Busy month

April has been a whirlwind.  Several trips for work, but now I am home until a short trip in June.  Our new bee colonies have arrived and are settled in, my seedlings are going gangbusters, hopefully one if not both of the does are pregnant and my lilac is leafing out.  The rest of the trees are just starting to bud and today is finally warm!

I have been spending a lot of time out at the farm with lambs…yeah, life really stinks. This week was worming and hoof trimming for the ewes and here I am with one of the bottle lambs.

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We also picked up some pallets from Erica and Joel so this weekend is breaking new beds time. I want to get my strawberries into one, leafy greens in another then bush beans and who knows what else for the others. We have a really busy weekend ahead of us but it looks like the weather will finally cooperate.

I am warping the loom with new projects, but they are slated for holiday gifts so no pictures until the end of December.

Posted in Gardening, Homesteading, Livestock, Rabbits, Urban Farming, Weather, weaving | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Garlic bread and lotion

The bread turned out well. Not perfect, I need to tweek it a bit to get a higher rise, but I was happy it worked as well as it did. I used James Beard’s French Bread recipe from Beard on Bread and was really surprised it didn’t call for a second rise. I think next time I will do a bit of a second rise and see if it gets me a less dense loaf. The dough was a joy to work with though. Also could have used a bit more time in the oven.

Finished loaves

Finished loaves


Ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in the oven

Nice new batch of lotions done as well. I am working on increasing the creaminess and decreasing the oiliness.

Shea Butter, jojoba, sweet almond oil, lanolin and our beeswax.

Shea Butter, jojoba, sweet almond oil, lanolin and our beeswax.

Today is supposed to be sunny and in the 50’s, I might finally get that coop cleaned out!

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Cooking Challenge Recipe #3

First an update on how that rabbit recipe turned out. It was marvelous! Possibly had a bit to do with the fact that it was fresh rabbit but it was good. Served with baked potato which messed with the 14th century theme a bit but this late in the winter we are running out of veg choices.

Straight out of the oven.   Looking very rustic.

Straight out of the oven. Looking very rustic.

With the onion cider gravy and a baked spud

With the onion cider gravy and a baked spud

The rest of the week has been mostly work at the office. Did get out to the farm on Tuesday and got to see another litter of piglets and the first lamb of the season. Lambing has begun!

Today I am going to try my hand at baking baguettes so I can do homemade garlic bread on pasta nights. We go through a lot of it and that would save us some money. Also lotion day. I am totally out of my stash. Not sure what I am going to play around with, need to rummage through my recipe books.

Another dreary cold week, the weekend is looking to be a bit better. I hope so as I didn’t get to the coop last week so really need to get that done.

Posted in Cooking & Baking, Rabbits, Seven Centuries of English Cooking Challenge, Soap & Lotions, Weather | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New soaps are up on Etsy!

I have updated the Etsy shop with my new batch of soaps, come check them out!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShirehouseFarm

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Winter’s End

It looks like winter had finally broken, we have had several days in the 40’s and the snow is almost all gone.  Today is supposed to be in the 60’s, so far it is still in the 30’s but the sun is shining and the hens practically exploded out of the coop when I opened the door to let them free range.  Yesterday Steve spent the day cleaning up the yard, raking, pruning and planning our new beds, I spent most of the day inside cleaning, but I wanted that done so I can be outside today.

Last weekend I got together with a few friends and started our seeds.  I of course, being me, brought my starting mix, my pots, apple and pear butter (my contributions to the nosh) and forgot THE SEEDS!  I did get the filling of the pots done, which is very time consuming, and everyone was generous with their seeds so I tried a few new varieties, but left most of the planting for when I got home.  I spent a lot of time picking out my varieties this year so I wanted to make sure I had room to get those in.  As always with our seed starting party there was a lot of laughing, coffee and talking about our garden plans.

This week I tried another new soap.  This one is a Mango & Shea butter with red french clay.  I really can’t wait to try that one.  I think it is going to be really decadent.

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The Spa Salt bar has cured already and I have been using it, I like it, it is really heavy on the salt, it is similar to using a salt scrub but not as intense, not abrasive but that same feel after you use it.  I have 2 more going out as samples so only have 3 for sale.  Not sure if I will make it again, there is so much salt it is a really pricy one to make.  I made a coffee butter soap a while back that I am putting up on etsy too.  This one is unscented and has coffee grounds in it as a mild exfoliant. 

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This week out at http://emancipationacres.com/ I picked up our pig so we have a freezer full of pork and yesterday we tried the bacon.  Best bacon EVER, the fat just explodes in your mouth.  Also got to check out the avalanche of piglets they have out there right now.  Three litters in as many days.  That is a lot of cuteness going on.

Today I want to get the coop cleaned out now that it is a bit warmer and our rabbits are 13 weeks old and about 4.5 lbs so today is butchering day. We are going to get through as many as we can today, I am hoping all of them.  Then tonight we are having 

Hare in Ale with Saffron-Should be parboyled and larded and rosted & nym onions and mince them right small & fry them in white grease and grind pepper bread & ale and the onions thereto and colour it with safron & salt and serve it forth. (The Frome of Cury, 1378)

 

Of course Seven Centuries of English Cooking translates that into something I can actually use. Although this one is not too bad to figure out on my own.

Update-12:00pm   Bedclothes on the line drying, rabbits successfully slaughtered. They turned out to be nice 2lb fryers.  

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New soap experiment

Yesterday was another soap day. I made another batch of Chef’s soap, tweaked the recipe a bit though as I thought the last batch was a bit soft. I rendered some tallow last year and it has been sitting in the pantry doing nothing, so I tossed some of that in to try to harden it up. I did a peppermint, lime and lemon EO blend for odor neutralization and some coffee grounds for mild exfoliation.

Chef's soap still in the molds

Chef’s soap still in the molds

The really fun one, and the one that could fail spectacularly, is my Spa Salt Bar. A Cocoa and Shea butter soap 1/2 the batch has added activated charcoal, and 1/2 has french clay. There is also a boat load of sea salt in it. Supposedly all of these additives are great for skin and together they make for a gentle detox kind of cleansing. I scented it with lavender in keeping with the relaxing spa theme. It looks really dramatic and I can’t wait to unmold it!

Spa Salt Bar

Spa Salt Bar

The batch that Nan and I made a few weeks ago smells divine and should be ready in a week or so. That one is a nice plain moisturizing bar.

I have been working one day a week out at http://emancipationacres.com/ and am really enjoying being out on a real country farm on a regular basis. I love our place and all that we are managing to pull off in such a small place with city regs but I really long for room to have more livestock. But I am getting my fix once a week and that will do for now.

Still need to get back at my cooking challange, I have been so busy with other projects that that is still sitting.

I did finish a sweater I have been working on for ages, and Steve’s blanket is finally off the loom and done!

Steve's Blanket

Steve’s Blanket

Now the loom looks naked, need to sell some stuff so I can get more yarn! 🙂

The rabbits are getting big

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and I am working on my garden plan, we are going to put in more beds and do some shuffling of old ones so I need to figure it out before next week when I start my seeds. It finally feels like winter will end, the snow is melting at a pretty brisk pace and temps have been up into the 40’sF. The willows are starting to bud out but that is the only new growth I have seen so far. The chickens are finally laying at a good clip again and I am looking forward to the first milk from our farm share once the girls are back out on pasture again!

Well those are the highlights, best get back at it, or maybe just one more cup of coffee first.

Posted in Chickens, Gardening, Homesteading, Knitting/Weaving/Spinning, Livestock, Rabbits, Soap & Lotions, Urban Farming | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Think Spring!

February may be the shortest month on the calendar, but in Wisconsin it seems the longest.

What is that green stuff on the ground?

What is that green stuff on the ground?

Winter is dragging on, and after a tease last week of rain and temps in the low 40’s F we are now back to single digits above zero for highs and below zero lows. March can’t come soon enough! I left the lab I was working in for a different project in the same department, this one is only 3 days a week and a much better fit. Now I will have time to do all the things around the house that have been slacking while I was dealing with the work drama. The winter has been spent doing a lot of fiber work and curled up in front of the woodstove.
Ast in front of the fire

Ast in front of the fire

I will be doing a work exchange one day a week at a friends farm to pay for our pork and mutton and will be trying to get the business up and going again. I have not made soap in months but that will be remedied tomorrow, Nan is coming out and we are going to get back into our regular soap/project days.

We got our new hive and ordered the replacement bees for the original and a new nuc so we will be up to two hives this year, my seed order came and since I will be home again (at least more than last year) this growing season we will be expanding the gardens. I need to get knitting small things for sale, headbands, washcloths, that type of thing. Hopefully our fruit survived the winter so I can make some jam for sale as well. We will see if we can pull off this 3 day a week thing financially.

I am getting my energy back for being more creative in the kitchen, so there will be a new recipe from my Seven Centuries of English Cooking Challenge, I also got a book from the library “Shakespeare’s Kitchen” so I may be using that one as well.

Eliza had 8 kits, 7 of them survived the first few days and now they are healthy squirmy 2 month olds.

2 month old baby rabbits

2 month old baby rabbits

2 month old baby rabbits

2 month old baby rabbits

The chickens have started laying again, but very sporadically. The older two are going into the freezer sometime this summer and we have an order in for 3 new chicks. We are limited by the city on how many hens we can have so we really can’t have any that are not producing. They are 4 years old and have been pretty spoiled so that is a good chicken life in my book.

Posted in Chickens, Cooking & Baking, Gardening, Homesteading, Knitting/Weaving/Spinning, Life, Livestock, Rabbits, Seven Centuries of English Cooking Challenge, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment