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Turkey Tracks: Rose Thomas and La Dolce Vita Farm

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Turkey Tracks:  July 19, 2014

Rose Thomas and La Dolce Vita Farm

 

Rose Thomas is an amazing baker and an amazing friend.

Rose bakes in a wood-fired oven (and in other ovens too) and her commercial kitchen is almost finished.

Her baking is…delicious…and her other cooking is…inspired.

Take a look at her Facebook page if you can, and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Rose has been to Italy many, many times over the years and worked in farm/resort kitchens there as well.  One place she goes is to the Tuscan kitchen and farm Spannocchia.

Her La Dolce Vita Farm is a really fun place to be, and I go over about once a week on Wednesdays to pick up milk and yogurt that arrives.  This week, though, I got there on Thursday, and Rose was baking for the Isleboro Island farmer’s market on Friday.

 

Here’s Rose on this big baking day–the oven is behind her and she’s already loaded about 15 loaves of this bread into the oven’s maw–with more to go.

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She uses Tartine bread–from the famous bakery in California–as her ultimate model for her loaves.  She will cut the tops of these loaves with a razor before she puts them in the oven.

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Here’s a pic of the inside of the oven, which is, unfortunately, blurry, but it gives you some idea:

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Earlier this spring, Rose knew that I was down to three hens with two of them not laying and that I’ve talked about getting Buckeye chickens for some years (they’re hard to find in Maine).  So, she surprised me with some Buckeye chicks that she is raising, and I’ve been visiting them when I go to the farm.

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The Buckeyes are the brown chicks, and the Cockoo Marans are the speckled ones.  The latter will lay a big chocolate brown egg, and the Buckeyes will lay a lighter colored brown.  Both of these breeds are big hens and are very cold tolerant of our Maine winter.

The chicks are almost big enough to be released to the freedom of the yard.  They have to be big enough to handle the other hens in the hen house.

And I can’t wait to bring some of both breeds home.  When I do, I’ll return two of my more…territorial…hens to her flock so they won’t beat the new chicks to death.

Rose is also raising four pigs.  They’ve doubled in size over the last week.

Here they are:

And, here’s a picture of the heavenly milk and yogurt I’m getting from MilkHouse–who drops off at Rose’s farm.  Can you see that the cream on the milk bottle reaches all the way to the bottom of the jug handle?  That’s Jersey cows for you…

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I am so spoiled up here in Maine…

And I know it.

 

 

 

Turkey Tracks: CSA Bounty

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Turkey Tracks:  July 19, 2014

CSA Bounty

 

My CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) is Hope’s Edge, in Hope, Maine.

My pickup is on Friday, which was  yesterday.

Friend Giovanna McCarthy picked up for me as I spent the day on Vinalhaven Island (an hour ferry’s ride away) with my book club.

So, I came home to two large sacks in the garage refrigerator that include a gorgeous fennel bulb, lots of greens, peas, spring onions, herbs, broccoli, and on and on.

It was…a haul.

So, I spent this morning processing food.

Jennifer McGruther of THE NOURISHED KITCHEN in a recent blog post noted that when she has a glut of greens, she dries them in the dehydrator and pulverizes them to green dust in her food processor and stores them in jars.  She adds the “green dust” to soups and stews at will.  I really liked that idea.  (Thanks, Jennifer!)

So, my greens are upstairs drying out as we speak.  AHA!  It’s the inaugural summer use of the dehydrator, which runs day and night in August and September.  I took the lid off so you can see.  I’m drying kale and beet greens.

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I used the chard leaves and a lot of the CSA produce in a summer soup–whose base is a VERY rich turkey bone broth.  I wrangled my 23-pound Thanksgiving turkey for two whole days this week, which freed up needed freezer space and produced a lot of cooked meat.  (The cooked drumsticks I refroze and will use them to build more bone broth AND some delicious dark meat for a soup/stew.)  The turkey came from Golden Brook Farm, owned by Susan McBride and Chris Richmond.

Here’s the soup.  I ate it for lunch, and it was so delicious.  It has the turkey bone broth, garlic scapes, onions, carrots, the fennel bulb, wintered-over potatoes, a handful of small broccoli crowns from the garden, celery, dried cherry tomatoes from last summer, fresh herbs–and that’s all I can remember.  I stir the chard leaves in at the last minute.  And I used the turkey fat on top of the jars of broth to sauté the veggies.  The only thing from “away” was the celery.

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Jennifer McGruther in THE NOURISHED KITCHEN has a terrific recipe (or so it looks) for fermenting chard stems.  So, I tried it, but added, also, the beet green stems to fill out the jar.  She uses a savory pickling mixture and has what looks to be a lovely combination in the book.  I didn’t have all the spices at the seed/whole level, so fell back on a pickling mixture I already had.

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In one of the fermented mixtures I’m eating now–that I put up last fall–I put in some whole tatsoi/baby bokchoi leaves with their stems.  They are delicious–the stems are crunchy and lovely, so I have no doubt that these stems I did today will be fun.

Thanks, again, Jennifer.

Turkey Tracks: Mid April Update

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Turkey Tracks:  April 18, 2014

Mid April Update

 

I’ve had a busy few weeks, and it’s been fun.

First of all, Rosie, my Copper Black Maran has decided to lay her super dark brown eggs again.  Aren’t they pretty?

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Rosie is the last CBM I have.  Remember that we lost her rooster to the fox last spring…

CBMs are not great layers, but they are big, happy hens and very social.

It might be time to think about getting some more from Tom Culpepper in Georgia…

Along with the beef broth–which is on the blog post just before this one–I made a shredded veggie lacto-fermented mixture, as mine is all gone now.  I used cabbage, including a red one which will make the mixture such a lovely red in a few days, garlic, carrots, and a bunch of kale.   Here it is in the bowl, all kneaded until it is juicy and ready to load into jars:

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I have two kinds of jars I like to use–a regular old wide-mouth Mason jar and a fancier Fido jar with a bailer and rubber sealer.  I thought I’d have enough mixture for a half-gallon jar, but no.  Thus the quart jar:

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Here’s a little video of Pumpkin, my rooster, who is amazing with the hens.  You can hear him telling them to “come eat this food,” and if you watch carefully, you’ll see him pick up food and hold it up for them to see that it’s “ok.”

 

 

I make a run up to Belfast to the Belfast Coop every ten days or so.  The Coop carries the dog food I use:  raw ground WHOLE chicken–bones, skin, organs, the works.  The girls THRIVE on this food.  You’d never know to look at them that they are 11 and 12 years old.  Here’s what their good looks like:

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I have an old pair of boots that I bought for $10 at a kind of shoe-thrift store back in Virginia over 15 years ago.  They are my “chicken boots”–and survive ice and mud in rough weather.  I think I’ve gotten and will continue to get my money’s worth.  I’m still using heavy gloves when I go out for chicken duty morning and evening:

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Remember this rug I braided on the fashioned loom?  It’s still going strong…

The wild turkeys have broken up into small bands now.  I have one male who is hanging around with his band–probably because they are still feeding on discarded coop bedding and the odd treats I throw to the chickens.  At night he roosts in one of the pines just beyond the stream.  And he calls to me when I come out to lock up the chickens.

Here’s one video I took of him the other day.  He’s perpetually “puffed up” these days:

And one of him with some of his hens.  His tail is looking a bit ragged.  I heard two males fighting at dusk up on the hill last week–they seemed to be hitting heads/necks/wings.  Hard to tell :

 

Soon the hens will sit on eggs, and I will not see much of them until next winter–except for the odd crossing across a road here and there.

Turkey Tracks: April Update

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Turkey Tracks:  April 7, 2014

April Update

 

We are finally getting some warm weather, and near me, the Megunticook River is thawing out fast.  I was a little shocked when I went by Megunticook Lake Sunday on my way to see Rose Thomas as the Lake is still pretty frozen.  This view is from the top of Barrett Cove, looking north.  (This lake is 15 miles around and filled with interesting islands and “necks” that jut out into the water.)

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The ice looks bluer towards the middle though, suggesting thinness.

Chickie Diva Queenie has been healed up for some time.  I have only been waiting for the night temps to get warm enough to risk her in the coop.  She can’t take any more frostbite probably ever in her life.

She did not seem unhappy in her kitchen box, but on a bright sunny day last week, I put her outside.  She prowled the yard, scratching and digging, but not getting near the other chickens, who did not seem to notice her.  That night, she came to the back door and when I opened it, she came right in, and hopped in her box.

The next day, I put her out again, and she wanted to come right back inside.  I had planned to clean out the coop, so I gathered up the buckets and the shovel and started to work.

What followed was shocking!

The chickens found her and immediately attacked her.  Even the rooster.  They weren’t trying to dominate her.  They were trying to kill her.

I rescued her from where she had wedged herself behind the sandbox and the house wall.  Her comb was torn again, and she had wounds on her feet again.  She was dazed and stunned and so happy to be put back into her box.

I consulted with the chicken whisperer Rose Thomas, and we formulated a plan to integrate her into Rose’s flock, which is larger and far less territorial.

So, on Sunday, I took her to Rose.

Rose’s chicken house is a lot bigger than my little coop, and there are MANY egg boxes.  Diva Queenie put herself into one and seemed quite happy.

 

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Rose has three roosters at the moment–Guy, the father of my rooster Pumpkin; the brother of Pumpkin; and Merlin, a guina rooster who is ferocious.

Rose distracted her flock by throwing them some scratch feed to them while we put Queenie into the chicken house.

 

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I called Rose this morning.  Queenie is just fine and is out in the yard with the rest of the flock.

* * *

Look at these–I have 12 out of 15 done and have another one half done now.

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Here’s a close-up of one:

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This large “hexie” is made from the kite shape you can see with the dark blue.  I first saw a quilt made with these medallions at Alewives, a quilt shop in Damariscotta Mills, Maine.  The hexies get linked by big diamonds, and the pattern comes from the book Material Obsession 2 by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke.  Other blog entries here show their TWO quilt versions using this block.  Rhea Butler made the quilt at Alewives.

I’ve finished the red/green quilt, which remains nameless so far.  It’s loaded on the long arm.  It’s pretty big–I used 7 yards of fabric for the backing–a Kaffe Fasset I bought on sale about a year ago.  And I had to piece a column of about 20 inches to get enough width for the long arm–which was fine as I used up a lot of orphan blocks.  I really draw the line at buying 9 yards of fabric for a quilt backing when I’m only missing ten or so inches.  With the long-arm, I need about 5 extra inches of width on the sides, but I could always put on a temporary outside border that would come off when the quilting was done as well.

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I  am going down to Manchester, New Hampshire, with Gail Galloway Nicholson this week to the big MQX show (Machine Quilters Expo)–where we will both take some classes.  I am taking both pantograph and free-motion quilting classes for the long arm.  So…it seems to make sense to wait until I get home to quilt this quilt.  The pantograph class may change how I currently quilt with a pantograph.  Also I ordered a different green quilting thread as I did not like the color I thought I would use.  Funny how that happens…

So, here’s my current project:

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I am sewing together colorful 5-inch blocks from my stash.  I will put a 3-inch border on this grid and use it to cut out “Lil Twister” blocks.  Here’s a clue of what I am talking about:

 

Lil Twister block images – Google Search.

 

Canton Village Quilt Works has a very nice tutorial on how to use the Lil Twister tool.

 

Turkey Tracks: Diva Update and Winter Pleasures

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Turkey Tracks:  February 10, 2014

DIVA UPDATE and WINTER PLEASURES

 

The Diva Queenie continues to heal and hang out.  She is picking up weight not and is noticeably heavier when I pick her up.

If I’m going to be in the kitchen at all, I let her out, and she strolls around investigating, flying up to the counters (where she is immediately removed), and following my shoes and picking at the buckles.  I’ve almost stepped on her at least twice.

Here she is with the straw basket that is driving her crazy.

Winter pleasures include pulling a bag of frozen tomatoes out of the freezer so a few can grace a lamb stew.  What a treat in mid-winter.  I also put in some of my dried zucchini and frozen green beans.

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AND, winter pleasures include a bunch of flowers.  These did double duty–at the Coastal Quilters Meeting last Saturday and, now, in my dining room–with all the snow outside.

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Actually, that picture shows a line of turkeys coming into the yard.  I have about twenty to thirty around the house most days–which is another winter pleasure.  This morning they all talked to me as I let out the chickens.

Written by louisaenright

February 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Turkey Tracks: Snow Day and Diva Update

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Turkey Tracks:  February 5, 2014

Snow Day and Diva Update

 

It’s snowing today.  Hard.

I’m glad and am enjoying a “snow day.”

The old  snow was grey and dirty, so it’s good to have a fresh, white coating of snow.

Diva Queenie has become very tame and very vocal.  Whenever she hears me coming, she sets up squawking at the top of her lungs as she tries to tell me things.

When Linda McKinney was here on Monday, Queenie “talked” at the top of her lungs the entire time.  Linda:  “That chicken has cabin fever.”

And she does…

She adores getting OUT of her box.

She is especially interested in the straw basket at the back door where I pile newspapers and my boots and gloves.  She gets in it and turns all around before hopping out.  She is also interested in some bowls and bits of pottery I have in an open set of shelves at the end of the counter.  She pecks them until she has them all ringing/singing/rattling and until I stop her.

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Can you see what she has done to the INSIDE of the box?  And WHY?

This shredding of everything began about five days ago.   And, the constant turning over of her water and food dishes.

One answer is hidden in the layers of newspaper she has shredded and lies up next to the back, right-hand side of the box.

Here’s a better picture:

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And here’s a picture against the other hens’ eggs–all but Rosie’s egg which is a BIG, dark brown egg:

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This little white egg is Queenie’s first since…November?…I think.

She has now laid two more, each bigger than the last.

All the hens are laying again as the days are increasingly longer–up to 45 minutes more daylight now.

I thought long and hard about putting Queenie outside over the past few days when our temps were in the 30s and the other chickens were outside the coop.

But, our temps over the next few nights will dip to sub zero numbers, and Queenie will not be able to take more cold.  I don’t know if she will ever grow feathers on parts of her neck again.

Plus, the other chickens have not seen her in weeks, which means she will have to endure some pecking and meanness from them–which will not be good for her.  She still has one place on her neck that has a large, deep scab.  Best to let it heal fully before putting her out again.

If we get more days with warmer temps, I will let her get out in the yard, but will try to retrieve her at night.

Otherwise, Queenie and I will just have to cope with the fact that she is feeling so much better and wants OUT.

Written by louisaenright

February 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Turkey Tracks: Diva Update

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Turkey Tracks:  January 26, 2014

Diva Update

Today has been bright and sunny, if cold.  It was 18º when I cleaned out the chicken coop around noon.  After I had emptied the coop of old bedding, I discovered that the bench top where I store birdseed and chicken bedding was frozen shut–but I was able to pry it open with the trusty trowel that I keep at hand.  Fortunately I had an extra bale of chicken bedding in the garage if I had not been able to get the bench top open.   But, I had not thought of testing that bench top before emptying the coop…

Before going out, I cleaned out Diva Queenie’s kitchen box while she strolled around the kitchen.  This is a daily task, and I wash the towels every two days with hot water, good soap, and bleach.

Here’s a little video–you can see her feet have healed nicely and that her neck and head are healing and that she is quite perky:

Here’s Queenie’s kitchen box all clean for the day:

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I put a clean towel in the box each day, over the newspaper layers, as it gives some traction for her feet.

Do you know what all the chickens love best in this whole world?

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Mealy worms are full of fat and protein.

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Here’s Queenie back in her kitchen box with the window screen holding her inside:

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Written by louisaenright

January 26, 2014 at 5:18 pm