Friday, December 20, 2013

Old Saint Nick?

I was caught kissing Santa Claus. We weren't under the mistletoe but who could pass up an opportunity like this! Even Saint Nick knows the reason for the season. For born this day in the City of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rooster's in the Hen house

Our new chickens are in the chicken house finally. A couple of weeks ago on a 50 degree day we butchered our old hens for stewing and moved our young hens and rooster out of the chicken tractor into the chicken house. Just in time because the weather turned very cold. The breed of rooster is a Partridge Plymouth Rock with a Speckled Sussex hen in front. Behind the rooster(who I haven't named yet) is a Partridge hen and a Delaware hen(white). I have 9 hens in all which make for a handsome group. These heavy breeds were chosen because they are dual purpose, good for laying, foraging for food and for meat. The hens can become broody and hatch out chicks, at least that is what I hope for next summer. We haven't got any eggs yet but the hens are approaching 5 months so I expect some at any time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Open Pollinated Corn

This past week was spent gathering in more of the seasons bounty. All of the open pollinated corn was stripped from the stalks and hung to dry. The pigs were put in the field where the corn was grown to root in the remaining corn stalks. In Gene Logsdons' book "Small-Scale Grain Raising", the practice of hauling bundles of corn shocks to the barn to be husked at the farmers leisure during the long winter evenings, became a pleasant custom known as "husking bees". The husking was merely a by-product of a social evening. The husker who found a red ear in the bundle was allowed a kiss from a boyfriend or girlfriend. And in those days, corn did not have the dull sameness of today's hybrids so there were quite a few ears that would turn up red.
In the "old days" there were more chances for people of different ages to mingle and understand each other. The work of food getting was turned into fun; neither love nor labor was lost. We could do far worse today.

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Texel Ram lamb

This our 5 year old texel ram Grover loaded and ready for his new home in Knox County, Ohio. It's sad to see him go but he will have a nice flock of texel ewes to greet him when he arrives at his new home.
Eric and Kate Helt have a small organic sustainable farm where Grover will be hard at work continuing the texel breed known for their double muscle and conversion of grass to meat characteristics.
Here are the two ram lambs we brought home. One for ourselves and one for a friend. We chose the texel to cross with our Shetland mule ewes, because they produce lambs that finish on grass and grow fast. Oh, not to mention the meat is so tasty.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stocking Up

During the months of August and September harvesting of vegetables and fruits begin. Today I will be finishing the peaches just in time to start harvesting the apples. My husband has already used the apple cider press 2 times for a total of about 12 gallons. Some of this goes in the freezer for later and some we drink. This year we will try apple cider vinegar with a batch of cider. We have Amish friends who are willing to share their cider mother with us to get the vinegar going. Kind of like brewing beer or Kombucha. We dug 4 rows of Yukon Gold potatoes last week and had nice large spuds for storage. If you haven't grown Yukon Golds you are missing a wonderful creamy, buttery flavor. The Vermont Cranberry beans were pulled and are drying on racks. When they are dry we will split the bean pods and store the dried beans for soups. We still have sweet corn growing and the ears should be ready at the end of the week for freezing. I am starting to pick some winter squash off the vines to harden for storage. Next time I will be posting pictures of late veggies that are started and growing in the garden and harvested vegetables ready for storage. Happy harvesting!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Garden Bounty

This time of summer finds me in the kitchen canning or freezing organic produce from the garden. Every other day something is going on the shelves or in the freezer. This has been one of the best years for sweet corn. As you can see by the picture the ears are filled out to the tip and no cut worms. This is the second year we have applied a boron pack to our garden and fields. The added boron(a trace mineral) helps the corn fill out completely. We buy this amendment from Green Field Farms in Wayne County. They sell organic fertilizers and organic soil minerals for all your needs. Sweet corn is one of my favorite summer foods and I have to admit I have eaten my share.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Japanese Indigo Dyeing

This past weekend I managed to get some time between canning and freezing to pick a gallon size jar of Japanese Indigo leaves, which were ready for dyeing. I prepared the dye bath as Rita Buchanan does in her book "Weavers Garden" and proceeded to dye 5 skeins of bamboo fingering yarn. I first scoured the yarn in washing soda and detergent in boiling water for and hour to make sure it was clean. I rinsed the yarn and kept it wet until time to dye.
This is the prepared dye bath after reduction. The liquid should be a yellow-tan color. I added the skeins and let them soak for 10 minutes. I didn't want a real dark color but there was not enough color in the dye to produce a dark color. The skeins came out with a tye-dye effect. I think the skeins didn't open up enough in the dye bath to get inside the middle of the yarn. This is OK by me but next time I will remember to leave in longer and make sure the skeins open up. When I pulled the yarn out of the dye bath it began to turn blue. I took the skeins outside and shook them in the air and hung them on the line for awhile.
After air drying I brought the skeins in and washed them and hung them to dry. They have a faded denim look which I really like. I dyed all 5 skeins which are 2 ozs, each, a total of 10 ozs. I think I got a lot of dye stuff from 1 gallon of leaves. I'm going to weave a shawl with this yarn. This is my first cellulose project(cotton, flax, bamboo) and I'm happy with the results.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The man cub is growing up

On July 26 my youngest son Graham(on the left) turned 17. He had his best friend Caleb spend the night and need I say the X-Box did not cool off. They did manage to get some swimming in, it wasn't raining and some outside fun. One thing he did request was homemade ice cream made with goats milk cream and free range eggs. Gourmet all the way, and Reuben sandwiches. We have a wee bit of German in our heritage. Graham is an excellent young man and just 1 more year of home schooling will finish him or me! Since he is the last child at home his dad and I think we will pay him if he will stay and help us old folks out. I don't think we have enough money. Oh well, another mile stone in the life the Lohreys.
Sorry no picture of the actual ice cream it was consumed like most of the food in our house.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weaning Lambs

Here is the first group of lambs to be weaned. They are shetland/BFL crosses except for the weather in the left fore ground. He is out of our texel cross ewe bred back to our BFL. They have grown really fast and with all this rain the pastures are holding up really well. The fleeces on the weathers are so nice I will shear them this fall before they go to the butcher and have lambs wool to sell.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Needles, Wheel and Loom

So what have I been up to as far as my fiber interests. I have been weaving rugs for a special order and have finally got them done. They turned out really nice and I hope my customer likes them. I also wove a double throw which was fun and I learned something new. I used store bought yarn and some of my naturally dyed mill spun yarn.

I've been spinning some gray shetland and knitting a baby cardi and hat for a friends little girl who is due in August. As you can see it still needs buttons.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


With all the rain we've been having I started sourdough for baking bread. In the picture above the rye flour is beginning to bubble meaning I've captured wild yeast. I started with 2 cups of rye flour and 2 cups of water to begin the process. Each day for a week I added 1 cup more of flour and water until the yeast had established itself and I had 3 quarts of starter.
This is the starter after 7 days, the yeast is bubbling and it smells kind of yeasty and fruity. If mold had formed it means it spoiled and no yeast was captured. With this sourdough starter I was able to make 4 loaves of sourdough bread using no commercial yeast.
As you can see, 4 loaves of delicious sourdough bread using a rye sourdough starter, whole wheat flour a little sea salt and whey from some earlier cheese for a liquid. This was easier than I thought and the bread rose quite nicely. It does take a longer time than conventional yeast to rise but the results are worth it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fruits of Your Labor

While at a family reunion this past weekend, I was filling my plate with various homemade goodies when a distant cousin of my husbands commented how she had bought live lettuce at the grocery store. My youngest daughter replied "Yeh, we have that in our garden." I know my small SE Ohio town is a little behind the times but our grocery store does carry organic veggies and gluten free foods but this was a first for me. My brother-in-law explained that Live Lettuce is sold with the roots still attached  in water) so the plant will last longer in your frdge. All I need to do is go to the garden, cut lettuce and wash it for a salad. It doesn't last long at all.
 With all this warm weather the berries are ripening. This is the first of the red raspberries, they will bear again in the fall. We are also getting bluebarries and will soon be harvesting black berries. I love raising small bush fruits, they need minimal care and produce lots of fruit for their size. I placed ramay over the tops of the berries and berry trellis to deter hungery birds.

Broccoli are heading out and I harvested over 18 heads to eat and put in the freezer There are still a few more to head but the bulk of the broccoli are now done and the ground will be prepared for a late summer or fall crop. I planted brussel sorout seeds and more lettuce for tender eating when the old lettuce gets bitter. I checked on them today and they are up. Not only am I growing veggies but I grow quite a lot of herbs for my Herbal Moth Repellant and for soap and salves. This is Lavender one of my favorites and the blossoms were thick and very fragrant. Harvesting this herb is like taking a little trip to France.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Garden Goodness

Despite all the rain lately, the garden is growing fast. We have been eating chinese cabbage, several varieties of lettuce, onions, beets(golden and red), sugar snap peas, and spinach. The picture above is broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower with snap peas in the back ground.

Here are the first tomatoes setting on. They are a little bigger than golf balls. This variety is an heirloom called Moskovich. I also have a variety called Indigo Rose with tomatoes setting on in my kitchen garden.
Here is the first Kohlrabi ready to eat. It has a mild broccoli flavor but a little sweeter. I peeled off the outer layer and sliced thin to munch on raw. For supper I steamed some slices with snap peas and red peppers and served with spagetti. Kohlrabi is earlier than broccoli and fills in for a fresh green veggie until the main crops arrive.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pigs on Pasture

Yesterday spelled freedom for our two pigs, who finally were put out on pasture. With early grazing from the ram the clovers and grasses had recovered enough to turn the pigs out. As you can see they were delighted to root their noses into soft dirt and greens. The pen next to this one was rooted up by the pigs we butchered this winter and turned over by my husband and planted with open pollinated field corn. Pigs do a wonderful job at ploughing and fertilizing as well as provide delicious meat. We feed an organic non-GMO feed consisting of barley, field peas and corn. No soybean meal. The feed is ground by the mill and then we soak it with leftover milk or whey from the goats and our nieces cows who are all on organic pastures.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Horticulture Happenings

Blossoms are everywhere and that includes the apple trees in the orchard. This year we are using an other approach to caring for our fruit trees. It is permaculture which uses a permanant mulch around our trees using composted hay and wood chips. We removed all the turf out to the drip line and applied the mulch to encourage bacteria and fungi in the soil around the trees, therefore feeding the soil which feeds the roots which feed the tree. The results are less mowing, we like that, healthier trees and fruit.
Apple trees with new mulch.
A new raspberry trellis with blue bird box. My berries will also get a mulch along with the blackberries. My new blueberry plants got a pine needle mulch. Lettuce started in Feb. and set out under the hoop house at the beginning of the month will be ready to eat very soon. This variety a butter crunch is called Tom Thumb.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shetland Lambs

My first shetland mule lamb has arrived and it is a ewe. She appeared one morning(a little early) and mom was busy cleaning and caring for her new lamb. For the next 3 weeks I'm expecting more mule lambs. My dairy goats are all done kidding. I ended up with 4 does and 3 bucks, unfortunately one buck was still born or we would have 4. We have milk now. Goat milk is the only milk besides soy that is low acid, good for that body PH.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Maple syrup

Well the sap is flowing in SE Ohio so Winter is finally losing its' hold and Spring is just around the corner. We have already boiled 3 gallons of syrup down and this weekend looks like good sap weather. Sugar sand settles on the bottom of each jar even though we strain it through cheese cloth. I am sure this is just mineral deposits so I will probably just put it in some water and drink it. Did I mention it is wonderful on pancakes, cornbread, anything!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stewing hens

Yes, those are featherless chickens. I am butchering my old hens(1 1/2 - 2 year olds) to get ready for a straight run of Delaware chicks this spring. I love to make a good stock from these chickens and Sally Fallon has a good one in her book. I scald my birds at a 160 degree temp and all those feathers  pull right out. Contrary to what most people think the skin is very nutritious when used in a stock pot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Double Weave

With the winter settled in I have decided to learn double weave from Jean Scorgies' Weavers Craft. All is going well and is fairly simple to understand. Most of the yarn is store purchased except for the rust, dark green and peach which is a mill spun from my sheeps wool, dyed with natural dyes.  I just got a custom order for 7 hand woven rugs, one of which is 12ft. long. Guess what I'll be doing for the next few months. This also means a trip to Amish country to a wholesale fabric warehouse to pick out fabric, and to visit every trift store on my way. Poor me!