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Showing posts from March, 2012

Mediterranian Black Bean Salad

It's getting to the point where we are starting to think less about bean soups and more about bean salads. It's officially spring now (even though we drove through snow yesterday!) and some of the vendors at the year round markets are bringing lots of greens from their hoop houses. This black bean salad would be excellent served plain or with chips, like a salsa. Or you could spoon it over a huge bed of lettuce or spinach and have a complete meal.
3-4 cups black beans (cooked previously)* 1/2 cup sliced green onions 1 large tomato, seeded and diced 1 stalk celery, diced 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried mint) 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup olive oil a dash of Tabasco sauce 1 tsp. cumin salt and pepper to taste
Drain and rinse black beans. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, refrigerating for at least 1 hour (better if left overnight) to combine flavors.
*Soak black beans overnight. The next day, cook in heavy pot for about two hours, or until tender. Midw…

Selling Hay

Hay is one of our main crops. We use it primarily to feed our sheep. It's always a guess as to how much to put up for the year. Will it be an early winter? Will it be a late spring? Will the feed quality of the hay be high enough that the sheep won't waste large amounts of it?

In late winter, we get a little better idea of where our supply is, and whether or not we will make it until the pastures are ready for the sheep. This barn was full last fall.

There is no reason to carry over extra hay to next year. So, when we were sure we'd have enough, we sold some. The hay price is better in March than it is in June. That's because many livestock producers are still feeding lots of hay, as it's too early to put the animals out on pasture. Also, hay is not typically harvested until late May or early June. So right now is the high point of demand and the low point of supply. Time to sell.

It's much pleasanter to work with hay when it's 50 degrees out, rather than 80 …

Happy Birthday!

To our youngest...

(a photo from a few years back--just for fun)

More Shearing Day Photos

Just had to share some of the people shots of Shearing Day:

Yes, that's snow out there. Can't even remember what snow is, with all the hot weather we've been having lately.

Many kids got to get up close and personal with Suffolk ewe "Mary," held by Grace.

Those who paid attention to the signs posted everywhere with sheep facts were able to take a quick quiz in hope of winning a prize.

Mary, from the Critter Barn (in hat and glasses, right) helped "interpret" what was going on during all the activities.

Stand back and make way for the sheep coming through!

Kami held the new baby lambs while kids got a chance to touch them.
There were so many friends and family who helped--with parking, answering questions, crowd control, skirting fleeces, picture taking, demonstrating wool arts, herding sheep, manning the quiz stations, and much more. Thank you for helping us put on this fun annual event. We couldn't do it without you!

Friday Fun Farm Facts--Dry Beans

Michigan producers grow several classes of dry beans, including Black Beans, Cranberry Beans, Great Northern Beans, Red Kidney Beans, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, and Yellow Eye Beans.
Huron County is one of the top dry bean producing counties in the Country.
Every day, "Michigan Bean Soup" is served at the U.S. Senate dining room in Washington, DC, dating back to 1904.

Michigan Bean Soup

Ingredients: 1 pound (2 cups) dry Navy Beans
1 meaty ham bone or 1-1/2 pounds ham hocks 1 cup chopped onion 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup chopped celery 2/3 cup mashed potato flakes or 1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1-1/2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon each, nutmeg, oregano, and basil 1 bay leaf

Preparation: Wash and sort beans. In a large kettle, cover beans with 6 to 8 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Add another 2 quarts of cold water and ham bone. Bring to a boil; simmer 1-1/2 hours. Stir in remaining ingre…

First Walk of Spring

We mostly skipped winter and had spring-like weather in December - February. And now it seems we've advanced suddenly into summer. Temps in the mid-80s are messing with my mind--it's mid-March! Since it is so warm, of course we are thinking of planting.
So Sunday we walked the fields. You can't really know how wet it is until you put your boots on the ground.

It's not ready to plant yet. Though since Sunday we've had nothing but more hot and more dry and some of these mud puddles should have shrunk a bit.

I can't remember EVER thinking about planting this early.

Wordless Wednesday

More Shearing

More photos from our shearing day--ladies in waiting:

The ewes are herded into a chute that leads up to the shearing stand. While in the chute, each ewe gets her annual vaccination. The mark on the ewe in the foreground helps the vaccine-giver remember where he stopped.

The shearers push down on the spring-loaded doors just long enough to get a grip on the next ewe. There is a lot of wrestling involved with shearing, but the ewes are not hurt.

In fact, once they are in position, they stop fighting against the shearer.

After the fleece is off, we spread it out and "skirt" it. We pull off the wool in the neck area, which is usually filled with hay bits. We pull off the wool near the other end of the sheep, which usually has some manure in it. It's a fun job! Really...

There is a barrel nearby for the "tags"--the wool that is pulled off. It is good for mulching around new trees and shrubs. It helps retain moisture and has built-in fertilizer.

The good wool goes in a …

Friday Fun Farm Facts -- Michigan Floriculture

Did you know?
Michigan leads the nation in geraniums, potted hostas, marigold flats, and Easter lilies.
Michigan's number one cut flower is the gladiolus with approximately 33.9 million spikes sold annually.
Michigan is the third largest floriculture producer, only surpassed by Florida and California.
It is estimated that floriculture provides more than 14,000 jobs in Michigan.

One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure

In the middle of last summer, when we needed it most, our combine broke. You can read about it here.

Since that day, the combine has not moved from where The Farmer parked it. The grass grew up long underneath it the rest of the summer.

When we finally found a replacement combine, we used the old one as a "parts barn," harvesting still-good parts from it to replace worn parts on the new (slightly neglected) combine.

A few months ago, we contacted a couple of companies who are the equivalent of the auto junkyard, only for larger agricultural equipment.
There are still a lot of good parts left in this combine, and after that, the remaining steel can be sold for scrap.

Finally, last week, they came to pick it up.

The whole process was fascinating. There was no need to fire up the old combine--it was just hooked up and dragged onto the trailer.

Yes, I was nervous. Stuff can really go wrong with these processes.

Notice our border collie off to the side, sniffing out critters. We di…

Facts on Farming

Instead of my usual "Friday Fun Farm Facts" post, I'm going to link to a blog post by another blogger on the income and expenses of the average farmer. The statistics are a little surprising and the graph is downright shocking.

Please read it here.

Celebrate National Ag Day!

Corn Poppin' Facts
Popcorn pops because water is stored in a small circle of soft starch in each kernel. As the kernel is heated, the water heats, the droplet of moisture turns to steam and the steam builds up pressure until the kernel finally explodes to many times its original volume.Americans today consume 17.3 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year! The average American eats about 68 quarts!While the first breakast cereal was made by adding sugar and milk to popped popcorn, a shortage of baking flours after World War II forced breadmakers to substitute up to 25% of wheat flour with ground popped popcorn. Over the years, popcorn has also been used as an ingredient in pudding, candy, soup, salad and entrĂ©es. Popcorn's nutritional value comes from the fact that, like other cereal grains, its primary function is to provide the body with heat and energy.Microwave popcorn is the same as other popcorn except the kernels are usually larger and the packaging is designed for maxi…

Wordless Wednesday

Just a Little More Off the Sides, Please

A photo recap of the day. Before shearing,


And after.

And some side-by-side comparisons...

We had someone running around with a fabulous camera the whole day. I've got so many wonderful photos that I might just keep sharing. And, yeah, I've got camera envy. Why do you ask?

Be Gentle With Us

I've just now started answering the phone, after nearly two weeks of letting every single phone call go to the answering machine. It was election time here in Michigan, and a couple of the candidates had the misguided idea that whoever bothered people the most would get the most votes.
It's been a week since our Shearing Day, and while we had a great time, and things really couldn't have gone any better, we still don't have all the set-up taken down.
During this week, The Farmer had all he could do to get his own work done and milk the cows of another farmer gone on vacation.
Also during this week a bunch of the Suffolk ewes, who were SUPPOSED to begin having their lambs a month ago, started popping them out. We think we are at 14 or so. But we have been too busy to count. A friend mentioned that I had a lamb chart on my blog last year. I don't remember how I did that, and haven't been able to find any help from Google.
My favorite photo editing…