down on the farm

It’s been a good couple of weeks for us at Blissful Homestead.  Cool mornings and evenings and warm afternoons have done wonders.

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The alfalfa is growing even better than weeds.  We couldn’t be more pleased.

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It’s finally noticeably taller than the grass.

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The garden looks great — especially with the first crop of our corn (a huge bust) pulled up.

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Our first zucchini popped out this weekend.  They got a late start and we weren’t sure we were going to get any.  Hurray.

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Here’s our first tomato — last year we had a bazillion on the vine only to be wiped out by a freak three day cold snap.  One day at 32 degrees they can handle — three in a row.  Nope.  The extended forecast calls for a warmer than normal winter.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed.  I need to learn how to can tomatoes this year.

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Our peas — the spring crop was a massive failure, so if we get even one meal (okay, maybe two) I’ll be happy.

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Cherry tomatoes — yum.

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And a little bitty pepper.

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We moved the big chickens into their new yard, so the little chicks (not so little anymore) have a big old spot of their own.  They are loving picking through the winter rye clippings.  They have so much to munch on, they’re hardly touching their feed.

Speaking of the old chickens, here’s their new house.  They are quite taken with it — well, they use it anyway.  Oh, and that mess, that mess is the last of the corn stalks.  For whatever reason they totally love it.

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My favorite part of the new hen house is the little trap door we use to collect eggs.

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Here’s their new outdoor roost — I don’t think they’ve quite figured it out yet.

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Oh, I take it back, the water bucket is my favorite part of the set up.  It has little nipple things (sorry I don’t know the technical term) on the bottom the the chickens peck at to release water.  We fill it up every five days or so and because it has a lid, the water stays nice and clean for them.  It’s a win-win for all parties.

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Speaking of win-wins or win-losses in this case, Hayden had his last football game of the season on Saturday.  Heritage Academy made it all the way to the state championships.

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This was the only picture I got.  It’s right before the game started (Hayden is number 14).  Seriously, the game was so intense from start to finish, I didn’t even think about taking pictures.  I’m totally fired as the family picture taker.  In the end, they lost 20-24, but they played their hearts out and should be very proud.  This was one tough team (and one tough crowd too I must add — why do people have to be so rude, holy cow, it’s a game, but I digress).  Awesome season Hayden.

That’s about it.  Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

Mango-Blueberry Breakfast Couscous

The two little guys would eat oatmeal for breakfast every day if I made it.  I like oatmeal and all, but not quite that much.  One of my favorite alternatives is this mango-blueberry couscous recipe I clipped out of the paper years ago (yeah, the paper — I just totally dated myself — does anyone read the newspaper anymore?)  You can make the mix ahead or just throw everything in the pot all at the same time.  Start to finish it’s about 10 minutes — less if you mix the dry ingredients up ahead of time. 

ImageBlueberry-Mango Breakfast Couscous

1 cup whole wheat couscous

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup slivered almonds (or whatever nuts you like, walnuts are super good as well)

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/4 cup chopped dried mango

1 cup water

1/2 cup milk

In a medium bowl (or pot if you’re making it right away), combine dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.  Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Combine the dry mix with water and milk.  Heat, stirring occasionally until it comes to boil.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff it up with a fork and serve.  Makes about 4 servings or 1 if Thomas is really hungry (you think I’m kidding). 

I used to just eat it as is, but as of late, I’ve been pouring a little milk on top.  It’s good both ways.  Here are before and after pictures to prove it.

Thomas’ bowl.

ImageThree minutes later.

ImageYes, I spawned a human vacuum.

 

it’s fall and that means it’s time for soup

I think one of my favorite things about fall and winter is that you can have soup for dinner a lot — like almost every night a lot.  Perhaps one of the easiest soups to make is tomato.  Like most people of my generation, I grew up with tomato soup from a can.  Tomato soup from a can will always hold a place in my heart because of the memories it brings up, but really, homemade is so much better, and it’s almost as easy.  Here’s my latest tomato soup find from Deliberately Domestic.

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Tomato Basil Soup

4 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I used Costco’s organic tomatoes — I’m keep my fingers crossed that the cans are BPA free, if anyone knows, please let me know)

15 oz of broth (I used vegetable broth, but any broth will do)

18 basil leaves chopped

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a stock pot.  Add onions and saute until golden.  Add tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.  Add the basil and milk, stir and then blend using an immersion blender. (You can also use a regular blender in small batches, but I really love my immersion blender, perhaps if you don’t have one, Santa can put one in your stocking.)  Add salt and pepper, and you’re done.  Fast and yummy.  Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you have a complete meal.  Tah-dah.

For me, the best part of this recipe is that I finally found a use for this —

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Yup, that’s my basil plant.  I had no idea they got that big.  Oh, and I’ve figured out how to harvest the seeds.  Let me know if you’re interested in heirloom basil seeds — I have a bazillion or two.

down on the farm 2

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks around here.  Fall has actually kind of settled in — fall meaning temperatures in the high 70 and low 80s.  Nice, I know, and I’m super grateful for it.  It’s way nicer weeding the garden when it’s 75 degrees as opposed to 115 degrees.  Speaking of the garden, here it is (notice the weeds, obviously, I didn’t do as much weeding as I should have.)
ImageI’m so excited to have that lettuce on my plate with a little poppy seed dressing.   Oh, and did you notice the new fence.  Greg worked super duper hard this weekend, bless his heart, preparing for our new goats (no, we still don’t know when we’ll get cleared, buy we’re hopeful).  You can also see the new chicken coop — told you he worked hard.

ImageIn order to work on the new coup, Greg had to pull the laying boxes out of the old coup.  So we had to do a little improvising.

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Don’t laugh, it totally worked.  He’s what I found this afternoon.

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Yesterday I found six.  I think they must have figured out that I had just plopped down 7 bucks on two dozen eggs at Costco.  Stinkers.  Guess we’ll be having eggs for breakfast this week — every day.

The baby chicks are doing great and are not really babies any more.  Their fluff is mostly gone and has been replaced by feathers.  Sad, they were so cute.

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I have to sway, these birds are kind of freaks.  Every time we walk by, they totally spaz out.  Oh well, as long as they lay eggs.

Ooh, check this out — no more poop in our front yard, just beautiful green grass and a field of alfalfa.  Hurray, it worked.

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What a difference a few weeks make.

That’s about it on the farm — here’s what’s going on with the fam.

The week before last was homecoming for Heritage (the high school our kids attend).  It was quite the night for both Hayden and Tayrn.  Hayden helped lead the team to victory as the quarterback and Taryn was crowned homecoming queen.

The evening was not without its hiccups however.  You see, Taryn is student body vice president so she knew already that Ben, her date to homecoming, had won homecoming king (although she didn’t know that she had won, for sure anyway).  The coach had been told that Ben won as well and sent Ben over to where they were making the announcement.  Unfortunately, the person who announced the court wasn’t given the right memo and announced Ben’s best friend, McKay, as homecoming king — confusing?  Yea, which brings me to my favorite picture of the night thanks to Ben’s mom over at Denton Sanatorium.

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Thankfully, everything worked out in the end.  McKay was happy to turn over his crown and they all lived happily ever after as seen in these lovely pictures, again, thanks to Ben’s mom.

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Their 1940s themed dance was held in an airport hanger — how cool is that?

Of course, we also celebrated Halloween — well I use the term celebrated loosely as I really can’t stand Halloween (I know, who hates Halloween).  I managed to get one picture before we ran out the door to our neighborhood “Fall Festival.”

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Nice use of tin foil huh?

Last but not least, just in case you feel an ever so slight bit of jealousy creeping in because I am enjoying sunny 75 degree skies, check out this picture.

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This is an Arizona Bark scorpion.  Last Sunday, one of these nasty little guys stung me on my hand.  It hurt — not like I’m going to die hurt, but I don’t want to get stung again hurt.  So here’s your little preparedness tip for the week.  If stung by a scorpion, wash the affected area with a mild soap and then apply a cold compress 10 minutes on 10 minutes off for a long time.

It took a good 24 hours for the pain to go away and about 36 for my had to feel normal again.  On the positive side, it got me out of making dinner.  Thanks family for taking care of it.  Phew, all done.