Reilly at 8 weeks
After putting in a request to Wrights English Shepherds and waiting over a year for her, Miss Reilly the Farm-Pup has arrived! She's a tri-color girl with interesting markings and some really cute freckles on her snout. Born on a horse ranch in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, she and her sister, Korie, came home with me this past Saturday. Korie is a very pretty clear-sable color with a nice blaze on her forehead and a bossy attitude to go with it! She'll be going to live and work on Kelley Creek Farms in Birmingham, AL where she'll be managing horses, chickens and geese... we will keep up with her activities in the blogosphere.
While Flynn The Wonder Moose Mastiff girl has been a very good protector here and she makes her rounds of the fencelines like a good guardian should. However, I'm very excited to have a traditional farm dog to help me work the livestock and look forward to doing some farm-trials herding ducks with Reilly also. I know that she'll very quickly become an indispensable part of getting the work done around the home-place!
The girls together their first week at the farm:
Don't know what an English Shepherd is? Let me explain...
All American Working Farm Collie
English Shepherds are a heritage American breed of farm collie valued for their intelligence, spirit, and loyalty. The traditional "all purpose farm dog", they're known by many names: Farm Shepherd, Scotch Collie, Old time Collie. They're intelligent, alert, responsive working dogs; exceptionally devoted, and have a strong desire to work in partnership with their owner, whatever the task.
In the 18th and 19th centuries English Shepherds were the most popular working dogs as they make wonderful companions and were bred to independently perform various tasks around the farm, such as hunting, herding, and guarding. But since the 1930s, agriculture has shifted to high productivity Big-Ag and the number of small family farms has declined sharply... as a result, so too has the number of English Shepherd dwindled.
Unlike some other herding dogs, English Shepherds haven't been specialized to work only one species of livestock. In fact, this breed is a real friend of the small homesteader on a small diversified farm where this dog's innate versatility can really shine. English Shepherds are very quick to learn farm routines and will work independently with little training; they're capable of using their own initiative as well as being directed.
"Energetic, intelligent, very active, agile, courageous and gritty. Fearless for their purpose"
Hard Working Farm Dog
An English Shepherd's style of work is far less flashy than that of a Border Collie. This breed is so good at what they do that they make the most challenging work look easy. But only to those not paying close attention. What looks simple is the result of the breed's commitment and loving dedication to work hard and work smart in a quiet, orderly fashion. No matter your livestock: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, or fowl (or all of the above), this breed's stout hearted perseverance can handle it.
To the casual observer, English Shepherds can be misidentified as Border Collies. However, English Shepherds are larger than other collies, have long tails, and a less rounded head. But the quickest way to tell the two apart is to put them on stock. Border Collies tend to herd with a distinctive strong eye contact and a crouching, prey-driven stance, while English Shepherds have a pack-driven upright, loose-eyed herding style. This is represented by an attitude toward the stock as a superior pack member enforcing rules on an underling. English Shepherds can work all types of stock -- from the meanest bull to baby chickens. Compared to other collies, they are prized above specialty herding breeds for being as gentle as possible or as tough as necessary with the stock.
This ability to rate their stock stems from the great empathy they have for their family and livestock. With the right upbringing, this empathy makes the English Shepherd a wonderful family dog. However, the same bossy nature which this breed excels in keeping order on the farm can cause havoc in the local dog park where the English Shepherd often appoints himself as the leader or alpha dog.
An accurate description of the English Shepherds character is summed up by one owner
as, "Energetic, intelligent, very active, agile, courageous and gritty. Fearless for their purpose. Acting immediately when commanded; very responsive to the master's voice. Adapting themselves almost at once to working commands around farm stock. Working characteristics include: strictly low heeling; and very free with the use of their teeth. Also very watchful as guards of the home. Companionable to their master."
Photo: englishshepherd.org (Litter Sossoman)
Because English Shepherds aren't show dogs, there can be some variation in appearance.
The English Shepherd is a medium sized dog, is somewhat longer than they are tall, have balanced proportions and are the same height at the shoulders as at the hips. Weight for males is 45 to 60 pounds and females are 40 to 50 pounds. Height for males is 20" to 21" and females are 19" to 20".
The coat is medium length, heavy, abundant and glossy. It can be straight, wavy, or curly except on the head and legs. Often displaying ear tufts, there is also feathering on the front legs and the plume-like tail. The undercoat is soft and fine, in order to protect from the elements. As a working dog, the coat is easy to keep with very little grooming. The primary coat colors are: sable and white (clear and shaded), tricolor, black and white, and black and tan. Other variations such as solid dogs of any color, brindle and red nosed tricolors and sables also exist but are not common.
Additional InformationSpecial thanks to codenamefarmcollie.blogspot.com
A few portraits from an owner of these wonderful farm dogs detailing what it is like to live with an English Shepherd. Great descriptions of the breed's character and work ethic:English Shadow Overlook: My Taste in Dogs Makeover Organizations
There are two English Shepherd club websites you might be interested in: the English Shepherd Club (ESC)
, and the United English Shepherd Association (UESA)
. The ESC is older and has a larger membership. The UESA was formed when the ESC broke with the United Kennel Club over the question of conformation showing. Many English Shepherd folks don't agree with showing because they believe it undermines breeding for working characteristics. The USEA club is primarily interested in conformation showing.
The American Working Farmcollie Association (AWFA) is a multibreed performance registry dedicated to recognizing the traditional working characteristics of the farmcollie breeds. It is not specifically for ES, but many of its members have ES. The American Working Farmcollie Association
(AWFA). The AWFA has also outlined the traditional "farmdog" jobs where the English Shepherd excels.Registries
Registries can be complicated when it comes to English Shepherds. There are four legitimate registries; the United Kennel Club, the International English Shepherd Registry, the Animal Research Foundation, and the English Shepherd Club Registry. Breeders may register with one or all of them. The ESC Registry is the newest of the registries, and was created in response to the needs of the breed community for a comprehensive database of the English Shepherd population, and because the registration of litters with parents from different registries was difficult. United Kennel ClubInternational English Shepherd Registry Animal Research Foundation English Shepherd Club Registry
I'll be there peddling ducklings, hatching eggs, and anything else I can shove into the Subaru. My friend Erin Moshier sent this great information about her swap. Don't miss out!
Hi there, peeps.
Now that we're seeing some warmer days, the farm animals are having babies and eggs are fertile and most breeders are hatching like crazy. Spring is here! Our spring swap meet has been scheduled for Saturday, June 8th 2013 http://mdpoultryswap.blogspot.com/
Along with the Huge sales area filled anything farm related, homemade, handcrafted, used, recycled, vintage, we will also have fun stuff for the whole family. Kids will enjoy pony rides, a poultry show, the moon bounce, ice cream and aisles of bunnies, sheep, goats, peafowl, chickens, baby chicks, turkeys and more. We will also have a pig roast, concession stand and a live bluegrass band playing from 10-2.
Anyone is welcome to participate as a vendor. It's a $15 flat fee to sell. There is no registration necessary but, there are a few regulations regarding the sale of livestock. Please check with our website for more info! Show up before 7:30 with your tables/chairs/canopy or just tail gate with you items. Folks selling poultry with 5 birds or less can sell for free.
Vendors: Please contact me with what you are planning on selling so I can compile THE LIST in which I use for advertising purposes.
New this year: We are now charging $2 per person for admission. Kids 17 and under are free. Due to us getting bigger, we are now in need of traffic control as well as parking attendants and this helps to cover those costs along with logistics, entertainment, advertising and kid's activities. I hope you understand. Camping is always free for swap goers (shoppers and vendors)
Also new this year: On Father's Day weekend, we will be hosting "Homesteading Days." This weekend will be filled with seminars featuring many aspects of sustainable living. Learn about goat soap making, canning, bread making, dutch oven cooking, harvesting rabbits, poultry processing, wine making, gardening and composting and we will have a seminar on "prepping." Experts in their field will be traveling to Green Hill Farm to share their knowledge and send us home with some goodies.
Please see our website for pricing and how to attend. Prices vary due to equipment needed and cost of googie bags. There will be free camping during that weekend for seminar goers.. so feel free to help in the garden, help feed the animals in the morning or just relax. You can build a fire and cook outdoors and just enjoy the day. http://mdhomestead.blogspot.com/
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask,
Green Hill Farm
5329 Mondell Rd.
Sharpsburg, MD. 21782
This year we hosted a Christmas Eve dinner with some close friends to round out the holiday table. I decided that it was the perfect time to prepare my very first goose. ever.
Not to fear though... this goose was soooo amazing!! It was like the very best beef filet wrapped in the juiciest bacon you've ever had. The meat was a wonderful, flavorful medium-rare and the skin was crispy with just the right amount of fat remaining to make it better than any other crispy animal fat I've ever enjoyed. If you've never had goose, you're really missing out. Here's the story of how we got that awesome beast on the table:
We start with a hunt for recipes of roasted goose perfection. There are two places that I go for absolute authoritative advice for cooking when it really counts: Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen
(or Cooks Illustrated/Cooks Country) and Hank Shaw of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook
fame. Hank will give me the in's and out's of wild food deliciousness (especially waterfowl), and Kimball will tell me exactly why it works (after testing a recipe 10 ways from Sunday). I also consulted FoodNetwork UK
since Roasted Goose is still a traditional British Christmas meal.The first thing I discovered is that you're a complete knucklehead if you cook your goose (or duck)
beyond medium rare. Ducks and geese are red meat birds – meaning the breasts of both need to be served pink. I say it all the time: ducks are not chickens; so it follows that goose is not turkey.
OK... now we have more advice than we can shake a stick at and an almost 13lb free-range, all natural goose to cook for 6 people. I took everyone's expert recommendations to heart and created my own recipe (I know you saw it coming). The highlights I gleaned from the recipes were as follows:FoodNetwork UK said
to brine the goose for at least 24 hours. I went with a basic brine (1 part sea salt, 1 part brown sugar). And also followed their advice to the letter about stuffing the bird with fruit before roasting.Kimball said
that I should air-dry the goose in the refrigerator for 24 hours in order to tighten the skin so that during roasting the fat will be squeezed out. I neglected to do the boiling water dip first but I had totally intended to - I just got disorganized in the hubbub of preparing dinner.Hank said,
in his guest post at Simply Recipes, that I would better represent the Lord of the Marsh with a medium-rare breast and well roasted legs and wings. So he advises roasting the goose for a bit, then slicing off the whole breast to finish searing it in a pan once the legs are done. That way I'll still have a nice roasted flavor on the whole goose, crispy skin, and properly pink breast meat. He also has a superb photo tour for prepping the goose that I found very helpful.We didn't take lot of pictures because we were pretty busy bustling about getting everything ready for dinner but here's the one good picture we did manage to grab:
The conglomeration of a recipe below is extremely fussy because it was a special occasion and I chose to be a madwoman. But there's no need to be crazy like me - just follow Hank's lead and do something simple. You'll be amazed by the flavor and very happy you gave it a shot!
In general, plan for:
8-10 lb goose for 5-6 people
11-12 lb goose for 6-8 people
13 lbs free-range goose
¼ C olive oil
1 apple, quartered
1 onion, quartered
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, halved
1 C sea salt
1 C brown sugar
1 gallon water
:Prep the Goose
Thaw your goose.
Remove the neck, giblets (heart, gizzard, liver); set them aside for making gravy.
Slice off the neck skin about a half inch in front of the body; reserve for rendering.
You also need to remove excess fat from the goose. You will want to save it – goose fat is among the most delicious of all cooking fats, and it is far healthier than butter or lard: Remove the fat from inside the body cavity and put it in a bowl. Then slice off the wide belly flaps covering the body cavity; if you plan on stuffing the goose you’d need these, if not, take them off. You also want to remove the tail. All of this should go into a pot with a little water (about ½ cup) and put over low heat to render out. Brine the Goose
In a large non-metallic container combine the sugar, salt and add one quart of boiling water, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt completely. Add three quarts of cold water to cool the brine.
Place the goose in the brine making sure it is completely submerged. If the meat floats to the surface, weight it down with a plate. Cover and refrigerate. Allow to cure for at least 24 and up to 48 hours.
Heat large stockpot two-thirds full of water to boil.
Prick the goose's skin all over with a needle or knife tip. This will give all that fat underneath the goose’s skin somewhere to go – if you don’t, the skin will never fully crisp up. The best way to do this is to prick it with a clean needle. The technique is to stick the skin from an angle so you are not piercing the meat of the goose, just the skin. Do this all over the goose.
“Dry” the Goose
Submerge bird neck side down for 1 minute, until goose bumps arise on the skin. If your pot isn't deep enough to dunk the entire bird, turn goose tail side down, and repeat the process. Drain goose and dry thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels.
Set goose, breast side up, on flat rack in roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours. This method tightens the skin so that during roasting the fat will be squeezed out.
After drying, remove goose from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.Cook the Goose
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
Tuck wings across back with tips touching (photo tutorial here
). This will keep them from flopping around while you’re turning the bird and crisp up the breast skin under the wing.
Rub the goose all over with the cut half of a lemon. Use both sides to get it good and coated. Put the halves inside the goose along with the rest of the quartered fruit. Sprinkle salt liberally all over the goose. Use more salt than you think you need; it helps crisp the skin and adds a lot to the flavor.
Lower the oven temp to 350°F, place the goose breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan and into the oven.
After the goose has cooked for 20 minutes pour out the goose fat that's collecting in the bottom of the roasting pan. Put it in the pre-warmed mason jar to save (I got over a quart from my goose!). If you’re making roasted vegetables, now is the time to coat them with some goose fat and put them in the oven to roast.
When you’re done, put the goose back into the oven for another 25 minutes. When a total of 45 minutes of cooking time has elapsed, test the temperature of the breast. You should have something between 130 and 140 degrees. If you’re there, remove the goose but keep the oven on.Carve out the breasts
Now you need to carve off the whole breasts.
from simplyrecipes.com & Hank Shaw
Using a thin knife – again, a boning knife is ideal – slice along the keel bone, which separates the two halves of the breast. Go straight down and tap the point of the blade against the breastbone as you move the knife up toward the wishbone, then back toward the open body cavity. Know that a goose has a deep keel and that the breastbone comes out wide at almost a right angle from it, so work your knife in short, gentle strokes out to free the whole side of the breast. Once you get near the wishbone, find it with the tip of your knife and carefully slice around it. Repeat on the other side and tent with foil.
Put the goose (minus the breasts) back into the oven. Let this cook for another 45 minutes to finish the rest of the goose
After the additional 45 minutes are up, probe the thickest part of the goose’s thigh with a thermometer. You want 165-175 degrees. If it is a little low or high, that’s fine. Remove the goose.
Check the root veggies, and if they are done, great. If not, keep them in the oven for the moment.
Sear the breasts
Now get a large sauté pan hot. Add some goose fat, and let that get hot over medium-high heat.
Take the goose breasts, which should be a lovely pink on the meat side, and pat them dry. Place them skin side down (don’t cook them on the meat side!) in the pan and sear the skin hard. You might need to press down on them a little to get good contact. Check after 3-4 minutes. You want a rich brown.
When it is ready, remove the breasts and immediately salt the skin. Set aside, skin side up.
Carve the Goose
Here’s a pretty good video:
Serve and enjoy!
Oh, yeah... and save that wonderful goose fat! That stuff is so much healthier for you to cook with than any processed fat around. It's also the absolute BEST for roasting potatoes (or anything for that matter). Put it in your fridge and it'll keep for ages.
Pulled Pork, slaw, and buns all made from scratch. It was raining outside all day after all :)
Due to several responses requesting recipes, I've pulled them together for you. I sort of don't use recipes... I mean, you'd never know it to see my cookbook collection. I like to collect cookbooks... because I like to look up recipes, then mostly ignore them. Primarily, they inspire me or remind me how good certain ingredients blend well with one another, or to remember what temperature to cook the lamb at. Most of the time, I look up the recipe, survey the contents of the fridge and pantry, then I put together a facsimile of the recipe - it could have any wierdo thing in it before it's done! And, if it's something I make a lot (like bread), I come up with my own way of doing it. So, here is MY way to make this meal... your pantry (and imagination) may vary:
Moose Manor Pulled Pork
Feeds a hungry crowd, approx 12 folks
1 (5 pound) pork pork shoulder
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 (12 ounce) cans of root beer
2 c Hickory barbecue sauce
2 t. Hickory Liquid Smoke (optional)
1. Place the thinly sliced onion in a layer on the bottom of the crockpot, sit the pork roast on top of that layer of onion, and pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook for 6 hours on high or until pork shreds easily with a fork.
2. After pork has cooked, drain and discard the root beer. Shred the pork and place it back in the slow cooker. Pour the liquid smoke and barbecue sauce over the pork and stir to combine.
3. Serve on fresh rolls topped with a heap of slaw.
Apple and Yogurt Coleslaw
(adapted and Moosified from Bon Appetit)
5 c. shredded green cabbage
2 medium granny smith apples, diced
1 c. diced fennel bulb (optional - goes
great with the tart apples)
1/2 c. diced red onion
1 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. distilled white vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. grated garlic
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1. Combine cabbage, onion, apple, and fennel in a large bowl. Toss to mix well.
2. Whisk yogurt, mayo, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in a medium bowl until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. No more than 20 minutes before serving, add dressing to suit (adding earlier will result in a soggy slaw) and toss to evenly coat. I like mine a little dryer than most so I don't need a ton of dressing.
DO AHEAD: Make slaw mix and dressing to hold in separate bowls, cover, then chill.
Hand Rolled Yeasty
This recipe makes tasty bread!
1 T. active dry yeast
1/4 c. sugar (or 1 T Agave Nectar)
1 c. water at 115 degrees
1 t. salt
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1. Place yeast and sugar in mixing bowl, add warm water, give a little stir and let it bloom for 5-10 minutes
2. Combine egg and salt and whip with a fork until well mixed
3. Once yeast has bloomed, add egg mixture, then flour into mixing bowl, mix well. Knead with lightly floured hands until dough leaves sides of bowl, about 1 minute
4. Remove dough from mixing bowl using lightly floured hands. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.
5. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Using greased hands, shape each piece into a ball. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
6. Cover and let rise in warm place for approx 2 hours or until tripled in size (about the size of a standard hamburger bun). MooseTip: cover the dough-balls with plastic wrap topped by a dishtowl, then place a casserole dish of hot water in the bottom of a cold oven, slip your cookie sheets onto the racks and close in all that steamy, yeasty goodness until they reach the right size.
7. Heat oven to 375°F. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm, or cool on wire rack.
DO AHEAD TIP: After you have shaped the dough into rolls and placed them on the cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap. You can refrigerate them 4 hours up to 48 hours. Before baking, remove rolls from the refrigerator and follow remaining directions (starting with #6)
Not pictured, but certainly enjoyed alongside the pulled pork sandwich last night:
Serves 2 (or one hungry Moose)
2 handfuls of Brussels Sprouts, halved
2 T. (or 3, whatever) Butter
2 garlic cloves (or more!), minced
1. Melt butter in medium frypan
2. Add Brussels Sprouts halves, garlic, and salt to taste
3. Over medium-low heat, cover pan and cook for 3 minutes to soften sprouts. Once they're a Cyndi Lauper bright green, uncover and turn heat up to medium. Toss and brown until the edges are golden.
OK, I hope you make these recipes your own and manipulate them in a way that makes your tummy sing! Be well, do good cooking, and keep in touch.
Hurricane Sandy has made landfall on the East Coast and it's colliding with a NorEaster to wreak havoc over 7 states. Most of us are getting heavy gushers of rain, and if you're anywhere near the waterfront then you're experiencing amazing storm surge and crippling flooding. Western Maryland, parts of Virginia and West Virginia are having white out blizzard conditions and at the time of this writing there was already 3 feet of snow in WV.
Last night and this morning in Southern Maryland we had buckets of rain and some high winds. for the last couple of hours we've had a lull in the wind. The worst is supposed to arrive at 2am tomorrow morning. While the wind was down and I didn't have to worry about sideways rain, I went outside to take some video. It's not the best quality since I have my phone shoved in a ziplock baggie and it's also getting speckled by raindrops.- plus I'm tromping around in my rubber boots making it a bit unsteady. But so far, we've not sustained any damage. There hasn't been (knock wood) any trees down in my yard or large branches. We heard some loud cracking and crashing in the neighboring woods, but there isn't anything that will be crushed in those parts of the property.
I'm happy to say that these video's are very boring :) Here's the front yard:
Then I went back to the barnyard to take some video of the animals. The waterfowl are acting like it's just any other day (rain? what rain?). They're staying inside the small duckyard and not venturing out into the rest of the barnyard, but otherwise they're acting like it's nothing to worry about. The Muscovy are less thrilled and look a little miserable out there with their necks scrunched down just sitting like a bunch of dummies in the rain. Some of my smarter Muscovy hens are hanging out inside their loft staying dry and, clearly, much warmer.
The chickens are pretty unhappy about the deluge. They're mostly keeping inside the henhouse. A few of the juvenile girls are making runs back in forth from one protected area to another, and a few brave souls are going on with business as normal and looking like a bunch of drowned rats.
Here's the barnyard:
AP News Pic
This is why I like to visit the beach but I don't want to live at the beach. This nasty mess is a combination of surf foam and wet sand flying around like cotton candy and coating everything in sight. Gross.
I'll keep you posted as new pictures or video are taken. Like I said, so far we're doing quite well, just a lot wet and without power but I think we're set to deal with that just fine... at least until we run out of beer.
Every year in September (or occasionally October) we host a Low-Country Boil at the farm to gather friends, family, and our extended farm family together for a merry MooseMeet before the weather officially cools off for the year. It's a fine time to take a short break to assess the change of seasons, kick up our heels momentarily, then dive head first into autumn!
I'd like to kick this post off by thanking my good friends Alisa Harkins and Bonnie Aills for their dynamite photography skills, as I had my hands full during the event and was forced to relinquish my camera. Thank you, ladies - a fine portrayal!
While we're officially high of the Low-Country here in Southern Maryland, we Mooseherders continue to refer to this as Frogmore Stew - you may say Beaufort Boil in your neck of the woods - either way I'm sure we can agree to call this one-pot-wonder delicious fun! The bigger the crowd the bigger the pot... and this here is a 2-potter.
This is usually my largest MooseMeet of the year with about 50 folks... and certainly the one with the best atmosphere...I surely do love those twinkly lights! And I love autumn, there's just something about the crispy little breezes that blow through in late September that let you know fall is coming. I always thought it was the faint scent of pencil shavings but I'm officially too old to lay out such a claim - LOL!
Instead, I present for your appraisal, the comforting aroma of Frogmore Stew with that luxurious yet down-home fragrance of shrimp and crawdaddies cooking up with tasty Cajun sausages and veggies. I serve this up with a nice big plate of specially prepared cornbread - moist, sweet, and full of chunky bits of corn kernels.... mmmmm!
Between arriving and eating, while you visit with your neighbors, enjoy the fine southern music, and inhale the intoxicating piquancy of boiling low-country spices and seafood, you can imbibe on the homemade sangria to kindle your appetite. We call 'em 'Boat Drinks' but, I warn you, there are no tiny umbrellas to protect you when you're up a beer river without a paddle...
Then, before you know it, the main dish is served: Boiling crawdads, shrimp and veggies are poured out of a couple of heavy pots we've had heating on the fire! Stand back while the hot water cascades over the sides... there's lots of good grub for everyone to dig into,
Ahhhh... this right here is the fun part, folks!
Right before the hungry crowd descends, my MainSqueeze MooseHerder adds more of that red magic seasoning to top off the boil.... sorry but the incantations remain a closely guarded secret.
These larger affairs usually require two separate firepits so everyone can get the opportunity to wield a sharp poking device and stand/sit close enough to enjoy an interesting conversation and the warmth of the fire. We've strategically placed the 'mobile fire' around the main dining area so that folks can wander from one entertaining group to another, there's never a dearth of diverse dialogue irreverently dancing about... there are some fun story-tellers in this group!
For those few of my wonderfully effervescent friends who missed the event this year - we missed you too! Hurry back next fall. For all those treasured friends who were able to help us eat all this food, entertain all these guests, and drink all the beer, thank you! I hope we have a standing date for next September.
Delicious Frogmore Stew!
MooseMistress & her MainSqueeze MooseHerder
I'm trying to gauge the level of interest in hosting a poultry processing workshop here at the farm; I've had success with 'Chicken Raising 101' workshops here. So if you have any desire to learn how to process your own poultry on a small scale (50 birds at a time or less), please take this short survey. If there're enough folks who want to learn, I'll start hosting chicken harvesting workshops in December 2012 or Spring 2013. Whether I hold classes for other types of poultry will depending on the survey results
(and, of course, prices will vary with the type of birds we process). Take the survey here: www.surveymonkey.com/s/XC5DFC2/The basic idea is this:I figure a class size of between 4-7 people at $25 per person is reasonable. A small group allows everyone to see what's going on and I can do hands-on for that number by myself.
1. I give an overview of what we plan to accomplish and use a couple of diagrams to show students how we plan to do it.2. I process one bird from beginning to end so students can see how the entire operation moves from one step to another fluidly.3. Then the students get their birds and I walk everyone through the steps again while they do the processing themselves.4. Once all the birds are harvested and packaged we have lunch which includes the bird I processed in the beginning of the class (I'll have a trusty assistant cooking that up while we're doing the hands-on part).5. Then the students collect the bird they processed and
take it home.If that sounds interesting, take the survey and let me know!
Sharpsburg, Maryland is a picturesque landscape of rolling hills and farmland with a very charming and nostalgic downtown that looks like it was lifted directly from a snapshot of the 1800's. The town is near the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders, tucked in beside the Antietam Battlefield and Historic Harper’s Ferry; it's a rather beautiful and bucolic 2 1/2 hour drive from my tiny farm in Southern Maryland.
Speaking of charming, this swap is hosted at Green Hill Farm by
Erin Moshier, a delightfully sunny gal with an infectious smile.
Twice each year (summer and fall) she hosts a fun poultry swap at her family farm just minutes from the center of downtown Sharpsburg. But once you turn down that gravel road leading to the poultry barn and the horse stables where curious pony's whinny hello's over the fence, you feel miles and miles from anything but the countryside.My main-squeeze MooseHerder and I arrived early in the morning with a modest selection of ducks, chickens and geese and quickly put up our canopy, table and portable poultry pen. The feathered flock was soon nibbling on Erin's pasture and getting rehydrated after a long car ride.
Folks were milling about prior to the 8am "selling start time" and were very curious about what poultry or farm related product each vendor was preparing to sell out of that day.I had 2 extra
Holderread Penciled Indian Runner boys from my spring order I was preparing to sell. Those birds were as nervous as ever and abjectly refused to stand at ease; they chose instead to peer nervously at their growing audience and sort of dance from foot to foot like a 5 year old who needs to use the potty. The young Sebstapol goose was taking everything in stride (I could have sold him 10 times over!), and my affable juvenile Welsh Harlequin was attempting to charm the chickens into being his pals for the day (since he was raised by a chicken mama and didn't know he was a duck) and those Marans cockerels were not having any of it. All in all it was shaping up to be an interesting day at my booth.
Browsers stopped by to ask over and over again what the heck kind of birds those Penciled Indian Runners were ("are those some kind of goose?") and before too long a somber and truly gentlemanly young man hailing from West-By-God-Virginia quietly asked me if I'd be willing to sell him those lovely Runner ducks (he said it just like that). I was more than happy to negotiate a price for that gracious, young aspiring farmer and help him carry his new waterfowl to his car. Such a peach, I wish him well.
Tons of folks stopped by to chat with me at length, get advice about waterfowl, and tell me about their own flock. I gave out many business cards and collected a few as well. What a great place to network! There was so much to see and hear at the swap: Craftsman selling poultry housing and nesting equipment, crafty-crafter ladies peddling so many wonderful handhewn wares, local feed stores, chicken farmers, duck farmers, guinea keets, peacocks, muscovy, turkeys, pheasants, chukar, bunnies, goats, and pigs (ADORABLE)... I even saw guinea pigs!
And - holy moly - Someone had the nerve to bring some gorgeous German Shorthair puppies... O My GOODNESS! Those hounds were absolutely snugglicious! I barely contained myself at that booth. I reminded my hard farmrgirl heart that hunting dogs and ducks were not the best bedfellows. *sigh*
We had such a good time at the swap! There was live music and great giveaways. I bought a few things, sold a few things and met a bunch of interesting and fun folks. You just never know who you might make a good friend out of until you go to one of these events! For the upcoming spring/summer swap I'll be loaded up with hatching eggs, eating eggs, baby ducks, geese and chickens to sell in the early summer at Erin's next poultry swap... this event is too good to pass up! I hope you'll join us all next year - especially at the early market when all those spring hatches will be ready.
For more information or to be added to her mailing list, Erin's blog can be found here: http://mdpoultryswap.blogspot.com/
. Don't forget:
When you're in the area be sure to have lunch in one of the local establishments. We did (twice - once in Boonsboro) and were NOT disappointed mmmmm... good!
I belong to a CSA fruit share provided by AzureB llc. I get all sorts of yummy organic tropical fruit, loads of avocados and sometimes a strange looking item that I've never tried.
In my August share I received the most amazing (and weird) item of all time: Monstera Deliciosa.Wikepidia describes it thus:a creeping vine native to tropical rainforests of southern Mexico south to Colombia... [with] fruit up to 10 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter, looking like a green ear of maize covered with hexagonal scales.The daggone thing came
with instructions rubberbanded around it's middle. These pictographs advised me to place the fruit into a drinking glass and leave it out on my counter for several days. Once the scales of this dinosaur looking oddity began to drop off, I would know that the fruit was ready to be devoured. I'm game!I did as I was instructed and I've recorded the entire 5-day event for you straight from my kitchen:
I'm not afraid to tell you that when I cut into this crazy corn-on-the-cob-from-another-planet I was guessing that it would absolutely NOT be delicious but instead slimy and oversweet. But what's the harm in tasting it, right?
OK... this thing was so very, very delicious! mmmmmmmm.... It was mild, it was not slimy, the distinct kernels were approximately as crunchy as overcooked corn. The flavor was a mild pineapple meets a white grape. Not unlike lichee. It was sweet, but not too. Overall, I thought this would be an excellent addition to any summer brunch and would pair wonderfully with white wine and cheese.
100% Moose approved - I highly recommend it.