Friday, July 31, 2009

It's me.

See these two. They have become fast friends since Charlie has moved to our farmette this past spring. Our Jack Russell, well....she thinks she rules the roost around here. That would include ruling people and animals, cows included.

These two engage in a little social ritual several times a day. It starts off looking very tame, just like this.

Then my Jack Russell goes right for an ear. Charlie seems to be taking it in stride.

Charlie fights right back and can almost fit her little shoulder right in his mouth.

Then it's right for the throat and oddly enough, Charlie seems to be smiling.

Now, it is time for a break. I can assure you they will be right back at it in no time at all.

I think, if dogs could laugh, they would be shrieking and hooting with laughter all the while. Quite often these two will take to chasing each other around the outside of the house during their "social time".
If you don't have a dog, I highly recommend that you don't get must get two.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The definition

Farmchick - a Starbucks loving, former city-dwelling woman who lives on a farm, at the dead end of a tiny, country road, smack dab in the middle of nowheresville. Lover of dogs, mildly tolerant of cows, and the inhabitant of a farmhouse that has clearly passed the century mark in age. A wannabe farm girl who rounds up the empty trash cans at the end of her country road and brings them back to the homestead in her sassy, red caddy.

That's right.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A blackberry for you and one for me

Here on our farm the blackberries are starting to ripen. We all headed out of the farmhouse and into the thickets in search of some berries, a couple of days ago. You can see Charlie has enthusiasm written all over himself. Tail in the air, ear up, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, and hopping through the field. He is on the lookout for rabbits, not blackberries.

We seem to be sharing our blackberries with the June bugs.

Toots, Secret Agent Man, and The Deerslayer were serious about the berry picking. I was serious about taking the photographs. I am not fond of the briars. That would be the chick part coming out of me.

Typically a fair amount of the blackberries that get picked are eaten fresh and the rest are frozen for future use. My mother in law has been known to make enough jelly for town.
In the south blackberries are revered for their diversity in the kitchen and their use as a tonic for stomach ailments. In European folklore, however, blackberries are considered to be death fruits. They are said to symbolize sorrow and remorse. Dreaming of brambles/briars is an omen of potential troubles. Blackberries also represent the painful side of the affairs of the heart. Considered by many to be fairy fruit and consequently untouchable.
Whatever your knowledge of the humble blackberry I hope you pick a few, or a few gallons, for your kitchen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dry stone fence

This past weekend I helped Secret Agent Man drop off some salt blocks on a a very old farm here in our county. Flyboy, Secret Agent Man's brother, is a partial owner of this farm and I must say it is quite beautiful. Quite a bit of this farm remains untouched. The group of men who own it use it strictly for hunting and a lot of of the natural beauty still remains.

In the early 1800's the original owners farmed tobacco on the property. This 180 acre farm stayed in the original family until the 1980's. The farm borders another important farm in our county. Back in the day a dry stone fence was constructed as a boundary marker between the two properties. At this time approximately half a mile of dry stone fence remains in tact between the properties.

A dry stone fence is unique in that it contains no mortar between the stones. In central Kentucky, it is estimated that between 5 and 10% of these 19 century rock fences are still standing. In Kentucky there are more dry stone fences than there are in any other place in the United States.

Many people use the term, "slave wall", to describe these walls. Actually this is a bit of a misnomer. Irish immigrants who came into Kentucky taught slaves their stone mason skills. The slaves continued to use this craft all over Kentucky.

If you are interested in seeing more pictures of dry stone fences in Kentucky just go to Google, click on images, and type in, "dry stone fences in Kentucky".

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Preparing for fall....already

This weekend we all loaded up and drove to the farm co-owned by Secret Agent Man's brother, also known as Flyboy. This is a 180 acre spread that dates back to the early 1800's. In fact, part of the farm is bordered by a dry stone fence that was built during that time. That is an entire post of its own, coming in a couple of days.

Onto the chores.....salt blocks had to be placed at various deer stands that are located around this farm. Several men, (a tight knit group of friends and Flyboy), hunt together on this land, and they are kind enough to allow our son, The Deerslayer, to join them each year.

I will go ahead and tell the truth here. This is not a chore in which I usually participate. Plopping salt blocks out of the back of a pickup truck is not really my cup of tea, but Secret Agent Man promised some interesting scenery. And, he rolled out a special chariot, just for me.

Here is the road that we started out on, and then we ended up on not much of a road at all. After we dropped off several blocks my real surprise came.

The Deerslayer took the wheel. He did a pretty good job most of the way. Except for that one time when he couldn't find the brake.....

After we finished our task we stopped at the teeny-weeny community next to our farm for their annual community festival. We made it just in time for the parade. We saw the usual beauty queens and tractors, but this little gem had to be my favorite. Straight out of Ghostbusters and onto the parade route. I think I need this wagon to drive around town. I could have the swankiest "grocery getter" around.

These two mules were pulling the wagon of one of the nicest gentlemen I know. He drives them around our small town and they are just beautiful. He has a special Jack Russell who rides beside him in the wagon as well.

One of the Shriners in the parade gave Toots a hot pink fez....too bad she wouldn't model it for me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Caught in the act

A few years ago I bought this birdbath. I picked it out for the delicate grape design and the fact that I would be providing water to the bird population around the farmette. Oddly enough it always leaned a bit. Never mind that I would set it back ended up leaning just a bit. Kind of like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Slightly artistic, but really kind of kooky for our farm.

Today the answer to the leaning question came to me in a flash. More like a sneaky dog that I caught in the act of using the birdbath as her own personal water dish.

She had that slightly guilty look on her face for just the briefest of moments.

Then she went right on drinking like I am sure she has been doing since I brought the birdbath home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Cause the Church Ladies said so

This past weekend I whipped up some barbecue sauce that came straight out of this cookbook. A cookbook that I dug out of the bottom of a bargain box a couple of years ago. I paid no more than a couple of dollars for this book, but it is truly one of my better cookbooks. Full of church lady knowledge and canned soup cuisine, I can always count on it for a great recipe.
This recipe does contain rum, but please know that the alcohol does burn off during the heating process. This recipe is large and I did end up only making half of it, with great results.
Cruzan Barbecue Sauce
2 (8-ounce) bottles of your favorite prepared barbecue sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup rum
1 cup molasses
Pour the barbecue sauce in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients, tasting and adding more of one or another until the flavor suits you. Warm the sauce briefly over low heat. Use the sauce to baste chicken or ribs on the grill.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunflower Sunday

This summer we have been been very fortunate to have traveled as much as we have. But, that has meant our garden is not quite a lush as it was last year. We have not been home enough to tend to it properly. We will still harvest some vegetables, just not as many as last year.

However, this has not stopped the sunflower crop from flourishing.

We have sunflowers of every sort.

And, every color.

When I was out taking photographs in the garden you could hear the loud buzz of honey bees working on the sunflowers. They were everywhere. There is one on this close up shot, but he was moving around too much to get a crisp photo of him.

The last row, next to the barn, is the official sunflower row for the garden. After several years of this arrangement, some varieties are strictly, "volunteer", and come up on their own in the spring.

Have a great Sunday and I hope everyone has a few sunflowers in their garden.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the road again

We are just a band of gypsies. Home for a few days and packed up the next. Traveling down the highway to Babs and Mr. B's house for the 4th of July holiday. This trip has become an annual tradition for the chiclets and myself. And, not just for Bab's homemade mashed potatoes and the neighbors illegal, (yet, highly entertaining) , fireworks display. We have to visit this gentlemanly dog, Hamilton. Otherwise known as: Ham, Hammy, Hambone, The Ham-ster, Hammy-roo, Hammy-licious, etc.... We love to play with him and get him, "stirred up", so that he runs through the house at 100 mph. He is Mr. B's buddy.

A lot of our time was spent at a park near the grandparent's house. It is a park next to a bay where dolphins are known to frolic and children gather to jump from docks. Hermits crabs are collected by the dozens and friendships are made in mere seconds. This year the city held games for the kids and actual prize money was at stake. Here you can see Toots working on her second place victory in the hula hooping contest.

The Deerslayer put his country boy skills to work and spit a watermelon seed 12 & 1/2 feet.

He also placed third in the watermelon eating contest. Whew. There were a few sick kids after this contest.

I should mention that Babs and Mr. B live in the panhandle of Florida near an awesome and well known beach town. And, so we were lucky enough to spend one of our days cooling off at the local water park. The picture shown below depicts a mere fraction of the water park. The place is huge.

Our day at the water park began in the overflow lot where we were waiting for my brother, Doc, to arrive. A Ford Explorer parks next to us. I think nothing of it. It is a couple of years old with some excellent spinning rims, but even that is becoming common place these days. But, wait. The family starts to exit and the doors open up like a Lamborghini. Fabulous. I have to tell the chiclets to stop staring. They are not accustomed to this kind of self expression in Smalltownland.

Speaking of self favorite, at the water park, had to be the man with this tattoo on his back: HONKY TONK MAN

And, yes it was large.

We made it back home, all safe and sound. Some time left in the summer to be lazy and hang out on the farm. Pick some blackberries and swim in the pool.
This gypsy is finished with her travels. Maybe....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Full Buck Moon

Today marks the full moon for July. Known as a Full Buck Moon by the Farmer's Almanac. Known by this name because this is when a buck pushes the new velvet covered antlers from their foreheads. Buck Moon is the name the Native Americans used to refer to this full moon.

Sometimes known as the Thunder Moon due to the thunderstorms in July and also known as a Full Hay Moon by some farmers. A little research seems to suggest that there is no real evidence of strange behavior during a full moon, but you can't really convince teachers, hospitals, or law enforcement of those findings.

If you would like to know more about full moons and their folklore names you can learn about them here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oh, say can you see....

In February of 1776 Mary Young Pickersgill was born. She became famous in our history as the maker of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.

After becoming a widow, she moved back to Baltimore and made flags, a skill taught to her by her mother. Mary also made other fabric items for the military, eventually earning enough money to buy the home she rented for herself and her daughter Caroline.

While we were visiting our nation's capitol last week, we had the pleasure of visiting the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. The flag that Mary Pickersgill created, and that flew over Fort McHenry, is on display at this museum. It went through an 18 million dollar restoration and is now on special exhibition.

After going through the flag exhibit we noticed a lady coming through the lobby with a wheelbarrow. It was an actress portraying a young Mary Pickersgill and she was discussing the making of the flag. In this picture you can see my daughter, Toots, and the actress holding some of the stars that they will lay on the canton.

Many children in the lobby became involved and the actress did a wonderful job providing information about the flag and how it was created. Mary was paid $544.74 for making the flag and she used 400 yards of fabric. It took the work of Mary, her two nieces, and two servants to make the flag.

At this point in the presentation a toddler ran onto the canton, picked up a star, and dashed down the hallway with it. Both toddler and star were retrieved.

Although this is not a clear picture, it does show how the stripes were rolled out to be sewn together.

Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while being held captive on a British ship at Fort McHenry. He saw the flag waving and was inspired to write, what has come to be, our national anthem.

Long may she wave!