Monday, January 31, 2011

The Fate of the Other Zucchini..

I finally cut up the other zucchini after it sat on the counter in the warm house for a week. Still fine!
I sliced it into rings, as I did the other one. I cut the rings into small chunks, and some went into the rabbit stew. I will post the recipe for this on the recipe page, maybe tomorrow.  I cut up the rest of the zucchini into small chunks also. These went into the dehydrator to be dried down into little hard morsels. I will store these in a glass jar in the pantry, and toss them into soups as the rest of the winter passes. Zucchini is good for soup, as it adds a vegetable, adds bulk, and doesn't much change the flavor.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ah, zucchini...

People typically wonder what to do with those giant zucchini that pop up in the garden in late summer. In some areas I have lived, you better lock your car, or else you may wake up to a back seat full of anonymously donated zucchini.  Well, last week, I was cleaning the garage, and happened upon two giant zucchini, in perfect working order.  Who says you can't store summer squash!

Here are a couple pictures showing what I did with one of them. The other is still sitting on the counter waiting its' turn.  There were a lot of really big seeds in the middle. Maybe one could roast them like a pumpkin seed. I did not, however. They went into the pig food bucket.

All those slices dried up to one plate full. Zucchini really are mostly water. They dried really fast; half a day I think.  The skins turned grey like lizard skin.  I put them in a freezer bag and in the cold pantry. I am not sure what to do with them just yet.

Over the summer, I shredded one and dried the shreds. They shriveled up in the dehydrator and stuck together. When removed, they formed a dried zucchini net. I laid pan sized pieces as layers when I made lasagna. You could not tell, texture-wise, but it added a very rich yet subtle flavor.  It was a hit.  It is a personal mission of mine to find new ways to sneak vegetables into our food.  Success!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The after effects of a rabbit nest...

Well, Shotzie built herself a fine nest with all that hay she was carrying around.  Rabbits are pregnant for approximately a month.  I give each pregnant rabbit a wood box to give birth in 3-5 days before they are due.

Some does will carry hay around in their mouths for a week before the big day. They collect as much as they can in each mouthful and deposit it in the box. I usually put a piece of wood or cardboard in the bottom of the box and give them lots of hay.  Sometimes I put a layer of shavings beneath the hay for extra insulation.  Shotzie's big day was a success! Rabbits are born eyes and ears closed and totally naked. Rabbit fur is very warm. The doe pulls fur from her own body to cover her newborn babies.  That fur better be warm when it is 10 degrees outside!

Another interesting fact about rabbits, is most does only nurse their babies once a day. It is safe for me to take the nest box in the evening and bring it into the garage to keep the nest from getting chilled. I return it to the mother mid-morning, and when she is ready, she feeds them.

Shotzie's babies were born 3 days ago. She had 6 and they are doing fine. When you part the fur cocoon, this is what you see. Tiny, naked, sleeping popples!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cows and 10's always something!

Right now, 10 o'clock at night, it's a brisk -6, with a nice stiff wind. Brrr!!
Last winter, we had a cow go lame on us, and we had to call the vet out. It was 15 degrees and VERY windy. He told us then, no more emergency calls allowed when it's 15 degrees outside. OK!

This morning, we noticed, one of our steers, Yo-Yo, was puking..What!? Cows don't puke!  So I called the vet, and he came out mid-afternoon. 10 degrees and windy, to his dismay.

We got Yo-Yo in a nose lead and halter, and tied him up. The probability was he probably had something lodged in his throat.  Tom dug out all the yuck hay and slobber stuck in the back of his mouth and ran a metal tube down his throat. Then he passed a flexible pipe through the tube and into his stomach. Our helper pumped warm water through the flex-pipe. This procedure was meant to break through any blockage in his esophagus.
No item was found, but we hope it was simply a small stick that got shoved on through to his stomach.

THEN, Tom realized I was taking pictures...and posed for the camera.

Before Tom arrived, we had to get Yo-Yo into our holding pen, which is next to our 'stone hut'. The stone hut had a sow and piglets in it just as the ground was starting to freeze. The hog panel front became frozen into the mud before we had the chance to remove it.  We have been using one of the loading gates to keep the pen blocked off from the cows.  So, we removed the gate to help guide Yo-Yo to where we wanted him to go. OF COURSE, in the 10 minutes the gate was down, our Pinzgauer bull, Tank, decided in the stone hut was a better place to hang out. When we were finished, I tried to get him to leave.

Alas, no dice. Here is a picture of me jumping on Tank. Isn't it funny, how so many people, due to the wonder of cartoons, think bulls are so dangerous? I don't for a second believe any bull is totally safe, and none are completely trustworthy. Alot of bulls ARE dangerous, especially those of the dairy breeds.  We never let down our guard around the bulls.

BUT, Tank was bottle-fed. He's such a big mush pot and I love him. After jumping on him, I took a break and sat down..on him. He could not have cared less. I eventually gave up and he came out later on his own..but only after Beefy joined him for a private bull pow-wow in the hut.

Ahhh, what a day. Wait!  It's never over. As I type this, one of our heifers, Firecracker, is in labor. What a night to give birth! Guess I won't be getting to bed this round...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On a farm, it's always something...

Wow is farm life busy, and we're in the slow season!  Our 5th calf was born a few days ago. He is a purebred Highland bull calf. His mother is Short Lion. She went calf crazy and tried to kill us both, so she is taking the 'long ride' on the 24th, as we don't tolerate aggressive cows here. His name is Cave Lion. I don't have a photo yet. We took him away from her and he is being bottle fed. I will get a photo soon.

An update on Hope. She is still kicking, and we are still tube feeding her. The swelling in her face has decreased, but she still will not suckle. We will continue to tube feed her, per vet orders. We are also trying to get her to start eating hay. Calves usually begin nibbling at a few days old. The sooner we can get her eating soft leaves, the better her chances for survival. At this point, her chances are good!

This is one of my tan does, Shotzie. In this pic, she is collecting hay to build her nest. She just had babies tonight.  It is going to be very cold, single digits I believe, so I will bring the box into the garage. I will return them to mom in the morning to be fed.

The other thing that happened is our smallest ever Highland heifer, Cinderella, went to her new home today. She was purchased by Buggy Whip Farm, a traveling petting zoo in west central Wisconsin. She is 7 months old in this picture taken this morning. She will live a long life of ease, and make many children happy. Wish her luck!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Boxed pancake mix is yucky, unhealthy and a waste of money

No one should buy boxed pancake mix, and if you do..cease and desist!  I used to buy it, and I grew up on Bisquick. Check out the ingredients in a box of that stuff.  Bleck!

Making pancakes from scratch is so easy and so fast, anyone can learn in one try. So here is my pancake recipe. I also use this for waffles, with a slight modification. We have one of those little electric waffle makers that makes 2 waffles at a time. For the pancakes, I use a 10 inch iron flat skillet. I prefer the flat ones, as its easier to flip them when you don't have a pan side in the way.
Start with 2 cups of flour. I use 100% whole wheat. If you are new to eating healthy and are nervous about going all wheat, use a half white/half wheat mix to start. Once you have the recipe down, try all whole wheat.
Next, add a heaping tablespoon of baking powder. I use aluminum-free. You can get this at most health food stores. Walmart doesn't have it, neither does Krogers or Marsh. You might find it in the organic section of your local store though.  Add a teaspoon of salt..we use mineral salt. Add cinnamon, if you prefer (close your eyes and pour is our measure). Mix together all dry ingredients.
When I make waffles, I usually add a cup of oats, and half again as much baking powder.
Next, add a few handfuls of frozen blueberries, and a handful of chocolate chips (dark chocolate preferred). Also add one egg, and a tablespoonful or so of olive oil.
The fruit and chocolate is optional, of course, but that is how we like it. I have also added raisins, craisins, frozen raspberries, chopped apples, applesauce, and various flavors of jelly, jam, and preserves.
Experiment with different flavors to keep breakfast interesting.

Stir together and add milk or water.  During the summer when the goats are in milk, I use all milk. In the winter when milk is scarce, I add a touch of milk for flavor and the rest water. I can't give a liquid measurement, as you should add and stir until it is the proper consistency. Make the mix a little more liquidy than you think it should be, because as the mix swells with the baking powder, some of the liquid will be absorbed, and it will end up being too dry.

Cook them on medium/low heat, with a cover if you have one. Make sure the pan is hot before you put the mix on. Smaller pancakes turn out better than large ones. Flip them when the edges start to turn color.
By the time you get through cooking you first batch, you will have learned how the mix cooks.

The addition of chocolate chips makes the pancakes sweet. This prevents the need to dump loads of sugary syrup on the pancakes, as it gives the impression of eating a giant cookie. Don't be afraid of the chocolate for breakfast! Dark chocolate has antioxidants in it, and it is much less sugar than syrup. Plus, the addition of fruit and the use of whole wheat flour gives fruit and protein. A healthier breakfast than it looks like!
This also could lead to leftovers. These are good cold and good in the toaster. A nicely sweet, yet healthy after school snack too!

I should also mention, I never put chocolate chips in the waffles, as we use our maple syrup with those, since they have the little squares cooked into them. Once, when we were out of syrup, I mixed a couple tablespoon-fulls of liquid honey into the waffle mix. It made them sweet, and was very good.

Happy breakfast!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The calves just keep on coming!

This calf was born on January 6th. Her mother was a first timer, so she had a bit of trouble. Sometimes, when first time heifers have a large calf, the head gets squeezed excessively, and the tongue and nasal passages become swollen. That is what has happened here. We are having to tube feed her, as right now she is unable to suckle. Her mother, a mixed breed named Dash, is unfortunately drying up, so we will have to bottle feed this one, until she gets to the point where she can eat hay and drink from a bucket. She is under the vets care. We are naming her Hope, because we are all hoping she pulls through.
This a 1/2 Holstein, 1/2 Charolais cow named Mickey Mouse. Yes, yes, that's a boy's name, I didn't pick it. My husband says it's because she has mouse ears on her cheeks. Her January 9th calf will be named Gracie, because by the grace of God,  that's 3 calves born in below freezing temperatures, and they are all still alive and well. Gracie is less then an hour old in this picture. We had to help her find her meal, but after she realized what came out of those things, she took over and we backed off.
Wonder Ape was born this morning, the 10th. Her mom is White-Faced Ape. We used to have a pure Highland cow named April. We called her Ape. She was a demon of a cow, so all of her descendants are christened ...Ape. White-Faced Ape is an experienced cow. She had her baby, and she was standing within 15 minutes, suckling within the half hour, and running around in circles like she was on fire. Needless to say, she is doing great!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meet Beefy...

A follower posted to ask about the father of the black calf Joy, so here he is. A total mutt bull! Part holstein,  part highland, part mystery. He is only 2 years old, and does his 'job' well. He is fairly well behaved. Beefy is one of 4 bulls in our herd at this time.

Haiku for a cold night...

Cold, crisp, clear..bright stars..
I yodel at Orion..
He doesn't sing back.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So sick of the cold, are you?

Winter is beautiful, there is no doubt about that, but the constant cold kind of stagnates. I am from south of here, so these long winters are trying at best. I am complaining, and still we have months to go!
So here is a nice summer picture to cheer up your otherwise cold, cold day. This is my daughters last summer garden. She has a little space of her own to grow whatever she wants. In the bottom of the photo, is spearmint. Middle right is sage with pansies beyond that. There is a tiny purple basil on the far right. In the back left there are iris's, on the middle left, I think dahlias, and I don't know what else. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grinding Wheat for our Bread

It's so cold and well, just cold outside. Time to make bread. I used to buy whole wheat flour at the store, but now I grind my own in a Vita-Mix. You have to freeze the wheat berries first, or they will burn, as the machine gets rather warm.
I grind 2 cups at a time. Start on low speed and work up to high.
This is about 5 seconds after turning the machine on high. It really takes no time at all.
After half a minute, you have to feel it. I can never get it as soft and fluffy as store bought whole wheat, but the trade off in flavor and freshness is worth it. When its finished, it smells warm and nutty.
The only problem I have found so far, is it doesn't seem to make very flaky pie crust. It probably just isn't fluffy enough.
Here is the finished product. Only a couple minutes. 2 cups of wheat berries gives about 2 1/2 cups of finished flour. You must sift it though, as sometimes a few unground berries happens. That's hard on the teeth when you find one of those in the bread!

I have posted my bread recipe and a couple pictures of a finished loaf on the website. Just click on the recipe link in the right hand column.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My tan rabbits

Here is a photo of some eight week old tan babies. There are 3 boys and one girl.
Their names are Indian Corn, Field Corn, Sweet Corn, and Popcorn. The girl, of course, is Sweet Corn.
Notice the rich, rusty, shiny belly color that is the hallmark of the breed.  For more information on tans, visit our main website by clicking the Home link at the top of the page.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You know your family is weird, when...

... I walked outside and came upon this sight. My first thought was, "Huh! Those tires are marching right into the barn, I should take a picture", and so I did. And afterwards, as I was gazing at the tires contemplating my thoughts, daughter comes skipping around the side of the barn singing to herself, "the tires go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah..."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Joy of the New Year

This little heifer calf, appropriately name Joy, was born the day after Christmas. She is a cross breed. Her mother, Angry Lion, is one of our purebred Scottish Highlands. It was cold and windy that day, and we had to intervene to get her going, but she took it like a champ and is doing great!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Happy new year everyone. This is the first post on the new Dolly-Rock Farm blog. The temperature dropped 20 degrees overnight, and it is windy and very cold here. Most of the snow melted off yesterday.
I will be adding new features here over the next month or two to supplement and complement our main website. There will be recipes, photos of our products, bios on the animals, and lots of other stuff.
Shortly I will be adding photos with most every post, so keep checking back to see what's going on on our farm!