Round Table Farm

Donkeys, Goats, Books and Chickens

Bread Machine Disaster

Hell, that don't look right!

Hell, that don’t look right!

Since I left cubicle hell last October, I have made friends with my bread machine. I have only had one snafu and even then, part of the bread was edible. But this disaster takes the ribbon!

While not edible, it is interesting to look at.

While not edible, it is interesting to look at.

The bread machine came with an instruction book which has some basic recipes. So I decided to try a new one for me, the French style bread. I followed the recipe, except I used whole milk instead of water plus powdered milk. I don’t think this was a problem as I have used whole milk in all my bread machine recipes and I make bread 1-2 times a week.

The machine has a French bread mode, which I selected (as per the recipe) and I did notice that it takes ~1 hour longer than the normal bread recipe.

At any rate, it was interesting to look at. Right? Pretty crustations on the outside of the pan, melded on crust at the top, sunken bready crater. Oh yeah, art in bread form!

The chickens LOVED this bread.

I hollowed out the bread, then had to chip off the rest.

I hollowed out the bread, then had to chip off the rest.

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Odd Chicken Eggs

Here we have a normal egg and then a very small, fragile one.

Here we have a normal egg and then a very small, fragile one.

Over the past several weeks, our lady hens have left us a few surprises. First, I found this tiny, nearly perfectly round egg in the hen house. It was very, very fragile and you can see from the photo that it almost didn’t survive the trip inside. Next to it is one of our normal chicken eggs.

Yeah, that is a chicken egg. A freaking huge one!

Yeah, that is a chicken egg. A freaking huge one!

Fast forward a few weeks, and one of our ladies gifted us with this bad boy. That is a freaking HUGE chicken egg. One end had a very thin shell, so I had to handle it carefully. Even with that, a tiny chip of shell came off (though the membrane was still intact).

So, of course I had to use it for bread. Yep, I sacrificed this beauty to the bread machine. And it held a surprise for me! This egg contained two yolks! I had heard of this but had never seen it.

One end of the egg had a very thin, crinkled shell.

One end of the egg had a very thin, crinkled shell.

I don’t know which lady is giving us these large eggs (though we haven’t had another with two yolks, not yet). We have several large, plump hens at the moment.

Oh, and that bread turned out incredible!

Double yolk chicken egg, about to be turned into bread.

Double yolk chicken egg, about to be turned into bread.

 

 

Shorter Is Better

Just something seen while driving around Northern New Mexico.

Just something seen while driving around Northern New Mexico.

When I originally started this blog, I wanted to bring meaningful content to the blogosphere.

Well, things have shifted and now I just want to bring you stupid photos from the farm. Sound good?

It’s been just over 3 months since I last posted here. My life has changed. Last summer was incredibly intense between M3’s EMT course (on top of working 40 hours a week), the flood, and some other events that I may or may not mention.

This is Tofu, insisting on sitting on my chest as I read.

This is Tofu, insisting on sitting on my chest as I read.

And my cubicle work was wrong. All wrong. In so many ways. So, I started a home business last May and by last October it had taken off. Woven Hearth is a living, breathing weaving business. So, I quit the cubicle hell. Everyone has been much happier since.

And since I left the cubicle, I have been spending time on my book review blog and on my business website and I have let this one languish. But no more!!!! I will post stupid farm photos here, and most of the time they will have explanations. Sometimes I may have to change names to protect the stupid. I am sure you will understand.

 

I obviously nee hotair balloons in this post. Obviously.

I obviously nee hotair balloons in this post. Obviously.

The Abiquiu House

The fireplace at my parents' new house.

The fireplace at my parents’ new house.

As some of you may know, my parents bought a plot of land a few years ago out by Abiquiu Lake in northern NM. Over the past 2+ years, they have been building a large, gorgeous house that is both weaving studio (for my mom) and office (for my dad) along with great views of the lake.

They hired local folks and artisans to build the house, buying locally made building supplies when possible. The house is off the grid, using solar power to keep a bank of batteries charged, radiant heating floors, and a fire place (along with a soon-to-be installed wood cook stove). While they tried to drill a water well not once, but twice, they were unsuccessful in locating water. So with a combination of rain barrels and trucked in water, they have plenty for drinking, cooking, washing, and the bathrooms.

At the main entrance, my parents put in a slate floor that wraps around to a bathroom, in case someone needs to wash off some mud.

At the main entrance, my parents put in a slate floor that wraps around to a bathroom, in case someone needs to wash off some mud.

They used local slate to create the entrance floor and from there, all wood floors. With the left over bits of slate, they plan to make a few little tables to sit at the ends of couches or beside their bed. Also, the downstairs windows have deep sills as the ground floor is all adobe walls; they used bits of slate to line the window sills.

These two plants were some of the first things my parents moved in.

These two plants were some of the first things my parents moved in.

The large ground floor room is open to the roof, allowing lots of natural lighting for the weaving studio. The ground floor also has a generous kitchen, bathroom, and dining room area. The upper floor consists of a long, loft-like room for my dad’s office, the large bedroom, and the master bathroom.

Some of the first things my parents moved in were these two really large plants (a type of euphorbia, I think). Next, a real staircase was installed. Hooray! But then we had several heavy things to move upstairs.

My parents have a real kitchen in this new house, with plenty of space, a futuristic fridge, garbage disposal, and dishwasher.

Here is the finished stairway, much better than the one they had up for construction.

Here is the finished stairway, much better than the one they had up for construction.

A few small things still need to be completed, such as painting the interior second floor walls, finishing off the master bathroom, and laying the wood floors in the master bedroom. Also, they have planned to do balconies off the ground floor at the back of the house and also balconies off the second floor. But that will come as can be done. Then there is the ginormous chore of moving my parents from their current house to this beauty. Little by little, quite a bit has already been done, but hopefully by the end of next summer the move can be complete.

Here are the ceiling vigas and the upper loft.

Here are the ceiling vigas and the upper loft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the bulk of the kitchen.

Here is the bulk of the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the left over slate was used for the window sills.

Some of the left over slate was used for the window sills.

 

The Queen of Flies

Horse fly that bit the wrong person.

Horse fly that bit the wrong person.

Each summer we have a variety of flies on the farm. I blame the donkey and goat poo. Hence we let the chickens play in the corrals to scratch up the larvae before they become adult flies to irritate and feed upon donkey, goat, and human alike.

Here we have what I think is the female Western Horse Fly, Tabanus punctifer. This is a really big fly. M3 has been bitten once or twice by one of these, and he called then sneaky. He didn’t feel the initial bite, which made us wonder if they excrete some numbing agent before beginning to feast. This particular one was nibbling on the back of one of our donkeys and I gave it a thwack, which merely stunned it long enough for this picture. That is one tough fly!

Jake munching by the pond.

Jake munching by the pond.

And since I was taking photos already, our two big donks were posing for the camera. Jake is our mammoth donkey and our oldest at ~21. Tobiah is a near-mammoth, and ~11 years old. They don’t like flies either.

Tobiah following me around the pond.

Tobiah following me around the pond.

Flowers For You

The big white flower and my little hand.

The big white flower and my little hand.

Remember that July flood? Yeah, so do I. Well, it put several tons of sand on the property and with the sand came seeds. We have 2 squash plants popping up on fences lines unexpectedly. Here, we have a big, big white flower. I am not sure what it is. I do like that the blossom is nearly as big as my head. Any guesses as to what it is? As you can see, the plant itself is pretty short, and so far, there is only the one blossom. After looking on the web, I think this might be a Datura flower.

A pink morning glory.

A pink morning glory.

Then of course I had to take pictures of the field of Morning Glorys at my parents house. My dad weed-whacked everything in the front yard a few weeks ago. My parents have had Morning Glorys for years in this spot, often climbing the bean plants, taking advantage of collard greens, and tucking under potato plant leaves. After the weed-whacker knocked the heads off all the plants in this little space, the Morning Glorys took advantage of the sun. I took this photo on a cloudy day. They tracked the hidden sun during the few hours I was there.

 

The big white flower drooping in the rain.

The big white flower drooping in the rain.

 

 

A field of Morning Glorys.

A field of Morning Glorys.

Cooking With Farm Eggs

Various colors, sizes, & shapes my hens lay.

Various colors, sizes, & shapes my hens lay.

As you know, we have chickens, ducks, and geese. Earlier in the spring, we were getting eggs from all three. Now we are just getting eggs from the chickens as the raccoons take the duck and geese eggs (and not the birds themselves). We could with all three (when we have them).

Our chicken eggs range in sizes, colors, and shapes as we have several different kinds of chickens. When a recipe calls for 2 large eggs, I don’t grab the largest 2 chicken eggs I have on hand because these will be the equivalent of 3 large store eggs. Luckily, I often have a choice in eggs and I also have the choice to simply use a recipe as a guideline. This drives M3 crazy by the way. He follows recipes to the letter, and if we are missing an ingredient, are short on one, or have unsalted butter instead of salted he will come to a standstill in his cooking. Me, I look over the recipe, see what they are getting at, and then cook according to what I have on hand and what my personal preferences are. I often reduce sugar in a recipe. I will use more herbs than what is called for. If something calls for a brand name seasoning packet, I openly scoff at this and season to my tastes. We had a large seasoning cupboard.

Muffins made with duck eggs - who can tell the difference?

Muffins made with duck eggs – who can tell the difference?

I apply this same devil-may-care (or not) attitude to amount of egg in recipes. I have a basic idea of what the egg will do to all the other ingredients I will be mixing it with, so I try to judge the total egg quantity to the portions of the other ingredients. Sometimes this means making a recipe and a half because I only have a duck egg to cook with. Sometimes I may need to triple a recipe because I only have a goose egg to cook with. I’m flexible that way.

So, here I made some muffins. I forget what I put in them, other than two duck eggs. Honestly, I couldn’t taste any difference at all. They did come out a beautiful golden color which was very nice. Showy muffins.

Here you can see I decided I needed to fry up a goose egg along with 2 chicken eggs. M3 had the 2 chicken eggs with his breakfast and I had the goose egg. I was richer than the chicken eggs, but very, very good. Like silk. It was excellent on buttered toast.

Frying up 1 goose egg & 2 chicken eggs.

Frying up 1 goose egg & 2 chicken eggs.

I grew up not liking eggs at all. In college it became near impossible to eat scrambled, deviled, fried, or hard-boiled store bought eggs. My stomach would feel like it was chewing on rocks for hours afterwards. So, going in a lovely marriage, I had no idea how to cook eggs. I could bake with them, as long it wasn’t an egg-rich item (like souffle). But I didn’t know how to fry eggs. But once we got our own chickens a few years ago, it was time I learned to cook with them. At first, I watched M3 and was mystified for a long time on how you knew when to flip a frying egg. Then what do you do with it? How do you judge runniness of the yolk when it is butt up like that? I finally got to where I could fry an egg or two for M3 (sort of), but I still wasn’t eating eggs myself. Finally, I had some scrambled eggs – and my belly did not grind away on those chicken rocks for hours afterwards.

Now, we eat eggs a few times a week in summer when eggs are plentiful. They are a treat in the winter. I still have not learned how to hard boil them – and the last time M3 did, the house smelled like sulfur for hours! How do people do it? Why would you want to eat hard-boiled sulfur? But I’ve got down the frying and the scrambling.

Raccoons & Plastic Eggs

What a raccoon can do to a plastic egg.

What a raccoon can do to a plastic egg.

We got some plastic Easter eggs to try to fool the chickens into laying eggs were we want them. Well, it was more of a compromise. There are places in the main yard where I wouldn’t mind them laying eggs, if they have to insist on NOT laying in the hen house. So, I put several under the choke cherry bushes and the wild plum trees and in a few other nooks and crannies. This resulted in 0 (zero) eggs where I wanted them. Sigh…

But a little while after that, my friend from Freecycle was giving us some more pond plants and asked if I still needed plastic eggs. She gave us 3 larger eggs, the size of goose eggs (thanks J.!). I thought these would be great down at the duck pond to help coerce the geese and ducks into laying in the actual houses we placed down there.

Notice how the raccoon opened both ends of the egg?

Notice how the raccoon opened both ends of the egg?

Haha! I was in for a surprise. We know the raccoons have a family nest nearby and frequent the pond. I expect this is where most of our duck and goose eggs go to. M3 brought this plastic egg up one night after feeding all the barnyard beasties. I have to say I was freakingly impressed by not only the voracious damage, but the tenacity. Notice how both ends of the egg are shredded!

So this prompted reading up on raccoons a bit. Apparently, they don’t have any natural predators that regularly risk the maiming that would certainly occur in turning one into a meal. I expect the smaller/younger they are, the more things they have to worry about. Still, once they reach a certain age and are capable of tearing up decent plastic like that, who would want to bother, especially when there is easier meals about?

We will definitely have to keep all this in mind for building a winter duck & goose hut. The colder it is, the less likely the raccoons will be satisfied with an egg or two.

Italians, Speckled, Buffed, & More

Italian Lady & Mr. Peach

Italian Lady & Mr. Peach

We got new chickens. We had lost most of our chickens to predators – mostly dogs (whether strays or the neighbors’,  we don’t know). That was almost 4 months ago. Through Freecycle, we met D. who was downsizing her flock for several reasons, including the latest forest fires threatening homes in northern NM. If pushed to evacuate, she would not be able to take all of them. So, over the course of two trips, we brought these ladies and a few more home (thanks D.!). I don’t have them all pictured here.

Hermione in a laying box.

Hermione in a laying box.

They all came with names, but I don’t remember all of them. The smallest of the flock are these two Italian ladies. They are named after two lady characters on the TV show The Sopranos. I believe the breed is Buttercups, so named for the comb on their heads. It looks like a little hat to me (instead of a mohawk) but I guess it could also resemble a buttercup flower. They are almost always hanging out together. They especially love rooting through the underbrush of the choke cherries and wild plums. They are just a little bigger than our roosters.

One gives us a good size white egg every other day and the other likes to hide her eggs. We recently found a stash under the front porch! Sometimes she lays in the hen house and her eggs are about 3/4 the size of her sister’s.

This chicken grumbles a lot.

This chicken grumbles a lot.

Hermione is a gregarious bird, sometimes allowing me to pet her. She is one of the prettiest hens I have ever seen. I remembered her name easily as my great grandmother was also named Hermione (french pronunciation). I believe she is a speckled Sussex. She is a good layer and people friendly. We also now have some fluffy footed chickens – yep, feathers on their feet. It’s suppose to keep their feet warm in cold weather. We’ll see if they are out and about more in the winter over the other chickens. I think they are Cochin chickens.

Buffy (the light one) & friends.

Buffy (the light one) & friends.

We now have 2 barred Plymouth Rock hens, and then one bred, hatched, and raised here on the farm hen that looks remarkably like a barred Plymouth rock. One of the new ladies is very gregarious, always chuckling to herself, etc. She also calls down the alarm daily, for no apparent reason. Our local barred hen, aka Speckled Hen, is the capable of getting into the freezer room and eating the dry catfood. She survived the dog attack earlier this year.

A hen strutting around on hay.

A hen strutting around on hay.

I think two of the ladies are Rhode Island reds and one is a Buff Orpington (known as Buffy the vampire slayer!). We still have one Araucana lady (hooray for green eggs!) and our two little Cornish Gamecocks, Mr. Peach & Mr. Berry. Mr. Peach is another farm chicken, bred and hatched here. He is a mix between a Cornish Gamehen and a local Abiquiu white rooster.

I’m sure I forgot a few ladies, bat as they can’t read, I don’t they will be lining up to pluck my eyes from my head. Not today anyway.

 

 

Do you see a chicken head?

Do you see a chicken head?

 

 

 

 

One of the Italian Ladies in the choke cherries.

One of the Italian Ladies in the choke cherries.

 

 

Rag Rug Festival 2013

This is what I was up to this past weekend – check out all the cool arts (there’s lots of pics).

Woven Hearth

This was my first year assisting my mom, Sandy Voss of Cabin Textiles, with Rag Rug Festival held by the New Mexico Women’s Foundation in Santa Fe, NM August 9th, 10th, & 11th. This year the Rag Rug Festival was held at the International Folk Art Museum on Museum Hill, instead of the Udall Building as in years past. The artists, somewhere between 30-40 (my guess), had most of Friday to set up prior to a special ticket preview night that went to 8PM. There was light food and a small bar and a full array of fashions on display by artists and patrons alike. I live an hour and a half north of this shin dig and I was beat by the time I got home. I was quite surprised by the variety of arts on display as I had assumed the bulk of the wares would be…

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