Monday, October 29, 2012

Prepping and Procrastination

Hurricane Sandy is getting a lot of attention right now.  I have two sisters that live on the east coast so I'm paying more attention to what is expected for them than what is forecast for us.  I am paying enough attention to our own situation to know that my tendency toward procrastination (I prefer to call it positive thinking) is catching up to me.

In June, we had a wind storm and power outage.  Afterward we talked about preparing for future events and then forgot.  To be truthful, we didn't exactly forget, we just kept moving that item down on our list of priorities.  We figured we'd get to it after chicken harvest and fall sports were over.  That would be NOW.  Fall sports ended yesterday.

Our farm is within the projected snow band.  With the leaves, branches and general fall mess, heavy, wet snow could bring problems.  The main concern, of course, is power outage.  We do have plenty of candles, flashlights, and batteries.  We have extra propane for our gas grill on the deck.  Thanks to a well that is easy to access and a cistern by the barn we have access to plenty of water.  We have a fireplace and a pellet stove but without electricity the blowers won't work.  We have a generator but it will only provide a limited amount of power and with 80 freshly frozen chickens and at least a 1/4 of a cow in our freezer, that's a priority. 

The farmers in us are actually pretty prepared.  We have plenty of food and water for all the animals, except the dogs.  Dog food is on my grocery list.  We use an electric fence for the cattle so we will either have to close them in the barn or pray they don't realize their potential for freedom.

Here are the FEMA recommendations for emergency preparedness. 
Family Supply List
Emergency Supplies:
Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or individual's kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents.
Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Clothing and Bedding:
If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:
- A jacket or coat
- Long pants
- A long sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes
- A hat and gloves
- A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
Family Supply List (continued)
Below are some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit. Some of these items, especially those marked with a * can be dangerous, so please have an adult collect these supplies.
- Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or a print out of the information on
- Rain gear
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
- Cash or traveler's checks, change
- Paper towels
- Fire Extinguisher
- Tent
- Compass
- Matches in a waterproof container*
- Signal flare*
- Paper, pencil
- Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
- Disinfectant*
- Household chlorine bleach* - You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Medicine dropper
- Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Since we'll be sheltering in place if the electricity goes out, I think we are pretty well prepared.  If we had to get out quickly we'd be screwed so I'm thankful there is no expectation of evacuation for us.

I will go grocery shopping today so that I don't have to go again until the end of the week.  We will also be making a stop at the library so there is plenty of reading material to keep us all busy.  At home I'll be running the vacuum cleaner and washing all the clothes and dishes so if we lose power I don't have to concern myself with those issues.  I'll also be spending time today praying for all those who are more directly in the storm's path.

What are your plans for preparing for Hurricane Sandy?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicken Harvest 2012

Catching the chickens.

A captive audience.

An expert chicken wrangler.

Preparing for the harvest.
The harvest.

Thank God for chicken pluckers.

Thank God for more chicken pluckers.
The really dirty work.
The harvest is complete.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Still More Pumpkin Goodness: Pumpkin Scones

Since I am absolutely incapable of following a recipe, I have to rename this recipe as noted below.  I found the Starbuck's Pumpkin Scones at (Adapted from Top Secret Recipes).  By the adapted, I can suppose that RecipeGirl has a hard time following a recipe too.  Whether it is because of tweeking or in spite of it, these scones are a perfect blend of pumpkin goodness.  Delicious but a little less decadent than pumpkin pie for breakfast.  Not that I don't welcome pumpkin pie for breakfast but you can only do that every once in awhile. 

Almost Starbuck's Pumpkin Scones

Yield: 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 large egg
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk


Preheat oven to 425°F. Either use a baking stone, parchment paper, or grease and lightly flour a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk and egg.
Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto the lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle that is about 12-inches long and 3-inches wide.

Use a floured knife to slice the dough into four equal squares. Cut the squares diagonally into 8 triangles. 

Move the triangles to a prepared baking sheet, separate the triangles by 1/2-inch space.

Bake 14 to 16 minutes. Scones will begin to turn light brown. 
While scones are cooling, prepare plain glaze by whisking ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth.

When the scones have cooled a bit, or when you can't stand to wait one more second, drizzle the glaze over the scones and enjoy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Farm Happenings

I just wanted to update a few things that have happened on the farm this fall.

We completed our chicken harvest on Friday, October 12.  Our system of butchering the chickens worked fine.  Rob says he'll fine tune it before next year.  I expect that our chicken feeding and growing operation will be much better next year.  By the end of this season, our tractors are falling apart.  After two years of growing chickens we have much better ideas of what we need and what will work and what needs adjusted.  Once we recover from the harvest I'm sure we'll have some planning and preparation to do.  I do have pictures of the harvest that I'll post later.

Rob finished brush hogging the back pasture and moved the electric fence for the cattle.  Calling two cows cattle seems a little pretentious but I suppose they do qualify as cattle.  We hope by next spring we'll have more permanent fencing for at least some of the pasture.

Several of our older laying hens are molting.  None of our pullets have started laying yet.  I am keeping a sharp eye out for pullet eggs because they should be laying anytime.

One of our turkeys died today.  I really have no idea why.  She's been looking a little off for several days but she seemed to be eating and drinking.  That takes us down to four turkeys. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Even More Pumpkin Goodness: Two Kinds of Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

One of the things that I love about pumpkins is the potential for so many kinds of goodness.  After I scooped the seeds out of the pumpkin yesterday I put them in an airtight container and placed them in the refrigerator.  This morning I took the seeds, separated out all the sticky pumpkin pieces that remained and rinsed the seeds. 

Once they were rinsed I placed them on a towel and patted them dry with another towel.

I had about 4 cups of pumpkin seeds so I decided to try two different pumpkin seed recipes from Martha Stewart. In the past I've baked my pumpkin seeds or microwaved them but I'd never tried roasting them on the stove top.  I thought it would be interesting to see if we liked the stove top seeds better so both of the recipes I selected used the same method of toasting the seeds in a pan with oil.  The seasoning were the main difference in the recipes.

 These are the Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.  They are classic pumpkin seeds and the pan toasting in oil was easy and delicious.
It wasn't really fair to pit the classic toasted pumpkin seed against the tastebud thrilling Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds.  This super tasty version of pumpkin seeds combines sugar and ginger with a touch of cayenne.  Don't make these if you lack self control.

As far as I'm concerned, you can't get too much pumpkin goodness so as you begin to carve your pumpkins please, don't forget to make use of those seeds.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More Pumpkin Goodness: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you scroll down to the bottom of my post about processing pumpkin goodness you'll find a similar begging look on my dog's face. 
My children recognized that pumpkin goodness requires several more steps to be considered true pumpkin goodness so they requested pumpkin cookies.  (Trixie requested chicken but we'll get to that later.)

Because I'm an amazing mother, I granted their request. 

At The White House Farm a plate of soft, warm pumpkin chocolate chip cookies is a sign that fall has arrived.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How To Process Pumpkin Goodness

Yesterday I made another trip to the produce auction.  I returned with four wart pumpkins to replace the pie pumpkins I'd been using for decorations.  The wart pumpkins are cooler looking and my entire family has been asking for pumpkin cookies so the pie pumpkins needed to be used for a higher purpose.
This morning I got started with processing the pie pumpkins.  Honestly, preparing pumpkin is almost as easy as opening a can of pumpkin.  To make your own pumpkin for pies and cookies you begin by washing the outside of the pumpkins.  Set your oven to 350.  Break the stems off the pumpkins then slice through from top to bottom. 

If you like you can scrape out the seeds before you bake the pumpkins or you can bake first then scoop out the seeds when the pumpkin is soft.  I use my seeds later so I scrape them out before I cook. 
Place the pumpkins, cut side down in a baking dish.  

 Bake for about an hour, until the pumpkin is soft to a fork.  As they bake the pumpkins will get softer and darker in color.  Aren't they beautiful?
Let the pumpkins cool for about ten minutes then scoop out the insides.  Really if they are done enough, the shell of the pumpkin will peel right off. 
 Look at all the pumpkin goodness that came from four small pie pumpkins.  I froze 11 cups of pumpkin, used two cups to make cookies and put three cups of pumpkin in the refrigerator where it will be transformed into a pie before the weekend.
This is Trixie.  She's waiting for something besides pumpkin seeds to hit the floor.  Don't worry about her.  I processed chickens today too so she got plenty of delicious treats.

Can I Do It?

If you have been following my family blog you'll know that had an unfortunate beginning to my most recent canning project.  You can catch up here if you are interested.  As a result of my jalapeno happenings, I put the jalapenos away for a few days.  Honestly, I was more than wary of what was going to happen as I pureed and cooked the infamous peppers.

Yesterday morning I summoned the courage to complete my pepper jelly.  I used an easy recipe from the Ball cookbook.

 I had no problem with blending a cup and a half of peppers and a cup of apple cider vinegar in my blender.  There were just enough flecks of color from the red and green jalapenos to make it look pretty.
Here is were things got spicy.  In my pot I mixed another cup of apple cider vinegar, six cups of sugar and the puree from the blender.  I boiled for 10 minutes then added two packages of liquid pectin.  Everyone agreed that the whole house felt spicy for a few hours but it wasn't unbearable.

My hot jars were waiting to be filled.  If I do this again I will use smaller jars.  This time I used what I had on hand.

I'm hoping that the pepper jelly is as tasty as it is pretty.  We haven't tasted the jelly yet because it's still resting but plan to enjoy it tonight at dinner.