Monday, November 12, 2012

The Farmer's Baked Oatmeal

Autumn has definitely arrived in North Carolina. Have you felt the nip in the air? Weldon has been donning his Carhartts, we need a little fire in the milk parlor most mornings, and I even put the flannel sheets on the bed today. No doubt about it ... winter is on its way!

When the house is feeling kinda chilly, it's the perfect excuse to bake. Excuse? Who needs an excuse to bake?! Anyway, I thought you might like this recipe for baked oatmeal. I make it all year long because I LOVE it! This is a compilation of a few different recipes I tried, and I bet you'll find ways to make it your own, too.

The Farmer's Baked Oatmeal
3 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1/2 cup sugar (brown, white, or a combination)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: cinnamon, wheat germ, flax meal, craisins, raisins, nuts, ...
whatever strikes your fancy

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Spread in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are getting brown, about 30 minutes. And, voila, breakfast!
Break it up with a spoon, put it in bowls, and top with fresh fruit, milk or cream, or (my favorite) yogurt. This will feed 6 to 8 people, totally depending on how much you eat, of course.
I know what you're thinking: Sounds good, but who has time to bake oatmeal in the morning? So ... bake it whenever you have time and store it in a covered container in the fridge. When you're ready for breakfast, simply put some in a bowl, microwave it for less than a minute, add your toppings, and ENJOY!

Another option for a crazy-busy lifestyle is to bake the oatmeal just a little longer, cool, and cut it into bars. Put the bars into little snack baggies in the fridge and you can grab breakfast on the run.

I'm so glad my life isn't that busy! After milking the cows, we definitely enjoy coming in to sit down, read the paper, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. This morning when I baked a pan of oatmeal, I added frozen raspberries and chopped pecans. Let me tell you ... delicious!! I'm getting hungry just writing about it :-)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Chop that Corn!!

Although it was a touch-and-go growing season, Weldon's corn crop did amazingly well this year. When it reached its optimum potential and was ripe for the reaping, the rains came ... and came ... and came. By the time the skies cleared and the ground was dry enough to support the machinery, the leaves had developed an unsightly blight. But Weldon said the corn and stalks were still full of moisture and the browning leaves wouldn't hurt the cows.

In past years I've blogged about harvesting the corn, but today I'm going at it from a different perspective. Like so many things in life, the actual doing of a job is preceded by lots of other jobs in preparation for the real job, so that's what the photos below depict: getting ready to chop the corn. I'll give you the short and sweet version.


Short and sweet. Get it?
Just a little humor :-)















Wagons, ready!
Tractors, ready!











Chopper, ready!










Silo, almost ...












Silo, ready!










Blower, ready!
















Preparatory work, done! Within two weeks, silage chopped!

Heart-felt thanks go out to the guys who helped Weldon: Alton, a long-time friend; and Jamie, a first-time visitor to the farm who offered his help & was immediately recruited :-)

You can see more pictures and read some of my previous posts about cutting the corn and hauling it to the silos by clicking on the links.

Finally, check out the exciting video footage of filling a silo in 2009. Can you believe it: they are still doing it the same way this year!
video

Life on a dairy farm. It's like nothing else. And that's all I'm going to say about it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Summer Kittens

Our cats and kittens are the healthiest I've ever seen on the farm. We quit giving them milk, and I give them a dollop of my crockpot yogurt or cooked pumpkin every now and then. Pat supplies nutritious soft food packets to go with their dry kibble, and coyotes have pretty much stayed away this year. Things are looking up for the feline population. Yay!!

Early this summer, Mrs. Mewer had two babies in an old silo that had no roof and, thus, not much protection from the elements. When we finally figured out where she had the babies, I crawled in through a small lower "window" opening, put down a sheet of plastic, and fixed them a bed-in-a-box. Mom and babies seemed content.
Things went well until a heavy downpour one night in late June. Fortunately, Pat thought of the babies, ran out in the rain, crawled through the same little opening I had used, and rescued the almost-drowned rats. She dried them off and got them settled in the milk barn. Once again, Mom and babies were content.
Their harrowing experience gave birth to their names: the little male (on the right) is Agua (Spanish for water) and the female is LaPli (Creole for rain). They're getting to be big kitties already, full of energy and looking for adventure.

As a sidebar to this story, we have an odd little male cat named Ranger. Nursing mother cats allow him to crawl in with the babies as though he's the babysitter. Mom can get out for a little exercise and Ranger keeps the babies warm :-) You can read an article here and see that it's not such an oddity, after all. Below you can see him with LaPli ... and I don't remember where Agua was!


In July, Mom Swirly had 5 kittens in the junk pile where she had had her previous litter. It took me quite a while to find them, but I finally prevailed.
What a surprise to find FIVE orange and white kittens: 4 female and 1 male; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme ... and Mustard (the male). They're so rambunctious now, it's impossible for me to get a decent picture of them, so you can see them in action on the video.



Next up, Mom Marmalade. She's a tiny cat who had her two fat babies in the lumber shed. It wasn't long before she started moving them; first further back in the shed, then back towards the front, then under the lumber pile outside of the shed, and finally into the hay barn. That's where this picture was taken.
Their faces are so fat that I burst out laughing whenever I look at them. Weldon named them Rolly and Polly.

The newest of the summer babies, born at the end of August, don't have names yet. Gretchen is their mom and she always has her babies in the milk barn. Totally unacceptable, but try to tell her that! There are 4 little ones in that box with mom. I guess we'd better come up with some names pretty soon. You see there's plenty of room in the box? That's for Ranger :-)

Anyone need a sweet kitty? Come and get 'em!

Friday, September 07, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Just before dawn breaks, as I'm heading out to feed the cats and kittens, I shouldn't hear the roar of the big tractor. But that's exactly what I hear this morning.  It's bound to mean problems, so I feed the cats and hurry to the back of the hay barn where I can get a view of the free stalls and, hopefully, see what's going on.

Sure enough, there's Weldon on the tractor and Pat standing near a cow lying in a free stall furthest from me. It's obvious that the cow has just had a calf and, as I work my way over to Pat, I see the new baby standing among some of the other cows. But Mama Cow is "hung up" between the upper and lower rungs of the stall divider pipe and can't get free.

The nuts and bolts that hold the stall together have been unscrewed, and Weldon has a big chain wrapped around the stall pipe and attached to the lift forks of the tractor. Slowly he lifts the stall divider pipe up and away from the cow.

However, the cow can't stand. This is when I start to cry (silently, of course) and pray (silently, of course). And this is exactly why I'm not cut out to be a nurse. These kind of things just tear me apart.

So ... Weldon goes to get the hip clamps (for the cow, not for any one of us) and attaches the device to the cow's hips and then chains it to the lift forks of the tractor. (I've seen him do this before, so I'm not in total shock like the first time I saw it.) Slowly, ever so slowly, he lifts the back end of the cow until she is obligated to stand. But she's doesn't want to stand on those back legs! (cry, pray, cry, pray)

Finally (seems like forever, but it was probably just a minute or two) she gingerly puts weight on her back legs and Weldon can remove the hip clamps. (sob, thank you, sob, thank you)

We slowly conduct mom and baby through a gate so they can get out to a nice grassy field and recover from their traumatic morning.
All's well that ends well :-)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pawpaw Festival

Pat invited me to the 5th Annual Pawpaw Festival at Jack Warren Park in Lewisville. Seems we had missed the first four years, so it was time to check this out! 

Weldon thought that paw-paws were what mee-maws were looking for on match.com, but we're not going to talk about that on this blog. I, on the other hand, had heard of pawpaws, 'cause I had a well-rounded upbringing, complete with famous and ridiculous children's songs, including:
♪♫ Picking up pawpaws, put 'em in a basket ♫♪
The internet and many people who know the song will say that it's actually "put 'em in your pocket." But look at those pawpaws. If I were going to be picking them up, I'd want a basket!
We learned a lot about pawpaws from the various speakers and it made me want to rush home and plant some trees. However, I don't suppose that will happen any time soon.
There were free samples of treats mee-maw made with paw-paw. Wait! What did I just say?? Going clockwise, starting at the white cup: pawpaw ice cream (melting and delish - I drank it!), ham spread on a cracker (tasty), pawpaw bread (sample was too small), and pawpaw trifle (quite luscious).

What a wonderful festival! It made me a fan of pawpaws!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Lemon Pound Cake

What! Another recipe? Yes, indeed-y! Even after using summer squash in salads, stir fry, and squash pie, I still had more in my fridge. I had had my fill of vegetables, so it was time to make a cake: a lemon pound cake whose secret ingredient is summer squash. You're gonna love it!

Lemon (Summer Squash) Pound Cake
Please read through the entire recipe before you begin, because I'm not listing the ingredients separately. This will be a good exercise of your organizational skills.

Start by grating enough squash (2-4? depending on their size) to yield 1-1/2 cups. Let it drain while you put together the other ingredients.

Cream together 1 cup margarine (I used butter), 1-1/2 cups sugar, and 2 teaspoons lemon peel (I didn't have any). Beat in 4 eggs and 1/2 cup sour cream.
Stir in 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Then stir in the 1-1/2 cups shredded summer squash and 2 teaspoons lemon extract.
Pour (well, it isn't exactly a pour-able mixture, so spoon or carefully dump) into a 10" tube pan sprayed with Baker's Joy. (Or you can do it the old fashioned way where you grease the pan & dust with flour. Really, just go out and buy an aerosol can of that magical stuff.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. "Don't forget to set your timer," says the voice of experience. While the cake is baking, have the maid wash up the dishes. You can use this time to relax with a good book, some music, or maybe even a little nap.

When the cake is done (you can use the handy toothpick check), set it on a wire rack to cool for 15-20 minutes (still in the pan).
After the 15 to 20 minutes, turn the cake onto a serving plate. Then, while the cake is still hot, drizzle with an icing made of 1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
It's a nice, moist cake that keeps well. It keeps well, but it eats better! That's what they say down here in the south.
Enjoy!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Squash Pie

Our garden got a late start this year, but it's coming along nicely. And, in some cases, a little too nicely. Just what am I supposed to do with all this summer squash?

A fancy schmancy cook I'm not. Give me a simple, straight-forward recipe and I'm happy. And Weldon is even happier. This is Edith's recipe and it uses 3 cups of diced squash in one fell swoop! It's easy, very tasty, and any leftovers will freeze well.

SQUASH PIE
3 c. diced squash
1 diced onion
1/4 c. Wesson oil  
1 c. Bisquick
2 beaten eggs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a spoon, mix well.
Pour into a 10" pie pan (or any appropriate-sized casserole) sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until golden brown.



You can get creative, of course. Try using half yellow squash and half zucchini. Throw in some peppers or add a little diced ham. But, take it from me, the recipe as written is delicious. And easy!! And uses up 3 cups of yellow squash in one fell swoop!!

P.S. There is nothing pie-ish about this dish, except that it can be baked in a pie plate. No crust, nothing gooey. I'd call it a casserole, but it's not my recipe, so I won't change the name.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Line Drawing

After spending 11 years as a single-again woman in the "big city" of Charlotte, NC, it was quite a change to get married and move to the country. In September we will celebrate our 8th anniversary, and, if I do say so myself, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of adjusting to life on the dairy farm.

In either locale, the homemaker's chores are pretty much the same (cooking, cleaning, baking, canning & freezing, laundry, mending, making do) ... but multiplied by 10 or so. "Wait a minute!" you say. "You were one person, you married another person, so that makes two. How can you say your duties were multiplied by 10?" You'll just have to trust me on this.
In addition to the household duties, I try to be helpful around the farm. I can drive the Bobcat or tractor when needed, I jog over hill and dale to help round up the cows when they "get out," I take care of lots of kitties, and I help milk cows every morning and evening. I'm even beginning to learn about gardening, both flowers and vegetables. Baby steps....
Yesterday afternoon I heard Weldon hollering, "Get out the pot!!" I hurried to the door to see what was happening. "Turtle soup!!" he cried.
This is where I draw the line.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

God Leads Us Day by Day

Preparing my "talk" for the women of Ardmore United Methodist Church earlier this month really helped me clarify the fact that even on the farm I have to trust that the Lord is leading and guiding! The cows are not in control!!


If you take the time to watch my video, God Leads Us Day by Day, you'll learn more about me than you ever wanted to know :-) But what I really hope you take away from the video is the fact that God is in the details of YOUR life.  

If I stand in front of a crowd to speak again, I will hold a 3- or 5-pound weight in each hand. That should lessen all the talking my hands do and tone my upper arms at the same time. Seriously, I would love your feedback and suggestions!

**Sorry. When I first published this post, the link was no good. I think I have fixed the problem.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gluttony - A Deadly Sin

**WARNING: Two disgusting photos follow**


Weldon came to the house saying, "You gotta see the strange critter I found in the field." Since I was in the middle of preparing supper, he said I could wait and see it after we ate. Great. So we ate. Then he was all about this critter, again.

"Okay, okay. Where is it?"

"It's on the tractor. I can bring it up to the house."

By this time, I'm figuring this is some kind of joke. What could he possibly have found that would be so intriguing? He's such a knucklehead. I'm ready. Bring it on ....

EEEUUUUUWW! GROSS!! WHAT IS IT?
Wait! I gotta get my camera :-)

****

The skeleton on the left is obviously that of a raccoon. See its tail? Even I could figure that one out :-) Weldon thinks the remains on the right are from a buzzard. I guess the raccoon was already dead, the buzzard ate his fill (almost), and then went for the head. OOOPS!! Too big. Stuck. AAAGGGHHHH. Below you can see a closeup of the deadly meal.


It seems all that remains of the buzzard is his head, a few wing bones, and his stomach ... full of raccoon fur. Yup, what looks like his body is just his stomach. DISGUSTING!!!!

There were no feathers around the odd couple, so Weldon surmised that a coyote dragged eater and eaten to the middle of the cornfield. Pat has sent photos to a biologist at Guilford College in Greensboro to see what he has to say about this weird joining of dead animals. Final thoughts:

Glutton: one who digs his grave with his teeth.
-French Proverb

... or ...

Bizarre is as Buzzard does!
-Cindy's Proverb

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Conflicting Views

Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me. 
Land spreadin' out so far and wide 
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside. 
 

 
New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.

...The chores.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
...The stores.


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
...Fresh air. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
...Times Square
Times Square, New York - Shopping


You are my wife.
Good bye, city life. 
Green Acres we are there.
 
Green Acres, lyrics by Vic Mizzy
Penthouse view photo by Anderson Cooper
Macy's photo here
Times Square photo here