Whimsical Moon Farm Musings

Bella-boo heading outside, the girls in their attic loft, a tiger lily blooming next to the chicken coop, and another tomato ripening.

 

Even though it is hot and muggy, you can feel the summer season winding down on the farm. Leaves are turning golden on the old maple tree and I can feel a slight chill in the air when I go outside to do chores each morning. The days are increasingly shorter, yet there is still plenty to do as we look forward to the Autumn equinox.

Tomatoes and peppers continue to ripen on the vine and the ‘girls’ greet us almost every morning with an egg or two. The Ameraucana chickens have been laying for a few weeks now and we are patiently waiting for the Buff Orpingtons to begin their laying cycle. There is nothing tastier than  fresh chicken eggs!

Fresh picked peppers, tiny first egg next to regular sized eggs, Sweetums snoozing on the comfy chair, baby toad, and a recent farm sunset.

 

I find myself just as busy in the kitchen as I am outside. Besides freezing bushels of corn last month, I have canned tomato sauce, pickled dilly-garlic green beans, and dried peppermint, sage, and rosemary for tea and crafting soaps. Soon, we will be gleaning fallen apples from the neighboring farm and I will fill my kitchen with the spicy scent of bubbling applesauce and apple-pear butter for the winter.

The gigantic pile of broken tree limbs and cleared scrubby locust trees and encroaching mulberry shrubs is still smoldering ash after Farmer Matt came chugging down the road in his backhoe three days ago and helped us build the pile into a massive bon fire. It is such a relief to get the back yard cleaned up but it looked like a scene from the ‘burning-man festival’ for most of the afternoon into the evening.

Farmer Matt working on the burn pile, glowing bon fire in the evening, the tiny egg sunny side up. (We couldn’t help ourselves. It was one of the first eggs!)

 

I’ve noticed many of the birds in the area gathering into their flocks. Chickadees, finches, and hummingbirds will soon be moving south and the juncos will be moving back in. The fields of corn and soybean are beginning to turn brown and soon we will hear the loud combine and tractor engines crawling through the crops harvesting another years income.

Each season in Central Indiana is distinctive and defined by different types of work and activity. As the urgent summer heat and growing season mellows towards Autumn, I look forward to the cooler temperatures, the slower work load, and the pile of books growing next to my favorite reading chair.

Harvest blessings from Whimsical Moon Herb Farm.

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Pookie Poo peeking out from my bamboo garden cage.

 

 

The Chicken Came First…..!

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This ancient conundrum became clear here at Whimsical Moon Herb Farm on Saturday, August 13th, 2016. The morning dawned bright and sunny, a normal summer Saturday. I was going about my chores, as usual, when suddenly I heard an unchickenly chicken squack. In fact, it sounded more like a honk. And then another more elongated honk. And then garbled gobbling. What on earth?

I rushed to the girl’s coop, opened the attic and peered into the dim, straw filled interior. Prissy stared back at me, shook her feathers, then waltzed down the step ladder into the main chicken arena. And lo, the sun filtered in through the main attic window, and there it was. The first EGG! It was perfect.

We purchased 6 fluffy, tiny fuzzballs on April second of this year. They resided in their brooder for a short time. They outgrew it quickly and ended up living in our main bathtub until the middle of May, when they graduated to their personal coopacabana.  They thrived in their new digs, munching on fresh spinach and radish tops from the garden, layer pellets with added oyster shell supplement, and fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. They got fresh water every morning with a splash of unfiltered apple cider to control bacteria and during the heat of summer, chunks of ice to cool off.

We have three Ameraucanas and three Buff Orpingtons and as they grew, they each developed their own distinct, mature colors as well as individual personalities. We realized they were getting closer to laying their eggs early this month as their combs and wattles grew and turned a brighter red.

As of this writing, we now have six delightful, whimsical eggs. We find we stop whatever we are doing, no matter what, as soon as we hear the chortly squack of a laying chicken and smile in anticipation of the next egg.

And so, in answer to the question: which came first? We can assuredly say, six fluffy chicks came first. For us, anyway. Here on Whimsical Moon Herb Farm.

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Did somebody say omelet?

Sweet Summer Corn!

Friends visiting from out of town in front of ‘the corn’, sweet corn pudding with fresh blackberries, Bella-boo kitty peeking out from under the bathroom sink, and a butterfly on wild Echinacea.

As someone who has lived most of her life in small towns or suburbs, I have found living in the country agrees with me in so many ways. Besides the benefit of neighborly black Angus cows nodding at  me over their fence as I sit on my porch drinking my early morning cup of coffee, the freedom to raise farm animals and grow wild gardens without breaking residential codes, and the opportunity to see wide open sky and and tangled meadows growing along our wandering creek, I have found one aspect of living on a farm that I had not counted on: BARTERING!  The unspoken bartering system is alive and thriving in East Cornfield, Indiana.

For instance, when our driveway was covered in two feet of snow last winter, the farmer down the road plowed us a way out, and in turn we baked him several batches of his favorite chocolate chip cookies. A tree blew down in our backyard this spring and our widowed neighbor chugged down the road in his back-hoe and made short duty of removing it. He also received home-baked goodies and a meal or two. He does appreciate a home baked meal now and then.

So, when my 71 year old friend Joy Jean called me up one afternoon and asked if I would like some fresh picked sweet corn I eagerly said “for sure”! I could always use a few bags of corn. She told me her friend Sandy’s farm had a miraculous (raccoons hadn’t gotten into it) abundance of sweet corn and all we had to do was come get it. As we pulled into their driveway, Sandy met us out by their Gator utility vehicle and pointed into the back. The entire bed was filled to the top with corn. Bushels and bushels of corn. We filled Joy’s trunk bursting full and tossed several more bushels in her back seat. We knew we had our work cut out for us, but I was excited. Enough sweet corn to last all winter. And it is the best tasting sweet corn I have ever had.

As soon as we got back to Joy’s place, we set to shucking all of the corn. We sat outside near her burn pile and tossed husk after husk after corn silk well into the late evening. By the time we had finished, the moon had crested over the tree-line and we were ready to take a break. But, there is ‘no rest for the wicked’, or so Joy Jean says, and we got busy blanching the corn, stripping the kernels off the cobs with an old-fangled corn kerneler (that’s its technical name), and scooping serving sizes into freezer bags. By the time we were finished, we were covered in wet corn kernels, smelled of corn, and were hot and weary from our hard work. But we looked at each bag as we placed them into the freezer and smiled in satisfied, tired agreement. Sweet corn is good. Friendship is even better.

If there was some way to package the laid-back, caring, neighborly, sharing attitude of living in the country into freezer bags, I would make sure everybody had their very own.

I hope each of you is having a lovely Whimsical Moon sweet corn day!

 

Sweet Corn Pudding with Fresh Blackberries:

Ingredients:

6 ears sweet corn
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 white cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a little bit more, I like cheese)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp maple syrup
about 1 cup of blackberries (any berry works here)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease casserole dish (or pie plate). Shuck the corn and cut all kernels off with a knife into a bowl, making sure to keep all of the runoff juice from the corn. Reserve. Mix together the milk, heavy cream, cheese, cayenne pepper, eggs, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Add in the reserved corn. Gently stir in the berries. Pour into casserole dish and bake for 35 minutes or until the pudding is set. (Still kind of wobbly.)

(This recipe is an adapted from The Neelys)