Tag Archives: country living

Garden Fence

Today’s weather was beautiful.   I decided to burn some brush, and noticed that some of the branches still had some bend to them.  B and I had wanted to try our hand at building a garden fence.  The photo is the result.  The only thing we didn’t find in our yard was the nails we used to construct the frame.

To make the fence, get five fairly straight branches that are approximately the same length.  Take two to make the top and bottom.  The other three will be the vertical supports.  Nail the vertical ones to the top and bottom.  The start weaving branches that are still a little flexible in whatever manner you see fit.  We used sumac and some thin birch saplings that had been growing in inconvenient places .

While we were making our fence B heard some noises coming from the brush along the property line.  We discovered a mystery flock of chickens in the brush our chickens enjoy spending their time.  At about the same time our neighbor at the top of the hill drove along the fence line.  We didn’t see the chickens again.  We can only hope that they followed our neighbor home.  Although part of me was ready to adopt however many chickens were in there.  I saw at least two. It was surprising there weren’t any scuffles between the two flocks.  At the time our chickens were enjoying an afternoon snack of sumac horns.  The photo below is a few of our chickens resting in the brush after the other chickens disappeared.

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Making Ricotta Cheese

B has been wanting to experiment with cheese making.  He has been doing a lot of research on the internet, reading Mother Earth News and the Lehman’s catalog.

Today we went to the State of Maine Cheese Company in Rockport in hopes of finding rennet and other cheese making supplies.  Unfortunately, they had sold out of some of their supplies, and we went home empty handed.

B then found several recipes for Ricotta that didn’t require rennet.  He got everything he needed at the Common Market just up the road. Normally, Ricotta is made from the whey of mozzarella, but the recipes B found were not.

Ingredients for Ricotta cheese are a half gallon of milk, a splash of cream, three tablespoons of lemon or three tablespoons of vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt.

Start by juicing the lemon. It has to be real lemon juice, not something from concentrate. Set aside.

Then pour half gallon of whole milk into a large pot.  Add a splash of cream if you want. Heat the milk to 200 degrees or until it comes to a simmer.

Then add salt and lemon juice.

Continue to stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes after the curds start forming.  Then pour mixture into a colander lined with cheese clothe which is set into a large bowl.

Let the whey drain out.  You may need to do a lot of gentle squeezing once its cool enough to touch.   The whey has several uses.  Use it as a base for soup, feed your animals, etc.

CSA Week 13

This week we received corn, purple potatoes, squash, cucumber, goat cheese, a hard, raw cow’s cheese, salad mix, carrots, cauliflower, onion, cherry tomatoes, sheep’s milk cheese, and the large plant in the back is a cut soybean plant.  I had to pick the beans off myself.

Attack of the Hubbard Squash!!

Last Thanksgiving we helped out our community center by doing prep work for a town wide thanksgiving.  My husband had the unfortunate job of trying to hack apart several donated hubbard squash.  After several attempts with various knives and many cuts and blisters, he used a machete to bust those puppies open.

This spring I came upon a single hubbard squash seedling.  I picked it up as a joke.  As I put it into the ground, B asked, “Is that a pumpkin?”  “No,” I answered and handed him the tag.  “Oh no! I can’t believe you bought that! Seriously? Hubbard Squash?”  I smiled, my joke had gone as planned…or had it?

Within just a few weeks this tiny seedling had taken over  a large section of my squash patch.  It climbed out of the bed and into the yard.  We had to buy a new section of fence just so we could mow the grass. In the other direction it climbed up a trellis and into the tomatoes.  The hubbard and pole beans developed some strange symbiotic relationship and wrapped around each other quite happily.

Today we cut two squash off this single plant, and there are more coming. 

My daughter couldn’t even lift the larger one.  These behemoths are currently taking up most of the counter space in our kitchen while I try to figure out what I’m going to do with them.  Luckily, they last forever, and I absolutely love squash.  I will conquer them.

Basil Harvest

We have been getting a lot of basil.  So much that until today we hadn’t even harvested the basil growing in our garden.  We have one lone basil plant.  We end up with a small basil plant every year, but other than a couple last minute meals we don’t use it much. I don’t even remember where we bought this little plant.  I wasn’t expecting much, but this one has proved me wrong.  It is so happy  where I absentmindedly dropped it into the ground that the center of the plant is like a tree trunk. We spent the last part of the afternoon making pesto and freezing it.

This was just some of the basil we cut from the humongous basil plant.

Recipe: Sausage and Chard Stuffing

This is an adaptation of my family’s recipe for sausage stuffing.

6 TBSP of butter

1 Medium onion, chopped

1 bunch(about ten) of rainbow chard stems, chopped (you can throw in some leaves if you want.)

8 ounces of bulk sausage

6 TBSP of dried parsley

10 slices of bread or medium loaf of french or italian bread (We used a multgrain sandwich bread)

1 cup of chicken stock

salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, add the chard and saute until they begin to get tender.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Crumble the bulk sausage in and cook breaking up large pieces.  Throw in the parsley, salt and pepper to taste and mix.  As the sausage cooks, cut up or tear bread into bit size pieces.  Transfer cooked sausage mixture and torn bread into a large bowl and toss.  Add chicken stock and toss until all the bread is moist.  Pour into a 9×13 dish.  Bake at 350 until the top is crispy and brown, about 20 minutes.

Open Farm Day

Last Sunday was Maine’s Open Farm Day.  Farmers all over the state open their farms for the public to explore.  We explored three farms and two wineries.  Unfortunately, this year two of our favorite farms weren’t open.

These lovely animals live life at Savage Oakes Winery and Vineyard.  They (the farmers, not the animals, although that would be interesting) produce several grape and fruit wines.  It is a beautiful walk from their tasting room to their grapes.  We passed the pigs, the Belted Galloways and a blueberry barren on our walk. We then went back to the tasting room for free wine sampling.  They even gave K her own wine glass to sip water out of while we were tasting.

We made a brief stop at Argicola Farm.  They have a three- story gray barn that most people in town use as a landmark reference.  They have a small farm store where they sell cheese, eggs, veggies, and lamb.  They also sell several locally made crafts, several colors of wool yarn, and fence supplies. We sampled a very mild and creamy goat cheese and blueberry preserves.

We next went to Guini Ridge Farm.  We saw sheep, chickens, pigs, barn cats- one was particularly enamored with K, and she with him-rabbits, and the Border Collie.  They had veggies, lamb sausage, and yarn for sale.    They have a very large garden with beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Then we went to our second winery of the day- Sweetgrass Winery and Distillery.  For $2.50 each we got to sample six of the wines and or spirits they produce, and you keep your glass.  Let me tell you, two wineries within a short period of time on an empty stomach can make one a little light headed- especially if your sampling rum and brandy on top of the wine.  Sweetgrass produces several fruit wines, gin, brandy, and rum.  They also make a dark vanilla extract.  Sweetgrass also sells some vegetables and lamb.

Our final stop was at our neighbor’s farm, Brae Maple Farm.  I absolutely love their farm, and I get to see part of it everyday.  Their drive is lined with ancient maple trees, and as you get closer to the house  you can see over the fields and hills and see one of the several ponds in town.  Their home is one of the oldest in town and 200 years ago served as a stagecoach stop for travelers.  Brae Maple works with the University Cooperative extension, and several master gardeners volunteer at the farm to teach people about organic gardening.  They have several food samples and recipes, spinning and wood turning demonstrations, old car displays, arts and crafts, and bee keeping demonstration.  They almost convinced me to start keeping bees last year, but the only problem is I’m kind of afraid of them.

The have several types of gardens to walk through, and we visited with the donkeys that usually spend the fall at our fence line looking for handouts and arguing with my beagle.  They have Scottish highland cattle, but they were hiding on  this day.  There have been a few occasions when their cows have startled me.  On one occasion I went out in the dark last fall to close up my chicken coop.  I keep hearing this odd noise, so I started wandering  around trying to figure out what it was.  Suddenly I was face to face with a large, sleeping cow in the pitch black.  It was almost leaning up against the fence!  Here are a few photos from Brae Maple.