Monday, August 18, 2008

Harvest worthy of the table

August has been glorious so far. Harvests have been colorful and abundant, but we hardly have time to harvest because we are preparing for a special event here. We are going to be featured in Su Casa Magazine sometime this winter and they are coming to do the photo shoot at the end of this month! The article will focus on the combination of sustainable home building and homesteading. I find the whole thing hilarious, because if you know us you also know that our house and farm do not fall into the glossy-magazine-worthy category of homes, especially in their day-to-day condition. And when we moved into the house almost 3 years ago it was still unfinished and we basically haven't touched a thing since then. We were burned out on construction and wanted to focus on developing the farm.

But this upcoming article has motivated us to work on the house again, and so has something else. Our dear friend Jesse is a talented carpenter/artist who created some beautiful features for the house, including these screen doors that appeared in this photo for an article in the local paper:

Jesse's style is very organic and he uses recycled wood, both of which suit our home and our tastes perfectly. Well, when I found out about the shoot I remembered a gorgeous dining set that Jesse had made and got the idea to feature it in the house for the magazine article. He thought it was a great idea, so last weekend he brought it down. Oh man, it is so beautiful in here!!!!! I feel like one of those movie stars who gets to borrow expensive jewelry for the Oscars. It makes me a little nervous too because the kids can be hard on furniture, but so far they are being very careful with it. I will be so sad when we have to give it back, because it really looks perfect in this house.

So last weekend we pulled in a big harvest and the food was so beautiful that I just had to put harvest and table together for a photo. Actually several:

And here is Jesse with his masterpiece (and mother nature's).

I didn't take any wide shots of the table and chairs in the house because the rest of the house still needs to be de-cluttered and spruced up. You'll just have to wait for the magazine for that!

The harvest and table have also inspired me in the kitchen. Later that day Scotty and I shelled a bunch of lima beans (king of the garden and Christmas):

Here he is demonstrating his technique:

I made the most amazing Indian food dinner that night. I made a lima bean and tomato curry with green cayenne peppers that was delicious. I also made palak paneer, which is a creamed spinach and cheese dish that is popular in Indian restaurants. But I made mine with swiss chard from the garden and homemade paneer from raw milk. It was absolutely amazing. The meat was beef kebabs from our beef, marinated in fresh tomatoes and spices. Chris grilled those to perfection. To top it all off we had an old friend and Chris' dad join us for dinner and music. It was a terrific evening.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New cows

Our new dairy cows joined the farm family last month. They are both jersey cows and they came from Texas.

Reina is a young heifer who is about 9 months old and will be bred to our mini jersey bull next Spring. If all goes well she will have her first calf sometime around November of 2009. She was a show calf for a teenage girl so she is halter trained and very tame.

She is a real sweetheart and very beautiful.

And this is Chloe, a six year old cow who originally comes from a grass based dairy in TX and was most recently owned by a homesteading family. She has been hand milked but isn't as cooperative as Reina. She does love grain as a treat though so she is quite easy to manipulate if you have a bucket of sweet feed. She is a standard sized jersey and because of her age she has the classic look of a mature dairy cow. The rounded "hay belly" is a good quality and it is normal for them to appear bony across the hips and ribs. They look much different from beef cows. Note how much bigger than our mini-jersey bull she is!

Chloe is bred to an angus bull and due to calve in March, so barring any complications we will be milking then!

Speaking of the bull, I must report that he has turned quite aggressive over the last few weeks and is now very dangerous. Last weekend he ran me into the fence and gave me quite a bruise:

This was entirely my fault, for I had become too friendly with him and he did not fear me. Also I was trying to move him while he was riled up over one of the cows in heat. I learned my lesson, and was lucky to have only minor injuries. The advice I am getting now is to butcher him, but we will wait until he breeds our cows in the spring. We might be able to sell him. We'll see.