Pumpkin Soup for the Farmer’s Soul

Hello Autumn. What a fine day it was today. This morning was a bit chilly, this afternoon was just the right kind of 75*, and this evening is ending the right way with a little cool air and crisp sunlight through the trees. After snapping a few pictures of life around our backyard farm, I decided a proper introduction into autumn cooking was in order: pumpkin soup.

I’ve heard many people say that they don’t really care for pumpkin soup. First of all, they are probably crazy or missing their tongue or something. Secondly, they most likely aren’t using a pie pumpkin. And thirdly, they almost certainly are over seasoning it. Don’t try too hard when pumpkin is involved. It is meant to be subtle. My recipe for pumpkin soup plays on the light, yet rich, flavors of the small pie pumpkin and is paired with simple ingredients like green onions, cilantro, garlic, and chicken stock. Actually– that’s pretty much the whole recipe. “Stir and serve” folks! Any recipe that a three-year old child and a very picky man will eat, can’t be all that bad. Am I right ladies?!

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Frühlingskabine Pumpkin Soup :: serves 4
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Select one small, ripe “pie” or “sugar” pumpkin. Try not to use standard jack-o-lantern pumpkins as they lack flavor. Cut around and remove the stem of the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and pulp stuff and slice the pumpkin in half. Place your pumpkin halves, face-down, into a baking pan and cover with tin foil. Bake the pumpkin at 400*F for 80 minutes or until the pumpkin meat is tender like a baked potato.

Remove the meat of the baked pumpkin and mash or purée. Mix the pumpkin and following ingredients in a medium-sized sauce pan:
• cooked pumpkin purée from one small pie pumpkin
• 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
• 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
• 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup milk

Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

What Tomorrow Will Bring

Tomorrow should be a nice busy day outside. I, personally, love being outdoors whether it is raining, sunny, windy, or snowing. Maybe not driving in the snow, but in general, snow is okay with me. There is some sort of saying from Norway or Sweden (?) that goes along the lines of ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’. I’m sure I got that wrong, but you get the idea.

We have a great day of apple harvesting, animal habitat cleaning, carrot pulling, pepper picking, Rabbitry securing, beehive bundling, and cool-air loving ahead of us. Ah… Autumn, I love you. Perhaps not the habitat cleaning and poop scooping, but I have to do that year-round so why start complaining now?

Apples should be ripe from the one apple tree we have access to. I think they may be Pippins? I’m not sure. They are small, green, and tart as hell, but they will make great pies (along with some cinnamon and Frühlingskabine honey) and apple cider vinegar. I am going to attempt to use the apple scraps for making vinegar. There are quite a few loose recipes around the Internet, so when I get started tomorrow, I’ll let you know which one I end up using. It doesn’t look difficult and fairly fool-proof. If I have too many apple scraps, the chickens and rabbits will have a glorious treat. The chickens get all of the overly wormy ones anyway. Oh! And I am super excited about using my fancy hand-crank apple peeler/corer for the first time. I found a nice metal one at the local hardware store for just under $20. Yeah baby!

Our second batch of carrots are ready to pull this weekend. There are mostly Danvers Half Longs, because they love our crappy sandy soil, but there are a few leftover Parisian round carrots in the patch as well. The next round of carrots are already in the ground. My father gave am a bag of Scarlet carrots to test out two weeks ago and so far they have not popped up. If nothing shows up soon, I may have to plant more Danvers over the top of the loser Scarlets.

With the cool nights and chilly breezes we have been experiencing, it is time to put the wall boards up on the Rabbitry. First I want to hose them off after the dry and dusty summer we had here. It’s just nice to start a season off with clean equipment, ya know? It is also about time to wrap the beehives up in tar paper to insulate them from the impending winter. That is pretty much a five minute task though.

I have also started to reach out to my local community to see if anyone out there wants to show me the ropes in dairy goats and/or pigs. I’m not sure I really want to raise pigs, but I would like me some home-raised and smoked ham. My family would never say ‘no’ to bacon either. Who would? I also feel like I need some hands-on experience with dairy animals. I have never milked anything in my life. Now is a good time to start! Books can teach you an abundance, but nothing compares to real life experience. We are planning to buy a house/farm/homestead in the next year (*knock on wood*) and I would be more comfortable getting started with larger livestock knowing a few tricks from the get-go. So hopefully I can find a couple people to mentor me for a few weekends throughout the year.

What are your plans for this weekend?

The Twins

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I know it’s a bit blurry, but I cannot stress how difficult it is to take a picture of baby rabbits… especially these ones! I swear they wiggle and climb and crawl and loop around in my hands just to mess with me. It is an uphill battle with the little black kit just to feed him! It is near impossible.

Other than being on a mission to give me an aneurism, the twins are doing fine. They are both eating well and gaining weight. I couldn’t ask for more. When raising rabbit kits, I perceive three major hurdles in their development and likeliness of survival.

1.) Reaching 3-days old. Most runts die or display disturbing behavior within the first 72-hours.
2.) Reaching 3-weeks old. This is about the time most kits are weaned by their mothers. If they have an issue with their digestion, now is usually the time I loose the weaker kits as they begin to eat more solids.
3.) Reaching 6-weeks old. I have never lost a kit past the 6-week mark. By this age, it would be extremely unlikely that a weak or compromised kit would pass by un-noticed. Signs of weak kits are on the obvious side: under weight, loss of appetite, lethargic. That is why it is so important to raise rabbits where I can get to know them and see them several times a day. Once a rabbit makes it to that glorious 6-week mark, I can rest easy.

Long story short, I do not know if either of the twins will make it to see 6-weeks old. I certainly hope they do and I sure as heck am fighting for them, but there are simply no guarantees. They have made it over the first hurdle! Two more to go! Tomorrow they will be 1-week old. Keep rooting for them.

The Experiment Begins!

I think I may have been a mad scientist in a previous life. Yep. Pretty sure. The only convincing an outsider would need is to peek into the storage area under our house. It is filled with random wire, pieces of PVC, storage bins cut into weird configurations, hand saws, various old glass jars, and gifted life-sized Halloween monsters. It’s creepy down there guys.

My current experiment is definitely less creepy than the one-eyed monsters and broken glass left by previous tenants. I am testing the theory that two of the most common “natural rooting agents” have a positive effect on growth in propagated cuttings. That’s a mouth full. What I am doing is using three cuttings of the same length from the same blueberry bush, dipping them in different rooting agents, planting them in soil, and then watching to see what happens.

The idea behind propagating cuttings of a tree or bush, is that you are able to promote root growth on the cutting and start with a large, advanced sapling rather than starting from scratch with a seed. You can easily skip ahead a year or two worth of growing time and get to the good part. Most people use a “rooting hormone” or natural rooting agent, such as cinnamon, to protect the end of the cutting from unwanted disease and bacteria and to promote root growth. I will be testing the two most common mediums, cinnamon and honey, in our natural composted soil against a “control”.

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All three of these cuttings were taken from the same branch of one of our blueberry bushes. All three cuttings are of healthy growth from this year. Some studies say that it is easier to propagate from woody branches over one year old and some say it doesn’t matter. Since these are all from the same branch, I don’t think that is going to have a major effect on my experiment.

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The first branch is my control. Meaning that it was not dipped into any mixture. It is “plain” if you will.
The second branch is lightly moistened with filtered water and dipped in ground cinnamon.
The third branch is dipped in our own natural honey.

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All three cuttings are planted into the same sized jars with rocks lining the bottom of the jar for drainage. All three cuttings are planted in the same composted soil mixture and are each watered the same volume of filtered water. Hopefully this will help cut down on the amount of variables I encounter.

And so, the experiment begins! I will keep you updated on how well the cuttings do or do not grow. Luckily I thought ahead a little and put them in clear glass jars so that we can all see any root growth that develops. Fun stuff ahead!

How To Hand Feed Rabbit Kits :: video

I decided that the subject of hand feeding rabbit kits needed a little more of the spotlight since it is occupying about two hours of my day now. While feeding baby rabbits from an eye-dropper is darn cute, it is not easy and requires a lot of devotion.

Here is a link to my Rabbit Formula post with the recipe, but the “double batch” recipe is also included in the video.


YouTube video