Posts Tagged ‘Amish’

Local food (and a few recipes)

May 24, 2009

I am buying more and more food locally. I have been buying Grama Sue’s eggs for several months. On Saturday, I met her in person since she was at the grocery store selling her eggs. I was pretty excited to meet her and she seemed pleased that I already had her eggs in my cart. I told her that I always buy her eggs if the store has them, but that unfortunately she would be losing a customer since I now have my own chickens. Lately, I’ve been able to buy more local food because my garden is producing food and the Farmer’s Markets have started. The Farmer’s Market in the small town near us, Colchester, started 3 weeks ago and the one in Macomb started on Thursday. I’ve been buying asparagus from Eli, who is Amish and has been at the Colchester Farmer’s Market every Saturday. I like buying vegetables from the Amish because I am quite sure they do not use any pesticides or herbicides. This is an assumption on my part, so I should probably ask to make sure.

Anyway, Friday night’s dinner was a quiche and a salad. I used Grama Sue’s eggs and some green onions from our garden for the quiche; The salad included leaf lettuce and radishes from our garden. The quiche recipe I use is a crustless broccoli and cheese quiche from Vegetarian Times. One of the cool things about quiche: you can substitute for the vegetables or the cheese. Last night I did not use the nutmeg or the mustard and I used some colby jack and cheddar cheeses instead of low-fat swiss. I often use mozzarella, but any cheese would do. It just depends on what you have on hand and what kind of cheese you like. I also didn’t have enough broccoli, so I added some asparagus I bought at the Farmer’s Market. Dinner was good because a) I actually cooked something for a change, b) it had fresh ingredients from our garden or that were bought locally, and c) the recipe is a good recipe.

Dessert was also good. I used this recipe for the rhubarb I bought on Thursday at the Farmer’s Market in Macomb. The recipe was a big hit; it didn’t last past the cleaning up from dinner. The recipe calls for 4 cups of rhubarb. I only had about 3 and a half cups, so I substituted with some strawberries (also from the Farmer’s Market). I am sure you could do 2 cups of strawberries and 2 cups of rhubarb if you wanted. It was tart, but also sweet. I think that if you add strawberries, you might want to reduce the sugar a bit. It just depends on how sweet you want it. I was using organic cane sugar, which seems to be a bit sweeter than regular sugar.

Saturday we hit two Farmer’s Markets so we picked up some asparagus, radishes, onions, tomatoes, ground beef, and some herbs to transplant in the garden. Dinner included local grass-fed, organic beef (though they are not certified because that costs money!), onion and tomato bought at the Farmer’s Market, and lettuce from my garden.

One thing I have learned about the Farmer’s Markets is that earlier is better. For example, let’s pretend you want to buy rhubarb. Well, you’d better get to the Farmer’s Market early because everyone else in town wants to buy rhubarb, too. Also, some people only bring a little bit of stuff and then they pack up and leave if they sell it all. So if you arrive towards the end of the market, you might miss out on some things. However, we did score a free hot dog because the beef people were leaving and didn’t want to take it home.

P. S. While searching for rhubarb recipes, I found this blog entry, which has recipes for dandelions, including a video on how to make dandelion fritters. I still have not tried dandelions (and I think it’s too late in the season at this point, also), but it seemed to go well with last week’s post.


Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself

May 5, 2009

I am full of ideas, some good and some bad. Before the grass grew and we had to mow, I was telling the guys that we could get a reel mower. I saw one of the Amish boys using one on their lawn and I felt inspired. I figured between that and letting the cows and chickens* mow for us, we would be doing our part for the environment and getting some exercise.

Yes, you can laugh uproariously now. If I weren’t so tired, I’d be laughing at myself, too. After two days of using a push mower to mow my mother-in-laws yard, and then parts of ours, I was exhausted. Our lawn is not even entirely mowed, either! There’s still the side of the garage and one side of the house, a small part by the garden, some by the cornfield and out by the road, and then another part by the corn. I have no idea how many acres we have to mow, but it’s too much to do with a push mower, let alone a reel mower and cows! Clearly, that was not one of my better ideas.

Despite how that idea turned out, I keep thinking about what we can change so that we have less grass to mow. Even when we get a riding mower, it would be better for the environment, not to mention our pocketbook, to not have so much grass to mow. So another option is to let some of the grass go wild and turn into prairie grass again. But where to do that? Not near the house, of course, because we already have too many bugs and ticks. Not along the driveway for the same reason. There might be some parts near the corn that we could either skip mowing or we could incorporate into pasture when the time comes. The only other idea I have is to put a big circle of mulch around all the trees. That will help, but there’s still a lot of grass to mow. If we just had two acres of flat ground to mow, it might not be so bad. Or maybe if I were in better shape. Even so, I do have better things to do with my time than spend an entire day mowing. We have spent well over two hours mowing for each of the last two days. Everyone but Mo has mowed. Aidan loves mowing, though his technique could be more efficient. (I figured I’ll let him figure that out on his own because for now he really enjoys mowing and who am I to change that?)

So anyway, I have more mowing to do today. I can take the kiddos down by the bridge that is over the creek. They will have fun in the mud and the creek and I can get some mowing done. That’s the plan anyway! I might get all the mowing done today if I’m really ambitious.

*Scott the Farmer knows someone who wants a cow to show at the fair, which apparently means the cow would be tied to a tree and would eat the grass for us as part of the taming process. Also, the chickens do a fantastic job of mowing! The area around the garden is almost weed free and the grass is not long at all!

Doing our part to help out the wild cow population

April 20, 2009

Well, it’s dark out and our cows are still out adventuring. Scott couldn’t stop the truck from picking up his wheat, which is just fine. I would have felt really bad if he had missed out on that opportunity to sell his organic wheat. I think he’s been waiting a while to sell it, so it’s good he got to do that.

I’m sure the cows are just out in the neighbor’s woods. They went far enough that they weren’t spooked and then stopped and probably grazed out there most of the day. The woods are big, so Scott will look for them tomorrow and Tim will go help him. I’m sure we’ll get them back somehow. Scott is great with them and herds them almost silently, from what Tim told me.

I’m really quite mad at the cows and upset at the same time. I feel bad for them because it was quite an ordeal for them to be taken from the herd of 15 or so that they were used to. Then they get here and are totally afraid of these little kids. It seemed silly that they could be scared of someone so small, but after you see a cow go under an electric fence and one jump over because they are scared of a 5 year old, it’s not silly any more. I don’t know why they are so scared of kids, but they are. I knew they were and I shouldn’t have taken Aidan up with me. They aren’t used to me yet, though they seem OK with me. Just OK, though, not happy or relaxed, just wary. They are obviously not comfortable enough with me to be OK with Aidan and me.

Scott has said a couple of times that this is a bit unusual and that he learns something all the time. I suppose I have learned some things, too. First, chickens are way easier than cows. Second, cows are not stupid. They may be pretty simple animals, but they aren’t stupid. They know how to get out of that electric fence and they know how to get through the rusty barbed-wire fence, too. They did it once and then they remembered. Third, size is unimportant. Just because the cows are big does not mean that they are not scared of animals smaller than them. And despite their size, they are quite nimble. One of those cows jumped over a fence! I don’t even think she was scared, I think she was just following the one who was scared. Fourth, I know nothing about cows so I need to relax and be patient and learn. I need to watch Scott and let him teach us instead of thinking I can try something. I should also have listened to my own instincts. I KNEW those cows were not OK with Aidan and I still took him up the hill with me.

Anyway, here is a picture of the one that didn’t bolt on Saturday. Aidan and I got pretty close to her, close enough that Aidan took some of these pictures. She was fine, so I am sure it is the other one who is scared of him for some reason. The funny thing is that the one who is so scared is the one that the Cow People called Sweetie Pie. Scott got a good laugh about that name since she ran off Saturday. She also kicked the crap out of the Cow People’s Son when he tried to get her out of the truck and inside the fence.

The good part of the day is that I met some other neighbors and they all seemed understanding and said they would watch out for our cows. They didn’t seem surprised or annoyed at all. I even met an Amish neighbor that lives right by the neighbor behind us (the one who came over to complain) and she was very understanding and mentioned that sometimes their horses get out onto his land and he’s not very happy about that. So, maybe he’s just a big grump. He did help the other day, so I should be grateful for that.

I’ll be happier when the cows are back and I can look back and laugh about this experience, that’s for sure!

That Darn Deer

March 11, 2009

On our way into town we pass only a handful of houses. First is our neighbor’s place, then the Amish house where there are often clothes hanging on the line. Opposite of the Amish house is Sam’s house. I know his name because we met him once shortly after we moved in. His house is far from the road as ours is, so there isn’t much to see.

After the Amish house is the pig and cow farmer. We haven’t met him yet, but he has pigs and cows ranging together and has a lot of cats. The guy a little further down the road, who happens to be my aunt’s cousin, also has a cat or two, as well as a few horses. There are a few other houses after that, but I mention these houses because of the cats. The cats are always right by the road, it seems. At first, I thought it was just one cat. I always slow down or stop (somewhat suddenly) so I won’t hit the cat. I started calling the cat “that darn cat” and the kids thought it was funny. It turns out that there are several cats, so “that darn cat” evolved into “those darn cats.” Now every time we drive home or to town, we are on the lookout for those darn cats.

One day last week we were on our way into town to go to the YMCA. We were on the four lane highway that takes us into Macomb. It’s not really that busy; it is certainly not like a highway in the city. I say this in advance so that no one will think I am a negligent parent! As we were driving on this highway, we saw a deer right near the road. I slowed down, of course. Hitting a deer is not something to be taken lightly. I am concerned for the poor deer, but even more concerned about my car and the passengers. People can get hurt very badly and even die if they hit a deer. So, I slowed down in case the deer bolted towards the road.

I also wanted the kids to see the deer. We must have a ton of deer on our property, but we never see them. We see their tracks in the snow and the mud. We see their trails when we go hiking and occasionally we hear them. We wake up too late to see them in the morning, I guess. The point is that they are all around us, but we hardly ever see one. So seeing one right off the highway was worth pointing out to the kids.

However, we did more than just look at it. I figured when it saw or heard a car that it would run off towards the woods. It didn’t move towards the road or the woods. I ended up pulling over so the kids could get a good look and so that no one else would hit the deer. I got out of the car to try to scare it away because I didn’t want the doe or any people to get hurt. I got out of the car, but still she did not run away. She just kept munching on the grass right near the road. I stomped my feet, yelled at her, reasoned with her, threw rocks near her. Nothing worked. I was amazed. Finally I got Aidan and Moira out of the car. I held onto Moira’s hand and told Aidan to stay right by the car. We all yelled and stomped to no avail. She must have been hungry or found some really good food.

Anyway, I was standing on the side of a not-busy highway with the kids trying to scare away a wild deer and wishing I had my camera. I thought that the people driving by must have thought we were crazy. I started thinking we were crazy because we could not scare this doe away! Eventually I put Mo back in her car seat and told them we would go and just hope that no one ran into her. Then Aidan asked if he can try to pet her. I told him he could, but to go slowly in case she looked like she would kick or something. He did and he got close enough to pet a deer!

After that I put him in the car and told him to strap himself in so I didn’t have stand near any cars. I got in the car and I beeped the horn. The doe looked up, but didn’t really move. I could tell it startled her, but not enough to get her to move. I tried it again, tapping the horn so it would be a sudden, short sound. After a few times of this, she finally did move off towards the woods. She didn’t go quickly and hadn’t gone far when we pulled onto the highway to continue into town.

It was crazy and amazing. Everyone we told this story to said it was unusual. Now we call that deer “that darn deer.”