Scrumptious Saturday ~ Marinated Mozzarella

I found the following recipe for marinated mozzarella and had to give it a try.  I made the marinated portion in a larger batch, packed the cubes of mozzarella in pint jars, and poured the marinade over the cheese in the jars.  I did put these jars in the refrigerator which caused the olive oil to become thick and cloudy.  I simply take a jar out and let it sit at room temp for a while before serving, allowing the olive oil to become clear again.  The only thing I did differently from the recipe below is that I used peppercorns instead of ground pepper and I used our own dehydrated tomatoes from this summer's garden in lieu of the sun dried tomatoes. 

So as to not waste the delicious, Italian seasoned olive oil, I simply drained the mozzarella through a strainer before serving (this also eliminated the peppercorns) and saved the oil.  I can use this oil in which to dip bread, or add some to vinegar for a nice Italian dressing. 

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Chill: 8 hours

Yield: Makes about 4 cups


3 (8-oz.) blocks mozzarella cheese

1 (8.5-oz.) jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and halved

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Garnish: flat-leaf parsley sprigs or fresh rosemary stems


1. Cut blocks of cheese into 1-inch cubes. Arrange cheese cubes and tomato halves in an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. Whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, chopped parsley, and next 6 ingredients; pour evenly over cheese cubes. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Transfer mixture to a serving plate. Garnish with fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, or spear tomato halves and cheese cubes with short rosemary stems, if desired. Drizzle with marinade, if desired.

Southern Living, OCTOBER 2007


Friday's Featured Farmer ~ Susan in Virginia

Whispering Pines Farm, Ferrum, Virginia

As for me, I believe I live in paradise, most times, except when the electricity goes off for six days, or getting up the driveway is impossible due to the snow, or keeping water to the animals when it’s freezing outside. I am about 4 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia, about six miles from a small town called Ferrum, Virginia, home of the Ferrum College Panthers, the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival and Whispering Pines Farm (which is us!).

I grew up in the city but my favorite memories are on the farm in downstate Delaware where my aunt and uncle lived. I’ve always loved animals but never had any except a parakeet and a cat or two, until…

We moved to Virginia in the spring of 1992. We had 3 acres and a small house. LAND FOR ANIMALS!! Sure! I’d always thought about raising something, but goats were never my first thought. Started with chickens, then got tired of them and traded an incubator for my first herd of 9 pygmy goats. It went from there. I went from pygmy to angora, to pygora, to Boer, to Nubian. I fell in love with the Nubians and decided that would be the direction in which I would continue.

In addition to goats, I also sew, and people with whom I was involved, talked me into making goat flags.

With this new idea, I made new friends, among them is a lady in North Carolina who raises Nigerian dwarf goats. She heard about mini-Nubians and figured she had the Nigerian stock and I had the Nubian stock, so we should start a mini herd. This was 2002, I think. I had my first mini-Nubians in 2003 and have been raising them ever since.

In addition to the goats, we have 3 great Pyrenees guard dogs, all of which are rescues. I raised two litters of pups before I realized that these dogs need specific environments to do their jobs properly, and people were buying them as pets and not using their abilities. I decided rescue is a better way to spend my time.

We also have three cats, a rabbit, two peacocks (both rescues, believe it or not), two ducks, guineas and chickens.

Funny, my husband was raised on a farm in Ohio and couldn’t wait to get away from it. Now he’s stuck back on the farm and insists he dislikes every critter, but you should see him with the new babies in the spring. He’s done his share of mid-wife duties when I was not around, and even when I am around. He insists the only time goats are cute is when they are babies, but I think he’s full of goat pellets!

While I do milk from time to time, I don’t do it as a matter of course. However, those that I do milk have done well and I am very pleased at the Mini-Nubian breed. The size allows for older people or people without a huge amount of land to have a milker or milkers with less hassle.

When I moved to Virginia, I brought my younger son with me. A few years later, my older son moved to go to college at Ferrum College. He has gone on to become a professor there and he and his wife and my three grandchildren live about 4 miles from me. My other son is successful in computers and lives about an hour from me, so I have my family around me, too.

I guess that’s about all I can tell you. I love what I do and who I am. I am looking forward to the day when I can retire and not have to drive an hour each way to work, but when I pull into my driveway at night, I know I am where I want to be.

Thank you, Tammy, for allowing me to share!


Thank you for sharing, Susan! 

Susan has been a wonderful friend and an awesome mentor to me.  When I got my first two goats, I did not have a clue what I was doing (and still don't).  It's nice to know that she is always there and willing to help me out with any questions that I might have and to lend moral support!  I couldn't have done it without her!  I am currently leasing one of her bucks to breed my girls.  Once again, I just couldn't do it without you, Susan! 

Susan often has Mini Nubians for sale including does, bucks, kids and sometimes doe/kid combination packages. 

You can visit Susan's web page or get in touch with her by email.


This & That Thursday ~ Making Pon Haus (otherwise known as Scrapple)

When my husband told me that we would be making pon haus, I did not have a clue what he was talking about. 

"What't that?", I questioned.

"What do you mean?", he replied.  "You've never heard of pon haus?"

Feeling like I must have really missed out on the important things in life I quickly googled it and this is what I found:

Scrapple, also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus, is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then panfried before serving. Scraps of meat left over from butchering, not used or sold elsewhere, were made into scrapple to avoid waste. Scrapple is best known as a regional American food of the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland). Scrapple and pon haus are commonly considered an ethnic food of the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Mennonites and Amish. Scrapple is found in supermarkets throughout the region in both fresh and frozen refrigerated cases. ~ Wikipedia

The same day we rendered lard, we also made pon haus.  The first thing we had to do was get a big fire going and set the kettle with water in it over the open flame.  When the water began to boil, we added the scraps of meat.  We through the scraps in including bone and even included some of the organ meat. 

After the meat had cooked for several hours and was beginning to fall off the bone, we removed the meat from the broth and deboned it. 

Once the meat was deboned, we ran it through a grinder.

The ground pork was then placed back in the broth in the kettle and placed over the open flame once again.  At this point we added salt and pepper to taste and let it all come back to a rolling boil.

Once the mixture came to a rapid boil, two people stirred while two people began adding cornmeal to the mixture.  The cornmeal had to be added slowly and evenly so as not to clump.  We also added a little flour from time to time. 
As the cornmeal and flour was added (mostly cornmeal with very little flour) the mixture became thicker and thicker and more difficult to stir.  When the experienced folks said that we had enough cornmeal, we then stirred until the mixture boiled down and became extremely thick.  Stirring was not a job for the faint hearted, for if the pon haus stuck to the bottom of the kettle, it would be ruined.  When the pon haus was finally decared to be the right thickness and consistency, we then removed the kettle from the fire and quickly scooped the mixture into small containers.  These containers were left to set for about 24 hours until they became a small loaf. 

I asked my in-laws for a recipe for ponhaus, but they said they had never used a recipe.  They simply went by taste and experience.  They do not add extra spices when they make it, but many folks do add additional spices.  When I tasted the pon haus, in a way it reminded me of cornbread stuffing that we use to make growing up.  (That recipe to be posted at a later date.)  I think I would enjoy adding sage to my pon haus. 

Here is a recipe I found online to make ponhause/scrapple in your kitchen at home in a smaller quantity:



I have finally become a believer. I grew up in Pennsylvania with Scrapple, a popular breakfast meat, all around me. I just could not acquire a taste for it because of some seasoning to which I objected. Not to mention, I never really understood what was in scrapple and therefore bulked at the mushy consistency. When I started the PA Dutch recipe page, I knew I would have to make it one day and get it posted, whether or not I liked it, using scrapple fans as the judges. I found several recipes, gathered ideas from the combination and, lo and behold, the stuff is pretty good. And, much to my surprise, considerably healthier than I ever suspected. To describe it in terms you might better recognize, it is very much like fried polenta. It is mostly corn meal mixed with cooked lean meat and seasonings, poured into loaf pans and refrigerated overnight to stiffen, then sliced and fried in a little butter or oil. Every recipe I found was different in amounts, seasonings and some of the methodology. You will find some of the variations listed below.


One 3-pound bone-in pork butt, trimmed of visible fat

4 quarts water

Salt and pepper to taste

1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons rubbed sage

1 teaspoon ground savory

1/8 teaspoon allspice (start with less)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (start with less)

1/8 teaspoon cloves

3 cups corn meal

Place the pork and water in an 8-quart stock pot. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Place the meat on a large plate; reserve the stock. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the bones and discard excess fat. Chop the meat very finely; set aside. (See the Variations below for chopping methods.)

Place 2-1/2 quarts of the stock in a 5-quart pot. Add the thyme, sage, savory, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Bring to a boil and gradually add the corn meal, stirring or whisking rapidly until it is all combined. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick, so that a spoon almost stands up by its own, about 15 minutes. (If it gets too thick, just add a little more of the broth and stir well.) Add the meat and stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a couple minutes, taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Scrapple must be well-seasoned or it will taste very bland when fried.

Place a piece of waxed paper into the bottom of two 9x5 loaf pans so that the ends extend over the two long sides. That will make it easier to lift the refrigerated loaf out of the pan later. Pour half the mixture into each pan. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or until chilled and solid.

To fry, remove the loaf from the pan and place on cutting surface. Slice into about 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add some butter and, as soon as it melts, add the scrapple slices. It is critical with scrapple to let each side brown thoroughly before attempting to turn it over or it will stick and fall apart, so be very patient. Serve as is or, as many PA Dutchmen would do, with ketchup or apple butter.

Notes: You will have to learn, as I did, what degree of thickness to cook the corn meal. On my first attempt, it obviously was too thin because the chilled mixture did not get as stiff as expected. If that happens to you, don't panic. I was still able to slice and fry it, although it fell apart easily. You will need to play with the seasonings, tasting and adjusting until you get what you want. Many people dredge scrapple in a light coating of flour before frying. Scrapple freezes very well; just slice and wrap individually in waxed paper and then place in freezer bags. Take out as many slices as you want and fry them with or without thawing, reducing the heat slightly if frozen to allow more cooking time. Remember, everything is previously cooked so it only needs to be browned and heated through. Serve instead of bacon, ham or sausage for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Variations: Two of the recipes I used as sources were from a Jeff Smith cookbook and Grandma Born's Scrapple on my Recipes from Visitors page as submitted by William Cooper. One recipe uses pork neckbones, which I understand produces a more gelatinous texture which aids in holding the mixture together. The other uses boneless beef chuck in addition to the pork butt, but less broth to cook the corn meal. The seasonings are completely different, one using herbs and the other baking spices. Another difference is that, in one preparation you coarsely chop the meat, while in the other the meat is passed through a meat grinder. I do mine in the processor, but not too finely. So you can see that, once you start making scrapple, there are many ways to conform it to your own tastes. Since I posted this recipe, another, simpler version was submitted by Mark Voelker, called Mark's Scrapple. You might want to check that out as well.

The photo below is of our finished product.  In order to eat, simply slice and fry. 



Tuesday Tutorial~Making Lard the Old Fashioned Way

I posted  previously the easy method of making lard.  As promised, I wanted to dedicate a post to making lard the old fashioned way.  I am indebted to my awesome husband for taking two days out of his schedule to make the lard rendering day a reality.  He worked hard the day before to prep things, including getting the kettles and other items out of storage where they had been for years and hauling them out to the hunting cabin.  In addition, I am filled with gratitude for my in-laws.  Their willingness to not only give instruction, but to also jump in and work as hard (if not harder) than the rest of us left me once again realizing how blessed I am not only to have such a wonderful husband, but also to be a part of this wonderful family.  I am deeply grateful.

The day was windy and cold, but we made it a fun day by taking a "picnic" lunch of homemade potato soup, crackers, corn bread, homemade blue berry pie and cookies.  We had hot tea and coffee and a roaring fire both outdoors and inside the cabin. 

The first thing one needs to make lard the old fashioned way is fat from happy pigs!  (Happy pigs are pigs that have been raised humanely and allowed to be pigs!)  We received the fat back from our butcher in long strip that he had tossed into a couple Rubbermaid type tubs that we had provided for him.  We took that fat and sliced it into smaller pieces. 

 Mike's dad had gone over early and had a nice fire going.  So, the next step was to take the pieces of fat and dump them into the kettle.  (Don't call it a pot!  I called it a pot and my father-in-law will never let me live it down!  ;-)  Rather than just dump all the fat in at once, we took a few pieces and allowed them to start sizzling, cooking and melting in the pot.  This created just enough grease in the bottom of the kettle as to keep the fat from sticking.  After the kettle was coated,  two men lifted the tub of sliced fat and dumped it into the hot kettle.

(Note:  Notice the long handled paddle that Mike's cousin, Dennis is holding.  This was made about 70 years ago by a friend of the family specifically for stirring lard as it was being rendered.  It is made of walnut.)

The next step is to simply stir and stir and stir.

We all took turns stirring the lard.  We had to keep the fire going while not letting it get too hot.  We stirred and stirred and stirred some more until finally the cracklins started floating to the top. (Cracklins are the little pieces of rind and meat that float to the top and are leftover after you make the lard.)

One must be careful not to overcook the lard.  We were on the verge of overcooking but I tested the lard last night when I fried potatoes and it is fine.  There is a fine line between "done" and "overdone", so you have to be really careful!  My dad says when the cracklins start to float, then you know the lard is done! 

At this point, it is time to remove the lard from the fire as you don't want it to continue to cook.  Notice the hooks that the guys are using to move this big kettle.  It was a lot of fun for me to see the stands, kettles, hooks, paddles, and lard press and imagine them being used over and over again in years past as my husband's family processed lard. 

The next step is to run the lard and cracklins through the lard press.  We lined the lard press with cotton flour cloth, poured the grease and cracklins through it, clamped it down tight and squeezed the grease out of the cracklins.

We bought the lard tins at a local farmer's cooperative.  In the above photos, the tin is setting in a pan of cold water to help bring the heat down on the lard. 

After we had filled two five gallon tins with lard, we moved them inside the cabin and let them set, settle, and cool down for 24 hours.  My father-in-law says you don't want to disturb the lard until it has set up. 

For long term storage, we will simply keep the tins of lard in a cool place. 

When lard rendering was completed, we simply wiped out the kettle knowing that the grease was good seasoning to preserve the kettle, and turned it over to keep rain out and left it to cool.  The next day all the equipment was gathered and stored again until the next time we have a lard rendering party.

You might also enjoy this post Making Lard The Easy Way.

Making Apple Pie

I made apple pie last night using some of the leaf lard that I rendered from our hogs to make the crust.  Actually, I had made a cherry pie earlier in the week and my husband hardly came up from his plate all the while moaning with pleasure over the taste.  So, when he asked me to make another pie, I of course  had to oblige!  ;-)

When I made the cherry pie, I made the crust with leaf lard exclusively.  Having only made crusts with either butter or shortening, I noticed that the "feel" of the crust was different as I was making it.  Before I made my crust yesterday, I decided to do a little bit of research and found this article from the New York Times where the author talks about making pie crusts with a mixture of leaf lard and butter. 

Carefully confected with part butter and part freshly rendered lard, this pie pastry was everything baking-book authors and bloggers wax poetic about: a golden-brown-around-the-edges epiphany richly flavored and just salty enough to contrast with the sweet apple filling, the texture as flaky as a croissant but still crisp. It shattered when you bit it, then melted instantly on the tongue.

Of course after reading such an eloquent description of pie crust made with lard and butter, I had to try it for myself.  While I can't lay claim to the title "Expert Maker of Pie Crusts",  I must say that the combination of lard and butter did produce the best crust I have ever made. 

I used the following recipe for my crust.  It did make enough dough for a deep dish, double crust pie and I had enough left over, that I made a single pie shell for another pie later in the week.

Lard & Butter Pie Crust

4 c. sifted flour

1 heaping tsp. salt

1 cup lard

1/2 cup butter

1/2 c. ice cold water

Place the four cups of flour in a bowl.  Mix in your salt.  Mix lard and butter together and then using your fingers, gently mix lard/butter mixture into the flour/salt mixture. This will produce a crumbly mix.

 Next, create a well or hole in the center of your flour and lard mixture and pour in a small amount of water. 

Work the flour gently into the ice cold water.  You want the flour mixture to be damp and to start sticking together, but you don't want it to be soaking wet.  Continue to add water a little at a time and work in the flour until all the flour is damp.  It's very important to not work or handle the dough any more than you have to.  The less it is handled and worked the flakier the pie crust will be.  In fact, my goal is always to only have to roll the dough out once.  If the dough sticks and you have to roll it out again, you compromise the quality of the crust. 

Divide your dough in half and roll out one section at a time.  Line the bottom of your pie plate with the dough, put in your filling, roll out the top crust and place on top.  You then can crimp the edges with a fork or make fancy fluted edges. 

For this particular apple pie, I used the apple pie filling that I canned earlier in the fall.   However, you can use fresh apples as well.  To make apple pie using fresh apples, I peel and slice the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and about 3 Tablespoons of flour.  I put this in the bottom crust, put a few pats of butter on top and then put the top crust on the pie and bake. 

Happy Baking!


Miscellaneous Monday ~ Making Lard the Easy Way

As happy as I am about the humanely raised, predominantly milk fed pork that we raised, I am equally happy about the opportunity to have lard!  Some people look at me with disgust and fear on their face when they hear that I am rendering and using lard! 

"You must wish to die of clogged arteries," they remark. 

"Eeww!  Why would you want to use lard?", other say. 

The truth is, lard has got a bad rap in recent years but the truth is it is actually very good for you.  Don't believe me?  Well, all I can say is do some research for yourself.  I recommend that you start here by looking at information from the Weston Price Foundation

From the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally O'Fallon:

Benefits of Lard

Lard or pork fat is about 40% saturated, 48% monosaturated (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 12% polyunsaturated. Like the fat of birds, the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in lard will vary accordingly to the diet of the pigs. In the topics, lard may also be a source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable and a preferred fat for frying. It was widely used in America at the turn of the century. It is an excellent source of vitamin D, especially in third-world countries where other animal foods are likely to expensive.

So, now that we have begun to establish the fact that lard is not a terrible product, just how does one go about making lard.  Well, there is the hard way and the easy way.  In the past week, I have experienced both but this particular post is to show you just how easy it can be.  (I will write another post with photos on doing it the way our ancestors did.  It was both educational and fun!) 

First step in making lard the easy way is when you butcher your hogs save the fat.  We did not butcher our hogs this time although Mike's family has butchered for years and I grew up watching my dad butcher hogs every year.  We took the easy way out and let our fabulous butcher do the dirty work for us.  We simply asked him to save all the fat.  We gave him two big Rubbermaid tubs and he threw the strips of fat into those tubs.

After receiving the fat, we worked up about half of it using the old fashioned method that I will highlite in another post.  The rest of the fat I have been able to keep without sticking in the freezer because our temps have been so cold that I have simply kept it in our unheated garage.  Otherwise, I would have packaged it in smaller parcels, labeled it and put it in the freezer so that I could work on it a little at a time.  I take out just enough fat to fit into my large crockpot/slow cooker and slice it up in smaller pieces so that it will cook down more quickly.  I actually turn my crock pot on as I start slicing up the fat and just fill it up with the pieces.  I have been turning it on high but watching it carefully.  As the fat begins to cook, I give it a stir every once in a while but other than that, just go on about my business and let the crock pot do all the work!  I find that in about three or four hours the fat has cooked down and what is left are the cracklins floating on the top of the oil. 

The next step is to very carefully pour the oil and cracklings through a metal strainer.  I line the metal strainer with a cloth that is the consistency of a flour sack.  This catches all the little pieces of meat that might be floating in the lard and gives me a beautiful, clear oil.

I  then pour this oil into clean canning jars, apply new lids, screw the rings down tightly and let sit.  As the lard cools, the lids seal.  That's all there is to it!  I now have beautiful, clean lard from my humanely raised hogs that I can use for frying and for making awesome biscuits and pie crusts! 

 Traditionally, the leaf lard was rendered for making pie crusts and pastries.  This is the fat that comes from the kidney area and rendered makes the purest, whitest lard.  The following is a picture of the fat from around the kidney areas. 

 Store your lard in a cool place and enjoy!

You might also enjoy this post on Making Lard The Old Fashioned Way.


Simply Sunday

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."- Anais Nin


Friday's Featured Farmer ~ Pam in Alaska!

“Huh?” is usually the response I get when I tell people that my milk cow is a Scottish Highland. You know the ones. They look like a cross between a sheep and a wooly mammoth, with horns out to there. Yep, those are the ones. I milk one. It makes for great stories and admiration that I don’t really deserve. I really was blessed to get the cow that I got and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

My journey into farming began in 2005 when I managed to obtain some raw milk. See, I grew up drinking raw milk in Colorado and the taste took me back to my childhood. Since buying or selling raw milk is illegal in the state of Alaska, very soon I was dreaming of my own cow. With visions of Jerseys dancing in my head I sat down with a pad and pencil and outlined what I needed in a milk cow. I needed an hardy animal… with horns. We have long, dark, cold winters and large predators in our neighborhood. I needed a cow that would scoff at the most severe blizzards and be begging for AC at -20 F while also being capable of defending herself and her calves against bears, wolves, stray dogs and big cats. Unfortunately, that immediately excluded all of the “dairy” breeds. A local ranch has a couple different breeds of dairy cow and they lose one every year due to our harsh climate. I was putting a lot of money and effort on the line and I didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot. As it turned out, after 2 years of research, the best breed for my purposes turned out to be a breed that’s primarily used for beef.

I found a young Highland x Shorthorn heifer on Craigslist and fell in love. On May 26, 2008 I drove 250 miles to meet a very nice couple who had driven 250 miles from the other direction. Did I mention I live in Alaska? Anyway, they were very happy to see one of their girls going to a good, if slightly delusional home. I had proudly announced that this yellow heifer was destined for life as a milk cow and had met awkward silence and raised eyebrows. In the past, an Highland wife would pull a newly freshened cow from the family fold (an herd of Highlands is called a fold) to be the milk cow for the year. It didn’t seem so odd to me that I could do the same thing! When we pulled into the driveway with the beginning of our farm we had no barn, no real fence and no shelter for her. We had a flimsy, welded wire fence, hay and a Rubbermaid tub full of water. I was in heaven!

Since that day our farm has expanded to include apple trees, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, standard Bronze turkeys, a brief visit by a pig and Bonnie‘s first calf, Cody. We are expanding the turkey operation next spring with the addition of Bourbon Reds. We are also going to begin clearing land for hay and pasture using pigs. We have ten acres that can be utilized in some way and we are excited to see how thing develop.

On April 14, 2010 Bonnie gave birth to her first calf ,a bull, sired by a pure Highland. Our milking relationship has had it’s ups and downs but it has been every bit as rewarding as I thought it would be. We allowed Bonnie to raise Cody, sharing the milk with him. Because our pasture (such as it is) is owned by somebody other than us, we stake Bonnie out during the summer. Because of this, Bonnie and Cody were separated during the day and we milked in the evenings before putting them together for the night. This arrangement worked wonderfully and we will do it next year as well. As the pasture is developed they will spend more and more time untethered and free.

It’s seven months later, Cody is now weaned and we milk twice a day. It’s given me a new appreciation for the farmers of old let me tell you. It’s exceedingly difficult to eat when your thumbs are twitching hard enough to vibrate the fork! I have an offer for Cody to be an herd sire but I’m not sure I want to give up my first grass-fed beef. I have a few months yet to make that decision though.

The ultimate farm plan includes more cows (of course), a laying flock of chickens, a rotation of meat chickens and pigs, enormous gardens, a bigger apple orchard and many, many more berries. It will be a challenge to find and raise varieties and breeds that not only survive but thrive in our frigid climate but I look forward to it!


Thank you, Pam for sharing your farming story with us!  As you know, I have a special place in my heart for Alaska and it's residents! 


Simply Sunday

"Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread."

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

 (Gingerbread men I made yesterday using this recipe.  They currently reside in the freezer until I get a chance to decorate them.)


Scrumptious Saturday ~ Gingerbread Cookies

I usually only post tried and true recipes here.  However, I do not have a tried and true recipe for the cookies I want to make today.  I considered Molasses cookies and I also considered Gingerbread cookies.  When I looked up the recipe, I realized there is not a whole lot of difference between the two. 

One of my favorite online sites to get recipes is from Taste of Home.  They have an unbelievable number of recipes submitted by their readers and many of them tested in their kitchen.  The recipes are easy to find by using the search function on the site.  You can check out the Taste of Home site at this link.

The following recipe  and photo are courtesy of Taste of Home's web site. 

Gingerbread Cookies


3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla frosting of your choice

Red and green paste food coloring


In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. cookie cutters. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Tint some of the frosting red and some green. Decorate cookies. Yield: 5 dozen.

Be sure to check out the Taste of Home web site for more recipes!


Little Orphan Annie in her first Video Performance

Last Saturday Mike called while I was in town and told me that a farmer friend had a Christmas present for me.  He brought home my Christmas gift in a small, plastic tub.  Inside was Little Orphan Annie.  Annie is a Boer/Kiko cross goat.  I am bottle feeding her some of my rich Jersey milk and she is growing like a weed.

Friday's Featured Farmer ~ Suriyah in Oklahoma

Hello there!

My name is Suriyah. I am the 4th of 11 children and we live in the country on a ranch, in beautiful Northeast Oklahoma. Let me tell you a little bit more about us. . .

We've almost always lived out, for at least as long as I can remember! In the summer of 2004, my cousin and us decided to buy a herd of 25 Boer-cross goats. At the time, we owned 2 1/2 acres in Southern California, and the only area we had to keep them was in 6 dog kennels. We knew NOTHING about goats, but my cousin knew a good amount about livestock in general, so we doctored them and sorted them out and eventually they moved up to 70 acres of my cousin's.

Long story short, most of those goats were sold due to various circumstances, but we kept a few of the dairy does and were more set up then. We bought various other dairy goats and finally decided we liked Nubians the best. We also brought a couple of nice does and a buck down from Washington. Then in the Spring of 2006, we were searching for a Nubian buckling when we met a very nice breeder in Arizona. She told us about Mini Nubians, and we really liked them. Shortly after, we had a couple does and a buck from her, and a couple of does all the way from Texas!

Fast forward a few years, in the late Winter/early Spring of 2008, my family decided to move out of Southern California. We picked Oklahoma as the place we were going. About 3 months since we decided to move, we were on the road coming to our newly bought land in Northeast Oklahoma. We had about 25 goats, lots of rabbits, dogs, cats, and 13 of us. . . quite the thing to see! I also had about 10 does in milk at the time, so every 12 hours we'd stop, set up the milk stand and milk the does! That's when my dad decided he really really liked warm goat milk!

Thankfully, our 44 acres here in Oklahoma were already goat fenced - how amazing is that!?! That made things much easier, but here we are, 2 1/2 years later, and things are of course still being built and revised - but isn't every farm like that?

We now have mainly Mini Nubians, but also several standard Nubian does, a couple Alpine bucks and does, a few dairy cross does and some Boers. Every winter/spring we kid out between 22-25 (or more) does and are milking normally 20+ during the summer months. A few of my siblings are allergic to cow milk products, so having the goat milk and making goat butter/cheese/etc is a huge blessing. We also have a 6 goat stanchion, plus another small stanchion, so are able to milk 7 does at a time in a comfy, little insulated milking parlor right out the back door.

The goats are really "my" thing, but my Mom and the rest of my family do help out a lot. We also have sheep, rabbits, chickens, pigs, dogs, donkeys, and one llama and one alpaca. . . oh, and a garden! My cousin and brothers also train horses next door.

Last year my mom and I also started the Northeast Oklahoma Hay and Feed Coop. We bring truckloads of good quality alfalfa mix hay in from Missouri, since it is SO hard to find down here in Oklahoma, especially at a decent price!

So, I hope you enjoyed reading about our little ranch! I also keep a blog which you can check out here.


Thank you so much, Suriyah for your guest post.  It's wonderful to see a new generation embracing the farming lifestyle! 


The Hogs Went To Freezer Camp

Butchering time is always bittersweet.  On one hand, it's hard to take an animal that you have fed and nurtured and deliberately take them to be killed and processed.  I honestly have a hard time with this.  However, I am much better able to deal with the realities now than I use to be.   I  came to the point where I  finally  began to realize just what type of life factory farmed animals must endure before they meet their end and I no longer have the desire to promote factory farming with my purchases.  Knowing that we humanely raise our animals and give them a good life, along with the fact that we know exactly what our animals have consumed for food, makes raising and butchering our own meat the only choice for me at this time.  I have stuck by my self imposed rule to not eat any factory farmed meat even though we eat out once a week.  I made it through the  Thanksgiving holiday without consuming any factory farmed meat by eating a vegetarian meal for Thanksgiving as humanely raised meat was not available at the meal we attended.  (Yes, I now have the incentive to raise turkeys next year!  ;-)

Was sending the hogs off to slaughter difficult?  Yes, it was difficult knowing that those intelligent beings would end up being a pork meal on our table.  Am I sorry I did it?  No.  I am very proud of the fact that we raised these hogs, giving them a good life, providing for them, so that they in turn can provide for us.  I make no apologies for being a meat eater, but I can't with a good conscience consume meat from animals that have not been allowed to live their lives as close to possible to how they were intended to naturally live. 

The butcher called back with the hanging weights (carcass weights) on the five hogs and they are as follows:

233 #
233 #
218 #
208 #
203 #

( Notes:  The two smaller weights belong to the two purebred Red Wattles that we raised.  The photo above is poor quality as it was taken at dusk with my phone.  However, it give you an idea of the size and conformation of the smaller of the two purebred Red Wattles.) 


Simply Sunday

Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless. ~Bill Watterson


Friday's Featured Farmer~Stephanie Appleton

We are a homeschooling family of six. We live on a property in West Virginia that is about 100 acres consisting almost entirely of forest and steep hills. We share this property with other family members. Together we raise gardens of vegetables. We gather the wild blackberries that can be found anywhere the sun reaches the ground through the trees. We raise a variety of animals. Name a farm animal. Odds are we have it here.

We work together. We sometimes find time to play together. We cry together, and together we share the blessings that come from living life on the farm.

Today, out of nowhere, my twelve year old said to me, "Funny how people think that way we live is crazy. We really are the luckiest people ever." I certainly did not have that kind of wisdom at twelve.

We lived on my grandparents farm through my elementary years. I enjoyed my years there, but really did not appreciate them fully until much later. After the family farm was sold and we moved, I didn't give much thought to farm life again for a very long time. I had big plans, and they didn't include any chickens or cows. I wanted to travel the world. I was going to be a big executive with a big salary to match. Little did I know how deeply rooted the love of the land and of animals was in me. Nor did I have any concept of the things in life that were truly meaningful to me.

The love of the land wouldn't stay hidden despite my big plans. It seeped out whenever possible. It started in college, and continued in our early years of marriage. Anywhere we lived that had a piece of dirt I could putter in was filled with flowers and sometimes vegetables. If there was no place to plant outside, I got my dirt fix in pots with indoor plants.

It was motherhood that brought those hidden loves of dirt and animals gurgling to the surface again. As my oldest child approached his elementary years, I longed for him and his siblings to have the same experiences and freedom that I had enjoyed as a child. I also realized that it wasn't just about the kids either. I longed for the quieter, simpler life of raising animals and gardens. My parents were also longing for a similar lifestyle.

We moved to this property five years ago with my parents. Since then we have jumped in, and probably tried to do way too much way to fast. I've found that the quieter and simpler life doesn't not mean a restful and easy life. I've learned that the freedom of farm life remembered from childhood does not exist with the adult responsibilities of farm life. Farm life is a lot of work. Sometimes, even after all the hard work, there is disappointment. There is failure. There is frustration.

But there is satisfaction. There is joy, and many rewards.

There is nothing more satisfying than serving a meal to my family that consists entirely of food we've grown ourselves. I love that the kids can go out and run, play and learn in the woods for hours on end. I like the strength of body and mind that we all have earned through our labors. The lessons learned from our experiences here could never be taught in a classroom or through a book. I wouldn't trade this lifestyle for anything. We really are the luckiest people ever.


Thank  you, Stephanie, for your delightful guest post!

You can follow Stephanie and her farming adventures on her facebook page, Mil-Ton Farms.

You will also enjoy the farm's blog site at Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods.