Friday, November 28, 2008

Belated Happy Thanksgiving!


Good evening, dear friends! I am hoping you all had a truly happy and peaceful Thanksgiving Day with friends and family beside you! All was well here, although my middle son went down-state, so he, his girlfriend and her little son were much missed. But they will be up this weekend for a leftover Thanksgiving Dinner, along with the others! I certainly over-guess when it comes to fixing a large meal! So, I will put a pot of turkey soup on in the morning, as my daughter is having a few friends come spend the day.
Mom came up again this morning to help put the finishing touches on the Barn-Shop, as we are having our Christmas Open House this weekend and next. We had just enough time to gather and assemble several simple bundles of pine boughs to use as decorating and selling before the sun began to set and it was time to put the chickens to bed for the evening! It was snowing a bit this morning as I headed out for my walk, and it stayed cold throughout the day. Needless to say, the ol' wood stove kept us warm while we were busy! I am so grateful for wood heat, as nothing else warms so thoroughly!
Other than that, not much is new here. The coyotes have been howling and carrying on throughout the nights... perhaps complaining of the coldness. And Mandy discovered a small hawk perching on the porch woodpile the other morning... we thought perhaps he was injured, but I believe he was simply keeping out of the rain and snow-showers! He flew away as soon as I opened the door!
Well, I hope the remainder of your week is pleasant and happy as we head into the holiday season! Take care til next time... ~Laura

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Blog Home... sigh!


Well, I've finally finished moving my blog from it's old site to this new site. I am so happy to be able to include color, photographs and a bit more of a home-y feel to my Wildenblue Farm Journal; as well as links to my Etsy Shops and Ebay Auctions! I hope you all are as pleased as I am!

The temperature has been very chilly in the mornings... mid-twenties, and we have seen a few snow flurries. I have not accomplished a whole lot outdoors lately, but feel certain that if snow arrives, I have done what I most need to!

Mom and I headed to Vermont yesterday to purchase grain, and the mountains were dusted with snow that was still falling as we drove northwards.

We have much work to be started today... we plan on organizing the Barn Shop in preparation for our Christmas Gathering, which will be held the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the following weekend, as well. So I must head outside and get started, but I will be back soon! Til then... blessings from Laura of Wildenblue Farm

The Greenhouse


Posted Oct-17-08 13:55:07 PDT
Hello, dear friends! Mom and I just finished a busy day spent outside in what might be one of the last few sunshiney, fairly warm days ( 45 degrees) left to this autumn season! Especially so with November just around the corner! Today was spent gathering Bittersweet, picking a few apples and quarts of Concord Grapes, and setting these goods, along with some Pie Pumpkins, Squash and Eggs out at the tiny garden stand in preperation for the weekend customers who happen by. I debated for a short time earlier this morning if today would be spent doing needed chores or taking a drive a bit north to take some photographs before all the fall foilage is blown away. And today, the work won out. But there's always tomorrow for a drive (and tag sales!)
We also got out in the back garden and snipped off well over one hundred gourds of different varieties, and laid them out on screens in the garage, where the wood furnace will have them dry in short order. I usually dry them in the basement in front of the wood furnace, but more room was needed this year! And besides, it gets much too crowded with firewood stacked down there, too.
We've spent the last two weekends visiting several town-wide garage sales, which I LOVE doing. I had a mission in mind, as I am blessed to watch my grandson two days a week, and needed certain things for him, such as a carseat, stroller, baby swing, johnny jumper, baby seat, and spare clothes and such. I am quite pleased to tell you I purchased all the above in one day last weekend for less than thirty dollars, thanks to mom's haggling! It is amazing what you can find in such wonderful condition at such low prices!
We built a small greenhouse during the past month from plans out of Mary Jane's Farm magazine... which is my favorite magazine. You must check it out at MaryJanesFarm.com! I LOVE her! The greenhouse was very inexpensive to build, and though we are not carpenters... I think we did a good job! Will it last the winter? I'll let you know come spring! Well, I need to close now, but wanted to give you all an update, as I'm running late this time! Happy Fall! xox ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm

New Kittens...


Posted Sep-06-08 05:36:25 PDT
Good morning to all!
I awoke to the sound of some much-needed rain this morning... but was unsure at first if it actually was rain or just the wind! We haven't had rain in too long; I dug a few potatoes the other night for a friend and I could barely dig my fingers down into the ground; the dirt was so dry and hard. Talk about Terra Firma! But fortunately the gardens haven't suffered. I am pleased to say I have MANY pumpkins and large gourds winding their way throughout the back garden. The weight of the heavy gourds has brought down a few sections of flimsy fence towards the left side... but no harm done! It'll give me something to do come fall!!
I cleaned the barn out a few days ago, and mom brought up the month-old batch of 8 keats. They have settled in, and the older Guineas are very curious about these new little ones. Ma is still brooding out the 11 keats born last week, but has moved them out of the house and into the garage! They will move up here in a few more weeks. (And I cleaned out three tractor-bucket's worth of compost for the gardens!)
I must say I have about had my fill of Guinea Fowl these past few days. I told you before that they have been an awful nuisance about wandering in the road. I have been very embarrassed this past week especially with them and yesterday was the final straw for both my daughter and I. So I waited til dark, went down to the barn and spent perhaps two hours trying to catch thirteen scratching, biting, screaming panicked Guineas so I could trim their right wing feathers. Needless to say, I gave up after two hours and headed back to the house for a shower... defeated, clawed up and covered in bits of feathers, sweat and worse. Two are missing (hiding) and the others screeched and ran from me this morning as I went about my barn-chores. I was unable to catch all of them, but I will bide my time...
We have four new kittens that someone dropped of in the middle of the road late the other night. I have a tolerance for many kinds of people... however, I draw the line at someone who tosses animals away like roadside litter. The kittens appear to be perhaps 6 weeks old, and there are two sets of identical twins; two are pure black and the other two are siamese. They are simply adorable, but we have three cats already, so I should be looking for a home for them. My daughter and I are partial to the siamese, but we find the black ones equally irresistable. Sigh...
I attempted to make a batch of Mozzerella Cheese yesterday. Mom and I had gone to Vermont earlier to pick up a load of feed, it was hot and I knew I shouldn't have started it, but I did. Needless to say, the curd did not form properly, so now I have a gallon of whey in the refrigerator. But the kitties will be pleased with my failure!
Well, I must close now, as there's work to be done. Wish me luck that today will be nothing like yesterday, and enjoy your weekend! Blessings from Laura of Wildenblue Farm

August Company... Hot relish recipe


Posted Aug-16-08 17:03:43 PDT
I'm back once again, dear friends. Hope you are all happy and in good health. I must mention my little grandson is one month old today. (Thank you for allowing me that!)
My daughter, my mom and I headed a couple of hours west to pick up my friend Greg's daughter to spend a week or so with us. Kaitlyn is a year younger than Amanda, and darn good company for both of us! We've already laughed more than our fair share today, and you can well imagine what this week will hold!
The rain has dampened the gardens' ability to allow anything to ripen, save a few meager ears of Sweet Corn and a rare tomato or two. Even the zucchini, gourds and pumpkins appear trapped within a time-warp... it seems every time I check on their progress, they look the same as they did a week ago. I suppose a watched pot never boils, but even zucchini not growing rampantly?! Sigh...
We noted as we drove out towards Herkimer this morning that many of the maples and oaks are beginning to blush with autumn's colors. It seems awfully early, and I know it isn't because of drought. We shall see if this will be as early a fall as I think it will. I can't tell you how many chipmunks and squirrels have darted out in front of me as I take my early-morning walk, their cheeks bulging with the beginnings of their winter rations. Even the Blue Jays are making a racket in the thickets, most probably complaining about the greediness of those afore-mentioned rodents! I've also noticed the abundance of Queen-Anne's Lace and Chicory growing this summer. I love how the cobalt-y blue of the Chicory sparkles amongst the pure-white Queen Anne's Lace... it seems like both wildflowers are trying to bring a drifting of snowflakes-and-sky to these rural road's ditches.
We are anticipating the arrival in the next few days of the guinea keats and ducklings... I am curious to see what we end up with. I lost another adult Guinea last evening, so I am grateful for the new additions.
Well, I haven't included a recipe for a bit, so I will in this entry. It was given to me a number of years ago by Kaitlyn's dad, and I don't suppose he'll mind if I share it with you! My boys used to LOVE this on Hotdogs! And perhaps this is one reason my daughter douses everything she eats with Hot Sauce...
Greg's Old-Fashion Hot Relish
12 Sweet Red Peppers
12 Sweet Green Peppers
2 1/2 pounds Hot Peppers
10 Large Onions
2 Quarts Boiling Water
2 cups White Vinegar
2 cups Honey (or Sugar)
1 Tablespoon Salt
Chop all peppers & onions to desired size, cover with the boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes. Drain all the water off; set aside. Combine vinegar, honey (or sugar) and salt in a large pot, add the drained vegetables and boil together for 5 minutes. Put in sterilized jars and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes. Yields approximately 9 pints of relish.

Well, it's getting dark, so I must head to the barn for chores. I wish you many blessings, and hope the remainder of August brings you joy! Til next time... ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm

August 1st 2008 Musings...


Posted Aug-01-08 06:07:51 PDT
My, my... August already...
Not a whole lot new lately, just trying to keep ahead of the weeding! I hoed out the strawberry patch; the weeds were shamefully tall. I've let the ducks and chickens scratch about in there to pick up any leftover rye seeds. Mom and I put in a few sections of split-rail fence near the garden shed, and I transplanted dozens of deep-purple "Grandpa Ott" morning glory seedlings all along it. The gourd vines are taking over the fence all around the berry garden, and the perennial seedlings are growing well and may be ready for transplanting into their permanent places near the barn. I ripped out some sod near the garden shed and dug in a small new perennial garden, and in place of the sod, filled in the new paths with peastone. I hauled out rocks from the woods to line the pathways and I must say everything is getting done! I cannot begin to imagine over this past season just how many stones we have hauled out of the woods! Now if we had a dollar for each one...
The Catnip and Tansy have been lush on account of the rain, so they've been harvested and hung to dry, along with some Yarrow. I just love seeing all those bunches hanging from the beams... it's satisfactual! I do hope the Catnip will come back for a second harvest, but I haven't had much luck with seconds in the garden, so I won't bank on it.
We have 8 new Guinea babies from the first batch of incubated eggs. The following day, mom started the second batch, and wouldn't you know the next day I discovered a third hidden nest, so mom stuck those 9 eggs into the incubator for a total of two dozen eggs waiting to hatch in the next few weeks. One of my Runner Ducks is also on a nest of eggs behind the barn door! Good grief!
I have begun to notice a few groups of Starlings and Crows flocking together. Yesterday morning, there were 15 crows flapping and flying noisily above the garden shed. Such silly creatures! I hope all is well with you and yours, and that you are enjoying the summer before it fades into fall. I do get tired of the summer heat and humidity, and all the garden chores that August tends to bring. And I do so love autumn, so it gives me something to look forward to!
I must be off, so I leave you with this little quote....
Summer is not so much a season as a melody, that tune of contentment we hum as the days begin to beautifully blur... Sarah Ban Breathnoch

My First Grandchild Has Arrived!!!


Posted Jul-18-08 13:50:01 PDT
Hello to all! It finally happened... I'm a gramma! My oldest son and his girlfriend delivered a beautiful healthy baby boy on Wednesday, July 16th. They named him Ryan Howard as a tribute to my dad, Howard, who passed away last July 21st. What a wonderful gesture to my mother and all of our family. Thank you, Travis and Ashley... and congratulations on your new bundle of joy. We are all so happy for you, and we love you!
Oh my goodness... I can barely think of anything else to write about, but I'll try!...........................................
The first batch of baby guineas should start hatching out in the next few days, and then mom will incubate the second batch, as I found another nest of eggs when I was picking wild blackberries. I believe there are 15 eggs in this newest nestful. And I suppose it is a good thing that we all discovered these eggs, as one-by-one my guineas are disappearing, and I'm not sure if they are simply sitting on a secret nest, or if the fisher (or other foe) is feasting on them.
As I was refilling the vegetable stand the other morning, I peeked around the back of the barn and saw a fisher dart off the driveway and back into the woods. I am awfully worried about the "baby" chicks, as each day they explore further and further into the pastures. An electric fence may not be a bad idea...
I have been picking scads of Raspberries, and the Strawberries are now setting out new runners for next years' berries. I have SO MUCH weeding to do, as it's gotten ahead of me in the last week or two. I was quite dismayed that the Rye Straw we used as mulch between the Strawberries and upon the garden paths has decided to sprout into a carpet of green grass where it lies. Perhaps I should just trim it all with the lawn mower. And I need to stake the Tomato plants, as they are beginning to sprawl. Sigh... a woman's work is never done...
Well, my friends, I will sign off for now, as I just wanted to let you know that the baby has arrived! Blessings to you and yours... Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Happy July 4th!


Posted Jul-04-08 14:34:30 PDT
I had to drop in to wish you all a Happy Independence Day! My shop is opened this weekend and next, as we're having our summer Open House... so this won't be long. The Strawberries have all gone by, and now the blackberries, raspberries and currants are making their entrance in the garden. As I was picking the spinach, lettuce and beet greens, I realized it was time to plant a fresh crop of each, as the spinach has begun to bolt, and the lettuce will surely follow soon!
Last week, my sons' friend Josh came by to pick up a window and as he picked it up to load it into his truck, he discovered a nest of 11 Guinea Hen's eggs underneath, which mom promptly placed in the incubator. We are down to 15 guineas, as two have succumbed to an unknown predator. I love to see them wandering out in the back meadow, but I am having quite a time keeping them from straying across the road. I have clipped their wings, yet they continue to be able to fly over the fences and escape. Does anyone have any suggestions about this? I'm almost desperate...
I've been meaning to let folks know I've switched my Etsy Shops around... the old one is now mostly Etsy Shop banners/ avatars (
www.wildenblue.etsy.com) and my newest shop (www.wildenbluefarm.etsy.com) contains my primitive goods and items from the farm. I'm sorry I took so long to mention this! I hope to begin listing on Ebay soon, and I am planning to open a third Etsy Shop, which will feature Vintage items and ephemera.
Well, that's all for now, but again, Happy July 4th blessings to you and yours! ~Kindest regards, Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Tasha Tudor's Passing, and Fishers Visit


Posted Jun-18-08 19:50:54 PDT
As I checked my email this evening, I was saddened to receive notification of Tasha Tudor's passing. What an endearing, unique and wonderful soul she was... and blessed are those who were touched by her life; whether personally or through her books, artwork and stories. How fortunate we all were who enjoyed Tasha that she was so willing to share! I finally was able to purchase several packets of her flower seeds earlier this spring, and planted them just last week. I had attempted to splurge on them for the past few years, yet each time, they were sold out. I will treasure their presence in my garden...
I have a story to share, which happened late yesterday afternoon...
I was out in the farthest garden, and was watering the aforementioned seeds, as it has been so dry again. I headed to the well to adjust the hoses, and heard a bleating sound off in the back field near the woods. I knew it most surely was a baby fawn, but I couldn't quite place what direction to head in. As I was running out, I noticed several crows flying about and cawing loudly... and right then I saw a doe run down from the woods to where the crows were darting about. She was frantically stamping and running back and forth, so I jumped into the jeep and carefully drove out there, dreading what I would find. It appeared that two large crows were on the ground, attacking the tiniest fawn I had ever seen, but I suddenly realized they were not crows, and I'm still not sure if they were mink or fishers. They ran not 8 feet away to the stone wall that divides our property from the neighbors'... one was on top and kept his eyes on the fawn. I pulled the jeep between the fawn and the one mink(?) who was not the least bit afraid of me but was intently fixated on the poor little fawn, and was attempting to run in front of the jeep to resume its attack. My youngest son ran out to help me, and after a few minutes, the mink ran off with the other one, and the little fawn caught his breath and finally could stand and teeter off to find his momma. We stayed out there for a good half-hour to keep the minks at bay and can only hope all turned out well for the little baby.
Now I know I should have let nature take its course, but before you scold me, let me say I just could not have stayed out in the garden and worked with that ruckus; knowing what was going on in the field behind me. And those critters were fierce and fast-moving. I came in and researched several photographs online of wolverines, weasels, mink and fishers... but I'm inconclusive as to exactly what I saw... the toss-up being mink or fisher. Only one photograph of an all-black mink looked right, but there was also one photograph of an all-black fisher that looked the same. They both were jet-black, their fur was NOT sleek and short, but rather long and tousled, and they were easily triple the size of a large house cat. They had long full tails, tiny ears and fierce faces. Can anyone offer any help? Gary... if you're reading this... do you have any suggestions?
Needless to say, the full of today was spent running a new fence around the other side of the field to offer a fresh grazing spot for the biddies and friends... fresh grass and much-needed shade, but is it secure enough to keep out those marauders? The whole episode made me more than anxious, especially because yesterday morning, I adapted the teenage chicks' pen to be outdoor-accessible. I will again sleep with one eye open!
Well, it is time to get some shut-eye, but if anyone has any idea what type of critter I could have seen, I'd be interested to hear from you. Blessings to all... ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm

June 1st, 2008 Rhubarb Salsa Recipe


Posted Jun-01-08 05:38:08 PDT
My goodness... it's hard to believe that it's the first of June and that we're half-way through the year...
We received some desperately-needed rain yesterday and through the night. Everything was dusty-dry and looking a little thirsty and wilty, but now things have perked up quite a bit!
Mom and I FINALLY completed transplanting the remainder of the strawberry plants. (well... almost...) We estimated over the past two days alone, we replanted between six- and seven hundred plants into a newly-made patch. We even laid out compost and mulched the rows thickly with straw, and I swear I will keep ahead of the runners and keep the rows in order for once! One of my runner ducks gets into the back fruit garden and has been doing a lovely job of weeding. He is fascinating to watch... his bill goes just under the surface of the mulch and he skims the underlying layer of bugs and weeds.
The baby chicks have adjusted well to their new living-quarters, and I will be letting them outdoors in a matter of days... penned-in for the first week or two til they become familiar with the language of the other birds and can pick up on their warnings and chatter... and then they will be allowed to free-range with the others.
I intend to get the warm-weather crops planted this week. The Rhubarb is lush and plentiful, but how many times can one feast on pie? When I was little, our neighbor gave us a jar of Rhubarb Jam, and I wish I had been old enough to ask for the recipe. It was not like the Rhubarb Jam recipes I've tried... it seemed almost like a conserve or chutney; it was sweet, not spiced, it didn't contain raisens... but it was delicious on toast or by the spoonful! Sigh...
Well, seeing as I still have Rhubarb on the brain, here is a recipe I've had for making Rhubarb Salsa. I wish I could give credit where credit was due, but I have no idea whose recipe this is or where it came from. But it's been tried and tasted...
Rhubarb Salsa
Combine all the following ingredients in a pot, heat over medium- high heat til boiling, then lower heat, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes , stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for about 5 minutes longer... don't overcook; let it stay chunky. Enjoy with sour cream and tortilla chips!
8 cups Rhubarb, chopped
1 or 2 large Onions, chopped
2 or 4 whole bulbs of Garlic, minced
1 or 2 large Tomatos, roughly chopped
2 or more Jalapenos, chopped
1 cup Raisins, if desired
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
Also, toss in any spices you prefer such as ginger, cinnamon, cilantro, basil... whatever suits your tastebuds.

My Rhubarb Pie Recipe


Posted May-19-08 11:13:01 PDT
Dear friends... life has been so busy this time of year, as I'm sure you'd all agree with me that your life is, as well! Sigh! It seems the simpler you try to make things, the more complicated they become!
As usual, we have been busy at work around here. Mom and I FINALLY accomplished a project long on the to-do list, fueled by the fact that an unknown predator entered the barnyard and made off with one of the ducks. We built an enclosed run for the poultry to let them have access to the outdoors even during nighttime, and the fox or other critters will not have easy access to a midnight snack. It is customary to leave the geese and ducks outdoors all night during the summer, as they are brought into the confines of the immediate barnyard come evening and the two main gates are shut til morning. They are quite capable at fending off a fox or owl. But if a storm came during the night, they had no shelter from it, which meant I had to wake up and herd them into the barn. I couldn't leave the barn door open, as we had fishers and raccoons get in and cause devastation before, so we just had to enclose the area just outside the barn to keep them content and safe. Now I will plant Hops vines around the perimeter to create a nice, shady haven for them.
My oldest son and his girlfriend are expecting a baby boy in early July... my first grandbaby! She had a well-attended baby shower yesterday and recieved so many cute little outfits and such! When I got home, I planted some Black Pussywillows, a couple of Rugosa Roses and a half-dozen Balsam Fir seedlings in one pasture to provide some shade for the poultry and cuttings for me! It was cold and rainy, but a perfect time to plant. (Of course, I moved another two dozen strawberry plants while I was soaked!) Can you believe I am still transplanting strawberry plants? I am taking a chance, as they are in bloom right now... but the only other alternative is to toss them on the compost pile and I refuse! So I will dig up a new patch to put them in. And I think my neighbor may be interested in some, too!
We really needed the rain, as it has been dusty-dry. My potatoes are coming up, as well as the peas, corn, spinach, lettuce & other greens. I have hundreds of Dill, Morning Glory and Borage seedlings sprouting up between the Rhubarb and Welsh Onions.
The baby chicks are not babies any more and we will be moving them up to the barn in another week or two. They are lovely little things! Well, my Co Op Truck will be delivering soon, so I must sign off and get going! I will leave you with my Rhubarb Pie Recipe. Til next time... blessings from Laura of Wildenblue Farm!
Plain & Simple Rhubarb Pie
~Enough pastry for a double-crust pie~
6-8 cups fresh Rhubarb, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out half the pastry and line the bottom of your pie-plate with this. Combine Rhubarb, both kinds of Sugar, Cinnamon and the Flour in a bowl... toss well. Pour into pastry-lined pan, dot with Butter and cover with remaining rolled-out pastry. Dip a pastry brush into milk and coat pastry top with this, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes.

April 2008 Update


Posted Apr-22-08 19:14:27 PDT Updated Apr-22-08 19:18:59 PDT
Hello again to all... I've been away for far too long! And to think it is almost May. Sigh...
Every day seems to bring another project here on Wildenblue Farm! Yesterday the Post Office called at 7:00 am to inform me the baby chicks had arrived and were waiting to be picked up! So I headed out to retreive them, but first had to stop at the Farm Store to pick up shavings and clover seed, amongst other things. I took the peeps to mom's, as she is kind enough to brood them out down there til they are big enough to put in with all the others here. (I worry about the turkey vultures, hawks, roosters, geese and guineas when the chicks are so little and defenseless.)
Today I put in a new (old) window in the back side of the chicken coop. It lacks sunlight and fresh air in that section of the barn, and my patience had worn thin trying to gather eggs in the dim light, only to be startled by a snippy hen pecking at my groping hand. And as mom gave me dad's Saws-all yesterday, it was a project begging to be done. I am a lousy carpenter... but the window did fit in and the biddies are happy and the barn is brighter and airier, and that's all that matters!
Mom and I had spent several days over the past few weeks mending fences and running new ones, pruning fruit trees and straightening up the barnyard. Everything is pretty much in order and seems secure. The weather has been very dry and amazingly warm for April... so every day is spent on some chore or another. My daughter and I spent six hours clearing out the main vegetable garden, and I spent several hours more in the fruit garden planting raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and currants. We dug up and transplanted the Welsh Onions, Walking Onions, Rhubarb Plants from mom's, Catnip and Horehound.
I've gotten some seed planted over the past few days... peas, carrots, sweet corn, radishes, spinach (I am SO longing for fresh spinach!), lettuces and radishes. I also got the potatos planted... all reds and all blues... does that mean if I cook both and mash them together, I'll have purple mashed potaoes???
Well... it's time for bed, so I'll say good night. Hope you are all well and enjoying spring. May all your weeds be wildflowers! Til next time... Laura of Wildenblue Farm

A Stinky Mink & Our Loss...






Posted Mar-19-08 18:03:06 PDT
Good evening to all my faithful readers. I hope all is well with you and your days are filled with the little things that make you grateful.
Tomorrow is the official start of spring, and even though we awoke to a few inches of wet snow this morning, I've noted several indicators that spring is in the air. The deer have been gathering in the open patches of ground that grow larger with each passing day. There have been dozens of robins flittering across the roads and flocking upon the bare patches. I saw a brightly colored bluebird last evening, and a grouse perching high up in an old apple tree. Redwing Blackbirds and Grackles have been visiting the feeders early in the morning, awakening us with their cackling and distinct calls. The owls are hooting back and forth from the woods again in the evenings. And my daughter and I observed a very large flock of Canadian Geese making their way homeward. The day before yesterday, I happened to look out the window towards the birdfeeders... the Guinea Hens have been competing for the fallen seed with half-a-dozen black crows all the winter, and it's hilarious to watch them intimidate each other... but something different caught my eye, and then my ears. The Guineas were screeching at a mink that had happened up the hill near the house, and they had frightened him into one of the window-wells. He was screaming right back at them. One of our kitties was curious about him as well, and he was frightened as could be. Now, I don't know if minks spray as skunks do... but when I went out on the porch to snap a few pictures of him and retrieve the cat... it stunk horribly! The scent lingered inside and outside of the house for quite a long while, so we stayed in the kitchen-end or upstairs for that time! Phew!
It is with a heavy and sad heart that I tell you our sweet, beloved German Shepard, Greta, died unexpectedly during the night. She has been such a faithful and constant companion for almost 11 years, and it is awfully empty and lonely without her. I could not have asked for a sweeter, gentler girl to share my daily 4-mile walks with, or to help me chase the Guineas back into the barn come nightfall, or just to lie happily at my feet while I worked from the computer. For the last two mornings, we shared a wonderful time out snowshoeing in the woods, and I remember thinking that she was so puppyish and playful and fast for her 11 years! I had to call her back to me several times because she was rambling so far ahead of me! We all feel our loss, as she was such a wonderful and loyal friend.
Well, I wish you all spring time and Easter-time blessings, and I will leave you with a little quote for the season. Til next time... much love from Laura of Wildenblue Farm
~No matter how long the winter, how hard the frost or how deep the snow, nature triumphs. No season is awaited so eagerly or welcomed so warmly as spring... Sheila Pickles

Just a line or two...


Posted Mar-01-08 05:53:36 PST
Good morning, everyone! I'm on my way down to mom's to shovel off her roof, etc, as we've received another foot of snow, just as we did just two days ago! It is so lovely outdoors... and I plan on doing a bit of snowshoeing when I get back. The chickens are laying a total of about a half-dozen eggs a day... a far cry from the usual dozen-&-a-half to two dozen... but it's not even spring yet! The geese and ducks do not mind spending the day outdoors in all this snow, but the chickens and guineas will only stay out a bit to peck at the flakes, then head back into the barn. With the snowbanks so high, one must keep a watchful eye out for a fox or coyote, as they may easily leap into the barnyard.
I must tell you I opened an Etsy Shop last week... I am so addicted to Etsy and all the lovely handmade goodies that beckon! Just type Etsy.com into your browser & take a look. You may find my shop by typing http://wildenblue.etsy.com into your browser.
I ordered two and a half dozen chicks which will be arriving in April. My daughter & I selected several different breeds... a potpourri of chickens, if you will! The many seeds I ordered have arrived & are awaiting seeding. I always go overboard when ordering seeds... but thats alright. I'll find room for them all between the two big gardens!
Well, friends, I must head down to mom's, as it's snowing very hard again. I'll be in touch. Just wanted to wish you all a happy March! xox... Blessings from Laura of Wildenblue Farm!

Valentine's Day Blessings to All... Chocolate-y Recipes


Posted Feb-14-08 18:23:52 PST
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~ Marcel Proust.
I just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a very blessed Valentine's Day! And what would Valentine's Day be without CHOCOLATE!!!?? I made these cookies often when my children were little... perhaps you will like to try this ol' recipe! Much love to you & yours, ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm
~Doubley Chocolatey Cookies~
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.In a large bowl, mix together
1 & 1/4 cup Butter, 2 Eggs, 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract &
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon Hot Water.
Then add
2 cups Brown Sugar, 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder,
1 teaspoon Baking Soda & 1 teaspoon Salt ...blend well.
Now add 1 cup chopped Walnuts & 1 & 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a buttered or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 8 minutes.... cookies should look soft... do not overbake! Remove from oven & let cool. This will make about 4 dozen cookies.
And if you want to be fancy, try these easy truffles!
Basic Chocolate Truffles
Chop about 6 ounces of chocolate... EITHER semisweet, bittersweet or milk chocolate; your preference.
Place the chopped chocolate into a microwave-proof bowl and add
1/4 cup of butter & 3 tablespoons of heavy cream.
Cook this for 1 minute intervals... watch carefully so it doesn't scorch... being sure to stir til melted & velvety smooth.
Then add a bit of this hot chocolatey mixture to one beaten egg yolk, a little at a time so the yolk will not curdle, stirring all the while til you can add the yolk & chocolate mixture all together. Return to the microwave & again, at 1 minute intervals, cook til thick, stirring & blending often. Then, stir in
3 tablespoons of ONE of the following... your choice...
Vanilla,Strong Coffee, Chambord, Grand Marnier, etc.
Blend well, chill for about 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator & beat slightly til fluffy. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheet... roll into balls, then roll into cocoa powder. Chill til firm. You may dip these in melted chocolate, crushed walnuts, coconut, etc., if you prefer.

Mozzarella Tomato Salad Recipe


Posted Feb-10-08 08:49:25 PST
Hello again, dear friends! I apologize for not updating my blog earlier, and I really have no excuse for not writing sooner, as not much new and interesting has been keeping me busy! However, I did have a new experience a weekend or two ago when my neighbors, Gary & Alice, invited me up to make cheese with them! Thus, mom & I headed a few miles up the road and spent a lovely afternoon involved in the process of making two batches of wonderfully fresh Mozzarella Cheese! I was amazed at how simple and short the process was, as well. I often purchase fresh softball-sized mozzarella from the Natural Food Co-Op in Vermont, but now we can make our own! Thanks again, Gary & Alice!!
I am in the process of ordering a variety of chicks for this coming spring, and have been pouring through the many, many seed catalogs in anticipation of this year's gardens. I had even been considering getting back into keeping Honeybees as I had in years past... but I'm not quite there yet. I had a recent conversation with a friend about getting a donkey... but I have not ventured there much, either! Sigh... spring fever can wreak havoc on a woman's mind! And it's only February!
Well, I will leave you now, as I do want to get those chicks ordered! I wish I had more to share, but I will leave you with a simple Mozzarella Tomato Salad recipe you may want to try. Til next time... and Happy Valentine's day greetings, as well! ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm
~Mozzarella Tomato Salad~
1 pound of Fresh Soft Mozzarella...
(either a Large Ball or the tiny golf-ball size)
6 or 8 Plum Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
A pinch or two of Coarse Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 or 2 cloves of Garlic, slivered
A few fresh Basil Leaves, torn into pieces
A few Tablespoons of Grated Parmesan Cheese... if desired

In a suitable bowl, slice the fresh Mozzarella into 1" cubes; do the same with the Plum Tomatoes. Sprinkle these with the coarse Sea Salt. Next, combine the Balsamic Vinegar with the Olive oil & pour over the cheese & tomatoes; toss together well. Add the slivered Garlic & the torn Basil Leaves, sprinkle in the Grated Parmesan, and toss well. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld, then serve!
Sometimes, if I have the softball-size fresh Mozzarella, I simply slice the ball into 1/4" slices, top each piece with a slice of tomato, drizzle on a bit of oil & vinegar & top with crushed croutons & spreckle of sea salt for some delicious finger-food!

Happy New Year 2008! Lip Balm Recipe


Posted Jan-02-08 20:05:10 PST
I would like to extend New Year's blessings to all. My wish for you is that you find peace, kindness, truth & health in the New Year. We have received snow upon snow upon snow these past few weeks, and it is lovely to be out-of-doors in this pure white winter wonderland! The geese are quite happy to sit out in the barnyard along with the ducks, but nary a chicken and rarely a guinea will brave the white stuff, though mom & I cleaned the barn out last week and shut all the creatures out of the barn to accomplish that task! It was a very warm day & in-between snowstorms, so it worked out perfectly! I must say the barn was smelling like a ...well, a barn; a very stinky barn to be sure! But we scraped & shoveled & emptied & dumped & filled the whole barn with Sweet Annie, fresh shavings & straw... and just in time, as tonight the temperature is very cold... the coldest of the season & not to be out of the single digits for a couple of days.
I have been busy in the kitchen cooking & creating, and have been slowly but surely getting a few prim goods listed for sale once again. We spent last evening at mom's for supper to celebrate the New Year. She fixed a baked ham, scalloped potatoes, sweet corn & lots of "fixin's"! I made home-made rolls & a squash casserole. My oldest son's girlfriend made a delicious ice-cream cake (Thank you again, Ashley!) All three of my sons, their girlfriends & my daughter enjoyed the New Year at Gram's, as did I!
We have spent a lot of time outdoors as of late in the effort of shoveling all this beautiful snow... both at home and at mom's giving her a helping hand, though she does very well for herself with the snowblower! I made a batch of Lip Balm to last through the winter, and thought perhaps you'd like my recipe so you can make some for your family. I put this up in tiny tins, as I could not find the lip balm tubes I've stashed somewhere! You'll get about 6 (1/2 ounce) tins....
Homemade Lip Balm
1/4 cup Sweet Almond Oil (or Olive Oil)
1/4 teaspoon Honey
1/4 ounce shaved Beeswax
1/2 teaspoon pure natural flavoring (peppermint or vanilla, etc)
4 drops pure Lavender Essential Oil
1/2 teaspoon Aloe Vera extract
1 pierced Vitamin E Capsule
Over a low flame, heat the oil 'til warm... do not boil! Add the Beeswax to the oil & allow it to melt. Remove from heat & add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Pour into desired containers, allow to cool & cover. This is also nice to rub into dry spots on your hands & fingers when necessary! You can play around with the ingredients & adapt the recipe to your preferences. If too thin, add a bit more beeswax; if too thick, add a bit more oil.
HAPPY NEW YEAR from Laura of Wildenblue Farm!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Hazelnut Biscotti Recipe


Posted Dec-16-07 12:38:07 PST
Good afternoon to all you faithful readers! We are in the midst of another winter storm. High winds are predicted, so I thought perhaps I should get to the task at hand lest the power goes out. All the geese, ducks, guineas & chickens are snug in the barn... I did not let them venture outside today as it is too cold & windy. They were bedded with extra straw last night against the impending weather. I will have to head down shortly to bring grain & water to them and collect any eggs before they freeze! I refuse to purchase eggs from the food co-op, so they have become as precious as gold lately, as I am lucky to get one per day.
As I walked to the barn last night, I looked out over the fields nearest me and watched as a half-dozen deer headed behind the garden shed towards the woods. It was getting dark when I came back to the house, but I hung several bunches of evergreen boughs along the fence before going inside. I had that eerie feeling you get when you sense you are being watched, and I glanced out towards the garden. I could see the silhouttes of two dozen deer, ears perked up and frozen in their tracks as they watched me go about my business. I was surprised that they did not run off, tjust watched for a few minutes, then continued on their way!
I've had at least five crows visiting the bird-feeders daily, along with dozens of bluejays, 5 woodpeckers, two grey squirrels and two red squirrels, many chickadees, snowbirds, titmice, sparrows, a beautiful red cardinal, and a solitary mourning dove. The finches do not come about anymore... perhaps the large crows frighten them away. The Guinea hens will occasionally fly up to the bird-feeders & will dive at the crows and scare them off. I bought a feeder that attaches to the window with suction cups... the cats love watching the birds come & go!
I have included a recipe for you for my favorite Biscotti; excellent to have on hand should company drop in for coffee! I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays, and may you all be blessed with the warm spirit of the season. Merry Christmas from Laura of Wildenblue Farm!
Laura's Hazelnut Biscotti
In a pre-heated 325-degree oven, toast 1 1/2 cups of HAZELNUTS for 10 minutes. Let cool, then rub them between your hands to remove as much of the skins as possible; chop half of them & set them all aside.
In a medium-size bowl, toss together 2 1/2 cups FLOUR, 1 1/4 cups SUGAR, 1 teaspoon BAKING POWDER, a pinch or two of SALT, all the HAZELNUTS & 1 cup of CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Next add 4 EGGS, 1 tablespoon VANILLA EXTRACT & 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water. Mix by hand... the dough will be thick & sticky. Form this dough into two logs about a foot long each. (Make sure to flour your hands!) Place on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet & bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool & drop the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Slice the cooled logs into half-inch-thick slices; place cut-side down & bake again for about 15 minutes. Turn off oven, leave door ajar & let Biscotti dry & cool in oven.

Playing in the Snow


Posted Dec-04-07 16:11:39 PST
....Hello friends & family. We (my mother, daughter & I) have been very busy with our Barn-Shop, which will be open for two more weekends. This past weekend was especially busy, and I have just now made myself sit down & catch up! It sure is a chilly evening tonight... very blustery & cold after yesterday's snowstorm! I am thrilled that we received several inches of "magic snow"... that is snow that can be packed & rolled & sculpted. After I shoveled out the barn, shop & thereabouts, I proceeded to make a snowman, but after a few hours, that snowman had turned into a six-foot high Tomten (with a Crow friend), a Snow Lantern & an almost-life-size Reindeer (so one can sit upon his back). Even at my age I LOVE to play in the snow and I take great inspiration from Tasha Tudor and her book Forever Christmas. I hope next week to include a holiday recipe, so until then, I leave you with wishes that you and yours find peace & joy in this holiday season. ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm~

Thanksgiving Blessings to You & Yours...& A Recipe


Posted Nov-21-07 16:56:09 PST
Good evening, dear friends...
I just wanted to take a minute & wish you all a blessed, peaceful Thanksgiving. I have been cleaning house & baking all day, and will continue with the cooking tomorrow! I love Thanksgiving & all it encompasses... family, friends, appreciating what we have to be thankful for, and of course... the FOOD! I love to bake & cook much more than I love housework, and I cook from scratch, so it takes a day or two! Today, I brined the turkey, roasted a variety of squash, made a batch of Coffee Cream Brulee and began other preparations to make all tomorrow's work a bit quicker. (The chickens, ducks, geese & guineas had an early Thanksgiving feast, as all the scraps, seeds & parings were saved for their dinner this evening!) Mom is making an apple pie, and hopefully tomorrow, we will find time to gather pine boughs for holiday decoration & to sell this weekend in our Barn-Shop. We had a bit of snow & it is very wet in the woods... but hopefully will be drier come tomorrow afternoon. Besides, I need to gather more kindling while we're out there!
This will be a bittersweet Thanksgiving for all of us without my dad being with us this year. I miss him so much, but know he will be with us in spirit.
I have a breakfast recipe for you to try... for Pumpkin Pancakes. I hope you'll give them a try, & I hope you'll like this recipe! Have a wonderful relaxing Thanksgiving from Laura of Wildenblue Farm.
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
In a large batter bowl, sift together ...
2 1/2 cups Flour 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda 1 Tablespoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cloves 1 teaspoon ground Ginger
Stir with a fork, then add...
1 1/2 cup Milk 1/2 cup Applesauce (or Cranberry Sauce)
1/2 cup mashed Pumpkin 1/4 cup Molasses
1 Egg 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Combine til blended... do not over-stir. Cook on hot griddle as you do for pancakes. Enjoy!

Harvest Tidings


Posted Nov-12-07 10:06:14 PST
Harvest Tidings to all you dear friends. I apologize for being away for over a month... I have been extremely busy working on the Barn-Shop & creating new treasures to sell & list! I am pleased to announce that my shop will open this weekend & will continue to be open until December 16th... weekends only! My mother & I have been toiling away to put the finishing touches on, and are still sewing & painting & creating. The house is a disaster, but the Barn-Shop looks lovely (if I do say so myself!) I will try to get some pictures posted very soon if possible.
The gardens are pretty snugged down for the coming winter. Mandy & I spent several hours weeding & tidying up... she was pulling out Jerusalem Artichokes & I was tugging away at Sweet Annie. The chickens scurried to & fro grabbing any tasty morsels & earthworms they could see! I never did get the remainder of the Strawberries replanted into the newer garden, but I know they will be waiting come spring.
Upon awakening this morning, I noticed the tiniest bit of snow had fallen as I headed down to the barn for chores. I do love snow, and snow for Thanksgiving would be lovely! The barn critters are still trying to figure out what to do about the thick ice that forms in the water bowl each morning; their memories of last year do not sustain them and they peck repeatedly at it until fresh water replaces the dark ice!
Friends... I have much to do so I will close now. I will not be away for as long next time & I hope to have a few new holiday & seasonal goods listed by this week. Blessings to all of you, and may your hearts find joy in the days heading towards Thanksgiving. ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Autumn Gardening & Wistful Musings


Posted Oct-10-07 20:52:58 PDT
Another day of tying up loose ends before the rain comes... it is predicted to rain for almost the next week with temperatures barely coming out of the 50's, and even a chance of snow showers... though I believe this is for the higher Adirondack Mountains. (Yet, I remember as a child going out "trick-or-treating" and having snow flurries, so anything is possible!)
This morning, after letting the chickens, ducks, geese & guineas out of the barn, I FINALLY got around to picking those very fragrant Concord Grapes that have been beckoning me. (Alright, I only picked about 8 pounds... but it's a start.) I washed, sorted & plucked them all from their stems & they await in the refrigerator to be made into jelly. I did not get a chance today, nor will I tomorrow, as mom & I and maybe Mandy are heading to Brattleboro & Putney, Vermont in the morning.
After the grapes were picked, I dug up & transplanted about two dozen Heritage Red Raspberries. These are autumn-bearing stragglers that faithfully keep coming up for over 10 years now. They have a new home in the Berry Garden after competing with Wild Iris and Gooseneck Loosestrife for far too long!
I harvested another 15 bundles of Sweet Annie & hung that to dry in the barn rafters. (The barn-shop is becoming quite full of Sweet Annie, Yarrow, Artemesia & Bittersweet... and it smells and looks beautiful!)
I came indoors and cut up a bowlful of apples and dumped them in a crockpot, along with a bit of sugar & some ginger & cinnamon. I left them to condense & cook most of the day and now have a lovely lot of applesauce. Then I finished in the kitchen by making a batch of Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Biscotti. It is amazing how first toasting the hazelnuts in the oven adds so much more flavor to any dish you use them in. (I love these Biscotti dipped in chocolate & then dipped in a steaming mug of coffee!)
I spent a good part of the afternoon making hang tags & getting them photographed & listed on Ebay. Mom has been busy at her sewing machine creating Sock Monkey dolls, homespun Aprons, primitive dolls & bowl fillers for selling in the Barn-Shop! Perhaps I will list a few goodies of hers tomorrow!
Well, my friends... I leave you with this lovely verse and many blessings til next time. ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm
O sweet Autumn, thy first breezes bring
The dry leaf's rustle and the squirrel's laughter,
The cool fresh air whence health and vigor spring
And promise of exceeding joy hereafter. ~George Arnold

Autumn Harvest Soup Recipe


Posted Oct-06-07 19:53:29 PDT
Work is coming to an end on the Barn-Shop... I am getting more & more excited & hope to open by mid-October or early November! I installed the last doorknob today... lovely cobalt-blue glass knobs... snipped out two tin door plates & got them on, painted the bottom cupboard & went down to mom's to pick up a lovely ol' cupboard top for it! (lots of shelf-space!) The chimney-sweep came & installed the pot-belly stove. We put shelves in the closet the other day. Now, we generally need to do a bit of tidying & cleaning & then start filling it up with a variety of handmade primitive & country goods!
I hope you like my recipe for an Autumn Harvest Soup. I made a pot for dinner along with a loaf of cheesey Pecan-Onion Bread (my favorite bread! YUMMY!)... served with a side of very sharp cheese! I generally roast the squash or pumpkin in the oven, but I'm sure you could use a microwave to cut down on the preparation time if you so desire.
Autumn Harvest Soup
First, cut & seed a football-size Hubbard or Butternut Squash or Pumpkin; spray with vegetable oil on cut sides and roast in a 350 degree oven for about an hour til soft.
Next, in a large soup pot, heat about 2 Tablespoons of butter til melted... add 1 chopped onion (softball size); cook til soft & translucent. Then add 6 cups stock or broth, 1 cup apple cider, the pre-cooked squash/ pumpkin (cut into chunks), 2 apples (peeled, cored & chunked), 1 potato (peeled & chunked), 5 or 6 cloves of pressed garlic, some fresh-ground pepper to taste and 1 Tablespoon salt. Simmer for about 40 minutes til all vegetables are soft & cooked through. Carefully transfer the soup to a food processor (using small batches if necessary) & puree til smooth. Put back on stovetop & over low heat, add 1 cup half-and-half, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger & 2 Tablespoons pure Maple Syrup. Heat through & serve.
This is so much thicker & tastier the second day! I wish you and yours peace and plentitude this Harvest Season!
~Blessings from Laura of Wildenblue Farm

October Blessings to All... and My Chocolate Cake Recipe


Posted Oct-02-07 19:43:10 PDT
May you all have a lovely, peaceful October! It is later in the evening as I write this, and I am hearing a flock of Canadian Geese journying southward just now! I cannot help but guess where the time goes... goodness! The weather has been beautiful! Cool enough last night to sit in front of the fireplace again. Seems our four kitties come out of the woodwork to curl up with Greta in the livingroom when it is going! Not much to tell lately; seems like more of the same. Mom & I headed up to Northern Vermont yesterday morning... there is a wonderful food co-op in Middlebury we like to stop at on the way to get organic grain for the biddies. It's a pretty drive any time of year, and especially so in the Autumn. But I forgot my camera, as usual! We came upon a farm that was selling enormous greyish-green Hubbard Squash for a dollar each! They will be the perfect fall decoration... just the right color for a witch face, I believe. I also picked up a few pumpkins for three dollars and three-fifty each. We also stopped at a farm stand where they sell the BEST XXX-sharp cheese! But I forgot to get apple cider. (Grrrr! I see a pattern here...) On the way up, we saw a huge flock of crows... easily two hundred... stretched all across the horizon & headed south. We had a fun day for sure! Mom gave me two large wooden boxes that my dad had made. I took them home and filled them with kindling for the stove at the Shop.
I planted another hundred bulbs (chiondoxa) around the barn-shop to naturalize in the grass. Unfortunately, I still have about 200 to 300 left to plant... some Puschkinia & Siberian Squill, I believe. Sigh! Mom came up this morning to help with fall-cleanup chores. I am famous for leaving LOTS of gardening tools OUTside for the season's duration. We got those picked up, installed a barrier tarp between the poultry house & the storage/feed area of the barn, put up two new roosts & re-arranged the storage area itself, as I like to store a few months worth of feed for the winter in case the weather is very poor. When ma got home, she called to let me know a distant neighbor had bright orange Hubbard Squash free for the taking. So Mandy & I scooted down and picked up four beauties! They look lovely with the pumpkins.
Later in the afternoon, I went to the garden and harvested about 40 bunches of Sweet Annie. Three chickens kept me company. They were scratching for worms as I was pulling out the Sweet Annie roots! I bundled the Sweet Annie with twine & hung it all to dry in the attic rafters of the barn-shop. These will be handy for the winter's supply of crafting, as well as selling in the Shop!
I still have not found a chance to pick the Concord Grapes which are riping away! I like to wait til a frost hits them, though this is not necessary. I think it makes the jelly taste better! I did help myself to several bunches as I was collecting feathers this evening! I LOVE Concord Grapes and couldn't resist the temptation. (I also found a couple of handfuls of late Raspberries for the picking!)
My mother celebrated her birthday on September 29th. I made her this Coffee-Chocolate Cake in honor of this occasion. I have been making this cake since I was twelve years old... and that was 34 years ago! I do not even remember where I found the recipe!
~Coffee-Chocolate Cake~
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 10" round cake pans; flour if desired. Sift together in a large bowl...
~2 cups Flour ~2 cups Sugar ~1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
~2 teaspoons Baking Soda ~1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Add the following...
~1 cup Milk ~1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
~1 Tablespoon Vanilla (or Coffee Liqueor)
~1 cup strong, hot black Coffee ~3 well-beaten Eggs
Beat well with a mixer, scraping bowl down in between. Pour into two round cake pans, bake for about 30 minutes. Cool & frost with
~Mocha Buttercream Frosting~
Cream together the following ingredients with a mixer & frost cake when cooled...
~1/2 cup Butter ~1 tablespoon Vanilla
~3 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder, sifted
~4 tablespoons cold strong black Coffee
~3 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted... more to thicken
Enjoy!!! Thank you all for reading my ramblings! It's nice to hear from you folks! Til next time...
hugs from Laura of Wildenblue Farm!

My Dutch Apple Pie Recipe


Posted Sep-27-07 19:30:58 PDT
I thought it would be seasonally appropriate to give you my recipe for Dutch Apple Pie, a recipe that back in 1991 was selected for publishing in Stark Brother's special 175th Anniversary Edition of "Granny Stark's Search for The Perfect Fruit Pie" by Storey Publications! I must confess I do not care for traditional Apple Pie. Like all desserts I consume, I prefer a little crunch in it! (Usually chocolate, too!) This fits the bill...
Laura's Dutch Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a pie plate with your pastry. Mix together the following Filling Ingredients & place in the pastry-lined pie pan...
FILLING
6 cups peeled & sliced apples
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
Next, mix together the following Topping Ingredients, using your fingertips to make a soft, crumbly mixture...
TOPPING
3/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/2 cup soft Butter
Sprinkle this Topping Mixture on top of the Apple Mixture & bake for about 40 minutes. Serve with Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream!
~I am so happy to tell you that tomorrow is the final day of my Rabies shots! 9 down; none to go! (Hurray!! One less thing to worry about!) Mom came up the other day & we got the trim, doors & other odds & ends painted in the barn-shop. The doors are on, the hardware's in... the only thing I'm waiting on is for the neighboring Chimney-Sweep to come next week & hook up the stove pipe so I can heat it with the little Pot-Belly woodstove. I wish there was a way to include photographs on this Blog so I could show you all what it looks like! We will get everything set up & decorated in hopes of opening for the remaining Harvest Season & the Holidays ahead.
The barn porch is brimming with drying bundles of Bittersweet, and inside are bunches of Sweet Annie drying as well. It smells and looks lovely.I so love this time of year. The changing color of leaves seems strange this year... I've noticed maples scattered here & there that were brilliant red & flaming orange... they are now dropping their leaves, yet many other trees have only the faintest blush of color with plenty of green still remaining. The Canadian Geese have been making daily flights southward... it is lonesome to hear their honking in the dark of night. Add to that the calls of the coyotes & hooting of the owls, and it can be pretty forlorn!
Oh, I must tell you that the momma guinea hen has abandoned her nest... all 16 eggs are lost. But it is so late in the year with only colder weather upon us that it was probably for the better. Perhaps in the spring I can convince mom to incubate a dozen or two eggs for me! My Guineas are really quite unreliable for sitting on eggs for 4 weeks!
Well... I must close now as we are getting our third thunderstorm of the evening, and the lights are flickering again. I wish you all many blessings and much happiness! Warmest regards, Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Hmmm...


Posted Sep-19-07 19:47:01 PDT
Good evening, friends! The weather has been just lovely for being outside... cool and sunny! I am very pleased to tell you I have gotten a few things out of the way these past few days and I finally feel I'm accomplishing something!! Mom and I had been down to my brother's helping him with the trusses on his screenhouse, so things had been on hold here for a few days. But yesterday morning, I got the front porch cleaned off in preparation for stacking the winter's firewood. I got a few blankets,quilts and cat-beds washed and hung on the clothesline. Mom came up and we worked at the barn-shop for a few hours... she caulked the seams and cracks between the boards and I tied up a few loose ends... light cover plates, door hardware, general picking-up. We discovered a naughty mouse had built a cozy nest in the ash bin of the ol' wood cookstove, which made it quite easy to empty out! Later we picked a bit of Bittersweet... hard to find this year.
This morning, I dug up and replanted close to two dozen Bittersweet Vines along the perimeter of the main barn fence. And just guess what I discovered as I was yanking away at the stubborn vines!?! My missing Guinea Hen! She was not devoured by a fox nor coyote two weeks ago after all... she is sitting on a nest! I am hoping that in the next two weeks she will hatch out some keats! Time will tell.
This afternoon, Mandy and I hauled in and stacked two loads of firewood and gathered a large load of pine kindling from the woods that filled the woodbox nicely! It has been cool enough in the evenings to get the fireplace going just enough to take the chill out of the house. Before we got started, I ran the dustmop across the floors. Our dog, Greta, was playing with her toy and as I was shaking the dustmop off out on the porch, I realized she was making quite a racket inside. When I came back in , she was staring towards the ceiling, so I followed her gaze upwards. There, clinging to a bundle of dried Rosehips was a woodpecker hanging on for dear life. I reached up and caught him along with the Rosehips and took him outside to the birdfeeder. As soon as I set him inside, he flew away down the hill!
Later in the afternoon, we picked scads of Bittersweet Vines! It was luck to find them with so many berries, as this year does not seem to be a good one for it in these parts. I hope to get some listed tomorrow, but first we need to bunch it & box it! Well, it's late and I must call it a day. I wish you a wonderful remainder to your week and thank you for stopping by! Kindest regards, Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Ramblings


Posted Sep-16-07 17:53:49 PDT
Hello to all! What a mixed-up week... Sunday already and not much to show for it! Seems as soon as I’ve settled on what needs doing, something else comes up last minute and THAT gets done instead! And still I feel I’ve accomplished nothing! I’ve been trying to set aside time to get a few new projects started, yet also trying to tie up loose ends on projects that beg to be finished! Sigh! I had gathered a large bundle of teasel about a week ago, and finally got around to breaking it down into smaller bunches to dry. I saved a jarful of seeds and will attempt to get those started. We got a goodly dose of rain, but the weather has cooled immensely from last week... it was in the mid-thirties last night and is expected to get as cold tonight with another chance of frost. I still would like to put a few more seeds into the ground, but it seems rather risky what with the threat of frost. I did get some clover seeded around the barn-shop, and it has sprouted... so I am grateful for that.
We spotted a coyote yesterday afternoon. The guinea hens were making a huge ruckus out back... which usually means an unfamiliar critter is about, though often it is only a deer. Mandy rode over on her bicycle, but didn’t spot anything, so I jumped in the jeep and took off out back. Sure enough, there he stood surrounded by squawking guineas, looking rather bewildered. He spun around when he saw me coming and headed towards the pond out back. He was quite large; bigger than our German Shepard, Greta. But all 17 guineas were roosting in the barn that evening, so I imagine he found dinner elsewhere. The afternoon before, my youngest son and I watched as a young buck grazing near the fence casually leapt over into the barnyard and continued his meal. He did not even upset the ducks and geese that were resting three feet from him, which makes me think he visits often. I believe he is the naughty buck that came after me a few nights earlier as I headed to the barn... so I didn’t chase him away! I worry so about the deer, as we have three large apple trees lining the bottom of the driveway, and they are always crossing the road to get to the dropped apples.
The front garden is positively bursting at the seams with Sweet Annie! It is at least 7 feet tall, and has filled in the area where just last fall I removed the Strawberries & Raspberries. It is smothering the Asparagus bed and competing with the Jerusalem Artichokes. I am barely able to find the remaining Garlic plants amongst its masses! I am making plans to dig up a new plot specifically for Sweet Annie, Teasel, Lunaria & Chinese Lanterns.
I was complaining to the chickens tonight that they simply must lay more eggs for the feed they are devouring, and my egg-customers are also disappointed at their lack of output! But I am enjoying the beautiful fall weather and watching the colors of Autumn beginning to unfold, And it’s been chilly enough to start the fireplace in the evening and curl up with a good book for an hour or two! But I really must take advantage of the pleasant weather and finish tasks at hand, lest winter start early this year!
Well, I am afraid that is all I have to share with you at this time! So I leave you now with blessings to all from Laura of Wildenblue Farm

Garlic Fry-Bread Recipe For You!



Posted Sep-07-07 15:23:37 PDT
I spent a good share of yesterday morning stripping Catnip from its stalks. I had harvested and hung about two dozen bundles in the barn to dry, but it's been so humid that I could not accomplish anything else with it. Thus I took advantage of a cool, dry morning to get it stripped & stored! I ended up with a lovely four-gallon jar of fragrant organic Catnip! The cats were good company and just as content to loll about amongst the left-over bare stalks!
I also soaked the flower gardens around the Barn-Shop that had been transplanted in June. It has been amazingly dry this season, and the little rain we do get doesn't replenish anything as it should. I am still a bit sluggish... I received another Rabies Vaccine this morning, which means I only have to endure two others over the next three weeks... then I'm through with all of that! I will never know what bit me. Sigh...
I mosied about the other gardens; some of the Hollyhock seeds I planted are sprouting up! However, the weeds are teasing and taunting me... Oh, for cooler weather to return AND stay! I gathered a large bundle of prickly, pokey Teasel and set that aside to dry, and planted about a half-dozen rootlets of this in preparation for next year. The Bittersweet berries are still quite green; they are not showing even the slightest blush of color yet.
My daughter and I discussed supper possibilities and we quickly agreed upon Garlic Fry Bread. (again!!) This makes such a scrumptious supper with the addition of sliced tomatos and corn-on-the-cob! Mandy deems this "so much better than ordinary pancakes!" I agree! I hope you enjoy this recipe and adapt it to your preferences. Blessings to all, Laura of Wildenblue Farm
GARLIC FRY~BREAD
Coat a cast-iron skillet with oil and place over medium-high heat. Mix together
~1 cup White Flour, ~3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
~1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder, ~1 teaspoon Salt,
~1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, ~1 teaspoon Chili Powder
~1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese and
~1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper
Mix well and add
~5 Tablespoons soft Butter.
Cut this in with a fork or pastry cutter til fine & crumbly. Then add
~1 cup Milk
~2 cloves pressed Garlic,
~1 cup Shredded Cheese ( Mexican OR Jalapeno OR X-Sharp)
~1 cup diced Ham (we use veggie ham)
Mix well... this makes a thick batter! Drop 1/4 Cup amounts of batter onto hot skillet, flatten with spatula to about 1/4 inch thickness. Fry on both sides for a few minutes to a deep golden brown. Serve with garlic butter (my favorite), hot sauce(Mandy's favorite) or Salsa! Enjoy!!

A Little Bite...



Posted Sep-03-07 20:52:17 PDT
Dear friends and faithful readers... Just wanted to let you know I have not been lazy and forgotten to update my blog! Just before the weekend started, I was bitten by an anonymous little critter whilst I was sleeping and have begun shots for possible rabies exposure. It has been most unpleasant and has left me tired and sore & more cranky than usual! (I was told only a very small percent of the population has a reaction similar to the flu, and of course I fit into that group.)
Before I close, I must tell you that there have been numerous coyotes howling & calling to each other during the night now, which tends to put the ducks and geese into a bit of a frenzy, as they are coming very close to the house and barn. One lone coyote ran back down the hill as I was heading to the barn yesterday evening, which was perfect timing for the three geese, three ducks & three guinea hens that had managed to slip out of the fence and were waiting to be let back into the barnyard. Tonight I noted one guinea hen was missing. I will take a walk around the fencelines in the morning and see what I can figure out. Hopefully (s)he was merely hiding out up in a nearby tree for the night.
I apologize for a short, meaningless addition to my blog, and promise to include a splendid recipe when I return! Blessings to all from Laura of Wildenblue Farm

End-of-August Ponderings


Posted Aug-26-07 19:34:14 PDT
And finally the rains came... accompanied by gusty wind, thunder & lightning... but still, we received rain! And it broke the humidity, at least temporarily. Perhaps we'll be lucky enough to get a bit more!
It was cool enough this morning to get the Fruit Garden weeded, which it was desperately in need of. The Currants, Blueberries & Gooseberries look a little worse for wear, but the Strawberries & Raspberries are sending forth next year's shoots.There are a few stray tomato plants which have sturdily sprouted up on their own next to the Gooseberry bushes... a good thing as I never got around to planting much of a vegetable garden this year. Sigh... next year will have to do. That is one reason I love to plant Heirloom or Open Pollinated seeds; they always send out at least a few babies for the next year! No pickle-making this year, but I have plenty of Concord Grapes coming on that will lead to jelly-making when the frost ripens them!
While at mom's the other day (we finished the firewood... well, SHE did most of it!), we gathered some Hollyhock, Pink Mallow & Sweet Cicely seeds. So last evening I planted the rows of them, and had just finished up when it started to sprinkle. The Forget-Me-Not, Foxglove, Delphinium & Johnny-Jump-Ups I planted last month are sprouting, but the Lavender & others haven't still. Perhaps the rain will be the encouragement they need! My Sweet Annie has been thriving, even with the dry weather. I have been harvesting it often to fill Ebay purchases. At night, the air is heavy with the sweet odor of it! It is truely my favorite herb!
As I was rounding up a few straggling Guinea Hens out in the back field, I noticed a lone coyote running off towards the woods. Perhaps he is the one who made off with our kitty Buster. How fortunate I spared him of a Guinea Fowl supper. Earlier in the summer, we could hear at least three or four coyotes howling most every evening. But as fall approaches, the calls have been much less frequent. Mostly we hear only owls during the night. I have begun to fill my birdfeeders and have had a great number of yellow finches gobbling up the thistle seed I leave for them. I heard a small flock of Canadian Geese flying over yesterday morning, and for the past two mornings, there have been between 5 & 7 black crows under the feeders! I feel we may have an early Autumn close at hand, as even some of the maples & wild vines have begun to change color. But I suppose it is almost September, after all. So I leave you with this 'til next time... Primitive blessings to you & yours, ~Laura of Wildenblue Farm
"Ginger and cinnamon fill the air, A patchwork of leaves lay everywhere. Cold, clean mornings and an indigo dawn, Crystal frost on an emerald lawn. Golden apple cider and delicious pumpkin pie, these are the things I love at Autumn time!"Sabrina Bytheway

Apple Pizza Recipe


Posted Aug-22-07 16:30:19 PDT
We are in desperate need of rain... my Jerusalem Artichokes are positively withering and shriveling from thirst. Everything else is dry and dusty, as well. I wouldn't mind two or even three days of a soft, steady rain. It was quite cloudy and cool all day, but we only received a handful of sprinkles.
I half-heartedly attempted to carve away at a few bulges of expanded and dried foam in the outhouse this morning! I soon headed back to the barn-shop & gave a final coating of varnish to the doors & my gateleg table. I gave the flower gardens a much-needed soaking, then picked a few still-green apples from the old trees along the driveway before heading up to the house for a late breakfast. After devouring a Swiss-Cheese omelet, I mixed up an Apple Pizza and got that in the oven. I LOVE autumn... and I'm pushing it! I'm very done with heat and humidity!!!
Later, my daughter Mandy and I, along with our faithful four-legged friend Greta, headed down to Mom's house to help her stack firewood. Needless to say, Mom had a great bit of it stacked by the time we arrived! We continued at this project for a few hours, stopping for an Apple Pizza-break! We will finish the firewood another day when mom gets the other side of her wood-storage area cleaned out. We all gathered some lovely orange Chinese Lanterns, as well as a great bundle of Comfrey for the geese and our other feathered friends! (Greta chose to play along the brook, and really didn't help at all!!)
Here is my Apple Pizza recipe... I think my neighbor Sally gave this to me... but I'm not quite sure! I do know it's easier than pie & just as scrumptious!
~APPLE PIZZA~
~Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the FILLING, mix together...
*6 apples,peeled,cored & chunked *1/2 cup sugar
*1 Tablespoon cinnamon *1/2 cup broken walnuts or pecans
~Let this sit while you make a CRUST using...
*2 cups flour *1/2 teaspoon salt * 2/3 cup shortning *1/3 cup ice water
~Cut the flour & salt into the shortning using a pastry cutter, then add the water all at once & beat together. Roll out to fit two small or one large pizza pan. (I use one large 15" pizza pan.) Top the crust with the apple mixture. Then mix together the following TOPPING ingredients with your fingertips til crumbly...
3/4 cup flour 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup soft butter 1/4 cup sugar
~Sprinkle this on top of the apples using your fingers. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Using a pizza slicer, cut into slices as you would for a Pizza. Delicious served as is, or top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! Enjoy!

Garlic Harvest, etc.



Posted Aug-21-07 18:22:00 PDT
What a lovely day... we do need rain, but the cool, sunny weather is just perfect to be out in! Today was spent putting another layer of varnish on my "new" doors. I am very pleased with the way they have turned out... they will let in so much natural light! I cannot wait to finish them and put the hardware on and get them hung!
I also stained and sanded the gateleg table I've been working on. After stripping off four layers of paint... brown & yellow latex (ugh!), and white & light blue paint.... I ended up painting the base lamp black and staining the top Early American. I love it! Tomorrow I hope to get a layer of varnish on to seal & protect the top.
I also ruined mom's paint job a bit on the outhouse. (Sorry, Mom! I'll fix it!) I bought a can of sealing foam... the label is right when it says it expands 3 times to seal holes & cracks!!! Needless to say, I did not wear gloves, so my hands are COVERED in off-white dried foam sealer. Nothing would remove it, and I discovered that trying to peel it off also removes a layer of skin.
I did get a chance to harvest half the garlic... roughly 100 heads of the yummy cloves! The other half is not quite mature enough... perhaps another two weeks will do. I cleaned off the heads a bit and laid them on an old screen to dry for a week or so. I think supper will be a batch of Garlic Fry Bread tomorrow evening!

Back to Work...



Posted Aug-17-07 15:12:28 PDT
Mom & I accomplished about 7 hours worth of work on the Barn-Shop today... we hadn't done much of anything since a week or so before dad passed away. It's hard to believe he's been gone four weeks now. We miss him so, and always will. My oldest son celebrated his 22nd birthday on Monday... our first family get-together without my dad; it was bittersweet.
This morning, mom painted the inside of the outhouse which dad had built a number of years ago. (We moved it up here from their property just before dad died.) Meanwhile, I varnished the two salvaged french doors I had been refinishing to replace the barn doors. We picked them up locally for next to nothing, but they needed to be stripped, restained & varnished! I have also been refinishing a gateleg table, so worked on those things in between.We spent some time sputtering at the guinea hens, who are determined to wander down & stay in the road lately. It is very frustrating & embarrassing to have to chase & bribe them back up towards the barn. I have three geese who are escaping every day, as well. I cannot figure out where they are getting through the fence. They are very naughty indeed! I am afraid they will meet the same fate as one of the hens & our poor kitty, Buster, who were taken by a coyote a few weeks ago.
Later in the afternoon, we took a drive out into the woods to look for the perfect old tree for a Bottle Tree. It seemed hopeless... but then we found one just as we were heading back home! We dug a hole, placed it in the ground, and stuck a few bottles on it! (We need at least two dozen others!) Yet it looks quite lovely in the sunshine! It is supposed to have the same effect as a "Witch Ball" or "Spirit Glass"... naughty spirits are supposed to be so enamored of their reflections in the colored glass that they slip inside & become trapped, whence they can do no harm. It sure made the guinea hens nervous as they passed by it. Perhaps I should put up several along the road... Til next time...

August Already???


Posted Aug-02-07 07:41:21 PDT
Well... the garden (nor weeds!) will not wait for life's upheaving moments to pass. I picked only about a quart of raspberries this morning... so many more had fallen to the ground from being over-ripe. Sigh... I threw a few handfuls of those to a flock of passing guinea hens and felt a little less wasteful, then mulched a few rows of the berries, as it's been fairly dry. I then grabbed a basket and gathered the Tansy that has been blooming for a while now... the flowers are at the perfect stage for drying. The geese rushed quickly to my side, as they thought I had brought a special treat for them. They snapped disgustedly at a few fallen Tansy leaves, and quickly retreated to another destination! It has been horribly hot this week, and the high humidity complicates this. I much prefer Autumn; even Winter weather better suits my temperment.(Or... more honestly... makes me less tempermental!)
I would like to send a little "thank you" to all who've sent cards and emails offering kindness and support to my family during this time of my father's passing. It eases the burden a little each time we receive a caring message. My mom seems a little anxious to get back to working on the barn~shop! I imagine we will get back to that in a week or two... if just for a few hours here and there!
I leave you now til next time with this... Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Long Few Weeks...



Posted Jul-30-07 09:02:24 PDT
I apologize for not having added a new blog entry for some time... my dear father completed his life's journey on July 21, 2007 after a long ordeal with cancer. He died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. It is of some comfort to know he is now at peace. My mother took such wonderful care of him... I am so amazed at the strength and love she showed throughout the last year and a half, knowing that it was a stressful and difficult time for her to endure. I will follow in due time with a Wildenblue Farm Journal entry when life settles back down a bit. ~May you live every day of your life...Jonathan Swift