While I am not a cooking expert, I am very skilled at eating. In fact, I am addicted to the habit of eating. As a note to the recipe below, we recommend using fresh onions and garlic, preferably from a local, organic source such as a local farmers market.
So every once in a while I come across a meal or side dish that just hits home with my palate. Below is once such recipe:
6 Ripe Avocados (From my experience as a produce clerk in college, it is advisable to purchase very soft avocados that are almost to the point of being overly ripe)
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 Cup of salsa (perhaps I will post our canning recipe at some point)
2 Green onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder (Though I would be very tempted to modify this to utilize freshly minced garlic)
How to prepare:
Process the Avocados by removing the skin and the pit. This is usually done by first halving the avocados. Mash the avocados in a bowl.
Mix in the lemon juice.
Stir in the salsa, onions, and garlic powder (or minced garlic).
This can then be used to serve with Tortilla chips or some other type of Mexican cuisine were guacamole is traditionally utilized.
This recipe was apparently modified from All Recipes (Lauren Heyn is the original contributor)
So previously we talked about reasons to consider burning wood as a heat source and reasons not to burn wood. In this installment, we will talk about the how to of burning wood. Though I am not a wood burner expert or manufacturer, I do have some experience in this area. (I also have a slight bent toward burning things in general: garbage, brush piles, bon fires, etc)
So beginning with the basics, fire needs three things in order to work: a spark, fuel, and air (specifically oxygen). The spark generally comes in the form of a match, but many others ways to start a fire exist. There are relatively inexpensive “fire sticks,” which are basically cigarette lighters with an elongated portion on the end to keep the flame away from your hand. Matches can be struck to produce spark. Then there is the old fashioned flint method to produce a spark. So that is the easiest portion to cover is spark.
Next a fire needs fuel. Many fuel sources exist such as propane, fuel oil, coal, paper and wood. Of curse we are discussing the last two in this segment. Paper is made from wood or is basically thinned out wood. Paper aids in getting the fire started. It is also a rather quick burning source of “flash” to get the flue heated up rapidly ( more on that to follow). Wood is a inexpensive, renewable form of fuel for fires. It burns rather slowly and produces a good amount of heat (which is generally measured in Btus). Wood that is utilized for indoor woodburners should generally be of a hardwood variety. Examples of hardwood are Oak, Maple, Cherry and Walnut. Soft woods are generally types of pine. These soft woods produce a lot of black smoke due to moisture and sap content. This black smoke contributes heavily to creosote build-up, increasing the risk of chimney fires. My understanding is that just about anything can be burned in an outdoor woddburner due to the short smoke stack.
Air is the next component needed for a fire. Air, specifically oxygen, is needed for a fire of any type. Regulating the flow of air also helps control your rate of burn (or fuel consumption). A fire that burns faster, generally burns with more intensity and produces greater heat. A fire with unlimited airflow, will consume fuel at a much higher rate than one that has the air flow controlled. (I will try to have another post soon about the components of a wood stove and some ideas on how to regulate airflow to the fire itself). I have found that it is important to have some airflow from underneath the fire. Therefore, the bottom pieces of wood should be slightly propped up on to a small piece or the ashes cleaned out in order to allow air to flow underneath and around the piece of wood itself.
Hopefully this is helpful as you pursue burning wood as a heat source. I find that it has helped to supplement our propane bills this winter (which has also been very mild). The wood burner also serves as an alternative if and when our power goes out. (We will probably be looking into a backup generator at some point to protect us in the event of a short duration power outage). For some good information about diesel powered generators, http://tinkererstoolchest.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/diesel-pro-6500-watt-generator-project/
Another beautiful morning sunrise here in the country. This morning I awoke to semi-sore muscles, a snoring two year old on my floor and a barking puppy. After avoiding stepping on the snoring tot, I proceeded downstairs to find my six year old curled up on the couch studiously entrenched in an American Girl Doll catalogue fresh off of receiving a dollar from the beloved tooth fairy.
As of this moment, the pup has been out and the day has be recycled anew. Hopefully I.will get around to installment two of hue burning wood series. This next part will focus on how to burn wood. I may delve into selected a wood burner as well at some point so stay tuned.
I am sorry for the small break. Tonight began the P90x regimen in our house. Tomorrow night is a birthday party so posts may be a bid sparse for a bit. Thanks for understanding and patience.
Burning wood is a great way to provide heat during the cold winter months. It is also a great heat source during the fluctuating temperatures the accompany the typical Spring and Autumn seasons. I have another post about our woodburner, but I thought I would go further into the merits of burning wood and also into some of the how tos of doing this practically. There are also some negatives to consider.
First Topic: Why to consider burning wood
- Wood is a renewable resource.
- Wood can generally be obtained for very little cost, though some elbow grease and time are usually involved.
- Wood can be planted and easy to grow, allowing for a constant supply of fuel.
- Wood can often be obtained helping friends and neighbors clean up after numerous storms.
- There are numerous tax credits available (or at least have been available) for the purchasing of wood burning stoves…both indoor and outdoor.
- Wood Stoves can be utilized as a passive heat system
- Wood heats without electricity, making it an excellent heat source in the event of power outages
- The ashes can be used to help build and amend soil components or ashes can be composted
- Cutting and Splitting wood is good exercise (The saying is that wood heats you twice, once when you cut it and once when you burn it)
- Wood is one of the more efficient heat sources when cut, split and burned properly
Second Topic: Why Not to Burn Wood
- Wood is often messy inside in the areas where it it burned and/ or stored
- Wood carries many allergens (Indoor woodburning can trigger allergies during non-allergy seasons)
- Wood can carry many bugs, including termites
- Wood cutting and splitting takes time
- Specialized tools are required (Saws, axes, mauls, splitting wedges, a log splitter)
- Ashes must be disposed of
- Cutting and Splitting wood is hard work involving a lot of effort.
- Finding wood to cut may be difficult
- Burning wood indoors is a fire risk. The chimney must be cleaned and maintained in order to prevent chimney fires.
First off, let me appologize for the cheesy title, but I had to do it…
For those of you that have been following our blog for the past few weeks, we have been looking into buying hay. We purchased approximately 75 bales in the fall. These bales were all purchased via Craiglist and chosen based upon a low price. I paid $2 per bale.
So about two weeks ago, we noted that we were going to run out of hay. We began the search for more hay. We took inventory and noted that we were feeding between 1/2 bale to 2/3 of a bale per cow per day. With the 3 heifers, that means basically 2 bales per day.
In our previous post entitled “Success,” (http://heritagebreedfarms.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/success/) we proclaimed that we found more hay. The seller had 1000 bales for sale at $2 per bale. I called and found out that the seller was actually a client and an acquantance. I arranged the purchase of 100 blaes, which should be enough to get us through until the grass is growing well enough to at least compensate the cows and supplement their feeding. I left my phone number with the seller and then awaiting the timing for the pickup. After waiting several days, I attempted to call the seller multiple times, but was unable to get ahold of him. I was losing hope at that point.
We began to look around for more hay, with the one remaining bales rationed for the next day. Off went some emails and texts to various people that we know so that we could buy more bales. Thankfully in the middle of that, the seller called back and we were on our way. We picked up the bales around 7:00 P.M.
Upon picking up the bales and then returning home, we tried to get the hay wagon into the barn. At that point, a lesson was learned—-the wagon that we borrowed was a wagon to catch bales of hay from a kicker wagon. The importance is that the front axle is reticulating (not fixed like a normal trailer). My weak attempts at backing the trailer were near comical. As soon as the wheels to the wagon began to turn, the wagon would basically jack-knife.
This began the unloading of 100 bales after the kids were in bed. O-yeah and in a light rain, which actually let up during the unloading. Finally at 12:30 A.M., we unloaded the last bale and headed inside. one project done and two tired workers. But thankfully we got “Baled Out” in the nick of time.
English: Soil types by clay, silt and sand composition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just letting everybody know to stay posted, as we are attending a soil conference over the weekend. This conference is an informal meeting arranged by a local family of farmers. These farmers practice organic, hormone-free, and natural practices. They produce and market their own milk. I will be able to hopefully update the soil portion of this blog soon. The blogs will tend to be filed under soil and you are what you eat.
As I look more and more at expanding our farming operation, I have asked myself if we should purchase a team of work horses or a tractor. One thought is that I am better skilled at working on horses when they get sick than I am at repairing machinery. There is also something appealing to me about working the land with a team of horses. Maybe that is nostalgic, but seems more peaceful to me.
So looking at the horse aspect, I would want to consider yet another heritage breed. I found one called a Cleveland Bay and another called an American Cream. Both of those are on the ALBC critical list. So that in and of itself presents a problem of supply. As far as training them goes, I would need to contact an Amish client or two and volunteer to be a farmhand for a week or two. This would allow me time to learn how to hitch a team, drive a team, and how to farm with horses. This seems intense. Another benefit to horses is that they are less damaging to the land than mechanized equipment. Horses tend to cause less damage to the ground that they walk on, resulting in less compaction of the soil underneath.
The tractor provides the easier avenue for farming. More can be accomplished in less time, so this is the obvious way to go. The other angle to consider is that equipment more readily available for tractors than for horses. Fortunately, we live in an area close to a large contingent of Amish farmers. This means that equipment and implements are more available in our area than in many others.
Anyway, just a quick rambling for today….The next thing that you know I will be talking about how long my beard is in my eventual quest to become completely Amish.
Early Sunday morning, I received an emergency call to go see a cow that had managed to prolapse her uterus after calving. I proceeded to get out of bed, dressed, took the puppy out to go to the bathroom and finally headed out to the call. It was about 25 degrees as I pulled up to the milkhouse. I took a quick inventory of my supplies: lidocaine for an epidural, two buckets of warm water, intravenous fluid administration set, calcium intravenous solution, Bruehner needle, umbilical tape, antibiotic flush, halter, dish soap, and rectal palpation sleeves.
Once I entered the barn, I saw a nice looking herd of Dutch Belted cattle. Dutch Belted are a heritage breed of cattle. I was not aware of any of our main herds being comprised of a heritage breed. I began to ask the farmer how long they had been using the Dutch Belted cattle. I also inquired as to why a commercial dairy would go with something other than Holstein or Jersey. He told me that they has gone to a grazing operation in 2007 and found that the Holsteins did not perform well. Thus began the search for an old breed that was more geared toward grazing. Enter the Dutch Belted. He stated that they selected not only for grazing but also for component composition. On a dairy, they look at pounds of production and butter fat content as their two main drivers for milk economics. He told me that the Dutch have better components than the Holsteins and also that they seem to produce better in the grazing set up. In fact, their best producer made 80 pounds of milk per day at her highest. That is rather good production.
So back to the story at hand. I entered the pen to find the cow with a prolapsed uterus, and reluctance to rise. Once she got up, she was very agitated and weak. I administered the calcium solution via the jugular vein, yet she was unable to get up. At this point, I proceeded to pull her back legs out behind her and administer the epidural. I then cleaned the placental attachments from the uterus, cleaned the lining, and smeared the uterus with the liquid dish soap. At this point, the farmer helped to elevate the uterus and I was able to manipulate it back into its normal location. I placed two sutures with the Bruehner needle and the umbilical tape after filling the uterus with 9 liters of uterine lavage with antibiotics. Following that, I administered a second bottle of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium via the jugular vein. I encouraged the cow to get up and she stood immediately, much stronger than before.
So my Sunday Surprise was not only a very successful outcome on the case at hand, but the chance to discuss heritage breeds with yet another producer.
Lush Green Pastures will be here soon
Since this is the first year that we have been feeding cattle, we had to make a guess at planning enough hay to feed through the winter. Thankfully this has been a very mild winter, which allowed our cattle to graze more than they normally would be able. As we get to mid-February, we are anxiously counting the remaining bales and longing for the lush green pastures as pictured above. I counted this evening and the remaining 16 bales are not going to be enough to last, especially with another cold spell predicted.
We have to begin the adventure of locating extra bales to purchase. A quick check of Craigslist revealed several possibilities for hay in the surrounding area. Hay prices are near their seasonal high this time of year due in part to shorter supply. Once first cutting hay is done in the area, the prices should begin to settle back into a lower price range. This fluctuation in hay prices, may be beneficial to us later on in our production. We may be able to sell some bales at various times of the year depending on our supply.
We are hoping that our small hay field will produce enough hay to tide us over through next winter (with maybe a few bales to sell at a later date). The fields at our farm have been certified organic for the past four growing seasons. We are not going to certify them again this year, as we are not going the certified organic route. The next question to answer is going to be how to get the hay put up. We are starting with no equipment, but are able to rely on the good graces of our neighbors. We will probably have them baled in the small square bales once again, but we could handle round bales if we can single-stack them and roll them around the storage area into a place to drop the daily ration down to the cattle below.
The sunny day today, makes us long once again for the time to plant and watch things grow.