Farm Blog

Fall Weekends

It was a good weekend for getting projects done around the farm.  The warm sunny weather made the daytime feel like summer and the cool nights were perfect for eating stew and soup!  Dan and I made a delicious stew tonight using beef shanks.  I will post the recipe and some photos later this week!
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We have a few old apple trees growing down by the pond.  Dan and I picked some this afternoon and we’re hoping to try to make applesauce with them later this week.  I would love to learn how to prune the trees so next summer we have bigger apples instead of lots of little ones.

DSC_0083The sheep (and the cows) enjoy eating the apples that have fallen on the ground.  It is a special treat for them this time of year.  It’s funny to watch them munch away on all the apples.

DSC_0110We haven’t gotten any eggs from our chickens yet, but we’ve started checking every day!  During the summer we had a problem where our chickens got attacked by a fox.  Since then we’re had to keep a close eye on the chickens, but it was great watching them run around this weekend.  DSC_0133

It’s amazing how much they’ve grown since the spring!
DSC_0164It’s going to be a busy week here at Clarkridge Farm.  On Tuesday, we are taking some cows and sheep off to be butchered.  It’s always an adventure trying to get the cows into the cattle trailer.  Hopefully they’ll all just walk right on! Then this weekend we’re going to be in Chicago for a wedding of one of my closest friends.  I’m excited to go back to the city and see so many good friends there!

Harvest Season

DSC_0039 This spring we barely managed to get a few vegtables planted.  We experimented with some different crops to see what kind of results we would get.  Our corn grew higher than we thought!  Dan loved to go outside and measure it.
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Although it looks tasty, the corn didn’t end up tasting that good.  We planted an heirloom variety that tasted like the frozen corn on the cob you get in a college cafeteria.   The chickens have enjoyed pecking at the corn though!

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We had a bumper crop of basil!  I love basil and pesto, so I was happy to enjoy all the basil we had.  This weekend I’m hoping to make some pesto and freeze before its all ruined by frost next week.

DSC_0021Unlike the corn, our heirloom tomatoes were delicious!  I didn’t take many good photos of our tomatoes, but here is one below.  Most of our tomatoes weren’t round like this one though.  They were bumpy and lumpy but still delicious!DSC_0074My favorite thing to do with the fresh summer produce is throw it on a pizza with some fresh mozzarella cheese. This pizza has some summer squash, and eggplant on it from our friends garden and homemade pesto on the bottom.

DSC_0040I hope you have enjoyed the harvest from your garden this year.

Farewell Summer

One of things I’ll miss the most about the summer is all of the fresh fruit available during the summer.  My favorite summer fruit is fresh peaches, but blueberries are definitely a close second!

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This Blueberry Buckle from allrecipes.com was delicious!  (I know there are lots of fancy cooking blogs out there, but allrecipes.com is my go to – quick, easy, and usually pretty basic.) It was a great way to use up a bounty of blueberries from berry picking.  DSC_0008As the summer is winding down and I’m lamenting the loss of our fresh summer produce, I’ve been reading Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Harvest.  If you haven’t read any of his books, I would highly recommend it.  Especially if you’re farming in New England.  He’s from Maine and harvests fresh produce all four seasons!  Dan and I are hoping to implement some of his practices into our garden this fall.   We’ll let you know if how it’s working in January!
DSC_0015A lot is happening on the farm right now.  We’ve been getting back into the routine of the fall and I’ve definitely been missing the free time of the summer.  Projects take twice as long to get down now.

We’re working on putting together the order forms for the grass-fed beef packages for the fall! Hopefully they will be up and working the beginning of next week.

Familiarity

There is something to be said for familiarity. I love small local coffee shops, but sometimes Starbucks makes me feel at home. The familiarity of it reminds me of Chicago, of a different life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life right now.  I love the farm – the cows, sheep, woods, and outdoors.  I love being closer to family.

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But sometimes I miss the pace of city life. I miss living in the third largest city in the United States and feeling part of a much bigger world. I love the diversity. I miss walking down the street and seeing signs in Spanish, Arabic, and German.
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Today, as I embrace my new life, I’m sitting comfortably at Starbucks reading How to Make a Small Farm Profitable.  At this Starbucks though, the door isn’t constantly opening to new customers.  It’s possible to find a table to sit at. There aren’t any homeless people coming in to warm up from the cold air outside.  There aren’t people (and strollers) walking by, there’s cars and a parking lot. Instead people seem to look up and smile more. I could take my time deciding what I wanted to drink because there weren’t five people in line behind me.
It’s a time of adjusting, but I’m adjusting. I’m thankful for the time I lived in Chicago. For the friends I made and the things I learned. And slowly I’m making friends here and starting to feel at home at the Apotheca. Today though, I’m thankful for the familiarity of Starbucks.

New Hampshire Maple Sugar Weekend 2013

My new favorite weekend = New Hampshire Maple Sugar WeekendSAM_2716We had a good run of sap earlier this year and we made some of our own maple syrup!  It was a learning experience for me, and this weekend I was able to see how other people in our town and neighboring towns run their maple sugaring operations.

We probably visited about 6 or 7 different sap houses.  We don’t have a sap house, so sometimes our maple sugar equipment is hard to use.

SAM_2618It’s difficult to boil down the sap when all the equipment is covered in snow!  And it’s not fun to boil it outside if it’s raining.  However, when it’s not covered in snow and the sap is flowing, it works great!
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I wish you could smell it.  There’s nothing better.  A sweet and smokey smell.  You’ll just have to come visit sometime so you can smell it for yourself.

The set up we have now is good for a couple of gallons of sap.  We have about 15 taps out and have gotten about 1 or 2 gallons of maple syrup.  (Keep in mind 40 gallons of sap = 1 gallon of syrup.)  We easily have the potential to put out about 1,000 taps, but we would need a sap house to boil the sap into syrup.

Seeing all the sugar shacks was inspiring for Dan and I.  It made us think that maybe we could do that here! SAM_2844

They all varied.  Some were big full-time operations.

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And some were small family-run operations.  I loved the ones with a small kitchen for making coffee and treats while hanging out in the sugar shack.
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Each sap house offered tastings of their delicious fresh maple syrup.  And then there was lots of donuts, coffee, maple butter, pancakes, cookies, and people to talk to!  My favorite treat was coffee  made with sap instead of water.  It’s my new favorite way to drink coffee.  (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a coffee drinker, so we don’t have a coffee maker.  I’m going to need to get one though so I can make coffee with sap. There’s nothing better!)
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People were also selling maple sugar and maple pepper.  I’ve never heard of maple pepper so of course we bought some.   If anyone knows what to do with it, let me know!

Dan loved this contraption that allows you to easily bring the wood from the outside in.

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And this is a real big operation!
SAM_2851Maybe someday we’ll have an evaporator that big.  There are definitely plenty of trees around to tap.  Right now, I’m enjoying the little pan in our backyard.

I’m already looking forward to NH Maple Sugar Weekend 2014.  Maybe we’ll be hosting an open house on our farm!  There’s lots to do though, so I’ll keep you posted…

Farewell from the farm,

xoxo Britta

Grass Fed Beef

It’s spring, but it still feels like winter here.

SAM_2704Although I love winter, I’m definitely ready for it to be over.

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A week ago, Dan took a bottom round roast out of the freezer to cook up.  The trick to cooking grass-fed beef so that it’s edible is to cook it slow and low.  We took this recipe, Super-Slow-Roasted Beef, from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook. This book is great and is teaching us some great new recipes.  Currently, we have it checked out of the library, but I think we may need to just buy it so we’ll always have it on our bookshelf to refer too!

The first thing we did was rub it with the garlic-herb rub of consisted of thyme, rosemary, oregano, fennel, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

SAM_2740We covered it in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Then we put it in the oven at the lowest temperature the oven would possibly go, ours was 250 F.

SAM_2754After about 3 hours we took it out and cut it up.  It was delicious!  The meat was tender and the rub on the outside was a flavor burst of goodness!!

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I’m thankful that it’s Friday.  Dan and I are celebrating with a night in, playing one of our favorite games, Ticket to Ride, and eating snacks.apotheca  Tomorrow I’m hoping to check out the craft fair at the Apotheca.  It’s also NH Maple Weekend.  There’s lots of places we’d like to go visit.  Here’s to a good weekend!

Farewell from the farm,

xoxo Britta

p.s. –  All the baby lambs are doing fine – we’re up to five now!

New Born Lamb

Yesterday, a new lamb was born.  Unfortunately this lamb can’t walk, so we’re not sure if he’s going to make it.  Since the lamb can’t walk, he can’t eat because he can’t stand up to get milk from his mother.  So, we’ve been flipping the mother over and feeding him.  Yesterday, he got a lot of milk and he was able to get colostrum, the mother’s first milk containing essential vitamins.  The little guy is doing a little better today, but he still can’t walk.  He’s a determined little fella and tries so hard!  He just ends up head-butting the ground.

I did some research about what why his legs don’t work and I think he has “white muscle disease.”  This disease is caused by a lack of selenium in the mother’s diet.  These are the two most helpful articles I’ve found about the disease so far.  This article, White Muscle Disease in Sheep and Goats and Selenium Deficiency in Sheep.  The second article provided the most helpful information.

“Clinical white muscle disease which responds to selenium has been seen in young lambs born to ewes that had been fed on wheat for most of their pregnancy.  Some grains may be low in selenium, depending on the area in which they are grown.”

New England is known as an area with low levels of selenium (in the soil? plants? I’m not exactly sure where it comes from yet – I have a lot to learn).  Since it’s winter, all the mothers had to eat is hay.  So, I think it’s going to be important to figure out which ewes are pregnant and add some selenium to their diet.  There are a couple of issues though. First of all, especially in the winter when those sheep have a full coat of wool, it’s very difficult to tell which ones are pregnant.  The ewe’s need extra selenium when they’re pregnant so it’s important to get them the minerals.  An easy solution would be to just give all the sheep some selenium but that where the second problem arises.  Selenium is a tricky mineral – the sheep need it, but too much will kill them.  I’m going to have to talk with Dan and see what’s been done in the past and what we can do moving forward to keep a healthy heard of sheep.

Now the question is, what to do?  Do we give the lamb some selenium and hope he makes it?  I’m afraid of giving him too much that he dies from too much selenium.  Also can we eat him in a year if he had selenium at birth?  Will it effect the flavor?  He’s a male, so we don’t want to keep him around as a ram.  He also might not be a good ram for a different heard if he had selenium deficiency at birth.  Also, if the white muscle disease has affected his heart, he could suddenly die from heart failure.  I guess all we can do now is flip mom over, feed him, and give him some selenium.  Let’s hope he makes it!

February Vacation

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One of the perks of being a teacher is vacation.  It’s even better that Dan and I are both teachers so we are able to enjoy breaks together!  There are two downsides: 1) everyone else has the same vacation so everything is crowded (I went to the mall yesterday and felt like I was walking through a middle school) and 2) it’s very difficult to take time off any other time of the year.  Aside from summer vacation, this is Dan and I’s first vacation off together since we’ve been married!  In Chicago, I worked for a private school and Dan worked for Chicago Public Schools so we had different breaks.  We are  enjoying our time off to get projects done around the house!  There is a long list – let’s see how much gets done!

On Sunday we enjoyed the snow and went skiing again!  SAM_2656

This picture makes it look cold and snowy, but it was pretty warm and a great day!  The only downside was that at the end of the day Dan headed back to our car and realized that we lost the keys!  My sister and I sat in the ski lodge for 2 hours while Dan drove home with our friend Riley to get the spare key.  SAM_2668

We enjoyed our time in the ski lodge sitting by the window, watching the snow fall, drinking hot cider, and chatting.  The 2 hours flew by!  SAM_2673

This morning Dan and I went to town to run some errands.  We stopped at the library and I picked up a copy of the DIY book Young House Love by some of my favorite bloggers.

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While Dan was at the hardware store I sat across the street at my favorite coffee shop, the Apotheca.  I got a chai tea latte and I poured over the pages of Young House Love, and now I’m inspired to get some projects down around our house over break.  SAM_2700

 

This is my new favorite book!  If you are working on house projects I highly recommend it.  There is tons of inspiration and lots of useful tips for any DIY-er.

My to do list:

  • Finish recovering the bench cushions and make the pillows
  • Paint our desk
  • Paint our little chest of drawers
  • Hang up our picture gallery going up the stairs
  • Finish bathroom mirror storage (what is the mirror above a sink called anyways?)

Dan’s to do list:

  • Build the chicken coop
  • Cut more wood and fell some trees
  • Clear out the brush to plant some more Christmas trees

Together we hope to:

  • take lots of walks through the woods 
  • make a roast
  • enjoy our first school vacation together!

Sometimes I’m over ambitious and don’t get everything done on my to-do list.  Let’s see if I can change that!  Here I go!

Farewell from the Farm!

xoxo, Britta

Nemo: The “Snowicane”

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We lucked out last weekend!  Back in November, Dan and I planned a trip with some of my friends from high school friends for a ski weekend at Okemo.   Skiing in New England is always a gamble, but this time, we won the jackpot! SAM_2615

On the last run of the weekend Dan found some awesome glades.  I was worn out so I didn’t go down them with him, but I wish I had.  Skiing in the trees (when there’s enough snow) is a great experience.  Your skiing in your own world.SAM_2593We were lucky enough to be able to ski out our front door and onto the slopes!  When it’s blizzard weekend, there’s nothing better.

This past weekend we started boiling our sap into maple syrup.  It’s been fun to be a part of that process.  Tomorrow I’ll try to do a more extensive update on farm life.  Lisa, my sister, is here for the night (or weekend, depending on the snow storm)  I’m so glad she’s here.  She’s always fun to hang out with.  Tomorrow we’re going to go to the Apotheca, my favorite coffee shop in Goffstown, and blog our morning away.

Well, happy February vacation!

Farewell from the Farm,

xoxo Britta

Saturday Morning Doughnuts

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One of my favorite things is waking up on Saturday mornings and making a delicious breakfast!  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and during the week I’m too busy to make a really good breakfast.   Last Saturday Dan and I made a special treat!

So simple, but oh so delicious – the egg sandwich.  There’s nothing better than an english muffin, fried egg, cheese and meat (in this case – salami).  Although it’s probably not the healthiest breakfast, it’s definitely a treat!

SAM_3632While Dan was making the egg sandwich, I decided it to make some baked chocolate doughnuts!

A couple of years ago, when I was away on a girls weekend in Lake Geneva, my good friend Maria and I each bought a doughnut pan!  In her family there is a birthday tradition where on the morning of your birthday you get doughnuts.  I thought it was fun tradition and would love to start in our family someday, so therefore it was essential that I bought a doughnut pan.  Unfortunately, Dan didn’t fully understand this (actually, I don’t think I ever explained it to him) and just saw a doughnut pan sitting in our cupboard that we never used.  He kept asking me if we should get rid of the doughnut pan, but I kept telling him that I was going to use it to make doughnuts soon.  So after about two years of asking to make doughnuts, I decided last Saturday it was time!

I’d made doughnuts once before using this recipe from Lara Ferroni.  She also wrote a cookbook with tons of other doughnut recipes.  If they’re anything like the doughnuts I made on Saturday, I’m sure they’re all delicious!  Doughnuts

I was skeptical about the nutmeg in the recipe, but it definitely adds a great flavor to the doughnuts.  SAM_3638

With some red sprinkles on top, these doughnuts would make a great Valentine’s day treat!

Dan and I are going to a Raising Backyard Chicken workshop on Monday.  I’m excited about what we are going to learn since we’re hoping to get some chicken’s this spring!

Farewell from the farm,

xoxo Britta

Farm Footwear

Last year in Chicago, I knew we were going to be moving to the farm in the fall so, I bought a pair of Hunter Boots.   Little did I know how essential they were going to be!  I wore them all around the farm during the muddy fall season and I didn’t have to worry about stepping in mud (or cow patties)!

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They were the most fun when we went up to Maine this fall, for a weekend get-a-way. During low tide, I was able to walk through the seaweed and explore the beautiful coastline.

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I walked right in to the water…

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…and found creatures like this little star fish!

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Although my Hunters were great for the fall, they’re miserable in the winter.  They don’t keep your feet warm at all!  I had some winter hiking boots my mom bought me from Marshall’s back when I was in high school, but I think they are ready to retire.  I found these boots online and I think they might be perfect.

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They look like they’d be good for taking winter hikes on snowy days!

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Well, that’s all for now.  Dan is cleaning out the maple sugaring equipment so we’ll be ready to tap the trees in a month or two!  I can’t wait for fresh maple syrup!

Farewell from the farm,

xoxo Britta

 

The New Year

The business of the holiday season is over, and I’ve finally recovered from all the festivities!  It was great to have a break from work and enjoy spending time with family and friends.  I loved having our house decorated for the holidays.

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charles dickens nook.

One of our friends came to visit, saw our nook decorated, laughed out loud and said, “I love it! Is this the Charles Dickens nook, or something?”  Dan and I thought that was pretty funny so we decided to refer to it as the ‘Charles Dickens Nook’ over the holidays.  Now that the Christmas decorations are gone, we simply refer to it as ‘the nook’.  I love sitting there drinking my morning coffee  (I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea, but saying coffee sounds better and sometimes I wish I drank coffee) and looking at the pond and our sheep – I’ll post a day light picture of the view later.

We played games…

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my favorite, Settlers of Catan.

We took naps…

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We went cross country skiing…SAM_3454

There is nothing more peaceful then being in the woods the morning after it snows.  It’s still, calm, quiet, and everything seems right in the world.

And we read by the fire…

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This is the wonderful book my sister and brother gave my husband for Christmas.  Wendell Berry has given me a lot to think about over the past few weeks.  If you haven’t read anything by him, I highly recommend it.  This particular book is a compilation of  some of his essays.   Wendell’s been writing about farming since before it was cool (1970’s ish).  Michael Pollan has this to say about him –

“He marked out a path that led us back into nature, no longer as spectators but as full fledged participants.”

It’s gonna be a cold one! Dan and I are sitting by the fire – he’s planning our garden for the spring!  I’m excited to see what we’ll have growing in a few months!

farwell from the farm,

xoxo Britta

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

SAM_3339The snow was falling on Saturday morning when we woke up, so Dan and I decided it was the perfect afternoon to go get our tree!  Luckily, there’s a small patch of Christmas trees growing along our driveway.  We walked few steps out our front door, picked out a tree, and cut it down.

  Sunday night I decided it was time to start making some Christmas cookies.  I whipped up a batch of one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes, Spritz. It’s a good Swedish cookie – meaning the ingredients are butter, sugar, flour, and of course, almond extract! I’ll share the recipe later this week!

-B