Monday, March 27, 2017

Return to Routine

Since my return to the farm, I've been busier than a moth in a mitten.  

I love the farm.  The routine is anything but routine.  Every day is different. 

One constant is the loyalty of my companions.

No matter how boring it is to watch me work.

"Woman loves to fetch sticks!"
Cole prefers to fetch more lively items, like mice. Who needs a cat, when Cole's on duty.

I wish he wouldn't carry them around for an hour.  
Couple of weeks ago, he fetched a feral chicken.

We're all thankful to have a dedicated hunter in the house. After dispatching it, I handed the chicken back to Cole.  Within 15 minutes, he had it all plucked, not a nick in the skin.  

Now that's teamwork. 
Sometimes, his zeal exceeds the mandate though...

The dogs had shadowed me for hours while I painstakingly buried a cable 1000' down the driveway.  Out of the blue, Cole wrassled me (Southernism) for the cable, yanking out some of my work...  realizing his mistake, he offered me an olive branch.  Figuratively, not literally.  I wouldn't be amused if he'd snapped a branch off my beloved olive tree.  The garden has taken a kick in the teeth this year.
Spring had sprung....native Zephyr lilies.

Swamp roses bursting with blooms.

Lady Banks rose scaling by ox barn wall.

Even the first unfurling of a Luna Moth.

Spring was here.  Seeing as Mother nature has turned bipolar, she unsprung Spring and gave us a very rude 23'F night, during fruit tree budding.
Say goodbye to all the blooms, they'll be mush by morning.

I worked by flashlight for two nights to protect the garden.


Threw everything I had into it, including bed linens and beach towels.

All the new growth on the fig trees and fruit trees died back, but they've survived and the blueberries kept their developing berries.  See, could've been worse!

The horses' blankets that had been hand washed and put away for the season, were taken right back out.
Dumb and Dumber:

Short horses make their jackets appear more like dresses:

Then laundry day, all over again.

Never an ounce of time to get bored around here. While Nature was preoccupied throwing a tantrum, I jumped heart and soul into recipe testing.  

Gallons of chicken and beef stocks with an oxtail minestrone soup.

Blueberry zucchini cake.

Caramel nut tart.  I'd never made my own chocolate ganache or caramel before.  I think I'm addicted.

So worth the four hours it took to make it and the mess in the kitchen.

New goal is to make consistently good pizza from scratch.

First attempt looked like an amoeba.

Second Hawaiian pizza wasn't too shabby.

Encouraged, I took out my pasta machine and made my first raviolis.

This is how I unwind on my days off:  four hours flew right by.
Sweet potato stuffed ravioli.

Only one burst while boiling.
Unfortunately, they clung together!

Not the same presentation as Frank Stitt's Sweet Potato Ravioli with Mustard Greens and Ham.

As delicious, plus I have 4 more portions in my freezer for work lunches! Looks ain't everything!
And now that my hens have resumed laying eggs again, I'm dreaming of quiches and frittatas.

Feeding the machine is essential (and fun).  Gives me an excuse to work late... it's called burning off calories.

Behold the fruit of Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights' labor.  Total refurbishing of a rundown trailer... except for the wheels, they're still kattywompus -- you can't go fast with it, hence the joke of the flaming wheels.  

New hay wagon is ready for action.
Fruits of late Sunday evening:  Apricot Pork Tenderloin over Pecan Rice.

Supper around here averages 10 PM lately.  Who doesn't love eating supper in their pyjamas anyway?
Looks like I missed some black paint with the mineral spirits and looks like we have more pesky calories to burn tomorrow.  
My most avid taste tester asked me last week:  "Mama, are we getting fat?"

"No, no, no, we're holding steady at fluffy."  (maybe extra fluffy)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fire Ant Eradication

Making aluminium ant hill castings has been on my Bucket List for over a year.  Alas, I lack the very necessary forge.

Two friends, professional farriers, arrive March 11 with theirs!

Mark and Spencer also bring 150 lbs of old shoes. I supply fire ants.

The aluminium shoes melting in the forges.

Then carefully poured into unsuspecting fire ant mounds.

Die, you vile invasive species!

After sufficient cooling the digging can commence.

Mark can't contain himself, he jumps in the hole to pry out the first sculpture, indifferent to the very upset half of the colony that survived the molten metal attack.

Their sting is painful and the toxins they inject leave you with a reminder of your encounter.  Heinous creatures.
Several pours are made, some less successful than others.

Takes experience judging if a mound will be deep enough, or not...
Then the soil trapped in the sculpture has to be removed.
Three good sculptures, in one afternoon, courtesy of this trio.

 Here I capture the professional photographer in his natural habitat.

Seeing as myself and my battered Droid camera can't pay such homage to the works, all following pictures are Mark's.

Incredible how the molten metal fills all the ant's passages and chambers.

This one is mine.

This one is Mark's, still in its raw state.

After he meticulously polished it all with a Dremel tool.  I'm scared to ask how long it took.  Mine has yet to be pampered in any such manner!  I'll get around to it eventually...

Meanwhile, I acquiesce to one picture taken of myself.

... as long as at least two of my animals can be in it.  Say cheese for the patient man behind the camera (Mark Rikard Photography, Birmingham, Alabama).  Cheeez!