Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back: Hereford Calves

Spring calves back on the ranch in Eastern Oregon in 1976.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Puppy Love

One of eleven puppies a man was buying goat milk from us several years ago to feed to. One day he brought this one with him when he came to pick up the goat milk, before taking it to his granddaughter's classroom for show and tell.

Ever since then, my youngest daughter, who's planning to move out this fall, has desperately wanted a puppy of her very own. She goes to the pet store once week or so and this is one of the many puppies she's fallen in love with there.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From everyone here -the feathered,

the furred,

and my favorite farm animals of all, the family. Merry Christmas to everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goslings and Geese

Young goslings (center), the dorks of the poultry world, with ducklings.

African geese (beautiful but rather aggressive) from several years ago.

This spring we'll get goslings and raise some more Pilgrim geese like these.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Black and White

"Nothing about life is black and white, it's gun metal gray." -Chuck Mead

These photos I took a few years ago of our black lambs in the snow are one exception.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More New Lambs!

Another set of twin lambs was born last night -a total of 5 lambs from our 3 ewes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Through December

"If we make it through December, we'll be fine." -Merle Haggard

I am not a very good photographer, which is OK I guess, I'm not trying to be. A picture is worth a thousand words -and even my rather lame ones convey what I want to share. I have seen some wonderful photos posted on several blogs: The Crazy Sheep Lady's Trick or Treating sheep at Halloween at Punkin's Patch, and Susan's baby donkey photos at Farmgirl Fare taken back in September are two of my favorites.

In my review of the book All New Homespun Handknit, I wrote for the Black Sheep Newsletter, I said I would buy this book just for this picture -and I wasn't joking! Who could resist this face!? (It is also a really great knitting book, besides having some really cute baby farm animal photos.)

This photo was in a recruitment brochure from Claremont McKenna College in California, one of the many university recruitment brochures my youngest daughter has received in the mail over the past few months. 'I want one!' flashed through my mind when I first saw this. I've since sat myself down and given myself the you-don't-need-another-project lecture. (BUT HE'S SO CUTE! I keep arguing.)

These all are really great photos taken by professional level photographers -which I, on the other hand, am not. Nevertheless, I have been looking through our photo files (I was looking for a particular photo), and realized that we (mostly my youngest daughter) have taken lots of baby farm animal pictures over the past few years. I want to share some of them with you by ending the calendar year here with a (mostly silent) countdown to New Year's Day with posts of my favorite (and very unprofessional) baby farm animal photos. I will be cooking, playing with fiber, taking care of farm animals, and enjoying my family and our holiday here at home, but I will be pretty quiet until after the New Year. Wishing Peace and Joy to everyone for the entire holiday season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stealing Gifts

Aren't these just the cutest little dish towels ever? My aunt and grandmother had some just like these when I was a girl, and I just love them. I got them Thursday night at my spinning guild's holiday gift exchange (everyone brings a wrapped gift, and when it's your turn, you either pick a wrapped gift to open, or take/steal a gift someone else has opened, and they then chose another). I actually 'stole' them from a very nice woman when it was my turn to choose. Last night was the holiday party for the company my husband works for, a cruise in Seattle aboard The Champagne Lady, where they also had a gift exchange. We got (or rather I 'stole' again from one of his very nice co-workers) a large box of See's chocolates. Tonight is the local knitting guild's holiday party and gift exchange, and I'm really looking forward to stealing something nice from some other very nice person.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dark Day Challenge

I recently saw the Dark Day Challenge on the canning blog, Food in Jars. My immediate response was, well, here in the PNW during December, almost ALL the days are dark, making them ALL somewhat of a challenge. Giving it a bit more thought, I realize that the challenge for the dark days that are now upon us, we accepted early in the spring, and continued to do so throughout the summer, when we decided what we would grow and raise for the year, and then harvested and preserved it all when fall came. The menu-making and cooking done now, in the dark, dead of winter, is the easy part. A friend once asked me how we do all that we do here, and my response was that we do everything half-assed. The Dark Day Challenge also is met half-assed, so to speak. Very few of our meals are completely made up of only locally raised foods, but all our meals are made up of mostly locally raised foods -local mostly meaning we've raised it ourselves. I believe in moderation in all things, and though we frequently sit down to meals where we realize we've grown everything on the table, we more intentionally, seven days a week, strive to cook and eat meals composed of mostly foods which we've produced, and to call that good enough. But unless I really have no alternative, I don't WANT to cook without olive oil, lemons, and such. And I am NOT going without coffee (and I bet nobody else is either). That is a challenge I am just not up to.

Today is St. Lucia's Day, a transformation of ancient solstice rituals, that is celebrated in Sweden and by the Swedish and their descendants living elsewhere. Sometime before the winter solstice, my family will begin our winter holiday: the schools will all close, my husband will be off from work, my kids that have moved away will come back to the nest, and both my daughter and myself celebrate our birthdays. The next few weeks of the holiday season for my family, as has been done throughout the ages by all northern mankind to combat these dark days, will be filled with celebrating. Besides enjoying the holidays spent with the family here, I am also celebrating my 50th birthday. I can honestly say, I have been looking forward to this age for quite awhile. I firmly believe the next decade is going to be the best ten years of my life, and I plan to make it so.

"I don't think its a matter of taking or getting. You've got to make what you have be enough. That's the trick." -Jane Hamilton, Disobedience

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

These cookies are one of the many chocolate biscotti variations I've made by adapting the Chocolate Almond Biscotti recipe from the Hershey's Homemade cookbook. This recipe is perfectly suited for variations: with or without chocolate chips; vanilla or white chocolate chunks, instead of chocolate chips; filberts or other nuts, instead of almonds, or no nuts at all; almond extract, orange liqueur, or other flavoring, such as peppermint extract; drizzled with melted white chocolate over the dark (melt in a ziploc bag and snipe the corner open), or completely naked. The possibilities are endless, and so far, all I've made are delicious.

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

1/2 c. butter
1 1/4 c. sugar

2 eggs
1 t. peppermint extract
Beat until smooth.

Stir together in separate bowl:
2 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. Hershey's European Dark Cocoa
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
Blend into butter mix, beating until smooth again.

Using wax paper, form two 2 x 11 inch logs (the dough can be refrigerated at this point, but it's not necessary). Remove wax paper, then place logs on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool for 10-15 minutes on cookie sheet. Using a serrated knife, cut 1/2 inch slices at a slight angle. Arrange cut side down on cookie sheet, and bake 8-9 minutes for each side. Meanwhile, crush 5-6 tiny candy canes in their wrapper with a rolling pin. Remove cookies from oven. Immediately and carefully place Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips, 5-6 per cookie (and about 1 c. for all), on each cookie and then return to oven for 1 minute to melt chips. Remove from oven and gently spread chocolate evenly with one or two strokes. Sprinkle on crushed candy cane bits. Cool completely.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Memories with Recipes: Sugar Cookies

Christmas Memories with Recipes was published in 1988 in which "25 of today's master chefs and leading food writers share their holiday-food recollections." It is a cookbook full of the kind of essays (with 150 recipes) that I love to read this time of year. Hidden inside are about a dozen or more of these paper snowflakes I've saved, created by one (or more) of my kids many years ago. It's always a charming surprise, as I tend to forget about the delicate paper snow flakes hidden between the pages from one year to the next, until one (or more) falls out as I begin to look through it, and I am reminded of my children cutting paper snowflakes during the holidays.

Holidays are filled with memories: dogs eating cookies, kids cutting paper snowflakes, and everyone frosting sugar cookies. This is a photo from several years ago. Frosting sugar cookies is something all my offspring have done since they were old enough to hold a knife, eating (and wearing) a little less of the frosting each year. The holidays wouldn't be complete without us frosting and decorating sugar cookies.

And not just for Christmas. My mom made sugar cookies for all the holidays, changing the shapes of the cookie cutters, and the color of the frosting, with the seasons. My brothers, cousins, and I, all fondly remember how special they were, and how excited we would be, whenever she made frosted sugar cookies. It was an inexpensive, simple yet very special, way to celebrate the holidays on our land-rich/cash-poor cattle ranch during the seventies. These are my BIG PINK COOKIES, sugar cookies with the frosting tinted pink and flavored with maraschino cherry juice and cherry brandy. I made some awhile ago, and a special "thinking of you" super-sized one, that I wrapped in bubble wrap and mailed to my daughter in Austin.

All holiday baking and cookie cookbooks include a recipe for sugar cookies. And like with the Noel Balls, many people also have their own holiday memories of their mom's sugar cookies, with her recipe. In the cookbook, Christmas Memories with Recipes, it is none other than Martha herself, who shares her story of Christmas Cookies, with a dozen of her holiday cookie recipes, including Noel Balls and Sugar Cookies. Granted, Martha Stewart and others, such as these ladies (click here), use a considerable amount of finesse and skill, and produce much more impressive looking cookies than the garishly frosted cookies created by my tots and teens -or the simple ones made by my mom. But it is both these simple and garish sugar cookies, completely lacking in finesse but tasting just as good (or dare I say, maybe better?), that are a big part of all the Christmas memories I cherish.

Sugar Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg

Mix separately in a bowl:
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Mix in measuring cup:
1/4 c. milk
1/2 t. vanilla

Alternate adding flour and milk mixes into creamed butter. Combine well. Chill. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with seasonal cookie cutters. Bake 350 degrees for 4-7 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.