Our Security Team…whatcha gonna do when they come for you??

Junior

I’m asked a lot about whether we worry about predators with our sheep flock and chicken /turkey flocks and the answer to that is “No”.  We have three Security Guards that are on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week.  They have proven they can handle their jobs so we rest easy knowing our flocks are well taken care of.

First I’ll introduce you to Junior, the big male of the Team.  He is actually Lily’s pup from her one and only litter.  He is a Great Pyrenees, a breed of dog known for their protection of livestock.  Junior is a character who adores ladies, but not so much fellas except for Kent—he loves Kent.  Junior will protect anything we put him with.  He has taken out an opossum or two trying to sneak in with the chickens, he patrols the fence lines and you can hear him barking from a great distance especially when the coyotes start hawling.  He is also very good at watching the sky and barks at any and all buzzards, hawks, and geese that happen to fly over.  He is intimidating to look at and weighs in about 135 lbs.  He’s frontline of defense.

Lily— the oldest and wisest of our Security Team.  Lily is the Boss-Lady.  To look at her, you would think she is a lazy loafer that couldn’t protect an old shoe, but you would be wrong.  Lily works smarter not harder.  Lily sets up advantage posts where she can see as much of her guard area as possible.  Whether that is a corner or smack-dab in the middle of the pasture.  She is ferocious along fence lines , daring anything to come in her area.  She is gentle with the lambs and routinely makes checks of her lambs.  Lily also is our teacher and Emma Jean spent a great deal of time learning her job along side Lily.

Emma Jean—our craziest and youngest member of our team.  Just about to turn 2 years old.  Emma Jean has proven herself well already.  The most ferocious when she spies a flying predator and will leap in the air barking to run them off.  Emma Jean is comical and ALWAYS in your pocket.  It’s an ordeal just to gather the eggs when she’s on chicken duty.  Her face has to be in your face.  We are hoping that one day soon she will be able to pass some of her great protective traits to a litter of pups.  But, that will be a while off.

We sure couldn’t run this farm without them.  There is no telling how many tragedies have been avoided because they were on duty.  They are a vital part of the farm.  Most of the time visitors won’t see them because they are working.

We love them and will keep you posted on their jobs.

The Gravy on our Biscuits

You know it’s hard to not pair biscuits and gravy together.  Yes, you can have them separate, but boy are they really good together.  It’s no wonder that biscuits and gravy are my all time favorites!!

Well, that’s how I feel about the two girls that work for us….my biscuits and gravy!!  Let me introduce you to these farm assets.   Griffin Poulter and Katherine Jones

They are Treasures here!!  They keep the animals taken care of and that’s not an easy task especially in the summer heat.  Neither is scared of anything, well I take that back  Katherine hates spiders.  If it’s spidery she may balk a little at the task.

They can catch and hold a full grown ewe or tenderly cuddle a scared orphaned lamb.  They do all the castrating and ear-tagging when the lambs are born.   Let me say that catching ewes to be wormed or treated can be difficult and they get it done.

Heavy farm machinery is no problem for these girls!!  Katherine is a master at the bush-hogging and Griffin can plow a garden row in no time flat!!

From catching piglets to catching a wayward black snake to relocate.  All you need to do is ask.

They can milk a cow

Shoot a gun or guns!!

Of all the assets we have here on the farm, I would say these two beautiful girls are two of the best!!  They can never know just how much I love them both.  Just how much they are needed and wanted!  God didn’t bless Kent and I with children of our own, I think he wanted to share these two with us though.

Say “Hey” to them when you come!!  They clean up nice too!!!

Farmer Amy

 

Hank Jr. Said It Best!!

Hank Jr. said it best “It’s a family tradition.”  One of ours is Buttermilk Biscuits.  My Mama has been making biscuits since she was about 9-10yrs old.  Always with Buttermilk.  When I was growing up, she didn’t keep no half gallon, she kept a GALLON of Buttermilk in the refrigerator.  Not only was it for biscuit making it was also for a tall glass of cornbread, sliced onion and Buttermilk all mixed together….Daddy’s favorite meal by the way.  It’s a family tradition that each and every supper came with Buttermilk biscuits.

Mama makes her’s strictly by hand—-NO gadgets for her.  Her hands, her biscuit making bowl and a rolling pin.  Yes, I said biscuit making bowl–not used for anything else, kept in its own special spot because it holds just the right amount of everything to “make a mess of biscuits.”   “Mess” for y’all not from the South means a bunch.

I have tweeked Mama’s recipe by using a food processor to do my combining of flour, buttermilk and butter.  Another tweek for me is using butter instead of Crisco (which by the way is NOT food—it’s a by-product of cotton seed processing).  Real butter is much better for you!!  Also butter contains water which will make the biscuits rise from the evaporation.  Just remember to keep it COLD!!

Here is a video I did for Facebook showing the steps of making my biscuits.

I’ll post the pictures and explain a little more about each step.

First are the ingredients:

Mama always uses self-rising flour, so of course I have stayed with that.  She also always uses Southern Biscuit and yep, me too!  I usually use 1 1/2 cups flour , 1/2 cup Buttermilk and 1 stick of butter cubed and kept cold.  You really want all your ingredients cold.

I place the flour and cubed butter in my food processor and pulse to combine until you see little balls of flour/butter.

Then I slowly drizzle in the cold Buttermilk—you won’t use all the Buttermilk—you just want the dough to be somewhat wet and just starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Like in the next picture..

Throw  a good handful of flour on to your work surface to keep the dough from sticking..

Pour the dough out onto your work surface.  With your hands just work enough to bring the dough together….Don’t work it to much, just bring the sides in and combine any loose flour.

You can start to flatten the dough out but again, don’t work to much and if the dough starts to warm up from your hands, just pop it in the frig for a minute or two.

Now I fold my dough over on itself a couple times, just to create layers of the butter within the dough.  When the butter melts and produces the steam from water evaporation it will cause the biscuits to rise and create layers in your biscuits.

Now you can roll it out and cut your biscuits.

TIP: when cutting your biscuits out, don’t twist the cutter, cut straight down.  Twisting will seal the edges and prevent rising.

I always cook my biscuits in a well-seasoned cast iron pan.  Brush them with a little butter.

Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes

The last thing is ENJOY!!

 

Farmer Amy

 

 

Some Days You Just Cry

 

Some days you just cry…..Farming for the most part is hard physically but rewarding deep in your soul.  Most days go and come without much excitement.  You go to bed tired and thinking of the work that lies ahead the next day resolved that you accomplish at least a smidgen of what you wanted to.  Then there are those days that wrench at your heart.  The other day was one of those days here on the farm.  My Sweet Spot was gently euthanized so that her pain of arthritis would end.  Let me tell you about this precious Treasure.

Sweet Spot came to us 6 yrs ago due to divorce situation that apparently was quite contentious.  The husband had threatened to shoot her just to hurt his wife.  She came here, not neglected but quite spoiled.  She was pushy and she seemed to make a point of waiting until you weren’t paying attention before she kicked her milk bucket over.  She had a quirk of NOT being milked while she ate.  It took some time before I knew her and she knew me.  But, that’s when the beauty happened.  She looked for me and all I had to do, from anywhere on the farm, is call her name and it wouldn’t be long until you saw her coming.  She became so quiet and gentle around me, we just loved each other.  No matter what pasture she was in all I had to do was open the gate and let her out, she made a b-line for the barn to be milked.  Many occasions I would get lost in the “milking moments” with her.  She would chew her cud and if you’ve never sat and listened to a cow chewing her cud you should put that on your bucket list.  It’s so soothing.  You can’t be stressed around a cud chewing cow!!

It’s hard when you get attached to them and they steal away part of your heart.  I wouldn’t trade this life for any other, but with it can come some pain.  I believe that God takes them to  His home and restores them to be what he created them to be in all of their beauty and perfectness.  I plan on seeing her again one day and calling her name to watch her come across that beautiful pasture to greet me.

Rest In Peace my Sweet Spot

 

He Has What on His Pants?

I said I would include some reviews on here at times and this is one of them.

For almost 29 yrs I have had a husband that, well, get’s dirty!!  From delivering calves out in the mud and snow to weed-eating around the farm.  He’s come home before covered in blood from stitching up a badly injured horse.  To say the least he has a dirty job at times.  To be honest, I can’t leave myself out of this either—-hugging wet dogs, horses, sheep, cows, pigs and chickens I can sure be a sight to behold too.  So, finding a laundry detergent capable of handling all our messes has been challenging.  I think I’ve tried them all.  None seem to have worked quite like I want them to, AND I hate really smelly detergent.  Kent does not want to smell like a Gardenia blossom and for that matter neither do I.

I think I have found the ONE.

I have been using Persil for a little over 2 months now and I have found that it really does get our clothes clean.  I’m not sure why it works better than the others I’ve tried and I’ve used the cheapest to the most expensive, but this one does the trick.  I decided to tell you about it because I was knocked down in the pig pen by a soon to be slice of bacon.  I fell on my knee and had wet red clay all over the knee of my jeans.  I rinsed what I could off with the hose outside and then put them in the washer.  Low and behold—No stains.

Before

After

Price wise it is comparable to most.  But, for clean clothes and to not smell like a potpourri factory it’s worth it.

Anyway, that’s my review of Persil Laundry Detergent.

Preacher, My Son

If you’ve been to the farm then you know that face.  Preacher is my pride and joy on this farm.  He’s 11 yrs old and for all 11 yrs has been the best boy.  A friend found him on the side of the road in Sumter County as a 5 week old puppy.  He was in the middle of the road jumping at the cars.  In the culvert was his 7 siblings.  I think he was trying to save them and was the only one brave enough to seek help.  That’s the story I like to believe anyway knowing his character, cause that’s the kind of thing he would do.

He once charged and rolled a neighbors dog that started chasing one of the farm cats.  He loves his little sisters.

His favorite place in the whole wide world is the back of our farm truck.  He once got so excited that he was going to get to ride that when he jumped in the back of the truck he tinkled…..here’s a picture of his face after I asked him “Son, what did you just do?”

He’s a huge helper around the farm he watches over the chickens, pigs, cats and has even helped lead Spot back out to pasture…

He always, and I don’t know why, surprises me on Farm Day.  That’s when we have so many people, strollers, activity and excitement going on around the farm.  He always seems to take everything perfectly.  He’s not around children that much, but tolerates all the petting and fur-grabbing with gentleness.  

I know he won’t be here forever and that’s why I cherish each and every day with this sweet boy.  I love him beyond words.

The Way To A Man’s Heart

The old saying “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  Well, I agree especially if you twist the knife a little to the right and lift up…..JUST JOKING!!!  I do think preparing and serving good food is one key to a good relationship.  Regardless of which one of you prepare it or better yet prepare it together.

One of the first meals I cooked for Kent after we were married was a pork Pot Roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese and green beans.  I remember it because the roast was dry, the macaroni and cheese (“wasn’t like his Mama made it.”) and I put too much salt in the green beans.  Needless to say I was devastated!!  I so wanted to impress him with my food.  The mistakes I made then and still make now always teach me something and help me grow as a cook for my family.  I LOVE good food, but I hate complicated recipes and recipes with 50 Bazillion steps.  I need recipes that I can whip up quickly, that taste delicious, are satisfying and easy to clean-up.  How about you?

That Pot Roast was not going to defeat me, so I called my Dad and asked him his secret.  He always seemed to make the best roasts whether pork or beef and the gravy Mama would make was always so delicious.  He gave me his secret ingredient and I have used it ever since.  I’m going to share with you the easiest and best Pot Roast  recipe!!!  Simple, simple, simple.

Above are pictures of what I’m talking about!!  Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roast   (no, the shoulder butts are not just for BBQ’ing)  they are for roasts also and absolutely scrumptious!  My secret ingredient—-GOOD COFFEE

TOOLS NEEDED:

  • Crock Pot
  • Thames Farm Pork Shoulder Roast
  • 1 large Sweet Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup of coffee (preferably a White Blossom Coffee Co brew)

RECIPE:

Peel and cut the large onion in half and place both halves cut side down in the bottom of your Crock Pot.  Salt and Pepper all sides of the roast and set it on top of the onion halves.  Pour the coffee down the side of the Crock Pot.  Pop on the lid and set to low for 8 – 10 hours.  There you have it!!  Easy easy!!

The coffee will give the roast a deep flavor without any coffee taste.  The gravy that you make with the drippings will be the best!!  Below is the recipe for great gravy!!

TIP:         –A roast is done when a long handled fork can be inserted into the thickest part of the roast, if it falls apart it is actually overcooked and can be stringy.

GRAVY RECIPE:

TOOLS NEEDED:

  • Drippings from roast (I keep the little bits in it, but you can strain if desired)
  • Pepper ( there’s enough salt in the drippings so don’t add much if any until you taste).
  • All-Purpose flour (self-rising works fine if that’s what you have on hand)
  • Spatula
  • 1 tbsp of good Lard–(you can use our Leaf Fat to render some, it’s great)
  • Good size Cast Iron Skillet cause you’re going to want leftovers.

RECIPE:

In the cast iron skillet melt your Lard on medium heat.  Add in 1 tbsp of the flour( if making a large amount just remember you want equal parts of fat to flour so you could go up to 2 tbsp each of lard and flour) and stir it around to coat in the fat and start to cook.  Keep stirring.  You want the color of the flour to turn to a brown color about like a cardboard box.  It will take on a slightly nutty smell.  Then you can add in some of the drippings—take care not to add to much—the gravy will be liquidy, but the more you cook it the more it will thicken.   Keep stirring at this point and scrap the bottom of the skillet to get all the bits from the bottom and to make the gravy smooth.   Never add in flour to thicken—you can add in some cornstarch mixed with drippings, cream or water to thicken if needed, but only if needed.  Evaporation will help with thickening so you can lower the heat slightly and cook off some of the liquid.

Your first attempt at gravy will be a learning experience, but no matter even a bad gravy is just good.  A good tip for gravy is to keep it warm until right before serving or it will form a skin on the top.

Good Luck and anytime you have a question please let me know.

I have come along way since that first roast and now they are one of Kent’s requested meals.  Serve it along side some mashed potatoes and a nice green vegetable.  That will make a visually pretty plate and we do eat with our eyes first!

Talk to you later!!

Amy