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Archive for June, 2011

Every night, I pour a tall (minimum 24 oz) glass of fresh, ice cold, goats milk, add some Ovaltine or Strawberry syrup (sugar free, of course) and enjoy my before bed snack.  Sure, Alpine Goat’s milk is lower in fat than some milk, but at 3.2% it’s not exactly skimmed.  We have copious quantities of the stuff and it tastes GREAT.  I can’t help myself.  Whatever will become of me?

We’re willing to share….

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Okay, I’ll admit it.  For years I loathed the lowly beet.  Well, except for sweet pickled beets.  But who wouldn’t love those, I ask you?  That’s the closest thing to vegetable candy as Mercury is to the sun.  I mean, what’s not to love?  They’re colorful, fun, and coated with tons of sugar.  To my knowledge, it’s the only vegetable that can give kids an instant sugar rush while simultaneously turning their bathroom visits into something of amazement.  But I digress…

As a kid, in an attempt to broaden my palate, my Mom forced canned beets onto my dinner plate at least once or twice a year.  And to this day, I don’t know that there is anything useful about canned beets.  They taste more like the can than anything else, and that’s not appetizing by any stretch of the imagination.  So when I suddenly had an urge to plant some beets in our spring garden this year I was torn by my childhood memories and my own curiosity.  On one hand, I know that beets are very good for us.  They have tons of vitamins and essential nutrients our diets are generally lacking (like manganese, potassium, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber, just to mention a few), and recent studies have shown beets to help fight cancerous tumors and cells, as well as provide a rich source of antioxidants for our bodies immune system.  On the other hand, without tons of sugar would I be able to stomach the little gems?

Over the weekend Sam harvested a few of the beets from the bed.  Most of them were small – no bigger than a golf ball, so I was pretty sure they’d be tender.  I decided to try simple first.  I boiled them in a saucepan until fork tender.  Once they were cool enough to handle (I actually just left them in the same pan all day long – water and all – as I was busy processing up other garden bounty) I slipped the skins off them, roughly chopped them up into bite sized pieces and quickly sautéed them with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper, and voila, some of the best veggies we’ve had from the garden this year.  They were sweet as candy (and I swear I didn’t add any sugar at all).  Sam and I fought over the leftovers…I won!  I had no idea how good the beet could be, but now I’m wishing I’d planted a whole lot more of them.  Thankfully in our zone we can get an early fall crop as well, which I’m sure will be pretty abundant.

I know lots of folks don’t seem to like beets, but I don’t just wonder if it’s because we’re not really sure what to do with them.  And I have to admit that if I’d only ever had plain canned beets I’d be certain to be against them myself.  So I urge you to pick up a small bunch of fresh beets the next time you’re at your local farmer’s market or super market, and give them a try using this method.  I think you might just be surprised that the beet has a flavor that truly can’t be beat.  Enjoy.

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This is not the year of the chicken for us.  Early this morning, Wes, one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs, got into the field with chickens and killed a number of laying hens and some of the broilers we were going to process this coming weekend.  Several other hens were injured or traumatized.  So for the time being, eggs are off the product board.  We will attempt to fill current standing orders, but casual and occasional availability will be extremely limited.

The good news is we have around 30 baby hens who will begin laying sometime around the first of the year.  Until then, please be patient.  We’ll keep you posted as to when we have eggs.  Thanks.

Also, Wes is looking for a new home.  If you know of anyone who needs a Livestock Guardian Dog, but doesn’t keep poultry, let us know.  He’s good with goats, sheep, cows and donkeys.

 

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Brittan and I are big yogurt fans.  We love smoothies and Greek style yogurt with honey.  We recently discovered that our Alpine goat’s milk makes outstanding yogurt.  It’s great for cooking, too.

Take a cup of yogurt, a half cup of milk, some honey or sugar in the raw, vanilla, and frozen blueberries or frozen strawberries, blend them together and boy, howdy, do you ever have a treat.  I recommend freezing the fruit, because it makes the smoothie colder.  If you use fresh fruit, add two or three ice cubes to the blender.

If you want to know more about the yogurt just email us or check out the store tab.

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I have finally begun writing the home study course and classroom curriculum for The Edible Suburb University, AKA “ESU”.  The first module (class) will be raised bed and container gardening.  The idea is to make vegetable gardening as simple and appealing as possible.  Other modules will be things like, Patio, Deck and Windowsill gardening (for apartment dwellers and others with very small spaces).  This one will even demonstrate growing things in you home aquarium.  (Side note; last night Brittan made a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad for supper.  The tomatoes were from our garden, the cheese was made from our goat’s milk and the basil was grown in our sun room in a raft floating in our aquarium.  Does that rock, or what?)

Additional courses will be:  Rabbits – Mother Nature’s Secret Weapon, Suburban Goats, City Chickens and Aquaponics 101.  We’ll have a short course in Gardening on a Tight Budget and Preserving the Harvest.

At this time, I’m planning on releasing them one class at a time, as they are completed rather than wait until the whole thing is done.  Here’s where you come in; we’d like to hear from readers, friends and customers what you’d like for us to talk about.  Simply email us your suggestion.  All submissions will be included in a drawing (no purchase necessary) for cool East of Eden  prizes like, a dozen eggs, a pastured chicken, a pint of Bhut Jolokia Ghost peppers or an East of Eden baseball cap.

Finally, how bout recommending an Edible Suburb University Boot Camp to your Church, School, Club or Civic group?  If you get us a booking, your tuition will be FREE.  That’s a $35 value.  Boot Camps are 3 hours and cover most of the topics mentioned above.  Send me an email if you’d like to discuss availability and pricing.

That’s it for this commercial.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing.

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The first 10 days with our Livestock Guardian Dogs was pretty traumatic.  We were concerned for several days that it wasn’t going to work out.  The adjustment period was anything but smooth.

The dogs are very friendly.  They love to jump and cuddle and kiss.  But 85 lb puppies with heads the size of basketballs can be pretty overwhelming, even when they are being loving.

The dogs went straight to work.  From the very first night, they would take turns patrolling the perimeter of their field.  Since the arrival of the dogs, our predators have disappeared.  We do have some neighborhood cats who like to watch the rabbits for an opportunity to grab a quick snack, but they are not a threat.  Our turkey pen has been completely unmolested. Our chickens are ranging happily around most of the farm.

On occasion, the dogs hear or smell something in the woods.  When they do, they jump up and run to the the end of the pasture and warn off the interloper with a brief chorus of barks.  Then they return to their regularly scheduled naps.  These dogs do sleep a lot.  I’m a bit jealous.

The dark side has been that the dogs weren’t raised with chickens and consider the birds as intruders.  They killed several the first few days.  We were heart broken and thought we’d made a huge mistake, but learned quickly to keep a strong fence between the dogs and the poultry.  After some early mishaps, life has calmed down.  The dogs have learned to coexist with chickens in the adjacent fields and the chickens couldn’t care less about the dogs.  They are chickens and have pretty short memories.

We had to make some fencing adjustments like fixing the gates so the dogs could neither climb over nor under, but we got that done and life is quieting down.  It’s been a week now with no loss of feathered life from predator or guardian.  Long may it continue.   I hope it didn’t just jinx it.

 

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Mostly, let’s talk about the bounty.  Over the weekend we brought in baskets full of green beans and canned up 21 quarts.  We’ll have one more biggish harvest, then we’ll be done.  We’ve decided not to plant any more beans this year.  We have enough.

Besides the beans, we finally got a few Jalapeno and Serrano peppers.  I love them both.  I’m looking forward to some burgers with Jalapeno slices and some hot dogs with grilled Serranos on them.

Despite the shortage of pollinators I was able to harvest a few squash on Saturday.  Hooray.  Which brings me to the garden invaders.  Boo.

Squash borers have found their way into the garden.  Daggumit.  We have held the squash bugs at bay with a combination of diatomaceous  earth and Nasturtium flowers, but borers are a different nuisance, altogether.  They seem to have gotten three plants already.  Since we won’t go nuclear on them with pesticides, I’m a bit stumped.  The DE isn’t helping.  Maybe sneaking in a couple chickens for 24 hours would help.

Oh, this morning as I was watering the squash, I discovered what has been eating my zucchini fruit.  Turns out, Mr. Bugs Bunny has been spending the nights and early morning at the Edible Suburb Cafe.  Hmm…… Crittters.  Oh, well.  At least he’s cute.

On the happy front, I saw three honey bees in the squash today.  That was most encouraging.  Now, let’s hope we gets some fruit before the borers get the plants.  The race is on.

 

 

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