to drink it OUT of the BOTTLE!  I could do with a drop as well!!.
Have fun. See you tomorrow

Ignore Everything and Make Bread

White Cat in the tree house, yesterday evening.

I am ignoring Mary’s Cat who is sleeping in one of the Silent Ones caps looking incredibly cute. And I am not listening to Mama who is crying because I am trying to wean her lambs AGAIN. I am trying not to think about the fact that I found THE RAM  (Hairy MacLairy) in the barn with Mama this morning! Dirty Rotton Scoundrel. (I have noted the date on my Animal calendar just in case something naughty occurred in the night.. Better not have!.)  She didn’t seem to care when I chucked him out.

Mama sternly peering out, hoping for a glimpse of her ungrateful children. 

I am blocking out the sounds of a yellow top dressing (aerial spraying) plane that is buzzing all over the neighbours fields (fungicide) and trying not to worry about this new threat to my bees.

I have cut a truck-full of sweetcorn stalks. Distributed it amongst my stock. Queenie is being so sweet this morning.  I have watered the new seedlings in the  garden and picked MORE cucumbers. Daisy is beginning to look like a cucumber she eats so many! Now we are going to make Bread.

No Recipe Bread. I know that sounds weird but it does work.  I make bread like this about twice a week.  When you read about No Recipe Bread you will read words like pinches, dollops, handfuls, shakes.. stuff like that. You’ll work it out.

OK, in your small size pot/saucepan, half fill with milk, scald. (heat to almost boiling).  Add a good dollop of honey and a few pinches of salt. Stir.  Add cold water almost filling the pot. COOL to hand warm. Add 2 sachets or 2 tablespoons of yeast.  Give one  cursory stir and leave to work where it is warm.

In your biggest kitchen bowl. Pour in about 4 or 5 cups of organic unbleached white flour. (I just tip in a little over a third of a 5lb/2kg bag of flour) , then about 1 cup of wholemeal flour.  Shake in a handful each of  Flax seeds and flax flour, and wheat germ. Depending on how wholemealy, (Yes I know that is not a word but I bet you know what I MEAN!) you want your bread.  Basically none of these measurements matter as long as you err on the side of less flour.  This will make sense in a minute.  Mix all your dry ingredients, make a well in the center.

When your yeast has risen and looks nice and bubbly, stir and pour into the well in the flour, it should look like too much fluid.  Stir from the well until you have mixed in all the flour, sometimes it looks like a batter. Then using your sieve sprinkle more flour in and stir and repeat and repeat until you have a lovely ball of dough.  At some point you will have ditched the spoon and you will be using your hands, and then with the dough still  IN the bowl – knead and turn, knead and turn for about 10 minutes or whenever your arms get tired.  Keep your hands floury.  Your dough is good when it starts pushing back up after each knead.  Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl and cover (I usually just tie a clean supermarket bag over it) , then place in a warm spot to RISE and double its size.  At least an hour. 

Punch down.  Divide into portions, place in greased tins, rise again until it looks right  and cook on High.   I make small loaves and these take 19 minutes. A bigger loaf I leave in for about 25 minutes. Knock on your bread –  if it sounds hollow it is cooked.  Turn bread out onto rack.  Cool. 

I have made bread using every recipe know to man and my bread was marginal at the best of times until I threw away the measuring cup and started looking at what I was doing.  Getting in tune with the bread! (laughter). Seriously it is much more successful for me to start with a wet mixture that you add flour to,  than a dry dough that you are trying to add water to.

You can add either: Rosemary, lavender, nuts, or raisins, olives,  seeds or  Cheese (roll the cheese in)  and onions. Whatever takes your fancy.   I usually wait until after I have risen the bread the first time before adding the extras. 

Tomorrow we will take one of these small  loaves  and make a stuffing for a chicken I will be cooking  for dinner. No.  Not one of my own chickens.   I am not eating one of those tough old birds.  I have not quite got there yet with my new age old fashioned farming!!