The sun is out and we have figured out who Orphanannie’s mother is

Orphanannie and  Aleppo
Orphanannie and Aleppo

I took Orphanannie out to the barn this morning  and checked on Snoopy and Sneaky(she was born yesterday). The sun was just coming out after our little snow storm last night and it is a lovely day so all the animals are relaxing enjoying the sun. I needed to check ear tags to update my files to give to the state vet as we had lost lambs and ewes to coyotes this fall and some ewes to old age.

Can you see the resemblance between Cymbals lamb from last year and Orphanannie?
Can you see the resemblance between Cymbals lamb from last year and Orphanannie?







As I was checking my ewe picture ID and noticed that our brown ewe Cymbal’s ram lamb from last year looked just like Orphanannie and Cymbal had been pregnant,but it was hard to check her  due to her heavy felted coat. We tried to get a shearer out here in the spring but I have so few animals to shear, that I couldn’t get anyone to come out.  Maybe this spring I can get all 6 ewes  completely shorn…any takers ?

It snowed again….giving us a nice white icing….and Orphanannie got a new coat

snow ,snow everywhere
snow ,snow everywhere

I woke up to more that the dusting of snow that was predicted. But it wasn’t hard to clean up and the sun has been out and helped things to melt.

Orphanannie chewing on a ewes mats hanging off the coat
Orphanannie chewing on hair mats hanging off the Ewes coat








Today Orphanannie is out in the barn in her little orange coat, hassling the other lambs and chewing on any sheep or goat who doesn’t push her away. It is warm today and I am hoping that I can leave her out for 3 or 4 hours and  she will find a ewe or another lamb to hang out with.

Well it snowed over 14 inches and some drifts are 4ft……

recipe from the 1999 edition of Family circle favorite recipes
recipe from the 1999 edition of Family circle favorite recipes

We went last night to our neighbors for a dinner of lamb shanks,mashed potatoes and broccoli. I brought a sweet cream cake with whipped cream filling mixed with our latest creation “chocolate cherry preserves”. Our neighbors have been kind enough to lend us their snow blower so we can get our parking pad clean this morning ,this is a god send,we are so lucky to have such awesome neighbors!

Lambing season has begun!!!!!!!

Orpahannie  is wrapped in heated bean bags
Orpahannie is wrapped in heated bean bags
Orphanannie is in a bigger basket and only one bean bag

This is Orphanannie we found her this morning trapped behind a fence crying and no mother in sight. She must have been born around 3 this morning,she was clean and dry but was getting cold. We looked to see if a ewe was interested in her,but there were no takers, so now she is inside in this box with heated bean bags around her and she is due for more colostrum in an hour.

That was at 8am this morning and it is 4pm and she has eaten again,gotten licked by our boy dog Cooper and is only using one heated bean bag in a lined laundry basket….so things are improving! But she won’t go back into the barn till tomorrow morning and run with the flock. I am hoping to find which ewe is her mother. But we shall see.

Orphanannie sleeping peacefully.
Orphanannie sleeping peacefully.

I need your help with my experiement….

Cocktail Tomatoes from Backyard Farms  in Maine
Cocktail Tomatoes from Backyard Farms in Maine

I am conducting an experiment to utilize the frozen local tomatoes in my freezer during the bleak mid winter.
If you liked the Bruchetta in a jar please taste:
– Winter Salsa- Bruchetta style
– Winter Bruchetta in a jar
These products are slightly different as they are not made from summer local tomatoes and have some different ingredients.
Please let us know what you think!

At the Weare & Contoocook Farmers Markets 4oz jars are available for many of the jellies,jams & marmalades. Come on down to the farmers markets and taste what we have to offer!

What to do with a pork shoulder for New Years Eve or anytime-updated

posolePosole is the answer! It is a pork stew with hominy and can be hot or not. My husband and I first had Posole in Albuquerque New Mexico while visiting my best friend at Christmas time  close to 20 years ago. It can be soupy or more like a stew. You can use turkey,beef or lamb when making Posole and it can be made with red chili or green chili/Tomatillo.

It is best to braise the meat a day before and then put together the rest of the soup or stew. I have found a variety of recipes and they are all different. The condiments we serve with the Posole are cilantro,sour cream,red onion and lime wedges ,but you can add anything you want. Since it was New Years Eve we had Pomegranate-Ginger champagne cocktails using Fre Brut (alcohol removed Champagne) producing a slightly sweet and tart drink that went well with the Posole. Try it sometime I think you’ll like it!


Making Two Marmalades

Sol Zest Mandarin Jewel Marmalade day 1
Sol Zest Mandarin Jewel
Marmalade day 1

This Morning I will process two marmalades using Clementine Cuties (from California and is made with Pomona pectin) & Sol zest Mandarin Jewels  . It is difficult to stay with local ingredients when you are making a citrus based marmalade, but I try to buy from orchards in Florida that picked only when the fruit is really ripe. The Jewels are the cross between the Temple Orange and the  Dancy Tangerine, thin-skinned, easy to peel, and virtually seedless. The taste difference between the two marmalades is that the Sol Zest has more of the bitter taste found in European marmalades .

grinding cranberries for cranberry orange relish
grinding cranberries for cranberry orange relish

I have all the ingredients ready to make cranberry orange relish which involves grinding the cranberries and the oranges are put through the food processor. Once the two ingredients are processed you need to squeeze out the excess liquid which give the relish it’s crunchy fresh texture.

Since the beginning of the canning season (middle of August) I have used 1,243 jars ,mostly 8 ounce and I still have 500 new jars on my shelves in the basement. This time of the canning season  I am not canning everyday or all day. This gives me time to do things like cleaning……….wrapping gifts …..cook ahead for the holidays, finish my holiday cards , wasting time playing Yahtzee on the computer and writing this blog. Back to Yahtzee!

I am very thankful for my neighbors and my mother in law……

Thanksgiving Brioche with cranberries and crystalized ginger.
Thanksgiving Brioche with cranberries and crystallized ginger.

We lost power on Wednesday at 4pm and got our power back around 4pm on Thanksgiving day. We were lucky that we got our power back so quickly. We

Thanks Arthur Mountain for growing such a delicious turkey
Thanks Arthur Mountain for growing such a delicious turkey

are also blessed with awesome neighbors who had a generator and we cooked the 1/2 turkey on their grill. My mother in law was a trooper with the cold and lack of running water at our house. She stayed cheerful and was bundled up like the Michelin man, but she never complained. We did get our wood stove going, but we didn’t have much wood as we normally don’t use the stove. We tend to keep our house pretty cold, but we raised the heat to 63 and when we had power my mother in laws room had an oil heater to keep her toasty.

The snow was so heavy it was difficult to shovel and again our neighbors came to our rescue and lent us their extra snow blower, which made clean up easier. Despite the power outage we had a great thanksgiving thanks to the kindness of our neighbors and the positive attitude of my mother in law.

Out in the field on Thanksgiving morning
Out in the field on Thanksgiving morning

Grapes,Grapes and more Grapes!

Grapes everywhere!

I discovered my farmer neighbor had a wonderful patch of Wild Concord Grapes. I stopped and asked her if I could pick them, if she wasn’t going to be using them. She told me to go ahead and pick all of them. By the time I was done I had picked 13lbs of wild grapes. Now I have more than a gallon 1/2 of grape juice to process into grape jelly ! One thing that is different with processing grapes is that after you drip the grape pulp you need to let the juice sit overnight to prevent formation of tartrate crystals in the jelly. I want to get as much out of the juice as possible so I am cutting the grape juice in half with home made apple pectin. Cutting the juice in half has two advantages: 1. It still tastes like grape jelly  2. I will be able to make more jars of jelly!

What to do with the cooking liquid from the last batch of beets?

The whole felted piece with the Pickled beets
The whole felted piece with the Pickled beets

Of course I used it to dye some naturally felted hair/wool from our sheep. I added some vinegar to the warm beet cooking liquid and let it soak overnight. I  rinsed it in the morning and the felted piece turned a nice purple pink color! I was cooking the beets so I could pickle them,but it left me with large amounts of purple liquid and as I was going to dump the pot in the sink I had a brainstorm and poured it into a plastic bin. I have many pieces of cleaned felted pelts from our sheep, most have been removed from the sheep by snipping the pelt that is barely hanging on or sometimes the felted pelt is rubbed off on a low tree branch. I suspect that the felted coat makes them very itchy and the sheep will work very hard to remove it.

A sheep felted fleece transformed with vegetable dye!
A sheep felted fleece transformed with vegetable dye!

The majority of our sheep are hair sheep (Katahdin/Dorper X) ,but we do have some ewes who are wooly/hair crosses. The wool/hair combination leads to the increased possibility of having a felted coat and it means that every 2 or 3  years I have to have those girls shorn with the other wooly girls.