Thursday, October 29, 2015

A little chillier, a little darker, a little quieter...

The days are getting a little chillier, a little darker, a little quieter, a little shorter. I've had to break out my gloves and warm winter hat.  I'm not very well-adjusted yet to these colder days of 45 degrees for a high.   The hens have a heat lamp in their coop now that turns on at about 5:00 am and stays on until the sun rises fully, giving them a little extra light which stimulates egg production.  Twenty eggs a day makes me think it's a good idea.  This afternoon as the sun sank low, I noticed several hens and the rooster standing on one leg.  The ground is getting colder now too and I guess they are feeling it.

The weaning has begun.  Yesterday we got the cows and calves in and put these yellow nose flaps in the calves' noses.  The flaps are made of a flexible plastic with little nobs that stay in the their nostrils.  The flaps prevent the calves from sucking their mothers which eventually results in a weaned calf.  Weaning is one of the most stressful times in a calf's life.  Separation from mom as well as separation from their milk supply can cause stress and sickness.  Our hope with this new-to-us weaning method is that the sickness and stress is greatly reduced during the process.  In about 5-6 days we will bring the cows and calves back in and sort the calves away from their mothers to complete the weaning.  You might wonder why weaning is necessary.  The cows are pregnant right now and the double demands of the calf requesting milk and the developmental needs of fetus-calf puts a large nutritional demand on the cow. The calf is getting the majority of its nutrition from grazing now anyway, but the attachment to mom is still strong.

 I picked the last of the calendula flowers and parsley to dry.  
I'll use calendula in my body creams and parsley for cooking.

With the cold, fall days comes my desire to bake.  I especially like to bake bread and EAT bread.  I've come to the conclusion that I don't like store-bought bread.  For years when the kids were at home, I made our daily bread.  At least ten loaves a week.  After they flew the coop, I made bread only occasionally, but now I want to go back to baking all the bread we eat.  It's just the two of us, so it's not quite the chore it once was, and we both appreciate the crusty, rustic loaf and the healthful goodness it provides.

 I made a sourdough starter this past week and used it for these loaves.  They are a mix of white and whole wheat flour along with some ground flax seed and honey.  There's no oil in the bread except for what was in the pans to keep it from sticking.  But I sometimes like to butter the crusts of the loaves when they come out of the oven, and then there's the butter that must be smeared over each slice before eating! I found that by kneading the dough for an extra long time (maybe 15 minutes) the interior was very soft and the exterior crunchy. I think this bread would even make a good sandwich loaf.  I had a "good do" this time!  I've had my share of failures.  I was thinking that maybe tomorrow morning I'd use some of the sourdough starter to make sourdough pancakes for breakfast.  Doesn't that sound yummy?  Yep, I think so too.

If you watched The Great British Baking Show on Sunday, did you also watch the short clip about the  National Loaf?  During WWII England's Ministry of Food established a wheatmeal loaf as part of a food-saving plan.  The Brits preferred a white loaf, but because Britain imported 70% of it's grain at the time, it was determined that the national loaf must use the whole grain, thereby using all of the wheat grain without wasting any of it.  Although the people did not like the national loaf,  the wholewheat bread proved much more nutritional than the white breads.  I prefer the taste of whole grains and seeds in my bread loaves.  What kinds of bread do you prefer?

"How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?" --Julia Child


  1. The calendula is so pretty. I've had a hankering to bake bread, too. I'll have to find a good recipe. Maybe a recipe for a single loaf so I don't have to throw it out if I can't eat it fast enough! I hope the new weaning method works out well for you. :)

  2. I would love to bake and eat more bread! If I baked some tomorrow I could feed it to some of my family who are coming on the weekend. That's an idea... Just looking at your loaf and hearing the ingredients makes me hungry for homemade bread. I have a poem about butter that I am going to share soon, too :-)

  3. I love that comment by Julia Child. I love making bread! I don't make it like I did when the kids were all at home either. I even made bread last week for soup, one loaf. I felt like such a slacker. :) Your bread looks lovely. I have wanted to make sour dough starter too. I think pancakes sound great. The more nuts and goodies in the bread the better I like it. I have never heard of weaning calves like that. I would love to know how it works out. I always thought weaning of calves was the worst time of year.
    Stay warm. I think 20 eggs a day would be wonderful. My chickens are molting so I think I am getting 3 eggs a day right now. Have a wonderful Friday.

  4. Oh my there is nothing like hot bread slathered with real butter! Do you use a starter to make your sourdough? I have wanted to try as I make all other kinds of bread but I am "skerd." Angela

    1. I used a yeast starter which takes about 5-7 days to really sour. It's a little fiddly to always be stirring and adding to the starter, but if you use it regularly, it's not too bad. You should try it!

    2. I have my starter sitting on the counter! Who would have thought my old 1982 (the year I was married) Joy of Cooking would have a recipe for sourdough starter. I did use commercial yeast to increase the likelihood of success this first time. I may make it "from the air" at some future time if this experiment goes well. Thank you for your kind encouragement!

  5. Oh, yum! Your bread looks melt in your mouth GREAT!
    Yes, it's getting very much colder here, too. And dark.

  6. Truth be told I like any kind of bread. I love bread. I'm so thankful I don't have to be gluten free! Your bread looks fabulous.

  7. Julia Child always cracks me up!!! Our favorite bread is the sourdough which my daughter keeps going in our house :-)

  8. Yes to baking bread; I'm in the mood and am thinking about doing a sour dough starter as well. I've got a loaf that's easy...just throw it together...and it's the time of year (really, when isn't it the time of year) for making, baking and EATING bread!


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