12 October 2013

  Well, it's been a long time since the last post, but I've decided to resurrect the blog and try to be more faithful in keeping it updated.
  There have been quite a few small changes at Arcadia Farm in the last couple of years.  One major change is that another child has been added to the family: Claire Elizabeth, who was born early this summer.  She is a delightful baby, and a joy to us all.  Sam and Lucy adore her and are such sweet and helpful big siblings.
  Their little family has also purchased a beautiful home not too far from here, so they are now under their own roof and our farmhouse seems very large and empty.  We're so happy that most of our children live near to us and we can see them frequently.  We still have a daughter in California, and one in New York, but it's lovely having 3 within an hour's drive of us.
  This week we've been dealing with a sick goat - a mystery illness which is responding well to treatment, even though the diagnosis doesn't have a name.  The vet was here on Wednesday and has sent some samples to the lab for testing.  In the meantime, we've been giving him fluids subcutaneously (this takes a LONG time) and injecting antibiotics and a pain reliever.  We've seen daily improvement, but would really like to know exactly what this illness is.  Of particular concern, of course, is whether this is contagious.  I guess only time will tell.
  On a lighter note, we noticed this morning that PB had outgrown her collar so she's been outfitted in a spiffy new one: pink camo.  I think she enjoyed running around naked all morning (collarless), but once the new collar was donned, she began strutting around like a runway model, anxious to show off her new duds.  Everyone else's collar is faded and frayed, but PB is a shining pink beacon.  Looks great on her glossy black coat!

14 April 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's another recipe adapted from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain. I know it sounds like heresy, but I really think these are better than the original Christagirl recipe...

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat flour, which is lighter than the more common kind)
1 1/2 tsp baking pwder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well, then stir in chocolate chips. Scoop generous spoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cooky sheets and bake 16-20 minutes. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!

03 April 2011

Spring Updates

Here are some more baby pictures:

One of Patience's three bucklings. We've had several kids born with their ears sort of inside-out like this, which is a little disturbing at first; fortunately as they get older the ears fall forward naturally.
Another little doeling--either Temerity's or Mercy's. It got a little difficult to keep them all straight this year, since most were black and white. We just sold this girl to a lady from Bend, who was so eager to buy her that she made a 10-hour round trip!

Buckling #2--a very sweet picture that belies his rambunctious nature! He and the other buckling like to jump off hay bales and crash into people's chests--it's quite something.

This is the third of Patience's bucklings, the one who was nursed back from the brink of death. He couldn't walk for several days, but a warm spot in front of the woodstove and regular bottles from my longsuffering mother and her husband finally brought him around. They decided to wether him and keep him as a companion for our buck Faithful.

Unfortunately, poor Faithful has met a sad end. He had a short but good and productive life on our farm, and yesterday my mother found him dead in the barn. We're not sure what happened, but he had seemed droopy for a few days and his body must have been weakened and vulnerable from his difficult childhood (which I posted about some time ago). We won't ever find another buck like him--he was as sweet and mellow as a wether, while being an impressively virile father of really beautiful babies. Even tiny Lucy could run around him fearlessly.

It's been a tough spring. We had our first birth problems--two stillbirths out of twelve kids total; Temerity has hoof rot; Mercy had a bad reaction to alfalfa pellets and is producing hardly any milk; the pasture is soggy and overgrazed; Erin rejected one of her twin lambs (she's doing fine and is being bottlefed, and we've found a home for her, fortunately); 22 chicks died or were eaten by rats; the birds have been busily digging up most of the seeds I've planted in the garden; and now we've lost our buck.

We have been able to sell all the babies except the two bucks so far, all to good homes, so that is a blessing. And spring is around the corner, though it's blowing in fiercely with almost constant rain. All of us are looking forward to dry sunny days, hoping that better weather will restore our animals to health, our family to sanity, and our garden to a paradisical riot of bounty.

06 March 2011

Baby Goats!!

It's become clear that our current arrangement, in which Faithful the buck is allowed to run with the rest of the goat herd year-round, is not going to work any longer. After Prudence's surprise twins last summer, she almost immediately became pregnant again, along with Temerity, Patience, and Mercy (who was also supposed to be retired). Because the fall was so cool, they went into heat earlier than usual, and thus gave birth earlier than usual, in mid-February.

Goats are not fond of cold and wet weather, and it's really not a good time for babies to thrive, so it's not surprising that we had our first casualties this year. Temerity, Patience, and Mercy all gave birth to triplets within a week of each other, and Temerity and Mercy both had one stillborn. Among those surviving, four had to be kept in the house for several days until they were strong enough to stand and take a bottle. Mercy's labor was long and difficult, and she's now on penicillin for a possible infection; she seems to be doing fairly well, but her milk production is ridiculously low and we may just dry her up as soon as we sell some of the babies. Temerity and Patience are also not producing as much milk as we'd like to see, but we've realized that they may not be getting enough calories, so we've increased their grain ration and added alfalfa pellets as well. We're also giving them fenugreek seeds as an experiment, and I'm thinking of concocting a quinoa/molasses/fenugreek treat to see if that perks them up a bit.

About a week after all the triplets, Prudence quietly popped out a couple of beautiful does (one of them is pictured above), and is doing very well. Since she's been such a good mother in the past, and since we don't want to milk her, she's stuck in the kidding pen for now with her two as well as all the other kids! The others, of course, are being bottlefed, but that doesn't stop them from bugging her constantly, even though she has no compunction about knocking them across the pen. They all seem to be reasonably content for now, and will be let out with the rest as soon as the weather improves a bit. We got a lot of snow last week, and no one's been venturing outside much.

So we're starting to sell off baby goats again, which is always a long and tedious process--not to mention a bit sad, since they're all so adorable. Besides Prue's twins (the other one of which is dark brown), we have four doelings (another brown one and three black and white) and three bucklings (all black and white). Among many other reasons to approve of Faithful, he's been a very good producer of does!

12 January 2011

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookies

I have much to write about here, but am enjoying a winter lull before scrambling back into the hectic farm and garden schedule. I have made it a goal to blog here more regularly, but for now I'm just going to share a recipe, which originated in Kim Boyce's excellent new cookbook, Good to the Grain.

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups corn flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup dried blueberries (or raisins)
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease one cookie sheet. Cream together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and mix till combined. Add dry ingredients and blend until flour is barely combined. Add milk and blueberries. Slowly mix until dough is evenly combined.

Pour granulated sugar into a bowl. Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar to coat lightly. Place balls of dough on cookie sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes. The cookies will puff up and crack at the tops, and are done when the sugar crust is golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough, refrigerating in between baking times if dough becomes too soft.

These cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container, and are best eaten for breakfast or as a snack rather than as a dessert.

26 November 2010

Giving Thanks

We enjoyed a quiet mellow day yesterday with family and friends, which is pretty much perfect for Thanksgiving. There was some mix-up about how long the turkey needed to cook, so we ended up eating 2 hours later than planned, but there was plenty to munch on and no one seemed to mind the delay.

Someday I'd like to have a true harvest meal for Thanksgiving, with all homegrown food, but that day is farther down the road. Fortunately we can get yummy local food from New Seasons, and supplement with as much of our own produce as possible.

Our turkey was, as always, a fantastically delicious heirloom from New Seasons, rubbed with butter and paprika and roasted (I am not of the brining crowd--sounds like soggy salty turkey to me, even though I've heard it has good results--this method produces a consistently moist and tasty bird). Since I baked the stuffing separately, I suppose it should technically be called dressing--the basic Fannie Farmer recipe for Cornbread Stuffing. I baked cornbread and a crusty loaf of white bread last week, then crumbled them and let dry for a few days before mixing with sauteed onions (from the garden) and celery, chicken stock, white wine, and salt & pepper.

We debated about mashed potatoes vs sweet potatoes, and finally decided on the former. We do have some potatoes from the garden, but there aren't many left, and New Seasons always includes a free 5 lb bag of local russets with each turkey order; so we used those. However, we did stray from tradition by having green beans instead of peas, since the freezer is full of frozen green beans from this summer's excess. My mother made her usual divine gravy, and Bill concocted two different cranberry sauces--one plain and one spiced with cloves, nutmeg, and Szechuan peppercorns. Accompanied by Gruet Blanc de Noirs and King's Ridge Pinot Noir, it was a fine meal!

I decided to experiment a little with the pies this year, for no particular reason except that I felt like it, and both were very successful. The pumpkin recipe was no more difficult than my usual one, but the apple was rather fiddly and took more time than expected--it was worth the trouble, however. I used our own apples, pumpkin, and eggs; cream from one neighbor; and honey from another neighbor. The recipes originated from the cookbook 500 Pies and Tarts by Rebecca Baugniet, but because I never follow recipes exactly, the following are slighly modified.

Apple Caramel Crumble Pie

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or shortening, whichever you prefer (I use either one, depending on my mood and what's on hand)
1/4-1/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (this is the only way to do it, no matter what anyone else says). Add 1/4 cup water and mix, adding more water as necessary until the pastry holds together when pressed into a ball. Roll out on a well-floured board, then place in pie pan. Crimp the edge as you wish, then refrigerate.

6-8 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
9 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt

Toss the apple dice with the 1/4 cup flour in a large bowl. Combine 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring and let mixture come to a boil. Boil 10 minutes, occasionally swirling liquid around the pan. When mixture has turned dark amber, remove from heat. Cool for a few minutes, then add 3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp water and swirl to combine. Return to heat and stir until smooth. Pour the caramel over the apples and toss to coat evenly. Set aside for 10 minutes, while the apples release their juices.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine remaining dry ingredients, then use your fingers to rub 6 tbsp butter into the mixture, until large clumps form.
Remove pie crust from refrigerator. Spoon apples into the crust and sprinkle the crumble over the top. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbling.

Pumpkin Honey Pie

Gingersnap Crust
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (I used Pepparkakor from CostPlus World Market)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients until well blended. Press evenly, using the bottom of a measuring cup, onto the bottom of a springform pan. Bake 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.

1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using an electric mixer, combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake 40-45 minutes more, until filling is firm. Let cool, then run a knife around the edge of the pan before removing springform. Serve with whipped cream.

Sam devoured an enormous slice of the apple pie, while Lucy barely let me have a bite of my slice of pumpkin.

12 October 2010


I've been putting off posting on the garden, because I don't know where to start! So much work has gone into it this year, and so much bounty has come out, that I feel overwhelmed by the idea of summing it all up in one post. So I won't. I'll write a little now, and see how far that takes me.

I'm so very pleased with our progress this summer--every year we take a few steps forward. We haven't reached our ultimate goal yet, but that's okay--as long as we keep moving ahead, I'm happy. This winter my husband and I spent many contented hours working on a month-by-month garden plan, looking through books and catalogues, and making lists for each month. Of course we didn't follow it perfectly, and there were things that fell through the cracks, but it helped immensely and kept us from forgetting all the many things we wanted to get done.

It was not a good year for gardening. We never really had Spring, and then we never really had Summer. It just rained, and rained, and rained. But during the few moments that it wasn't raining, I was out in the garden--and that made all the difference. I stuck to my lists, and planted in the mud, and almost everything throve. We lost some broccoli plants to slugs and a fair number of potatoes and carrots to burrowing rodents, and we won't harvest many ripe tomatoes, but other than that, we produced a lot more vegetables than we could eat. I gave away bags and bags of romaine, onion scapes, and kale, and the crop of green beans almost had me in tears--every time I went out there were more to be picked and processed.

The bounty won't see us through the entire winter--around about January we'll have to buy vegetables from the grocery store again--but that's partly because we don't have the necessary storage for all of it. For now, it's wonderful to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables every day, knowing that they sprang from our earth with the help of our hands.

I wish I'd kept a more accurate tally of our bounty--maybe next year. At least we have a good idea of what will feed us through the summer and well into the winter, and next year we can take a few more steps towards self-sufficiency.